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Free-range parenting outside the US (nytimes.com)
123 points by GolDDranks 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments

It's easy to tell people to "chill" when you live in a high trust society like Tokyo (where I've called home for over 3 years; I can't speak for the other cities mentioned).

I've not once feared for my own safety. Children as young as ~5 or 6 walk on my street alone or in small groups regularly, and they, likewise, have no reason to fear. There's even a culture of teaching your kid at a very young age to do things on their own. A regular TV show documents it (link with English sub: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4lme5a).

I spent 3 and a half years in San Francisco, and the difference is stark. People riding the bus grab their phones hard with one hand while using it with the other, for fear of it being stolen (as happened to a friend of mine). You would never leave your phone on a table while going to the bathroom unless you were with someone to watch it. If you lost your wallet, you'd be lucky if you got your driver's license back in the mail.

Are American parents overbearing as a group? Likely. But it's easy to criticize from afar if you've never lived in a low-trust society.

There is plenty of middle ground between the homogeneous high-social-cohesion society of Japan, and a high-PETTY-crime urban American city.

Just because your cell phone would be stolen doesn't mean your child would be.

Most of the cities and places listed in the article is still full of pickpockets and scams. But that's a different story than fearing for the lives or even just the safety of children...

Spot on; unfortunately our little lizard brains don't do so well with rational discrimination between threat levels. It's not like people enjoy being anxious and borderline paranoid all the time. If they thought about it, they'd realize it was an unpleasant feeling that was shading their life with negativity. But it's mostly unconscious, unnoticed, a natural reaction. Like a constantly whirring fan that you don't hear anymore, until it turns off and you realize how annoying it was.

> But it's easy to criticize from afar if you've never lived in a low-trust society.

You are part of the society you live in, and how trusty, or not trusty, said society is, isn't some fixed value.

Do you think this whole "War on Terror/Trust, nobody,/Report everything suspicious" episode, that's still going on, might have something to do with US American parents being so paranoid?

Because what I've witnessed in Germany, is that a whole lot of parents are just irrationally paranoid in response to press reports pushing certain agendas.

These people are utterly convinced that everything is worse now, that their kids are in constant danger everywhere. Even when you cite those people local crime statistics and how crime has steadily declined, these people will insist on "everything having gotten worse, statistics are faked".

At this point, most kids carry around their very personal tracking device, yet parents are still scared of letting them do anything on their own. Has the world really become such a much more dangerous place? And if that's actually true, why would you bring children into this, supposedly, much worse place?

Petty crimes like stealing phones and wallets are relatively rare in US cities like San Francisco.[1]

Pickpocketing is a major issue in Paris and in other major European cities[2], yet children are trusted to do activities alone and independently.

The issue of child independence is is unrelated to actual crime and culturally based.

[1] http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/02/the_lo...

[2] http://www.traveller.com.au/worlds-top-10-worst-cities-for-p...

Paris has the same behavior as sf towards thievery for objects and belongings. But children are still free to roam. I don't think trust has to be uniform for every matters.

It’s great that kids feel safe in Tokyo. And I understand the reaction against helicopter parenting generally. But the arguments against helicopter parenting never discuss how safe things really are, or if the rates of child abuse have declined (or are under-reported).

Recently I saw a report on Chikans (gropers on trains in Japan). The report suggested that almost every young woman experienced this (in particular high school girls).

Couldn’t believe it. I essentially thought it was bullshit.

So I asked the Japanese women who I know well enough if this was the case.

They confirmed that it happens to everyone once or twice (though uncommon).

It’s almost never reported to the police.

I’ve left phones or laptops in Starbucks or whatever while I went to the bathroom in the us and they were fine. You’re not surrounded by people waiting for a chance to rob you most of the time.

You wouldn't do that in many parts of the world, though.

I agree with you but then again the US is a massive country; it cannot be the same all over. So something gives the parents the idea they need to be (over?)protective or we just do not hear from the regions where that is not needed because it is not newsworthy?

There's been an irrational fear of child kidnappings in the US for decades now, fueled by sensationalist fearmongering news reports. When I was young, a young girl went missing in the area (still unsolved, 25 years later) and it was huge news for years, and justification in many parents' minds (though not my own) for never letting their children do anything unsupervised.

