Strangers and your baby -- who do you trust?

Krista - posted on 11/03/2010 ( 44 moms have responded )

12,562

16

842

This is a bit of an offshoot from the "strangers touching your baby thread". It reminded me of this one time...

I was at the grocery store and needed to use the bathroom, so off I went to the ladies' room. The only other people in there were a mother with a toddler and an infant. The toddler was doing his business in the toilet, and needed his bum wiped. The mother, obviously exhausted and frazzled, hadn't thought to bring her stroller or get a cart (she'd probably gone into the bathroom as soon as she went into the store). So what to do with the baby? She didn't want to lay her down on the bathroom floor, obviously, but she couldn't hold her and wipe her boy's bum at the same time. Seeing her distress, I offered to hold the baby while she attended to her son. She thanked me profusely and went to attend to her son while I held the (absolutely delightful) baby and evaded his enthusiastic attempts to stick his index finger up my left nostril.

So this woman basically trusted a complete stranger to hold her baby. What would you have done in her situation? Do you think the fact that I looked her age and was dressed "respectably" had anything to do with it? Upon what do we base our trust when we deal with strangers, how much do stereotypes come into play, and is it fair of us to rely on these stereotypes when entrusting our kids to a stranger?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Johnny - posted on 11/03/2010

8,686

26

318

This thread makes me want to cry for humanity, yet again. We are falling so far so fast, if we can not trust any of our fellow travelers. How do some of you people even manage to leave the house?

Jodi - posted on 11/03/2010

2,694

52

171

I would be more than willing to help a stranger in need as I know that I am trustworthy. I only have one child, but until recently, I was fruequently out and about 3 children 2 and under! I have OCD so I over prepare for everything and I can't see myself getting in a situation where I wasn't prepared to wipe a child's bum. BUT, if a situation did arise, I'm not sure I would trust a stranger, and not as much for the kidnapping/molesting factor, but you never know what germs they have, what viral diseases or skin diseases, like someone else mentioned, do they have eplipsey? Do they know hwo to hold an infant without hurting their neck? If I had to, I would turn to a stranger for help if my gut insisted it was ok...unfortunately, some of the best criminals out there make their career by making everyone trust them...

Johnny - posted on 11/03/2010

8,686

26

318

April, I am a big fan of baby wearing, I love it. but firstly, not everyone can do it, either due to discomfort, back problems, or other physical conditions. And secondly, as I've learned recently watching two of my friends with newborns try to control their toddlers while baby wearing, its not as easy as it sounds. I could still see perhaps needing a stranger's help even if I did have my little one in a wrap. Your baby wearing device probably has a statistically higher probability of failure than the chance that some random nice strange woman in a bathroom is a pedophile.

This conversation has been closed to further comments

44 Comments

View replies by

Charlene - posted on 11/07/2010

631

29

25

I haven't read this whole thread.. I haven't been around lately so I am trying to catch up in a small amount of time, but I'm going to post my opinion anyway! :P

I think it totally depends on the time, place etc.
For example, when Gracie was just barely three weeks old, I was taking her from Calgary to Charlottetown by myself. I had my carry-on plus two carry-ons for Gracie and I didn't bring our stroller with us, so Gracie was in the Snugli. Going through security, I had to take the Snugli off and put it through the scanner. I was having a hell of a time getting the Snugli off while trying to hold Gracie, so the woman behind me offered to hold Gracie while I took it off and again when we made it through so I could put it back on and get organized. I happily agreed and the lady joyfully held Gracie. I felt safe letting her help out because of where we were as well as her demeanor and her 'appearance'. So I think it's a combination of things, for me anyway, that trust is based on.

Also, now that we are back home in PEI, it's a small place where everyone knows (almost) everyone and it's a fairly safe place, so if I was in the situation the mother in the OP was in, I would probably be a lot more trusting than if I were still in Calgary.

I hope this all made sense.. I'm rushing!! :P

[deleted account]

I only trust my partner his mom&sisters and of course my two sisters.After that sorry but i put my trust in two close friends also parents and i was let down, it caused a lot of anxiety for me and guilt.I was very upset that they let me down.I will not trust a stranger even though they probably wouldnt let me down lol..but my children are my responsibility anyone outside my close family circle i do not trust.Its sad but true when it comes to my children.

[deleted account]

There's a difference between being afraid of and not trusting people. People rarely scare me because most people are not out to harm us, but I do not trust them not to take advantage of an opportunity - that is human nature!

Isobel - posted on 11/06/2010

9,849

0

282

yup...I'm crying with you Carol...we're afraid of our neighbours, we're afraid of germs, we're afraid of the air that we breath...You realize that we're being sold this fear right? and that people are making a lovely profit from it? and that THAT'S how you control a population...by making them afraid of everybody and everything.

