Mom Investigated By Child Services For Letting Kids Play In Backyard

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
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Child Services refuses to erase record of mom who let her kids play outside alone

It’s 2016. A time when kids are given access to basically the entire internet by age 10, but some will clutch pearls if that 10-year-old is allowed to play outside alone for half an hour. It’s a pretty ridiculous state of affairs that’s led to one Manitoba mom trying to clear her name with Children and Family Services after having a complaint filed against her for — wait for it — LETTING HER KIDS PLAY IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD.

I know. A highly disturbing visual. I should’ve warned you.

According to CTV News, Jacqui Kendrick, a stay-at-home mom of three, was investigated for allowing her children to play in the backyard without her obsessively breathing down their necks. Kendrick says her kids, ages 10, five and two, often play outside by themselves in their fenced-in yard while she’s indoors. Apparently, that’s not helicopter-y enough for some nosy neighbor who decided to complain.

That complaint resulted in a visit from a CFS worker earlier this month to conduct a “well-being” check. According to Kendrick, the worker seemed satisfied that her children were safe and nothing was amiss. The mom explains that her yard, enclosed on three sides by a wooden fence with chain link in the front, is a safe place where she feels “completely comfortable” allowing her kids to play as she looks on from the living room window.

Sounds reasonable, right? It seems that the worker thought so as she conducted her investigation, left the children in their mother’s care and hasn’t contacted them again since. Yet, this “incident” will remain on Kendrick’s record.

Even though nothing of concern was noted, the file can be closed — but never erased. Kendrick is justifiably scared that another complaint could result in her kids being taken away. She doesn’t understand why the person who reported her didn’t just talk to her if they were worried. “If you really had a concern, you could have knocked on my door.”

But why knock on the door and be a decent human being when you can be an interfering, trouble-making, nosy asshole instead?

It seems we’ve reached peak stupid with the helicopter parenting nonsense. Why would this concern anyone? Three happy kids playing in a fenced-in yard with their mother only a shout away? That sounds absolutely ideal. Lest any of these “well-meaning” jackasses forgets, children will one day need to function without a parent hovering over them. Their secure backyard with their mom nearby seems the best way to let them exercise a little freedom and explore on their own without compromising their safety.

If you’ve sensed my feelings on this are strong, it’s because they are. I grew up a little free-range myself, with a huge yard bordered by beautiful woods. My brothers and I, from ages so young I can hardly believe my mother allowed it, played for hours on end without an adult around. She would holler out the kitchen window from time to time and make sure we were still breathing but otherwise, we were on our own.

And it was amazing.

Sure, we scraped our knees and fell and got bit by a mosquito or two, but we also had adventures by ourselves where we had to learn to make solid decisions — no grown-up telling us the right thing to do, we had to think of it on our own. I have no doubt it was this early freedom that caused me to be a responsible and mature preteen who babysat neighborhood kids without incident for years and was trusted long before we trust our kids now.

And infuriatingly enough, even though I deeply believe being left to their own devices from time to time is the best way for children to learn certain things, I rarely (if ever) allow my kids that same backyard freedom.

I’ll give you one guess as to why.

If you guessed that I’m scared some nosy busybody will call CFS like they did to this mom, you’re 100% correct. As much as I want them to have what I had growing up, I can’t risk that the retired lady across the street will catch sight of my eight and six-year old playing in our yard without me wearing them in a sling and call the police. As you can see from Kendrick’s current headache, it’s not exactly something that goes away easily (if ever). So hover, I do. Only because I don’t see where I have much choice.

Maybe instead of calling the cops on happy kids playing outside we should save it for when something actually seems wrong. Call if a child is obviously being abused. Call if the mother leaves her baby in a hot car. Call if they’re left home alone for hours at too young an age. Don’t call because you take issue with someone’s parenting style.

Because in the end, that’s all this is about.

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