Oh Those Nefarious Retirees, Trying to “Help” the Church Nursery

Hi Readers: Here’s a letter from the front lines of (excessive) child saftey, and how it is changing society.  — Lenore 

Dear Free-Range Kids: With your recent posts about risk adversity, I wanted to tell you about a horrendous trend that is starting to appear in churches: husbands and wives are no longer allowed to work together in children’s ministry.

One would think that a husband/wife team would be exactly what a church would want in helping to nourish youth.  But it seems that insurance companies and risk-adversity have gotten the better of people’s common sense.  Basically, the idea is that since spouses can’t testify against each other, we need someone else in the room.

This happened to a church I used to go to.  It was medium-sized — small enough that we were fairly short on nursery and children’s volunteer staff.  In one of the nurseries, a retired couple had been watching the children for a long time, and everyone was happy with them, and they enjoyed the chance to be together with children.  But under the new policy, they couldn’t be together unless there was a *third* person to watch them.  So, they were told they couldn’t watch the nursery together anymore.  And so they just stopped working there.

Here’s a link to a “Safe Haven” policy that is not from the church I mention, but is an example of the anti-family, pro-paranoia policies that are creeping in everywhere. Here’s the really bad part of the policy:

All workers in nursery through three years old shall not be from the same family.

Teenage boys will not be permitted to work in the nursery or toddler areas.

Only adult women shall change diapers and help toddlers in the restroom. When taking children to the restroom, the door shall be partially open.

Thought you might be interested. — Jon

Jon, I am. I am interested to know that teenage boys are, as a group, not allowed to work with young kids. I guess thousands of years of older siblings looking after younger siblings matters not when “Worst First” thinking creeps in. The “worst” being: He’s male, he’s young, why would he want to have anything to do with a child unless, of course, he’s a pervert? Get him away!

Then there’s the idea of only women changing diapers. Sometimes it feels like the easiest way to roll back feminism is to insist, “We DO believe in equality. But think of the children!”

As for the elderly couple leaving the church where they are no longer trusted and cherished, I don’t blame them. But it’s funny that when we “Think of the children!” we end up not…thinking of the children. — L.

I hope that there are another two adults (one unrelated) watching this man at all times!

160 Responses

  1. EXCELLENT! Churches are far and away the most dangerous places for children, especially since all of the Big 3 religions trace their origins to an act of unspeakable child abuse.

    The more restrictions placed on children in any sort of religious building or activity, the better!

  2. Well said, Lenore.

    Apparently it takes a village, but we must separate the couples so they can testify against each other.

    How do you explain the” guilty until proven innocent standard” to boys who love to play with children of all ages?

  3. How ridiculous! Every year, my husband (who is 35) worked the summer camp at the elementary/nursery school that his mother taught at. There was always a mix of teenage boys and girls working there over the summer. It was a decent paying job for high school students that taught them many skills in working with children, which I find to be more educational than flipping burgers all summer. Our scare-mongering society is going to produce a lot a men with little experience with children if we keep this up. Why are men always the bad guys? I’ve heard plenty of stories about bad women yet men still get the bad rap!

  4. Yes Anthony we are all well aware that you hate religion/church. Why don’t you go follow a blog about hating Christianity and stop posting your feeling about it here!!!

    Lenore, that is very sad indeed. My husband is a pastor and I am in charge of the nursery at our church. In the past few years there have been safeguards put in place to protect the children and protect the church. We have nothing that extreme though. Basically our changes were putting a glass window in all the doors throughout the building, and having a rules that there must be 2 workers in with children at a time, and people must attend the church 6 months before they are allowed to work with children. Workers do need a background check, insurance rules again, but the church pays for it, the worker just signs a consent form. No rules about diaper changes or what sex the workers are. We do have teenage boys and girls as workers with children.

  5. Clearly this means we need more lesbians. They’re adult women, so they can help with all matters poopy and they can’t marry so the spouse problem can’t come up!

  6. They instituted a rule like this at my former church. The powers that be made it so hard to volunteer that people gave up and just quit offering to help. It was ridiculous.

    Bad things can happen anywhere, but we have to draw a line. What’s next, wrapping our kids in bubble wrap and packing them away in a safe and secure location until they are adults? It is getting to be ridiculous.

  7. Thanks for a parenting blog which actually makes sense! I am a retired pediatrician who walks my dog twice daily in our neighborhood and enjoying talking to kids, afterall, that’s what I did for almost 40 years. But, now I feel like bogeyman. When kids are outside they see me coming and run into the house. If they are waiting for the bus they stare at the ground or cross the street when I approach. If I say good morning, or have a nice day they either do not respond or they grunt without looking up!
    Some years ago my wife and I moved into a new neighborhood where a family with two small kids lived next to us. They were usually in the fenced back yard when we came home from work and would always run into the house as we walked from our garage to the house. After 6-8 months of this the younger boy, 4-5 y/o, stayed out and actually said “Hi.” His older brother, 6-7 y/o, quickly grabbed his arm and said, “Don’t talk to them, they might be kid-nappers.”
    What a terrifying life parents make for their kids when they teach them to be this afraid. With very rare exceptions, kidnapping is done by estranged parents or other relatives. We, of course, hear about the half dozen kids in the USA who are kidnapped each year by strangers. Fear, as Michael Crichton said in “State fo Fear” controls!
    So sad!

  8. That no teenage boys thing pisses me off. My cousin’s oldest son is 14 and he is the sweetest and most helpful of all of the children in my family when it comes to my 2 year old son, probably because he has five and three year old half-brothers. I’d pick him to babysit my son over my similarly aged nieces in a second due to his confidence and experience.

  9. This is so prevalent in churches. It’s disgusting. We left a church that had the same policies- under the guise of ‘safety’ to suit the insurance policy requirements. Husbands who wanted to give the women a break so they could enjoy the sermon were not allowed to work in the baby nursery at all and could not work in the toddler nursery either. Did I say it’s disgusting? There was a man who had never married nor had children (he was 40). He enjoyed teaching Sunday school as he longed to have a family of his own- it just wasn’t working out for him. The kids loved him and he was a great teacher. They came up with polite policies that essentially excluded him. I was so sad- that was a very good way for him to have wholesome involvement with children. When will we stop living in fear? The thing about these policies that kills me is that they aren’t for the purpose of solving child molestation, they’re more about CYA in case of lawsuits. The children who were at risk for molestation still are.

  10. It is pretty ridiculous. Who else has the time and patience to volunteer with children. I encourage my children to talk to everyone and they are out-going and not scared like so many children I see today.

  11. This is very upsetting to me. My husband is a stay-at-home Dad and therefore, the primary caregiver for my 4 yo daughter and my 10 mo son. He has also served once a month in the Kindergarten room at our church for the past year. It is my observation that kids benefit from seeing males serve in these kinds of roles. Men and women have very different ways of engaging children in play…both good. To exclude males from having this opportunity is bound to have long term negative effects on this generation of children.

  12. These policies make me sad. They are not as extreme in my church (married couples can work together and count as “two adults”; teenage boys can work in the nursery), but the policies we do have in place do make volunteering more difficult than it has to be. I remember when I dropped one kid at children’s choir rehersal one day and was ready to leave to take my other kid to the church playground, since he wasn’t old enough for choir. I was told I needed to stay on, because they needed another adult. The policy was two adults at any time with a group of kids. Except there was already one adult AND her two teenage girls. And only five kids! But the teenagers didn’t “count” as adults, so…policy not met! There is no room for discretion. And of course my other child ended up being a distraction and I was no help.

    What really bothers me about these polices is that they injure the sense of the church as a second family. Fellowship and community and the ease of feeling you are walking about in your second home…it’s partially destroyed by this sort of thing. I understand the urge to want to protect children (and even the urge to CYA), but I wish it could be done with more flexibility and discernment and trust.

  13. This is so depressing. :-\

    Especially in light of the fact that when my husband and I have kids, he’ll probably be the primary caregiver since he’s the one with the more flexible job and would be able to work on a part-time basis, whereas my job is all or nothing. On one hand, it does seem like there ARE more stay-at-home dads our there nowadays, but there’s still this attitude that men can’t be trusted with young kids.

    I understand the whole two adults in the room at all times thing, that protects the kids from abuse and the adults from false accusations… but men aren’t allowed to change diapers at all ever? Seriously? Because when I have kids, my husband/father/father-in-law/brothers-in-law will be encouraged to change as many diapers as they want!!

  14. Let’s say that a child accuses a worker of some form of abuse and the only other person in the room was the spouse. I think that it would be very hard for there to be a credible defense of that person. Now, if there was an unrelated third party, both sides are better protected. Growing up I knew many husband and wife couples who participated in various activities and did so both together and separately without incident. Our church did have an expectation of transparency with everything so there were no memorable situations where I might have been alone with 2 married people who were not my parents.

    This church is a total mixed bag for me, while I am understanding of the need for “3’s” I really don’t get the sexist attitude. Will they have only women changing boys’ diapers? If you want to take the crappy logic through you should likely end up with women changing girls’ diapers and men changing boys’ but that is nonsensical as well. Of course this is just a re-hash of the “every man is a pedophile” sentiment that just makes my blood boil.

  15. I understand the need to CYA in case of lawsuit. I really do. But the demonization of men – the assumption that no man would want to spend time with kids unless he were a pervert – the idea that a man changing a diaper is engaging in “risky” behavior – it’s just sickening.

  16. Wouldn’t suprise me if the diaper policy was written by a man trying to get out of changing the dreaded diaper bomb…

    Our church has enough trouble getting one teacher per grade for Sunday school. If we had to have two, and they had to be unrelated, and none of them could be male, and etc. etc. etc., then we would have none. So yes, the horror, there is one adult, in a room with an open door, and 6-10 kids. And no one has suffered permanent damage from this.

  17. I worked at a very fancy daycare with the highest state rating and one of our employees was a teenage boy. He was in college so about 19 or 20 I am guessing. He worked there in the Summers when he was younger too. He only worked with the 4 or 3 year olds since he said he was not comfortable around the babies or changing diapers, etc. The preschool age kids loved him! He played ball and games with them and did the snacks etc. He actually would be the only one in there with them in the afternoons. We had cameras so you know, it was all monitered. We all were. Everyone loved him.

    I feel this is a little extreme as a rule about no teenage boys or no males changing diapers or no family working together. We don’t have those rules at our church.

    Church nurseries make me a little uncomfortable and I would not leave my kids in there when they were little. Mostly because my children were premature and very susceptible to germs and had issues like reflux and asthma and food allergies. They still have some of these issues like food allergies and asthma but they at least know how to speak for themselves (or at least one can, my other son is still speech delayed) and watch out for themselves so now I leave them in there.

    I prefer churches with the workers who are required to go through classes like to learn CPR and how to deal with food allergies, etc but the truth is that some sweet old granny may love kids, but things have changed a lot from when she was raising kids and she may not be able to deal with some of the more tougher issues to deal with. Unfortunately God blessed me with kids that are not the norm and can be difficult to care for with a speech delay, food allergies, prematurity, asthma etc and I don’t trust just anyone with them. If that makes me paranoid, so be it, but you don’t have my particular kids.

    I support some restrictions on nursery workers because some are good like making them be trained in CPR and current standards with childcare like not placing infants on their backs, not putting pillows in cribs, how to use epipens, etc. Also it doesn’t hurt to make sure they are not on the offender list, leave the door open when they help a kid potty, etc.

  18. I wanted to add the reason I support some restrictions is because without some restrictions I approve of I just would not come to church because I could not feel comfortable leaving my kids in nursery or Sunday school.

  19. I teach Sunday school in a very small congregation; we generally have only six kids ranging from age 4 to 4th grade, two of whom are mine. My husband watches our toddler. Being a toddler, he oscillates between the sanctuary and the toddlers’ play area, where there may or may not be one or two other toddlers, who may or may not be accompanied by one or more parents or one of the other two Sunday school .workers, depending on who could make it this week. If he weren’t helping with his son and/or other people’s sons, and moving freely around the church regardless of who else is in the room, I wouldn’t be able to teach at all.

