Open Letter to Parents

The KoD and I were just driving through a different part of town from where we live. The houses are very close together, the streets meander hither and yon, and there are plenty of children playing in their yards and on the streets.

Yes, there are plenty of children playing on the streets without a parent in sight. I am not talking 10 year olds. I am talking 2, 3 and 4 year olds. Walking up and down the street, into the street – and there is no one there keeping them safe. NO ONE.

It wasn’t one street. It was a whole bunch. I saw one teenaged girl on one street watching little kids. The rest we saw were all out unsupervised. (And don’t tell me you can supervise a 4 year old from the window. It takes two seconds to run out in front of a car)

I am angry. While the neighbourhood one lives in might appear to be safe, no neighbourhood is safe from predators, from cars, from accidents. Yes, granted, even kids who are watched vigilantly can get hurt. But when kids are watched properly there is less chance of the accidents happening, of the kids running into the street in front of a moving car to chase an errant soccer ball or a pretty butterfly.

I am feeling very judgmental in my anger. I believe that every parent is shirking responsibility when they allow their little kids to wander outside without adequate supervision. Our children are precious jewels to be guarded, their little souls and bodies entrusted to us to raise and form into decent human beings.

How can parents act so cavalier? How can they not care?

I wanted to gather up all those little kids and promise them they’d be safe. I wanted to gather up all those parents and put the fear of God into them. If you don’t try to keep your kids safe, if you don’t care about their well-being, there is a huge long list of parents or would-be parents who do and who will.

Parents, please, take care of your children. Nurture them and keep them safe, for the love of God!!

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  1. chanief says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. It scares me to drive through those neighborhoods – I don’t want to be the one to hit a three year old that runs into the street.

  2. Mark says:

    God is watching them. Besides, it’s summer, where else should the kids be?

    [sarcasm off]

  3. Mark says:

    Scariest place I ever drove was in Ramat Bet Shemesh … tiny kids walking all over the streets with no supervision. Yes, more scary than driving through the South Bronx in the 70′s/early 80′s.

  4. lionsima says:

    Maybe the parents are working a second or third job to keep a roof over those kids’ heads. It’s just a thought.

  5. Nechama Leibowitz says:

    I’m curious why you don’t call out these parents more pointedly by actually saying what neighborhood you were driving through? Maybe putting the shame into them will be more effective because clearly the fear doesnt phase…

  6. Sara says:

    If you think that what you describe is a result of parents not caring for their children, then I think you have a lot more thinking to do about this. Show a little dan lekhaf zechut. Just because they do not live in your neighborhood does not mean they aren’t caring parents with their own context that shapes their decisions (I was thinking along the lines of lionsima). You just sound like an ignorant white woman. This post has pushed me over the edge and I will now be taking your blog off my Google Reader.

    • Mark says:

      Sara, allowing 2, 3, and 4 year olds to wander alone ON THE STREET has no dan lekaf zechut. None whatsoever. If child protective services had an inkling of what is going on, they could sweep the neighborhood and pickup any kid under 12 who is not properly supervised by a qualified person (I think 16 and up, maybe 14 in some cases).

      And what on earth does “white” have to do with it???? (hint: all the people in the conversation as well as the kids in question are of the same race … and religion).

      PEOPLE who allow kids to wander unsafely without adequate supervision aren’t caring parents. PERIOD.

    • Leah Sarah says:

      Totally not getting why race is a factor here…

  7. Aliza says:

    I don’t get why race is a factor, here, either. While I wouldn’t assume these parents don’t care about their children, I would conclude they were either irresponsible or incapable of providing a safe situation for their kids. Either way, these kids are in terribly dangerous situations if they are toddlers and unsupervised – outside OR inside.

  8. Shoshanna says:

    Darling, don’t you know the commandment is to bring them into the world. After that- hefkerus.

  9. I have seen this before. It is quite scary and dangerous. Doesn’t anyone remember what happened to Leiby Kletsky ? And he was 8.

  10. Tzip says:

    Every culture has VERY different views. Many people feel Americans in particular coddle their children so much that it causes them irreparable harm in the long run–making them incapable of dealing with real-life situations. They believe in this just as much as you believe in standing outside with your four yr old whilst he plays. To assume someone makes choices different than yours because they don’t care about their children is outlandish. Give a little respect.

    I understand your POV, but I also understand others. You’re thinking short-term and they are thinking long-term, but both are thinking of the child(ren).

  11. I hate when I see these things. They hurt my heart. You’re right, children of that age should never be left alone. Not on a street, not in their house.

  12. Justine says:

    Hashem must’ve put those kids there so that you would write about it and we would all appreciate our own kids even more!

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