Don’t You Step on This Blue Swede (or her shoes)

Hi Readers — Forgive the belabored headline. Here’s a story one of you alerted us all to in the post below this one:  A Swedish woman left her baby outside a Massachusetts restaurant for 10 minutes while she ordered inside. Someone saw the boy, called the cops and the cops called Department of Child and Family Services to file a report of “potential abuse or neglect.”

Now, I know that leaving your kids outside is common in Scandanavia and uncommon in the States. But as Pentamom put it in a comment:

If I were empress of the universe, when someone came across a well-cared for looking baby left in a stroller outside a decent-looking establishment in broad daylight, and reported it, the cops would say, “Ha! Another European! I’ll find the parents and speak to them about it” and that would be the end of it. Only if the conversation with the parents gave the cops something to worry about, would it go beyond that.

Not only do I wish Pentamom (or me) WAS the empress of the universe, I wish that she (or I!!) could change this country into one where we DO trust our babies to be fine for a few minutes outside, because we all look out for one another, rather than all distrusting one another.

On another, but related, note, I am up in Canada filming my TV show (that still is looking for a few more overprotective families to participate), and what do I see FIRST THING as I sit down to eat my breakfast in the diningroom where the TV is, of course, blaring? “Body of 3 year old found in Missouri.”

That’s right. The local Toronto news is reporting a dead child found in another country.Because beyond traffic and weather, that is what sells. And that is why it seems crazy to leave a child unattended anywhere, ever. When all you hear about, day in and day out, is children meeting gruesome ends, that is what you come to expect:   Sadness, shock, psychos (and sometimes Swedes). — L.

No one at my side? I must be officially abused and neglected!

131 Responses

  1. That’s cause Canada and the US are brothers of the same mother. Something that happens in the US does affect us greatly, even if the US doesn’t feel the same way about us. The US is like the big brother who was happy being an only child and ever since we were born, has been throwing tantrums. We’re the child that has been loyal to mom and dad without having them demand that we do so.

  2. It’s not necessarily the only thing that sells, but it’s cheap and easy and doesn’t rock nay boats.

  3. My first instinct upon seeing a well cared for baby outside, alone would be to go into the place and ask whose baby it was, just to make sure all was fine. Why would calling the cops be the first thing you do?

  4. Because that’s what we’re conditioned to do: distrust one another and report one another to the authorities.

  5. Yeah, Lenore, just fyi, MOST of the news we get here is American. MOST of the channels on tv are American. If you want local news, you have to seek it out on one of basically 3 or 4 stations out of 100. We do of course consider the USA another country, but news (of any sort, happy, sad, weird) from the United States is commonplace. We are and always have been, steeped in American culture. Keep in mind Canada’s population is less than California’s, so comparatively there’s just a lot happening “down there” in the good old US of A.

    But I agree with your whole point of the baby outside thing. I would go into the restaurant looking for the parent, or perhaps stay by the stroller until the mom came out.

  6. The Swedish connection reminds me of a case years ago in CO with a Swedish family. The young boy was accused of some sort of inappropriate (for the US, not for Sweden) behavior, and removed from the home. The family promptly got the daughter out of the country, and I’m not sure if they were able to get the boy back or not. Anyone remember? I haven’t been able to come up with a google search that will recover it.

  7. I think it’s a little weird to leave a baby for ten minutes outside a restaurant by itself. Babies aren’t really ready to be free range – sorry.

  8. 300 million people make a lot of news, so it’s no surprise that Canada is inundated.

    But to the point of the post, why not just take a moment to either go inside and enquire about the baby or just stop and make sure no one crazier than you does anything bad. When the parent comes out, you could a. walk away or b. suggest that while *you* don’t harbor any suspicions about their competence, not everyone thinks that way and maybe you should keep the little one closer.

    Sad, isn’t it, that we’re more afraid of the do-gooders and busybodies than we are of actual Bad People?

  9. My question is why would you leave the kid outside. I understand not hauling kids out of cars for two second trips or leaving a sleeping baby lie but what possible benefit could there be to leaving a baby outside a restaurant, while you order? The kid was in a stroller and I’m assuming he wasn’t causing a scene so I just can’t see how it would be that much easier to park his stoller outside, instead of just wheeling him in, ordering and moving on.

    If he’d been having a fit, you wouldn’t want to take him in and cause a disruption (but you also wouldn’t leave a screaming child sitting alone on a sidewalk, while ordered anyway) but just a calm kid, sitting in a stroller? Hit the button, pull him inside, save yourself this kind of trouble.

  10. Another option would be to just park yourself within eyeshot of said baby and wait for the parents to come back out. If they haven’t reappeared in 15 minutes then decide whether to go in and find them or call the cops or whatever. In some European countries it is the custom to leave the kid in the stroller on the street just because there isn’t room for the stroller in the shops. It’s a cultural thing, just like our inability to cut the cord until our kids hit 30 is some things here in America.

  11. @mom2cne I believe the idea is it’s good for kids to have as much fresh air as possible.

  12. I obviously need more green tea as I am feeling snarky and have lost the ability to type coherent sentences. That should read, “It’s a cultural thing, just as some things are in America.”

  13. Totally normal. My husband is Finnish and every time we’re there I see Finns pushing around honking big strollers that probably don’t fit through the doors of most shops. So, they park the stroller by the entrance, pop in and get what they need to and pop right back out. In day cares, babies are loaded into strollers (and bundled up if it’s winter) and set outside to get fresh air. Yet when I was in Germany and pushing my son around in a (borrowed) stroller, it wouldn’t fit into one shop and he was asleep, so I panicked and popped my head in and asked the shopkeeper if it was fine to leave him in the stroller and the person was like, “yea, duh, weirdo.” it’s normal there. They actually trust society and other people.
    If the people in the story wanted to drive home the point that leaving your baby outside in a stroller is dangerous, they should have kidnapped the baby and killed it instead of calling the police. Instead, they’ve just reinforced the fact that we can have faith in society not to do anything horrible to our children 99% of the time (probably even more than that).

  14. “My question is why would you leave the kid outside”

    First, because in most scandanavian countries it is standard to let babies nap outside at home, outside restaurants, etc. This was a Swedish mother. Leaving the baby outside was the natural response for her.

    Second, not all restaurants are easy to get strollers in and out. Between sometimes difficult doorways and all the tables, servers and customers, manuevering a stroller can be difficult.

  15. I think it makes more sense to go into the shop and ask about the child before calling the police too. Traditions from other countries wouldn’t be on my mind, but that’s the simplest way to see if there’s a problem. Call the police only if you can’t find the parent or if thing still seem off then.

  16. I agree with Julia. My first instincts are not to call the cops in every situation (ok, I admit the night the burglar alarm went off in the middle of the night – THEN my first instincts were to call the cops. Turns out it was a wayward deer pushing against the glass door playing with the cats on the inside. But still. I was a skeeered little girl.)

    In this day and age, it seems to be damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Either I’m a bad parent for leaving my kid at home while I run the garbage to the dump or I’m a bad parent for subjecting her to the potential germs of the dump (even though she never gets out of the car). If I leave her at home for 30 minutes-hour to go to the doctor or pharmacy for a sick call, I’m a bad parent. if I take her with me, I’m a bad parent for exposing her to the germs at such places. If I take her to work with me on Saturday, I’m a bad parent for denying her the ability to freely play all day long. If I leave her at home, I’m a horrible parent.

    I have learned you can’t please everybody and I have quit trying to please anybody.

  17. Were I live, even for non emergency, such as responding to an officer’s inquiry, or calling to get information from the police, you are instructed to call 911. When I was a kid, the neighbor used to let her 2 yo out front alone to play, in the dirt and rocks, he loved it. He loved it even more when I would come out with my toy cars and play with him, in the dirt. Today, if I were the same 8yo boy, I would get investigated by child services as to why I am alone with a baby, the mother would get investigated as to why she allowed her baby alone with a boy, unsupervised, and the baby would be taken away and go through years of counseling for something he could not possibly remember, but the the(rapist) would certainly make sure he did.

  18. Teri, “I have learned you can’t please everybody and I have quit trying to please anybody.”

    Exactly right, I could not have said it better myself.

    I see no problem with what the woman did, and she should not have been obligated to bring her child in because OTHER PEOPLE think it’s wrong. Screw what they think! And yes, it is true–people seem to think “call the cops” about EVERYTHING. Someone called them on us last Saturday at a McDonald’s in the city just because I raised my voice–raised my voice!–at my 2½ year-old son for standing up in his seat. I bellowed out “sit your ass down.” Was that maybe a little loud? Perhaps. But a reason to call the police? Not even. Shame on this person!

    Do I let it stop me? No. It works, he sat down and didn’t so much as DARE stand up for the rest of the meal. I do what works, I don’t care what others think, cops or no cops. If anything, the cop should’ve been allowed to arrest the person for harassment, because that is exactly what it is. It is no more “making sure the kids are okay” than these 106 degree temperatures are a “normal summer” (our normals are around 94). It is busy-body meddling and these people need to be defeated by any legal means necessary.


  19. When I was an infant in Upstate NY, my mother would routinely leave me in my stroller on our front porch, with the family dog. It was to get fresh air and sunshine, and maybe just to get me out of her hair for an hour or whatever while she cleaned. Nobody made a peep. Now, I might not leave my babies outside in NYC or LA, but Amherst? Yeah, I might do it there, too.

  20. I was in Iceland on business a few years ago, and I was walking around Keflavik when I saw a sea of baby carriages (babies included) parked outside a coffee shop. It was summer, so the weather was cool, but not frigid, and the babies were pretty well bundled up. Inside the shop I saw what I assumed were the moms, sitting around a table, enjoying coffee together. One of the babies started crying, and the moms inside couldn’t hear. A man walking by went over to the strollers, found the crying baby, and reinserted the pacifier that had fallen out of the child’s mouth. The moms looked up when they saw this strange guy among the babies, but waved to him when they saw what he was doing. He waved back, and went on his way.

    I remember being really impressed by that. Now I live in fear of not being able to find a parking spot near the cart return at the grocery store, because I don’t want to be reported for leaving my kids alone in the car for 1 minute while I return a shopping cart 100 feet away.