  20. I don’t understand how this is supposed to work. At most churches we are supposed to be learning how to love and trust each other and to work together for the greater good. What is good and trusting about a society in which everyone is guilty until proven innocent? Where a husband and wife are assumed to be interested in helping each other abuse/molest children and then cover it up later? Where a teenage boy isn’t considered trustworthy around little children? It is disgusting. What we should be doing is teaching our children what is appropriate and what is not and taking the time to get to know the people who are caring for our children who are to young to speak up or out. A society where we are all criminals until proven otherwise is not one I care to live in.

  21. Reading that policy for that church, I see they seem to think it’s ok for teenage girls to be working with unrelated adults. Who will be protecting the teenage girls?
    And yes, this makes me very sad. As the mother of a 14 year old boy who is excited to be a crew leader at VBS this year, I worry about these sorts of policies catching on. The teenagers who volunteer at church are the GOOD kids.

  22. I don’t mind the women-only changing policy, but only because I’m a man and I hate changing diapers LOL

  23. Oh, but didn’t you know, Tracy? Teenage girls without rich families don’t bring lawsuits.

  24. Very sad. This reminds me of the base newsletter that I sent to you a couple of months ago with the want ad for someone to work in the chapel nursery. They wanted a “responsible female.” I blogged about it because I found it so wrong.

    When my husband and I would go out when my son was younger, my son always requested a male babysitter. He loved having teenage boys watch him. Boys who were 14 or 15 were more willing than girls to play Yu-Gi-Oh or go outside and kick a soccer ball than girls that age. My son’s favorite staff members at the base School Age and Teen Centers have always been the men. So far the attitude about all men being perverts hasn’t reached those two facilities yet. I hope it stays that way so that the kids can have good male role models.

  25. I’m all for the protection of children, but let’s be reasonable here! In my church, it’s policy for there to be two teachers in each class, but there are no stipulations about them being married. My four-year-old son’s teachers are a couple and he absolutely LOVES them. I wouldn’t want anyone else as his teachers! The church, in all the new meetinghouses, also makes sure that each classroom has a small window on each door, so parents can peek if they feel so inclined (or worried). I only have checked that window to make sure my son wasn’t being a pain!

    As for teenage boys not being able to help, this makes me sad. On Sunday, for Mother’s Day, all of the men, young men and young women in our congregation took charge of the children’s classes so that all the mothers could meet together to socialize and listen to a motherhood-themed lesson, all while being served cheesecake by some of those teenagers. I personally watched how a 14-year-old boy held the hands of three-year-old twin girls when one of them had a nosebleed. He cleaned her up and took care of the problem (I couldn’t help but chuckled when I saw him holding their hands, with one of the girls’ nose stuffed with toilet paper). It was sweet to see him trying so hard to be patient and sensitive. I’m sure his mom would have been proud to see it.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, Lenore!

  26. What a way to make it more difficult for people to volunteer. Setting safety rules makes sense, but no married couples and no teenage boys is taking it a bit far.

    And as a mom, I want the men able to change diapers! Fair’s fair. There are more sensible ways to handle pedophile fears when it comes to changing diapers, especially when two adults are required in the room. Not like babies want privacy for diaper changes. Just make sure the other toddlers can’t get into it.

  27. Der I said not placing infants on their backs up there. I meant that they should not place them on their stomachs to sleep.

    Robyn: In larger churches it is hard to know and talk to every person who might be watching my kids. We have subs and helpers often and they rotate teachers, etc so no matter how hard I try to get to know people, I am never going to be able to know everyone that might watch my kids at church. So I like to know that they are all required to go through the child care training and safety class. It reassures me. I am pretty sure the church pays for them to do it and it doesn’t take like more than a day. I think we even have some paid workers in nurseries. One of which is a man which is great.

    I still find myself having to explain my children’s special needs often at church and it is hard for me. Other parents and other kids hear it and it is not their business. I don’t want my kids to have to feel different or wrong. I try to keep things as normal as possible for them.

  28. Anthony, you obviously just don’t understand Abraham and Isaac.

  29. here is one way to end the problem. Close the nursery and get the kids back in the pew where they belong. Faith comes by hearing the word proclaimed and Christ himself tells that this is for kids too! (“let the children come to me.”)

  30. Don’t get him started, Ray. He has some strong opinions on that incident. Most of us realize that Abraham’s faith told him that God would not allow the boy to be harmed, but Anthony can’t get past the idea of someone being obedient to such a strange order from God to begin with.

    On the issue of churches instituting ever-more-ridiculous policies in this area, I can assure you that while many do so based on fearful CYA recommendations from members, many are “forced” to do so by insurance companies. As in “institute this policy or we drop ALL of your coverage, or raise the cost to unimaginable levels”.

    I can also assure you that at my place of worship, there are kids who have been abused — by their own relatives or parents. The people who work with them at church have been background checked again and again, and continue to be saddled with ridiculous no-hugging regulations, etc., but they are the best role-models these kids come in contact with in their lives. ESPECIALLY, kids need good male role models right now – the need is desperate. Yet we set up societal pressures to chase away 10,000 good men because there MIGHT be one bad one.

    Bottom line: This culture seems intent on self-destruction.

  31. This sort of sexism- the kind that says that ALL MEN are dangerous perverts, really disgusts me. I remember the days when educational institutions and churches ENCOURAGED men to be teachers or classroom helpers because they realized that many children didn’t have good, strong male roll models in their lives. (after all, most of the time the courts award mothers custody after a divorce)

    So men + children USED to be a good thing.

  32. While I find this distressing from a free-ranging standpoint, the feminist in me also finds this distressing.

    I remember from back in my Feminist Philosophy class that a philosopher (the name escapes me at the moment) said that women and men will not be truly equal until the domestic labor is split and women no longer work the “second shift” at home.

    How can women and men be equals if society insists that men are unfit for the caring of children and women must sacrifice something to care for them (in this case perhaps a sermon or participation in service, but often times it is something more life altering).

    These types of policies/laws/beliefs harm both men and women. Women are forced into the role being the primary care giver and may have to sacrifice careers or activities that would allow them to express their full selves to fulfill that role and men are forced away from children and into careers or activities that prevent them from expressing their full selves. Its not good for anyone – men, women OR children.

  33. I could be wrong on this, since my information is only from researching for the crime fiction I write, but it is my understanding that a spouse cannot be FORCED to testify against their partner; however, they CAN if they WANT to! But facts never got in the way of good fear-mongering.

    I find it disturbing how our culture has decided that all men are just perverts or pedophiles waiting for their chance to strike. It certainly make it hard to value men for their role models they could be to our sons and daughters.

  34. Ray, don’t get him started, seriously. Lots of people think that story is bizarre, but we don’t all go on and on about it. Anthony does, and does.

  35. On topic now, wouldn’t it be a lot more sensible to just put a camera in the room so nothing untoward could happen, at least not without being recorded? Cameras aren’t totally foolproof, but then again, neither are asinine rules.

  36. How do you teach a boy to be a responsible father? Tell him that he is never, ever to interact with a child in any way until he has a child of his own, at which point he is supposed to instinctively know exactly what to do in all aspects of baby and child care, regardless of the fact that he has never been allowed to help or watch others care for children. Said man is expected to pitch in 50-50 to help his overworked wife around the house. If said man can not step up to the plate and bathe, change, feed, comfort, and play with his children “appropriately,” then he is a lousy husband and father and will be judged accordingly….

    Give me a break. And you wonder why women complain that men never help with the kids…they are told all along that they are not capable or trusted to do so.

  37. Guess this is one of those times where not being considered a *legally married* couple could work out for us. If only we were a male couple, we could totally game the system. /referencetoobnoxiousgaystereotype

  38. @Rhodykat – AMEN!

  39. I agree with others that the whole men are not okay to take care of kids thing bugs me immensely. I posted on another thread how my husband was afraid to help a little boy up on the monkey bars after the kid asked for help because he was afraid that someone might call “molestation” because he touched a kid not his even though he had his two little boys with him right there.

    Its just sad. I love involved fathers. Thank God that society is moving toward more fathers that play with their kids and do all the parenting tasks and they can hug and kiss their kids. My husband works at home and with twins he had no other choice but to help. It was great because he has always been hands on and there for his kids. He is so affectionate and loving towards his sons.

    There are more and more stay at home fathers and that is great too! It doesn’t matter which parent stays at home, both could do an equally good job at it! It just stinks that because of these men are bad ideals out there the fathers are getting the short end of the stick. I love seeing men playing with their kids. It warms my heart!

    I absolutely agree too that children need more male role models because so many children don’t have fathers anymore that are in their lives. My husband and I spent a lot of time with and did a lot for my friend’s little girl that did not have a father. He loved playing with her and let me buy her all kinds of extravagant gifts for her with our money. He even bought some on his own for her.

    A woman can molest a kid too so it is not really fair to discriminate against men like that. Just make things like windows or cameras so they are monitored. Leaving the door open when in the bathroom with a kid. Having several workers in one room. That should be more than sufficient.

    I worry more about safety things when sending my kids to church than molesting things honestly. With all the people around I don’t think molesting is going to happen. I really worry more about my kid getting something fed to him that he is allergic too or them losing track of my child that likes to go off on his own than I worry about molestation.

  40. I am the preschool coordinator at our church and we have run into some of these issues. I love have men and married couples serve. I think it is invaluable to have a male influence with the young ones. I have to say, I STRONGLY disagree with the no teenage boy comments. My preschoolers LOVE having the teenagers there to help out. I allow helpers to start at 7th grade. I usually have one boy and one girl helper along with at least one adult. I don’t leave the teens alone with kids (that is church policy), but I feel that the teen boys interacting and role modeling for our young ones in vitally important.

  41. rhodykat — Bingo and cheers!

  42. I have a 14 year old son and sadly our
    conversations have been about the fears of parents of girls and his conduct….have you seen anything about charges against boys when in reality lack of communication is the problem and F EAR the boy might have sexual intentions? Just curious and don’t know where to research.

  43. Actually, as anyone who has ever watched Law & Order knows, the rule of spousal privilege which prevents the court from compelling someone to testify against his or her spouse already doesn’t apply if a third person is present. So a couple in a room with the child or children is not protected. He or she may be willing to commit perjury, but he or she WOULD have to testify.

    Not that I recommend a free-range parent watch Law & Order. Stick to something more realistic, like the Real Housewives.

  44. A. Congress often makes these issues worse, but maybe they could be helpful here:

    (1) prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against married couples

    (2) in return, allowing a defendant institution (and its insurance company) to claim a mistrial if a plaintiff’s attorney suggests it is negligent to use married couples.

    B. Feminists might join a coalition for similar measures against sex discrimination that pushes women back into traditional stereotypes.

    C. As others have noted, cameras are the best way to protect both children from harm and care-givers from false accusations.

    D. Another advantage of allowing teenagers to work with children: training future leaders and especially future teachers. College graduates who know their subjects and have proven confidence with kids should not be forced to deaden their minds in second-rate teacher mills (which serve only to drive away the best candidates).

  45. “Only adult women shall change diapers and help toddlers in the restroom. When taking children to the restroom, the door shall be partially open.”

    I still can’t believe the ignorance of “rules” like this. Like women aren’t potential pedos. There’s NO WAY a woman can commit crimes against children. Yeah..right.

    More and more, people are straying from the true sense of community, and for the religious people, away from the true essence of what god teaches us. Hypocrites.

  46. What amazes me is that churches and schools don’t require background checks on all children (AND their parents) who participate in their programs.


    Because we know that kids can and do lie.

    And in today’s climate of assumption that every human touch is “probably sexual abuse,” a climate in which parents poison the minds of their children, programing them to “expect abuse,” how could any volunteer sleep at night wondering which little tyke (or teen) is going to scream that something happened that didn’t?

  47. @ Dolly…you said that ” but the truth is that some sweet old granny may love kids, but things have changed a lot from when she was raising kids and she may not be able to deal with some of the more tougher issues to deal with”

    I thought the whole point of this blog is that things have not changed (except that crime is down) and we should be trying to get back to the way things used to be?

