What happens when parents get arrested for giving their children independence? Emma and Brittany discuss on today’s episode.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: So, Connor and I had an episode a little bit ago about a lady who was once called the worst mom in America, and I always butcher her last name even though like I know her and she’s great. It’s Lenore, hold on.
Emma: Oh yes. Oh gosh, you know how to say it. I don’t. It’s, I know who you’re talking about. She’s awesome.
Brittany: She’s awesome. So Skenazy. It’s Skenazy, it’s Lenore Skenazy I think I may have spelled or said that wrong, but she is this great mom. She pioneered or started basically the free-range parenting, movement. So if you didn’t listen to that episode, or if you need a little refresher, so she had a nine-year-old son. This was back in like 2000 like this was, I think he’s like a grown, adult now. But she had a son who lived in New York and he really wanted to be independent. He wanted to show that he could do things on his own. So he begged his mom on the way home from, I think they were out shopping or at school or something, and he said, you know, can I take the subway home by myself? Like they were together taking the, like about to take the subway home together. And he’s like, I really want to learn how to do this by myself. So she thought about it. Cause he’d been asking to do things alone for a while and she’s like, you know what? It is scary. Like doing, doing things alone is scary, and letting your kids be independent is scary. But she sent him with a map so he knew where to go. She gave him money to make a phone call, which, Connor and I laughed about this cuz people don’t really remember that. I remember when I was a kid, my mom always gave me a quarter to call Wow. If I needed to. Cause those are payphones people didn’t have cell phones as much then. And she gave him a MetroCard, which is like how you get on the, the subways, how you pay for that. You just like scan a card. So he got home fine, everything was great and he felt so confident in his ability to do things on his own. So when she wrote about this, these med other media outlets and news outlets picked this up and people were outraged. Like, how dare she let her son do something on his own? That’s so scary. What if something had happened to him and she agreed, you know, it’s possible something would happen to him, but there are risks all over the place. And she wanted to teach him how to be independent because so much today we don’t teach kids how to be independent. So she started this whole thing and since then it’s actually only gotten worse. But that’s how she got the nickname the Worst mom in America because people were so outraged that she let her son do that. So it’s been, you know, several years since then. And I think free-range parenting has probably even grown in popularity. But this story was not the last, in fact, Lenore never had to worry about having the police called on her for what? For when her son, took the metro home. But now a lot of parents do. And it’s really scary because even though kids are wanting to be, you know, strong and independent of their parents their parents risk going to jail. So I thought today’s episode, yeah, we talk about this, you know, why are parents getting in trouble for letting kids do things alone and tell you these crazy stories? So, Emma, I’m gonna throw it to you and have you share one of these stories.
Emma: Yeah. There’s, this one is a crazy one. a few years ago, a mother was actually threatened with five years of jail time.
Brittany: Oh my goodness.
Emma: Actual time in jail for letting her seven-year-old walk to the park alone. And her lawyer said that the mom had given her son Dominic permission to walk to Sportsman’s Park, which was a nearby park, a route that he’d been familiar with since he used his bike to ride to school there. And on the way, Dominic passed a public pool and someone asked him where his mother was. And he always had a cell phone with him and was wearing it in a case around his neck that his mom had made. And according to, the attorneys, the phone had fallen out of his pocket and she didn’t want him to lose it. And the officer asked Dominic the child, whether his mother knew where he was. The child told him that she did. And he had just talked to her on the phone. And the officer actually said that the mom had failed to provide her son with Karen’s supervision by allowing him to cross the street and go to the park alone, which is just crazy. And according to the report, he told her that there had been, recent criminal activity in and around the park and that some people with criminal records lived nearby. And so the mom was arrested on a felony child neglect charge and taken to jail. Which, here’s the real irony here. The real crazy part is it left, you know, her son and her 17-year-old daughter at the house with her boyfriend. And so she was released seven hours later on the call.
Brittany: So she was actually arrested. That’s just crazy.
Emma: Yeah. And she had to pay thousands of dollars, $3,750 just to be released from jail. And it’s just crazy. There’s so many stories like this of parents who let their kids do really simple things that should 100% be within that parent’s, you know, decision-making abilities. And it’s so wild to me that it gets this outta hand.
Brittany: It’s just so sad to me. Cuz you know, where have we gone? We’ve gone so far. I do wanna ask you before I get into this next one, cuz I lived with a very, I grew up with very overbearing mom. And so I was not allowed to go anywhere by myself. And I was telling Connor this in that episode, we did that. I think that really harmed me because it took me until I was, I’ll be honest, like in my early thirties, to become really independent. So were your parents, did they let you do things alone?
Emma: My parents definitely had a sort of free-range parenting streak. They weren’t like, you know, go do whatever you want, you can go wherever. Like, they had to know where I was going when I would be back, and who I would be going with. Like there was like some pretty strict parameters around it, but they definitely let me run errands. And when I turned 10, I was able to start riding my bike around my hometown and I lived in a pretty small hometown that was very safe and we knew most of our neighbors. So that I definitely think plays a part. But yeah, I would get on my bike with my little brother and we would just ride all over town and meet up with our friends and it was really awesome because I felt like I had a lot of independence and it actually made me want to start working and earn money so that I could, you know, buy more than just the 79 cents Arizona cans when we would go to the store and stuff. So it was, yeah, it was a great experience. But my parents, you know, they were strict on a lot of stuff, but that one I’m glad that they weren’t too, you know, overbearing.