But...while that was a scary and tragic case, the reason it made so much news is that it was, and remains, very rare. The notion that some kidnapper or pedophile is going to make off with your child, targeted at random on the street, has always been an almost absurdly unlikely one. And yet many places in the US would see a parent arrested for negligence for allowing their child to walk a block or two on their own.

So, yes, something gives parents the idea they need to be overprotective. It's a sensationalist media and a culture of fear spread by people with a poor understanding of risk.

I suspect there are places where you wouldn’t and shouldn’t leave your 5yo alone in the playground a short walk from home. And I assume that the culture will spread within a country (shared news etc) so that people in areas where this would be perfectly safe don’t do that either. I’m not sure what to do about that their than encourage people to make their own judgements and also see the cost of overprotecting. I think that’s a key here: parents think that watching over kids is invariably best, and don’t assign a value to independence.

> suspect there are places where you wouldn’t and shouldn’t leave your 5yo alone in the playground a short walk from home.

You have that almost everywhere; sometimes depending, unfortunately, on color of skin or social standing. But I am just surprised because of the size of the US; in the Netherlands, which is miniscule, ‘people in the south’ think Amsterdam and Rotterdam are Sodom and Gomorrah which is mostly not true. I thought it was because it is such a small country that people would have such ideas about cities which are basically less than 2 hours drive from them, but then you see this in massive countries too. The tabloid press seems to do a lot of harm really.

But what are you going to steal from a child?

I'd be worried about children stepping on used needles or human feces, or being attacked by one of the aggressive, drugged out homeless.

...yeah, that’s a couple of things you probably need to fix as well.

Personally I’d aim for the $1,000 iPhone, but I’d definitely consider the Apple Watch too.

In Denmark, and probably elsewhere, we have the term "helicopter parents" for parents who constantly hover near their kids, never letting them out of sight. Similarly, we also have the term "curling parents", because they do everything to clear the path of their offspring (to the point of going to job interviews with them).

Both are obviously used in a teasing-not-quite-nice way to signal that maybe these parents should take a deep breath and assume that they raised their kids well, and that scraping your knee or getting frightened is something that happens in life sooner or later, and the parents' job is to guide and comfort their kids when they do happen.

There was a very high profile case (in DK at least) from 1997 about a mother who left her child outside the restaurant where she was eating (with line-of-sight to the stroller): https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/26/anette-soren...

I might not want to do the same in New York, but in Denmark no one would bat an eye if this happened.

I recently visited a friend in Copenhagen and when I got to his place, a condo on the third floor, he mentioned that his kid was outside sleeping. I thought that he mentioned on the balcony and I thought "weird but ok". About half an hour later we left and I learnt that the kid wasn't on the balcony bit out, in the common garden of the building, where anyone could have just came in because the main gate was simply always wide open... I am not a parent yet and I don't want to be an helicopter parent, but that still kind of shocked me. Can't decide if in a good or bad way.

That’s how it works in a high-trust society. The idea that someone would just waltz into a courtyard and snatch a baby is just preposterous.

Tony Judt outlines some observations on the dynamics between social trust and cultural homogeneity in "Ill Fares the Land".

I guess the differences between America and Denmark are one manifestation of these differences

We had a similar bit of culture shock when we went to Copenhagen and saw parents leave their babies in strollers out in the cold while they ate or had coffee (baby was well wrapped and warm of course). That sort of thing would get the police called on you if you did it in the USA.

just look at how many sleeping babies are hurt in your country per year by strangers and base your decision on that

What's the most relevant threat?

We have the same words for it in Sweden, guess it's a Nordic thing because I've heard "curling" used in Norway too.

"Helicopter parent" is definitely used a lot here in the US.

"Curling parent" is new to me, but as a nation, we aren't really into Curling. You have to have a good image of the thing in your mind for it to really catch on as a phrase.

That said, I think it's a very good image for how those parents treat their children.

Canada is much more into Curling than we are, and I wonder if they use that term.

In the states I've heard the term 'bulldozer-parenting', but I like the curling one more now

Snowplow parenting too.

Well, if it's an apt term maybe its spread to the United States might make the overprotecting parents reflect.

”Helicopter parent” is definitely an international term. ”Curling parent” is then a local adaptation.