    What tougher issues are there now that may not have been around 40 years ago, preventing a ‘granny’ from watching kids in the church nursery for a couple of hours?

  48. socalledauthor: You’re correct; the prohibition is against compelling one spouse to testify against another. And even then, the policy doesn’t make any sense: if one spouse observes the other molesting a child, she’s very likely to be considered criminally liable for allowing it to happen. That means any testimony she’d offer against him (yeah, I’m using pronouns stereotypically) would also be incriminating to herself, so unless she were offered immunity she’d just be able to take the Fifth. In other words, the only scenarios where the exemption would matter are truly far-fetched.

  49. This whole issue seems like ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.

    By protecting our children from an imagined possible crime of a husband and wife molestation tag team…We are preventing our kids from feeling the safety of community, and the social bonds they will need to make their way in the world.

    If you cannot trust the sweet retirees who are watching children at your church, who can you trust??

  50. My church as a general rule uses married couples in the nursery… It’s very family oriented and I love it!

    Now I support background checks and CPR training and the like, but this is too much.

  51. @ Emiky, I am wondering why you support background checks, and even CPR training for church volunteers?

    I completely understand it for daycare employees, because they essentially work for you, and many employers do background checks. I even understand CPR since at daycare they will likely eat several meals each week, and choking is a real concern.

    I just don’t know why a background check (or even CPR) would be required of a church employee. I think it is like asking them to prove they are not a criminal. I would find it insulting if it was required to watch kids in my church nursery, and would probably not volunteer.

  52. This is indeed sad. But are we doing all we can to deal with the people who are actually dangerous, so the rest can be given the benefit of doubt?

  53. “Actually, as anyone who has ever watched Law & Order knows, the rule of spousal privilege which prevents the court from compelling someone to testify against his or her spouse already doesn’t apply if a third person is present.”

    That is not true at all. A spouse cannot be compelled to testify against a spouse at all. It doesn’t matter who else was present during the events. A spouse can CHOOSE to testify if she wants. However, even if she testifies, she can’t testify to the content of any private conversations with her husband. THAT doesn’t apply if a 3rd person was present during the conversation (because it’s no longer private).

    This is the dumbest rule ever. As a single mother, I always welcome men hanging out with my kid. She needs good role models.

  54. Micki: Well for one thing back in the 50s or so, food allergies were not very common. Maybe one kid per school might have one. Now you have at least one kid with food allergies per class. Check the stats, food allergies are on the rise for real. I have personally encountered MANY adults of all ages who have no freaking clue what food allergies are or how to deal with them and would be stupid enough to harm my child by not understanding how to take care of his food allergy. My own father was one such adults.

    Also asthma is more common now. Also prematurity is more common and on the rise from one reason the rising rates of multiple births which usually result in premature babies thus why mine were premature. Premature babies require specialized care.

    Child care standards are ALWAYS changing. Used to put babies to sleep on their tummies. Now you put them on their backs. Many people still are ignorant of this. Used to be able to put pillows and stuffed animals in cribs, now you are not supposed to because of SIDS risk. Again many people are ignorant of this. Many people are ignorant that you are not supposed to introduce any solids to 4 to 6 months. If a child has a genetic history of food allergies you do not introduce certain foods till they are much older.

    So yes, with medical advances and other things becoming more prevalent, things very much DO change.

  55. CPR is very important for child caregivers. In our church snacks are given out. So that is how food allergy knowledge is needed as well as how to save a child who might be choking. CPR is always important for caregivers to know. You never know when you might need it. I had premature babies and premature babies have a rise in SIDS risk. Also a low birthweight baby which is another rise in SIDS risk. So if the caregiver did not know infant CPR they would not be watching my child. Every second counts in such instances and the time it takes them to run to find someone who knows how to do it could cost a child their life.

    Free range is not anti safety measures such as CPR.

  56. Meant to say my father is one such adult. He is not allowed to watch my children on his own because he has demonstrated time and again he won’t read labels properly and does not understand how to find something my son can eat without ingesting an allergen he is allergic too. So if I won’t let my own Dad watch them because of his ignorance about food allergies, why would I let a stranger do it? No way. If he was willing to learn I would teach him, but he just ignores me and brushes it off so he will never have my kids on his own.

  57. Oh yeah, another thing that has changed. Autism rates are skyrocketing. Same with ADD. Your average Granny is not capable of handling autistic kids. My son is not autistic per se but he is different. He did not talk until 3 and a half years old. He still talks about like a 2 year old now that he is 4. At least he is improving because for a long time he never improved at all.

    I have encountered MANY adults who I am sure are perfectly nice well meaning people who insulted and upset my son and me by how they talked to us and treated us. Stuff like getting in my son’s face and asking him “Why don’t you talk. Cat got your tounge?” I think they thought they were being cute, but instead they were making my son feel bad and making me get stabby towards them. In the classes the workers go to they instruct them a bit about special needs kids and how to deal with them.

    My son has enough to deal with just trying to get through the day by trying to get what he wants and needs without being able to communicate well enough to ask for it. The last thing that poor little boy needs is someone being insensitive whether it be on purpose or by accident.

    I don’t want to deal with it either.

  58. The only way I could find to get my 10-year-old son interested in going to Sunday services was to get him a paid gig as a helper for the little kid program. Hallelujah, is all I can say. It means so much to me that he’s part of the scene there, that by osmosis he’s getting some sort of spiritual community and information (it’s a Unity congregation, so it’s not religion per se, but it’s still church. Let’s get real), and, of course, cookies afterward.

    There is one little 2-year-old girl in particular that has taken such a shine to my son as a helper there that she named one of her stuffed animals after him (high honour indeed!!) and always asks if he’s going to be there before her mom takes her to the service. When I watch him hold her hand and lead her to her mother as the kids re-join the service at the end, I am in tears of joy. He has had a hard time showing any nurturance toward his little sister, but he is a champion nurturer to other small kids, and I WANT HIM TO BE ABLE TO CONNECT WITH THIS ASPECT OF HIMSELF.

    Thank (whatever higher power you subscribe to) that my son is having this experience as a young boy. I celebrate his growth and loving spirit.

  59. Someone said that kids should be in the service anyway. I disagree. Older kids maybe. Babies and toddlers, no way in heck! I come to church to worship and pray and concentrate on God. I have twins. The amount of time all week I have to concentrate on God and pray is pretty much none. I can’t pray when I have little boys screeching in my ear. I get distracted from praying really easily at home.

    I need quiet and to be child free to really pray and think about God. So I NEED that child free time at service to do so. If I had to worry about making my kids sit still and be quiet or if I had someone else’s kids yelling in my ear or jumping up and down on the pew next to me, I might as well not go to church because I am not going to be able to keep my mind on God or get anything out of the service. Just can’t do it.

    I so look forward to Sunday service because it really is the only private reflection time I get to devote to God. Kids need to learn about God too in a way they can understand and that is why they have the kids in age appropriate classes that talk about stuff in a way they can understand it. They are not going to get anything out of something written for adults. And at a certain age, babies and toddlers, they are just not going to get anything at that young age so might as well let them play.

  60. Why don’t these places FIRE THE INSURANCE COMPANY? Once these places get hit in their profits they will understand what they force on us is wrong. Lawsuits don’t hurt the bottom line, thousands of customers no longer paying monthly premiums do.

  61. Oh, this saddens me on so many levels. All teenage boys?!?! What is wrong with society?

    My children come from Ethiopia. One of the many, many wonderful things about Ethiopia is how demonstrative and loving men and boys are toward children and babies. My son is like that and it is a quality I hope we can foster and encourage.

  62. @Dolly– Perhaps this isn’t what you meant, but a blanket statement saying that so much has changed that old people just shouldn’t be trusted around children is kind of harsh. If these same old people can learn to use computers (and many have) then they can learn the new “rules” about caring for children, or if their are special needs. Most elderly that I know are more than happy to accommadate such requests, unless they don’t understand them. And most parents I know don’t bother to explain beyond “that’s just how we do things now” (sometimes with a not-so-subtle jab at how the old way is abhorrent.)

    I have a particular problem myself with all the new “rules” that seem to have no evidence behind them. You mentioned in particular those with special needs– in which case, I think it’s necessary for the parent to speak up. People make social gaffs– like asking the overweight woman when she’s due, except she’s not pregnant. But for everything else, education, and imho, understanding goes a long way.

    Aside from special needs, which many people need special education on to best care for a child, what other areas have really changed? I’ve been reviewing a lot of the new “rules” since my son was born, and time and time again, I find no evidence for the changes, no facts, just fear, more fear, and ridicule of old methods. (For example, we use baby-lead weaning, where, starting at 6 months, our son was feeding himself sticks or bites of food from pork chops to spinach quiche and sandwiches. The way my SIL reacted, you would have thought we were going to kill the baby by not force-feeding him jars of purees!)

  63. Dolly,
    Stop wearing your children’s disabilities like a badge of honour that you can thrust into people’s faces. You are not the only mother in the world who has children with special needs.
    I actually don’t think you like children at all – hence your insistence that children shouldn’t be present during a church service (I thought Christianity was supposed to be about sharing good-will and prayer with the WHOLE family?). From what you’ve posted so far, it seems that you find your own children a burden, whose only benefit to you is for you to use their disabilities as a stick to beat others with (such as your poor father).

  64. Sounds like a sexual discrimination lawsuit just waiting to happen. Should be an easy win. (Note that I used the word should, not will)

  65. @ Dolly…I think that perhaps we just don’t see eye to eye on this issue, which is fine, I just don’t agree.

    I feel that unless you really know and are comfortable with your church childcare volunteer, that special needs children do not belong in the church nursery. My experiences are likely different from yours, but this is what they have taught me.

    Special needs children require sometimes superhuman efforts from the parents and are probably unfair to expect from a church volunteer. I would never expect someone who is volunteering their time to watch the kids during service to accept responsibility for my special needs child, or take the time and money needed to obtain the proper training.

    My nephew is autistic, and anyone outside of family and highly trained autism professionals would have been inappropriate caregivers when he was young. Thank goodness, he is much more communicative now, but it would have been a miserable experience for both him and the caregiver to drop him off at the church nursery.

    My daughter was a preemie who needed 2 surgeries as an infant, and was often ill due to a weakened immune system. She also did not belong in a church nursery, too germy for her, and she was also behind for her age, which could be difficult to convey to someone who didn’t know her.

    Please do not misunderstand and think I am saying that parents of special needs children should not be able to go to church, or that their children do not deserve to go to Sunday School. What I believe is that each parent knows the best place for thier child, and for my nephew and my daughter, a nursery staffed by volunteers was not that place.

    Unfortunately, for some children, a paid babysitter who can devote attention exclusively to the child, and is trained to handle the children they are paid to watch, may be the best solution.

  66. @ Dolly…I also believe in CPR, I am certified.

    But again, I believe someone volunteering to watch children an hour or two when all the parents are just down the hall in the Sanctuary shouldn’t automatically need CPR certification.

    If my child was at a genuine risk for needing CPR, I would not find a nursery staffed by volunteers to be the proper place for her.

    Free range is not anti-CPR, I agree. However, it is against pervasive fear when there is miniscule risk. The chance of a child needing CPR while coloring or playing Barbies in the church nursery is miniscule. The chance of CPR actually working is slim (roughly 5-10%).

    To me, this says the difference between two volunteers, otherwise equal, where one is trained in CPR, and one is not, is negligible. Therefore, this is an issue I would not worry about.

  67. CPR training not certification takes like 2 hours. Our area offers a free class called CPR for families and friends that teaches adult, infant and child CPR for free. That is all I ask of a child caregiver to have. Not much but enough that if needed they have it. I think every parent should take this class at the minimum.

  68. Jose: That is darn right offensive and very anti what this site is about. Isn’t this site about community and supporting other parents? Not attacking and insulting them?

    I am a SAHM. That means I am with my kids 24/7. I guess I am just a horrible mother who doesn’t like my kids if I enjoy one hour a week where I can get some quiet and think about God and thank Him for all the blessings He has given us. Better call CPS on me.