  21. Larry – Seriously? They called the cops for yelling? I guess you were supposed to quietly reason with him and explain all the things that could happen if he didn’t sit down. And then by the time you were done doing that, he’d probably be on the floor head first. I’d have at least waited until THEN to call the police. /sarcasm/

    Teri – you are absolutely correct. We are being told that no matter what decision we’re making, if something bad happens, it’s the wrong one. Oh, and in your rant you said you’d leave the child in the car while you dumped the trash. Sorry, can’t do that either. What if the car gets stolen in the 5 seconds you’re not in it? So you can’t leave them at home, you can’t leave them in the car and you can’t expose them to the trash. Hm. Lets see, what other options are there? Hm. None. So choose one and hope nothing goes wrong.

  22. I remember seeing a Swedish mom interviewed on the common practice of leaving small, sleeping children outdoors to nap. I believed she was asked if she worried anyone would snatch them and she said no, “no one wants them!”. Seems abductions are not a common event, and their culture favors fresh air for wee ones(plus historical buildings that don’t acommodate large prams.)
    We napped our 2nd and 3rd babies outdoors (though I did use mosquito netting- I had a bug thing.) and they took marathon naps in fresh air while I chased my son around.

  23. Lollipoplover, on August 18, 2011 at 01:14 said:
    I remember seeing a Swedish mom interviewed on the common practice of leaving small, sleeping children outdoors to nap.


    That was on Oprah in her last season.

    When I see posts even here about not understanding why some parent makes a different choice in thier parenting (such as leaving a child in a stroller outside) my inner voice wants to run around in circles and cry: “Normal is a value judgement”!

    What is “normal” for you in America is normal for America ONLY. It isn’t normal everywhere… or even anywhere …. else. I thought that was the whole point of this blog. Looking at what was normal in other times and places and comparing it to what is becoming normal in America and deciding we don’t like it!

  24. In a good way, it’s because we don’t have as many harrowing news as the States. So Canadian news looks to other countries to generate interest in viewing. Even the local news stories seemed to be a little doctored up to sound more interesting than it is. Which ends up making it worse than it really was. In regards to the mother leaving the child outside, I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as the parent was in visual or earshot range of their child. As much of a FR person I am, I don’t think I’d leave a one year old child completely unattended (can’t see them, can’t hear them) for period of time (no more than a couple of minutes) out on the sidewalk. In a car yes. But not out in the open. If anything, I would ask someone who I deemed trustworthy (I’d like to think I have a pretty good judge of character), if they could keep an eye on my kid for 5-10 min while I make a quick trip inside a store or restaurant that I can’t easily bring the child into. That’s what my parents used to do with me and my siblings.

    And is that report right? DCF hasn’t had any data since 2009? Must be a slow 2 years, and needed some new data to acquire. But after jumping the gun and losing $66K for unwarranted treatment of the another foreign woman, guess they found it in their best interest to not pounce on every report, and to investigate first before judging. That’s a good thing.

  25. About 15 years ago I was in the Dali Museum in St. Pete & witnessed a security guard severely dressing down a european couple for leaving their sleeping child in a stroller in one gallery room while they went into an adjacent room. They were no more than 20-30 feet from the baby at all times & certainly would have heard the slightest peep in a quiet museum. I was disgusted & felt really badly for the parents. Geez, welcome to America.

    I’m glad others have addressed the issue of european parents leaving their children outside in strollers while they pop inside a bakery or cafe. It is very common all over northern europe, not just scandanavia. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that until very recently, the inside of a cafe would have been very smoky in most euro cities. It seems the baby would be much safer not waiting 10min in a smoky area…. and now it is simply habit. And, it simply is safe, even here in the U.S., obviously, (unless a busybody is watching you with the cops on speed dial).

  26. A local Amherst perspective:

    “By the way, for non-residents, Bueno Y Sano is a great little burrito place that is tucked in a courtyard off the main street, shaded, quiet, untrafficked. In other words, perfectly safe.”

  27. You would think people could see the difference between a well cared for child sitting in a stroller outside and a filthy neglected starving 3 year old left alone for 4 days while the “mom” scores some drugs or parties with her boyfriend. Unfortunately the latter does happen and those children do need protection. I would love to see leaving babies outside restaurants and shops catch on in America, I think that’s a great idea. As it is though, since it is not the norm I would probably take notice of a baby/stroller left alone. I wouldn’t call the police, but would probably look for the mother (since it’s so rare to see a baby alone my first thought would probably be that something tragic had happened to the mother).

    Recently I was talking to my daughters former 1st grade teacher. She teaches at a public school and as a teacher is required to report any incidents to CPS. She had a first grade girl in her class who had a 3rd grade brother. The parents were going out of town and had lined up care for the children. One morning the children came to school looking very unkempt. The teacher found out that the uncle who was supposed to be at their house when they got off the bus the day before had not shown up. The kids were alone all afternoon, evening, overnight, and got themselves up and ready for school and on the bus. They had fed and cared for themselves. The teachers talked and although they didn’t want to had to call CPS. CPS told them that it was legal in Missouri, there is no minimum age to be alone, and they did not need to investigate. The teachers were relieved and got a hold of the uncle who was incredibly sorry and felt terrible for forgetting the kids. This happened just this past school year, so there is still some sanity in Missouri anyway! It also goes to show that kids are pretty capable on their own, I’m sure they’ll remember their “adventure” fondly for years to come 🙂

  28. I would have had to call the cops. If I spoke to the mother herself, she like most people these days would probably just respond with a verbal attack and maybe also some sort of threat. If I hung out with the kid, as some other posters suggest, then somebody *else* would call the cops on *me*. So the only practical action available to help the kid in a way that’s also safe for me — call the cops.

  29. Speaking of Canada, here’s front page news in Vancouver:

    I know it’s bad form to leave a kid on an outing, but I love latent resourcefulness displayed. On the radio they were saying “…sparking a frantic police search…” which juxtaposed amusingly with “..until the child was found to be safe at home having taken the bus on his own..”

  30. @ E.Simms: That Kamper guy who wrote that article is a complete moron. Talk about “holier than thou, my crap don’t stink” attitude. So it’s still a bad thing to leave your child in the “safest city in America” where “Good, concerned, deeply ethical people who care”. Oh, and leaving them at a place where he says, “Bueno Y Sano is a great little burrito place that is tucked in a courtyard off the main street, shaded, quiet, untrafficked. In other words, perfectly safe.” What an idiot.

  31. J Paul S Or, there’s another alternative–mind your own stinking business and stay out of it.


  32. I would also hazard a guess that in European countries the shops are smaller and more specialized. It would really only be a few minutes because you were only popping in to get a little milk and cheese or whatever. And since it is a community culture, I’m guessing again that since people are all walking they are all familiar with each other and each others’ prams and kids. I WISH I could do that here!

  33. This could make a great episode of “What Would You Do?” Leave a baby in a stroller outside alone on a city sidewalk and watch people’s reactions!

  34. EricS: That article was a satire. “kamper” made a decidedly free-range comment at the bottom of the page.

  35. The reason I phrased my comment the way I did is because you don’t have to agree that leaving your kid outside is a good thing — you just have to admit that 1) someone who comes from a country where it is completely safe and acceptable to do so is not “mistreating” the child by doing so and 2) if no harm comes to the child, then there is no reason to make it a crime. You simply have to acknowledge that such is not acceptable in American society (rightly or wrongly) and handle it in a way that acknowledges that the parent is not being evil for doing so, but still discourage the practice.

    There are a number of reasons I don’t think it’s a great idea to do this, but a little sensitivity to the fact that things that ultimately *result in no harm* are done differently elsewhere wouldn’t be amiss in a situation like this.

  36. Yelling at kids reminded me of a bit I heard a comedian do many years ago. I’ll paraphrase:

    The other day I was with my kid at the food court and a woman rounded the corner just as I was screaming at my kid, “YOU’RE NOT GETTING THE BIG SODA! YOU’RE GETTING THE SMALL SODA!!!” She looked at me like I was the most terrible father on the planet. When you walk into a situation where a parent is yelling at the kid, don’t just assume you’re seeing the beginning of the interaction. This is how the whole thing went:

    Daughter: I want the big soda.
    Dad: No, we’re going to get the small soda and if you finish it, we can get some more.
    Daughter: But I want the big one!
    Dad: Sweetie, you never finish the big one. It’s a waste of money and soda. We’re going to get the small one.
    Daughter: I WANT THE BIG ONE!
    Dad: No! You’re not getting the big one! We’re getting the small one!
    Daughter: I WANT THE BIG ONE!!!!!

  37. Well, there are other reasons not to leave baby outside alone…

    1) Dogs
    2) Kids grow up faster than you think and may be able to escape
    3) Blocking sidewalk traffic
    4) Too much sun
    5) Baby misses you and starts crying

    I’m going to agree that it’s a bad idea.

    Wouldn’t arrest her, though.

  38. @geistdesfritz

    Very well said.

  39. kiesha That is exactly right. It’s a very common thing for interactions to go very much just like that, and I do what I think is right, to heck with other people not approving of it. It’s none of their business anyway.

    Nicole Krieger Whether or not it’s a bad idea, not only should she not be arrested (which you did say), no one should say anything about it at all. That’s right, people who disapprove have no business judging and commenting. Granted, close friends should be able to give their peace, with the PROPER TONE, but that’s it. Otherwise it’s totally a case of “mind your own business.”

    I can tell you also that with #5, just because a baby’s crying doesn’t automatically mean it NEEDS you. Seriously, even at the baby stage, there are times when a baby is crying and there isn’t really a legitimate need there. A good example of that is naptime, it was common with our 2 that they’d throw a fit when I put them down for a nap, but rather than continuously going in there & rocking them to sleep etc, I just let it be. I did the “cry it out” thing. If they do need you, by all means do what have to, but just as people are too quick to rush to judgment that a yelling father means he’s being a monster, in like manner a baby crying doesn’t ALWAYS mean it actually needs attention. If you as the parent are compelled to go to your baby anyway because of your own feelings, that’s fine, so long as one isn’t compelled to to do even if they don’t think it’s necessary just because OTHER people presume it is.


  40. Twice in two weeks I’ve read about thwarted child abductions. By strangers. The first one, a dad saw his kid beating on a window and ran into the house and grabbed her. The second, a man saw a girl get grabbed and thrown into a van and he chased the van down and got the girl back. The kidnapper ran off.

    I want to allow my kids more freedom. I want to be a free range parent and them to be free range kids. But when I read stuff like this it gives me nightmares.

  41. I get that it’s a cultural thing and that she was unaware that here people FREAK OUT!!

    What would I have done? I’m a social worker – but I like to think I’m a practical one. I would have just made note of the time and hung out until a parent showed up.

