Anderson & Me (Yes, Anderson Cooper!)

Hey Folks — I”ll confess. Sometimes I Google myself. Today was one of those days, and darned if I didn’t find this lovely little clip of me on Anderson Cooper from a couple of months ago. On the couch with me is Phyllis, one of the moms I worked with on my show, “World’s Worst Mom” (airing in many countries, though not yet sold to America. Keep your fingers crossed!).

Anyway, when I first met Phyllis not only would she not let her children, aged 10 and 12, walk across the quiet, suburban street, she actually went into the bathroom STALL with her daughter when they were out together. Not just the bathroom, the stall, she was that worried.

And all I can say is if you watch this clip you will see a 189% happier, calmer mom. I visited the family again about a week ago and everyone is just so much more joyful. The kids go to the park now, they ride their bikes,  meet up with their friends — stuff their mom had been too afraid to allow before my “intervention.” Now she’s thrilled with their independence and I”m thrilled with her! What a change!

So here’s the little clip. And yes, Anderson is just as handsome in person. – L.

56 Responses

  1. She looks so happy in the “after”. And Lenore, you are so cute! I had no idea!

  2. Dude. I love that you said “icky.” And I need your show to be on hulu or netflix or the internet or SOMETHING so I can watch it. Thanks for sharing! (I clearly have tv limitations and would never have seen this without you.)

  3. Oh yes, I’ve seen that clip. I saw it way back when it was current. I also downloaded it so I will always have it even if it’s ever yanked.

    LRH

  4. fun! But I want to see more!😦

  5. I didn’t realize you had a TV show too. Gosh, I really hope it get picked up in the U.S!

  6. I’m sure the description of him in your book had nothing to do with getting invited on his show.

  7. Wow! Where is part 2? How awesome to do what you love!

  8. That is SO AWESOME. Free Range is not just a philosophy; it’s a way of touching people’s lives and making a difference. That’s something you can sell.

  9. Yes, I already sleuthed this one out! Great testimony to how the show is changing lives for the better! Well done, you!

  10. Did you realize that Slice TV here in Canada runs your show with a disclaimer?

    “All children depicted in this program were at all times under the supervision of the production personnel. Should a viewer choose to leave a child unsupervised or unattended, all consequences are the sole responsibility of the viewer.”

    How’s that for CYA?

  11. Ha. I love the way this says April 14, when it is April 13th up here. My brother and his wife have been down there [or up there] in the future since 1977, BASED ON the past. We are so far advanced that we are in hysterics. I’m told that their advantage of being 20 years behind the times is now closing in, to being only 10 years behind the times. Maybe we can catch on, and catch back, or something. …
    Love from GrannyDeb to Lenore.

  12. That woman’s attempt to rationalize going into the bathroom stall with her ten-year-old daughter boggles my mind. “It’s different for girls”? Uh, that’s news to me. As a lifelong vagina-haver, I have never seen using the toilet as a task so complex and dangerous that it requires
    parental supervision.

    What, did she think her daughter would forget how to wipe herself? Or she would drown in the toilet bowl? A hidden trap door would open underneath her daughter and a kidnapper would pop out and drag her down to the dungeons?

    That sounds like more than garden-variety overprotectiveness. I hope this woman is getting therapy in addition to coaching from World’s Best Mom.

  13. I found parts 2 & 3 on YouTube

  14. Well done. I love how Anderson jumped in with “Kids have arms!”

  15. After watching these clips, I just want to know, Lenore, how you resist the urge just to slap these people upside the head.

  16. Deborah, for some reason the time stamp has been 12 hours off for years.

  17. Isn’t the world we live in interesting? Some lady won’t let her ten year old go to the bathroom alone or her somewhat older child walk 20 feet in front of her, but LENORE gets called the “world’s worst mom.” Sometimes you just have to laugh.

  18. I can’t watch videos with sound on my computer. But I wanted to post a contrasting thing that happened to us today.

    A horrible event occurred yesterday at a restaurant we sometimes eat at. It was a domestic violence incident where a man shot his wife and two 10-year-old daughters at close range with a shotgun. I was driving with my friend to another restaurant and catching her up on what had happened. My kids picked up on it so I told them there was a bad man who shot people, but he is now dead so he can’t shoot anyone anymore.

    Then my friend goes on to tell my kids, “There are some very bad people out there. That’s why you must never go anywhere without your mommy. You know that, right?”

    OK. (Deep breath.) First of all, I do not have any such rule. Secondly, the horrible incident had zero to do with stranger danger. Third, it involved two girls who were with their mommy and sadly, that did not protect them. My friend understood all of this. But her instinct at the thought of a child being hurt was to restrict the freedom of children who are not in any similar danger whatsoever.

