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My worst-ever day of parenting

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Today sucked for many, many reasons, but chiefly this:

 

At noon today, DD1 wanted to go to the neighbor's house. It's two doors down, and she and the neighbor kids have played together constantly all summer long. Back and forth, back and forth. She heads over. Around four (and I realize that's a long time, but they seriously play for HOURS - it's summer, and they love the swing sets and sandbox and what have you) I head over to check on her. The neighbor tells me she saw her at twelve, hasn't seen her in "a long time" and doesn't remember when she left! I PANIC. We have had conversation after conversation this summer about her letting me know where she is - she's only allowed at that neighbor's house and the one in-between our houses. I knock at the in-between neighbor's house - no answer. Load up the little kids and drive around. Don't see her. Call my husband and tell him I think we should call the police - I mean, it's been possibly FOUR hours since anyone has seen her, and I can't find her?

 

Long story short, the police come, and almost immediately find her next door. Don't know why they didn't answer their door earlier.

 

Then I get my butt chewed by the police about my lack of supervision. I try to explain that she's only allowed to go to those two houses - so the cops won't think I'm insane - and one of them says "Why don't you stop making excuses, and just do better?"

 

I also get a snarky comment from her about why I waited four hours. I thought DD was happily playing with her friends!

 

Another officer told me I should be physically walking her to their door every time. Which makes me wonder when they would approve of me not doing that, since there are tons of kids who walk home from school - a mile away - every day. And another officer told me that he is ALWAYS outside when his kids are. Again, at what age can I stop doing that? My oldest two are six and four, and I honestly thought they were ok playing in my yard or the neighbors' yard. (Please don't ream me if you disagree, I really can't take it tonight and I've already decided they have to be within my sight at all times for the foreseeable future). And while I can see the officers' perhaps telling me to increase my supervision (because DD HAS proven she's not ready for this by breaking the rule about telling me where she was) I don't need to feel like the worse parent ever, either. My kids are loved, they're well nourished, they're clean, I'm doing the best I can!

 

I thought I had this great village where we all watched out for each other's children and my kids were so lucky to have playmates, and now I'm wondering if all the neighbors think I'm a negligent mother.

 

I would call my mom and cry to her, but she died three weeks ago so that's no longer an option either.

 

I just feel so beaten down right now.

post #2 of 35

Oh no, I am so sorry to hear all of that. That must have felt scary and horrible, embarrassing and infuriating all rolled into one.

 

I always think about that with my son. He's 8 now, but sometimes he just does NOT want to go into the store with me! So I have this big debate. Although *I* know I can trust him, and he will just sit in the car and draw and keep himself busy, and the temperature outside isn't too hot, but the windows are all open a small amount anyway for fresh air, and the car is locked........even after ALL THAT I worry that someone with different parenting ideas will come along and get me in trouble with the authorities.

 

That reminds me of this lady, Lenore Skenazy, who coined the term "free range kids":

http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

 

At age 6, my son was not ready for the type of freedom you describe. I think at that age he'd wander off, forgetting any admonitions on my part to stick to a certain plan. It's an attention-span thing. But now I would probably send him to a friend's house two blocks away (if he had any friends close by....which he doesn't.....boo hoo!!) and even so, I'd wonder if "others" would cause a stink if they saw him roaming around unattended. We're homeschoolers and so I don't know what age is appropriate for this sort of thing. We've never had the occasion yet to let him roam. I do dislike the fear-based overprotectiveness that I sometimes see in "mainstream" kid society.

 

Anyway I hope you feel better soon.

 

 

post #3 of 35

*HUGS* Mama.  Go easy on yourself, especially the next few months.  My mom died about 18 months ago, and even though my relationship with her wasn't that great, it was still rough going the first year.  The second year is... different.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mamaofprincesses View Post

I thought I had this great village where we all watched out for each other's children and my kids were so lucky to have playmates, and now I'm wondering if all the neighbors think I'm a negligent mother.

 

I would call my mom and cry to her, but she died three weeks ago so that's no longer an option either.

 

I just feel so beaten down right now.



 

post #4 of 35
I think the police were out of line. They're probably in a constant "worst case scenario" mode because they obviously are the ones who see crime and problems, not perfectly happy kids who went next door to play and then came home. They were picking on you, frankly. I don't think your choice was outrageous in the least.

I'm sorry about your mom, too.
post #5 of 35

I'm so sorry about your mom.  That must be hard. 

 

I agree with pp though, the police were out of line.  In their defense though, they see some pretty terrible things - and responding to a call about a missing child is probably upsetting to them (especially if they are parents themselves).  I'm glad your dd is OK, and it sounds like you have a plan for making sure it doesn't happen again.  hug.gif

post #6 of 35

i agree with pp, your dd is okay they really didn't need to add to the trauma. give yourself the okay to just let this go and not play the what if game. hug2.gif

post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaofprincesses View Post
I would call my mom and cry to her, but she died three weeks ago so that's no longer an option either.