    However, saying that she did that doesn’t mean that I would do it. I’m sort of the paranoid mom. And I have an ADHD kid – I can have my hand on him one moment and the next I don’t see him anywhere. I understand that he probably is an exception.

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I really am trying to loosening up with my 14 yr old daughter. I let her bike 4 miles in the country to her friend’s home 🙂 LOL!!

  42. OH and to Janina – Thanks for the lesson on Canada. I truly didn’t know that the population was less than California. How embarrassing for me. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

  43. Ten bucks says that who ever called the cops on the baby weren’t actually concerned enough to linger and make sure that the child was safe from any harm (you know, the harm that immediately threatened the child and warranted a call to the cops.)

    That’s the part that bothers me about this sort of thing. It’s more like people are trying to get others in trouble for being naughty than they are actually caring about the children. They don’t wait to make sure the kid is okay in the time before the cops/ parents get there, but they sure make certain someone gets in trouble for it. Is it some sort of sick control thing… or a temporary feel good like those damn Facebook chain-posts?

    Nicole– Your list of dangers is a great example of making a mountain out of a mole hill. “Too much sun?” unless the kid is sunburnt, then a few minutes more won’t matter. Then walking him home from the shop is ALSO dangerous! “They miss you and cry?” And what happens when you return– they are jubilant and forget you were ever gone. Besides, separation is important for healthy development as the child learns that they are independent and capable (the core of the whole free-range ideology.) Dogs can bite people of any age– being present doesn’t change that.The kid might escape, but highly unlikely given the straps on a stroller (have you seen them? They require special pressing to unlatch these days). They might escape while you’re pushing them along, too– does that mean you shouldn’t ever use a stroller? Blocking sidewalk traffic– no more so than when walking. Many small stores require strollers left outside even when the child is brought inside, so then what? You may over-exaggerate the dangers, but at least you’re willing to let others do as they see fit. The problem is when people can’t let anyone make a different decision.

  44. @Cris, do you have a link for the story about the man chasing the van and “getting the girl back”? Sorry, but that doesn’t even sound plausible and I’d like to read more about it.

  45. @Beth:
    It’s real. And even though some news reports like to make it a “Stranger” kidnapping, the kidnapper was a neighbor and knew the girl.

  46. I can’t find the original story that said the kidnapper was a neighbor…

  47. I remember this weekend being seriously told that I shouldn’t even take a shower by myself when my baby comes. I was expected to hold her in the shower!

    Yes. Seriously. In a town of less than 3,000. On a road that has maybe 500 people pass it a day. To be a good mom, I was expected to either hold the baby or wait until she feel asleep in her crib and then run in the shower before she woke up.

  48. Some people don’t like to shower when their babies are awake, Denise, because they cry and it breaks your heart (even when you know rationally that it’s silly to feel that way, even if they’re older and you know for darn sure that you’re in the right and they’re not).

    But it’s hardly abusive to pop your kid in the playpen or bouncer for 15 minutes while you clean yourself.

  49. @Denise: I used to put mine in his bouncer seat in the bathroom while I showered. He liked the sound of the running water. Though, I love how the advice you got completely overlooks how slippery a wet baby is!

  50. I guess I’m a monster Uly. When my children cried as babies during such things as me just stepping into another room for a minute, it couldn’t have affected me any less. I’m like–cry all you want to, I’m doing this whether you like it or not.

    If I have to clean myself, I have to clean myself. Simple as that.

    (And like you said, it’s hardly abusive to have them wait in a playpen for that time either.)


  51. Uly’s and sca’s advice is reasonable, but even that completely forgets the point that BABIES SLEEP. If you can’t shower without your baby, how are you going to sleep? Can’t you shower during baby’s naps? If you’re the kind that can’t bear the thought of leaving a child who is awake without some kind of stimulation, that could be a problem, once the baby is three months old or so. But before then, they sleep half the day, more when they’re newborns.

    Just remember that when you get given advice that, had it been followed throughout human existence, not only would not have been necessary, but would have resulted in extinction if it HAD been necessary, you don’t have to listen.

  52. LRH, to put it as nicely as possible, you and I are far from seeing eye to eye on most child-raising issues.

    Can’t you shower during baby’s naps?

    A lot of people use that time to catch up on their own sleep. And I don’t blame them!

    Just remember that when you get given advice that, had it been followed throughout human existence, not only would not have been necessary, but would have resulted in extinction if it HAD been necessary, you don’t have to listen.

    Well, just to stir the pot, it’s my understanding that most people, throughout history, weren’t alone with sole responsibility for their kids, there was always somebody else to pass the kids off to if necessary or desired. (Of course, most of those people didn’t have showers either…!)

  53. Uly, if there were a like button for that last bit, I’d use it. Twice.

    @geistdesfritz: “they should have kidnapped the baby and killed it” to make a point? Even assuming it was meant facetiously, that sent chills up my spine.

    And why do I think there’s probably more to LRH’s yelling story than meets the eye? That’s a rhetorical question, don’t answer…I get it, minding my own business.

  54. Yes FrancesfromCanada, it’s that sort of thinking that leads people to calling the police over yelling. I couldn’t possibly be raising my voice just to make my child stay in their seat, I must be torturing him at home. You jump to conclusions, and as usual, the conclusion is wrong. So yes, MYOB (mind your own business) is indeed the order of the day, as well it should be.


  55. Uly It’s okay if your idea of parenting is different than mine. I’m being nice, I think, no reason for me or you to be anything else that I can see. I just tend to poo-poo the whole notion that a baby, while awake, must be entertained by the parent every single waking moment. To me that leads to kids who, even when older, are “clingy” and the parents gripe that they can’t ever get anything done or get a minute to themselves. I have friends all the time who tell me their child is driving them crazy that way, and I tell them–nicely, mind you–do what you have to, and it won’ t be a problem anymore. For us, anything less is unacceptable.

    I decided to start out early training my children that I am not entitled to entertain them 24/7, that yes of course I will play with them SOME and definitely take care of their NEEDS, but that I was not to be expected to be available 24/7 no sleep no food no shower no time with spouse etc, because they were my EVERYTHING. Thus,if you’re fed, you’re burped-changed etc and have had some time with us, we can leave you safe in your bassinette or playpen etc, it isn’t going to kill you to be alone & stay still while I go do what I need–or even want–to do for a quick bit. Cry if you want, but I’m not budging on it.

    It’s worked out great. At the risk of sounding superior as Dolly has at times, you can tell the difference between our kids & our nieces-nephews, who are OLDER yet are far more difficult for their parents to keep in bed at night-time, or even sleep in their own bed at all, and who nag you to death for YOU to entertain them every minute/every day. Even the grandparents have noticed, saying to them “LRH & his wife’s kids sleep in their own bed, and play on their own, and they’re YOUNGER than you, so there’s no excuse for you not to.”

    It’s not about being better than anyone else to puff up an ego, because that would be wrong, a form of judging–but rather it’s about how we saw before how difficult the nieces-nephews were in these ways and the decision was made in advance–we will do WHATEVER we have to so that ours are nothing like that, because we sure don’t want THAT sort of thing going on in OUR house.

    Children rise to the level of expectations you have for them, so we have HIGH (but not crazy) expectations. In fact, the nieces-nephews often-times go along with these sort of things with us in ways they do NOT with their own parents, for one simple reason–we expect it, and we accept nothing less.

    It’s not that we’re such hot stuff, it’s just because we EXPECT it out of them rather than tolerate anything less. It’s not hard. But still, to each his or her own, no one is any better than anyone else, I just know what I (and my wife) will and won’t put up with in my house, that’s all.


  56. I’m amazed that Americans are suprised to find US news in Canada. Are you not aware that the whole world is bombarded with US news? We get US child-murder/kidnapping etc sotries here in Australia.

  57. LRH, great point about expectations!

  58. I feel the need to chime in with LRH on the setting expectations.

    I am a big fan of benign neglect. If my kids come to me and say ‘we’re boooorrrrrred’, I give them a list of possible chores they could do, and then I ignore them. I have never seen them go longer than 15 minutes without finding something new to do. My husband and I taught them young (5-6 years of age) to use simple hand tools and to handle the power screwdriver safely. They know they can go into the basement any time they like, pull out scrap wood, nails, screws and whatever, and go to town creating something. I never had to lock up the power tools, ever – they never touch them (and these are kids who touch EVERYTHING). I gave them space in the yard where they could dig in the dirt, and set up a ‘science lab’ in a corner of the basement where they have batteries and small motors to play with as well as baking soda, vinegar, corn starch and other experimental materials. They learned that vinegar tastes gross, that yes, wire does heat up if you leave it attached to the battery too long and it can singe your finger, and that if you poke an earwig too long it’s pretty much gonna bite you. But all these things do not require me to be in the room with them. Now I’ve had other parents look alarmed at the idea that I let my then 6 year old play with the power screwdriver. I got 1000 ‘what ifs’ from them. But no one ever screwed their foot to the floor or put their eye out (I got them their own eye protection too, and they wear it voluntarily, because it makes them feel more official). Am I being neglectful by not standing over them and providing their entertainment? I don’t think so.

  59. Interesting… I noticed a baby outside a shop in his pram for at least 10 mins on my way to and from the local shops (I’m in suburban London). It was the local Russian/Eastern European shop, and I think the mum was just inside talking to the cashier. Fine. I’m glad to say that I don’t imagine anyone called the police on them.

    On a related note, watching a programme about parenting the other day and I was just yelling at the screen at one mum – she wheeled out the old ‘Of course, in my day you could just go over and play with your friends, but there’s now way my children could EVER do that now’ And she was living in a gated community in a rural area! And her poor daughter was terrified – she was convinced the world was full of gangs who would attack her, people who might stab her, kidnappers and so on (not traffic interestingly).

  60. Claudia, yes I’ve seen Eastern European mothers do that in my part of my London too. It’s also often thanks to the Eastern European parents, who seem far more likely to let their sons out by themselves than the other local inhabitants, that my son has someone to play with when he goes to the park by himself. (They’ve also introduced dill-flavoured crisps to the country, which I’m quite fond of).

    Hooray for them.

  61. I work at a university in the middle of a large east coast city. Yesterday my husband had to drop the kids off to come meet me at work. He let them off on the street nearest my building, and let them navigate the short distance through campus, to my building, and up to my office, unassisted. They are 10 and 9 (although due to being vertically challenged, they tend to look younger). They thought this was the greatest thing ever. They actually know the campus better than the husband does, due to their frequent visits. Somehow, they managed to wind their way through an urban campus without vanishing from sight. I’m pretty sure a baby securely strapped to its stroller and stepped away from for a few minutes is going to be equally fine.

