Why We Need Britney

Britney Spears's success as an entertainer and businesswoman is almost beyond comprehension: She's worth a reported $100 million and clocks in as the only female recording artist in history to have four consecutive albums debut at No. 1. And she's 24.

She's also a new mom, pregnant with her second child, married to a sexy 28-year-old cad with two children by another woman. Within a year of having her first child, she's seemingly set on breaking records for irresponsible motherhood, albeit with campy, glamorous accoutrements. She's driven on the Pacific Coast Highway with baby Sean wedged between herself and the steering wheel, received a visit from California Family Services investigating her child's fall off a high chair, motored along in a convertible with Sean asleep in a front-facing child seat, and nearly dropped her baby on a New York City sidewalk.

Britney recently defended herself as a wife and mother on "Dateline NBC," showing off eye-popping pregnancy cleavage and demonstrating that she can talk and chew gum at the same time -- on national TV.

In other words, she's the perfect woman for moms who love to hate. But it's the kind of hate that is really love in disguise. Because we need Britney desperately. She makes all moms in America -- some of us who lack eye-popping cleavage, $100 million and a 28-year-old husband -- feel like, "Hey, compared to her, I'm a great mom!"

Britney's new motherhood mistakes do endanger her son, and she deserves a public smackdown. But stop to think about something she said on "Dateline": "Not every mom has 80 cameras on them and their babies all the time. There will be lots more 'oopses.' I'm not perfect. I'm human."

Think if you had 80 cameras trained on you just for one day. What motherhood mistakes and tantrums and bad behavior would be revealed in your blessedly anonymous life?

We love ya, Britney. Thanks for distracting the motherhood police from the rest of us. Keep up the good work.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 22, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
Previous: High Price of Day Care? | Next: The Comedy of Parenthood

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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I'm no fan Britney's "music," but I agree we should give her a break. I wrote similar sentiments about Britney on my blog shortly after the pics came out of Baby Sean slumped over in the back seat. As someone who did not become a mother until the age of 42 (and had never changed a diaper!), I am very glad the mamma-razzis were not around to document the mistakes I made (and I'm sure that I continue to make with my daughter). I don't think we needed a two-episode Britney interview on Dateline to know that none of us are perfect moms and that we all should just breathe and cut each other some slack -- after all, in some ways, we're all in the same motherhood boat.


Posted by: PunditMom | June 22, 2006 7:13 AM

Britney Spears ? Slow news week in the Mommy Wars ?

Posted by: shoreman | June 22, 2006 8:07 AM

If you are a woman who needs Britney Spears to make you feel like a great mom, you are a sad, sad person. You may want to go out and get a life.

Posted by: Sad | June 22, 2006 8:21 AM

If you need Britney Spears to make you feel like a good mother, who makes your husband feel like a good father? OJ Simpson?

Spears courts publicity, then whines when it's bad. She doesn't make "oopsies," she deliberately puts her child's life in danger with her stupidity. Driving down a highway, eluding photographers with your child on your lap? That's not a mistake, that's reckless endangerment. Parading your child through the streets of NYC like a new handbag, only to nearly drop him because you can't put down your drink long enough to carry him with two hands? That's no oopsie, that's dumber than a rock. Crying with your child on your lap in a public place, with your thong and bra hanging out, then complaining that people stop to look at the train wreck?

Britney has the means to assure her privacy. She doesn't need to drive to Starbucks with her child for her caffeine fix. She chose the life she now has.

Posted by: Jayne | June 22, 2006 8:27 AM

I think we can learn from Britney's interview, but not the lessons Leslie recommends. It's patronizing and cruel to use her to make oneself feel more important.

I look at Britney, and I learn: that parenthood is hard work that demands your attention when you are with your child, regardless of whether you work outside the home or stay home full-time; that parenthood should not be entered into lightly but ideally should occur when one has established a stable relationship with the other parent or her own independence and is emotionally mature enough to put another human being first; and, most importantly, that learning about infant health, safety and development is an important part of being a good parent.

Watching Britney's interview made me (at 26) more resolved to wait to have children until I have achieved more professional and personal goals and have a trustworthy and responsible man who will be a supportive partner instead of making my life more complicated, and, once I have children, to learn and read as much as I can about child development and safety to make sure I am taking the best care of that special gift.

Posted by: midwest | June 22, 2006 8:51 AM

No offense to you, Mom, because I would never trade you in, but I would absolutely love being Britney's baby. Who wouldn't? And Mom, you have to admit that you recklessly endangered my life hundreds, possibly thousands of times by never putting me in a car seat. Shame on you!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 22, 2006 8:51 AM

I feel sorry for Britney with the the "white hot intensity of a thousand burning suns" spotlight shining on her mom mistakes right now. But I question if we actually need her to feel better about our own choices as mothers. When I'm having a bad day, I head to the local Walmart. I always leave feeling like mother of the year in comparison to some of the behavior (smacking, swearing, threatening, etc.) I see moms engaging in with their kids at Walmart. Try it sometime.

Posted by: Well . . . | June 22, 2006 8:53 AM

I understand the comment about 80 cameras being trained on her, but the cameras had nothing to do with her driving a car with her child in her lap. That was her poor judgement all by itself!

Posted by: Sara Wolfson | June 22, 2006 9:08 AM

Britney is worth $100 thousand BECAUSE she courted the cameras and attention. Now she is finding out that she doesn't control the world. Tough. The outfit she wore for her "just leave me alone!" interview was absolutely calculated to get some of that media attention that has been wasted on Brangelina lately. She close this lifestyle, she lives this lifestyle, she wants this lifestyle. And she's a lousy mom. Way too selfish and self-absorbed. Jayne is right. Brit doesn't have to parade her kid out in public like she does. That's shameful.

Posted by: WDC | June 22, 2006 9:09 AM

I dont' know how much of reporting about Britney's life is true, but I feel sorry for her and her kid(s). I don't feel like a superior better mother.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 9:11 AM

I am a loving mommy who absolutely adores my 3 year old.... and I have also made a lot of mistakes that are very similar to Spears.

My husband is 6'5. My kid is in the 110% for growth. His carseat was facing forward by the time that he was 7 months old. Otherwise his feet were literally resting against the backseat.

I have also fallen when holding my son. We were walking down stairs at church. My feet got tangled up and I fell. Luckily, my kid was fine (although I was a little bruised up).

The point? Thank goodness that I don't have someone taking my picture all of the time. We all fall and we all make mistakes... and we all do not know the entire story. We should stop judging and start supporting moms.

As always, we are our own worst enemies.

Posted by: Loving Mommy | June 22, 2006 9:17 AM

I agree that this is pretty sad. One of the few things that Bill O'Reilly says that has any value is that bad behavior does not justify more bad behavior. I would think that an adjunct to that statement should be that if you're making mistakes, you don't get to point and giggle at others because they're making MORE mistakes.

I think today's topic seems to be endorsing the judgemental, glass-house-rock-throwing that is usually criticized in this space.

Posted by: Wow | June 22, 2006 9:18 AM

The "mom" Brittany Spears is a sad comment on American life -- the lights, the adulation, the "forgiveness." Only such a popular icon could be forgiven in the way Leslie described her. Any other non-popular mom, making human oopsies, would be looked upon with pity, at best and scorn at worse.

My concern, having two daughters close to Brittany's age, is the model she makes. Not the "oopsies," but rather the "look what I can get away with." That to me is of a greater concern.

In the less popular culture, but an icon nonetheless, is the ever storied Courtney Love and her daughter Bean. Now, there was a model for bad parenting, however, the forgiveness was less forthcoming because she was a punk rocker. Recent photos of Love and her daughter show a loving child and a smiling mom -- apparently things are good now?

This is not new. I am a 50's baby, born of immigrant Italian parents. One model of parenting were Italian movie stars. People dressed their children in the same clothing as the movie stars did, hair was forced into unnatural curls because Italian babies had curly hair, pierced ears, trendy baby-strollers that were NOT made for inner city traffic, and the flowing long coats moms wore walking through the park that didn't allow for safely running after a scooting child.

Posted by: Columbia MO | June 22, 2006 9:25 AM

Just one question, Leslie. Kevin Federline, sexy? Ewwww!

Posted by: Kate | June 22, 2006 9:26 AM

It is pretty sad, when a person looks at the shortcomings of another to make themselves feel better. Maybe you should look at your child to make yourself feel better. If your child is well adjusted and happy, then you should be the happiest person in the world.

Posted by: Joe D. | June 22, 2006 9:31 AM

On Balance, I am a Slave 4u. Why does BS take all this scorn when Michael Jax'n gets a free ride? Oh yeah the King of Pop is in Dubai....

BS was a Brave New Girl, that wasnt Overprtotected, but now her flaws are as overexposed as her attributes. Both of them. Sometimes I think I am a slave of pop culture, and then I yearn for the days when MTV was about music videos instead of the Osbournes and Real World.

Ooops I Did it Again. Waaay better than like a Virgin and the S&M from the Material Girl.

I wonder if BS went to day care or was with a SAHM?

Hit Me with it One More Time.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 9:56 AM

I think many of you are being unfair for the criticizing of Leslie for the Britney Benchmark. All of us do this in not just parenting, but in all aspects of our lives. If you say differently, then you're not being honest with yourself.

Posted by: Michael | June 22, 2006 9:59 AM

If you are going to criticize Brittany, then do it for something she really deserves like hooking up with her backup dancer who had a six month pregnant girlfriend back in LA. Who he left for her.

Not, for the dumb mistakes that the paparazzi have caught on camera. The only really dumb thing she has done is drive without the baby in a car seat. The high chair incident can happen to anyone because people in factories who put stuff together have bad days and make mistakes. Falling with the baby? Well, I fell one time on a piece of ice with my kid, she was okay. Falling doesn't make me a bad mother, just a clumsy one.

Now where is my back up dancer.....................................................

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 10:10 AM

We're only seeing Britney's public mistakes.

Britney knows that when she goes out, the photographers follow. I'd like to point out that they're not snapping pics of her in her house, etc., where you'd think she spends the majority of her time. I shudder to think what she does as a mother when she knows the blinding flashbulbs AREN'T on her.

