Dear Nosy Neighbor:
I know who you are. You’re the nosy neighbor that thinks it’s your job to singlehandedly save American society by reporting all social infractions and activities outside your sphere of experience to the “proper authorities.” You’re the mother who thinks you’ve got it all figured out and believes it’s your responsibility to keep all the other “lesser” mothers out there in check. You’re the know-it-all with no children who is just soooooo sure about all the things you would NEVER do once you become a parent. You’ll never take your kid to McDonald’s after coming home from a long day at work to discover you’ve run out of dinner ingredients. You’ll never let your kid watch dumb cartoons for a few minutes just so you can have enough time to fold laundry or take a shower in peace. And most of all, you would never, ever, for one second let your child – who can ride a bike and wipe their own butt and run and carry a cell phone – play without you hovering like a lonely, jittery helicopter. Little Johnny might fall if you’re not there to supervise every move. Little Jenny might run into a scary man in a van, even though statistically speaking that would be extremely rare.
And so you take it upon yourself to make sure your “nevers” are everyone else’s “nevers.”
You’re that cranky-pants who called CPS on those poor unsuspecting parents who dared to let their kids play at the park by themselves for a little while, unleashing the horror of government red tape on an innocent, law-abiding,well-behaved American family. Never mind that once a government agency takes your children that belong to a nuclear family they are more likely to end up in a worse situation with people they don’t know who are scary and detached and most decidedly not Mommy and Daddy. Because giving an 8-year-old an hour to play on the swings at the neighborhood park is a horror that should not be visited upon any child!
I guess our grandparents were basically the equivalent of Hitler. By your standards the entire “greatest generation” and their Baby Boomer offspring should have been jailed and their children raised by the state in a small padded cell until they were old enough to take off the bubble wrap themselves.
I understand that parenting is a particular field that attracts the busiest of busy-bodies. Everyone thinks they can do it better. It’s a sad result of an internet culture that puts every bit of information at our fingertips and yet somehow renders us more ignorant than we’ve ever been as a society.
The difficult part of living in a diverse culture where all types of people do all types of things in all types of ways – the really hard part about all this – is learning to mind your own business even when you don’t feel confident the right thing is being done for a child.
To be sure, if you see a child locked in a hot car and their life is in danger, that’s a time to act. If you see a child playing on the swings in the middle of the afternoon, just relax. Unless you see a pedophile with his penis hanging out of his pants lurking nearby you have no way to know if that child is in danger – and since you don’t know, this is not a case for the police. This is a case for self-restraint.
Sometimes living in a diverse culture means having the maturity to let people make not-great decisions for their own children and themselves. I really don’t think parents should pressure their children to get straight A’s. I think parents who are too harsh academically stifle creativity and add unnecessary stress to their children’s lives. However, many parents disagree with me and are fine with that type of pressure. They even think it’s good! Should I call CPS? No. I have to bite my tongue and understand that I may think I know what’s best in that moment for that child but it’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
I happen to live an a very lovely suburb comprised of small neighborhood tracts of about 3-4 blocks each. Each tract has a little pocket park for kids to play in and adults to gather for events. My 8-year-old daughter loves to get on her bike on a Saturday morning and make her way through the neighborhood, stopping at friends’ houses, riding bikes with the neighbors, and playing on the sidewalk and in the park. She’s often gone most of the day, coming back for lunch or snacks or bathroom breaks. She understands bike safety. She can look both ways before she crosses the street. She knows (in theory) not to talk to strangers and we don’t get many strangers in these tracts anyway. We also have a close-knit community that watches out for each other.
An outsider might look at my daughter running around our three-block radius without supervision and think it was the result of neglectful parenting. We think of it as a wonderful opportunity to teach our daughter independence in an environment that is fairly controlled and monitored by a tight neighborhood. She’s not attached to our hips. We don’t want her to be. We want her to feel confident that she can navigate the world around her without Mom and Dad holding her hand all the time. Right now that world is three blocks, but someday it will get bigger and she’ll have begun learning those navigation skills at an early age. As a parent, I feel it’s my job to raise my child to be okay without me because someday she will be without me.
Instead of just gritting your teeth and keeping a friendly eye on the lonely child in the park, you chose to subject the family to a horrific process that served to terrify their child and rip apart that family in a way that was much more dangerous than the few minutes of unsupervised swinging at a park.
Think about that the next time you choose to believe your judgment is better than that parent’s judgment, because I can guarantee that we free-range parents love our children more than you love our children. It may look like we’re being ignorant but we’re not that at all. We’re raising kids – it just doesn’t look like you think it should. That’s not worthy of government intervention.
Free-Range Mommy, Kira
Kira Davis is a writer, video blogger and homeschool mother of two. She has interviewed President Obama and appeared on Fox News, The BlazeTV and the Dr. Phil Show. Kira is a dog person but she owns a cat anyway. You can find her on Twitter @RealKiraDavis.
Flip through the gallery below to read more from Kira and our other EveryJoe columnists.
Dear Kim KardashianNo, your nude selfie is not "empowering."
Photo by Vanessa Carvalho/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images
Dear GOP CandidatesWhen Donald Trump skipped the recent GOP debate on FOX, the other candidates definitely missed his presence. They needed Trump on that stage.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Dear Tim CookRead Kira's open letter to Tim Cook and Apple about not giving in to the FBI's demands
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Dear Leftist MediaYour PC culture is literally killing us.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Dear DemocratsIn 2016, the Democrat party is officially the party of old white people. What happened?
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Dear TV ExecsThis open letter reveals what we really want (and don't want) to see on TV.
Photo by ridofranz / Getty Images
Dear Trump FanaticsThis open letter is not to Trump fans, but rather FANATICS! It's nearly impossible to talk to you rationally about the issues and candidates in this race so far.
Photo by Bill Pugliano / Getty Images
Dear American Gun CultureThis open letter discusses American gun culture and the Second Amendment.
Photo by STILLFX / Getty Images
Dear Kanye WestThis open letter addresses Kanye's supposed presidential aspirations, and more.
Photo by Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images For MTV
Dear Mainstream Media SelloutsThis is an open letter to the media sellouts who are avoiding covering the Planned Parenthood scandal.
Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images