Scariest Place of All: An Parenting Editor’s In-Box

Hi Readers! Ever wonder why we parents are so scared all the time? Maybe it has to do with the incessant din of marketers predicting DOOM unless we buy something. Something they just happen to be selling!  Take a look at this blog post by Carolyn Graham, editor of L.A. Parent, and you’ll see the kiddie safety industrial complex in all its glory. This is an excerpt from Carolyn’s blog, “I Don’t Have Time for This.


Then today, I got to work and opened my email. It’s scary, and not just because there’s so many emails that I’ll never, even in a couple of lifetimes, be able to read or respond to it. But many of them are trying to scare me and make me, a serial worrier, even more freaked out.

I’m sure that even if I didn’t work for a parenting magazine and wasn’t constantly bombarded by pitches about new products, Web sites, parenting experts and other stuff designed to “keep our kids safe,” I’d still check Jack’s breathing at night and sweat till Kate’s school bus arrived at her field trip destination.

But I decided to do a little experiment and see if my email might be contributing to my worrisome world view. Here’s a sampling of subject lines and opening sentences in some emails that I received in just one – ONE – 24-hour period:

  • Could an Electromagnetic Pulse Wipe Out Civilization? New ‘End of the World’ Scenario Gets Serious Attention
  • With Halloween being one of the most dangerous days of the year for children – children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than the rest of the year according to Safe Kids Worldwide – it’s important for parents to prepare their children to stay safe while trick-or-treating [this was a pitch from a cell phone company]
  • Teen Attitudes Toward Smoking Linked to Likelihood of Drinking and Using Drugs
  • Suffering at the Hands of a Bully
  • New book uses psychosynthesis as means for families and individuals to reach their full potential
  • According to the FBI 2008 Crime in the United States (CIUS) report an estimated 2,222,196 burglaries occurred in that year. 61.2 percent involved forcible entry, 32.3 percent were unlawful entries without force, and 6.4 percent were forcible entry attempts. Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 70.3 percent of all burglary offenses. ( [this was a pitch from a blinds/window coverings company]
  • We’ve all heard the horror stories about bad babysitters and dangerous daycare centers.  I am sure you remember the story about the dad who found a sitter on Craigslist who then abducted his son.  And who can forget about the four toddlers who wandered away from their day care facility in the blistering July heat.  It’s very hard today to know who you can trust. [this was a pitch for a babysitter-finder service]
  • Forget chocolate and cookie dough, here’s a great school fundraising idea that also aims to keep kids safe. The Amber Alert Registry School Program (a no cost program to the school) allows parents to sign up for this important safety tool while providing significant funding to participating schools.
  • WWI Chemical Found in Air Outside 15 Public Schools

Is there any wonder I’m worried a good percentage of the time?

It’s not that these issues aren’t legitimate and need to be addressed. And I’m all for hearing about great products, books and other helpful items – and if we truly need to make sure parents are aware of a very real, harmful danger out there, I want to know about it. But can we please cut down on the fear tactics as sales or public relations pitches? Either that, or I’m just going to stare at the ceiling all night wondering when that electromagnetic pulse is going to strike …