By the way, we NEVER see Gwyenth Paltrow, Catherine Zeta Jones, Angelina Jolie, etc., dropping their babies in public, ignoring basic child-safety laws and practices, although I'm sure they make human mistakes when they're at home.

Posted by: A reader | June 22, 2006 10:11 AM

Gwyenth named her baby apple, enough said.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 10:15 AM

Angelina Jolie took her children to a bunch of third world countries where diseases and crime run rampant. She is a gem of a mother!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 10:17 AM

Several times a year, I send my 8 year old son up on the roof to clean the gutters. If he fell off, I would be on the evening news as a poster boy for stupidity. As of now, I get applauded for having my kid participate in the house maintenance work.
I think Britney's parenting failures are very, very petty, and if anyone wants to compare their motherly skills against hers, I think you will find out that she's a tough act to follow.
Fo3, you're hilareous. A dad on this blog started posted as Father of 3 several weeks ago. You the same wiseguy?

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 22, 2006 10:19 AM

All I can say is, I'm glad I don't have paparazzi cameras trained on my every move as a mom. Give that poor girl a break. She's only 24, married to one of the biggest losers on the planet, and can't make a move, right or wrong, without it being news. She hasn't made the best choices in her personal life so far, but it's not like she leads a normal life. As for the comment about Angelina Jolie, her work with the U.N. as a Goodwill ambassador (not a title lightly handed out) should shut the mouths of her critics unless they are doing similar work -- which I doubt. She's not my favorite person and I won't deny she can be a bit strange, but you can't claim she's all wrapped up in herself and has no clue about the world around her. She is trying to help people who are much less fortunate than she is.

Posted by: Unreal | June 22, 2006 10:28 AM

>>>> think many of you are being unfair for the criticizing of Leslie for the Britney Benchmark. All of us do this in not just parenting, but in all aspects of our lives. If you say differently, then you're not being honest with yourself.>>>

See, but I thought the folks on this blog were advocating getting out of the business of judging each other's choices? So then Michael are you saying that Judging Each Other's Choices = Not OK, but Judging Each Other's Shortcomings = OK?

I'm not bashing Leslie. The point is, is this "benchmarking" one of the fronts in the Mommy War? Is this "benchmarking" part of the problem?

I say, "Yes."

Posted by: Wow | June 22, 2006 10:31 AM

I agree Leslie's wording was a bit harsh, but I see her point - it's the same lesson you can get from a neighbor or a family member if you're around them. People can make mistakes and, yes, even do stupid stuff around and to their children. The children still almost always turn out okay. They're resilient little human beings and their parents don't have to be perfect. (Although it's definitely going to be interesting to see what Michael Jackson's children end up like, I agree!) And don't tell me you've never had those little wicked moments when you look at someone worse off and think "At least I'm not doing THAT bad."

Posted by: SEP | June 22, 2006 10:33 AM

I do feel a twinge of pity for Britney -- yes, she sought fame, but I doubt she thought much about the fact that she wouldn't be able to take a walk to Starbucks without 20 cameras -- or without someone criticizing her for "parading her child through the streets of NYC like a new handbag." Ummm, it's a walk. As far as I know, mommies and babies do it all the time.

Seriously who hasn't done most of what she has (with the exception of the carseat)? I have certainly almost dropped my kids when they squirmed unexpectedly, but somehow, the Washington Post didn't deem that newsworthy. And does anyone really think that CPS would come to any of our homes for a fall from a high chair? I know when my daughter fell off her changing table and I called the doctor in a panic, she didn't sic the authorities on me -- instead, she laughed and reassured me that it happens to everyone.

(On the other hand, the carseat was absolutely inexcusable -- I can't imagine putting my own desire to escape photographers ahead of my kids' safety, much less justifying that behavior afterwards).

But honestly, why are we even talking about this? Why do we care about what Britney does, or Gwyneth, or whoever else is the new mommy of the moment? Are we truly concerned for her kid's safety? Then why are we spending time reading and chatting about it, instad of working to protect kids in our own neighborhoods and towns? Or is it really just plain old gossip, with a hint of schadenfreude added to spice it up -- "see, she's no better than us despite all her money"?

Posted by: Laura | June 22, 2006 10:36 AM

"Angelina Jolie took her children to a bunch of third world countries where diseases and crime run rampant. She is a gem of a mother!"

Except for the last one, Jolie GOT her kids from those countries. I'm pretty sure they are safer and healthier than they'd have been as orphans in impoverished countries, and taking them to an isolated, but luxurious, coastal resort in Africa isn't quite the same as leaving them in a hospital full of children with tuberculosis for a few weeks.

It's the babies---and their parents---that are still living in poverty without access to medical care, or even enough food, that we should be worried about.

Posted by: THS | June 22, 2006 10:49 AM

Hey Wow, who doesn't look at someone else, and say "I'm may not be doing my best, but I'm better at XX than that person." It could be measured in the niceness of your lawn, or work productivity. We all carry some feelings of inadequecy, and if benchmarking eases that guilt, then I don't see the problem. And Britney ABSOLUTELY invites the cameras and the corresponding cameras. Anyway, the point of my post was everyone tossing a stone at Leslie for this benchmark idea lives in a glass house.

Posted by: Michael | June 22, 2006 10:53 AM

Of course we all make mistakes and most are forgiveable. But Britney didn't do herself any favors in that interview. Not once did she admit that driving Sean around without a carseat was a bad idea. She could have admitted that and said that she had learned a lesson and wouldn't do it again.

However, to the poster whose 7 month old was facing forward because he was too tall. It doesn't matter how tall he was and it doesn't matter whether his feet were hitting the backseat. Research shows that it is safer to ride backward facing for as long as possible, even with feet and legs hitting the back seat. It's better to break a leg (which research shows rarely happens) than to break your neck or spine.

We all make mistakes, but we are all also responsible for doing the research necessary to keep our children as safe as possible.

Posted by: bloggerbabe | June 22, 2006 10:55 AM

"However, to the poster whose 7 month old was facing forward because he was too tall. It doesn't matter how tall he was and it doesn't matter whether his feet were hitting the backseat. Research shows that it is safer to ride backward facing for as long as possible, even with feet and legs hitting the back seat. It's better to break a leg (which research shows rarely happens) than to break your neck or spine."

And research shows that most people don't actually use children's car seats properly, so the study safety studies are not nearly as good as people think. (Another plug for FReakonomics).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 10:58 AM

"Hey Wow, who doesn't look at someone else, and say "I'm may not be doing my best, but I'm better at XX than that person." It could be measured in the niceness of your lawn, or work productivity. We all carry some feelings of inadequecy, and if benchmarking eases that guilt, then I don't see the problem."

I agree. I occasionally watch "Supernanny" and while I don't revel in my superiority that my children aren't that bad, I do take COMFORT in the fact that my children aren't that bad. And even when the kids are driving me insane in whatever regard, I know somebody out there has it worse, sometimes much worse. I think it can help keep things in perspective.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 22, 2006 11:05 AM

I hear you Michael and I hear you Rockville Mom.

But here's the thing.

When someone shows up to the blog and makes the observation that their way of doing something is better than yours, then they use that conclusion to jump into some holier-than-thou stilted speech, you can't rightly object to their methods without it being hypocritical. Feel free to dispute their facts, but if you say they've got no right to judge you, well sure they do, because you would just as soon compare yourselves to their predicaments and make pronounce your situation "better."

Posted by: Wow | June 22, 2006 11:11 AM

all these critics who love to tear the celebrity down so they can build themselves up;should realize what a bunch of crabapples they are!!!get a life!!!

Posted by: ratdragon | June 22, 2006 11:12 AM

Britney made huge decisions that affected the direction of her life before she was even 21 years old. Her parents (mom especially) helped her toward a "career" that was financially hugely rewarding but emotionally stunting. I have a lot of pity and sympathy for Britney and using her to make yourself feel better as a mother is pretty sad. What an example that sets for YOUR kids. Maybe take a look at Britney's mom and the push for celebrity stardom and the lack of boundaries. What does that say about HER parenting skills? This is a silly, useless discussion. ALL parents make mistakes, whether occasionally letting a kid ride a bike without a helmet, to putting Coke in the baby bottle (Hey, I refused to drink milk.), to turning your attention away from the toddler for "just a minute" while gossiping on the phone. Nobody is perfect.

Posted by: Pathetic topic | June 22, 2006 11:14 AM

"Watching Britney's interview made me (at 26) more resolved to wait to have children until I have achieved more professional and personal goals and have a trustworthy and responsible man who will be a supportive partner instead of making my life more complicated,"

YAY, good for you Midwest. THis makes all the Britney hoopla almost worth it. Liz would be very, very happy...

And Father of 4, I'll be watching for you on the evening news, maybe Britney will pay for your defense lawyer!!

Posted by: Megan | June 22, 2006 11:15 AM

Remember that parenting class that the court ordered Homer and Marge Simpson to attend? Why not try that for Britney and K-Fed?

Posted by: Suggestion | June 22, 2006 11:16 AM

I am a frequent reader, never posted - and I've seen some crazy things on this board, but this comment prompted my first-ever response:

"Angelina Jolie took her children to a bunch of third world countries where diseases and crime run rampant. She is a gem of a mother!"

I cannot believe someone would utter these words. At least Jolie (or other mothers who might take their children to third world countries) are exposing their children to a world beyond their little town, city, or country. Whether you're Angelina Jolie or a regular Jane, all parents should strive to expose their children to things that are different from what they know.

I'm not even a mother and I know this.

And for future reference, the U.S. has one of the highest crime rates in the world per capita... much higher than some of these "third world" countries.

Posted by: DCer | June 22, 2006 11:19 AM

The Mommy Police make me sick. My sister's son is a special needs child and sometimes exhibits bad behavior in public. My sister does her best to make him more social, yet sometimes it's just not possible. Trust me, every time she's feeling frustrated and depressed when her son is acting out, some Mommy Policewoman steps in and makes a critical comment about her son and how she should be handling him better. Gee, thanks, you are SO helpful. GET A LIFE.

P.S. Thanks, however, to the many people who have stepped up to kindly assist my sis and nephew in little but very meaningful ways. You are wonderful.

