Free range parenting and the backlash it generates are all the rage these days. It’s like you can’t hide under the covers without encountering a news article or blog post either calling for our return to this parenting philosophy or chastising a parent for letting her child snooze in the car while she ran into the store or allowing her kid play in the park alone.
I, myself, even jumped on the bandwagon without knowing it was the bandwagon just a while ago after witnessing how much fun my kids had when I let go of the fear and allowed them to be children. It was amazing just how much quality living they did when I wasn’t there to monitor their every fart and sneeze.
After I published that post, I hosted a family gathering at my house. On several occasions, my father sarcastically asked if I wanted to get arrested when I told him my kids were out playing in the common area of my neighborhood or riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Finally, I had to ask.
“Did you read a news article about this or something? You seem really preoccupied with it.”
“Yeah. It’s everywhere. All these parents are getting in trouble with the law for this free range parenting. It’s crap,” he asserted.
Given we no longer have network television, I tend to be behind the times when it comes to breaking news, but sure enough, when I went looking, there in my Facebook news feed were post upon post about parents being charged with felony child endangerment crimes for parenting their children the way our parents did us.
This is, in and of itself, disturbing, but perhaps even more so to me is how these parents are winding up on the wrong side of the law: “Good Samaritans.”
Just the other day I came across this article on Salon detailing the circumstances of several mothers who are facing legal action for their 80s-esque parenting techniques thanks to the efforts of some “good Samaritans” who made it their mission to decide what everyone else should be doing. And I’m saying, you guys: I WAS HOT.
One of the reasons these mothers are in trouble is for leaving their children in the car. I realize that there have been children who have died in hot cars, and I know this is a terrible tragedy. Any parent who would intentionally or unintentionally leave their child locked up in dangerous heat should be investigated. But when heat is not a factor and a parent has taken precautions to ensure a child’s safety and comfort while the parent is away for a few minutes? This is where I draw the line.
Who are these so-called “good Samaritans” anyway? Who died and made them boss of the universe? They couldn’t either wait to see if the parents would return to the car or have the store page the parent to ask if they remembered leaving their kids in there? They had to go and call the police? REALLY? That seemed like a logical first step? And they had to top it off by berating these mothers and calling their character into question, both behind their backs and to their faces?
Methinks some people need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
When did it become OK to be in charge of everyone else’s life? This is a serious question. I want to know when people suddenly felt it was acceptable to declare themselves God’s wing women. What the fuck possesses a person to think it’s their duty to step in and ruin another person’s life without knowing the what or why behind that other person’s motives? And who the hell automatically assumes the worst without taking a damn moment to understand the full picture?
There’s this little motto I like to cleave to when it comes to living life: don’t be a fucking asshole. These “good Samaritans” are not good in my opinion. They’re dicks who are taking attention and resources away from children who truly need the help. It’s time for these people to get over themselves and their own self-righteousness.
And we as a society need to get a grip.
Here’s an idea: MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS, EVERYBODY. As John Proctor fromThe Crucible would say, you weren’t “born this morning as pure as God’s fingers” yourselves.
(This post originally ran on Sammiches & Psych Meds.)
About the author: Lola Lolita is a wife, mother, educator, and chronic sufferer from anxiety, immaturity, and children. Like what you see? Check out her book, Who Pooped on the Corpses? And Other Pressing Life Concerns, subscribe to weekly emails, and follow her on Facebookand Twitter. Feeling generous? Help me fairly compensate contributing writers for their work by donating to her site’s GoFundMe.