(pic source) As a man and a father, I worry sometimes about how I’m seen in public holding and kissing my 2 year old kid. Not because I’m embarrassed to show my son affection – but that I’m afraid someone is going to think I’m a pervert for holding my kid a certain way or accepting my son’s kisses, since the only kisses he knows at his age are innocent kiss-on-the-lips style.
Think about it, fathers – if you’ve still got a kid at a young age, do you show the same affection to your child in public as you do at home? Do you have any fears that people see you as a pervert or a predator? Am I just paranoid?
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of people that I catch out of the corners of my eyes in the grocery store that give us approving looks. Other dads give us half a smile, and you can hear most chicks’ uteruses whistling dixie. But there’s also the skeptical public – probably most people, that see normal acts of affection in public between a father and son and immediately think the man is a sicko. Single men have it worse – while they’re not (hopefully) out in public kissing unrelated kids, they’re unable to do simple things like pull over and ask a group of neighborhood kids for directions without someone thinking that they’re a predator.
Lenore Skenazy recently talked about this topic on the Wall Street Journal‘s website, concluding that “we think we’re protecting our kids by treating all men as potential predators. But that’s not a society that’s safe. Just sick.” This is 100% true – but also situationally difficult to accept. True, we can’t treat men alone as a threat, but we do need to be wary of normal dangers – which include your innocent children walking off with a stranger. Skenazy is famous for her 2008 article in the New York Sun where she discussed why she let her then-9 year old son ride the New York subway home…alone. Controversy ensued, and people polarized between Skenazy’s “free range kids” ideals and the opposite – a world where you can’t let your children play in your front yard without the fear that they’ll be thrown in a van and kidnapped.
The compromise, of course, is to realize that your personal strength and trust won’t keep kids safe – but that having your kid on lock-down isn’t healthy either. These days, even kids at school are being lured by teachers – of both genders – into inappropriate relationships resulting in statutory rape and emotional damage. If you think that the only place a kid is vulnerable is on the subway and that a man will be the their only aggressor, you’ve got some reading to do.
So as always, moderation and education are the key. Either way, Skenazy’s got some good points in her WSJ article, and on behalf of men (and fathers!) out there – thanks, Lenore!
(besides, we all know that we should be worrying about protecting our kids from the real enemy – zombies)