Posted by: Stop policing other parents | June 22, 2006 11:19 AM

Good point about the Mommy Police. If you want a perfect child, work on your own.

And by the way, to the women (total strangers!) who have told me "you should be breastfeeding you know, breast is best": My child is ADOPTED! I can't breastfeed her!

Posted by: Over it | June 22, 2006 11:23 AM

"Think if you had 80 cameras trained on you just for one day. What motherhood mistakes and tantrums and bad behavior would be revealed in your blessedly anonymous life?"

Gee, I thought Leslie was asking for our "parenting mishaps" and not asking us to bash Brittney or any other celeb. I notice that no one jumped all over the guest blogger who admitted dropping her baby with a resulting skull fracture.

I had a stroller with a handle that could be moved so that the baby could either face you or face away from you. I tried to switch the handle one time without realizing that the baby's arm was sticking out and I almost crushed her arm. Glad the cameras weren't around for that one.

Posted by: bjt | June 22, 2006 11:23 AM

"When I'm having a bad day, I head to the local Walmart. I always leave feeling like mother of the year in comparison to some of the behavior (smacking, swearing, threatening, etc.) I see moms engaging in with their kids at Walmart"

LOL. A friend and I have this ongoing contest to see how many times we hear "Stop that cryin' or I'll give you somethin' to cry about."

Posted by: Dlyn | June 22, 2006 11:25 AM

I just feel sorry for her. I don't compare myself or my childrearing skills to hers or any other celebrity's skills. Why should I? I think people tend to compare themselves to other people who are within their work/life radius anyway, if they do so at all.

I ate half a box of mothballs as a toddler in the 60s and had my stomach pumped. My mother was not a bad or careless mother, she just had her eye elsewhere for the few moments it took me to munch away on the mothballs.

Posted by: viennamom | June 22, 2006 11:28 AM

Is Britney a proper role model for my impressionable daughters. God knows what she does when the flash bulbs aren't a sparklin'!

Seems to me from Current pop/news coverage my girls options are stacking up to be:

Paris "home video" Hilton
Condaleeza "boots" Rice
Britney "oops" Spears
Kristine "sports bra" Lilly
Hillary Duff
Hillary Clinton

A far better selection than with whom past generations had to contend...right?

Barbara Walters vs Maria Bartiromo
Jane Fonda vs Dick and Jane
Bella Abzug vs Belle and the Beast
Ella Grasso vs Ellen Degeneres
Margaret Thatcher vs Margaret in Dennis the Menace
Marilyn Monroe vs Marilyn Chambers
Joan of Arc vs Joan Baez
Madonna vs er the biblical Madonna
Monica Lewinsky vs Mrs Robinson???

- and the endless dilemma:

Thelma vs Daphne
Jan vs Marsha

all tough choices.

Posted by: Fo3=Father of 3 | June 22, 2006 11:40 AM

My daughter ate a bag of balloons at a birthday party. I didn't know until the next day. Ok, hand me my sign!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 22, 2006 11:46 AM

Britany Spears is young and relatively uneducated. What's the big deal? She's got money and celebrity value so she shows up in the press. It doesn't mean anything.

Posted by: RoseG | June 22, 2006 11:52 AM

I did an "Open that door right now young man! or I'll force it open!" I forced the door as he was openning it and the door handle made a bad bruise. I felt like a complete idiot, talk about a bad role model.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 11:52 AM

I could not agree more with 'stop the mommy policing.' My parents are raising my two young nephews because my sister passed away 2 years ago from melanoma (their father checked out when she got sick). One of her boys, who is 5, is very fair and given what caused my sister's passing, we are very, very, careful about sunscreen and how long he is in the sun. I was playing with him in a hotel pool once and a woman said to me "he is very pale, I hope you have sunscreen on him" as if we don't know how to properly care for him. All I said was "he is fine" but I cannot explain how angry and emotional that made me. I wanted to tell her the whole long story of my sister and make her feel like the idiot she is for butting into someone else's business when she has no idea of their situation.

Please, if you ever feel the urge to comment about someone else's parenting, keep in mind that you don't know them or their life.

Posted by: in-arlington | June 22, 2006 11:58 AM

I have to agree with Father of 4. I never rode in a car seat, and neither did my siblings, but I would hardly say that my mother was recklessly endangering our lives. We made it through. We also rode bikes without helmets, played in the sun without sunscreen, walked to school and the park by ourselves, and were doing our own laundry by the time we were 10. Somehow, we turned out fine. I am all for safety measures and all that, but sometimes, I think we are just too overprotective nowadays. A little benign neglect is a very good thing for kids.

Posted by: Rockville | June 22, 2006 11:59 AM

"However, to the poster whose 7 month old was facing forward because he was too tall. It doesn't matter how tall he was and it doesn't matter whether his feet were hitting the backseat. Research shows that it is safer to ride backward facing for as long as possible, even with feet and legs hitting the back seat. It's better to break a leg (which research shows rarely happens) than to break your neck or spine."

Dear Bloggerbabe -
A policeman doing free checks at a fire station in Fairfax actually suggested turning him around because of his length. The next day, my pediatrician agreed. No offense - I trust them to know more than a study. As I said before, don't judge folks until you know the entire story.

Posted by: Loving Mommy | June 22, 2006 12:00 PM

Our son managed to get away from us at a ski lodge and went headfirst down the metal stairs. He had a bruise on his forehead in the pattern of the metal, and still has a tiny scar over his eye!

Posted by: Megan | June 22, 2006 12:07 PM

Ever been at church and see Mommy chase her toddler around the alter? Here's your sign, Mommy. Please go back and take your seat.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 22, 2006 12:09 PM

Fo3, I'm assuming you meant Brandi "Sports Bra" Chastain. Kristine Lilly is also a female soccer player, but did not score the game-winning goal in the Women's World Cup and therefore lacked the rationale for ripping off her jersey in victory. I'd say both are women you should be happy to have your daughters emulate.

Posted by: Mo2 | June 22, 2006 12:12 PM

When my brothers were little, they used to go down to the basement, and take turns spinning in the dryer. One would get in and the other two would lean against the door so that it would not pop open. After a few turns, the next one would take his turn. My mother was upstairs cooking or cleaning or whatever the whole time, and never figured it out until they told her about the game as adults. She said that that must have been why the dryer door kept on breaking so often. She was always calling the repairman to fix it and had no idea what was wrong with it. Yes, and my brothers are still alive and not noticeably brain damaged.

Posted by: Rockville | June 22, 2006 12:13 PM

Father of 4 -- how do you get your 8 year old to go up on the roof? I've been trying that with my 7 year old for months and he just won't budge....Even Yu Gi Oh cards won't work.

My youngest once was in his car seat and when I turned a corner I looked back and his seat had fallen over onto the back seat (it fell to the right)-- I realized the seat was not strapped in. thankfully he thought it was funny because I didn't (and the paparazzi had taken the day off from watching me so I didn't have to worry about getting on the evening news, phew!)

Posted by: typical working mother | June 22, 2006 12:14 PM

Oh, but Fo3, I meant to add that I'm pleasantly surprised you actually know the name Kristine Lilly (most Americans don't). :-) Now if only our men's team was as successful... oh well.

Posted by: Mo2 | June 22, 2006 12:14 PM

You know, it's an interesting mix. Sometimes we're told to be busybodies (such as with possible PPD as discussed the other day) and other times we're told we should just mind our own business. Should we always assume that a parent really knows what they're doing in terms of the safety of their child, i.e. whether the carseat is facing forward or backward due to age of child; whether a child is wearing sunscreen in bright sunlight, etc.? Should we never comment or ask questions about what someone else is doing with their child even though we may be concerned? I'm not talking about being randomly judgmental, but especially in cases where there is a general accepted convention that it appears that a parent is not following, for instance. Or are we just too quick to be annoyed when someone comments on the care of our children? Or does it depend on how someone approaches it? Just wondering.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 22, 2006 12:15 PM

And for those of you who grew up before car seats -- My father used to take the middle seat out of our VW bus before we went on vacation and put the playpen it.

When I was three, however, I was in the back of that same hip 1960s VW bus with my little friends and leaning against the door. The latch gave way and I tumbled out onto the road while my mother drove 35 miles an hour through the neighborhood. -- my only injury was a dislocated elbow. I remind my mother about this when she comments on how much government regulation there is today.

Posted by: typical working mother | June 22, 2006 12:19 PM

Amen, Over It and Stop Policing Other Parents - judging Britney or judging the parent of the screaming child at the grocery store may make you feel better about yourself but beware the plank in your own eye before you go pickout out the speck in someone else's...and I'd like to add 'Pregnancy Police' to the list of ridiculous behaviors. I'm visibly pregnant and am just plain harassed on a regular basis by obnoxious strangers. I will drink DECAF coffee people if I feel like it, you don't need to lecture me because you see me with a cup in my hand. Men are the worst - maybe since your wife had a baby the research has been updated, buddy, and you aren't aware that even if I wanted to drink regular coffee, I CAN! Take your judgement and shove it. Sorry, that's the hormones talking!

Posted by: SB | June 22, 2006 12:22 PM

I forgot to hook the seat belt over the car seat one night coming home. My husband was driving and he was pulled over for speeding for going 50 in a 30 (luckily no ticket). The policeman even had shined the light into the backseat and did not notice. We didn't even know until our 3 year old told us she didn't have it on right before pulling into the driveway. I never felt so awful and relieved at the same time.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 22, 2006 12:22 PM

Should we never comment or ask questions about what someone else is doing with their child even though we may be concerned?

I don't unless I am seeing something egregious. Years ago, I saw a woman slapping her child at the grocery store. The kids was crying and she was trying to get him to stop by slapping him. I stopped what I was doing, walked over, and told her that slapping him was probably not the best way to get him to stop crying. She told me, "Lady, get outa my face unless you want what he got." I felt sorry for the kid, but I was not sure what else I could do, so I walked away.

Posted by: Rockville | June 22, 2006 12:23 PM

I'm still dealing with the reference to K-Fed being "sexy." Are we talking about the same guy here?

