My piece in today's New York Post discusses why we arrest moms for the "crime" of taking their eyes off their kids, even when they have not put the kid in any statistically likely danger. It begins:
Kim Brooks is a modern-day, middle-class mom, which is to say: She worries about getting it right. As her own mom described her over a game of bridge: “She worries about the kids. She obsesses over them. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, social therapy. If they had any more therapy, they’d be in an institution.”
Her mother added that Kim also swore by co-sleeping, mommy-and-me classes and “baby monitors all over the house.”
One day, Kim decided for a few brief moments not to obsess about her kids’ safety and development. She let her 4-year-old son wait in the car for five minutes on a mild March day while she ran an errand. An onlooker saw the child unattended, videotaped this “crime” and called 911. Kim was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as if she had bought him a beer.
That is where Kim’s engaging, enraging, terrific book, “Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear” (Flatiron Books) begins — with her dawning revelation: Somehow, society has decided that if you’re a mom and you have any time left for yourself, you’re doing it wrong. You’re dangerously slacking. And by making motherhood into a multipart, monumental, potentially criminal activity, we have sapped every last ounce of energy from any mom ever hoping to get ahead — all in the name of “safety,” which, of course, is sacrosanct.
The shame Kim felt about the charges was uterus-deep. When pregnant, she’d foresworn all alcohol, cold cuts, sushi. She read all the books. Once the kids arrived, she tried to do everything right. Now she had the “Scarlet A” on her chest: Arrested for doing something almost all our moms did back in the day without a second thought.
A friend suggested Kim call me, because I write about this particular issue all the time: parents harassed for being rational. And so we discussed, really, what had she done wrong?
Spoiler alert: Nothing!
Read the rest of the article here to see how helicopter parenting is a new standard of behavior that doesn't literally keep kids safer, but it sure keeps parents busy! And it sure is an easy way to shame any caregiver (which is usually the mom) who dares to do anything other than hover, hover, hover.
The crime is convenience and the criminal is a mom who dares to believe her kids don't need a concierge. - L