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Imagine this. You have a ten year old, a five year old, and a two year old. You’re home with them in the afternoon, and they’re begging to go outside. You have to do the dishes. So, you tell them to go in the backyard and you tell them to stay in the fenced in space that is your property. You tell them to look after each other.

They do.

You watch them from inside your home. And then, Child Protective Services knocks on your door. You’ve been reported for neglect.

Why? Because your kids weren’t “supervised” while they were playing outside in their fenced in backyard. The social worker asks questions. Checks out how much food is in the house. Checks out where the children sleep. Wants to know if there are drugs in the house, how the children are disciplined, if there has ever been a run-in with family services before.

This is exactly what happened to Jacqui Kendrick, a stay at home mom of three children, who lives in Canada. She was investigated and then ultimately told all was okay, but she now has a permanent mark on her record from this visit. OMG. Permanent.

Kendrick wondered why the neighbor didn’t just knock on her door…why she felt the need to call the authorities on what really was just three children playing in a safe environment. Why this neighbor felt the need to put a mark on Kendrick’s record when she was just letting her kids play outside…something most of us grew up doing every day.


When older relatives come to visit me, they often inquire about the other kids in the neighborhood. Where are they?

You know where they are? Inside. You know why? Because our culture is so paranoid and helicopter-y (yeah, I just invented a word. You know it.) that we insist that our children be supervised and managed each moment of the day. Playing outside must be at a playground where moms sit on benches, or in the backyard, when mom is sitting on a lawn chair. She cannot be inside because then she must be neglecting them, right? There’s no way she can micromanage every interaction if she can’t actually hear the conversation.

The horror.

And when did we stop knocking on each other’s doors to check and see if things were okay before calling authorities? Totally uncool.

The New York Post just published an article literally naming the last few incidents where authorities were called because youngish children were playing alone outside…in their yards, in parks within site of their mothers…This is really getting ridiculous.

So next time you drive through a sunny neighborhood street and don’t see any children playing outside, think about why. Maybe mom is washing the dishes…

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photo credit: Abandoned Playground Dreams 7 via photopin (license)

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