Yeah we use curling here in Norway. Same with helicopter.

14 month old child... it’s not unreasonable to expect that a 14 month old child would be supervised.

The police reaction was clearly over the top... but yea can’t say it reasonable to leave a 14 month old outside a restaurant in a busy city.

The single best thing you can give your kid is the confidence to face the world alone.

Consequently, its one of the few things you can exert a modicum of control over as well ;-)

Let them burn their fingers, let them fall, let them do stupid shit and just be there to advise, help and guide them in a loving matter after the fact so they can learn and grow to become a confident, decent adult.

I walked to school 3 kilometeres one way since the first grade (6 years old). Nowadays I've seen kids of the same age who can't even tie their shoes. It is even more concerning considering authorities are actually reinforcing this. The world did not become more violent or dangerous, but somehow people became more scared and paranoid.

The one thing that has got much worse is traffic, there are many more cars on the roads and they tend to be much bigger. I liked to let my kids road around when they were young but playing with the traffic didn't seem like a good idea.

    > The one thing that has got much worse is traffic
Where has traffic gotten much worse? E.g. here's the US statistics on traffic deaths since the 1920s:


In terms of absolute numbers traffic deaths today are at the same level as the 1950s, but as the chart also shows the population has more than doubled. Statistics in any developed western country are likely to look the same.

Traffic deaths per million people are down to the levels of the 1920s, where there were much fewer cars, and the 1920s are a period where it would have been typical to kick your kids out at sunrise and expect them to be back before sundown.

We live in the safest period in human history, parents are just being paranoid.

Vehicle miles travelled has gone through the roof in that time, look at the blue line on your chart.

parents are just being paranoid

Or perhaps they are behaving rationally given the amount of traffic on the roads, those figures might have been worse otherwise.

Distance traveled has gone through the roof, but at the same time deaths per million people has been going down. Clearly "the amount of traffic on the roads" isn't a rational indicator for how paranoid you should be about traffic.

No it isn't clear, the obvious answer is parents reacted to a risk and in doing so kept their children safe.

This isn't an issue with traffic, but city planning, not allowing pedestrians to actually have the right of way, and poor policing of laws.

You can build tunnels and overpasses for pedestrians. Button-operated lights for walkways. Strict laws requiring vehicles stop for pedestrians. Planned speed bumps. You can route traffic away from paths kids would likely walk. Do things so that it is more reasonable that kids will be safe in neighborhoods, even if they are playing in the road (at elementary ages, of course, when they are old enough to be aware). You can also have more public green spaces within a child's walking distance where they can play outside with others and make sure school grounds are open for play when school is not in session instead of calling the police for trespassing.

Yup. As a parent, traffic, specifically distracted driver traffic, scares the living hell out of me. Pretty much everything else I don't worry about.

In Australia we have crossing guards ('lollipop men') on the roads near schools to stop the cars. Pretty safe for most kids to walk from early primary onwards.

I’m Australian and my wife Norwegian. Norwegians are very very relaxed with their kids, and so are Australians for the most part...

That said my wife, left unchecked, is a helicopter parent... it’s inherited by her mother who is the most anxious person I’ve ever met, my sister in law is also as anxious. So I always have to try and help my wife relax and have less anxiety with our daughter.

One thing is when our daughter falls over... my wife and her side of the family’s reaction is to run over and repeat in Norwegian “you poor thing” or something to it’s like. Where as my side of the family.. we almost celebrate falling over, we treat it like a positive. “Ohh come on get up” said in a very positive tone. Then we clap our hands and say “yay” when my daughter gets up.

The difference, my daughter almost never cries when she falls over. If she really hurts herself of course we will go to her, I’m not a monster... but other kids could fall over and scream for an hour over the smallest of falls. Why? Because their parents run to them and try to wrap them in cotton wool.

My point with all this, is parenting styles from what I’ve witnessed isn’t really based on nationality.. but more the cultural norms, and how you were brought up.

I have read that the great generation, had a very very hands off parental approach. The boomers had a more hands on approach, and then gen X and gen Y seem for the more part to have a much more hands on approach than their parents.

I’m gen Y, my wife gen X.

I think there’s a lot more factors involved here than just nationality.

