Meticulous parents choose to err on the side of caution|Guest column

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recently, I was reminded of a time a while back when my husband and I were on our way home from Sunday morning worship service. It was midday, warm and sunny. As we approached our old neighborhood it was quiet; no traffic, no people — except for one little boy teetering along the edge of the street, all alone. This child could not have been more than 4 or 5 years old. I remember wondering what in the world was he doing outside, all by himself.  He was much too young and much too little.

Several scenarios ran through my mind of what could happen to him and none of them were good. He could be hit by a car, fall and hurt himself or God forbid, he could be kidnapped. I even commented on how easy it would be to simply scoop him up and keep driving. 

Debra Anderson grew up in Vicksburg and lives and works in Jackson. Contact her at P.O Box 9141, Jackson, MS 39286 or

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Not being a parent, I can only draw from the parenting skills I observed growing up in my own home. My parents raised eight children without major incident. They kept a tight rein on us. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how much they were thinking for us and making decisions for us. When we were little, they determined when it was too hot or too cold for us to play outside. They determined what was too late or too early to be outdoors. They decided whom we played with, as well as whom we didn’t play with. And, they decided when we were old enough to go anywhere unsupervised.

As I recall, we were well into double digits before that privilege was granted. There is a standing joke in my family about how my mother was so attentive to us that she could simply look at us and tell if we were constipated! We need a resurgence of that kind of meticulous parenting; that kind of sharp-eyed alertness.

Many mornings on my drive into work, I see kids waiting for the school bus, shivering in 30 degree-weather because they are inappropriately dressed for the temperature. I wonder who supervised their clothing selection.

I’ve seen little kids, two on a bicycle, bobbing and weaving in heavy traffic and I wonder who assessed the level of danger for them.

I know parents cannot watch their children every second, but more stringent oversight could avert some tragedies. The world is filled with many kinds of dangers to children. There are thugs, molesters and drug addicts on the streets and playgrounds. Our communities have their share of mean-spirited people who will hurt others for sport. Children need supervision.

As we’ve seen in recent months, there is no foolproof way to keep children completely safe, but parents can be more vigilant in  assessing situations and setting parameters  for their children.

It is not my intent to be judgmental because I’ve never had the arduous task of raising children. I can only hope that I would have been an attentive and watchful parent; preferring to err on the side of too much caution, than too little.