Posted by: MomfromVA | June 22, 2006 12:24 PM

When my sister and I were small, my dad used to toss both of us and a big duffel bag full of baseball equipment into the back of his Triumph GT6 and drive us up to the high school ball field to teach us to play. A GT6 does not have a back seat - it has sort of a shelf. Later on, when I was old enough to drive, I BEGGED for a Triumph, but both my parents refused on the grounds that they're too dangerous.

"But you would just throw me in the back when I was young and defenseless!" I would say. "Were they any less dangerous then?"

"No, but we were pretty stupid," they'd say. Okay, then.

When I was 13 I came down sick with a cough that wouldn't stop. Begged my mom to let me stay home from school. I was a known malingerer, though, and she sent me anyway. Turned out I had whooping cough and almost had to be hospitalized. I actually thought it was pretty funny; my mom felt terrible. I stopped teasing her about it when I realized just how awful and guilty she felt.

Posted by: Lizzie | June 22, 2006 12:25 PM

Occasionally, I'll drive past a car where the child, in the back seat, isn't wearing a seatbelt. I will signal to the driver to roll down the window to tell them. All but one time, they were very happy that I told them because they didn't know the child had taken it off.

The one time the person was angry, he shouted at me: what am I supposed to do when I have too many kids for the number of seat belts? Put them in the trunk?? I retorted that it may be a good idea!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 12:28 PM

Kristine and Brandi are both hot...er..oops I mean to say good role models for my impressionable daughters. Where is that research assistant!!!!

Ghana took their flopping lessons in Brazil this winter.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 12:30 PM

When I was a kid, I got to sit either in the middle or on the floor behind the driver's seat of a VW beetle. My father would set the "cruise control" for a certain speed (when you hit that speed a loud buzzing noise was heard), and then would drive just under the speed so you could hear a low grade whine the entire time we were in the car. He would also play the O's games until all you heard was static (zzzzz... and here's the wind-...zzzzzz... it's out of the ....zzzzz). My older brother would pinch me when I moved, and if I complained, I got slapped by one of my parents. One time he pulled over to give all three of us spankings, and a state trooper pulled over behind us to see if there was a problem. My dad told him that he was about to spank his children. The trooper said "Boys, you'd better listen to your daddy for the rest of the trip" and drove away.

Who gives a flying you-know-what what Britney Spears or any other celebrity does with their children? Parents, get over yourselves. You are raising spoiled brats who wind up spineless with unbelievable expectations of entitlement. Stop trying to protect them from the realities of life. They will thank you for it later.

Posted by: Frame of Reference | June 22, 2006 12:31 PM

When my daughter was 5 we were playing on the teeter-totter at the playground one afternoon. I let her bounce the ground a little too hard and we ended up in the emergency room for stitches in her chin. Thank goodness this happened enough years ago that the ER personnel showed off their childhood scars while taking care of her instead of calling Child Protective Services.

Posted by: KS | June 22, 2006 12:32 PM

To Rockville Mom--
I'd say it is never appropriate to comment unless the child is in immediate danger. Comments are best left to family members and close friends and even they should tread carefully.

Posted by: KP | June 22, 2006 12:32 PM

Yeah, I remember riding in a van that the seats had been taken out so about 10 kids (or more) could all ride for 3 hours on the floor to an amusement park and one time on the way back from the same amusement park another bunch of us slept in the back of a pickup truck with a cab on it.

Now kids get strapped in for hours and can't move around or lie down and sleep like we did and we wonder why they whine and cry or why on earth do people have DVD players in the van.

Posted by: Lived through childhood | June 22, 2006 12:33 PM

Typical Working Mother, I got my 8 year old son to climb up on the roof by taking the stepladder out of the shed and leaving it on the lawn.
Do you want to know how my wife got to get this same kid to roll the car down our driveway, cross the street, and park it in the neighbor's yard when he was four years old? She left the keys on the coffee table.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 22, 2006 12:34 PM

That was a joke right? About K-Fed being sexy???

Posted by: please tell us | June 22, 2006 12:36 PM

Mo2, I've had the privlege of interacting with some of the international and pro women's soccer players as plenty of them reside in DC.

As somebody who's also had the misfortune of interacting with small-time musicians and coddled college college hoopsters (both genders) I can honestly say that those ladies are the most down-to-earth C-List celebrities I've ever met. A few of them are working Moms too!

Posted by: Off Topic | June 22, 2006 12:39 PM

Of all of Spears' "campy, glamorous" mistakes, the only one I can actually see as being a gigantic, ignorant mistake is the driving with her kid in her lap. All the other stuff happens to regular, non-famous parents (and I think it should be pointed out that the fall from the high chair didn't even happen directly because of her - her nanny had dropped Sean when taking him out of the chair, and she quickly fired that nanny - raise your hand if you've NEVER hired a babysitter who's done something dumb).

The biggest mistake I saw in this article was implying K-Fed is sexy. WHAT. Although, is she a bad mom for marrying a jerk? I'm sure there are at least a few divorced mothers who'd say no, she isn't. I don't even like her music, and I feel a little dirty defending her, but there you go.

Posted by: just say no to mommy cops | June 22, 2006 12:41 PM

*chuckle @ Megan* You bet I was! I'm so predictable :)

I also think that things with Britney are out of control. The car things were just stupid...but Britney really is just a southern dorky girl who happened to have had a body and talent that people wanted at the right time.

The other things- accidents. Mothers and fathers have those same things happen all the time. I thought calling CPS on the high chair incident was ridiculous.

Isn't this one more pebble in the quarry of moms vs moms?

I'd think talking about teaching women how to be confident about saying "no" is far more relevant a topic than Britney Spears-Federline.

Posted by: Liz | June 22, 2006 12:42 PM

Way back before cars even had seat belts and I was maybe 2 or 3, my mom let me stand in the front seat while she was driving. One day another car rear-ended us as we stopped at a signal, and I went head-over-heels into the back seat, coming to rest with my feet sticking up in the air.

When my mother asked me if I was OK, the first words out of my mouth were "I lost my marbles", meaning the bag of marbles she just bought me had rolled under the car seat. Of course that was hardly what ran through her mind when she heard it!

Posted by: John | June 22, 2006 12:42 PM

K-Fed is a "sexy" 28-year-old? Are you kidding me???

Posted by: Josh | June 22, 2006 12:43 PM

Loving Mommy, I agree we should be sure we have the full story before we judge. Britney's "baby in the forward-facing carseat" picture was a great opportunity for some pediatric specialists to give a full explanation of the rule. My son also is very tall (125% percentile for height), and when he was 7-8 months old we considered moving him to a forward-facing seat. Our pediatrician cautioned us not to citing the danger of a neck injury to babies under one year. He said it was not the height that mattered, but the strength of the child's neck muscles to withstand an impact. I guess the reasoning is, better a broken leg than a neck or spine injury. That said, it still is a problem that experts and the industry should address more directly.

Posted by: happymom | June 22, 2006 12:45 PM

What a worthless post.

Posted by: Ayla | June 22, 2006 12:48 PM

K-Fed might not be sexy, but the man can sing! TIC

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 12:50 PM

"Lived through childhood" makes a good point.

For all the SUV haters out there: The current safty awareness and improvements: airbags that preclude front seat use, mandatory car seats etc spur demand for the 3 row gas guzzling SUV or minivan. My mom told me how she used to carry me, and my brother before me, in her lap in the front seat of the Mustang they drove. For their time, my parents were very safety conscious and had seat belts installed front and back in that car. The funky buckles in back are like the ones on airplanes and are still there and in use as we still have the classic ragtop. Amazing how much leg power it takes to stop a car w/o power brakes. For trips to the town pool I still let one kid buckle in up front since there's a seatbelt but no airbag.

Fo4 - did little Schumacher leave the car in park accross the street, and set the parking brake? My kids are forbidden to use the door that goes out onto our porch roof to retrieve a ball or frisbee etc. Being good responsible kids they were a tad frustrated when they got in trouble for using a window. doh.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 12:56 PM

What's the word?

Oh right...schaudenfrade.

Posted by: Rita | June 22, 2006 12:57 PM

"I forgot to hook the seat belt over the car seat one night coming home. My husband was driving and he was pulled over for speeding for going 50 in a 30 (luckily no ticket). The policeman even had shined the light into the backseat and did not notice. We didn't even know until our 3 year old told us she didn't have it on right before pulling into the driveway. I never felt so awful and relieved at the same time."

I think the husband speeding is a much bigger error than forgetting to hook the seat belt. I doubt that he 'forgot' to travel the speed limit.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 12:58 PM

Father of 4,

You must write your memoirs -- I think your postings are a hoot! I'll remember that for the next time I need our gutters cleaned.

Posted by: typical working mother | June 22, 2006 1:05 PM

"I doubt that he 'forgot' to travel the speed limit."

Actually he did because on this highway there is this small section that drops (recently changed) from 55 to 30 for hardly a mile and the cops love to hide behind this one house. Believe me no one but non-residents ever speed through there now.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 22, 2006 1:06 PM


OK - that explains it. No offense intended.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 1:07 PM

Whole other thread...

Problem with SUVs has never been that they aren't safe enough for the driver's children (except with the Ford's rollover and tire explosion problems).

The problem has been how many people get killed or hurt by SUV drivers, both directly (impact) and indirectly (impaired ability to see around them, inability to stop efficiently causing traffic which causes little fender benders, etc.)

Don't even get me started on the environmental impacts...

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 1:09 PM

To those who asked about intervening in situations between parent and child, I think the best advice is not to unless it's a dire situation. If you are in a store and see a parent doing something seriously wrong, such as slapping a child repeatedly, speak to the store security or manager.

Another advice I've heard is not to approach the parent as if they are abusive, but with sympathy and nonjudgment. Ask the parent, "Are you ok? You must be frustrated." Sometimes that will wake up the parent to their behavior, although they might just break down in tears on you.

Otherwise, you don't really know what's happening, so if something is mild, walk on. Recently my nephew was banging his head against a display of open boxes in a Trader Joe's. My sis decided that was the worst thing he'd done to himself and her that day, he wasn't actually hurting himself, and decided to let it go for a few minutes while she pulled her groceries from the shelf.

