I’m utterly flummoxed by the overreaction to a working mother who let her daughter play at a heavily-used park while she worked, and was then arrested for abandoning her daughter (who was then transferred to the custody of child services). Commandante Atrios (boldface mine):
I really have no understanding of how social norms of parenting have changed so much. “Stranger danger” is hardly real. Car accidents and abuse by family members are real. Most 9-year-olds are perfectly capable of being on their own for some length of time without lighting themselves on fire. A playground filled with children and adults is not actually a dangerous place.
When I go back to the neighborhood where I spent some time growing up, I’m always struck by the fact that I never see any children outside, ever….But when I was a kid we’d wander around, ride our bikes, go into the “woods,” go down to the creek, play street hockey in the middle of the road, etc. This was all normal.
I would argue that turning the kids loose until dinner time (with instructions to not cause trouble–which typically meant serious injury or property damage) probably saved a marriage or two in my neighborhood. I think every parent in my neighborhood could have been arrested for ‘abandonment’ at one time or another. Hell, a huge fraction of Steven Spielberg movies could never happen today, because the kids wouldn’t be let out of their parents’ sight.
Maybe our parents did it wrong, but I think things have become a little crazy. And parents might enjoy not having the kids around all the time: they’ll still love you* in the years to come.
*Unless you’re an asshole, of course.