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Cops Telling Parents How to Raise Their Kids

Cops Telling Parents How to Raise Their Kids

At last, it was the big day for Tom D’s daughter, age 6: The day she would walk to get a Gatorade all by herself.

She wouldn’t have to cross any big streets. And her parents made sure she was well-equipped: They gave her some money, her mom’s phone so she could be tracked and a hand-drawn map — even though the store was just a few blocks away.

This was in a Detroit suburb. Dad Tom has asked that his last name not be used, for fear of retribution from the cops.

Because cops indeed were called. No sooner had the girl turned onto the larger road where the store is than an older man stopped her and summoned the police.

Tom was tracking his daughter, and when he saw she wasn’t budging, he went out to see what was going on. As he arrived, so did two cops.

“They were asking me what I was letting her do and I said, ‘I’m letting her walk to get a Gatorade.’ And they asked me her age and I told them,” Tom recalls.

“They said, ‘She’s not old enough,’ and I remember thinking, ‘That’s your personal belief. You don’t know my kid at all!’ But I remember thinking, ‘I need to tone myself down.'”

His prudence paid off. “The cops said, ‘We don’t want to bring Child Protective Services into this,'” indicating that they certainly could, if pushed. So, Tom gave them his name and identification, and promised, “I’ll make sure she’s inside our house going forward, officer.”

And that’s what he and his wife have done. They have changed their parenting, not due to actual danger, but other people’s perceptions.

This, in turn, has changed their daughter. After the thwarted walk, “She wanted to try almost immediately again,” says Tom. “But we did not allow her to. Because if she tries again and they find her again, they’re definitely calling Child Protective Services on us.”

The spunky little girl asked a few more times. And then… she stopped asking.

Her parents changed, too. “We were both for the idea (of the walk) before anything happened. And afterward it was like, ‘Well, let’s just be a little more cautious,'” says Tom.

More cautious? They’d prepared their daughter with a map! Money! Phone! How excessively cautious must a parent be?

This is why I never blame parents for “helicoptering.” Our culture insists we do it! And yet, as childhood independence has dwindled, childhood anxiety and depression have shot up. This is no coincidence.

The way anyone gets over ANY fear is by facing it — by doing the daunting thing. By contrast, if you want to feed anxiety, just treat a competent person as not competent. Warn them that everything’s dangerous. Stop them from doing things they could handle.

A walk to the store, for instance.

Until we change our laws and norms, decent parents who want to nurture their children’s growing capabilities will be forced to smother them instead.

That’s not safety. That’s a tragedy.

A kid who’s excited to be part of the world shouldn’t be locked inside until she finally stops even asking to go out.


Image credit: Pixabay


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  • Avatar
    June 19, 2023, 6:27 pm

    All government employees at all levels are trained to believe that their function is to "control" public activity and restrict the liberty of the same. Government employees – are the enemy of liberty and should be challenged at every level.

  • Avatar
    June 19, 2023, 6:35 pm

    The idea seems to be to let the criminals run free and lock up the innocent for their "safety."

  • Avatar
    John DeIorio
    June 19, 2023, 7:48 pm

    Something does not sound right about this story, or something is missing. First not knowing specifics about the particular area (suburb of Detroit, so is that immediately outside city limits of Detroit? A couple of towns away?) why would someone summon the police just because a young girl was walking alone? Is this not common in this neighborhood? Is it a crime ridden area, or a relatively safe area? Why would the police officers have anything to say about this? Was the girl appearing lost, confused, scared, or was she just minding her business and walking along the route her parents planned? There’s many questions related to this that would give more context. Otherwise, it just looks like one of two things, the parents were irresponsible in doing this (I don’t necessarily believe this, but without context of the safety of the neighborhood, who knows?), or, there are major bud-in-skis who put their nose where it’s neither needed or wanted…then the attitude of the police (which makes me question the safety of the neighborhood and perhaps it was not the best decision, but that’s the parent’s call, not the police officers’ absent any law violation). More context needed. Lastly, I get the point the author is trying to make re: helicoptering and stifling children’s need to explore and venture, but there’s also an old saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. More info would be helpful.

    • Avatar
      Pray Hard@John DeIorio
      June 20, 2023, 8:27 am

      There are no relatively safe areas in America or anywhere in the world any longer.

  • Avatar
    June 19, 2023, 8:36 pm

    The world really is different and not for the better. Six is kind of too young to be walking alone to the store. When I was six, families tended to be more than one or two kids and a dog. At 6, I could go to the store, park, and around the neighborhood with my older siblings. Also, there were usually other kids out too. Not allowing a six year old out alone in today's world isn't about instilling fear but rather about common sense.

    • Avatar
      Pray Hard@Garcia
      June 20, 2023, 8:28 am

      Good to see someone with some sense.

  • Avatar
    Pray Hard
    June 20, 2023, 8:26 am

    You are incorrect. The protective individual and the police are correct. When people are stupid, the State takes over. It's just that simple. If the parents had even the slightest intelligence and maturity, they'd be thanking the individual and the police, admit their stupidity and change their behavior. How many tens of thousands of children have been abducted, raped and murdered while on "just a quick walk to the store"? Six years old? "Smother"? Give me a break!

    • Avatar
      Lysander_Spooner@Pray Hard
      June 21, 2023, 3:38 pm

      I challenge you to document "tens of thousands" of children who have been murdered by strangers while on a walk to the store.


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