Category Archives: Parents rights

New Captain Mommy! Welcome Alina Adams

How do you drive overprotective parents crazy? Just ask Alina Adams, who recently penned a blog post for about how she lets her 6-year-old daughter stay home alone:

“It’s a big year at our house. This September, for the first time, my 14-year-old began taking the subway to school by himself, my 10-year-old began taking the city bus to school by himself, and I began leaving my 6-year-old at home alone for short stretches.

“As with many of our previous milestones, all came about due to necessity.”

But to look at many of the comments in response to Adams’ post, lots of her readers ignored the word necessity. Adams got people who accused her of breaking the law, who “admired” her for something they themselves would never do, along with some who just thought it was downright reckless of her to admit to leaving an innocent child unattended, where any Tom, Dick or Harry Predator could snatch her away. Adams finds that last one just plain silly. When I interviewed her she dismissed the notion that anyone could find her daughter from the few details she provided in her essay. “How is anyone going to find my daughter from my having written that we live in an apartment in New York? Is someone going to use the internet and come through the computer screen into our apartment?”

Adams didn’t like the criticism but she understands it. As she declares there’s a “definite culture of fear” among parents. Even though crime has gone down and even though many adults remember being left alone themselves as children, somehow it is all different now.

What makes Adams a newly minted Captain Mommy though is the fact that writing about the subject of leaving her daughter at home alone meant that she had to find out if those who accused of breaking the law might have had a point. As Adams writes, “I was pretty surprised to learn that The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. And that some states even have specific guidelines on the books, as low as 8 years old in many places, and as high as 14(!) in Illinois. (My 14-year-old doesn’t just stay home alone in New York State, he watches his siblings, too!)”

Adams made sure that New York State, where she lives with her family, didn’t have a statute proscribing a particular age when kids could be left home alone, and was happy to discover that she was not in jeopardy of being hauled off to jail. (It is worth noting, that New York does have a law against kids left in cars alone below the age of 8, however.)

Why is Adams so against such laws? As she explained it to me, “I’m not a fan of arbitrary guidelines. I’m against mandatory minimums for kindergarten or retirement. [I’m] against government making that decision because it is an arbitrary rule without seeing what’s going on.”

Adams believes that every child is different making each situation different as well. But that’s not good enough for nanny-statists who are convinced they are “saving the kids” by pushing for these laws. The one-size-fits-all solution is the only one government can handle and so we get rules and regulations that interfere with parents’ choices rather than supporting them.

State, Doctor say no to swaddling (Part 2)

As I wrote yesterday, when I asked our pediatrician for a waiver to allow my baby to be swaddled at his state-licensed daycare, I was told that she wouldn’t sign because the American Academy of Pediatrics does not “recommend swaddling past 2 months.”

Dr Harvey Karp has weighed in on Twitter:

@abbyschachter …The AAP does NOT have such a policy…that was just the opinion of a couple of their docs…

Stayed tuned.

State, doctor say no to swaddling

My baby just started daycare. He is 9 weeks old and adorable. We swaddle him at home, for naps and for his nighttime sleep. We swaddled his 3 siblings as well. Indeed, following Harvey Karp’s advice from “Happiest Baby on the Block” we swaddled for as long as we could because it provided us with a bedtime routine, the babies expected it and they were all sleeping through the night (7pm to 7am) by four months of age. Swaddling works.

When I met with the daycare worker a few days before my son’s first day, she asked if there was anything I wanted her to know or any questions I had about the care she and the staff would provide. I said exactly one thing: “I want you to swaddle him”. She agreed, but too hastily as it turns out because when I brought him for his first day I was informed by the daycare administrator that they could not swaddle the baby without a note from a doctor.