    It appears we have a lot of work to do. Nice to know that the work is paying off in some cases.

  19. Lenore, are there any ways to watch your show here in the States?

  20. I find it odd that Phyllis is treated a bit like the one who needs help, with the audience (mostly) smugly agreeing; it generally still feels like free-rangers are the ones who are looked down upon by society.

    My perception is that a lot of what’s described in this blog is in fact fairly extreme and somewhat rare, but that there is in general a tendency towards overprotection that’s more subtle but still damaging to kids. For all their pooh-poohing of Phyllis’s helicoptering, I wonder how many of them are true free-rangers.

  21. I think that’s because even non-free-rangers agree that going into the stall with your 10 year old is insane.

  22. He kept saying he would show more of Phyllis, but never really did! I wanted to see more of her, and to hear from her how she felt about working with you, and how it has affected both her parenting and her feeling of well being going forward. Granted, looking at her sitting there, I felt a sense of “peace” that was not present in the “before” clips, but still, I wanted to hear FROM her. 🙂 That said, great clip, and thank you for sharing.

  23. As others have asked, are there ways for those of us who don’t get to see your show to watch it? Perhaps you could upload episodes to YouTube or put them in the “TV Show” section of this site. I enjoyed all three of the clips.

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Anderson Cooper is with one of the 24-hour news networks that has promoted fearmongering with its stories of abducted kids? I still see him on CNN International.

    Going into the bathroom stall with a 10-year-old? That’s way over the top. The poor girl must be so embarassed. When my son was about 5, he refused to go into women’s restrooms and insisted on using the men’s. The first few times he used the men’s WC by himself, I had to admit that I peeked in to make sure he was okay. I even saw a man holding him at the sink one time. It turned out that the man saw that my son couldn’t reach the faucet and lifted him up so that he could wash his hands. At that moment I actually thought, “Good for my son remembering to wash his hands.” The idea that the man who helped him could be a pedophile or abductor never crossed my mind. After that I realized that my son was just fine using the men’s WC by himself and I stopped peeking in to check on him.

  24. Lenore, you looked absolutely gorgeous in this clip! And I agree with the person upthread, how do you keep yourself from smacking these people upside the head?

  25. gap.runner: You make a very good point. AC’s derision of Phyllis for being overprotective seems in a way opportunistic – he’s saying what the audience wants to hear, while his own network (and maybe he himself, I don’t know) openly promotes and encourages some form of that same irrational behavior all the time. Ultimately it’s still serving up what the audience wants to hear in order to maximize advertising revenue as opposed to anything with any kind of truth or principle behind it.

  26. I also saw part 2 & 3 earlier (about 2 months ago) as well. Also downloaded for all-time “keepage.” And yes, I don’t want to get distracted from what actually matters, but Iagree–I’m 43, and I think Lenore just looks great. I like her better with the glasses myself, though–she reminds me of Lisa Loeb (the one who sung “Stay–I Missed You” in the mid 90s).

    And yes, as the others said, when I watched them, I was like–wow, how is Lenore so polite in the face of all that insanity? I guess the answer lies in that we won’t win others over to our way of thinking if we’re nasty about it, especially on television. Civility is key, I think.

    But even so, when Lenore called the bathroom behavior “icky” and said regarding the mother “get her out of there!” with emphasis, I was like–yeah yeah, you tell ’em about it girl!

    LRH

  27. “It’s different for girls” – how, exactly?

    The more I think about it, the more this looks to me like a mental illness – she has some extreme control issues. And the less extreme forms of overparenting continue unabated, condoned and encouraged by society at large. Much as I’m happy to see the free range movement get some positive publicity, this show is kind of missing the point IMO.

  28. CapnPlanet–That was just one example of over-parenting. Lenore’s show as also dealt with things like teenagers not allowed to go to parties, pre-teens not allowed to walk to school alone, young teens not allowed to stay at home alone for an hour or two after school, parents hovering over kids at the playground and telling them not to swing on the swings or climb to the top of the monkey bars because it’s “too dangerous” (never mind that playground equipment these days is so stiflingly SAFE, it isn’t really a lot of fun for the five-and-up crowd), but ALL of these parents would still allow their children (both male and female) to go to the bathroom alone. So, Lenore does address a whole range of over-parenting behaviours, not just the very most extreme. I hope that, for next season, she does a show about over-scheduled kids, who are shuttled from one organized activity to another, but not allowed down time to just play outside in the neighbourhood. I also hope she does a “retrospective” show where she simulates the way things used to be 20 or 30 years ago by temporarily confiscating the parents’ and kids’ cell phones, thereby severing the perpetual electronic leash.