People are generally good...and your gut instincts about strangers will almost never lead you astray. There is a reason that Karla Homolka is famous...cause NOBODY ever does what she did. It's RARE, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being the victim of that type of crime.

[deleted account]

I agree with Jodi on this one, I generally wouldn't trust a complete stranger to watch my son. I have trusted people who effectively are strangers but i have met a couple of times to watch him while I nip to the loo or unlock his buggy (our children's centre have a buggy lock-up where you have to lock your buggy under a rain shelter) because I have seen how they interact with me, my son, other children and their own children. I don't really trust strangers, would you walk up to a random starnger (who you had a good feeling about) and give them £1000 and ask them to hold it while you nip to the loo, I'm guessing most people wouldn't because it could be anyone so I don't understand why someone would trust this same stranger with their child.

Kayle - posted on 11/05/2010

357

33

36

When I worked at a grocery store, I was stocking the shelves and a guy came up to me with his daughter and asked me to watch his daughter (probably 2 years old) then ran of to the rest room. I watched he but thought to my self really? You don't know me and your going to trust me with your daughter. I guess when you work at an establishment people think they can trust you.

Jodi - posted on 11/05/2010

2,694

52

171

Carol, I can agree to that. I guess, myself having the attitude that it's just another risky part of life, and not that the world is out to get me that's how I think other people see it as well. I'm positive there are people out there that DO in fact feel that the world is a truly dangerous place not to be trifled with, but I really do think the majority feel the way I do; that there ARE risks and dangers that we can accept and take precautions against, but not necessarily feel that everyone is a kidnapper or child molester. But, I can't speak for everyone else so I don't know, perhaps you are all too accurate! I hope not, I like to think people don't assume that *I* am going to snatch their babies when they see me at the park! :)

Eliz - posted on 11/05/2010

219

2

59

I look at it this way. If they are standing right next to me when they hold my child I'm pretty confident I can tackle them should they try to walk away with my child. Sometimes though you can get so frazzled to not even think about what could go wrong when someone offers a helping hand. There was once a time when you didn't have to fear someone running off with your children. But as far as allowing someone I don't know to care for my child in my absence then no...deffinately not!

Johnny - posted on 11/05/2010

8,686

26

318

Jodi, I'm not suggesting that specifically your reluctance to let a stranger hold your child is harming society. I am suggesting that the overall attitude I see people having towards the world around them is so negative that it harms society. From the sounds of things (and having seen you posting in other threads) you are quite a neighborly person. I am just referring to that attitude of siege that so many people seem to carry around that comes out in this sort of thread. The idea that we have to protect ourselves because the world is out to get us. Which is quite different from the idea that there are risks in the world that we can mitigate with due caution.

Jodi - posted on 11/05/2010

2,694

52

171

Carol, that's exactly my point though (the first part of your post anyway.) Shit does happen no matter what we do, but it certainly doesn't mean I'm going to stop taking precautions, and that includes not handing my baby over to a stranger. I trust strangers in general, I rarely lock my car, leave my garage door open frequently, have let people use my cell phone etc etc but those are all things I can replace. I can buy a new TV, get a new car, purchase a new mower and get a new phone...I cannot ever get another Jaelyn, she is irreplacable. To me, you can trust strangers without handing your child over to them and have little impact on society. I don't actually believe that every stranger out there is a nutjob and is going to run off with my child, I believe I could trust well over half of the strangers I come in contact with, but I take the precaution of NOT risking it because the possible outcome is simply not worth it to me.

I guess I really don't see how refraining from letting strangers watch my child is harming society? I don't even see how my reluctance to do so harms society. I live in a small community and could probably walk across the street deaf and blind with no assistance a hundred times and not get hit by a car (little traffic on my street) but I'm certainly not going to test out that theory, same as I won't test out my theory that *most* strangers can be trusted with my child, it only takes one.



*edit to add: by my last sentence I do not mean I would *never* trust a stranger with my child, if I had to and gut instinct told me the person was ok I would, I just wouldn't make a practice out of it.

Tracie - posted on 11/05/2010

79

36

4

gut instinct, go with it- if you feel it's dodgy- it is, it you feel fine about it/somebody, your usually right :-) Mothers intuition is usually right on!! listen to it...

Johnny - posted on 11/04/2010

8,686

26

318

No, Jodi, I'm sure it's not just you. I suspect you'd have a difficult time on COM finding many mothers (other than the clearly nutbar) who don't do all of what you suggest. Sadly, cars can run us down with our kids, carseats don't always save our babies, smoke detectors don't always alert us soon enough.... Life is risky business. I'm just suggesting that, as Emma put it, "stranger danger", is something we are conditioned to. I'm trying to point out that it is really paranoia rather than reality and that it is likely doing more harm to our society and not actually helping to keep us safe.