According to the rules set out by “Caring for our Children” which is the daycare bible for state-licensed facilities in Pennsylvania (where we live) a baby may not be swaddled in the daycare without written authorization from a physician. The geniuses who write these rules are convinced that swaddling isn’t perfectly safe (what is?) because the daycare workers could do a bad job wrapping the baby, the blanket could become loose, the baby might roll over into the loose material and then the baby might, possibly, die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Oh, swaddling improperly might also cause hip dysplasia.

I asked our pediatrician to write the note the daycare required to swaddle my baby but the doctor refused. She says that the American Academy of Pediatrics “doesn’t recommend swaddling after two months of age.” Do these geniuses think my baby isn’t crying anymore after two months? No matter, the doctor has refused to sign the letter.

Terrific. I’m having my rights as a parent trampled and my baby isn’t sleeping well at daycare.

In March, Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote about how this was going to be a problem. And presto, she is proved correct.


Great Scot! This ‘state-sponsored parent’ law takes the cake

Scotland is debating the mother of all nanny-state laws: Whether every child in the land should have a “named-person” (aka a ‘state-sponsored parent’) to “promote, support or safeguard the well-being of the child or young person.”

The idea is to provide every child with their own government bureaucrat to act as an arbiter of the child’s well-being. The “named-person” is someone other than the child’s parent.

According to the Scottish government this law will:

  • Place a duty on NHS (National Health Service) Boards to allocate every child with a named person from birth to school age
  • Place a duty on local authorities to allocate every child with a named person until they are 18 or leave school, whichever is later.
  • Oblige all relevant authorities to share information with the named person if it is necessary to safeguard, support and promote the well-being of the child.

As current Scotish Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell puts it:  “We want Scotland to be the best place in the world for them to grow up. A place where rights are respected and where children can access all the opportunities and support they need, when they need it.”

But what Campbell means when she says “rights” is the rights of the children, as defined by the government, not the rights of the parents to raise their own children as they see fit and without government interference.

According to a report in the Scottish Express there is plenty of opposition and concern about the surveillance and information gathering nature of this legislation: “For children under five, the state guardian will usually be a health visitor, while for school-age children it will usually be the headteacher or deputy…They will have to record “routine information” about their charges, which is then stored in a vast database, and can raise concerns about a child’s wellbeing that could ultimately result in them being taken into [government] care.” And as a home-schooling advocate argued “I wouldn’t rule out a legal challenge to these specific aspects,” said Alison Preuss Secretary of the Schoolhouse Home Education Association.

Of course there are already people functioning as “state-sponsored parents” who are absolutely thrilled with the task. Marion Samson, headteacher at Westquarter Primary and Nursery in Falkirk, is a ‘Named Person’ who says her role is to “challenge” families who are not bringing up their children properly.But where does the idea that a school teacher is somehow better able to raise a child than the kid’s parent? And as one observer has noted, the legislation does little solve a problem, and instead is just reinforcing a failed system. As Scotland Herald columnist Ian Bell wisely wrote against the legislation: “The number of children coming into public care is rising year on year. But instead of looking to why this is the case, and prioritising (sic.) measures that would reduce the harm of broken families, the Bill is concerned with mitigating the failure of prevention.”
It might seem like from a distance in the US, we can look down on this sort of Big Brother parenting. And happily, the American system isn’t quite at the this stage of government interference with parents rights. But that doesn’t mean that we’re so far removed from this level of government nannying either.
I recently received a survey from the Pennsylvania office of Child Development and Early Learning to assess the state-licensed daycare that my children attend. Some of the questions had to do with the quality of care and programming at the facility. But not all. In addition to those evaluative queries, the survey asks me to judge how well the daycare is bringing available government welfare programs to my attention. The reason for asking seems to be based on the notion that a day care should be in the business of pushing parents to take advantage of government welfare services. This is not why I’m sending my kid to daycare, mind you. But it is part of the state’s agenda for its own definition of “caring for children.”
We aren’t Scotland yet, but we ought to be careful about how complacent we get about allowing non-elected bureaucrats from getting into our private family business.