Savvy or Not So Savvy: Paranoid Parents, Extreme Discipline and Suing Mom and Dad


Last week was all about kids growing up too fast. This week we’re talking about parent–anoia and over-the-top discipline tactics.
Are you free-range or just a chicken? In an article making the rounds on the Internet this month, one mom confesses she suffers from ‘parent-anoia’. Her symptoms include referring to her daughter by a code name when they’re in public together (because of course, some creepy pedophile might learn the child’s real name and use that to lure her away), wriggling beside her daughter, commando-style, through kiddie tunnels at the playground in order to thwart any would-be abductors who might be hiding in there, and panicked trips to the emergency ward to have her daughter treated for bumps and bruises that could easily be handled by a Band-Aid and a little Polysporin.

It feels like 2008 all over again when Lenore Skenazay wrote an article about encouraging her then nine year-old son to get himself home on the New York subway. To Ms. Skenazy’s way of thinking, parents, ‘see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range’. The article sparked such a heated debate in the blogosphere that you’d think Ms. Skenazy was asking her son to walk off a cliff instead of just finding his own way home. Don’t get us wrong—we’re big believers in keeping our kids safe—but we also have to let them grow up. I’m pretty serious about safety but I’m quite confident in saying that parent-anoia is not savvy at all. We can’t raise our children in a culture of fear. There are nice people out there, and we have to instill some level of trust and faith in humanity (read: strangers). Not everyone is a bad guy. That’s why I think parent-anoia is so not savvy. Still the question remains: where’s the fine line between their safety and our fear?

We keep our kids safe by disciplining them when they make a mistake, but what if your chosen methods just aren’t working and you’re at the end of your rope? That was the case with two moms who made the news this month. An Australian mother caused an uproar when she forced her 10 year-old son to wear a sign proclaiming, ‘Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief’ while standing in a park as his family ate lunch nearby. She also made her son wear Shrek ears and write lines (presumably saying, ‘I will not steal’) over and over again. I know Aussies have their own way of doing things but this is a serious case of not so savvy—no matter where you’re from.

As bad as that sounds, it pales in comparison to the discipline doled out by Jessica Beagley, a.k.a. The Hot Sauce Mom, who was found guilty of child abuse when she poured hot-sauce into her seven year-old son’s mouth as a disciplinary tactic. Her son, who was adopted from Russia at age five, suffers from a challenging emotional disorder due to early deprivation. Beagley claims she resorted to this extreme measure when nothing else worked. Maybe so, but the real issue I have with this mom is that she sent a video-tape of the encounter to the Dr. Phil show. Yes, that’s right. Beagley sent a tape of herself pouring hot sauce into her son’s mouth to the Dr. Phil show in hopes of being featured as an ‘Angry Mom’ on the show’s ‘Mommy Confessions’ segment. It’s disturbing on so many levels and definitely not so savvy in my books. It’s a topic that’s not worthy of discussion beyond this point.

Speaking of punishment, in what-goes-around-comes-around news, Kimberly Garrity was the subject of a lawsuit brought against her by her two children, Stephen and Kathryn, both in their 20s. The pair allege their mother treated them poorly and was ‘mean’ to them after she divorced their father. They were hoping to be awarded $50,000 for the ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ their mother inflicted on them including not sending birthday cards with money in them, making Kathryn return the family car early (midnight) on homecoming night, and not sending care packages to Stephen’s college dorm. The judge ruled against Kathryn and Stephen but it’s still unclear as to whether the siblings will appeal the decision, possibly siting new evidence including the fact they didn’t get a pony for Christmas. Maybe Stephen and Kathryn should be enlisting the help of professionals with a degree in the medical arena rather than the legal one.

Tell me if you have any news that is savvy or not. We like hearing from you.


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