September 27th, 2021



Lenore Skenazy

By Lenore Skenazy

Published Sept. 23,2018


"I Put a GPS Tracker on My Child, and I'm Never Going Back" is the title of a piece on the popular mommy blog Pop Sugar. The mom says that this past summer, she sent her girls, 6 and 8, to a camp that took them on field trips. That's why she is SO GLAD she got them trackers. It allowed her to keep tabs from afar!

But ... everything she says about why that's so important feels like Opposite Land to me:

1) The mom feels terrible about her kids being bused around, because now she won't know where they are each and every second. But that is not a normal worry! That is completely new, unprecedented worry — a worry actually CREATED by the fact we can now track our kids.

2) In turn, she gets her kids used to always being watched and in contact with her, as if they are in danger if she cannot locate them or fend for them when she's not physically present.

3) When her 6-year-old does indeed get lost on a museum field trip, the girl phones her. Then mom, from her remote location, is tasked with helping the kid find her counselor.

It sounds like mom keeps the walkie-talkie function open the whole time so she can be listening in on her daughter, even as she's frantically dialing the museum to explain that her daughter is lost and no, she, the mom, isn't at the museum, but her daughter is, and a camp counselor is, and can the museum find them both and put them back together, and yes, she is calling from off the premises. ... What a confusing call.

Worse: Talk about outsourcing child development! The kid is stripped of any self-reliance — it's all up to mom, the hero of her own story. And frankly, even if the kid had just sat there and felt scared for a few minutes, that seems developmentally important somehow, too. Not pleasant — just a human situation everyone has gone through but the kid hasn't and now won't.

Talk about adding a new job description to motherhood: all-seeing, all-knowing, all-fixing.

Goodbye, internal locus of control. Hello, all mom, all the time.

The mom put it this way: "I tracked my girls all day long. First they were at a park, then downtown, then 45 minutes south, then at a park an hour from my home. Knowing where they were put my mind at ease."

And this, my friends, is the next big battle on the parenting front: the battle against the Omniscience Assumption — the expectation on the part of parents (and society) that they should not only be worried about their kids or be with them (like, never letting them wait in the car) but also be regulating, teaching and tracking them even when APART.

Gird your loins. (Not that I'm quite sure how to gird our loins or any other body part. But you get what I mean: Be prepared.) It is hard to be omniscient and harder still to resist the notion that it's not just possible but necessary.