Modern parenting (life is risk)

I decided this one was too good for a quick hit.  Essay by a mom who ended up pleading guilty to endangering her child after leaving him locked in the car (on a cloudy 50 degree day) with an Ipad for 5 minutes while she ran an errand.   The kid was on the verge of a major tantrum (refusing to get out of the car) and she was rushing to catch a flight.  Now, I would not have done the same thing, but only because I myself would have been afraid of a “do gooder” videotaping and giving it to the police who somehow found this worthy of prosecution, not because I think it is actually at all dangerous for the child.  I lovethe author’s interview with the founder of the Free Range kids blog:

“Listen,” she said at one point. “Let’s put aside for the moment that by far, the most dangerous thing you did to your child that day was put him in a car and drive someplace with him. About 300 children are injured in traffic accidents every day — and about two die. That’s a real risk. So if you truly wanted to protect your kid, you’d never drive anywhere with him. But let’s put that aside. So you take him, and you get to the store where you need to run in for a minute and you’re faced with a decision. Now, people will say you committed a crime because you put your kid ‘at risk.’ But the truth is, there’s some risk to either decision you make.” She stopped at this point to emphasize, as she does in much of her analysis, how shockingly rare the abduction or injury of children in non-moving, non-overheated vehicles really is. For example, she insists that statistically speaking, it would likely take 750,000 years for a child left alone in a public space to be snatched by a stranger. “So there is some risk to leaving your kid in a car,” she argues. It might not be statistically meaningful but it’s not nonexistent. The problem is,” she goes on, “there’s some risk to every choice you make. So, say you take the kid inside with you. There’s some risk you’ll both be hit by a crazy driver in the parking lot. There’s some risk someone in the store will go on a shooting spree and shoot your kid. There’s some risk he’ll slip on the ice on the sidewalk outside the store and fracture his skull. There’s some risk no matter what you do. So why is one choice illegal and one is OK? Could it be because the one choice inconveniences you, makes your life a little harder, makes parenting a little harder, gives you a little less time or energy than you would have otherwise had?”

And here’s the problem:

We live in a country of gated communities and home security systems. My sister has both, though she lives in a subdivision with about a dozen neighbors. We’re told to warn our children not to talk to strangers. We walk them to school and hover over them as they play and some of us even put GPS systems on them, confident, I guess, that should they get lost, no one will help them. Gone are the days of letting kids roam the neighborhood, assuming that at least one responsible adult will be nearby to keep an eye out. I’m told there are still things like carpools and babysitting co-ops, but I’ve never found one. In place of “It takes a village,” our parenting mantra seems to be “every man for himself.” Faced with this gulf between my own childhood and the environment in which I was raising my kids, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was good that I’d been taught a lesson, reprimanded for something stubbornly naive or careless in my nature.

Great stuff.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Very nice NYT editorial on the foolishness of continuing to punish criminals after their release with all sorts of penalties that only make their- reintegration into society harder.

2) Very nice Common Core FAQ from NPR.  On a related NPR note, apparently all sorts of textbooks are now labeling themselves “common core aligned” despite the fact that the books actually pre-date Common Core.

3) I’d never heard of “vocal fry” before, but apparently it really matters for how women are perceived.

4) Understanding Pakistan’s culture of honor killings from Vox (short version, the values of this society are totally f****ed up).

5) One of my friends refused to believe an interesting story he read last week was actually in Politico.  Here’s another interesting, though admittedly not as good, piece in Politico by a reporter trying to infiltrate the Koch brothers annual meeting.

6) Really liked this column in the Guardian reminding us during our focus on D-Day, just how damn important the Russian offensive on the Eastern Front was.

7) It’s truly a fools errand for colleges to try and change their US News rankings.   My favorite part (for how sad and pathetic it is) was to read about how alumni, etc., freak out when a college drops a place or two (or are joyful for a two place movement in the rankings) as if these represent anything other than noise and measurement error.

8) Nice summary of the research on the persistence of misinformation from Maria Konnikova.

9) Nice EJ Dionne column on the fact that Mississippi’s GOP Senate campaign is all about the desire to cut the federal budget while Mississippi is, quite ironically, one of the largest net beneficiaries of federal spending.

10) NYT Editorial on Berghdahl.  And similar sentiments “Obama was right” from David Brooks.

11) Slow blogging week for me, I’ll make up with some more quick hits tomorrow.

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