We keep judging parents for letting their kids play with their iPads or flaked out in front of the television. We are told to get our kids outside in the fresh air and get off the screens, to exercise and run around and use their imaginations. We are supposed to encourage our children to play with one another rather than passively watching Caillou.
Can we send them to the park to play? HECK NO. Our kids need to be like 19 years old before we won’t get judged for them being at the park alone. So many of us choose instead to use the safety of our backyards if we’re lucky enough to have one for our children to play in a secure area, free from prying eyes of boogie men and vigilantes.
A mother in Winnipeg last week had a rude awakening that even that is not okay when CFS showed up at her door. The concern? Her children, aged 10, 5 and 2 were out in their fully fenced, closed backyard playing alone together. Mom was inside watching from the window. CFS showed up, as they are forced to do whenever there is a complaint about the safety of children. She was asked a bunch of probing questions, including how she disciplines, where her kids sleep and was then told to show CFS the cabinets to see how much food was on hand for the kids to eat. Talk about humiliating.
CFS left without incident but now that there is a file open, it’s there, over kids playing in their own backyard.
I don’t fault them for showing up. They have to respond to complaints of fear for children’s safety.
It’s not even that the neighbour was a busy body, which they were. Since when did we decide we need to police each other all the time? Can’t we just let each other parent our own kids based on our knowledge of their personalities and capabilities?
It seems to be getting progressively worse every single year, with parents being judged for letting their children to have an ounce of independence. Kids can’t go to parks, they can’t go on bike rides, they can’t even play in their own front yards without there being a genuine risk of CFS or even the police being called on these ‘negligent’ parents.
We have crossed a seriously crazy line when people fear for the safety of children playing in their own backyard. How is that something to be worried about? How is that a parent being negligent?
Is the concern that a 10 year old can’t watch a two year old? First of all, the generalization is totally off base. There are plenty of 10 year olds who can be tasked with keeping an eye on a 2 year old. They’re not being asked to make them dinner on the stove and bake them cookies. They’re playing in the backyard! Why is that worthy of a second thought by a neighbour, let alone a call to CFS? What have we become as a society? Can we do nothing as parents without fear of being told off, judged and investigated? They can’t stay inside. That makes us bad parents. They can’t go outside, unless we’re with them. That makes us bad parents too.
Apparently, we parents need to be with our kids 100% of the time, at all hours of the day, always, even in their own yard, and with older siblings.
How did we get here? How did we get to a place where we parents need to be petrified to let our kids out of our sight for a split second? What’s next? CFS getting called because we want to pee with the door closed?
How about this. How about we, as a collective, make a pledge to stop trying to parent other people’s children, stop being vigilantes, and save the concern for suspicion of legitimate abuse and neglect. Let’s give CFS the time they need to deal with the children who need the help instead of wasting their time going to visit the homes of parents who are just letting their kids be kids.