Thursday, June 5, 2014

Leaving Kids in the Car

Today I left my kids in the car alone. 

We were at the post office. It was 86 degrees outside. I took the post office box key off my chain, left the car running with the air conditioner on, turned to my 9 year old and said, "The phone is right here if there's some crazy emergency. Lock the doors behind me when I get out. Be right back." Then I stepped out leaving him with his 3.5 year old brother to walk inside the glass walled building to the PO box, approximately 25 feet away, from which I could literally see both children in the car.

In the perhaps 90 seconds I was out of the car I wondered if someone was going to call the police. According to Texas state law, it is illegal to leave a child in the car for longer than 5 minutes if a) the child is younger than 7, AND b)not attended by another person of at least age 14. Technically I did nothing illegal. I was not gone more than 5 minutes.

I understand the danger of leaving small children in the car. I do. This post is not about that.

This post is about the culture of fear mongering that is so prevalent today. It honestly pisses me off that I had to expend energy worrying about someone calling the police while I checked our PO box; knowing that someone could have turned our lives upside down with a phone call. I am more than triple the distance from my children, with absolutely no visibility, if I go check the mailbox in the front yard while they stay in the house. Am I to think this is too risky as well? Am I to hover over them as they run around on the playground? Are we to never let our children experience any independence?

It feels to me that this mentality of being hyper-vigilant and over-protective is trying to undermine parents' confidence. If you are even minimally confident in the way you've raised your children, and if you trust them to handle the situations they are in, society is ready and waiting to punish you for not second guessing yourself. Heaven forbid anyone feel confident weighing the risks and benefits of their own situations and making an informed decision.

I don't know what to do to battle this mentality except to say-

Follow your gut. Be confident in your parenting. Trust your children.

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