  62. @LHR I did the same with my kids when they were babies. I put them in their cribs to nap right out of the hospital. I remember my husbands aunt coming to visit when my daughter was 3 weeks old. It got to be nap time and I put her in her crib and shut the door and she cried for over 30 minutes before she fell asleep. The aunt asked how I can stand that, the truth is it didn’t bother me at all I knew I was training her to sleep in a schedule. Both of my kids learned to sleep on their own right away and it has benefited us all greatly. I can’t stand when people say they can’t get their kid to stay in their crib and sleep, it’s not like babies are getting themselves up and out, the parents just can’t stand to hear their precious baby cry and go and get them thus reinforcing the crying!

    I also had my kids have alone time from about 3 weeks on. It started with 15 minutes in the pack n play with me out of sight. By 6 months it was 30 minutes. Gradually it changed from pack n play time to quiet room time and eventually became 2 hours in their rooms in the afternoon as got older and nap time went away. They continued to have 2 hours alone in their rooms to play quietly until they started kindergarten. Like you said it’s all about expectations, since this is how it was since day one, it’s what they expected, and what we expected from them and it became their normal.

    I have tried to continue this throughout and have always had them do things well before I really wanted them to just so that would become used to it and it would be part of their routine. I started my daughter on unloading the dishwasher at 4, now at 9 she does it automatically every morning. 6 months ago I started both my kids (9&7) on washing/drying their own laundry. Right now it takes time, because I got downstairs with each of them and walk them through the process, point out stains they missed etc., but by the time they are 10/12 it will be so natural for them they will do it on their own with no assistance.

  63. @ mom2cne: stopped reading at your comment and wanted to give my reply (so, sorry if this is a bit of a repeat of any further-along post)

    In the downtown area of my town, the buildings are old and almost all of them have at least one (if not three or four) steps to get up before you’re at the door of the business. (I guess they were grandfathered in when it comes to handicapped accessibility…)

    It is a PAIN to carry a stroller (FULL OF A BABY!) up those stairs. Have you ever tried this? My husband can do it, sort of. I am smaller-framed, and while carrying the baby around has certainly given me the most buff arms of my life, it’s just plain awkward to try to get an unwieldy stroller up three or four stairs without help.

    So, sometimes my babe gets left outside while I run in for a moment. If someone calls the cops on me for it, I’ll be facing assault charges, because I’ll punch them in the face. 🙂

  64. Above someone commented “Babies aren’t ready to be free range, sorry”…

    But PARENTS can be free range from the beginning. Parents can recite the ANTI fear mongering media mantra “the risk that a stranger will kidnap or harm my baby is minuscule”. If a baby is too young to get themselves into trouble (by getting out of the stroller) a parent can be free range.

    Parents of young babies can be free range by subscribing to the fact that most babies don’t NEED shopping cart germ barriers, or shampoo visors (thus being taught that a little water on their face is a catastrophe). Parents can baby proof based on their child’s temperament and their life style, not purchasing and installing EVERY possible baby proofing thingy. (And as babies grow parents can UN-install baby proofing that is no longer necessary because their toddler is capable of navigating stairs or learning not to touch outlets/turn on the stove/put stuff in the toilet or spill drinks from open cups).

    Underestimating toddlers and young children’s capabilities and tolerance inhibits their ability to learn and become competent and confident as they grow.

  65. Do these cops and “so called” child protective service people keep accurate records of “oops – nothing was wrong” incidents? Sure would help to see them reported regularly.

  66. Martin Thanks, BMS and Nanci–way to go. I really liked your stories, that’s exactly the same sort of why I did it.

    Yes, when mine were babies & they were crying while I was having them go down for nap, I’d get people visiting who couldn’t bring themselves to not intervening. They’d ask “the sound of the baby crying is just something I can’t let go, can I PLEASE go in there and hold them if you won’t, to ease MY mind?” Sometimes I would, but not always, and even if I did, I’d tell them “understand, we do it that way all the time & will again the minute you leave, because we’re training them to not be too clingy as they get older.” Sometimes they’d look at me like “what, are you crazy?,” but I stood by that belief, non-wavering. I started early with battling other people’s ideas and sticking with what I believe in.

    I realize the issue of “let them cry it out” or “run to them everytime they make a sound” may not be free-range per se, it came up because of my rebuttal to the one person who stated that the subject of this post shouldn’t have left the child outside because, among other possibilities, the child may have started crying from missing the mother. It grew from there.

    Then again, maybe it IS a free-range issue. After all, free-range is about recognizing that at the appropriate age the children do fine without us hovering every nanosecond, and I think that maybe the expectation of a mother to not leave their child outside because it’s wrong to have the baby cry on its own even if its needs are being taken care of–that may well be a free-range issue. That said, there will be variances amongst us, that is, others will be free-range in the other ways often mentioned but not necessarily with this, that doesn’t mean they aren’t free-range. There are degrees & variances even within this particular ideaology, and that’s okay.

    Besides that, though, your ideas with regards to them having their own tool set & area to experiment with learning, I like that. You actually gave ME some ideas. The outdoors thing–I already do that, I typically send them outside for an hour or so everyday (although lately it’s been more like 30 minutes instead because it’s been like 107’F outdoors–yes we’re in the woods with lots of shade so it’s not as bad as other places, but it’s still hotter than normal), and they are turned loose within the fenced-in area to do as they want, however they want. They get muddy, so be it. Sometimes I help with that even: lately I go outside after awhile & spray them with the hose, with them in their normal clothes! We all think it’s just hilarious.


  67. “A lot of people use that time to catch up on their own sleep. And I don’t blame them!”

    Sure, but I was thinking of the early days when babies sleep 20 hours a day. Remember, she was told NEVER to shower without her baby. Not just, when the child was old enough to need watching or other attention more of the time, but NEVER.

    “Well, just to stir the pot, it’s my understanding that most people, throughout history, weren’t alone with sole responsibility for their kids, there was always somebody else to pass the kids off to if necessary or desired. (Of course, most of those people didn’t have showers either…!)”

    Granted, but I was thinking more generally of the concept that “a child left out of your sight for ten minutes *under any circumstances* is subject to DEATH” (or whatever) — maybe people didn’t have to leave their kids alone to bathe or comparable activities, but people did have to handle their kids with a little less care than the extreme version of what some people consider the “mandatory minimum” of care today — and we survived. If the extreme standard of care that some people set were actually the mandatory minimum, we wouldn’t have. I know kids fell subject to accidents and other horrors under more primitive conditions that we certainly don’t want to put up with, but I’m not discounting that — I’m talking more generally of the attitude that children are something akin to a nuclear power plant — if you take your eyes off them for a second, disaster WILL strike!

  68. “(They’ve also introduced dill-flavoured crisps to the country, which I’m quite fond of).”

    OT, but are the ones in Britain better than the ones in the US? We’ve had them over here for a few years now, but I find them disappointing. When you smell them, they smell exactly like dill pickles. But the taste doesn’t transfer to the taste buds somehow — they just taste like regular “chips” with maybe a little vinegar.

    Or did you mean just dill flavored, not dill pickle flavored?

  69. No they taste very dilly, but let’s not dally… 🙂

  70. LRH, I also meant to respond to your other post.

    It seems like we have gotten to the point that raising your voice to your child is a horrible thing. I really don’t understand that at all. I mean, calling your kid a stupid waste of carbon isn’t necessary, but I fail to see how yelling “Cut that out RIGHT NOW!” is going to scar them for life. I’ve had some people mumble that it will ’embarrass them’ if they get yelled at in public. Good! They’re embarrassing me by behaving like brats, they deserve a little embarrassment in return. You don’t like to get yelled at in front of your peers? Don’t act like a fool in front of your peers.

    I try to keep the swearing down to a minimum. But I remember very, very clearly the one time I heard my mom drop the f-bomb at my sister, and let me tell you, she NEVER did that behavior again. Ever. Mom didn’t insult her or touch her, but sis needed to know that what she was doing was completely, utterly unreasonable. And years later, she laughs about it, even though I was thinking ‘Dibs on her room when mom kills her!’ at the time.

  71. My wife’s from Amherst, and I concur it’s pretty insane to worry there. The baby might get leafleted, but not kidnapped. I also note that the restaurant (we eat right nearby at the Noodle place when visiting the G-rents) is on an alley, a very quiet and clean alley, but a narrow one down which a stroller probably is difficult to manage. Cut Mom a break here.

    Don’t blame the police or CYS on this one unless they come up with an unjustified charge — they’re required by law to investigate when somebody reports a potentially endangered child.

  72. BMS I couldn’t agree more, and again this is more of a “discipline” issue than a free-range one, but then again, I think part of free-range, besides giving your kids the freedom you had without worry, also means letting yourself parent the way you think is right without worry or especially meddling from outsiders.

    I have noticed this, too, someone thinking that yelling at your child is akin to smashing a wooden plank aside their temple & knocking them unconscious. That’s just ridiculous. Also, I thought the same thing you did–that is, when someone retorted “it embarrasses them,” my reply was–so be it, that’s the natural consequences of their foolishness and disobedience. In fact, at times, I did reply “good” just as you said. They lost the “right to not be humiliated in public” when they took it upon themselves to humiliate themselves. It’s all part of that “self esteem” load of nonsense.


  73. PS, Matt W, I wouldn’t necessarily blame the police, because as you stated they are required to check out any called-in leads, however foolish the premise of the call–however, I would most certainly cast stones at whoever placed the call. I think people like that should go to jail, at least for multiple offenses of it (with the first one eliciting a warning). I’m totally serious.


  74. Rich, I remember the Swiss Mess case very well, since my own young son was subjected to a sex offender witch hunt about the same time.

    Raoul Wuthrich was 10 years old when he was arrested in his PJs, after his bedtime, because a nosey neighbor lady decided he was molesting his sisters. Evergreen, CO is a very well to do mountain community which has been home to celebrities like Willie Nelson, ans spawned nutty professor psycho like the “bonding” therapy that smothered a little girl to death when she balked at being adopted by a rich lady when she had a perfectly loving mother who’s sin was being a bad housekeeper.