  69. I did not say old people could not be trusted with kids. I said they need to go through some training before being thrust into the childcare setting. Since things have changed a lot as far as the latest ways to do things and latest safety recommendations. Heck everyone could benefit from a little training on that. We have older women who worked in the baby nursery and I left my kids in there. The difference is the ladies had to go through the training just like everyone else. I know some churches don’t do training and that is not okay for me. I was at a friend’s church visiting and some older ladies tried to give my six months olds hard candy. They acted shocked when I was like “They can’t have that.” Choking hazard and babies don’t get candy that young. They were just trying to be nice, but you know they were not well informed and had probably forgotten over the years about little details like that. I am sure when I am that age I will need to be reminded of things too.

  70. Micki: Thanks for being understanding. My son that has the speech delay is actually just like all the other little boys except he doesn’t talk. Other than that, he is a happy, smart, fun, perfect little boy. He can be better behaved and easier to deal with more than my other son. So he does fine with other kids and in a childcare setting. I do however have to tell the workers he can’t or doesn’t talk much so that they won’t harass him about not talking or try to make him sing or recite something. Since he can’t. It usually is no problem but occasionally you get someone who will start asking insensitive questions.

    Having a food allergy and asthma hardly should make a child not be able to be with regular kids either. It just involves reading labels if food is going to be given and checking with me about feeding him. Again not usually a problem but occasionally you get people who don’t believe in food allergies or don’t understand them and try to give him something he can’t have. His asthma is so mild that it really doesn’t cause a problem for anyone but us as his parents because if he gets sick he has a harder time getting over it thus why we are kinda careful about germy germs.

    I don’t use my kids special needs for attention. That is pretty funny right there. I actually try to keep things as normal as possible for us. My son has asthma yet he goes outside to play everyday. My son doesn’t talk yet he has so many friends and goes and does more than most kids his age. I don’t ever ask people to make special food for my son, I bring some for him if the food served might be something he is allergic to.

    I have to think ahead and plan and prepare caregivers for them. I chose our church because there are other kids with food allergies there and they know how to deal with them. They train the workers. That is a good thing. I would not go somewhere where the workers were not trained. So then none of us could go to church. Isn’t the goal to get people to church?

  71. Our area does not offer a 2 hour free class that I am aware of, and I am fairly active in our community. On this issue, we differ. I think it is silly to boss around a volunteer and demand that they have special training to supervise coloring toddlers.

    Again the success rate of CPR is very low. The chance of a healthy child needing CPR is miniscule. And if there is are health issues that would require CPR, they have no business being in the church nursery.

  72. I worked one summer as an arts and crafts teacher at a church camp for kids ages 8-10. Their rule was that no kid was allowed to go to the bathroom by him or herself (too dangerous) and must be accompanied by an adult. But no adult was allowed to be alone with a child, so I would have to grab another child to go to the bathroom as a threesome. Kids kept asking me why they had to come with us to the bathroom if they didn’t have to go, and I had no answer for them.

  73. Dolly, I didn’t mean my last post to sound as crabby as it does…I currently volunteer as a Girl Scout Leader, and it is really sad the hoops you have to jump through, I am frustrated at having to find the time and money to get recertified each year, on top of my crazy schedule. My crankiness absolutely does not give me the right to take it out on you, and I apologize. I hope you can accept my apology.

    I cannot imagine having people harrass my child or expect her to perform upon demand. That must be very frustrating for the both of you, when people just expect your son to chatter away or sing on demand.

    Also, I am willing to bet that letting him outside everyday is good for his athsma. My husband has several allergies/respiratory things, and being closed up in the house can make it worse.

    Anyway, I am going to stop being a brat, because everyone is entitled to their opinions, and actually, I was wrong in saying “boss around and demand volunteers have special training’ because you did nothing of the kind; you merely ‘shopped around’ to find a nursery that suited both you and your son.

  74. “CPR is very important for child caregivers. In our church snacks are given out. ”

    The difference between a church nursery and an actual childcare situation is that the church is full of people other than the children and the caregivers. So no, I don’t think that CPR training for nursery workers is essential, anymore than I insist on CPR training for everyone I leave my kids with for an hour in any other setting.

  75. I went to a residential school. Girls weren’t allowed to be alone with a male dorm counselor (like a camp counselor). There had to either be a female counselor or a male student in the room. Because, apparently, male students don’t lie? And female staff can’t be abusive?

    It was a joke.

  76. Maybe the church would change its rule if the congregation boycotted it.

  77. Micki: You were not offensive to me at all. Don’t fret about it. No harm. The only person that owes me an apology is Jose.

  78. pentamom: That is your value as a parent that you don’t put that much emphasis on CPR training. That is totally your call. I do however feel better knowing that people are at least somewhat educated on it. I let my mom watch them all the time and she has not had training in years and years but she had it once and I went over it again with her. Good enough for me. Like I said a 2 hour class once a year teaches you enough. Our church just has it all worked out. They do a one day seminar thing for all the childcare workers at the church a couple times a year and you just devote one day to it and then you are good for a year.

    When my kids are grown I will probably do it and offer my help to the younger kids and volunteer. Taking a little class would not bother me at all. I don’t support crazy extreme measures like the one the blog post was about. I do however support a happy medium where some measures are taken compared to no measures. That is my preference as a parent and I shopped around till I found a church that offered that.

  79. Good grief, Dolly. These are people who are watching a child for an HOUR, not a full-time babysitter. You haven’t mentioned a single thing that actually requires in-depth childcare knowledge for an HOUR time. Most people who volunteer their time in the nursery do so because they truly enjoy children and will do what they need to do to keep the children safe and happy if informed. And an entire congregation – including YOU – are a short distance away in the highly unlikely event that the worst case scenario occurs.

  80. My dad does a lot of volunteering for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief. They have a rule: “Never alone with children”. This is not for the protection of the children, but for the legal protection of the volunteers. Being accused of child sexual (or other) abuse is absolutely devastating, and you need that second eyewitness there to be able to testify that you didn’t do anything untoward. This testification would be of a lot less value were that eyewitness related to you (spouse, offspring, sibling)… So, you’d sort of want groups of at least two carers and have each pair not related to each other. Having NO carers from the same family is a bit over the top.

    Secondly, teenage boys. It wasn’t *too* long ago that I was a teenage girl and let me tell you: your average teenage boy? FLAMINGLY IRRESPONSIBLE. I don’t think this rule is necessarily to do with teenage boys being too likely to be perverts, it’s more to do with the fact that any one given teenage boy is not going to make a good child carer. The likelihood is there that they’ll do anything from simply set a bad example (doing things that are dangerous, swearing), to doing something mildly cruel to the toddlers for fun (toddler race!), to simply not being attentive enough and letting the children do things they shouldn’t. Teenage boys lack a lot of the empathy that they had as children and will have as adults.

    Jose – You are an absolute fucking douchebag. So much so in fact that I don’t mind swearing at you to get the point across. Yes, some people out there DO use their or their children’s (or someone else’s) disabilities to punish others. This is wrong. however, Dolly is not doing that at all. The two problems that Dolly’s child has – a food allergy and a speech delay – are NOT high-maintenance problems. Reading food labels to determine whether or not the contents contain an allergen is NOT difficult, and apparently her father doesn’t care or simply can’t understand that by not doing this simple thing he can KILL her child. (Here I am assuming that, from Dolly’s wording, the allergy is not to something really common like wheat or corn, or to multiple things which makes figuring out what he can or cannot have a trial). Having the capability to, once told that a child has some sort of disability, NOT rub it in his face or taunt him about it or try to “fix” him or punish him for it is, again, not hard. That’s largely a combination of empathy and common sense. This is not like shoving a low-functioning autistic kid into a childcare scenario and demanding that the volunteers care for it.

    And no, just because she wants some time away from her children does NOT mean that she hates them or finds them a burden. Every parent needs some time away from their children, especially the parents who have to work extra hard. This is not abnormal in the slightest.

  81. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with two teenagers of either stripe in charge of the nursery on their own, but I can’t think of one single reason a teenage boy shouldn’t work alongside an adult…and lots of reasons why they should.

    I’m not sure about the married couple thing but it doesn’t actually bother me. I doubt married couples of any age are any more or less likely to be abusers than anyone else, but I don’t think I’d like to rely on the choice of a spouse to testify should an issue come up. People protect their own.

    As far as training of volunteers — I’m with Dolly on this one. I think anyone who accepts responsibility for kids should at least know how to deal with a choking child (yep, kids can choke while “colouring for an hour”), a tantrum, and the basics of the current recommendations for infant care. In my province there is a short babysitting course that covers it at minimal cost. People who provide childcare at gyms and so forth are required to take it (and CPR)…why would a church be any different? It’s still brief childcare in an institutional setting.

    But only women changing diapers? Seriously? Put the change table out in the open and provide hand sanitizer if there isn’t a sink in the main nursery. Jeez.

  82. It is getting really ridiculous, isn’t it?

    Me: I have no problem trusting other people with my kids, I assume the best. About a month ago I was at the lake & had forgotten my air pump for an inflatable boat. My 2 & 4 year-old were with me. I had slightly befriended this 20-something guy & girl. I wanted to go to a nearby (100 yards or so) shop to see if they had air. I asked these 2 if they could keep an eye on my kid for me.

    Not only that, I went out in the lake a distance & left the 2 kids on the shore, they typically do that just fine on their own, however one of them was being kind of curious at the edge of the water. The couple walked up & gently guided my child away. In effect, they were giving me a break.

    I had never met these 2 people in my life. They were in their early 20s, no experience with kids at all as far as I could tell, but having hung out with them a bit prior & feeling comfortable with them, I trusted them in this small role with my 2 & 4 year-old.

    I treat child-care workers in church the same way, as opposed to assuming they don’t know anything just because they’re older and “things have changed.” Yes things change but a lot of the fundamentals remain the same, and we are taught to respect the elderly & what they can teach us in terms of the fundamentals which haven’t changed, not dismissing them because they’re old and we think we know more than then because we’re more current on the latest trends.

    Heck, you want to know what? I let my kids sleep on their stomach. Every year it changes, it seems–sleep on their side, sleep on their back, sleep on their stomach, sleep at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to 25% of the floor’s width measured in millimeters on the Arabic scale (as an example)–who can keep up anymore, and who are we to be so arrogant as to think that just because you “haven’t heard the latest” means you’re not qualified to be a parent?

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful of certain things like allergies or asthma etc, but I think many of us are getting a little carried away with thinking that someone has to be a certified-trained-Red Cross-approved type to be allowed to even say “hello” to our children, much less watch them. It’s fine to want the best for your kids, but it gets ridiculous sometimes.


  83. fascinating discussion. i get that teenagers (in general) can be irresponsible, but i doubt there’s many volunteering to be in creche helping out unless they already have some interest and feeling of responsibility for little kids.
    i understand about credibility/transparency too, but since when does being a couple credit or discredit you from any dodgy behaviour?
    all that said, i reckon there must have been something at this church to provoke this response and change of policy – it’s way too dramatic to be just dreamed up. surely?
    My kids have a great babysitter, a boy of 18 – i wouldn’t trust mahy with my children, in fact, so far they have only ever had two sitters – this boy and a young girl. i choose him every time.

  84. Larry: It is pretty darn important for infants to sleep on their backs. This was decided by the American Academy of Pediatrics after studies to try to prevent SIDS. SIDS is a big deal and nothing any parent wants to experience. Infants have died while at church nursery or daycare from SIDS. It can happen anywhere. So yes, it is important for the nursery workers to know about the Back to Sleep campaign and follow it. Since they change stuff constantly as you say that makes it all the more important that a yearly update class on the latest stuff would be beneficial.


    Back to sleep has lowered SIDS rates by 50%. Now if you as a parent want to put your baby to bed on his tummy. That is your choice. But no way in heck some nursery worker should be doing that without your permission.

