“How Young Is Too Young to Stay Home Alone” on GMA
As promised, here’s the link to the Good Morning America spot. I thought my family did a great job and we really enjoyed working with the film crew and GMA co-host Paula Faris. We had a great conversation, Manchild was extremely poised and articulate, and I was surprised at how at-ease I felt sitting in the hot seat with the cameras rolling.
However, I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed in the final product.
I knew going in, of course, that I might not come out looking great, especially since we knew it was only going to be a couple of minutes, but I was hopeful that they would have a real discussion about giving kids more responsibility and helping them learn to navigate this world we live in. Instead, all we got was “Seven seems too young.” I would have loved to rebut their “parenting expert,” Ericka Souter, who, as far as I can tell, is actually a journalist who specializes in celebrity news.
And since this is my blog, maybe I will take a minute to do just that.
First: Souter suggests that my style is the “other extreme” of the helicopter parent. Is teaching your child independence and responsibility really an “extreme”? On the other end of “helicopter”? I am really surprised to hear that because I thought on the other end of being hyper-involved, hyper-vigilant was neglect and apathy and abandonment. If my parenting style is extreme, I fear for the state of our nation.
Second: She says a child should be able to take care of other children before you can leave him alone. This is silly. A child should be able to take care of himself before he can take care of other children. I think that either she had it backward or she didn’t explain herself very well.
Third: The shock and awe that only 3 states tell their residents when they can leave their kids home alone. And no comment on either the fact that in Oregon it is age 8 (which is not much older than 7!) or that in Illinois it is 14 (which is ridiculous — Micah pointed out that he could practically build a simple cabin at age 14). I wonder how many families in Illinois are in violation of that law. Probably all of them?
Fourth: There were no allowances that maybe parents actually do know best, or that there are children who can be trusted to not set the house on fire. The final word that “seven seems too young” was much too definitive and, I thought, closed off the much more important discussion of why and how we can teach our kids to be safe but also responsible and independent members of society.
Finally: She mentioned that people have been doing this forever but doesn’t go into any reasons why that changed, or why our era is exempted from teaching our kids how to be by themselves.
I do wish that at the very least Paula Faris could have been at the table to say, “Hey, actually, I met this kid and I spent time with his family and you might be surprised what a 7-year-old is capable of.” That’s all.
Posted: August 18th, 2014 under parenting.