 

I just feel so beaten down right now.



hug2.gifI am so sorry. Just what you don't need right now.

post #8 of 35
The police are wrong. A 6 year old can go 2 doors down safely. Especially now, after she sees what happened.

A few years ago we were camping, dds were 5 and 11 or 6 and 12, I can't remember which year! They disappeared in the campground, couldn't find them anywhere, strange area, river nearby. I called 911. Police came, we went back to the campsite, the dog started barking at them. The girls yelled from the playground less than 40 feet away to the dogs. They were in a vertical tunnel and couldn't hear me, but could hear the dogs. The police were all "glad they're safe, we like calls that end like this", and lauged when dd2 asked me if I was going to be arrested for calling 911 when there was no emergency!
post #9 of 35
6-year-olds are IME plenty old to go two doors away by themselves. In my neighborhood, the age for that kind of thing - going two doors away - is about 4. By 6 the kids have the whole street. By 8, the whole neighborhood.

The police officer only lets his kids play outside when he can be outside with them? Is he aware of the consequences of limiting children's outdoor play? That would be my question for him. Every choice we make has the concequences we plan, and unintended consequences, and we have to consider both to make a good choice.

Sorry about your mom. Hugs to you!
post #10 of 35

I agree - a 6 year old is plenty old enough to go 2 doors down. Heavens, my dd has been doing that since she was 4. She is often gone for a couple of hours without my checking up on her (she's 7 now). Remember, the police see the worst case scenarios all the time. I know someone who's an ER physician. They own every safety device known to human kind. Things that the rest of us see as 'rare', he sees every day. The police have a warped perspective. I can't imagine that they reamed you out. Personally, I'd file a complaint. Their behavior was unprofessional. "why don't you stop making excuses and do better"? Really??? That's terrible. 

 

I'm sorry you had a bad scare. I'm sorry about your mom. I'm sorry the police weren't sympathetic. 

post #11 of 35

First, Hugs mama hug2.gif

 

I think the police were out of line.  They aren't experts in mothering, they are experts in law enforcement.  You didn't break any laws, so she was giving you her own ideas about mothering.  And she was being a jerk about it.  The appropriateness of letting a kid walk two doors down by themselves depends on the kid and the neighborhood.  You know better than anyone else, certainly more than a police officer who has never met your kid, whether they should be doing that.  The fact that it went a little wrong (mainly, the fluke of the front door not being answered, not wrong in that your child went someplace they shouldn't) doesn't mean that you did anything wrong.  At some point, your child will step out of bounds, and the interaction you have when they do will help them to grow up and mature.

 

Anka

post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

The police officer only lets his kids play outside when he can be outside with them? Is he aware of the consequences of limiting children's outdoor play? That would be my question for him. Every choice we make has the concequences we plan, and unintended consequences, and we have to consider both to make a good choice.
 

Exactly! I mentioned this incident to my kids' physician's assistant this morning, (we were there for something else) and he completely disagreed with the officer. Then he showed me an article with research that says parents who supervise too much can contribute to mood and anxiety disorders in children! So obviously there's more than one school of thought, and my allowing this doesn't make me the worst parent ever.

 

Thanks for the support, everyone. I feel much better knowing I'm not the only mama who would at least let her kids try to handle this responsibility. We'll try again eventually.

post #13 of 35

Yup out of line, first off two doors down is fine.  Also I don't know about your neighborhood  but when the neighbor kids leave our houses we watch them go or call their house to make sure they got home.  Unless of course theres a lot of back and forth going on.  Maybe you guys can adopt this so that you don't have to take away the freedom to be a kid over this incident. Good luck and hope you're doing ok.

post #14 of 35

I think that was totally appropriate for a 6 year old, and your DD is learning responsibility and that you have trust in her.  Give it a go again when you feel comfortable.  I'm sure this was a learning experience for your daughter,too.

post #15 of 35

You need a margarita, stat!!!

 

You didn't do anything wrong, and I agree with the others that the police officer was completely out of line.  I mean, way to add insult to injury.  You had no reason to think that anything bad was going to happen.  Please don't let this one incident break your spirit.

 

Hugs to you on losing your mom, too.

post #16 of 35

The cops we harsh. That said I would walk my kids and pick them up. I would do the same if they were walking to school.Most times nothing happens,but tell that to the parents whose kids have been taken forever.

post #17 of 35

Totally OT, but your Avatar made me almost pee my pants! 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Yup out of line, first off two doors down is fine.  Also I don't know about your neighborhood  but when the neighbor kids leave our houses we watch them go or call their house to make sure they got home.  Unless of course theres a lot of back and forth going on.  Maybe you guys can adopt this so that you don't have to take away the freedom to be a kid over this incident. Good luck and hope you're doing ok.



 

post #18 of 35

Um, hi, my name is AverysMomma and I'm sick of the damn police. I know us northern, middle class, non-criminal farmer type ladies don't often make it to the top of the list of people you might think of when you imagine what a "cop hater" looks like....but I do. I hate seeing them, I hate it when they pull me over for a license plate bulb being out, I hate it when they try to tell me what I should be doing or why what I'm doing is wrong. I absolutely cannot stand law enforcement.