  85. I saw an episode of the show, “Undercover Boss” where the boss of a care services company went under cover to see how the employees work with clients (elderly, disabled & children) as well as employee satisfaction. Well, one of the employees he visited was a young man hired to watch 3 toddlers. He told of how he was the oldest of a large family (Im don’t remember how many siblings), has helped raise his siblings, and just loves being around babies and children. He showed more care and patience than the female undercover president who had children of her own. The family he was caring for was a military family, and with dad on duty they wanted a male caregiver so the kids have a male role model around. At the end the president said she sees the need for more male caregivers in her organization.

    as well, one of the caregivers in a nursing home was a man. I was pleased to see this too, as its stereotypical that women would be nurses, but this man was fabulous (and something can definitely be said for the strength he has to lift patients out of wheelchairs).

    anyway, if you haven’t seen it, check it out on CBS’s website. It was such a pleasure to see the stereotypes and silly fears broken down.

  86. Oh, and another show I saw, “Tori & Dean” on Oxygen… they have 2 gay male friends who were babysitting their 6 month old daughter, taking her to a kids birthday party. They showed the men caring wonderfully of her, and talking about how they love being around kids, but it makes them wish they had one of their own. They later told Tori & Dean that they are going to try to adopt. Tori was ecstatic, and said she never feels safer when leaving her kids with anyone else but these two guys. It was just good to hear someone say something like that, and to see these two guys so genuinely loving children, because men always get the bad rap.

  87. This is so unfortunate. What can we do about situations like this, where the insurance company forces schools, churches, museums, etc. into instituting policies like this? It seems so unfair that they can force people to do things that are against their own beliefs. Maybe this church would very much like couples and teenage boys to be involved in their childcare, but they can’t do what’s in their hearts because of regulations.

    I agree with Dolly that some volunteer training is necessary and essential for anyone who wants to help out, and I think most people who volunteer would expect to be sent to some kind of class or have a shadowing day on “how we do things.” Training about special needs would be especially valuable for older folks who grew up in an era that was less sensitive to differences. 60 years ago, some of these kids would have been institutionalized, and others simply would have died very young under mysterious circumstances. Training’s different than a blanket hysteria policy though.

  88. Sera, teenagers in general can be prone to irresponsibility – it’s not just the boys, this is not a gender-linked trait. And, for that matter, some adults are irresponsible and lack empathy!

    But there’s no reason any random teenager can’t watch a few children for a short time, or help an adult watch several children.

    Dolly, the rates of diagnosis of autistic children are increasing, but there is no evidence that the actual rates of autism are increasing.

    Indeed, there is a recent study showing pretty much what much of the autistic community has been saying for years, that there are plenty of autistic adults who simply lack an official diagnosis.

    The autism “epidemic” can be traced back to a few things: 1. the loosening of the diagnostic standards for autism, meaning that more children were diagnosed autistic and less “mentally retarded” or “childhood schizophrenia” (and yes, I’m aware autism and schizophrenia are unrelated, but childhood schizophrenia used to be the default diagnosis!) 2. the advent of the Asperger’s diagnosis and the concept of the autism spectrum, that is, that there may be autistic children who can talk and go to school and such 3. increased awareness of autism (due to 1 and 2) leading to more clinicians thinking of it as a diagnosis and more parents thinking it may apply to their kids (or to themselves! It’s reasonably common for adult autistics to realize they’re on the spectrum when a child in the family gets diagnosed) and 4. improved and increased reporting of autism by states, allowing for better tracking and the perception that it’s increasing.

    And there you go. There’s the famed autism “epidemic” in a nutshell. Adults on the spectrum are less likely to get diagnosed than children (or to get an unofficial diagnosis rather than an official one) for various reasons, some having to do with us (it’s an investment of time and money that might not pay off at all) and some with others (seriously, you still hear of people telling adults “If you had Asperger’s you would’ve been diagnosed as a kid”. How, if you were already 20 when Asperger’s entered the DSM? And then you get “You can’t be autistic, you’re a woman”, which is just BS.)

  89. Larry, don’t be absurd. The recommendation for how to put babies to sleep – not older children, just babies! – has been the same for the past two decades. It’s not “changing every year”, and it doesn’t apply to your children anyway for the simple fact that they’re not infants and therefore not at risk of dying suddenly in the night anyway!

  90. I remember when my youngest came home from Guatemala at 5 months. His foster mom (who had fostered dozens more babies than I had handled at that point) told me “He won’t sleep on his back. Just won’t.” She was right. My level headed pediatrician said “If he’s happy, don’t mess with it.” So my youngest never got the sleep on your back memo. At age 9, he still sleeps on his stomach, every single night.

    Not saying to throw out the whole ‘back to sleep’ campaign – clearly it is the right thing for many kids. But they don’t die instantly on their stomachs in all cases either.

  91. Uly Recommendations may not change EVERY year, but at times it sure SEEMS like it does. And what if someone has a drop-down crib, are they now unqualified since the stupid ban? My kids are 2 & 4 so yes they’re not infants now, but they used to be.

    We’re always being “nag-gra-vated” (combination of being nagged & aggravated–neat huh?) about these things it seems. When mine were newborn we were told we shouldn’t have them in the room they were in because we couldn’t hear them at night from our room. My reply–it’s night, we’re trying to sleep–isn’t not hearing them somewhat the goal? (We set the alarm to wake us up to feed them, at 3 months we stopped that even.)


  92. Just want to say that Thomas Edison didn’t start talking till he was four. I think he turned out alright. Also, my son liked to sleep on his stomach. We never put him down that way, which is the more important thing, although we did put him on his side if he was fussy. He would usually roll over to his stomach from their and we’d all get a good night’s sleep. The main difference, again, is that the parent or caregiver isn’t putting the baby on their stomach, but the baby is assuming that position on their own and thus at a much lower risk of SIDS or suffocation (which is the actual danger of pillows and stuffed animals in the crib).

  93. Sera – with that attitude towards teens, no wonder they’re not interested in spending any time with adults. That may have been the crowd you hung around with, but personally, I’ll take my 16 year olds’ friends any day. They are polite, respectful, and hard working. Do they have times when they laugh and goof around? Yes. Do they sometimes make mistakes? Yes, they’re teens and still learning. How are they ever going to learn if we shun them?

  94. “Teenage boys lack a lot of the empathy that they had as children and will have as adults.”

    How will they have it? Magic?

    How about by helping out with kids alongside responsible adults, learning by practice and example? As long as they’re not solely responsible for the kids, but are there as an extra pair of hands, there is not one single reason why teenage boys (or girls) should be excluded as a class.

  95. So I guess none of you who demand training and CPR training for a church nursery volunteer who watches kids for an hour while the parents are a short distance away, are also never going to allow your kids to play at other kids’ homes? Parents are not required to know CPR. Ignoring the fact that CPR has nothing to do with choking, your child can choke just as easily playing at Johnny’s house for an hour. Or in public school where not everyone is certified in CPR.

    These nursery helpers are church members who have given up their church time to play with your children so you can enjoy service. They are not paid employees like those at gyms and other short term childcare. They are generally parents or grandparents themselves. To require them to them take “babysitting” classes to be able VOLUNTEER is ridiculous and hinders volunteering, meaning your kids have to sit with you. If you want people qualified to work in a daycare in the nursery HIRE and PAY such people.

  96. I agree with Henry Miller – they supposedly enacted these rules to protect them against lawsuits from parents; I’d love to see it backfire when someone sues them for sex discrimination with their policies.

  97. SIDS is very serious. If a caregiver, even at a church doesn’t know how to put an infant to sleep then they have no buisness being in the room. Keeping up with changes in society even if it’s child care is the responsibilty of the citizens. Let’s remember that we want our kids to have less restrictions, but we don’t want to throw them to the wolves and endanger them because we are so anti-rules/guidelines/standards.

    Caregivers at a church need to be responsible church participants. Remember the adults are right there and can get there very quickly if needed. This isn’t rocket science. It’s an hour of church.

  98. I am also a big believer in teens. I teach high school and I think they know how to step iy up when needed! Even if they like to act immature with their friends.

  99. If its this big of an issue to find “approved” volunteers for a church nursery, why don’t they just do away with them? In the churches I’ve been in (Catholic) that have “nursery” areas – and most don’t as children of all ages are welcome during service – they have “cry rooms” a large room at the back of the church with huge windows so that everyone inside can see out. The service is piped in and the people inside can participate just as if they were sitting in the last row of the church. They don’t have any volunteers staffing these rooms, they are for families with small children to sit in so that they can worship together as a family and not worry about a child being loud or disruptive during the service.

  100. As a practicing Catholic, I always wondered about other Catholics who throw a fit if a baby or a toddler makes noise during the service. I’m not talking full on screaming tantrum, or constant noise, but just the normal little coos or occasional forgetting to whisper that toddlers do. If you believe that we should go forth and multiply, and if you vowed during your marriage ceremony to welcome children as a gift from God, then you sort of have to deal with the aftermath. Kids don’t spring from the womb fully formed at age 15. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say ‘all life is sacred from the moment of conception’ but then say ‘but we don’t want to see or hear a peep out of that life until it’s ready for confirmation’.

    Again, I’m not saying kids should be allowed to be so loud that they drown out a 50 member choir or render the homily incomprehensible. But there are usually masses where lots of families tend to attend together, and a little patience from the rest of the congregation would go a long way. So yeah, you cranky old lady, I’m talking to you. There are other services with almost no kids at them, and yet you chose to come to the family mass. Therefore, you need to quit glaring at every baby that hiccups as if it had just gone all Exorcist and everything. I haven’t heard God complaining yet.

  101. This is sad on many levels. One aspect that did come to mind is that this rule is going to reinforce the often sexist mindset that already exists in many churches, namely the notion that women’s sphere of ministry belongs with other women or children. I have spent my entire life in the American Christian world and have seen this mindset in most, if not all churches. This rule is just going to further that mindset.

  102. 1) Since most organized religions in the Western world teach sexism, it seems silly to worry about this piece. The service itself is likely much more offensive in its treatment of women, not to mention gays and lesbians. Teenage boys not being allowed to change diapers is hardly the most offensive sexism being taught on Saturdays and Sundays.

    2) CPR for children is 99% instinctual (pat them on the back and try to get the food out of the throat), very ineffective and saves very few children a year. Requiring classes, etc. is not a statistically viable prevention tool

    3) Most of what I have read about SIDS has much more to do with blankets, lack of fresh air, pillows, etc. I am not sure that having a kid sleep on its back without also fixing those other things really does anything or that a kids without those other causes has a statistically greater change of harm if sleeping on his/her stomach.

  103. I continue to be mystified as to how people who clearly do not attend church style themselves as experts on what they do or do not teach.

    It’d be nice if we could stay on topic and refrain from making snide and unhelpful comments about other people’s beliefs.

  104. Brian,
    I suggest you read the bible and do better research.

  105. Dolly, Dolly, Dolly.

    Do yourself a favor.
    Read Lenore’s book:

    Free Range Kids.

    And regarding autism.
    It’s not going through the roof – in spite of those ads we see and hear (not sure who is driving that scare tactic) .

    My wife is a professional in the field and was on an Autism Team for 2 counties. She quit the team in disgust because other members wanted to identify kids autistic who were not. Late Talkers are not necessarily autistic. It’s called Autism Spectrum for a reason. It’s an umbrella they open wider and wider to engulf more unsuspecting parents gullible enough to buy into it all. I’m not saying certain extreme cases don’t need special help….

    And ADD is a personality style more than a disorder. Almost every entrepreneur would call himself ADD. If you like to see people as disordered rather than unique human beings, what does that mean?

    Two books you might want to read:

    The Einstein Syndrome by Thomas Sowell
    (about Late Talking kids)

    The ADHD Fraud: How Psychiatry Makes “Patients” of Normal Children – by Fred A. Baughman Jr. MD

  106. Learning about the social shift on men and diapers is one of the things that has amazed me the most about FRK (both the book and this blog.) In the 70s, when I was 21 or so, friends of mine had their first son, who became my first “adopted nephew.” One day I was hanging out with Mandy and the sprout, who was six months or so, and she decided that I needed to learn how to change diapers on the grounds that sooner or later I would wind up dating a single mom. Probably the best “class” I ever took – not to be crude, but the harried and stressed-out single moms I wound up dating thought a willingness to change diapers (especially in the middle of the night) was a sign of the sort of guy you want around on a 24-hour basis.