Reaction to a child falling across cultures is so interesting in its differences. In a lot of countries in Latin America, when a toddler falls, all adults look away, to pretend as if we did not notice the child fell. The logic goes that if the child has an audience, they will cry, otherwise, they will just dust it off and keep playing.

I've had other parents explain to me that if you run to your child and make a huge fuss, that they will react as such. So in future if they fall and don't hurt themselves, they will cry.

I don't know what the efficacy of this is, but it doesn't hurt to try.

I am from EU and have similar attitude, I mean if child would be hurt it would start to cry, if it ain't really hurt they just expect from parent what to do - I just say to my child "it's nothing" and it continue playing, if it hurts a bit child call me to blow it without crying and cry really only when has reason to cry. Then I see other children who just fall down, nothing serious, they seem fine but their mother arrives saying oh you poor thing, did you hurt yourself etc pushing and pushing child to start crying making drama out of nothing. It's basic psychology child repeat reaction after parents, if you make it big thing child will make it big thing too.

Sadly I can't say this would be really national thing because I see way too many people with approach I don't agree with. But you can usually see difference between more laid back fathers and stressed mothers and also overprotective grandparents (which ain't really bad considering their physical abilities, but sadly despite being overprotective they just don't realize some real dangers like my mother thinking when it's 33C in shadow and i prefer to stay in AC place with my child instead of baking outside).

To the guy below saying men on HN don't take care of their children, my wife went to work and I was home with our first, now with second (and also the first) we are both at home and I am helping around taking care of older, cooking etc.

> other kids could fall over and scream for an hour over the smallest of falls. Why?

From what I have learned so far by reading various parents' comments etc, all kids are very different and making general conclusions like this one seems to be pointless / incorrect.

Your first kid may be calm and chill and your second one can be agitated (or vice versa) while your parenting style stays the same. Why? Because these are two different humans and not something else.

Ahh, Nurture vs Nature..

Of course two children could be totally different. But you cannot deny that the influence you have as a parent.

I gave the scenario of my mother-in-law, and her two daughters. My mother-in-law is 1 of 3 sisters, a very anxious person. Her two sisters polar opposites. Their mother a very calm, very hands off parent. Right there is a great example of your point. 3 children, 2 similar, one the same.

Now where it gets interesting, is my mother-in-law had 2 daughters... both as anxious as their mother. Where my mother-in-laws two sisters, whom are very laid back and hands off as parents. Their children are also laid back and relaxed, much more so than my wife and her sister.

This is anecdotal for sure, but so is cherry picking comments from online and drawing a conclusion.

I'm not saying that my comments are 100% accurate, not even close.. I'm saying in my observations this is the driving factor in the parenting choices I've decided to make for my daughter, and no one else's.

> you cannot deny that the influence you have as a parent

for sure, I agree with you.

It seems to me that it is better to make conclusions looking at grown adults and families in total - like you did with your in-laws.

I just wanted to say there might be a tendency to look at screaming (or in this case, it would be anxious) kids and generalize and criticize their parents for bad parenting skills / inability to deal with kids / whatever; meanwhile, it's not their fault. Just good to remember that.

(Edits: minor formatting)

I think it’s unfair to judge another parents ability to parent based on a single action. I agree with you there, every parent is different, just like their children.

I’d like to believe that more often than not a child is similar to the parent, If that’s nurture or nature, or culture I don’t know. Fun to wonder though.

Do you all live in Norway?

xevb3k 6 months ago [flagged]

A lot of men in tech don’t spend a lot of time looking after their kids. They then criticise their wives parenting methods. I’m not saying this is what you’re doing, but it’s made me a cynic about most of what I read on HN.

That’s quite the generalisation. I don’t know many parents in tech, but the ones that I know spend a lot of time with their kids.

I devote a large amount of time to my daughter. The other parents who are in tech are quite similar.

Perhaps I live in a bubble here in Norway.

There’s a reasonable amount of evidence that fathers still don’t do their share of parenting in general:


Though I’d be interested in more stats on this.

I’ve known enough HN’ers and tech fathers in real life who talk a lot but don’t look after their kids to have become cynical myself.

Ahh yes. I agree. Men don’t do their share of parenting as a whole. I thought you were saying this is specific to tech, of which I’d disagree. It’s more wide spread than that.