Brittany: Yeah. That’s great. Well, okay, this next story. Well, they’re also tragic. I hate to say like, this one’s so bad they’re all so bad. But this one really gets to me. So there was a South Carolina mother and she was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park for hours while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s. And this actually sparked a lot of debate online. a reason magazine, which is like a libertarian magazine. They wrote about it. But let’s get into what happened here. So here’s a mom who was I think 46 and working at McDonald’s. So obviously probably we can bet is not, you know, not super wealthy, doesn’t have the money for childcare, but she’s trying her hardest to work and earn a living for her child right? And that’s such a noble thing that’s so great. But she let her kid go to this park and she ended up spending 17 days in jail and was actually yeah. 17 days and she may, so I think she lost custody of her, her little girl for that time. she almost lost her job, but I believe McDonald’s was pretty good about it. And she was able to stay on board. But she also faced 10 years if she had been convicted, it was a bit, would’ve been a felony, which is like one of the worst times. Yeah, you can commit. But the story to me actually gets so much worse because this was a park where a lot of parents in this neighborhood worked. And so a lot of them would send their kids to this park and there was even like a feed a child program where like the city came or like a organ or maybe it was a private organization, I’m not sure. And they would feed the kids. So this was not something that was out of the ordinary. This was something that was pretty common in this neighborhood cuz a lot of parents had to work and again, childcare was so expensive, but they knew where their kids were. The other thing that’s really sad about this is that the mom, cuz she had no worked it, she couldn’t afford childcare. She originally had her daughter come sit at McDonald’s and play on the laptop, you know, while she was working, and then the laptop was stolen. So it got to the point where the daughter was just sitting all day, you know, without anything to entertain her. And I, you know, imagine how boring that would be. So she was doing the best she could and it’s just so sad to me that for 17 days, you know, she had to sit in jail. So that one really gets to me.
Emma: Yeah, it’s, interesting too because I think the main sort of reasoning behind a lot of big government policies is that they feel good. You know, people have these causes, like we wanna make sure that every child is protected and it, it’s stuff that always sounds good, but then when you see these policies in action and how they actually affect real people, it’s not compassionate to, you know, turn this mother into a criminal for, for making this decision for her family. And it happens to so many parents. It’s just, it’s crazy. so I’ll jump into another story that we, found from Off the Grid News. So credit to them for writing this one up. But, there was a woman named Tammy Cooper in LaPorte, Texas, which was a quiet, safe community of about 30,000 people near Houston. And she was removed from her home in handcuffs and hauled Oh my goodness. To the local jail for something that, you know, you would think would be a really huge deal. But here’s what she did. She allowed her two chill children who were six and nine years old to go outside and play on their scooters on a quiet street in front of her home while she watched them from inside the window.
Brittany: Oh, Wow. So she was even home. That’s crazy.
Emma: She was home and watching them, which is just wild cuz we used to do this all the time as kids. We’d go play in the street, but as a punishment for her, you know, quote-unquote behavior, she was arrested and charged with felony child abandonment and endangerment. And the police only found out what was going on because a busy body neighbor, we have our Turtle twins tv, we call them Corin Karen.
Brittany: That’s so funny.
Emma: But she called to report a crime and saw the children just playing outside without an adult, you know, hovering over them, watching right there. So, you would think that the cops would’ve sent someone to investigate and talked to her and gotten the story and been like, wow, this, this is nothing, this is no problem. And gone on his way. But instead, he arrested this mom and took her to jail for quote-unquote abandoning her kids who were screaming and crying and begging him to leave their mom. So fortunately the charges were dropped on that one once the court realized how ridiculous the case was. But my gosh, can you imagine those kids, they’re probably like scarred for life from having to watch their parents get arrested for something so silly. It’s just, yeah, it’s really infuriating to read these stories.
Brittany: That one seems to be the most infuriating to me just because, well, not the most infuriated, but the most the silliest because the mom was home. It’s not like she had left or anything. It’s so silly. Well, I’ll share one more really quickly. So there was a Maryland mom and she was on vacation with her family in Delaware and she left her kids eight and nine alone for 45 minutes. She just ran to go pick up a dinner to go order, but while she was gone, same thing with the busy body neighbors. The kids took their dog out to, you know, use the bathroom, and the neighbor saw and called the police and she was arrested. The mom, she was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of her children and she had to pay $500 in bail. That’s what you pay to like to get let out of jail before you go to court. And just like the other case, they dropped the charges eventually, but can you imagine, it’s just crazy to me that we live in a world where not only are we coddling our kids so much and not letting them be independent, but if you try, you get arrested. So yeah, it’s crazy. I dunno if you have any final thoughts, Emma.
Emma: Yeah, I mean I think it’s just really wild that we’re to a point where basically the government wants to be in charge of parenting kids, whether that’s like through the public education system or by punishing parents who choose to give their kids freedom. I think it makes a lot of sense that people are growing up to really rely on the government to tell them what to do in every aspect of their lives when this is how kids are being treated. So it’s not surprising at all to me, but I really hope that as sort of the free-range parenting movement grows that people push back on these laws. Cuz I know that a lot of them are on like a local or a state level. So hopefully as we can kind of raise awareness excuse me, goodness I can’t talk today. Raise awareness of some of these crazy stories people can start to look out for, you know, laws like this in their own community that can be twisted and used against good parents. So that’s kind of where we’ll wrap it up today, guys. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you all again soon.
Brittany: Talk to you soon.