    The hysteria got so bad the parents packed up and flew back to Switzerland before the American authorities found something to arrest them for. Everyone proclaimed they must be GUILTY of “something” because they fled – kind of like France’s DSK rape accusation.

    Raoul was released much later because of lack of evidence. The amazing thing was the entire city of Denver turned on this little 10 year old boy with incredible venom and hatred – all because of a sour neighbor lady’s word that she saw him playing with matches and peeing in the woods.

  75. Of course, if the police receive a call about a neglected child, they must check it out. But they do not have to call children’s services. The police have plenty of discretion, but they are often unwilling to use it because they are too busy covering their asses. Fortunately, I think most police officers are still using their brains and common sense; otherwise, we would hear many more reports like this.

    I hate to think what it will be like as more and more of the first products of our zero tolerance schools get into policy making positions.

  76. Sgtmom, that story is disturbing in so many ways. I’m two pages in and this is already the tone of the article:

    “Inside was the Mehmerts’ rottweiler mix — a dog that was fine with children as long as they were with an adult who invited them in, [b]but that would have enjoyed a child snack [/b] if the girl had managed to open the unlocked door.” [emphasis mine]

    Really? A dog that would attack a child it had already met in the presence of it’s owner but “was fine with children”? WTH?

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to read the whole thing, but thank you for the link.

  77. I don’t think that it’s yelling at children; I think it’s more what was said. I’d think it inappropriate for anyone to yell “sit your ass down” at anyone, particularly in a public place occupied predominantly by familes like McD’s. I don’t think it’s a criminal act that the police should be involved in but, if I had been the manager of McD’s, I would have asked Larry to watch his mouth or leave. I would not have the same response if he had yelled in the same tone of voice “sit down now.”

  78. I think its kind of amusing that someone called the cops because LRH was being loud and obnoxious. :-). It will have to be an affirmative defense because there is no way to argue that you are actually quiet and passive…

    I mean in real life I don’t really think the police should have been called at all. It is appalling and I actually really feel bad for him. It must be scary to get stuck in the middle of. There is a touch of humor though given his persona on this blog.

  79. “The baby might get leafleted, but not kidnapped.”

    LOL! Props!

  80. Last time I checked, it was not actually a crime to swear. Sure, it’s probably a good idea not to swear loudly in mixed company. But swearing actually hurts no one. I’m not talking about racial slurs or things like that. But calling someone an ass who’s being, well, an ass? Other than insulting donkeys, I fail to see how that is going to kill someone.

  81. Actually it IS a crime to swear in front of children under the age of 13 in my state and probably some others. It’s called disorderly conduct. And cussing at your very young children (if I remember correctly Larry’s are preschool age), has never been and likely will never be considered a positive parenting technique. It becomes even less acceptable in a family environment with lots of other children. My guess is THAT is why the police were called and not simply yelling at a child.

    That said, I agree that the police should not have been called and said as much previously.

  82. Who knew about the swearing…

    My sister (who has 3 lovely adult children now) had a terrible time with her youngest, who was a handful, to say the least. Young daughter thought her middle name was “damnit” because her mom said “Grace, damnit” whenever she got in trouble (which she did often.) Kindergarten teacher was the one to alert my sister of her potty mouth.

  83. Ugh.

    First – the baby in a stroller left outside. I don’t see how this is a problem at all. If anything, in this country, no one would have touched that kid for fear of being arrested as a pedophile. Ah, delicious. Myself, I’d probably have checked in the store – but even thinking about that – who isn’t aware that there’s a baby outside if they left it there? So, I agree with others, minding your own business – check.

    The yelling at the kid in McDonalds… my ONLY beef is the cursing. No, it’s not illegal, no I wouldn’t have called the cops – but cussing at a *little* kid just makes the person doing it… well… sound like an ass. Yelling at your kids, I’ve done it myself – sometimes as a parent we just hit the end of our ropes. Sometimes that does include, for some, curse words as well. So, no, I’m not going to judge someone’s parenting ability based on that – but I can say what it makes one sound like to me… using a curse word to describe it. Gotta love that, right?

    I think the problem in America is that we’re increasingly encouraging a busy body society. We have left behind the idea of being true to your word, being capable of running your own household and your own affairs, and changed it into needing laws to tell us how to behave, what to do, and when to do it. Who loses? We all do.

  84. Donna If what you are saying is true, and I were a millionaire with lawyers at my quick disposal, I’d have half a mind to go to whatever state(s) you’re referring to, PURPOSELY cuss in front of kids, anyone’s kids, TELL the police I did it–and then DARE them to do anything about it, just to call attention to the lunacy of such a first-amendment violating asinine law like that. There would be a press conference where I’d be raising a serious stink about someone’s rights in this country being trampled over communist laws.

    Yes, that is a free-speech issue, besides being ambiguous–who is to say that “ass” is a swear word when it’s in the Bible? The inconsistencies are everywhere–modern rap music is bleeped if it says “shit,” but “Money” by Pink Floyd uses the word & they don’t bleep it.

    It’s also ridiculous because if the child in question isn’t mine, it’s not my responsibility to raise it and edit my behavior just because someone else is a parent. This may shock people that I feel that way, but I definiately support people who aren’t the parents of a particular kid–childless adults especially (admitedly, I’m not that any longer), not having to edit themselves just because families happen to be around which that particular adult had nothing to do with creating.

    It reminds me of when years ago a lady & I saw “Boomerang,” the 1992 Eddie Murphy movie, and a provocative love scene transpired, impulsively I said aloud (but not “loudly”) “damn.” The lady with me pointed out that someone had a young child in there & asked me if I didn’t feel wrong for what I did, I said no–it’s not my child to raise it’s the parents, how dare someone suggest my free speech should be limited because 2 people forgot their condom, and besides that, if the parents really cared so much about their child’s morality that way, what in the world were they doing taking them to an R-rated movie like that?

    They can go to their Disney movie & clean language should prevail there, by all means I understand it in cases like that–but in an R-rated movie, anything goes, and yes, tell me that I can’t curse in general society around a 12-year old because of some communist law, and I’d be inclined to do it on purpose just because of how I despise a socialist law like that.


  85. I’m also planning to raise my now one-year old (happy birthday Rex!) free-range. It’s interesting to read the commentary about letting the baby cry it out, and not comforting them.

    I’d argue that it’s hard to ignore a baby crying precisely because that’s what helped keep humans alive in the past. Obviously now we don’t have to worry about predatory animals coming over to eat our crying baby (although now maybe we need to worry about our neighbors calling 911 for child abuse). But there are quite a few books/sites/studies floating around showing that CIO can be dangerous for the baby and could actually cause a MORE clingy adult.

    So, obviously my story is just an anecdote, and not representative of every other baby. I never let him cry alone when he was younger. He wasn’t always comfort-able, but I would at least hold him and try to comfort him. I found that every time my husband convinced me to try letting him cry in the crib, he would be MORE clingy for the following 24 hours or so. Now he’s one and he gets at least 2 hours of “free play” time a day, when I’m checking on this blog, doing other work around the house, etc.

    I’m not trying to start arguments, because I really do think you should parent however it works for your family. And the funny thing is, we’re probably all going to raise equally free-range kids!

    An intro to so-called attachment parenting (which is so not the same as helicoptering!!!)

  86. Well, on second thought, that might be rather immature to do that just to make a point, even if it is a valid point.

    Cursing around someone’s kids ON PURPOSE, even in a situation where I otherwise wouldn’t, just to make a point? That’s somewhat “picking a fight,” when the idea is supposed to be protecting your rights when a conflict occurs, not to go looking for a conflict ON PURPOSE. In other words, if my child acts up & I lecture my child–curse words or not–and someone thinks that’s a reason to call the police, by all means stand up for that and the lunacy, but don’t lecture my child when it’s done nothing wrong just to try & goad people into calling so you can fight the wrongness of people’s itchy fingers. That would be “asshat” behavior, and we strive to be better than that.

    Regardless, I did some research, and where I live (Texas) I think I’m okay. The idea, then, isn’t to go around cursing “because I can,” that’s all jerkish behavior, and certainly if you’re in the company of friends who want to protect their children’s innocence, be respectful–don’t be a jerk by any means. I’m fine with all of that, and do so that way.

    Even so, just as what I was proposing in my last post definitely was taking things too far, so it goes the other way sometimes too. For instance last week I purchased a printer from someone privately. I was at their house, I had my 4 year old girl with me.They said a curse word or two “casually,” things like “I don’t need two damn printers” or “when I get home I feel too shitty to bother f’ing with that sort of thing” and so on. It wasn’t every other word, but they said like 2-3 curse words in the 7-9 minutes we were there.

    Now, my wife especially doesn’t want our kids learning any bad words, and I do try & not say them around them somewhat for that reason (last week at the McDonald’s notwithstanding), but I didn’t make a case out of what the guy did, especially being we were in his own home, not ours. I think sometimes that’s what people ought to do, just quit making a case out of every thing.

    So–if you are in McDonald’s waiting while you order food and two guys walk in going “what’s up beeyatch” and the other one goes “nothing much, what the ef are you up to this weekend,” and etc etc, guess that’s kind of rude, but I don’t see it right as making a case out of it either. Your kid isn’t their kid, like Charles Barkley said in 1993 “I’m not a role model, I’m not paid to be a role model, I’m paid to wreck havoc on the basketball court. PARENTS should be role models. Just because I dribble a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

    On the other hand, if you are having a private birthday party at your home & friends etc come over talking like that in front of your kids, naturally you will want them to stop, especially in your own home you have every right to establish such standards, and friends should respect that. Heck, even if you are having the party at the house of the friends who like to curse, yes they have the right to curse seeing as it’s their house, but then I’d still say they ought to show a little consideration to make you feel more comfortable there.

    But, still–laws covering all that? Heck no, this isn’t Cuba or China.

    Sorry for sounding delusional earlier.


  87. Larry, you would be wasting a lot of money and spending a lot of time in jail. The Supreme Court has repeatedly determined that free speech doesn’t allow you to be totally obnoxious in public and disturb the peace of the people around you. Speech can be regulated on all sorts of ways (obscenity, fighting words, profanity, shouting “fire” in a crowded building, time, place and manner rules, etc.).

    Now I have never seen anyone arrested for saying “sit your ass down” to a child in public. And I doubt you ever will. There needs to be a certain level of over-the-top obnoxiousness to the behavior before the police are going to do more than tell you to shut up and move on. I have seen people arrested for spewing a slew of cuss words to the point that the police interfered.