In that short space of time, a women walked up to her and said, "Your child is banging his head against those boxes."

Sis: "Yes, I know. I'll pick him up in a moment."

Woman: "Well, he's hurting himself so you should stop him."

Sis: "He's ok! My son is a special need child. Please leave me alone."

The woman made an ugly face and walked away -- and then my sister checked out and saw the woman speak to a security person outside the store. He trailed my sister to her car and watched her load up and leave. So, after a long and frustrating day, my sister felt like a child abuser, drove a few blocks, parked and cried. What good did that do?

My nephew was not harming himself. My sister spoke to the woman gently at first, but the woman had to push it. Why did she need to get involved?

If you are familiar with special needs kids and think you can help, do so, but only if you're sure you can offer help and not criticism.

Posted by: Stop policing | June 22, 2006 1:10 PM

Gotta explain about K-Fed. I DO think he's sexy in that bad boy way. I'm 40 -- I think just about every guy between 18 - 30 is sexy. Pathetic but reality.

And I think it's hard to be a good parent at any age, but especially hard when you are only 24 like Britney.

Posted by: Leslie | June 22, 2006 1:14 PM

Actually, SUVs are not safe-- they are dangerous. It's a common misconception. Malcolm Gladwell has a great article about it. Here's an excerpt.

"The truth, underneath all the rationalizations, seemed to be that S.U.V. buyers thought of big, heavy vehicles as safe: they found comfort in being surrounded by so much rubber and steel. To the engineers, of course, that didn't make any sense, either: if consumers really wanted something that was big and heavy and comforting, they ought to buy minivans, since minivans, with their unit-body construction, do much better in accidents than S.U.V.s. (In a thirty-five m.p.h. crash test, for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade--the G.M. counterpart to the Lincoln Navigator--has a sixteen-per-cent chance of a life-threatening head injury, a twenty-per-cent chance of a life-threatening chest injury, and a thirty-five-per-cent chance of a leg injury. The same numbers in a Ford Windstar minivan--a vehicle engineered from the ground up, as opposed to simply being bolted onto a pickup-truck frame-- are, respectively, two per cent, four per cent, and one per cent. ) But this desire for safety wasn't a rational calculation. It was a feeling."


Posted by: Minivaner | June 22, 2006 1:16 PM

There is no way K-Fed is close to sexy. He's just gross.

Posted by: no way | June 22, 2006 1:16 PM

Leslie, are you hormonal? You're giving me the skeeves. Every guy between 18 and 30 is sexy? OMG. Please see a doctor, immediately. Or spend some "time" with your husband.

Posted by: I'm 40 and K-Fed is ugggly | June 22, 2006 1:18 PM

Ah, but minivans aren't "sexy" and "powerful". No wonder repressed Washington-area soccer moms bought SUVs in droves.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 1:19 PM

Perry? If your listening - you step in here. Either that or start to work in that bad boy thingy.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 1:22 PM

Only half the SUV buyers get them b/c they're powerful and sexy. The other half get them so they don't have to do hugely difficult things like "bend over to get the baby" or "pay attention to the road so I don't get in an accident in the first place."

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 1:44 PM

"Should we never comment or ask questions about what someone else is doing with their child even though we may be concerned?"

I think Stop Policing has it right. The best advice I ever heard was, if you see a parent losing it, ask to help instead of criticizing -- i.e., "boy, you sure have your hands full there, can I reach that for you/put your items in the cart/hold the boy for a minute while you pay/whatever." You may get blown off, but it's unlikely to escalate into a confrontation. Most of those parents aren't bad people, they're just reacting badly to stress, so easing that stress without seeming to judge might help.

I once had a woman stop her SUV, roll down the window, and YELL at me because she apparently thought my daughter and I were standing too close to the street corner. She wasn't necessarily wrong to be concerned (it IS my responsibility to protect my daughter from idiots who can't drive). But let's just say my instinctive response wasn't, "hmmm, now that you mention it, we are a little too close given the traffic here, let me back up." Was more along the lines of (pick one): FO, MYODB, get a life, maybe if you weren't speeding in your Expedition on this teeny street you'd be able to navigate a simple turn without hopping the curb, etc. etc. etc.

If you REALLY want to help (vs. those who just want to be a busybody, feel superior, vent their own frustrations, whatever), then you need to figure out the approach most likely to make that happen. Honestly, who appreciates being nagged? I hated it when I was 14 and didn't know what I was doing, so I'm not exactly more receptive now that I'm 40 and generally have something of a clue. Sympathy, understanding, and gentle humor go a lot further than attacks and a holier-than-thou attitude.

Posted by: Laura | June 22, 2006 1:46 PM

Minivaner, thanks for the Gladwell article, it is excellent.

Posted by: George J. | June 22, 2006 1:53 PM

Some people like SUVs. I think minni vans are ugly and actually my husband is an engineer so we know our small SUV is safe okay! Geez, most people's minni vans are bigger than my car, so i can argue that people in minni vans can't see out of them and could cause accidents too. Drive what you want and leave SUVs alone.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 1:54 PM

Forget about the boring mommy's war debate - everyone is seriously missing the bigger point here: Leslie just refered to Kevin Federline as "sexy"! Wow. It sounds like someone has got a hunger for a little young meat, all other attributes be damned.

Posted by: Shocked and Disgusted | June 22, 2006 2:07 PM

The 1973 Country Squire super wagon vs the 21st century SUV. The 21st century SUV is much improved in terms of safety, handling, fuel efficiency and thus a vastly superior vehicle to the family truckster of the previous era. If only the American driver had improved at all.

With the front seat out of play due to child killing passenger airbags how do you propose to transport four kids or more in one vehicle? Three kids can fit in the back seat of a sedan safely.

I drive a small Volvo sedan, and for long trips we get all three, cars seats and all, in the back. For sports taxi, and especially carpooling for away games for soccer and hockey our Mountaineer is a godsend. Would you think it better for the environment if two cars were used to get 6 kids to a game instead of one?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 2:08 PM

Stop policing wrote: "If you are familiar with special needs kids and think you can help, do so, but only if you're sure you can offer help and not criticism."

I agree to a point. My son was not special needs, but would sometimes have terrible meltdowns (okay, maybe he was and I didn't know it?). I was alone with him during a meltdown outside a store years ago and needed to go in after a long trip. A woman actually asked me if she could help, and I did something I never ever thought I would do. I let her stay with him while I ran into the store.

I wasn't thinking straight. She could have been a kidnapper or molester or whatever.

If a child is banging his own head or having a tantrum, that may be one thing. If a parent is slapping repeatedly or punching, or other such behavior, I would now call 911. I don't even know that I would bother store security.

My husband was physically abused by his mother quite often, and if someone had intervened, perhaps things would have been different for him. Back then, however, abuse in many forms was considered acceptable (and I'm not talking about an occasional swat on the rear end either).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 2:10 PM

I personally find a minivan to be cheaper than an SUV and more useful for my personal lifestyle but I'm sure others have reasons to prefer an SUV. To each their own. But going further off on a tangent here, someone in the above comments was talking about telling parents when their child was not in a seatbelt. A father yelled what was he supposed to do when he had more children than seatbelts. I've wondered that myself. In our previous vehicle, in theory, the back seat sat three but it could not accommodate three carseats. So we bought a minivan to accommodate more children. We could afford to do that. But what about all the people who can't afford to do that? Are they just supposed to never take all of their children with them at the same time? The easy answer of they just shouldn't have that many children isn't very helpful.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 22, 2006 2:11 PM

Age is no excuse for thinking this, K-Fed is NOT sexy, he is merely pathetic.

Posted by: 41 year-old | June 22, 2006 2:14 PM

If the kids are small enough to fit 4 in the back seat, the middle seat belt will fit across 2 of the kids. Not sure if it's better to have 1 unbelted or 2 not properly belted, but I know people who have done this.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 2:17 PM

While I agree that if all us other Mom's had 80 cameras on us all the time, mistakes would be caught, however, I also agree, Britney courts publicity, look at other celebrities, like Jodie Foster, she manages to maintain her celebrity status and her privacy at the same time!

Posted by: MM | June 22, 2006 2:17 PM

Sounds like a topic on family friendly transport would be a lively chat:.

How about that Porche commercial with the young lady missing the bus on-purpose to get a ride in the sporstcar! aahhh...

NHTSA Tips for Child Safety:

The mother load of links:

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 2:27 PM

>>>With the front seat out of play due to child killing passenger airbags how do you propose to transport four kids or more in one vehicle? Three kids can fit in the back seat of a sedan safely.>>>

Vehicles ground-up designed for such a purpose, like a minivan or minivan-suv hybrid (think Pacifica).

If you're in an SUV, you're in it because you think it's safer and you think you need it, not because it IS safer or you actually DO need it.

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 2:32 PM

P.S. Mini-SUVs (Think Ford Escape, Honda CRV) are their own category of discussion.

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 2:34 PM

seriously, k-fed is not cute, who cares if hes 28....hes not cute!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 2:42 PM

I bet, not a single political/business news today generated as much talkback on here as this blog entry. Just tells us whatour mass IQ is and what exactly are our priorities are when it coming to thinking...

Posted by: state of mind | June 22, 2006 2:44 PM

"other celebrities, like Jodie Foster, she manages to maintain her celebrity status and her privacy at the same time."

Actually, I remember when Jodie's first son was small, there was a news/gossip item (and photo!) about her having to take him out of a store and abandon her shopping because he was having a tantrum/meltdown. And yes, she does nothing to bait the papparrazi. It can also depend on whether it's a slow news day and some cameraman happens to be around. Imagine if Gwenyth accidentally tripped and fell with Apple. I'm sure there would be someone around with a camera and the desire to cash in. "Bad Mommy" or "Mommy Messes Up" stories get attention these days.

Posted by: Jodie Fan | June 22, 2006 2:44 PM

If you're in an SUV, you're in it because you think it's safer and you think you need it, not because it IS safer or you actually DO need it.

Are you an engineer? I'm just curious. ALso, I don't think it is wise to tell other people that they don't need something. Just like it's not wise to tell other people how to raise their children.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 2:53 PM

Leslie, I have a feeling that -- no matter what she says on TV -- Britney would be happy to GIVE you K-Fed for Perry.


