Warning! Divorced Dad at Home During Sleepover!!!

Hi Folks! Here’s why I rag on the parenting magazines. Not only do they obsess about every little detail of parenting as if it’s a make-or-break  decision, but often they indulge in Worst-First thinking (dreaming up the worst possible scenario and proceeding as if it is likely to happen). Here’s a shining example, cribbed from a longer article in Parenting (via CNN), titled, “The New Playdate Playbook.” It’s a Dear Abby-like list of Q&A’s  for parents totally stressed out by the enormous difficulty of planning, running, overseeing, perfecting and interrupting their kids’ playdates. (And “sitch” is, of course, short for “situation.”)- L.

The Sitch: You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal’s divorced dad will be home. You’re not OK with it. What to do?

The Solution: “Call and say ‘I’m sorry, and this is about me and not you, but I just don’t feel comfortable with a man supervising an overnighter,’ ” says Paone. Offer to host the girls at your place instead, if you can, or ask to turn the sleepover into a “late-over,” where your daughter stays only till bedtime. In the future, always ask who’ll be on duty before you say yes to a sleepover.

Lenore here again: Because…a man is assumed to be a predator unless his wife is around? That’s the working assumption every time your child encounters a single dad? Is this advice or indoctrination? Is this sane or paranoid? Would it possibly make more sense to (as I always suggest) teach your child to recognize, resist and report abuse, rather than to assume the very worst is going to happen when they encounter a male of the species?  Just askin’! — L. 

I Thought This Was a Parody

Hi Readers! I wish this WAS a joke: A mama’s rant with about 100 “Amen!” comments after it, that basically makes the case for clinical paranoia.

Commendably, the blogging mom believes that her child IS safe an aisle away from her at the grocery store. Stranger danger, especially in a public place, is exceedingly rare, she says. Most abuse is committed by someone the child knows pretty well.

Ah — but that is why this mom has decided not to trust almost all the people her daughter knows. Or at least, their families. The post is titled, “The Safe List & Why You’re Not On It.”

Now please don’t get me wrong. I believe abuse happens. I also believe it usually doesn’t happen, and to act as if every sleepover is a rape fest is a very weird way to look at the world. Ditto, every playdate. Ditto, every outing. And so I believe in teaching kids some basics of self-defense, and the concept of okay touch/not okay touch, and that they can make a ruckus and say no to an adult — all of that. But to never let them out of my sight? That’s not the answer.

To treat all adults as exceedingly, disgustingly, appallingly guilty until somehow (God knows how) proven innocent? That’s not the answer either.

This lady says it is. And the “Amens!” agree. — Lenore

P.S. I love having a lively discussion going on here, but there’s no need to comment over at the lady’s personal blog if you think she’s really off-base, anymore than I’d want her readers coming here just to tell me I’m wrong. So keep ’em coming — here! And have a great weekend! And I have one last post before closing down for the night! — L

Recent Tweets and Tidbits!

Hi Readers — I know not all of you follow Twitter, so I’m pasting some recent tweets (Tweets?) here for your perusal. Wonder which ones you’ll comment on! L.

Swing sets removed from some W. Va. schools after kid jumps off, breaks arm, gets $20,000. Stop the insanity!  http://bit.ly/d36m4y

Strong essay: “Confessions of a Childhood Bully” — a woman who tormented her baby sis as a kid, just…because: http://aol.it/bSmYYZ

Yowza. SLEEPOVERS are the latest parental obsession. Parents TERRIFIED. http://bit.ly/9XZQGb

Warning! EVERYTHING can kill you! Especially onion dip! And escalators! (My piece, in Readers Digest): http://bit.ly/c2jbLn

“Judge not.” Moving, realistic piece on Babble about blaming parents when their kids die: http://bit.ly/9gU7r7

Boy wears girly Hallo costume: “My son is gay. Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5.” Yay! http://bit.ly/bZukyO

That’s it for now! Talk later — L.

Chuckle o’ The Day

Today’s Free-Range cartoon, as seen in the brilliant Baby Blues. What a great comic strip that is! And alas, I can’t figure out how to shrink this to fit my screen here, so I will give you the punchline: “To run a background check on Amy’s parents.” (Sorry — the comic shows up full screen when I preview it, but then in real life the page cuts it off.) L.

British Kids Being Mummy-fied

Hi Readers:  Just in case you were wondering what America may to start look like, in terms of helicoptering, check out this story from ahead-of-the-craziness-curve England. It notes:

The survey of 6,099 people commissioned by LV= Streetwise, a charity that educates children about safety, revealed that nearly a quarter of children aged 15 or under were not allowed to sleep at a friend’s house, 60 percent were forbidden to travel on public transport alone and 43 percent can’t go to the park without a parent or guardian.

It said more than 60 percent of mums and dads think the world is more dangerous than when they were kids.

…In contrast, just four percent of today’s adults say they were banned from sleeping-over when they were 15 or younger, only two percent were forbidden to use public transport, and the same number couldn’t go out on their own in familiar surroundings, such as their local town or park.

Got that? Just one generation ago, 98% of children were allowed to go, on their own, to the local park (not to mention the bus)!

All the more reason to get behind May 22’s “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day,” say I.  (Of course, I would.) Kids are being coddled, crippled and caged thanks to overblown parental fears. While most parents think the world has gone to hell in a handbasket filled with predators, kids today are actually SAFER than WE were when WE were kids — at least here in America. Crime is lower today than it was in the ’70s and ’80s (and not just because the kids are inside).

England is ahead of us when it comes to parental hysteria. It is time for us to declare our independence –again! And if you want to celebrate with a cookout and sparklers, go right ahead. (Just keep a fire extinguisher handy.) — Lenore

Don't Tread on Kids

Outrage of the Week: Before the Slumber Party, Paperwork

Hi Readers! In the category of “overkill” and “probably not representative of the culture as a whole, but still instructive,” and “wacko!” here’s an amazing post from the blog Doctor Grumpy in the House: A dad (Dr. Grumpy, I presume) was dropping off his daughter at a friend’s house for a sleepover when the mom halted him. She demanded he sign a legal waiver promising he would not sue

for over any injuries Marie might sustain in the course of a “normal slumber party” (whatever the hell that is).

Fill out a form listing what ER I wanted her taken to in the event of an emergency.

Fill out a paper listing medicine and food allergies (I can understand that part, actually), and any special dietary requirements.

List her pediatrician’s name and number.

There were even more blanks to fill in, and the mom was apparently angry Dr. Grumpy had not brought along his insurance card.

Now, I know: Most parents are not at all this worried or fanatical. But I did meet a dad who was asked to sign an insurance waiver when he dropped off his kid at a house where there was a trampoline, so this pre-fun paperwork could be the tip of the (don’t sue us if we hit an) iceberg.  Either way, it’s another example of the fear that puts walls between people when we see each other not as “all in this together” but as potential litigants on opposite sides of the aisle.

And can you imagine the psychological damage if the daughter tries to levitate and can’t? Or, God forbid, fails to see Mary Worth in the mirror? — Lenore (and thanks to Ian in Hamburg for the tip!)