 

My problem is not so much with individual police, it's with what Law Enforcement has become. Cops are like plumbers. There are good plumbers and bad ones. There are bad plumbers who are good people....and good plumbers who are bad people....just as there are cops who are great and cops who aren't so great as HUMAN BEINGS.

 

A cop is not a cop because they are some super brilliant, super human...they are cops because they made a career choice. COP is a job, not a human characteristic that makes a person more qualified at life. You don't even have to be that smart to be a police officer. There are some BRILLIANT cops out there....but there are also some DUMB AS ROCKS cops out there. Just like bankers and mechanics and roofers and politicians. My favorite, is when fresh faced dude who looks like he's been old enough to shave for about 12 minutes, who doesn't have any kids, thinks he can tell people all about what they should be doing with their kids because he's in "The Uniform". It's disgusting.

 

Don't ever, ever sit in front of an officer of the law and let them counsel you in any way that does not feel good. Don't let them make you feel like you are failing as a parent, don't let them make you feel like they know about some scary dangers that "if you could only see what they've seen" you'd do things differently. You know what you feel comfortable with, you know that the world is nuts....you make the choices you make based on a balanced view of your neighborhood and you have a right to have a different view of parenting than Johnny Law.

 

You didn't call the cops for parenting advice....and as much as so many cops loooove to play "morality police" - the fact is they are not. You called them, because you imagined there was an emergency. As a tax payer, you have a right to call and receive the service of the police any time you feel there is an emergent situation that you cannot handle.

 

You called them. There was no crime to stop. End of police interaction. Next time a cop tries to lecture you on the side of the road, at your own damn house, tell him "Thanks for coming, hero, but your job is done here."  - don't take anything from an officer of the law that you wouldn't take from some stranger passing by.

 

And for the record, I have a couple of friends who are cops....and they have earned my respect as human beings and I love them. I don't "hate" actual individual cops, because just as I believe you have to earn respect, I'm also not going to preemptive DISlike someone just because of their career choice. My gripe is with this insane twist in law enforcement over the last decade or so. My problem is with the mindless hero worship and god complex that so many cops seem to be walking around with these days. I'm sick of people who are non-criminals having to interact with law enforcement so much and I'm sick of these crazy cops walking around thinking they can just tell me what do to or give me unsolicited advice like they are some morally superior, mentally more capable human being.

 

Do you know that I recently had a cop, mounted on a horse, yell out to me that I needed to be holding my DDs hand as we walked down a small street with hardly any cars on a lazy afternoon. She was walking perfectly happy right beside me (we were on a raised, paved sidewalk, with a landscaped median strip between our sidewalk and the road)....and he yells out "you really need to be holding her hand so close to the street" - and then looks at me, like he's expecting that I'm going to look apologetic for my "moron parenting" and snatch up her hand as quickly as I could. I'm telling you, that is the kind of crap I'm sick to death of. THe guy is lucky my kids were right with me and I don't believe in making scenes in public...I'm so so so so so sick of cops.

 

Anyway. Sorry for the rant. Don't you let those idiots make you feel badly, what you were doing is not only okay, but TOTALLY normal. Most people I know with 6 year olds let them walk to a neighbor friends house to play. That's so so so normal.

 

I'm also really sorry to hear about your mom...that's terrible and I'm so sad for your loss. ::hugs::

post #19 of 35


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaofprincesses View Post

 And another officer told me that he is ALWAYS outside when his kids are. Again, at what age can I stop doing that?


Opinions vary widely. I had another mother at a swim meet this summer go off on me because I let my kids walk back and forth to school without me. It's a 5 minute walk and doesn't cross any major streets. It's so close that it should measured in yards, not miles. It's a nice neighborhood, and one of our older neighbors who walks his toy poodle at the same time so sees them a lot, jokes with them about how they are "off to the salt mines." 

 

My kids are 13 and 14.

 

Seriously.

 

One is starting high school this year and some people think she still isn't old enough to walk for 5 minutes without me. dizzy.gif

 

It's odd to me that amount of precautions we take with even big kids and teens. The school will call me if my kids are even a minute late because with kids who travel on their own, it's considered a safety issue. Most of the kids who travel on their own have a cell phone in case there is an emergency. If they leave the school more than 5 minutes late, they have to sign at the office so if their parent calls worried about them, there is a record of exactly when they left.

 

This is a nice neighborhood in the burbs of a not very big city.

 

Did I mention that my kids are teenagers?

 

I think our society is a little crazy.

post #20 of 35

My parents were about as restrictive and protective as any I knew growing up, and at 6 I was all over the street without their eyes on me at all times. I walked to school with a girl 1 year older than me. The cops were way out of line.

 

That being said, maybe a little different system might help avoid this in the future? (And no, I don't mean never let them out of your sight!) What if she were to call when she was leaving the first house to go somewhere else? What if the neighbors were in agreement to call you when the kids leave/arrive at their houses, so everyone knows where everyone's kids are? What about setting up a "time" to check in, like two hours after she leaves the house, or by 3 every day? Just a thought.

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