    Same-same with teen boys – I remember watching a friend of mine’s 13-year old son give his 2 year old sister a bath and fresh diaper (complete with kiss on the tummy!) and I told her “You realize you are raising a single mom’s dream, don’t you?” She grinned and said “Yup, he’s exactly what I was looking for when I was a single mom who was sick of changing HIS diapers!”

  107. I am the Pastor of the church with the policy that is quoted in this blog post. And I found you through the significant traffic to the church website through this blog.
    A group that claims to appreciate helmets for their children, but sees no need to run background checks or have a Safe Haven policy is not facing reality. I am not a fear-monger. My children DO ride to the store on their own. But statistics show that child abuser go to places with least resistance and are more likely to be someone with whom the child is well acquainted. I will NOT allow my church to be a Safe Haven for sex offenders and just as in anything . . . safety and convenience are always a trade-off. I hope you can understand how your blog came across as condescending and offensive to someone who is doing the best they can to protect children from potential abuse as well as volunteer workers from false accusations. The diaper and teenage thing was a stretch for me personally, but at the recommendation of my insurance company and the thought of potentially stopping abuse, I saw it as a worthwhile compromise. Unfortunatley, we have a group of 6 ladies that meet regularly in a recovery group for abuse. I don’t know what you do for a living, but as a blogger you get to say whatever you want and have strong opinions. As a Pastor I get to work both sides of the equation trying to protect the kids . . . while trying to provide hope and healing to those whose lives have been shredded by abuse . . . by the way, I am not a sexist . . . but I used to play one on TV . . .

  108. Don,
    I totally support what your church has done. This blog does come off as slanderous at times.

    Unfortunately, child abusers are those closest to our children. Churches will get the brunt of the media/press because “a good story” is what people are looking for. But in all reality, background checks and keeping the adults from being accused wrongly is what this is about. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with over protecting the kids. This one is for the adults.

  109. This is OT, but:

    “she decided that I needed to learn how to change diapers on the grounds that sooner or later I would wind up dating a single mom.”

    What about just because sooner or later you would wind up having kids of your own? It’s more important for a guy to learn to change diapers because he might date someone with a kid, than because he might HAVE a kid?

    I’m sure she meant nothing horrible by it, it just struck me as a bit odd that she would put it that way.

  110. Dolly: are you serious? You are essentially saying that children today are more frail and high maintenance than they were 50 years ago. I refuse to believe that and if it is so it’s only because we have made them that way by treating them like china dolls.

    I believe CPR is a good skill for ANYONE to have. But requiring everyone who comes in contact with kids to have it is a little extreme.

  111. As a new Pastor of a new church I am honestly open to seeing the author of this blog craft a policy that they are comfortable with under the assumption that they would live the rest of their life with the guilt and pain of even one child abused. I think that would put into perspective some of the process I have gone through in accommodating the insurance company’s suggestions.

  112. The policy would also have to incorporate a way of living with the guilt and pain of alienating loving Christian people who just want to help out in the nursery but are told they can’t because they are worthy to participate in every church activity except for watching kids alongside their spouses.

    Insurance companies don’t design policies to balance wisdom and risk; they design them to eliminate risk entirely, as far as possible. Churches have more concerns than that. It is good to wisely incorporate policies that protect kids; it is not good to forget that not a single decision or recommendation of an insurance company is done out of love for people or what is actually best for them overall — children included. It is also not good to forget that not everything that someone claims “protects kids” actually does a lick of good.

  113. But Don, don’t you resent that your insurance comapny has badgered you into policies that you don’t really support? Don’t you resent that volunteers who give unselfishly of themselves to the children of your parish have to worry about false accusations? As a man, doesn’t it bother you that society seems to consider your entire gender a threat to children, and that you’re considered suspect for wanting to be part of a supportive environment in which they can grow as adults?

    Abuse does terrible things to people’s lives, and it’s good that there’s been more awareness of it. But it seems unbalanced in the extreme, where we now treat ANYONE who has an interest in spending time with children as some sort of sick pedo. Fighting back against this “worst-first” thinking is part of what the blog’s about, so that someday insurance companies won’t be so concerned by the possibilty of false accusation lawsuits that they destroy community in the manner that’s happened to you.

  114. And they still won’t let women be priests…

  115. Larry, one new recommendation in 20 years hardly seems like “they’re changing them every year” or even frequently. Not to anybody. Trying to defend your asinine statement just makes your whole argument look weak, probably because it is.

    I am the Pastor of the church with the policy that is quoted in this blog post. And I found you through the significant traffic to the church website through this blog.
    A group that claims to appreciate helmets for their children, but sees no need to run background checks or have a Safe Haven policy is not facing reality.

    DO background checks protect children? How do they do so when most child abusers are only caught once?

    I am not a fear-monger. My children DO ride to the store on their own. But statistics show that child abuser go to places with least resistance and are more likely to be someone with whom the child is well acquainted.

    Like their parents – somebody for whom background checks are rarely required. (Unless you adopt, right?)

    I will NOT allow my church to be a Safe Haven for sex offenders and just as in anything . . . safety and convenience are always a trade-off.

    Ironic how you use Safe Haven in a negative sense here! However, tell us how teenage boys are more of a risk than teenaged girls, please. Tell us how any of the risks you think of couldn’t be better solved by using a piece of modern technology such as a camera.

    I hope you can understand how your blog came across as condescending and offensive to someone who is doing the best they can to protect children from potential abuse as well as volunteer workers from false accusations.

    Sure it’s condescending. That’s because the rules are illogical and stupid.

    The diaper and teenage thing was a stretch for me personally, but at the recommendation of my insurance company and the thought of potentially stopping abuse, I saw it as a worthwhile compromise.

    WHY is it a worthwhile compromise to do something that makes no logical sense, unfairly maligns a portion of the population (preventing them from learning useful parenting skills), and alienates members of your own church? WHO is being protected by this?

    Unfortunatley, we have a group of 6 ladies that meet regularly in a recovery group for abuse.

    Unfortunate that they are getting help? Unfortunate that they don’t happen to be teenage boys? Unfortunate that they are, due to making some mistakes and then taking the responsible step of trying to cure their problems, never ever going to be trusted around children ever again, whether or not they’ve ever harmed a child in the past? Yes, that certainly IS unfortunate.

    I don’t know what you do for a living, but as a blogger you get to say whatever you want and have strong opinions.

    She also gets to use ellipses correctly. Why do people think that the ellipsis is appropriate punctuation for every random thought?

    As a Pastor I get to work both sides of the equation trying to protect the kids . . . while trying to provide hope and healing to those whose lives have been shredded by abuse . . .

    That’s great. It’s a good job. HOW do the rules protect children, exactly? Nobody is actually objecting to the ones that at least make sense, like the one about having two caregivers at once.

    by the way, I am not a sexist . . . but I used to play one on TV . . .

    If you’re not a sexist, then you’re a weak-willed individual who goes along with silly rules (ones even you think are a stretch!) rather than standing up for sense and reason. That’s not much of an improvement if you ask me.

  116. Don, what if your silly rules don’t work? What if a child is molested by a teenaged girl, or by two unrelated adults working together, or by their own parents (which is by far more likely)?

    You can’t control everything. Make a reasonable rule – two adults at a time? Sure! A background check for anybody who changes diapers or does potty runs? Okay, I’m less thrilled with that, but I can see it. No teenagers without a supervising grown-up? Absolutely! A camera on at all times except in the toilet stalls? That’s what cameras are for, after all.

    Ditch the unreasonable rules because they’re not protecting ANYbody, and if you think they are you’re fooling yourself, thus making any kids in your church less safe because you have this idea that you’ve got it covered when you really, really don’t.

  117. Don,

    I admire that you are trying to do the best you can by everyone. I don’t think there is anyway to remove risk entirely, and your insurance company is wrong to be pressuring you to institute sexist policies, for risks that are so miniscule, they aren’t worth mentioning. They are treating your well intentioned volunteers like sex offenders….A husband and wife who want to work in a nursery are regarded as a high-risk situation? This is what the insurance company’s policy says to me:

    No teenage boys….That is essentially saying, “we believe you have the potential to molest or harm our children, just because of who you are, therefore; stay away from them.”

    Only allowing women to change diapers…What I hear is, “Men are dangerous, we will not allow them near unclothed children, so as not to temp them into abuse.”

    On leaving the door partially open: “you may be a woman, but that does not make you much better, so we are going to sacrifice the child’s right to some privacy and modesty in the bathroom so that any busybody can stick his/her nose in AT ANY TIME to be certain you are not molesting our children. We are watching you.”

    You asked to have a policy crafted that would allow you to live with yourself in the event a child was molested. There isn’t one. Bad things happen, and everyone will sometimes be hurt unfairly, and without warning. We cannot eliminate that. Guilt is a natural reaction to bad things happening, even when there was no way we could have know what would happen.

    Letting fear and guilt rule us will skew the way we look at the world. Look at how out of whack your insurance company is. They have essentially labeled all teenage boys and men as molesters who need to be kept away from or seriously monitored when around children.

    My brother at 4 once wandered out of the bathroom at church with his pants (and underpants), around his knees, because he was having trouble pulling them up, gave up and came out for help. Now, everyone chucked, and the nearest person (I do not remember if it was a man or woman) helped pull up and fasten his pants. No one was afraid to help, and no one said “Why were they so happy to help that poor child? Is he a molester?”

    But that is the direction we are headed. And that scares me more than the occasional sicko.

  118. Don. Welcome to Free Range Kids.

    I hope you will return and read many pages. There are a lot of great insights here.

    But most of all, I hope you suggest this blog from your pulpit as a way for your parishioners to regain some sanity in this April Fools News Headline Society.

    And please read Lenore’s book:

    Free Range Kids

    Besides changing your point of view, it might give you sermon ideas.

    And since you’re new to this blog, here are a couple of videos of Lenore in action:

  119. ^Ditto on everything that Uly said.

    *Thinking* that you have everything covered is more dangerous than knowing you don’t, because you stop paying attention.

  120. Uly, I feel so stupid for asking, but what is an ‘ellipses’? I have no idea, and am now wondering if I am making some sort of constant gramattical mistake because I don’t know what it is.


  121. Ha! Micki, I had to look it up! It’s the set of 3 dots (…) that we love to use so much. Don used them 4 times in his original post. I guess that’s a pet peeve for Uly.

  122. Hi Micki,

    Ellipses are the ‘dot dot dot’ ( . . . ) punctuation marks that are seen with increasing regularity in email and other online writing. This is not entirely unfair since much online writing is done in a ‘stream of consciousness’ fashion and they are often used to reflect the flow of said stream. However the frequent and ubiquitous misuse of ellipses can be vexing.

    Here is a link to a brief style guide on the subject which you may find enlightening.


  123. Thanks! I guess that is an error I can live with, since I type the way that I think, and my …. generally indicate some sort of deep moment of thought or a brain lapse, depending.

    I really enjoy this blog, especially since I have an ex that panics easily. I believe this place helps keep me on the proper path.

  124. Yes, I tend to use ellipses (plural of ellipsis FWIW) a lot online since it reflects a mental pause. It sort of makes the writing more conversational, which IMO is useful in online writing.

    However, Uly’s right that it’s not grammatically correct to do so, strictly speaking. The only really proper usage is to indicate omitted words in a quote. And probably, even in the way I intend to use them, I overuse them also.

  125. Thought you would be interested to learn that Texas, while still having a law allowing paddling in the classroom, is getting ready to pass a bill nicknamed “romeo & juliet” basically exempting a teenager (over 18 who has sex with his or her partner who may be under 18) of having to be a sex offender if certain criteria are met about the case.

  126. Don–Welcome and thanks for participating. i like the challenge you pose. I think a rational policy looks something like this:

    –When/if there is an accusation, the church/synagogue takes it seriously. They respect the accuser and accused. they go to the police. they don’t cover it up. they don’t hide or move the accused abuser to a different parish/state. they don’t shame the accused or accuser. they don’t excommunicate the family of the accuser or shun.

