Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some people should not be parents

Please pardon my outrage, but this will be a soapbox entry.

*stepping up*

I'm a SAHM, so I spend a lot of time around my kids. They are, in essence, my full-time job. Yeah, yeah, there's cleaning the house and taking care of the pets. But really, it's mostly about the kids. So, I get that my perspective is a bit different from a working parent. seems to me that there are some parenting concepts that should be universal.

Like, you do not leave an 8-year-old in the house by him/herself. Now, I'm not talking about running out to get the garbage can, or even across the street to give something to a neighbor. I'm talking about parent-completely-inaccessible-to-child alone.

It recently came to my attention that there's an 8-year-old in my neighborhood who is left alone on a regular basis. Think about that...second grade. I think back to when I was in second grade, and while we may have played outside unsupervised, we were close to home and there was a parent at home. Never in a million years would my parents have left me in the house by myself. And that was 29 years ago, when general ideas about parenting were a lot less protective than they are now.

How did this come to light? The poor thing heard some creepy noises and got scared. She ran crying to a neighbor and asked if she could come in, because she just couldn't stay there alone anymore. She later said that she's alone every day.


The neighbor she ran to told me about this. She's understandably upset and worried. We both did some online searching and found that Pennsylvania has no law regarding minimum age that a child can be left alone. I had always heard that kids had to be 12 before they could babysit, so assumed that there was a similar age limit for kids taking care of themselves. Turns out, the 12-year-old babysitter law doesn't even exist. So, despite being glaringly against all common sense, what these people are doing to their child is COMPLETELY LEGAL. The only way they would suffer consequences would be if something were to happen to the child while left alone. Then, an investigation would look into the ability of the child to care for herself and the parents' judgment of said ability. Seems to me, that's a little too late.

Sometimes, the inconsistencies or outright holes in the law leave me completely speechless. My neighbor is now left in a horrible position. She's the one the child went to, she has repeatedly witnessed lack of concern for this girl's well-being and there's nothing she can do.

It breaks my heart.

And I keep asking myself, "why did these people decide to have kids?" And it does seem to have been intentional, since they also have a younger child who was at daycare while all this was going on.

I admit, there are times when I'm less attentive than I probably should be. No parent is perfect. But when it comes down to it, I would die for my kids. I would never intentionally endanger them or even place them in a position to potentially be frightened the way this poor girl was. And I can't imagine the kind of person who would. Makes me think of the line from the movie, Parenthood, "You need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any [expletive deleted] be a father." I'd say that goes for some mothers, too.

Some people just should not have kids.

*stepping off soapbox*

Just had to get that off my chest. So...what do you want to talk about next time?


  1. Need some more info here:
    1. The child is in school during the day, correct? So when is the child left alone - in the afternoons? All night long? All weekend long?

    2. Do we know for sure that the child is regularly left alone, not just based on the child's interpretation?

    3. Does the child have the parent's cell phone number or way of getting in touch with him or her? Does the parent check in on the child during the time alone? Or another adult?

    I can't imagine leaving my twins (who are also in second grade) alone in the house, but don't know how I would feel if they were more responsible. My best friend growing up often went home to an empty house in second grade, did some laundry, made dinner, did her homework, etc. Not saying it's right, but I know she handled it fine.

  2. What a rough position for your neighbor to be in!

    A neighbor in Alaska left their LESS than eight-year-old home by himself most afternoons. This would have never have even come to my attention had the poor thing not approached me while I was shoveling snow because he couldn't get his key to work.
    I asked him if anyone was home and he told me, "Not yet. My mom told me to just watch tv until she gets home." I then proceeded to give him The Speech. Don't answer the door or the phone, don't try to cook anything, etc. and if he needed ANYthing he knew where our house was.
    Even worse, the base had a rule that kids had to be 12 to be left alone (and there was even a time limit on that).
    Some people...

  3. A couple of thoughts.

    First - I agree that some people should not have children, suggesting that laws will keep parents from making inappropriate choices is a falicy. You cannot legislate common sense - it has been tried and does not work.

    Second - My recomendation to your neighbor would be to address the situation directly with the 8yo's parents - matter of fact and without emotion or judgement. they may feel that thier child is OK with being alone and knowing that there are time when she is not may cause them to think (a long shot since most people are too stubborn to change, but it cannot hurt).

  4. whoa--tough one....

    I don't know. But I think ASK has the right idea. Your neighbor should clamly approach the parents and relate the incident. They may not realize the poor kid is scared.

    but I'm with you on the why do some people bother to have children... I think we still put a lot of pressure on couples to follow the "American Dream" of get marrried, buy a house and make babies. And alot of people who really shouldn't succumb to that pressure.