Monday, August 22, 2016

Mothering Monday: Safety Calls vs. Moral Judgments

Over the past few years news reports in the media have been filled with stories of children being left unattended for a few moments (in reasonably safe situations), a stranger calls the police, and the parents face charges of neglect/abuse. The childhood most us of enjoyed where our parents allowed us freedom and autonomy has been replaced with a brand of obsessive and excessive helicopter parenting. Even parents who don't favor the current flavor of hyper-vigilance are terrified to not maintain the status quo because if they aren't hovering their child, some stranger will make a call that could destroy their family.

It's crazy and infuriating. Why did our society make this shift? When did we stop helping one another and start accusing each other?

A few researchers from the University of California, Irvine wanted to study this phenomenon and discovered that the majority of these cases were based on moral judgments against the parents rather than actual danger faced by the child.

This statement by one of the researchers struck me as very important:

 I guess what I would like people to start thinking about is how this new legal standard of paranoid parenting enshrines a kind of class privilege. Besides the fact that it is irrational, the idea that you must watch your child every single second until they turn 18 is deeply classist. It's not something you can even aim for unless you have a whole lot of money, and probably not a lot of children. For parents who are working, who have more than one child, who need to get something else done during the day — to say nothing of single parents — that model of parenting is absurd. If you think about Debra Harrell's situation, she's raising a child while working a minimum-wage job. Suddenly, we as a society have decided (without any rational basis) that she is negligent for allowing her 9-year-old to play in a public park. This is very, very disturbing to me. It is basically criminalizing poverty and single parenthood.
I think changing this mania has to start with parents themselves. First, we need to start supporting and helping each other instead of judging and convicting one another. Second, we need to start realizing that we all have parenting styles and the majority of them are okay. Third, lets loosen up with our kids and let them have some freedom and autonomy in their lives.

What do you think about this? Have you ever worried about letting your child play alone because you are afraid that someone will call the cops on you?  


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