For modern parents, it seems every decision we make is subject to scrutiny. If you keep your kids too close, you’re called a helicopter mom or accused of being overly attached. If you allow them some space, you’re known as a free-range parent, called inattentive and with some extreme critics, even potentially called out for abusing your kids. It’s exactly that line of outlandish thinking that recently led a woman to call CPS because she saw her neighbor’s children playing outside in the rain.
An angry dad posted on Reddit after he says his neighbor threatened to report him and his wife for allowing their 5- and 7-year-old kids to play football in their front yard while it was raining. The Reddit user said it was a mild summer shower, with no thunder or lighting, and emphasized that his family lives in a cul-de-sac with a fenced-in yard. But according to their nosy neighbor, those explanations simply aren’t good enough.
Their neighbor actually told the kids they had to go inside because of the rain. Then when their parents went out to talk to her, said allowing kids to play in the rain is neglect, and “CPS has been called for less.” A few days later, she made good on her threat, and the family was actually investigated by a social worker. They came out of the investigation unscathed because, duh, playing in the rain in your own front yard is not a crime.
It takes a village to raise a child, but stories like this one make many parents want to abandon the village and live in isolation where they can’t get shamed (or reported to the freaking authorities) for allowing their children to be children. Two decades ago, kids were tossed outside with their bikes and told not to come home until dinnertime. Now, a kid running around their own yard without a full security detail is seen as neglect. What the heck is happening to childhood?
For many parents, the world definitely feels like a scarier place. There are way too many stories in the news about school shootings, bullying, sexual abuse and online predators. It’s tempting to be overly protective and not allow kids any freedom at all. But, there are many different ways to be a good parent, and it’s unfair to try to force personal beliefs or fears on other people.
If someone doesn’t like kids playing outside or eating certain foods or watching a certain number of hours of television, that’s their prerogative. But disagreeing with a particular behavior does not make that behavior abusive, and it’d be a lot more helpful to both kids and their parents if everyone could stop going off the deep end whenever they encounter something they dislike.
If a person decides to interfere with someone else’s parenting or place a call to CPS, there had better be a damn good reason. Otherwise, all that intervention is doing is wasting people’s time, causing parents a ton of unnecessary stress, freaking little kids out and taking the focus off of children who are actually in danger — now there’s a set of problems that are actually worth worrying about.
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