Yes, my phrasing was not ideal. I don’t know if it’s particular bad in tech. But it is a general problem I’ve seen (and also noticed in tech).

As a father from The Netherlands, I can tell you that no parent would let their 5 year old have a birthday party unsupervised by adults. If they did then you expect social services to get involved.

What actually happens is that the HOST PARENTS supervise the group. So if your kids are invited to a friend's birthday party then yeah, you don't stay. I assume that it's the same in the US and pretty much every other country.

We also don't leave our four-year-old kids in the car alone. Well, some people do, which is why the local newspapers have been full of stories about the parents getting arrested for it and social services getting involved.

Netherlands is getting more anglo saxonized to be honest but we have some restraint luckily as we are ‘nuchter’ (down to earth/not prone to overreaction). And yes the points of having unsupervised birthday parties at 5 is just bad really in many respects. However many things are over the top in NL now and more so in the UK (I saw) and US (I read, so might be press). In southern Spain, where I have lived for the past 10 years, I feel it is more like it should be; young kids go alone to school, infants join their parents for parties, everyone plays with them and when they fall asleep; they go to sleep in the bedroom of the host. Random strangers on the streets pick up and hug your kids etc; stuff which is alien in many parts of the world; people would call for the police. Very paranoid and weird to me, also in NL. Maybe justified 0.00001% of the time but ofcourse in general not justified at all; most people just want to be nice. It is like the overbearing reaction to terrorism they had in India (I am referring to airports and every building of size has multiple bag scanners, metal detectors and guards; it makes me feel more unsafe than anywhere I have been and I travel a lot); because a few people were evil they just assume everyone is carrying bombs everywhere unless they prove otherwise. And it is not as if it stops bad things from happening.

It is Anglo saxon ; Australia has the paranoia as well. Not as bad as india but today hkg to mel was pretty shit.

why are random strangers picking up and hugging children? that sounds odd even for laid back European, unless we talk about babies accompanied by mother and older people wanting to touch cute baby, but child able to walk?

Nobody in that article hinted towards children having the party on their own, of course it's the host parents who are watching them.

This article was trying to make the claim that at many birthday parties in the US, all the childrens' parents will stay at the party. I don't know how common that is, but some cursory searching does indicate that it's a thing.

What are these US parents actually doing at these parties, then, if they do stay?

Drink coffee and try to socialise with other (equally agonised) parents because you somehow have to manage to spend two hours together until the party is over?

That sounds about the most horrible way to spend your time, to the point where I'd eventually consider not taking my kid to these parties in the first place.

> What are these US parents actually doing at these parties, then, if they do stay?

Chat with other parents—but then my kids are young enough that the parties we go to are still mostly for kids of my friends.

OK I'm a parent who stays, actually its not that bad, we're friends with most of the parents and its a good time to catch up and chat.

Same here, but it's nice not to feel obligated to stay, which i think is the difference.

If you want to stay (and are wanted) that speaks to a strong sense of community which is nice

What are you going on about? No one said parties in the Netherlands were not under adult supervision.

Parents in the USA (and increasingly in Canada) WILL stay and actively interfere in the party:

“That game is too rough for Jenny.”

“My child doesn’t drink soda, I’m just going to run to your fridge for Perrier.”

“Don’t you have enough cake for all the adults who stayed uninvited?”

Worse, as a host, you often need to run interference between the bulldozer parents and the 5 year olds who were dropped off.

> I assume that it's the same in the US and pretty much every other country.

No, in the US all parents are expected to stay. Not just the host parents.

Please tell me this is a joke. A birthday party (in Australia) is an invitation for you to dump your kids for 3 hours. How do the kids have any fun with so many adults around?

no, that is not a joke

I really don’t understand this. Given that the US is also a place where you put three-month-olds into daycare so that the mother can continue working.

You mean, because the mother needs to keep working because she has no other choice.

Things like this does not mean that the other isn't true. Just because one works doesn't mean that the rest of her time isn't expected to revolve around her children.

I guess that makes some perverse sort of sense.

That's a great way to put a cultural cap on the number of kids you can feasibly raise.


This is a collection of reader feedback to a previous article. You clearly know little of the parenting issues that are coming to the fore in North America. It’s not fluff.