Stifler's - posted on 11/04/2010

15,141

154

597

I think we're conditioned with stranger danger, which is a good AND bad thing especially when it comes to meeting new people and it's like ANYONE I DON'T KNOW COULD BE A FREAK!

Jodi - posted on 11/04/2010

2,694

52

171

Just as I don't hand my child over to any random stranger, I hold my child's hand across streets and through parking lots, I buckle her into her carseat when in the car, I have smoke detectors in the event of a fire, outlet covers on all of our sockets, baby gates up at the stairs, covers on the oven knobs etc etc etc. Just living is risky business, but it's my job as a mother to reduce those risks...also I don't make it a habit to leave my daughter with any babysitter, family or otherwise...she's my responsibility...but that's just me.

Johnny - posted on 11/04/2010

8,686

26

318

You do realize that statistically complete strangers are safer than your own family? I've never handed my child to a complete stranger, I've never needed to. I just don't understand the paranoia I see so rampant in this thread. My point is that by leaving the house, getting into your car, and walking with your kid through a parking lot, you are putting them at greater risk than just letting another mom hold your baby in an emergency.

I am trying to point out, with my histrionic "cry for humanity" is that our perceived risk analysis is way off base most of the time. We see risk in things that aren't and ignore those things that are often truly dangerous. It is simply a matter of social conditioning, but it's really depressing when as a society, we begin to perceive every strange person as a significant risk. It does not bode well for social cohesion.

Jodi - posted on 11/04/2010

2,694

52

171

Carol, I am not terrified of the world around me. Being in public surrounded by strangers is completely different than handing my child to a complete stranger....it's something I would absolutely never make a practice of doing.

April - posted on 11/04/2010

3,420

16

263

sometimes I'm at HOME and i still have to hold my son while i'm peeing!! lol. if i don't, he knocks on the door continuously and i can't concentrate!

Jodi - posted on 11/03/2010

2,694

52

171

I for one manage to leave the house by being independant, prepared and self-reliant...

Hannah - posted on 11/03/2010

175

42

7

im not sure what id do in that situation....ivee had my son before in walmart bathroom with no stroller or cart....and i didnt want to leave him onthe floor or the change table tray....so i just held him while i went about my business....

April - posted on 11/03/2010

3,420

16

263

that's true...baby wearing can be hard for some people. it was even hard for me at first, but i practiced a lot! i know you other ladies are saying go with you gut, but i just don't like the idea of someone stranger holding my child while I go pee. I can't hear.. I'm deaf and I don't like when I can't see my child. It's literally blind trust for me...those of you that can hear would be able to respond quicker if something were to go wrong. I really just don't like the idea. I just don't like it.

Stifler's - posted on 11/03/2010

15,141

154

597

I've done this before. I went to the shops and a chick was just like do you want me to watch him while you pee, I won't run off or anything. She had other little kids and I just peed and let her watch him, thanked her and left. She seemed pretty normal, if it was a weirdo I would have said no.

[deleted account]

I agree with everyone else. You have to rely on your gut instinct sometimes. Mine has very seldom proved me wrong.

Tara - posted on 11/03/2010

2,567

14

107

trust your gut. I have 6 kids, I used a sling with all of them, made it very easy to manage the others but as others have said not everyone can wear their baby and not everyone is as proficient at doing so as others. (I could use the toilet with my kids in the sling, wipe others bums, tie up small shoes etc.)
but trusting someone with your baby for a few seconds is no big deal as long as you can see them and you trust your gut.
Stereo types aside I've always told me kids if they are ever lost in a store etc. to go to a mother with children if they can find one.
I do think our guts tell us based on all our senses and than some who to trust and who not to trust. For the most part, but there will always be exceptions to the rule.
I once had a customer service rep at Wal-Mart watch my baby in the cart while I took my daughter into a change room. The baby was asleep in his car seat and I parked him right outside the dressing rooms. But I made sure the nice elderly lady working the rooms kept her eye on him. :)

Charlie - posted on 11/03/2010

11,203

111

401

I go with my gut feeling , i feel i have pretty strong instincts about people however a good friend of mines child was molested in a family day care by th efather and since then i have been overly protective of my boys , it has sent my radar into overdrive , i recently got a new gardener , a man i dont know and Cooper just loved following him around and i just could not get comfortable because my friends 3 year old son was in the back of my mind , i followed them everywhere , i felt so bad in case i made him uncomfortable ......

