My column of a few weeks back in which I described real-life parenting scenarios that qualified the parents in question for a diagnosis of “just plain nuts” was a big hit. Since it ran, readers have sent me numerous examples.
From a big city in the Midwest comes an example sent to me by the director of a private school where a kindergarten teacher told a 5-year-old girl that she was not allowed to sing her favorite nursery rhyme out loud any old time she pleased. Not a day went by before the child’s mother confronted said director, demanding that permission be granted. Seems the mother thinks that because she is paying for her child’s education (as opposed to people whose kids are in public school, who are also paying for their children’s education) she is entitled to direct the director of the school to create an individualized set of policies for her little precious.
This is another example of the sort of thing that causes school principals and administrators all over the U.S. to tell me that “dealing with our students would not be a problem if it weren’t for their parents.”
My second example of “just plain nuts” parenting is somewhat indirect, because in this case the parents are not nuts, but someone is, for sure. On Dec. 20, two parents in Maryland allowed their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter to walk a mile home from a local park. The parents are believers in the “new” free-range child movement (which really isn’t new at all). The kids were spotted by parenting vigilantes who called the police. Some anonymous busybody also notified Child Protective Services (aka the Parenting Gestapo) who threatened to take the children into custody if the parents do not submit to an intrusive investigation.
This is nuts. First, according to legal experts I’ve consulted, investigations of this sort are quite possibly unconstitutional. The problem is that there’s no advocacy group waiting in the wings to take these cases on and most parents so violated do not have the money to hire attorneys. Where is the ACLU when we need them?
Despite the media’s obsession, there’s no good evidence that children today are in greater “stranger danger” than were kids 60 years ago, when at age 7, I was walking a mile or more to school, the library, stores and parks. It’s just amazing that I’m still around to tell the tale.