I have three kids. I’ve left them home alone since the age of 7 to drop off dry cleaning, grab a coffee or pick up milk at the local store. My only requests were no cooking, fighting or using the iron. Read, play or clean your room. Never a problem. And if one goes missing I still have two left.

This made me laugh.

Me too - I wonder if that is actually an important cause though. 100 years ago people regularly had 4-8 children and expected some to die. Now its common to have 1-2, so its both more life altering to lose one, and easier to track them.

I stuck around for my kids friends birthday parties when he was 2-3 and didn’t want me to leave. Once I could leave him there without him crying (or even noticing), of course I got the hell out of there. Being in a room full of 5 year olds isn’t really my idea of a great Saturday. The parents hosting the party do the suffering, those are the rules.

As a parent in Germany I can say that there is a trend towards the American model. People watch their kids more closely on the playgrounds (helicopters parents), bring their kids to school by car. The latter has spark a lot of discussion here because roads around schools get blocked a lot and school principals are annoyed.

And ironically, the biggest danger to children on their way to school is all the cars around the school...

I'd say it's not ironic at all. It's part and parcel of auto dominated society.

It's ironic in that by trying to create a safer environment for their kids they're actually creating a more dangerous one.

It's not like people would be speeding around the school

So that's the biggest danger around the school (which I doubt) but that's ignoring all the other dangers

It's not the speed (though you can easily be hurt or killed by a car at school zone speeds) it's the absolute cluster-f of cars, kids and distracted parents who show no concern or awareness for others. We see neighbours driving their kids to school when they live 4 blocks away. It's crazy.

T.b.h. as a young parent with a 4yo daughter, I am kinda affraid to give her more free reign. Currently, I am fine with she doing whatever if a) I know where she is

b) I know there is at least some obstacle between her and the traffic.

c) if she hurts herself, I would know, and could get to her in 3 minutes

So I am fine with her being inside of a 100x100 m playground mostly unsupervised, as long as I know it is fenced and I have at least some idea where she is.

So my question would be this. Today, I wouldn't let my 4yo kid cross the road without adult supervision. In 15 years she will probably be in college somewhere, having to pay her own rent. How do you handle the progression?

I.e. I remember that from the school when I was 11 years old was a Big Deal™ .. but by the time I was 14, taking bikes with my friend and disappearing for half a day was normal.

Why the concern about fences?

I remember being taught to cross roads both at school and by my dad aged 4ish. IIRC they would teach you first, then they would start to ask me 'how do we going to cross then?' and make me lead the way. I had to stop, look both ways to check for traffic, then walk not run. And I had to talk out each step to my dad. After a few months he trusted me to not talk it out but if I missed a step, say not looking right, he'd point it out and make me do it again. Then a while later he let me cross roads myself but would watch. For example let me go to the park but watch from the front door. By 7/8 I was trusted to go to the supermarket and shop alone via some occasionally busy roads - the only really busy road had a lollipop lady to help you cross.

So yeah, make sure they know what they are doing. Make them prove it to you. Then give them a bit more freedom step by step.

I’ll note that helicopter parenting in America is very much an affluence thing.

In poorer parts of the country kids spend lots of time, from a young age, unsupervised. Because their parents and care givers don’t have a choice.

I wonder how much urbanisation plays into this. If your city is designed entirely around cars there's far less opportunity for kids to go out themselves.

I've always lived in a walkable places (ie in the UK) and growing up was told to walk everywhere. From a young age (maybe 8?) I could walk faster than my mum so she let me power off on my own to school. Naturally I became very independent.

But if there are no sidewalks, if your town is car centric and drivers have no regard for pedestrians? How in those places do you create opportunities for independence?

I grew up in the US but my parents are both Italian. They pretty let me run around unsupervised, and it was wonderful. I remember though my mom receiving a lot of flak for that however.

There was an interesting map posted here a while back on how children lost the right to roam. In 1919 the grandfather could walk 6 miles to go fishing but today the son is only allowed to walk in the street where the family live: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-462091/How-children-...

That’s largely an outcome of additional cars/lack of green space not a parenting mindset change.

Didn’t France just ban phones in school.

I wish the legal age would be lowered to 12 or 14. At least then kids could be given more financial and contractual independence. Children can’t participate in movie pass, take Uber...