Sorry, Perry, I think you're gonna have to get some tattoos to keep Leslie interested. And maybe start rapping...

Posted by: The better deal? | June 22, 2006 2:54 PM

The original question is "do we need Brittany as a mom to make us feel better about what we do as parents?" I guess on some level, yes we do. There are so many variables in our everyday lives that as family, friends, co-workers and gawkers - we search for commonalities in others to make sure we are OK. That is sad, because we are spending so much time trying to figure out if we are doing something right.

As parents, look to your children. The same household, the same biological parents and the kids turn out as different as night and day! How can anyone determing if the nurturing they are providing is appropriate or not? So we struggle and look outside of our selves and our families to find the answer.

The real question is should we be looking for affirmation of our parenting? Why are we so convinced that we shape, mold and set the course for what kind of person our child turns out to be?

If we didn't have these criteria to judge ourselves by, perhaps we wouldn't be so quick to judge others -- or even judge our children. Echoes of my mother's voice ringing through my brain when I returned late, REALLY LATE from the concert in Hartford, CT when she thought I was at a concert in Bristol CT. --- "what did I do wrong, that you should come home so late and worry me to near-death?" -- ok said with an Italian accent and you get the idea.

Posted by: Columbia MO | June 22, 2006 3:01 PM

If you want to see the debate of SUV vs Minivan from Berkeley:


I was curios as SUV hater seems to hone right in on venom over car choice w/o relating any "on balance" issue. Got kids? or just hate America's love affair with the Hummer/Navigator/Excursion?

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 3:01 PM

Curiosity killed the cat. Curious that.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 3:12 PM

Good point that this is a tangent. It'll be my last post.

Yes I have kids, and our wagon works just fine for them. I can also say that I've been extremely close to an actual litigation against Ford on SUV rollover and subsequent death of a family including children and thus I have seen the discovery documents that Ford was obligated to provide. What manufacturers know about SUVs, and are under no legal obligation to tell consumers, is frightening. And these were only what they provided, not what they shredded or plaintiff did not know to ask for.

Scarry, I don't have to be a mechanical engineer to read data on what SUVs do to the environment and how they react in a crash. I am, however, a computer engineer -- not that's it's relevant. I see you post here from time to time. Are you a sociologist? Psychologist? You post here anyway though, don't you?

Yes, I'm grinding an axe as this is a life/death topic. Sorry I took the focus off whether K-Fed has a nice rump or not.

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 3:12 PM

Well, no i'm not a sociologist or psychologist, I didn't know you needed to be one to post about being a mother.

However, I am really sick to death the hearing the SUV debate, and I think my engineer husband who understands not only how cars are put togther, but has put cars together should know if our car is safe. I don't drive a ford, I drive a chevy and I can almost bet that my daughter would survive a side impact better in my SUV with side impact airbags better than your wagon.

As far as the environment goes, my small SUV gets just as good gas milaege as my husband's car does. And next time I buy one, it will be a hybrid, GM didn't make one when I bought my car.

I just don't understand why there is so much hate over what cars people drive.

Oh, and I bought an SUV for the same reason Leslie did-safety. I had a friend killed in a car accident, if she would have been higher up with an airbag she would be alive today.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 3:23 PM

.......tepidly dipping toe in this pond....I know we aren't supposed to interfere with public fights between parents & kids, but even if the parents don't appreciate it, I offer that sometimes the kids do. My cousins have an awful verbally abusive mother. I was out at a fastfood restaurant with them when we were younger, and she was screaming (as usual) at my cousin, and a very nice lady came over to say that maybe she didn't need to yell so loudly to get her point across (my cousin had taken "too many" ketchup packets). My aunt was extremely embarrassed & horrified, at stopped yelling, but for that day only. Years later, my cousin still talks about how much that woman's intervention meant to her because for once, it seemed like someone was standing up for her. There are definetely too many officers in the pregnancy and parenting police department, but I think if your gut is telling you something is really wrong, it might be ok to say something - if only to let the kid know someone is on their side (I know this also has problems, just wanted to highlight a different anecdote).

Posted by: Just a thought | June 22, 2006 3:32 PM

Scarry's response is extremely funny given the article link that Minivaner posted.

Posted by: Chevy? | June 22, 2006 3:43 PM

If you want to see some okay pictures of K-Fed (well he is wearing a suit and his hair is cut) check out the web site Pink Is The New Blog. The pictures of Britney and poor Sean Preston almost falling on the sidewalk is the opening image.

Posted by: haha | June 22, 2006 3:43 PM

I don't care what minnvaner posted. That's one article and my point was that I can drive what I want and other people shouldn't worry about me and my family becasue I don't worry about them.

Chevy? I dirve one becasue I was born in America, so I buy American cars. Besides, it supports my local economy in ohio where all my family lives.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 3:54 PM

Just a thought --- you are so right. I remember kind strangers, neighbors and family, and friends who would step in when my parents lost it. My dad was an abusive alcoholic who thought nothing of punching his kids -- punching as in a boxing punch. We were little girls.

I distinctly remember a neighbor getting my father to stop pummeling my sister one time.

However, it could have easily turned out badly as my dad would have punched the guy instead.

It's a terrible way to be brought up. Those little episodes of relief and kindness from strangers do stick in my mind.

But I never thought anyone could stop the abuse. So I left home early.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 4:07 PM

i find this column to be a real case of Schadenfreude, mean-spirited, unecessary, and not very insightful. hope the next one is better.

Posted by: a non mom | June 22, 2006 4:11 PM

I think this one is hilarious!
Leslie loves K-Fed, la la la la la!

This blog isn't going to change the world, or really, even one person's mind. It's just a place most people stop by, chat, raise some issues or some ire, and waste a lot of time.

Posted by: Laughing | June 22, 2006 4:16 PM

Columbia MO - Good Questions:

1. The real question is should we be looking for affirmation of our parenting?

I am a strong believer that involved parenting, without hovering at the overkill end, is of a high benefit to children. But learning how to be a good parent from experience and the experience of others is how I would characterize your assertion of this activity as "affirmation of our parenting." As has been said in this blog there is no training manual or learners permit and as society has become more insulated and less community based parents look to many sources for guidance: Grandparent's ways, books, NHSTA, Spongebob Squarepants, Doctor's advice, school guidance counselors and teachers, church, Father of 4 etc etc etc

2. Why are we so convinced that we shape, mold and set the course for what kind of person our child turns out to be?

I am convinced that nurture has allot to do with a foundation of morals, ethics and sense of responsibility, accountability and joie de vivre. I cannot believe that the role model of the parent is not ingrained in the child, even if the child doesn't agree until much later in life.

The idea that we should allow the chaos of American culture to be the sole guideposts for ethics, morality and civic duty for children is acting the victim. Parents must not act as if they are helpless and have no impact on their child's development. The idea that the schools or the government should raise our kids rings un-American to me. But the notion that only a home-schooled child will avoid the horrors of American degenerate pop-culture rings paranoid. So I guess I am somewhere between those. I loved the Spongebob foul language episode the PTC hated.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 22, 2006 4:18 PM

Yeah-- the blog can be a bit of train wreck but I suppose that is the point. Out of the sea of judgement, I have found kernals of wisdom and insight.

On those who feel free to judge parents in public- I think it should be avoided unless there is abuse happening. "Helpful" hints in public can really backfire. They are rude.

Personal anecdote. I bought wine and beer at a store while visibly pregnant to be given a lecture by busy body about drinking and pregnancy. It so happens that I did have a small bit of wine to celebrate every so often. But certainly my friends and husband did not abstain because I didn't swill down a couple of glasses at gatherings. I gave her piece of my mind and had to come home and lay down to get my blood pressure under control.

Posted by: UP | June 22, 2006 4:27 PM

"A little benign neglect is a very good thing for kids."

I don't think whoever wrote this post was thinking clearly. The number of death and disabilities sustained by children has decreased markedly over the decades since the introduction of safety devices---car seats, bike helmets, mandatory seatbelt laws, etc. Neglect is not benign when you have the knowledge and tools to protect infants and children. I have personally pronounced babies dead who were on riding on mom's lap, have had to tell families that their child will be a "vegetable" after being in a bike accident without a helmet and more....I know people like to say they didn't have this or they didn't need to do that when they were young and now "look at me, I'm fine". Dumb argument. If you want anecdotes, I'll be happy to provide vivid stories of hysterical families and dead and disfigured children.

With regard to Britney, I agree that all of the attention seems unfair. The attention to her "fall" was ridiculous. People trip whoppee. But if you look at the aggregate---the two instances of bad judgement in the car and a skull fracture from a fall from the high chair, one has to wonder if the girl doesn't need parenting classes and a bit of maturity too.

Posted by: emergencymedicalperson | June 22, 2006 4:28 PM

Of course you can drive what you want. And in the fun spirit of this blog, we get to snipe and poke fun at you for it.

Posted by: Chevy? | June 22, 2006 4:31 PM

I agree i don't like the helpful hints in public. Although I Can tell you that I am not going to stand there and watch a kid fall out of a cart onto the cement to aviod parental irritaion. This happened and I caught the kid by the ankle. Happy, happy mother, I mean she just turned her back a minute to by some hair dye. We have all done things like this.

On the other hand I don't like the "can't you make you kid shut up stares I get sometimes." My kid chatters a lot, imagine that! On the stares actually it really only takes one mean look and people generally look away from me, I mean if I wasn't me I'd look away.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 4:36 PM

On the question of intervening/parenting police -
Once recently when my son started to meltdown in the grocery cart, and I was tired and at my wits end and my stress level was clearly rising, some old woman came over and started jangling her keys and trying to entertain the baby, with some success. She didn't say anything judgemental at all, just tried to make my son happy which took the focus and the stress off me, and I was extremely grateful. If I saw a situation of physical abuse or endangerment I would take more direct action, but where it's a situation of yelling and stress I would hope I could follow that lady's example if there were some sort of opening.