  29. It’s not really fair to laugh at Phyllis for being distressed the first time her son goes to the park alone though (in part 2, where the host says “even I feel smothered watching that”). I am not overprotective and am very keen to give my children freedom and to get them playing outdoors, but the first time I sent my son out to the park alone (aged 8.5), I felt absolutely nauseous with apprehension. It was a lot easier the second time.

    That is why, incidentally, I don’t think you necessarily “know” when it is the right time to give your children more freedom by gut instinct or feeling comfortable with the idea. I think it’s more a rational decision. For many people, it’s always going to be very hard they let their children out without an adult present, no matter how old their children are.

  30. that should say “the first time they let their children out”

  31. Never knew there was an international TLC! Great job with Anderson, love it when he giggles🙂 Hey if we can watch gypsy weddings, hoarders and apocalypse preppers reality TV shows in the US, maybe your message is just too REAL, or spot on for the suits? Fingers crossed!

  32. Looks like a great show! Like “Super Nanny” for bubblewrapped kids rather than unruly kids!! I hope it appears in the US at some point!

  33. skl1 — plus the fact that it was their DADDY who harmed them. Did the woman really think through the fact that either

    1) the advice she was giving was useless in light of the situation she was referring to because Daddies take care of their kids too, but this Daddy didn’t, or

    2) she was advising children to trust their Mommies but not their Daddies?

    Insane.

  34. Yesterday, my 5 year old son and I were in Wal-Mart. I’m 7 months pregnant, and as happens quite frequently, had to go to the bathroom. My son said that he need to as well. As is our normal practice, he went into the men’s room and I went to the ladies. I didn’t give him any instructions; at this point he’s been going to the men’s room on his own for about 6 months and knows the drill.

    In the ladies room, I had to wait. When a stall opened, I was surprised when 3 people walked out of it. No, not uber socially clingy teenage girls, but a grandmother and her 2 grandkids – a 6 or 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. She proceeded to micromanage their hand washing and drying and where they were standing and inspected them before letting them leave the bathroom. I walked out ahead of them and found my son waiting just like he’s supposed to for me. I have no idea if he washed his hands or not.

    The saddest part of the whole thing to me was that waiting outside the bathrooms was the kids grandfather. Couldn’t she at least have let the boy go to the men’s room with his grandfather, rather than traumatizing him in a stall with his grandmother and sister?

  35. way, cool. I had no idea about the show & wish we could watch here in the US. I wanted to laugh when the audience member defended the mom for going into the bathroom stall with her daughter because the seats are dirty & need to be covered. I don’t always use the seat covers because personally I find them a PITA. If it looks clean & dry I often don’t bother & I have a five year old son & by the time I put the paper down & lift him on the seat it has fallen in so i don’t bother with him either, luckily he can stand most of the time. Good job Lenore & you look great too.

  36. I am father of three girls witch tow grow up giving me gran children my mom have four of use AND I is the old list one I whos 9 years old mom send me to shop for me on my brothers, that bring me to value. That was just one example of over-parenting. Lenore’s show as also dealt with things like teenagers not allowed to go to parties, pre-teens not allowed to walk to school alone, young teens not allowed to stay at home alone for an hour or two after school, parents hovering over kids at the playground and telling them not to swing on the swings or climb to the top of the monkey bars because it’s “too dangerous” (never mind that playground equipment these days is so stiflingly SAFE, it isn’t really a lot of fun for the five-and-up crowd), but ALL of these parents would still allow their children (both male and female) to go to the bathroom alone. So, Lenore does address a whole range of over-parenting behaviours, not just the very most extreme. I hope that, for next season, she does a show about over-scheduled kids, who are shuttled from one organized activity to another, but not allowed down time to just play outside in the neighbourhood. I also hope she does a “retrospective” show where she simulates the way things used to be 20 or 30 years ago by temporarily confiscating the parents’ and kids’ cell phones, thereby severing the perpetual electronic leash.

  37. @Myriam, I think Phyllis is a victim too. 20-30 years ago, someone would have long told her to stop being so silly and work through her anxieties over letting her kids out of sight, because that was the norm back then. And it would probably have prevented her from taking her protectiveness to such extremes. These days however being protective of your kids almost seems like a competitive sport sometimes! And fits in with the view of parents being martyrs. I think it is that cultural trend that needs to be broken down bit by bit. And then more parents will be motivated to deal with the nerves of letting their kids do something by themselves for the first time and it won’t be such a big deal.