I wouldn’t attend most meetings / talks where they refused to let me in without my phone. I don’t know how we let kids suffer through the humiliation.

American child and parent here, can report that American is a large and varied place. In my experience most children and parents here behave appropriately and American child raising is not some dystopian nightmare as these articles would have you believe.

The kids will be alright.

> Some have called the police or child protective services after witnessing a parent leave a child in a car to run into Starbucks or attend a job interview.

I get what the gist of the article is about however isn't this a real risk?

Maybe in the other countries they leave the windows down but in America windows are up for security fears?

http://noheatstroke.org/ (hopefully not a sensationalist website, just first thing that came up in google that seems to have numbers)

edit: For the down voters I'm talking about the job interview, not 5min to go get a coffee. It just seemed like a bad example to prove the articles point

Plus it was just a question...

Leaving a child in a car for a long time is a bad idea everywhere. It’s fine to do if you have to pop into a store and the child is old enough to understand (and it isn’t hot and sunny, and/or the child can handle the door on their own). But for a job interview??

cue the people needing to chill.

Exactly. People raise their children differently in different places. There are plusses and minuses. Who cares?

My frustration with tjis article is that it is tge epitome of anecdotal fluff. It is an article about the commebts on an article. Why is this tripe on hacker news?

What are the pluses about how we raise our kids in the US? I’m not really seeing any.

I live in Portugal, right next to a school from 5th to 9th grade (10-15 year old kids).

In the morning, you can see parents and grandparents outside the school fences watching the inside like it was some zoo! It's painful to watch. I went to that school and I know I would HATE it if my parents did it, and I live right next to it!

It's explainable if it's the kids first day of school, but you see this year round. I think this is happening more frequently, I don't remember seeing it as much some years ago.

I believe the cause is the same as in America: the news on TV focuses only on the crime and scandal, increasing the perception of danger, when it's actually decreasing.

but do they stay there watching all day? what would be point stay and watch for few minutes or even hour? don't these people need to go to work? maybe they just enjoy seeing child happy with classmates?

> Some have called the police or child protective services after witnessing a parent leave a child in a car to run into Starbucks or attend a job interview.

Not sure why they included this little nugget in the article. Letting your child roam free is just a little bit different than locking them in a car and possibly forgetting about them. Parents absolutely need to make arrangements such that this situation can be avoided, and I can’t fault anyone who calls the police if they see a child left unattended in a car. They don’t know how long they’ve been in there or will be in there.

The article isn't talking about parents leaving infants in their cars, one example cited is a younger kid being left in a car with their 10 year old sibling. If you're passing buy and concerned about those kids, it's going to be pretty easy to see if they're doing fine.

Much of the article is also discussing countries where the predominant weather is such that even if you left an infant in a car for 3 hours to sleep without AC they'd be fine. Sweden isn't Los Angeles.

  High Trust Society
I love the snobby ring to that term. Very elitist.

I grew up around dirtbag kids, scummy weirdos, freaks and fuck ups, during an era and in a zone where people are still uncertain about what the effects from lead poisoning were, immediately prior to my childhood.

I have older siblings with... stories.

I look around now, and I have to admit, the world does not seem to be strewn with the human wreckage that existed prior to the crack epidemic that emerged in the 1980's, but I do remember what people were like back then.

I really think leaded gasoline, coupled with alcoholism, drunk driving and many other drugs, ripped the banality of the 1950's to shreds, and scared the hell out of a lot of people, who still remember what that looked like.

The world was not "safe" or anything that looked like it. People were scary.

I'm not going to go into details, because HN winces to think of such things, but really, I could paint vivid pictures of the fears people have.

I'll say this much, illicit gambling was rampant and normal in dens of vice, rendered an impenetrable haze of cigarette smoke that hung four feet off the ceiling, right down to the tops of the door jams. That gambling atmosphere was pervasive. Everyone just felt like the abandon of wagering it all, any old time was normal. Such was the case with so many freaks on the loose.

Things aren't like that now. But it's not as far away as anyone would love to claim.

Helicopter parents seem uptight, and relative to the world as it has been for but a pair of decades or less, they are. But a lot can happen in a single generation.

We'll see how things go.

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