The pregnancy advice though, oh my god that irritated the crap out of me when I was pregnant. Especially when it was something that was either completely obvious (alcohol) or something with almost no evidence (leg waxing. yes, someone yelled at me for getting my legs waxed while I was pregnant).

Posted by: Megan | June 22, 2006 4:37 PM

You are right, make fun all you want. I'll still drive my Chevy, probably until the day I die or they go belly up.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 4:39 PM

"I bet, not a single political/business news today generated as much talkback on here as this blog entry. Just tells us whatour mass IQ is and what exactly are our priorities are when it coming to thinking..."

You know, generally speaking, if you're trying to put people down for their shallowness or lack of critical thinking skills, it helps if you can construct a basic sentence or two. Just a suggestion.

As for the topic: if Britney deserves to be slammed in public, all parents deserve it. Every parent, regardless of age, can make a mistake. Does she court publicity? Sure, okay. She's also been in the limelight since she was a teen, and was a bigger celeb faster than most other young celeb mothers. Part of it is because of her, part of it is because of the entertainment business in general. It's not like she's going out there dropping her baby in the hopes that it ends up on camera.

Posted by: To "state of mind" | June 22, 2006 4:40 PM

Let's just put all the kids in plastic bubbles till they're 18 - safety first!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 4:44 PM

better yet, let's put Britney & K-Fed in plastic bubbles!!

Posted by: or | June 22, 2006 5:01 PM

Ignore SUV hater's posts for 2 reasons -

1) Since this blog's inception, a good percentage of the posts on it have been composed of mostly personal attacks against complete strangers. His/her posts fits that description. It's just rude, regardless of the topic, to be ugly to someone (is it really necessary to use words like 'hate' when you're talking about cars?) just because they disagree with you.

2) WHAT KIND OF CAR PEOPLE DRIVE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TODAY'S COLUMN. Save tangential crusades for a relevant article.

And for the record, I drive a Mitsubishi sedan and don't care two bits about what anyone else drives because it's none of my business.

Posted by: Ignore SUV hater | June 22, 2006 5:02 PM

OK, my 15-month-old really likes to ride down the stairs in the laundry basket.

I'm monitoring him and I'm controlling the basket, but all this talk makes me self conscious.

Dads out there, at what age did you start rough-housing with your kids?

Posted by: Too ashamed to say | June 22, 2006 5:02 PM

"1) Since this blog's inception, a good percentage of the posts on it have been composed of mostly personal attacks against complete strangers"

Exactly what do you call the entirety of today's topic?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 5:05 PM

riding down the stairs in a basket sounds fun. I wish I could fit in basket and ride down the stairs. Don't be self consious, just be in conrtol of the kid, that's all.

Posted by: Scarry | June 22, 2006 5:11 PM

I would like it noted that the "All Women's Fault" thread is STILL getting new and insightful posts.

Guess the Washington post bloggers prefer and intellectual debate to a celebrity debate.

BTW -- the last few posts on All Women's Fault are quite good.

Would love to see a continuation of that discussion.

Posted by: Columbia MO | June 22, 2006 5:23 PM

"I would like it noted that the "All Women's Fault" thread is STILL getting new and insightful posts."

I wonder what the largest amount of posts have been on one of Leslie's blogs? I've not seen one go on for so long.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 22, 2006 5:27 PM

Too ashamed, we were roughousing with our son by that age, and one of my favorite pictures is of my husband carrying my son around in a laundry basket when he was about a year old. He used to love playing in the laundry basket (though we didn't have any stairs at that time, I'm sure he would have thoroughly enjoyed riding down in it!). Also I think he got the aforementioned metal-patterned bruise on his forehead right around 15 months.

Posted by: Megan | June 22, 2006 5:30 PM

I appreciate the humor in today's column. But I take issue with one point -- that Britney's baby daddy is a "sexy" cad. Cad yes, sexy no. To me, he seems like a skank, if that's a word that can be applied to men. Or maybe skunk.

Posted by: just me | June 22, 2006 5:44 PM

Sometimes children will die from accidents no matter how vigilant the parents. The parent mentioning "a little benign neglect" was basically saying that sometimes you just have to let your kids live their lives. You can strap them into pads and helmets, never allow them on a trampoline, lock away everything you think might poison them, and they'll still find a way, once your back is turned for one second, to do something silly.

I made a "swing" using the top dresser drawer, pulled out. Of course, the dresser tipped over on me. Still don't know why I wasn't hurt at all. Sometimes the guardian angels are watching when parents aren't. But please, no matter what parents do, they can't, just CAN'T, always watch and monitor a child.

Posted by: Benign neglect | June 22, 2006 6:09 PM

Scarry, did you read the article or dismiss it out of hand? Of course you can drive what you want, but if you say it's for safety reasons and you're driving a car that's not very safe (hmm... studies, statistics and articles on the one side, Scarry's engineering husband on the other) than you should expect some questions.

Posted by: Chevy safety stats? | June 22, 2006 6:42 PM

Sexiness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Give Leslie a break.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 6:55 PM

OK, I lied. I checked the blog once I got home to find that I've been dismissed as someone who should be ignored. I know that I should be above being irritated by that cliquish "ignore SUV hater" post, but I can't help being irritated.

I'll acknowledge the off-topic critique, but I certainly didn't start the tangent. There are a great many posts above debating the safety of how they travelled in cars as kids.

And the term "SUV hater" was first used in a 12:56 post, and NOT by me. It was a term tossed in the direction of people who think like me, so I picked up on it.

Again, if I'm passionate about the topic its because I've got personal experience with a family including 2 children) who are NO LONGER ALIVE because they thought of their SUV as "safe." So sue me.

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 8:12 PM

I'm tired of talking about my car. My car is safe. It has side impact air bags, it is low to the ground and small. We researched the car on the internet and all that stuff.

blah, blah, blah, why does minnivaner and SUV hater and other people else care so much? I'm not driving your kid around in it. I did read that my report and my car is not in it. My car is an Equinox, go look the stats up if your so concerned about it.

My God where is my back up dancer.

Posted by: scarry | June 22, 2006 8:22 PM

SUV hater, I'm sorry that children in your family got killed. That is horrible, I know what it is like to lose people you love.

However, all SUVs are not bad.

Posted by: scarry | June 22, 2006 8:25 PM

Item 1: 2:34 post - "P.S. Mini-SUVs (Think Ford Escape, Honda CRV) are their own category of discussion."

Item 2: from Edmunds - "In keeping with traditional Chevy truck thinking, the Equinox will compete against the growing population of mini-SUVs..."

Conclusion: As much as you took this personally, apparently it was never aimed at you in the first place.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2006 8:29 PM

I didn't take it personally, I was just responding back with my opinion. That's what we do here.

Posted by: scarry | June 22, 2006 8:31 PM

Last one. Then I'm going away. I mean it. Unless, of course, Leslie has a topic about babies & auto safety....

#1 - Citing Wikipedia, so I'm not accused of bias or attack or distorition of facts: "Early mini SUVs were specially designed for off-road conditions (such as the Jeep Wrangler); however, current mini SUVs usually have UNIBODY [emphasis mine] chassis and few off-road capabilities. "

#2 - Unbody construction is the key. As mentioned in the article cited by Minivaner, that mean's the Mini-SUVs can handle like cars.

Conclusion - My statements apply to SUVs, not mini-SUVs. I neither attacked your car, nor your class of car. What I know of SUVs is based on experience, research, test driving and exculpatory evidence. Not gut feeling. So for someone else, whose experience I cannot know, to say "not all SUVs are bad", when that person has not shown the ability to distinguish between an SUV or a mini-SUV is not persuasive to me.

I'm done and the word "car" need never be used in any blog ever again.

Posted by: SUV hater | June 22, 2006 8:52 PM

I think it speaks to the pathetic state of our society when we worship a person and make them wealthy beyond reason, who can do nothing other than scream and yell and jump up and down on a stage. We have heros. Soldiers in Iraq who we pay little or nothing for giving the ultimate a citizen can be called upon to give.Protect the rest of us. I find it sickening that the author is fixated on another womans tits which are about as real as the ten pounds of make-up on her face and that her millions can buy good motherhood.If you had represented her as to what she actually is, a 24 year old uneducated, child/woman with children you would have gotten it right. Don't hide behind such a person.

Posted by: mcewen | June 22, 2006 9:06 PM

Benign neglect,
I am not saying that you have to put your child in a bubble like one of the other posters wrote. But people are talking extremes here. Good scientific evidence shows that seatbelts, bike helmets, motorcycle helmets and car seats save lives and protect against serious injury. I call social services on familes whose infants are injured in a car crash who were not in car seats. It's the law in most states, everyone should know that it is the law and an important safety measure so it is not "benign" neglect. It is neglect period.

As an emergency worker, it is my job to educate parents and I do that. I tell parents that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend trampolines (see lots of injuries from trampolines), that bike helmets prevent brain injury, etc. Parents can choose not to follow what is best for their child, sure, but then don't brag that you're a "good" mother or father. Believe me I've treated some really stupid families. One kid, 13 years old, got an ATV for his birthday. He crashed and was in intensive care for a week with broken bones, organ injuries, etc. I explained to the mother that she might want to take away this motorized vehicle, that developmentally he wasn't ready for it (and get this he had ADHD too). She looked at me like I was crazy. I didn't call social services because unfortunately they weren't breaking any laws, but what a nutcase.

And we, as emergency providers, understand that kids fall out of their strollers, out of their high chairs and toddlers bump their heads and get cuts that have to be sewn. Stuff happens. I think people who are this blase about their child's safety shouldn't have kids.

Posted by: emergencymedicalperson | June 22, 2006 9:11 PM

Re: why does minnivaner and SUV hater and other people else care so much? I'm not driving your kid around in it.

Answer: Because if driven wrong, you can use it to kill me and my kid. If it was what kind of shoes you had on no one should care or comment. But a badly designed, badly maintained or badly driven car is a lethal weapon.

Posted by: Dads have a lot to say on this topic | June 22, 2006 9:13 PM

mcewen - Chill out. It's just a light-hearted commentary.

scarry - awfully defensive today

'I can drive what I want and other people shouldn't worry about me and my family becasue I don't worry about them.' You sure seemed to worry a lot about people who say they don't want to pick up the slack at work when parents leave for kid reasons.