    So yes, it is ok to be worried. But helicopter parents have to learn to see that it is rather selfish to indulge in it.

  38. Great show, Lenore! I think overprotective parenting is going to the extreme in that I see boys over eight years old in the women’s bathroom in public places now. It makes me uncomfortable to be in the same bathroom with a boy that age and I think stores should have rules against it.

  39. Pentamom, my friend would not have suggested that my kids look to their daddy for anything, since they do not have a dad.

    I was bugged because it’s easy to talk young kids into being afraid of nothing – this is the age of nightmares and monsters under the bed and such. In addition, my friend knows I’m trying to be a free-range parent and I don’t need her contradicting what I tell my kids. It feels like “if your mom doesn’t care for you, at least I do.” Maybe I’m just overreacting.

  40. I love what Lenore says at the end to sum up, “Train them, and let them go.”

  41. Exactly, “your children are the arrows…and you are the bow” – had to google the exact poem: Kahil Gibran says, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

  42. We don’t even have paper seat covers in public bathrooms where I’m from (Canada), except maybe in the very busiest, dirtiest bathrooms, like the ones in the bus station in downtown Toronto. Are they an American thing? Because, as far as I know, if anything, us Canadians are healthier as a nation than our neighbours to the south. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone covering the seat with toilet paper either, except in T.V. and movies–remember Finch in American Pie?

  43. I never use toilet seat covers. I wipe the seat with TP and I’ve taught my kids to do this for themselves (though I do it for them in certain gross bathrooms). I mean, if they are that filthy, how is a thin sheet of tissue paper going to protect anyone?

    My mom told me that you cold get some bad stuff from public toilet seats. Her other tip was to putz around for a minute in the stall if someone else just left it. Give the germs some time to die of exposure.

  44. “Pentamom, my friend would not have suggested that my kids look to their daddy for anything, since they do not have a dad.”

    Ah, okay. But I was thinking more of the principle she was promoting — if she had been speaking to children who had a dad, would she have said what she said to yours, thereby implying that daddies are not to be trusted, or would she have said “mommy or daddy,” which would not have done any good at all to the children WHOSE DADDY KILLED THEM.

    KWIM?

  45. Congratulations Lenore! You look mah-velous! Glad control issue came up, it seems that’s the crux of the problem. Wonder about mother’s past history which led to the overprotectiveness in the first place. I think all that needs to be addressed so that she can really “train them and let them go.” Great clips! AC is rather good-looking.

  46. Pentamom, yes, I get your point. I did not share with my 5yos that a dad shot his wife and children. Just that a bad man shot some people and now he’s dead. Call me overprotective, but I’m not in any rush to tell my kids that parents sometimes shoot/kill their children on purpose. Honestly, I’m still pretty horrified by it myself. One of the daughters, last I heard, survived the shooting, so she may have to remember that that was how her 10yo sister’s last birthday dinner went down. Sorry, totally off topic, but the point is, I didn’t share that much of it with my kids.

    I was trying to NOT give the message to my kids that “bad people exist” means “you are in constant danger.” My friend did the exact opposite as a knee-jerk reaction. So that’s part of what we’re up against in free-range-land.

  47. “Pentamom, yes, I get your point. I did not share with my 5yos that a dad shot his wife and children. Just that a bad man shot some people and now he’s dead. Call me overprotective, but I’m not in any rush to tell my kids that parents sometimes shoot/kill their children on purpose.”

    No, I don’t mean that I would have expected you to. I just meant that SHE knew the situation that was motivating her advice, but her advice doesn’t add up in light of the situation– either she means that only mommies and not daddies are qualified to be fully protective of their children (an obnoxious position) or that mommies OR daddies can, and are the only people who can, protect their children from harm (which doesn’t fit with the thing she’s reacting to, since the daddy caused the harm.) It was a rare and exceptional case in which the daddy caused the harm, but ALL situations in which children are deliberately murdered are rare and exceptional, if you don’t live in a war torn/genocidal place. So the advice is either objectionable in implying that only mommies are fit protectors for their children, or idiotic in that if this situation is a benchmark for future behavior, parents aren’t safe anyway.

  48. I, too, never figured it was you, Lenore, until your name was mentioned🙂. It’s on TLC Europe here. I can’t help but think that it’s very sad how limited, and in some cases VERY, limited their world-view has shriveled down to.
    I have a friend with two teenagers who is basically sitting on her hands at some points. I have seen a few episodes and find myself virtually wanting to shake the parent into a semblance of sanity.