    –All child care areas are public. There are no closed, doors, locked doors, etc. In fact, the area for children is in a high traffic area where everyone in the church may pass through at any moment. For instance, on the way to a parking lot, bathroom, etc. The entire community can see glimpses of what is occurring.

    –Eliminate hierarchy and bureaucracy in your organization. make people feel welcome and part of the community. any one of any age should feel empowered to say if something feels wrong to them. there shouldn’t be a need to go up a ladder to report abuse. open door and office hours for a priest/rabbi/preacher are critical as are publicly available email addresses and a open door mentality to comments from parishioners of all ages.

    –There are rotating volunteer parents who float between classes to assist as needed. They hang out and see people. Its not the same people every week so there are lots of people who get exposed to “what is supposed” to be going on. if something is strange–someone is more likely to sense it.

    –The priest/preacher/rabbi visits the classes at some point for a brief talk/lesson/reading/song. This allows her/him to check in and to build a relationship with the children. this promotes dialogue if something needs to be reported.

    –Hired staff may be subjected to some background checks. Volunteers from the community are welcome without background checks. The priest/rabbi/preacher interviews them and the coordinator does whatever training usually occurs.

    –If there is fear or an incident, your community should discuss the issues as a community and work together to respond in a way that they agree is appropriate.

    –Forgiveness and the ability to overcome the fears of life, death and the unknown are the strengths of Western religion. If, God for bid, something occurs, the above plan will help you to identify and respond quickly. These qualities of religion will help you to heal the community, victim and your own conscious.

  127. Brian, I love that. What a fantastic, inclusive, community oriented policy.

  128. Brian, that’s a brilliant “policy!”

    Only one small quibble, and it’s a small one:

    –The priest/preacher/rabbi visits the classes at some point for a brief talk/lesson/reading/song. This allows her/him to check in and to build a relationship with the children. this promotes dialogue if something needs to be reported.

    If the nursery in question is a form of childcare that takes place during the main worship service, particularly if it is a small congregation without multiple ministerial staff, in a tradition where ordained ministers are essential to the service, the minister is just not going to be available to do this. However, in any church I’m aware of no matter how small, there are lay leaders (e.g. elders, deacons, vestry, don’t know what the Jewish equivalent is, sorry) who could do something similar — visit or volunteer themselves occasionally to get a sense of what goes on in the nursery. This would have the same benefits as you suggest.

  129. This is a little off-topic, and yet related, so I am going to bring it up.

    Do you think that the obsession with eliminating risk and the pervasive fear we see around us has more to do with denial of our own mortaility?

    As if by controlling our environments to the extreme, we can deny that everyone dies? That bad things will happen? And that if something bad does happen, it must be someone’s fault?

    I love my child. I want her to grow old and wise, and pass away in her sleep painlessly when she is about 425 years old. That is not likely to happen, but still.

    If a tragic accident befell her, say she choked on a hot dog and could not be saved, is it my fault? Should I be sterilized to prevent any more children being born into my shoddy care? Should we pass a law saying 9 year olds must have only smooshed up hot dogs to prevent choking? Do I sue Oscar Meyer, and demand that all hot dogs now be created in a hamburger like shake?

    This is a silly example, yes, but does anyone think it is the fear of death, or somehow a belief that we can cheat it that is behind so much of this?

  130. http://www.slate.com/id/2293834

    Found this article on Dear Prudence about Free Range kids. She actually mentions Lenore. COOL!

    I agree with Prudence that the 5 and 3 year old are probably too young to be out in the street unattended especially since they do have fast drivers on the street but that the 10 and 11 year old should be able to play outside alone.

  131. Stephanie: Some kids today are more frail than kids back in the day. Food allergies are on the rise. No one has been able to argue that. We have not one member of our family with a severe food allergy, but two. My son and my husband. Different food allergies on top of that! Eating out or cooking is not easy at our house! LOL!

    I have talked to my own grandmothers and they said they honestly never knew anyone with food allergies like they are out there now. They also had no idea how to deal with a food allergy. I had to educate them on it. I had to educate MYSELF on them honestly. I had not a lot of info on them either until I worked at a daycare that had kids with food allergies and then had to educate myself a little more when my own husband and then my own child got one.

    That is something that is on the rise. It is something easily worked around with just a little prevention and education. I have had people ask if they pick the peanuts off if he can eat it……..swear to God they asked that! So yes, its a big deal that if any food is served while my children are in their care that they do some education on food allergies.

  132. Don, there is but one rule possible so to avoid “the guilt and pain of even one child abused”,: nobody under the age of 18 is allowed inside the church. It will certainly cut the membership but would be the ONLY possible rule to prevent any abuse.

    The fact is that abuse happens. Put one pedophile in a room with children and abuse is a likely outcome. No rules are going to stop it. Luckily, pedophiles interested in toddlers are extremely rare.

    How does the rule about diapers and teenage boys “potentially stopping abuse?” Is abuse of babies and teenage pedophiles a genuine problem in your congregation? You can’t “stop” something that isn’t actually occurring. Beyond the linguistic problem, where did you get the idea that teenage boys are so prone to molestation that they simply can never be in a room with small children lest those hormones get going? That is ridiculous and NO parent of a boy should be part of your congregation. The fact is that a teenage boy is no more likely to molest a toddler than an adult male. Yes, there are possibly a disproportionate amount of younger men on the sex registry but the vast majority are there for consensual sex with teenage girls, not raping infants.

  133. Viewpoint: My son is not autistic. However I do get what you are saying about how the spectrum is broad and that people are easily diagnosed now, etc. I understand that. I am just pointing out that a little training and education for dealing with mild special needs kids like my son who can’t talk would be beneficial for workers. Why wouldn’t it be?

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I have read one called “Late Talking Children” that was very informative and my son seemed to fit that mold. Highly intelligent, seems to be into math and science and details, analytical, comes from a family of engineers and computer scientists and mathmeticians. Starts talking around 4. That is my boy.

    Why do you just assume I have not read Free Range kids? I have not read the book yet but it is on my to read list. I have however read this blog a lot even reading long ago entries. I read numerous articles by Lenore. And I actually spoke a little to Lenore herself by email. So it is not like I don’t understand the movement. I understand it and support it in general. My children are still at the age where you do have to step up and be involved. A 4 year old cannot handle a food allergy or speech delay on their own. That doesn’t mean I won’t let them walk to school when they are 8 or to the playground. Because I most certainly plan to.

  134. Uly Like I said, to me, it SEEMS like every year recommendations change. The one about sleeping on the back vs stomach etc may still be the same from that one organization, I am more referring as much as how one person or organization–whatever–says do whatever this way, another says this way, then yet another–and then barely a year later, you’re hear totally different recommendations either from the same sources or other sources altogether.

    All of it ends up as one big blur you can hardly keep track of–to where it SEEMS like everything is changing recommedations-wise. At least that’s how it can SEEM to be, at times anyway.

    We often-times observe that schools are starting to resemble prisons with the extreme emphasis on security and police-presence etc that goes on there, never mind that the worst-ever mass murder in school history occurred in 1927 (Andrew Kehoe). It appears, at times, that churches may be starting to get that way also.

    I am with Uly where it regards correct grammar. I make typos on occasion here, especially if I’m posting from my phone (freaking on-screen keyboards), but some grammar usages & mistakes really annoy me. “It’s” is a common one. If you are saying, “my dog likes its food,” you don’t use an apostrophe, you use it for when it’s short for “it is.” If you say “my dog likes it’s food,” you’re really saying “my dog likes it is food,” which of course is wrong.

    My personal pet-peeve, the biggie, is the usage of Internet acronyms such as IMO, AFAIK (as far as I know), DS (dear son), MIL (mother-in-law), etc. To me, that’s just laziness. What’s so hard about typing out “mother-in-law,” and why should I or anyone else have to translate that? The first time I saw someone type “DS,” I think they meant “dip shit,” ha ha. (And frankly, that’s what I think of such abbreviations myself.)

    Ones like HTML, DVD, VCR or NASA, to me that’s different. I’d never expect someone to spell out “National Aeronautics Space Administration” instead of using NASA, and I sure wouldn’t expect a website to tell you that you can format your text in posting because it supports “hypertext markup language” tags (HTML). Beyond the techno-terms, I can understand some like “SOL” or “SOB.” I don’t gripe about “ex” instead of “example” (especially in parenthesis) or “i.e.” etc (instead of et cetera). Speaking of churches, a lot of “Free Will Bapist” churches will have “FWB” in their names, and I understand that sort of thing too.

    But like a lot of other things, it goes too far, especially when we’re making acronyms out of non-technical or longish words or something that’s not a brand-name etc. “Talk to you later” being made into TTYL is a good example, or “DH” for “dumb husband” (or is that dead, or deceased, or dear husband?). Besides that, we’re not texting here, we’re not constrained by a 140 character limit or having to type out words on a flip phone’s numeric keypad.

    So, I don’t use ones such as “DS” or “MIL” (mentioned already) or “HTH” or “BRB” or “TTYL” or “c u l8r” etc. C’mon already! What are doing here, communicating in morse code? Heck, I refuse to even use “LOL,” instead saying “ha ha.”

    I’d made a great English teacher had I applied myself, ha ha.

    (See–ha ha, not “LOL.”)


  135. “A 4 year old cannot handle a food allergy or speech delay on their own. ”

    Why not?

    My 4 year old handled her food and band-aid allergies on her own. The food allergy is shellfish so rarely an issue but she knew to refuse the band-aids that she adored by 4. My ex’s nephew is allergic to many foods. His family could take him to a table at a party, point out what he couldn’t eat and leave him alone by 4. if he couldn’t remember if he could eat something, he’d ask. There was never a single food incident. So while a 4 year old can’t read labels on food, he can certainly be taught which foods are safe for him to eat and/or to only eat the food you pack for him and to refuse anything else offered.

    My child also had a speech issue – not a delay but a major articulation problem. Other than taking her to speech therapy and occasionally giving info to the daycare so that they could work with her too, she handled it on her own. She found ways to get her point across when people couldn’t understand her, and it rarely involved screaming and tantrums.

    Kids are much better at handling matters for themselves than you want to give them credit for being.

  136. Don, it never even entered my head that you might be sexist.

    You know, just a few decades ago, there wasn’t enough awareness about sexual abuse. But now, I feel like our society has reached a point of hysteria regarding potential abuse. Everyone, especially men, are guilty until proven innocent and seen as perverts if they want to work with little kids or even help their wives in the church nursery changing diapers. I don’t think people in authority (that includes pastors, of course) should be foolish when it comes to safeguarding children. But being careful shouldn’t mean going to the utmost extreme.

    On this past Mother’s Day, my church did a really nice service honoring women, with the men serving in all roles. This included the church nursery. I thought this was a lovely way to honor mothers.

    I understand that being a pastor is often a difficult and thankless task, and I do wish you well in your ministry.

  137. Donna: My son does do very well with his food allergies. He knows not to take food from people. He knows what he is allergic too and will tell people. He understands that sometimes he can’t eat what everyone else is eating. BUT, he is still 4 years old. All it takes is one time for him to end up in the hospital with giant medical bills I now have to pay and I will have to buy new epipens since we had to use one on him and they are expensive. Sorry, we don’t have the money for any food related medical emergencies. I would rather avoid that. Not to mention preferring to avoid my son being sick.

    As far as my other son-big difference between not even being able to even say “mommy” or anything else and not saying stuff clearly. Try going a whole day without talking whatsoever and see how easy your life is and if you get what you want and need with ease. All I do is tell the caregivers that he has a major speech delay and that if he needs something you need to try to get him to show you what he needs or try to guess for him. Not a huge issue, but it would be nice to have someone working in there who is going to be sensitive to it. At church we have never had problems, but we have had problems out in public with people making fun of him and nobody needs that.

  138. Like I said, to me, it SEEMS like every year recommendations change. The one about sleeping on the back vs stomach etc may still be the same from that one organization, I am more referring as much as how one person or organization–whatever–says do whatever this way, another says this way, then yet another–and then barely a year later, you’re hear totally different recommendations either from the same sources or other sources altogether.

