I am a college-educated mother of 3 elementary-aged children. Both my husband and I grew up in Woodinville and chose to raise our family here because it is a safe community. We have lived in our home for 18 years and feel comfortable letting our children play outside, ride bikes and walk to the neighbor's house-just like we did when we were kids! Recently, I posted the following ad for my daughter on our neighborhood website:
Hello! My almost 10-year old is available as a mother's helper. She is the oldest of three and is quite capable. She can fold and put away laundry, sweep, set tables, clean dishes, take out the trash, make beds, vacuum, make light meals, and keep your kiddo busy. We are a homeschool family so she has a flexible schedule. Please message me if you are interested in meeting with us.
Six hours later the Sherriff was knocking on our door. He was embarrassed and apologetic but said he had to do a welfare check to make sure I wasn't running a sweat shop! Apparently, the ad generated multiple phone calls from at least one paranoid neighbor thinking I was using my child as a slave. When my husband explained that we were simply trying to teach our child the value of a strong work ethic so they wouldn't grow up to be spoiled, he replied, "I wish more parents would do that."
At 8-years old I was working in a nursery with infants, at 11 I was babysitting and doing yard work, at 12 I had a paper route, and by age 17 I was living on my own, working almost full-time, and attending college. All those things would likely violate our state’s child labor laws today.
It's a shame that our culture has resorted to this paranoia. It’s irrational (crime nationally is the lowest it has been since the 1970s!) and this fear is robbing our children of an admirable attribute called grit as well as the pride that learning skills, independence, and hard work bring.