  88. Sarah I actually agree with you. As I said earlier (maybe in this thread? I forget), you will find variance with us with some things, even though we’re all free-range and share much of the same philosophy.

    I do think cry-it-out is the way to go, in fact, sometime back I was compelled to attend CPS parenting classes (I did NOT abuse my kids, it was nothing like that), and even the teacher of a CPS-sponsored class was saying that babies–yes, babies–are “master manipulators” (her words, not mine) in terms of figuring out–hey, I don’t need anything, but I’d like all the attention, and guess what–everytime I cry, my parents drop everything to come pick me up, so I’m going to do that.

    Yes, the TEACHER of a CPS-SPONSORED parenting class said this! What was even funnier was when, in court, the department “had concerns” that I would leave the baby to cry-it-out vs doing the attachment thing, which is what they believe in feveriously, when the teacher of the class I was compelled to attend because of them actually was backing up the very thing they were criticizing me for in court. It was laughable, really, and worth a big chuckle once we were victorious–it’s also why I consider CPS a laughable organization at best, downright evil at worse–but that’s for later.

    But, here’s the thing–if you attachment parent, that’s nothing for any of us, and that includes me, to argue with you over. Just please don’t be like those people I see yelling “no running” to their 8-year old kids–in a grassy park! No way THAT’S free range, ha ha.

    Welcome, Sarah.


  89. Disorderly conduct code from Texas (in part):

    (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:
    (1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

    So, yes, you can in Texas be arrested for profane language. Again, it needs to rise to some level of obnoxiousness beyond simply saying “f you.” But the law does exist and at some point cuss words spewed around someone’s kid is going to breach the peace and the cops are probably going to be on the parent’s side and not the cusser.

  90. Donna–if what you are saying is true, this country needs a massive overhaul. Obviously I agree about the fire in a crowded building deal, and certainly someone being obnoxious in places like, say, a dinner banquet shouldn’t be allowed to be disruptive.

    But if, say, I’m at a basketball court at a park etc playing, I keep missing shots, and I start cursing out of frustration, and some one with a child 50-80 yards away or so comes over making a case about it, I think that’s wrong of THEM. Certainly if a case was made about me saying “sit your ass down” to my child in McDonald’s based on the usage of the word ass, I’m sorry–I don’t care what the Supreme Court says, they’re wrong and that’s communist. They were wrong every single time they ruled the way they did, if the effect of said ruling was for such instances like those minor ones (as opposed to the earlier major ones).

    I mean, after all, the police weren’t expressing to me concern that I was “making a scene” or “disturbing the peace,” it was a child welfare issue. If their concern had been that I was disturbing other people being loud on private property that’s not mine, by all means, but to micromanage the language I use around my kids (especially when “ass” is in the Bible)? That’s wrong–again, I don’t care if the Supreme Court backs it up, they’re wrong and this needs to be changed.

    I mean, gee whiz, where does it end? Am I going to be in trouble one way or the other when I play a “Sanford & Son” episode where he throws a woman out of his house and yells “take this faggoty jacket with you,” because faggot is now one of the new bad words? (No, I don’t use the word myself, seriously.) That’s what bothers me about the cursing thing–“ass” is a bad word when it’s in the Bible, some people think “darn” or “fart” is a curse word even though a Christian rapper named KJ-52 has used the word “fart” in one of his songs. It’s too gray-ish to fool around in, I feel–but again, the “fire” in a crowded theatre situation or the drunken patron in a dinner banquet situation I totally agree with.


  91. Well Donna if what you are saying happens, that would be communist. I understand they’re going to execute what the law says, they’re not going to go “oh, never mind, LRH says it’s communist so I guess that’s that”–I understand that, they’re going to execute the law whether or not I agree with it or anyone else.

    But yes, it’s communist. Whoever would be the cursor in that situation–it’s not their children, if they could care less that’s their right, and they should be able to talk in public, short of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, however they freaking well please. That law has to go.


  92. There was a controversial case where someone yelling an obscenity while out fishing on a lake was charged. His voice carried to shore and was hear by children. As I say, it was controversial, but charged, and I believe it was upheld in court.

    And this is an aside, but obscenity laws aren’t an attribute of either communism or fascism. Laws restricting speech are really an outcome of totalitarianism, which can be either extreme end of the political spectrum.

  93. Rich Wilson That is most abhorrently ridiculous. I’m glad to have been enlightened though, not that I’m going to change anything, but it’s yet another reason I’m super glad I live in the boonies. I have plenty of private property around me which has NO one. So when I’m home I can shoot baskets and if I get mad at missing a lot of shots and it frustrates me, I can scream all I want and no one’s apt to even hardly hear it, much less pick apart my language. It’s wonderful.

    Of course the MAIN reason I like where I live is because my kids can easily free-range, no worries about nags if my kids play in the yard alone for bits of time. But not having to worry about upstairs neighbors is certainly nice too.


  94. I am new to the whole free range thing and I’m not comfortable with a lot of it yet. My son is 13 months and has down syndrome. He has some medical issues and isn’t crawling yet. But we are trying some things and we are not hovering all day long. But this blog is great and i envy Larry’s “balls of steal!”

  95. my 2.5 year old just started saying “oh shit.” Wonder where he got that?

  96. @ Brian Has he been playing basketball with Larry? My daughter did the same thing when she spilled grape juice on her dress as passover at the same age (that morning I had dropped a full yogurt onto tile floor when I didn’t know she was there)

    We live in nyc. My kids hear swearing all the time (particularly on the subway). When they were younger and noticed, I would always say, “grown ups can make the choice to swear.” Often it is teens.

    I think of them as a new obscene kind of smurf. Where smurfs insert the word “smurf”/”smurfy”/”smurfing” for all kinds of speech, these teens insert swears…if a smurf is a smurf, then a @*#!@ is a @*#!@.

  97. The man screaming an obsenity on the boat is now registered as a sex offender.

    Which means he hasn’t done nay more or less than anyone else – but he was made an “example” of.

  98. SgtMom What in the WORLD could POSSIBLY be the basis for them being a sex offender? Man, this problem is even worse than I thought. As crazy as the sex offender thing has become, I would HOPE that his cursing wasn’t what brought the registration, but something else–which may itself have been almost as asinine. (Maybe he was taking a leak?)

    Incidentally, I don’t curse as much as I make it out to be, if it sounds that way well I suppose I brought that on myself by talking about this as much as I have. It’s just more a thing of that cursing is something I can do on occasion when I become frustrated & it’s something that, while often-times not particularly polite, shouldn’t be criminalized.


  99. Everybody here in Denmark, even those who later hoover and ferry their kids everywhere put babies and toddlers outside the house in a baby carriage to take their naps. In the front or back yard if they have one, or on the pavement. Some use baby alarms if, say, they life on the fourth floor and believe they won’t hear the baby crying otherwise, but most people don’t.

  100. I feel that you see the world in black and white. Where is the grey zone???
    I would never leave my child unattended outside a store or anywhere else!! And I live in Norway, a little “safe” country in the north. I think its our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to be safe and protect themselves, BUT WHEN THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH !!! As parents we shall not be totaly paranoid but not naive either. There is a greyzone here . I think many americans have an opinion that scandinavia is such a safe place where we dont have to lock our doors at night and we can leave our children unattended where ever.. Its really NOT like this, I wish it where, but its NOT!! Its not fair to the children to expose them to unneccery danger. Use common sense. Dont be hysterical but dont be naive either.

  101. A couple weeks ago my 9yo son and 5yo daughter were playing in the backyard. I was… elsewhere (I really don’t remember at the moment). I just know I came back in the family room and they were inside looking upset so I asked what was wrong.

    I guess they got into a spat so my son hit my daughter. That would have been the end of their disagreement except the nosy neighbor lady was in her yard and saw him hit her and proceeded to tell him he was a little jerk for hitting his sister.

    I was like WTF, my your own business. But that got me wondering what this woman thought of other things going on in my yard like the fact that my 13 month old son is out there all the time, apparently by himself.

    We have a big sliding glass door in the family room (takes up almost the entire back wall of the room). It leads out to the concrete patio with one step down. When the baby turned 1 I showed him how to safely crawl down the step. We bought him a sand table and set it up on the patio with some umbrellas.

    We don’t have a lot of bugs here so we leave the glass door and the screen door wide open all the time during the summer and he crawls in and out as he pleases. To the neighbors I’m sure it looks like there’s a baby completely unsupervised outside… with a kiddie pool sometimes full of water… oh noes!

    But I’m actually watching him. From inside. My computer desk is right next to the patio door so I have a perfect view of him. Actually I have a view of him from anywhere in the family room and kitchen. If I’m not watching him one of his older siblings is (from inside or out). I’m sure she’s seen him out there crawling around and though no one was paying any attention to him. I’ve seen her just sit out there and stare at him like she’s waiting for something bad to happen so she can tell me how horrible I am for not watching him.

    So far he hasn’t gone off the patio. He’s still crawling and doesn’t like the feel of the grass on his knees. He only goes in it when he wants to get to the pool and he only notices the pool if his sisters are in it. Then he sits on the outside and splashes in it (he doesn’t really like to go in it, lol).

    If there’s no one around and I have to pee I bring him inside and shut the screen so he can’t get out until I get back. Usually he just follows me to the bathroom and sits outside the door then he zooms back to the patio. He loves to be outside. He’d spend the entire day out there if I let him.

    He also goes out in the front yard with the older kids. They take him for walks all over the place. It’s not unusual to see my 4 older kids and half the neighborhood walking him around the park. He’s always mad when they bring him back.

    I’ve yet to leave him outside a shop alone but when it’s just me and him at Subway I leave him by the front door instead of maneuvering the stroller through the crowded dining area. He just sits and waves at me. No one pays him any attention. And the one time I made all the kids wait outside… with donuts as a bribe. They fed one to the baby as I went inside to get my sandwich. The only thin I told them was to stay out of people’s way. They even opened the door for everyone coming and going. No one thought anything of a bunch of kids and a baby sitting outside the Subway.

  102. Norway What “unnecessary danger” would someone supposedly be exposing a child to by the child being outdoors close-by for a mere 10 minutes?


  103. @LRH “What “unnecessary danger” would someone supposedly be exposing a child to by the child being outdoors close-by for a mere 10 minutes?”

    Fresh air and shaded sun, the combination is killing. The baby should adjust to inside-only life. Otherwise, there is a danger that it will grow into a hiker or backpacker.

