Work Life Balance

Mothers Who Sleep Can Be Charged With Criminal Neglect

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Free Range Mom Lenore Skenazy discusses a disturbing trend of charging women with criminal neglect if they take naps around their children.

A couple of weeks ago in Delaware, a woman put her 3-year-old down for a nap and then took a nap herself. The 3-year-old got up and somehow escaped the house. After the girl was found, police charged her mother with child endangerment.

In New York, a woman’s 3-year-old son got up in the middle of the night and wandered around. The woman woke up at some point and called the police. A man who had spotted the child had already called police. After the child was found, the police arrested her. Her parenting will now be monitored indefinitely.

Good thing Child Protective Services wasn’t nearby when I momentarily lost track of one of my children in the Denver airport. It was terrifying but it made for a good story. And several of my friends have stories of how they escaped their house or the care of an adult at some point in their upbringing. It’s not something to aim for, but it’s not criminal neglect.

Skenazy says that what’s really alarming is the standard these mothers are being held to:

It’s called perfection. And they think that anything less than that puts a child in immediate danger. They have developed this outlook by living in a country where predators are prime-time TV fodder and stores sell infrared video baby monitors, which allow parents to watch their kids in the crib even when it’s dark. The message they get: A good parent watches her kid all day AND all night.

Mothers already feel guilty about taking any time for themselves or napping after being up around the clock caring for their families. The odds that a child will maneuver their way out onto the street, thwarting whatever safety devices or locks you’ve put in place, are not high. Casey Anthony notwithstanding, most mothers don’t need criminal neglect charges when something odd happens with their child.