    I’m always relieved when it comes down to some kind of imrpvement of the situation. In some cases I have been all together very surprised when one parent is like go for it, but somehow sports have been restricted and just general being, for the child, has been restricted.

    As far as hurting oneself doing stuff. In the mid 80s I was around 10-ish when I suffered facial injuries during a fall (face first into a thing at a playground, not recommended). It was an accident, true and simple. At the ER they questioned my parents like had there been child abuse. Had there been, great, but there was none. I stuck to my story of having fallen and eventually, I guess, they felt happy with that. It took a great deal of time to heal (facial surgeries) but when I had my parents felt ok with letting me roam around again. I’m sure it came with some anxiety but they did.

  49. Pentamom, I think it was more that she didn’t think logically but reacted emotionally. Like whenever there’s a news story about something horrible happening to a child, parents say “I’m going to go hug my child right now.” These things make adults picture the kids they love getting hurt. And I understand that. But adults have a responsibility to keep it real when they advise kids. Our need to feel in control of our kids’ safety must not trump their need to pursue healthy, age-appropriate activities.

  50. That’s just what I meant.

  51. I’ve been watching “Bubble-Wrap Kids” on Slice here in Canada, and shaking my head. I sometimes think my sister and her husband are a little over-protective (my niece, 8 1/2, wants to walk to the park alone, but isn’t allowed — what if something happened?), but compared to the mother who wouldn’t let her ten year-old son cut his own dinner??? Or the parents who won’t let their *20* year-old daughter learn to drive or take the bus (and are freaking out because now she’s going away to school)…

    Well, compared to them, my sister and her husband are incredibly permissive.

  52. I didn’t realize you had a show! Looks great and fingers crossed here as well that it makes it to America soon. : D
    I have 7 children and so I think sometimes I end up just getting in a hurry and doing for the younger children what in my mind I know they should be doing. Something I have, and will continue to work on. ~Sasha

  53. Gaprunner and Julie R, my eldest was the same. When he was 5 he decided he didn’t want to go into the ladies, so I gave him the choice of going into the ladies with me or the gents on his own. He chose the gents and has ever since. Now when we go to a cafe or out for lunch, if the loos are nearby, I send him (he’s now 6) and his 4 year old brother off to the loo while I clear up the worst of the crumbs and wipe down the 2 year old. I think what Lenore said is absolutely right. Once they can physically manage to go to the loo on their own, it becomes inappropriate to take them. When my eldest was 4 1/2, there was an incident at the church we used to go to. We’d been going there every week since he was a baby and he had been able to take himself to the toilet for a while, so while we were at church, he would tell me if he needed to go and I would tell him to go to the loo, and he would go on his own. Anyway, a well meaning person decided to take him to the loo, without checking with me first, and told me afterwards that she had taken him. I felt very uncomfortable as he didn’t need help and I felt it was inappropriate. Goodness knows how I would have felt if he was 10! That poor girl!! Some girls are quite mature at 10, with periods and everything.

    Lenore, I did not realise this was your show and I’ve missed 8 of them!!!

  54. I was in the middle of being rung up at the check out at walmart several months ago and my bit-over-3 (at the time) year old suddenly exclaims ‘i have to go poopy!’ And dashes towards the restrooms, which, while close, were out of site. I decided I had a far less likely chance of anything happening to my outgoing and competent (for his age) 3 year old having him dash out of sight to the bathroom than I had a chance of him making a disaster all over floor and pants if I tried to snag him back. So I finished checking out and he went to the bathroom. My biggest worry was he’d get done first and wander out of the bathroom with his pants pulled down and flash everyone! I admit I got a little nervous, he was after all too young to respond anything but ‘mommy’ if asked my name, but, realistically what was going to happen? Far more likely we’d get hit by a car while loading groceries than he’s get injured or abducted on a solo bathroom run! I was proud my little guy was able to accomplish it by himself. My helicopter of a mother in law was horrified when she heard about it, but then, I horrify her by letting my kids be normal kids who do normal, age appropriate things all the time.😉

  55. Love the show , some of the parents make me cringe. Hand feeding their 10 yr olds, the bathroom thing, I know a few people who cold use your help.

  56. […] In one clip, Skenazy and another parent appear on Anderson Cooper to replay how Skenazy was able to help this woman who is so much of the helicopter persuasion that in public washrooms she feels it necessary to go right into the bathroom stall with her daughter.  “Doesn’t everybody?”  this mother quips, when the audience gasps.  They feed this woman to the lions, then they rescue her, undo her public shame with a public reformation of her extreme and errant ways. […]

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