    Moreover, it is not quite safe after last zombie outbreak. They could come to eat it.

  104. I feel that you see the world in black and white. Where is the grey zone???

    Given that this is followed by a rant using all caps and multiple exclamation points (and we all know what the inestimable Terry Pratchett says about those! He used the line “a sure sign of an insane mind” at least twice, and that was before the early onset Alzheimer’s), I’m not sure if you know what the term “gray zone” means.

  105. (Also, content of said rant is pretty black-and-white, but you can all read it for yourselves.)

  106. Well then, Larry, I guess the US has ALWAYS been a communist country according to you (although there is nothing in true communism that dictates limiting speech). The First Amendment has NEVER been a free-for-all to say whatever you want, nor was it added to the Constitution to mandate the protection of all kinds of speech. The SOLE purpose of the First Amendment was to allow citizens to speak against the government without fear of reprisal. The ability to yell “ass” in McD’s was never part of their plan. Regulations of speech date back to the beginning of the government. Different values have been placed on different speech since 1776, with political speech being granted the greatest protection and profanity and obscenity being granted none. This is not some new thing.

    I’m certainly not saying that people should be arrested for profanity. I try not to say it outside of work but it’s a requirement at my job (to be able to relate to my clients) but it slips out occasionally. I wouldn’t want to be arrested for it. Nor have I ever seen anyone arrested for anything as simple as saying a swear word (although according to Rich it has happened). It is generally much more obnoxious behavior that the police fear is going to shortly start a brawl in the streets. The original comment that started this line of conversation was that swearing is not illegal. I was simply pointing out that it can be.

  107. @Karen, you said ” I don’t want to be reported for leaving my kids alone in the car for 1 minute while I return a shopping cart 100 feet away.”

    Right you are for being afraid. I was in that exact situation last week; I actually saw the cell phone snap shut as I approached my car. This, from the family who saw me leave the car pushing the empty shopping cart, at a mobbed Ikea mall (read, safer to leave my son than drag him through the parking lot again). Btw it was only a slightly warm day and my son is six, plenty old enough to step out of the car if he gets too hot in the short rme I’ve left him. It took two full days of not hearing from either the police or social services to be sure they never completed the call.

    What would have been so wrong with just waiting for me to come back and letting me know they’d kept an eye on him for me? That’s what I would have done in their situation.

  108. Ha ha, Andy, I loved your sarcastic comment.

    Karen It’s a fear you can’t let paralyze you, especially if the law is on your side. Where I live it is legal to leave your kids in the car for less than 5 minutes. I do it all the time when I pay for gas & that sort of thing. I refuse to let other people intimidate me. I’m NOT calling you a coward or anything, not at all, just saying–don’t let them intimidate you.


  109. I would not leave a baby in a stroller outside a restaurant. Even in a nice neighborhood. Not just because of kidnapping fears but just because it is not that much harder to stroll the kid into the restaurant with me. I had a bad back and a giant double stroller with twins inside it and I managed to do what I needed to do.

    My baby could start crying and bother others and if I was inside how would I know it was crying so I could soothe it? The stroller could get pushed and the brake disengage and then roll away. A roaming dog could come up and mess with the baby. There are things that could happen and its my job to be there. If you want to leave your baby outside alone, I guess that is your choice, but I would not do it.

    I would also be concerned if I saw a baby in a stroller outside unattended. I would stick around till the mom came back to make sure it was okay. If enough time passed and I saw no mother I would call the authorities assuming something had happened to the mother or the baby was abandoned. I would want someone to do the same for my baby.

    Infants kinda do need someone to watch out for them, they are not self sufficient like an older kid is. An 8 year old sitting outside a restaurant would not concern me. A baby would.

  110. I just wanted to point out if it has not been brought up yet that I let my babies cry it out once they were old enough at night and various times like while I was driving, however you always need to keep in mind that studies have proven that prolonged or excessive crying in infants raises cortisol levels and that can cause emotional and physical problems in the baby. Cortisol is the stress hormone. So just ignoring your baby’s cries for no reason, is probably not the best idea.

    Sure if you are showering real quick or grabbing some food or whatever, it is fine to let them cry a minute. But if you are not doing something important, then you really should be trying to soothe your baby if possible.

    The leaving the baby outside and its okay if they cry because babies can cry a bit and be fine argument does not fly with me. The reason is unless you are leaving the baby outside your home and you live in an isolated area, you are probably bothering someone with having to hear YOUR baby crying.

    I don’t like hearing babies cry. Not my own and not others. It stresses me out. When I was infertile I was on a bunch of hormones that made me want to soothe and comfort a baby anytime I heard them cry almost like a maternal instinct thing so it honestly caused me pain to hear a baby cry and not be able to do anything about it. So yes, if you leave your baby outside in a populated area and they start crying and you would be where you could not hear them, that would piss me off if I was having to hear it.

    You are more than welcome to listen to your baby cry all you want in your private home, but when it gets into other people’s earshot than you are being a rude ass to not deal with the crying immediately.

  111. My mother, by her own report, once got carried away window shopping and left my sister in a pram in a department store (c1961). When she came to, and dashed back to the shop, she found the staff clucking over the child, just waiting for mother to come back. Child, mother and staff all doing well.

  112. Dolly, since you know all, how am I supposed to make my baby stop crying so that it doesn’t bother you? And hey guess what? Me having a baby that cries at inappropriate times doesn’t make me a “rude ass”; it makes me a mother. It’s a baby. That’s what babies do. And sometimes it’s just not possible to leave a full grocery cart behind and run out of the store so someone won’t be bothered and think I’m a rude ass. You’re a peach, you know that?

  113. Allison: Well I have TWO babies or at least had TWO babies and mine managed not to cry in public. I took them at times when I knew they would be in a good mood. I took toys, snacks, passys, whatever to soothe them. I interacted with them along the way. Sometimes I found it easier to just leave them at home with Daddy or send Daddy to the store for us. Whatever it took to not be a bother to my fellow shoppers, diners, etc.

    If a baby does cry, I try to soothe it and if that doesn’t work we book it the heck out of there and go to the car or home so we don’t bother anymore.

    I guess if you want to put your needs above your fellow man’s that is fine, but I go out of my way not to bother others.

  114. Believe it or not, I somewhat agree with Dolly here. By all means, I do realize–we do need to have grace & understanding with the struggle that is parenting, and not be self-righteous as people can sometimes come across, Dolly being somewhat the most obvious example (but, in the general world, she’s hardly the only one, and probably nowhere near the worst–heck, sometimes I probably come off like that when I shouldn’t).

    That said, I can say with certainty that the noise of a crying baby is one of those noises I just have almost no tolerance for in public, and up to a point I can go along with the whole “life happens, it’s the way it is” deal, especially if I see that the parents are at least TRYING to put a stop to it. That’s the main thing: I need to see that the parents are at least TRYING to put a stop to it. It has nothing to do with me judging their fitness as a parent, but rather that they’re showing consideration for how other people around don’t want to hear the racket, and there is a certain amount that you can do about it.

    As one example, if we are in church, it’s common for certain parents, when their kids start acting up, to try & appease their children with candy or whatever, and spend a LONG time in that zone which is SUPPOSED to be quiet for the rest of us trying in vain to gently persuade their child to be quiet. Not me. Whenever ours acts up, I give them “the stare” and a strong warning whispered in their ear–if they don’t quit, within seconds I have them in the bathroom. Once in there, obviously I DO NOT ABUSE, but I’m nonetheless very stern & strong with them in a way I wouldn’t be in the wide-open, especially a quiet place such as that. They get the message loud & clear that their crying is WRONG and I won’t tolerate it. This also gives THEM a place where they can get it out of their system without bothering other people so much.

    Now, one may not ALWAYS be able to do that, but I do think that it is an under-utilized thing, I can say for sure a generation or two ago it was very common for parents to react swiftly & decisively to such noise and to treat it as a disciplinary issue, not excusing it as “kids will be kids” and expecting other people to be tolerant of the noise. Obviously this is dependent on age somewhat, but even for newborns I’d say one should still at least remove them from the room so that the noise isn’t so bothersome, and if you can’t, there should be more effort to find a family member/babysitter etc.

    And yes, at times, you will have parents who really try but can’t get a sitter etc, and HAVE to go to some places to get things done, and no parent wants to live in isolation–however, as a general rule, I say that you have NO RIGHT to intrude on someone’s quiet space with a child you can’t or won’t control in terms of loud crying etc. You should assume some responsibility for this.


  115. Wow. Guess I’m the only mother in the world with a baby (not a toddler, but an iINFANT) that cried. And while I tried to do everything I could about it, and most often left wherever I was if he was crying, sometimes he just wouldn’t stop, in public or private. I wish I’d known all of you then so that you could tell me how to make a baby stop crying when there is no clear reason why he is doing it.

  116. Don’t worry @Allison. People tend to get 1-dimensional on the Internets. We get a lot more real and nuanced in person.

  117. Rich Wilson THANK YOU! Off-topic a subject it may be, but it’s one that needs to be shouted over & over in some areas. All of this talk I hear about “don’t publish drinking photos of yourself on the Internet & expect to get a job,” bull–what I do in my real time & on the Internet has NO RELATION to my value as an employee to a firm, and it should not be considered. And Google Plus wonders why people want to use aliases or user-names–hello?


  118. LOL mine cried A LOT. Constantly even, at home. Not out in public because I made it so. I had a reflux baby and that is almost as bad as a colic baby. The point is at my house the only person he is making insane by having to listen to the crying is me and hubby. Out in public he is making everyone insane. So we stayed home a lot until we got to a place where they were older and calmer and more predictable etc.

  119. You could do what my dad did. He loves this story. When I was 22 months old, I started crying one night. He came in to check on me and I wasn’t wet, wasn’t hungry, wasn’t all rolled up in a blanket or whatever. I was just crying for attention, I guess.

    So he spanked me.

    He always ends that story with, “Well, it worked. You stopped crying.”

    Heart warming, right?

  120. @kiesha, apparently that’s what we all need to do in order not to be “rude asses” in Dolly’s world!

  121. Well Allison and kieshas, honestly, I’ve done that very thing on several occasions, and don’t see a thing in the world wrong with it. The idea that because someone is 22 months old means that they couldn’t possibly be crying for selfish reasons is something I don’t agree with. The main thing is to counteract it by giving lots of love if they are crying & the reason is a legitimate one–they’re hungry, they’re gassy, and ESPECIALLY if they’ve been hurt. You do want them to know that when they do actually NEED you, you’re there for them.

