How to Lose With Lost Kids

beware of dad

We teach kids to look for a mommy.

I can’t recall the exact wording, hence the lack of quotes, but that is the gist of what I was told while sitting in a beautiful courtyard on a bright clear morning. All I could smell was juniper and ocean.

I was seated at a table layered in fresh, white linen and even fresher coffee stains with two other men that blog in the parenting space. We were attending an exceptional conference aimed at women in that very same online community, and we had been welcomed by everyone with open arms and mini-bar jokes.

Everyone, apparently, except the woman that sat down and asked if we were vendors. It was an honest mistake and I chalked up her assumption to our snappy dress and boyish good looks. Surely dad bloggers couldn’t look this good.

She introduced herself and we followed suit. It turns out that she owns a company you have probably heard of, and they make a product you probably enjoy. She then, for lack of a better segue, started talking about lost kids and how the philosophy of her company is to tell kids to look for a mommy.

“So a lost child in a park should walk right past all of the dads in order to find someone they think to be a mommy?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, and then she started listing all of the reasons that men should not be trusted. She talked about the crimes men commit. The history of violence against children and women. She gave the facts as casually as if she were asking one of us to pass the butter, and we just looked at her with open mouths and disbelief.

One of the men pointed out that women have committed more than their fair share of crimes against children—in fact, the news is currently full of such sad stories.

She balked at the notion.

I explained that the problem with teaching children that men are bad is that some of them might actually believe it—children that have fathers and brothers or those that will someday be men themselves. It was a terrible and ignorant weight to put on a child.

She nodded for a moment and then continued to make her point.

“That’s bullshit,” I said. Loudly. The shock was palatable. “You can’t prolong a potentially dangerous situation for a lost child by filling their heads with paranoid profiling.”

“We,” and I indicated the men at the table, “have been working far too hard for that kind of nonsense.

My kids know to look for an adult should they get lost, and an obvious dad is as good as an obvious mom when it comes to the welfare and safety of my children.”

She said something else after that, but I was too angry to hear her. I just watched her lips move, and behind her the waves as they crashed upon the sunlit sand and rolled back into the ocean, somewhat saltier and slightly more broken.

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22 Responses to “How to Lose With Lost Kids”

  • Dan says:

    Shocking.

    We teach our kids to go into a shop and say they are lost.

  • Good for you, Whit. I usually nod in disbelief when I hear something like this, only realizing just how dumb it was after the person walks away. But, then THEN I really give it to ‘em (in my head). I guess what I’m saying is: I’m lost and their are no mommies here to help me. You seem nice Mr., will you help me?

    • Whit says:

      I’m usually pretty civil over coffee, but she pushed my buttons. Quickly.

      Also, sew your phone number inside your shirt.

  • Beau says:

    Yeah, I’ve heard that same statement too and its rubbed me the wrong way. Just because we’re men doesn’t mean that we’re bad.
    Beau´s last blog post ..Always Moving Forward – 10 Months of CrossFit

    • Whit says:

      It’s pretty wild. I can’t imagine teaching my kids that they should avoid one whole group of people based on the acts of the few (although that is in the news a lot these days, too).

  • Well done Whit! Love your response.
    Pierre Calzadilla´s last blog post ..Happy Fathers Day from the Poptism Dads

  • Keith Fannin says:

    I’m starting to notice this sort of behavior more and more. A little off-topic but along the same lines. Has anyone noticed that often Father’s Day comments often include single mothers that do “double duty”? Nothing against single parents, it’s a hard enough job with two of you, but has anyone ever seen single fathers included in Mother’s Day?

  • Kat says:

    That is a despicable thing to teach children! Of any gender. Why the heck would you want to scare a lost child even more than they already are?

    And the whole crimes against women and children thing?

    Honestly, how many GOOD dads have been raped of their rights to parent by self centered, manipulative women? A ton, my husband and my father are both among the numbers.

    Or, how about how many women have walked into a clinic and paid to have their child(ren) murdered versus men who have walked in for the same procedure? That is pretty much a gender specific crime against children whereas others can be perpetrated by either gender equally.

    I am obviously fuming at what this woman is suggesting… and ranting… some people are just so… argh.

  • I feel I could write a blog post in response to this blog post. I will try not to go on too much. We already had a discussion on FB about this. I was equally outraged at this woman’s approach and point of view. If my child ever is lost, she is going to be scared. I want her to get help as quickly as possible, not worry about which gender she approaches. We have taught her to go to a ADULT and tell them she needs help. We have not specified she should go to a man or woman, mom or dad. But an adult. The chances she would walk up to a sexual predator in that situation is slim. And if she did, we have taught her how to respond in an abduction type situation as well. We have role played various scenarios with her and discussed what she should do. But the premise she shouldn’t feel she could go to a man when she needs help is preposterous.

    I think one thing we can all agree with is we wish we didn’t have to worry about any of these types of scenarios. We want our children to be safe and secure always. But, as responsible parents, it behooves us to teach them how to deal with certain situations. I feel the woman above approaches that in entirely the wrong way. That is my opinion. And I understand your response to her 100%, Whit.

  • Sybil Law says:

    Does her company sell child leashes? Sheesh. What a paranoid, misguided, well-meaning but ridiculous principle.

  • Great story, and good for you to speak up for us all! I particularly like the wave metaphor at the end as well. Nicely phrased.
    Brian Sorrell´s last blog post ..Apple Slices & Saying Goodnight

  • Eric says:

    This was an excellent story and thank you for taking a stand for us guys.
    I often get suspicious looks from women when I try to assist a child at a playground who is lost or hurt. It makes you want to step back and let a mom help first. You know no one will give her a second glance about helping the kid, but then you are the arse who sat and did nothing while a child was in need.
    We should not be sending negative stereotypes about gender. A good parent is simply a good parent. And the percentages that a child will come across a dangerous adult are astonishingly low regardless of sex.
    Sorry for the rambling comment. but thanks again for the nice post

  • Eric says:

    I don’t get it… the best thing for a lost child (especially a very young one)is an adult, period. Is it more likely a child will have the unfortunate luck of picking out a predator in a place we apparently thought safe enough to let them roam or that they will walk into the street, fall and hurt themselves with no one around, or become more lost and face the elements? Good for you on speaking up. I teach my kids to deal with situations rather than how to judge people based on appearances. Don’t leave with someone, ask to use their phone, ask them to call the police, approach people with kids, in uniform or in groups if you can… but if not, go to any adult. Most people want to help you.

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