Yup, That’s Me. The “Bizarre” Mom on the Cover of the NY Daily News

Hi Folks — Well, yes, the cover of the NY Daily News. That’s good and bad. Good — it certainly gets the word out. Bad, maybe this headline:  “Leave Your Kids in the Park: Mom’s Bizarre Campaign.”

Put that way it does sound a little bizarre. But what’s way more bizarre to me is the doctor that the article found to interview:

Dr. Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, says a 7-year-old shouldn’t be left alone in a backyard, much less a park.

Really? What is happening in his backyard? The proverbial alligator up from New York’s sewers? And here’s a quote from a “typical” parent:

“Never in a million years would I do something that stupid,” said Carmen Javier, a Park Slope mother of 8-year-old Juan. “When the kid turns 18 – fine. Until then you watch them.”

As you readers know, I believe in involved parenting — teaching our kids the skills they need to be safe and self-reliant. But there’s not a whole lot of chance for a child to put any of that into practice and get good at it,  if mom is by his side for a full 18 years.

Anyway, the rest of the article is fine. Alas, the sidebar by Joanna Molloy (usually very funny and wise!) says:

Come on, the world is a way scarier place than it was when we were kids.

In the ’20s, moms let kids play in the street while they cleaned. In the ’60s, kids went out in the morning and bounced around all day playing Ringolevio.

These days, kids get snatched off the street and people try to bomb  Times Square and the Herald Square subway station.

She’s absolutely right about the bombers. It sickens me that they’re out there. Then again, I’m not sure how parental supervision prevents terrorism. As for the oft-repeated notion that more kids are getting snatched today than ever, well, here’s a nice little article from the Huffington Post on how the 2009 murder rate in New York City hit an ALL TIME LOW. Like, “the fewest since comparable records were kept in the 1960s.”  And murder rates fell 10% across the whole country.

But, hey, The Daily News is a tabloid. Gotta sell fear. And I should know. I worked there for 14 years.

Meantime — remember what Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former surgeon general, said (in the blog below this one!):

Let your children go out and play! It's worth it!

“If you want to say how can we step into childhood and make it better for
them, I would start at the activity level.  I’d like to say let your kids go
out and play.  Then I’d say you’re not going to do that are you? Make your
kids go out and play.  Kids ought to grow up the way you and I grew up and
we grew up fifty years apart or maybe more.  But we did the same things.
Now who’s out playing in the afternoon?  Nobody.  Risks I think are the
thing that make life important and everything that you and I do is risk vs.
benefit.  Is there a risk to sending your kid out?  Absolutely.  Is there a
benefit?  It exceeds the risk.”