    Even then, there are exceptions. When mine were younger (I’m guessing 9-12 months of age), they would start crying when I started making the food in the kitchen, because upon seeing it they would become excited but were griping because it would take me a few minutes to prepare it. To me, to not address this would mean that, as they become older, they’d be yelling “hurry up, hurry up!” at you, a clearly disrespectful act. So that also was treated as a disciplinary issue, I would scold them with a sharp tongue and then they were confined to their room until I was done so I could finish in peace. The message was sent–I’m going to feed you, but throwing a fit at me when you see me at work making it is rude & I won’t tolerate it.

    I absolutely would NOT have given them something quick to tide them over until I finished making what I was making, they had to learn–I’m not your unpaid chef which you have any business holding up to a stopwatch. However long it takes me, that’s how long it’s going to take me, and you’re going to just shut up and act respectful to me, the one doing all of the work over here.

    I get tired of hearing “he’s (or she’s) just a baby” and “children don’t know any better.” Well, how else are they going to learn?

    Not siding with being judgmental and “holier than thou,” you understand, just saying–I don’t see it as wrong to hold even younger children around ages 1-2 accountable for being bratty in terms of screaming over nothing. Obviously you’re not going to be as hard on them because older children should’ve known a long time ago & 1-2 year-olds are just starting to learn, but to that smaller extent I nonetheless hold them accountable.


  122. LRH, I guess the thing that’s wrong with it is that when my dad first told that story I liked him a lot less.
    At the time, it of course didn’t bother me because I had a goldfish’s memory and forgot about it the next day. But when he bragged about it when I was a teenager, I felt a little disgusted with him. And basically it led to me distancing myself from him. Now that I’m almost 30, I live 500 miles away from my parents and talk to them on the phone maaaaybe once a month for 10 minutes. One of those obligatory, “yes, I’m alive” phone calls.
    You could argue that it doesn’t matter whether I like my dad or not, what matters is that he raised a ‘good person,’ but in my opinion, raising a good person doesn’t end in them running away from you later.

  123. Also, I’m all for spanking in the appropriate situation. If your kid is being an ass and doing something that could get himself or other people hurt and he hasn’t responded to you telling him to knock it off, sure spank away.

    But regarding my dad spanking me for crying one night as a 22-month-old when there was no obvious reason I was crying; how did my dad know that I didn’t just have a nightmare but couldn’t verbalize it? What if something scared me and I didn’t have the words to explain it?

  124. Allison: Nope. I have NEVER spanked my kids and they don’t act up in public. Haha I got kids who don’t even cry when they get shots at the doctor’s office! So apparently some people can raise well behaved kids without spanking them. I advocate doing whatever works for you and your kid. For me what worked was going out at happy times for them when we are not too close to a mealtime or nap time. Offering a reward system for good behavior in public like a sticker for their chart or a sucker or a ride on the little coin operated car. They only did not earn their reward once and after not getting to ride the little car, they never acted up again at the store.

  125. ] LRH wrote: “So–if you are in McDonald’s waiting while you order food and two guys walk in going “what’s up beeyatch” and the other one goes “nothing much, what the ef are you up to this weekend,” and etc etc, guess that’s kind of rude, but I don’t see it right as making a case out of it either. Your kid isn’t their kid”

    There used to be a time when society had a concept called “manners,” and it wasn’t passed down exclusively from parent to child. It was passed down from community elders to community children, and it was also culturally enforced from peer to peer.

    If someone behaves like a selfish, foul-mouthed jerk in public, I have no problem at all with another person admonishing him. Not calling the cops on him, but publically admonishing him. That’s what needs to happen. I guess you’d call that “making a case.” But there’s a reasonably good case to be made for not being a selfish, foul-mouthed jerk.

  126. kiesha I would say your dad was “playing the odds” that MORE LIKELY you were crying, to him, for demanding attention as opposed to it being a nightmare. Not knowing the facts, he had to go with the most likely scenario. I think I would have made the same call in the same situation. I would imagine that the “I demand attention from my parents I don’t care what time it is or that they’re sleeping” scenario was FAR more likely than the “bogeyman dream” scenario. Like a lot of things in life, you play the odds, you don’t “what if” things to death to where you make decisions based on a LESS likely scenario.

    I don’t know your dad as well you as do, obviously, but to be quite frank, just because you “ran away” doesn’t mean it was his fault. Maybe the running away betrays an attitude problem on YOUR part. Maybe his bragging about what he did was coming from a “papa don’t take no mess” perspective of how he had his kids under control. Time used to be that such WAS something to brag about every bit as much as how loving you were being. You would take PRIDE in how you put your kids in their place & made them mind and kept your house running smoothly with minimal interference.

    It hasn’t been fashionable to brag about that for sometime apparently, and frankly I think that’s too bad. I take pride in talking about making my kids laugh with my funny antics, sure, absolutely–but I ALSO take pride in how they will, for instance, go to bed and STAY in bed when I tell them to, without struggle, because I absolutely lay down the law with that. I don’t dilly-dally all night long being all “sensitive” until 2 in the morning over a bunch of silly nonsense–bedtime is 9:30 or whatever, that’s it, see you in the morning–we can do this the easy way or the hard way, but either way we’re doing it. There will be plenty of time for coddling later.

    If they grow up to hate me for that and similar things, I will feel zero guilt. It won’t be my fault, it will be THEIRS for being a horse’s rear-end about it. Don’t get me wrong, I hope it doesn’t turn out that way, I really don’t, but if it does, I have no regrets at this point. There is no other way to parent. Worrying about how much they will hate you for your decisions is a sure fire recipe for parenting like a wuss.


  127. LRH, bragging about disciplining your kids seems weird to me, sorry. My in-laws don’t do it. My friends with kids don’t do it. You just discipline them and then go about your day. You don’t send a kid to their room for time out and then look around the room to see who you can get applause from. You don’t spank your kid and then two weeks later when you’re out with friends talk about how you laid down the law and spanked the kid. That stuff is private and other people don’t need to know. It comes off as looking for validation or admiration.

    My dad certainly has a lot to be proud about and get admiration about, so I feel like telling random family members a story about how he spanked his daughter when she was a tot is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Everyone knows I turned out to be a good kid; when you start explaining, “Oh, she’s good because I did this…” it sounds judgy – “Why don’t YOU do this? It worked for me!”

  128. Well kiesha, it seems to me talking about how “I really gave it to Johnny the other day for pulling the cat’s tail” seems like normal conversation faire to me. People with kids tend to talk about them a lot (sometimes TOO much to where others get tired of all the “kiddie talk” all the time) so to me it logically follows that a time you really gave it to your kids to put them in their place would be normal conversation faire to me. It seems no different than bragging about when they do well.

    Right now, for instance, I’m bragging about how our young girl is going to pre-K school and not fighting about how she has to get up early, besides the obvious “rite of passage” in terms of her now being a schoolgirl. I’m praising her directly as well as praising her to others with how she’s doing in terms of getting right up to head off early in the morning. We’ve always let her sleep until 8:30 or even 9 am pretty regularly, I thought her suddenly being summoned out of bed at 6:30 a.m. would produce a lot of protest from her, but it hasn’t. She deserves praise for that, and has received it directly & in talk regarding her to others.

    By the same token, when someone talks about how their child is into everything ransacking the house etc, I tell them of how our 2½ year-old kept playing with the knobs on the air conditioner in his room to where he was alternately turning it wide-open to make it about 62’F in there, other days he turned it all the way off & it was an oven. Either irritated me greatly, but especially the latter, as it’s been a real scorcher this year to the point we’d sometimes huddle in his room because at the time it was the coolest. I kept scolding him to “leave that alone.” He was really determined, though, and would still goof with the buttons when I wasn’t looking, until one time I caught him in the act & decided I had had enough, and really gave it to him good.

    He hasn’t touched the knobs on the air conditioner even once ever since, yet he still explores everything else with joy. I absolutely REFUSED to alter things to where he couldn’t touch them, I held to the expectation that the unit would stay right where it was & he was just going to leave his dirty mittens off of it–or else.

    I don’t see a problem talking to someone about that, especially if it comes up in conversations about how “my kids keep getting into everything & driving me crazy.” It seems normal to me.


  129. Well, that’s great, but personally, I don’t want to know when you gave it to your kid good. Because then I’m going to look at your kid and know something about him that should really be between the two of you.

    I’m the same way with intimate details between adults. I NEVER talked about any of that stuff, even with my best friend. It’s between the two people involved and I just don’t want to know.

    I don’t want to know about a physical punishment anyone incurred at the hands of their parents and I don’t want to know about a sexual encounter anyone had. It’s embarrassing for me to have that information about another person.

  130. Well keisha I am sure your friends honor your request of leaving out such details, and that’s fine. I’m just glad mine don’t object to me sharing details within reason. We both get what we want in our respective worlds, so there you have it.


  131. @ Denise

    True story. My son was about 2.5. I put him down for a nap in his crib, with the sides up, closed the door ( the inside knob had a shield thingy so he supposedly couldn’t turn it) and then locked the outside doors and went in to take a shower. About 15 minutes into my shower, I heard a loud banging on the door. I jumped out, grabbed a towel and rushed to the door to stop the noise before it woke my toddler. Opening the door, I saw a military policeman with a naked toddler on his hip.

    “Is this your child ma’am?” he asked, glaring at me sternly.

    I stepped back and looked down the hall at the closed door to the baby’s room, then looked at the child.

    “Sure looks like mine. How did YOU get him?”

    “Ma’am, he was found running down the street naked. Did you leave him outside unsupervised?” He still glared at me like I was a negligent mother.

    “No, I put him down for a nap in his room, closed the doors and then locked the house doors.”

    “How’d he get out then?”

    “I have no clue. He has never even tried to climb out of his crib before!”

    I put one a robe, took my son, and the officer and I checked it out, because now he thought that someone might have broken in to the house.

    Crib side was still up, baby rioom door still closed and knob thingy in place. Sliding glass back door has a small stool next to it, and the door was open just wide enough for a toddler to squeeze through. At the back gate, where there was a small gap, was a discarded diaper and an undershirt snagged on the fence at toddler height. Sans diaper, the gap was just big enough for a skinny toddler to eel his way through.

    Did I become an over protective helicopter parent who never let her child out of her site because of this? Nope. I just learned to latch the baby’s door from the outside, and latch the window at the top where he couldn’t reach.

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