Let us say this as loud as one can in pixels: You can be a great parent AND not have your eyes on your kids every. single. second.
This a truth we hold to be self-evident. But some in our judgmental, fearmongering culture do not, which explains these stories:
- When JaNay Dodson’s son was picked up seven minutes late from school a few months back, the principal called Chicago’s Child Protective Services. Two days later the boy was pulled out of class and interrogated by a caseworker. Then the caseworker showed up at the child’s home to investigate JaNay.
- Vanessa People’s toddler wandered away from a family picnic in Aurora, Colo. He was swiftly recovered, but a passerby called the cops. A month later, when the authorities came for a home visit and Vanessa didn’t hear them knock, they entered her house, guns drawn. (Then it got worse.)
- For three days over summer vacation, South Carolina’s Debra Harrell let her 9-year-old play at a nearby sprinkler park while she worked her shift at McDonald’s. A woman asked the girl where her mom was, and upon learning she was at work, called 911. The police threw Debra in jail overnight. She lost custody of her daughter for 17 days. (Watch the interrogation.)
At Let Grow, these stories make us ill. We are working to make it easy, normal and legal for parents to give their kids some independence – by choice or necessity.
Unfortunately, across the economic spectrum, “helicopter parenting” has become the gold standard. This hurts kids – they NEED some independence to develop resourcefulness and resilience. And it hurts parents – especially single moms. They feel guilty for not being ever-present. And they feel afraid of being accused of neglect: 37% of U.S. children will be visited by child protective services. For African-American kids, that number is 53%.
We’re fighting to renormalize the idea of kids doing some things on their own. That means decriminalizing and even celebrating the parents who trust their kids with some old-fashioned responsibility and independence.
How to make the neglect laws less tough on single moms
If you’d like to take a look at your local neglect laws, click here to see them, state by state. And if you’d like to help Let Grow’s efforts to make sure reasonable independence is not against the law, here’s our advocacy page and our donation page.
We believe in parents, we believe in kids, and we believe that whether you’re giving your children some independence by choice OR BY NECESSITY (for instance, if you can’t afford loads of child care, or you work two jobs), the law should be on your side unless you’re putting your kids in obvious and likely harm.
Most parents know and love their kids better than random strangers! That includes knowing when they can handle a little independence.