Kids’ safety: “one conversation at a time”

Originally posted as a comment on FreeRangeKids’ post, “One (Frustrating, Makes Me Want to Yank My Hair Out) Conversation At A Time”:

Just an hour ago I was with my youngest shopping for thread at the quilt store.  The proprietress – whom I *adore*, she and I have a great friendship – asked about my eldest child (we homeschool so I often have the kids with me out and about).  I said she was out and about riding a bus to the bakery and back home.

So then the proprietress does the – “[gasp!] You let her out ALONE?” and I’m feeling pretty confident – because I really do feel good about our lifestyle – so I say, “Yeah, we ride the bus together all the time. She knows what’s she’s doing.” and the woman responds, “Well, I’m sure she does.  But I’d be nervous about *predators*!”

I’ve had the most success in conversations like this saying, “Yeah, many people really *do* worry about that,” and not saying anything more and listening to the response.  Because usually people just seem to want to vent their fears.  They aren’t ALWAYS (or even that often) responding to me and my choices, they’re venting a bit of that “world is a scary place” stuff they live with.  (I’m not excusing those who perpetrate fear from their role in the larger picture of a fear-based culture, fear-based news, etc…  I’m just saying that I have compassion for people needing to vent).  So anyway, usually I just kind of bounce back with, “I hear this is a concern of yours,” type of response, and that seems to keep the friendship and conversation intact without going into a content debate – FACTS about dangers to children, etc.  Which a surprising number of people seem not that interested in discussing (as I’ve also seen here on this site with some of the comments).

Back to my conversation with the proprietress.  This time I went a bit further and I responded by saying:  “Well, I don’t really worry about that.” The problem is I feel like I came off worse for saying that.  She gave me a goggle-eyed stare and I swear I looked like a mom who is Woefully Naive or maybe, Doesn’t Care About Her Children.  I mean for all I know my worldview IS rubbing off on this woman – who knows.  But at the time I felt pretty judged and Othered.

What I’ve noticed though is that if I quote safety statistics (thank you, Lenore and many others!) in a conversation like this, THAT doesn’t seem to impress or convince anyone…  so honestly sometimes I don’t know what response I *should* have.

(I have also tried the, “Wow, it sounds like you think you care more about the safety of my child than *I* do,” which also works very well – I say it nicely, not like a jerk, promise).

Would love any feedback from the smart readers and commentators here.

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