    Actually, that doesn’t happen. What happens is that news media takes small studies and runs with them as though they were big, changing ones, and then people who don’t bother to pay attention to actual recommendations get this silly idea that science is fickle and easily changeable. Sure, when we know more and have a fuller understanding of what’s going on, advice can change – but not as fast as you think.

    With that said, the back thing is something you pretty much made up. Because it’s the same advice that’s been given out since I was a baby. It can’t “seem” as though it’s changed any more than the advice to, I don’t know, support the baby’s head can “seem” as though it’s changed.

    Funnily enough, I don’t mind abbreviations, though, unless they’re unnecessarily opaque. I think watching them change is fascinating! But my pet peeve is saying “grammar” when you mean “punctuation” or “spelling/orthography”. Grammar is grammar, punctuation is punctuation, spelling is spelling… and English orthography is a real mess, so unless it’s some grievous error (like somebody I know who constantly puts hoover where she means hover, in defiance of all sense) I try to ignore it. But punctuation is important. The ellipsis is not meant to be abused!

    (I must explain that I come from a family of proofreaders, people who routinely will interrupt an argument to comment on your use of the English subjunctive, or suggest another way to phrase your sentence to be less ambiguous. My parents liked to read our books for the fun of it, and we constantly got them back marked up with pencil on every single typo and error. When it comes to speech I’m descriptivist (with a few caveats having to do with appropriate style and register) but spelling and punctuation are different.

    As for schools, they’ve always been prisons, in my experience. Why the hell do you have to raise your hand and beg to go pee?

    Wow, now I’m wildly off-topic! Sorry.

  139. Huh, I didn’t close that parenthesis. Well, that’s how it is, you cannot comment on punctuation (or any other related topic) without making a humorously inappropriate error.

  140. Micki, I suppose I meant CPR in a very general way. I don’t think it should be a blanket requirement for nursery working. But it is a nice thing to know, I guess. I don’t think I would demand bsckground checks, but I think they can be reasonable precautions in certain situations.

  141. “With that said, the back thing is something you pretty much made up. Because it’s the same advice that’s been given out since I was a baby. It can’t “seem” as though it’s changed any more than the advice to, I don’t know, support the baby’s head can “seem” as though it’s changed.”

    I almost hate to point this out because I hate to give aid and comfort to Larry’s attempt to defend himself for saying something rather silly, but in fairness, when my 20 year old (my oldest) was born, it was all about stomach sleeping because the belief was that choking on spitup while asleep was the culprit. It wasn’t long after that, I don’t recall exactly when, that back sleeping became the accepted method and yes, it HAS been consistent since then.

    This is all really a pretty silly side issue, though, because none of this matters — any adult of normal or near-normal intelligence, regardless of age or experience with children, can simply be told that it’s nursery policy that infants be placed on their backs, and they can do it. If you have people who don’t follow the rules set up for the nursery, *that’s* you’re problem, not what sex, or how old, or how savvy, or how whatever they are before they begin helping in the nursery. Same with food; if you have a child who must be restricted on food, you tell the nursery workers that. If you can’t trust the nursery workers to follow a simple instruction, that’s a trust issue, not a training issue, a qualification issue, or an age issue. You can require everyone who works in the nursery to be female med school graduates between the ages of 30 and 40, but if you can’t trust them to follow such simple rules and requests, they’re no safer than with untrained, but responsible and trustworthy people of any age or sex.

  142. Very well said pentamom. For me I prefer that everyone take a little training and then everyone can work in there and be trusted regardless of age, sex, etc. That way no one is being singled out and no one can later claim they didn’t know they had to do X because everyone took the same training seminar or did the same shadowing or whatever and everyone was told.

  143. Well, I’m not old enough to have a 20 year old son, Pentamom 😛

    But I’ll drop it if he does, because at this point we’re just running in circles anyway and it’s silly on both our sides.

  144. Not that it matters, but for the record, she’s a daughter. 🙂

  145. Huh, for some reason I could’ve sworn I read “son” in there!

    I’m not old enough to have a 20 year old daughter either.

  146. pentamom – re: dating single moms – at that point in my life I was a motorcycle weirdo who was on a ballistic missile submarine, which meant I had my feet on the continental US about 5 months out of 12. I had friends who were in relationships that could survive “105 and a wakeup” deployments but hadn’t run into one myself. Frankly having spent the late 70s -early 80s in a “butterfly” state of serial monogamy single moms were a part of the dating scene – and which is better: a guy who won’t date a woman with a kid because it’s too much of a hassle, or a guy who will spring for a babysitter so that Mom can have a nice dinner and listen to a band with some dude that will get up at 4 am to change the diaper of his girlfriend’s kid?

  147. jim, I’m not arguing really or saying it’s not a good thing for guys who date single moms to be able and willing to help out. It just struck me as strange that the #1 reason she offered was “you might date a single mother” rather than “you might have a kid.” Most men who date women at some point wind up having a kid, not nearly as many date a single mother before having kids of their own (not that it’s rare, it’s just less common.) So it just seemed like it was strange that she went to that reason *first.*

  148. What happened to church being about family???
    I take my family to church every Sunday and for us it is time that my husband gets to spend with his kids. He takes care of our 2.5 yr old son and 11 mo old daughter so I can enjoy Sunday School and he gets some time with them. I actually get time off from being a mom (which I love doing but need some time to myself now and then).
    Also, are there no single fathers at these churches? This is a slap in the face to those men who are trying to raise their children.
    Personally if I went to this church, I’d leave.

  149. I didn’t have time to read through all the comments, so this is purely about the inital article, not about anyone commenting…
    Clearly these people do not go to the right kind of church! In the many Biblical (mostly) small churches I’ve attended through the years they all could be defined as ‘free range’. Nursery attendants were whoever signed up for them, no background check (how obsurd!), restrictions, or regulations. In good churches people know and trust each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and you don’t demand a resume before you drop your kids in the nursey, you just sign them in and say ‘they can/can’t have snack’ and you go to service. I spent most of my late childhood and teenage years as a nursey helper/worker, and I was the go-to girl for non-Sunday meetings to watch kids. They trusted me to watch however many kids might be there, and to bring someone trustworthy (usually my brother’s best friend a *gasp* teenage male) if I thought i’d need help. This is what happens when churches start ignoring and drifting away from the Bible. They go from a Biblical mandate to not involve the courts/lawyers in disputes between believers to background checks on believers to make lawyers happy. Abysmal.

    The 1st time we went to a new church after a move we come home and my mother-in-law asks ‘how were the kids’. ‘They were fine, they had fun in nursery’ (me). ‘Oh, who was watching them? (Mil) ‘a husband and wife pair from the church I think, only the husband was there when I dropped them off and it was a bit busy when I picked them up, but I’m guessing the woman was his wife.’ (Me) stunned silence from my (very non-christian) mother in law. ‘That sounds really dangerous to me, that would be a perfect hunting ground for a pedophile! All those kids in private! Are you sure you can just leave them in the nursey? I could never do that!’… she’s ultra-neurotic, a trait she passed onto my husband, but at least he knows he’s being unreasonable so he’s working on it.

  150. There is a similar policy in place at the local church where I am a member of a MOPS group. I can see the rationale in a way: men are by far more likely to perpetrate a sex abuse on kids than women. And part of it is protecting the worker so they are above reproach and nobody can ever accuse them of anything. But such attitudes make me always fundamentally distrust men too around my daughter. And then I wonder, am I being overprotective? Or realistic? It’s so tough to figure out.

  151. @Joe, I’m with you on kids in the pew!:-) I posted about this here: http://flatheadmama.blogspot.com/2011/03/toddler-can-get-something-out-of-church.html

  152. We recently moved to a new province, and are in the middle of finding a new church. The one we’ve been to the past few weeks the volunteers aren’t allowed to change diapers at all. Parents are given a pager and if your child needs a diaper changed you get paged out of the service to do it. And, you aren’t allowed in the nursery or toddlers rooms at all as a parent. You have to wait for them to bring your poopy child to the door, then take them to a “mommy room” to change them!

  153. This is all really interesting…I haven’t read all the comments, but we did have an incident where an older gentleman in our church turned out to be a child molester. The church instituted all sorts of new rules afterward, none of which made any sense. Background checks–but the man had never been caught before; no person older than 18 can work in the nursery unless they’re a member–but he was a member and had been for years. He worked in the nursery with his wife, but he didn’t do anything in front of her–pedophiles are rare, but spouses that are ok with it are even rarer!

    also, spousal privilege applies to communication between spouses. Last time i checked, an act of molestation is not communication. If he told his wife, she wouldn’t be able to testify, but she definitely could, and 99.9999999% of the time would, if she actually saw or was present when the act occurred.

    It is a tragedy when a child is hurt, but none of these policies are capable of weeding out pedophiles. teaching children is still the most effective way of prevention–not teaching them that every male is evil. I can only imagine the trust issues and relational ramifications of that policy with girls who grow up in that church.

  154. Marital Privilege Law http://definitions.uslegal.com/m/marital-privilege/

    “permits a witness to refuse to testify against his or her spouse. This is the testimonial privilege. The witness spouse alone holds the privilege and may choose to waive it.”

    “[c]ommunications between the spouses, privately made, are generally assumed to have been intended to be confidential, and hence they are privileged . . . .”

    Federal law recognizes exceptions “where one spouse is charged with a crime or tort against the person or property of the other or against a child”

  155. Welcome to your local, Catholic Church. Here, where we don’t run around promoting womyn preests and litugical silliness, and where we also don’t try to claim that we’re more Catholic than the Pope so HA!- here we have families with lots of kids. (Not bashing on women pastors, just highlighting some of the modern day bickering going on in Catholic circles…)

    3 kids, 4 kids, 5 kids or more in many different families. Some families have 1 child, some have a bunch of adopted children. Some have no children. Maybe its because of all this diversity of kids everyone is much more free to be who they are.

    Much like the rules about not allowing candles to be lit all of the time, regardless of what our liturgical norms require, and regardless of the idea that people should only come to Church at 10 am on Sunday (as opposed to 3 am on a Wednesday, or 10pm on a Friday, or any time for that matter), we take the whole “men are horrible perverts and can’t be seen with their wives because they’ll both do something dirrrrrty to the kids” with a bucket of salt.

    Granted, we’ve got some very strict programs now in light of the scandals of the past decades that do get almost ridiculous, but at the very least I haven’t seen anyone automatically assuming that men are evil, or women for that matter.

    In fact…wonder of wonders we actually ENCOURAGE men to volunteer, and a husband and wife team is considered an ideal! 2 people who both have lots of experience working with kids, letting other parents get a break on occasion? We’re so in.

    Shameless plug? Probably. True? Definitely.

  156. The more I read of free range kids the more it makes me think of srsly moving out of the u.s this isn’t ment to be bashing of free range. More on the state/paranoia of the country after I finish highschool ima prob leave

  157. I am sorry but I find this all very hard to swallow. Some of those rules aren’t just to protect children but also the adults from false allegations. It’s sad that there are false allegations out there but there are. Also not all change is bad. In an era that we find out that many young children were sexually abused at their churches by their pastors or church leaders, I find it hard to believe that anyone would have any problems with more safe guards today.

    Also, child pornography is more available and so is pornography. To think that a larger majority of young men or young women haven’t seen more pornography than in past generations and that it isn’t more readily available is RIDICULOUS. My point, that safe gaurds for children even at church are good. Also I have heard of too many ‘older siblings’ molesting their younger siblings. Not a chance I am willing to risk. Let my kids ride on their bikes where I can’t see them is a risk I am willing to take, play in the front yard, run to a friends house, walk to a store with a friend are all risks that I am comfortable with. The remote possibility that they would be sexually touched is not a risk I am willing to take and the fact is that the majority of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know, like people at church, or family friends and so on.

    I think free range is a great philosophy but I think that when it comes to possible molestation of children, back off.

  158. […] Free-Range Kids: I am the Pastor of the church with the policy that is quoted in this blog post. [The one below this one.]  And I found you through the significant traffic to the church website […]

  159. […] kids inside, and the more we distrust our neighbors and everyone else. (For a lovely example, see my post on the church that will not allow married couples to teach Sunday School unless a third adult is in […]

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