My main objection about SUV's is the air quality ratings. You are helping to pollute the environment in the name of safety. Something wrong with that picture?

SUV-hater - you seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Ignore the craziness.

Posted by: puzzled | June 22, 2006 9:24 PM

I'm thankful for spoiled stars like Britney and her poor example of a husband. It gives me a great object lesson for my kids on how to NOT behave.

Posted by: Teaching Momma | June 22, 2006 9:44 PM

Britney and K-fed really are just trailer trash with money. If it wasn't for her celebrity she would be a regular on jerry springer.

Posted by: pat | June 23, 2006 9:42 AM

For SUV Hater and Mini-vanner: There are, sometimes, instances when a LARGE SUV (think Suburban) is necessary.

My brother has 6 kids in car seats. There aren't any cars, vans or stationwagons that will accomodate them and their caregivers. My brother and his wife had to upgrade from a mini-van to a large SUV because there simply was no other vehicle that would hold them all (and their car seats, equipment, etc.) They made a thoughtful decision based on their needs and I believe it was a responsible one. Their gas milage isn't any worse than it was with the mini-van and both of them are exceptional drivers.

They considered the option of a full sized 15-passenger van (a conversion van didn't have enough seats/seatbelts for everyone), but found that the crash test ratings were worse for the van than for the SUV.

As much research as they did, and as informed as they both are, for them, this was the best decision.

Posted by: Just Sayin' is All | June 23, 2006 1:26 PM

K-fed??? Leslie, your credibility just dropped waaaaaayyyy down.

Posted by: No way K | June 23, 2006 1:38 PM

I'm defensive because I have a different opinion? Gee, that's something I haven't heard before on this blog.

"Answer: Because if driven wrong, you can use it to kill me and my kid. If it was what kind of shoes you had on no one should care or comment. But a badly designed, badly maintained or badly driven car is a lethal weapon."

This is a really dumb statement. A semi-truck can swerve and kill you, a person in the next car, driving a small car, could have a heart attack and hit you head on and kill you, and lastly, a dumb pedestrian could walk out in front of you causing you to swerve and hit me and my child. Why don't we all just stop driving?

Oh and the environment? Do you have cell phones, are you using a computer, do you have the lights on in your house, your office, if so you are helping to ruin the environment too. I mean where do you think electricity comes from?

Now everyone stop using anything that can hurt the environment or stop beig a hypocrite.

Posted by: Scarry | June 23, 2006 2:34 PM

I agree that the Mommy Police should be banned, but what do you do when you are trying NOT to be part of the Mommy Police but are backed into a corner?

My sister in law and her husband have two children. We live in Louisiana and they live in Virginia. Several times, I have gone out and purchased them gifts and sent them in the mail. We come up for Christmas and Thanksgiving and not once do we receive a thank you or acknowledgement for the gifts that we have sent. After several rounds of this, I stopped sending gifts.

One time I happened to be talking to my sister in law about how tired I was and all of the thank you notes I still had to write for our baby's gifts. She said that she was FAR too busy to write thank you notes for the gifts that people send to her. I replied back that I am very busy too, but that if I can take the time out of my day to get dressed, get in the car, drive to the store and spend an hour or so to select a gift that is suitable for the individual's temperment, tastes and like, I think that the recipient should have the time to write a two minute thank you note.

Later on, my sister in law asked why I did not send her children any birthday gifts. I told her that it was my husband's turn (he either sends really crappy gifts or forgets completely no matter HOW many reminders you give him). Should I have told her the truth? That I don't feel that my gifts or my time are appreciated and sometimes, I'm not even sure if they got them? Is it too Mommy policeish to insist that she teach her kids some manners?

Posted by: tlawrenceva | June 23, 2006 4:51 PM

A "dumb" statement, scarry? How about doing a little more research and a pulling fewer statements out of your arse?

Yes anything can kill anyone. Are you then advocating that we all give up, or that we just maybe try to be as safe as possible?

Posted by: God, you're stupid. | June 23, 2006 5:45 PM

Just Sayin' is All - You make a good point. In some cases a large SUV can be a reasonable option for a family constrained by size, given that, as you say, they are great drivers.

As someone who has shuttled college kids around in those 15-passenger vans (I drove a shuttle while in college) those 15-passenger jobs are bad on gas and the brakes fade really easily. And the rear end comes around without warning in the snow. Lots of church groups driving those things. I hope they pray first.

Scarry, I'm exhausted. You win. SUVs are great for everyone. Your deep arguments and wealth of facts has swayed me.

Posted by: SUV Hater | June 23, 2006 6:10 PM

"Answer: Because if driven wrong, you can use it to kill me and my kid. If it was what kind of shoes you had on no one should care or comment. But a badly designed, badly maintained or badly driven car is a lethal weapon."

I'm sorry but did you just call Scarry stupid? I think your post needs to be removed, she didn't call you stupid, she said it was a dumb comment to make. Which it is, her point is that any car or person who operates it incorrectly can kill you, not just people who drive SUVs.

Her other point is that electricity comes primarly from coal about 60%. It also comes from natural gas and a few other sources. So, you are no better or worse than her. Are you all using pubilc transporation, eating organic food and recycling everything?

Posted by: name caller | June 23, 2006 7:49 PM

SUV hater,

It wasn't a question of winning. It was about having a different opinion. You don't have to be so sarcastic about it and I have no reason to go out and get statistics on everything I post to a blog. The only reason I replied in the first place was becasue you were so angry about it. Here you go though if you want to see my car:


To the other poster, most people call other people stupid when they can't argue back. So if it makes you feel better to call me stupid, great, i'm stupid.

Posted by: scarry | June 23, 2006 8:08 PM

my earlier post - 'My main objection about SUV's is the air quality ratings. You are helping to pollute the environment in the name of safety. Something wrong with that picture?'

scarry said - 'Oh and the environment? Do you have cell phones, are you using a computer, do you have the lights on in your house, your office, if so you are helping to ruin the environment too. I mean where do you think electricity comes from?

Now everyone stop using anything that can hurt the environment or stop beig a hypocrite.'

to scarry - I was only stating my personal objection to SUVs. SUVs affect the air quality every time they are driven which can contribute to health issues. Accidents also affect health and safety but they do not occur every time someone drives an SUV. So, IMO, to talk in terms of safety without also considering air quality and emissions seems incomplete.

I never said that I do nothing at all that affects the environment. But, as someone has already said very nicely, "Are you then advocating that we all give up, or that we just maybe try to be as safe as possible?" or to pollute less than we need to?

AS far as SUVs go, you are allowed to like them and I am allowed to dislike them but apparently you are the only one allowed to state an opinion.

Posted by: puzzled | June 23, 2006 8:33 PM

ok I more or less agree with your piece but "married to a SEXY cad"? what were you THINKING? Another article in the Post described him as more like a "pimp on weed" and that's a WAY more accurate description. I'm sorry but our taste in men just does not mesh--what a disappointing realization!

Posted by: Cambridge MA | June 23, 2006 8:56 PM

Mommy police and no thank-you notes. I think this is a tough one. On the one hand, I believe that a gift is to be given without strings. On the other hand, I also want to stop giving gifts if there is no acknowledgement.

I would make my decision to continue sending gifts based on several factors. First, do I truly enjoy giving these particular children gifts, or is it just an obligation? Second, are they old enough to actually thank us themselves or would the parents be doing it on behalf of the children? If the children are young, I would probably continue to send the gifts because they can't help their parents' behavior. If they are old enough to respond, I might send a pre-paid phone card and ask them to call me because I like talking to them. Or, I might enclose a small pack of thank-you notes with a package of stamps and a note "thought you might need some of these". This could teach the children a little etiquette without upsetting the parent too much.

Pre-printed thank-yous with an actual signature are better than none at all, although personal hand-written notes are the best. If you don't think your sister-in-law would be too insulted, maybe give her a supply of preprinted thank-yous, as you say with a sweet smile "I know you're busy and thought you could use these to help save time".

I recently battled with my teenager about sending thank-yous for her high school graduation gifts. She argued with me, thought it was stupid, "why can't I email, I already said thank-you "(verbally to those who came to the party). It took a few days to complete the task, but every gift-giver received a written thank-you. Even if she never does this again as an adult, I know that she was taught properly and that she knows she should do this.

I attended a wedding last year for 2 highly educated (bride working on her masters) young adults. No thank-you yet and I don't think it was an oversight because others haven't received one either. I know they're busy, but I think that the planning that went into the wedding took a whole heck of a lot more time than writing thank-you notes would require.

My advice to newly-weds - don't split thank-yous to 'you do yours and I'll do mine' The gifts are for both of you. If you can't do them together, that's too bad, but the one who has more manners should write them all in that case. I'd rather be annoyed at my husband than have the gifts not be acknowledged.

Sorry for being so long-winded.

Posted by: please&thankyou | June 23, 2006 9:10 PM

Hey, "name caller". Yes, the webmaster can feel free to delete my post.

The fact is, the person calling herself "Scarry" can and has felt free to trivialize the opinions of other, simply dismissing them out of hand while stating her "opinion". If someone says 2+2=4, independently verified by "x", then she says "what you said is dumb, it's really 5. And my opinion is just as valid as the dumb thing you said." Well, I'm sorry that's stupid. And it takes a special kind of stupid to call that "debate."

Webmaster, feel free to delete. But if 2+2=5 is a valid opinion, then me thinking someone is stupid is a valid opinion.

Posted by: Yes, I said it | June 23, 2006 9:10 PM

Can *name caller* be ... scarry?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 23, 2006 9:40 PM

I can take care of myself quite well. I don't need to post under another name to defend myself.

I didn't mean to downplay anyone else's opinions. You are welcome to have them. However when you post that people who drive SUVs are going to hurt you kid, the environment, etc people are going to reply back to you who drive SUVs. How is that different from you stating an opinion? Your allowed to say it, but I'm not allowed to say something back?

Whatever, SUVs are unsafe, they are the only vechicles that ruin the enviroment, and they cause all accidents on the road.

I'm done with the car talk.

Posted by: scarry | June 24, 2006 8:05 AM

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