Anyway i wear my baby most of the time so i can usually deal with Cooper with Harry strapped to me :D

Rosie - posted on 11/03/2010

8,657

30

315

bahahahahaha!!@dana!!

i would do the same most likely. i feel in certain situations that it would be fine, like someone else mentioned, if they wanted to watch them out of my view, no way.

Dana - posted on 11/03/2010

11,264

35

489

Amie did you really mean "I wouldn't hire some job blow off the newspaper or community newsletter without vetting them as much as possible." or is that a Freudian slip?

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 11/03/2010

4,455

6

379

Sometimes you have to what you need to do…and that lady needed to trust you enough to old her child. I also think stereotypes come into play a lot….

I cant see myself in that situation…my son is 7 almost 8…and so he is pretty self sufficient…and is my helper when we are out :-)

But if I were in her shoes, I more then likely would have done the same thing….or been better prepared….

April - posted on 11/03/2010

3,420

16

263

i wouldn't have had this issue because i would have worn my son while attending to the other child and vice versa. there is always a solution to every problem...no need to blindly trust strangers. you don't know if they have epilepsy or some disorder where they could drop your baby...etc... it doesn't have to be a pedophile or someone who wants to kidnap your baby for that person to not be trusted

Johnny - posted on 11/03/2010

8,686

26

318

I don't see anything wrong with this at all. Like other posters have said, trust your gut. I only have one child at this point, so it's really not a problem for me. But if I had more, I'm sure I would resort to this if necessity arose. In a situation like the original post, the children are at a significantly greater risk of being hit by a car leaving the store through the parking lot than they are being momentarily held by someone in a bathroom. I'm not even sure you could compare those two levels of risk, lol. I think we all walk through parking lots, so I'm not sure why we'd worry about a nice stranger holding our child in the bathroom for a moment. People have a very skewed risk assessment system which often sets us up for greater dangers and leads us to avoid things that really have a low level of risk. Like choosing driving a car across the country as opposed to flying.

[deleted account]

Ah, well I probably would have it shut then. But not locked, so I could chase you down if you had decided to run off with the baby. Not that the chance of that happening is very high.

Krista - posted on 11/03/2010

12,562

16

842

I can't remember if she left the stall door open or not. I don't think she did, because the stalls were small and the doors opened inwards.

[deleted account]

In that situation, I would have trusted you as well. Now, if she would have left the baby with you outside the restroom, I would say she was nuts. Did she leave the stall door open so she could see her baby while helping her toddler? I definitely would have.

This reminds me of something I observed a while back. My daughter and I go to Chick-fil-A on Fridays for lunch. A mom with four children was eating in a nearby booth. Her toddler needed to go to the restroom, so she asked one of the servers to watch her other three children, two elementary aged kids and one baby. I thought a little about that situation. 1. The children were in public around other young families and surely someone would notice if the worker tried any funny business with the children.
2. The older children were old enough to know to yell for help. 3. It was three children vs one adult. The adult would have been outnumbered. 4. The older children were old enough to be left alone for a minute, but maybe not with a baby. As it turned out, the server was a genuinely trustworthy person, as most people are. She played a simple game with the older two children until the mom returned. Would I have done as that mom? I don't know. Give me four kids by myself and a bladder-full toddler, then I'll tell you! =)

[deleted account]

Well, my experience is limited to only having one child so I could see myself being different if I had more. Like you Amy, I would have to trust my gut.

Amie - posted on 11/03/2010

6,596

20

408

Oh my example is all backwards, the lady offered help. I'm not one to normally ask for help anyway, my husband commented yesterday I'm going to have a breakdown if I don't take a break. lol

Amie - posted on 11/03/2010

6,596

20

408

Ok this wasn't what I thought it was. haha.

I've done this though. I have 4 children, it happens. I get tired, I get frustrated and I forget the mundane things, like our smallest ones stroller all the friggin time! Argh!

The most recent incident happened when I went to pick up our older two from Mano Mano last month. We were fairly new to the class so I didn't really know the other parents except our neighbor, whose kid is in a different time slot than ours so she wasn't there anyway. Anyway... I was trying to get our 3 year old to put her shoes back on, she had taken them off because she thought it was her class time (she takes classes too but on Saturdays). So I had put our smallest down and she started wandering off, so I'm trying to hurry with our other toddler (who was not being cooperative at ALL). Then this woman walks up and smiles to tell me she can watch her for me. I said thanks and let her. She walked her over to her own little one and they played together while I dealt with our difficult child.

Things like that, don't really bother me. I trust my gut in most instances and it's not like I'm entrusting them to a stranger to go watch them somewhere where I am not immediately available, within eye and ear shot.

I wouldn't hire some job blow off the newspaper or community newsletter without vetting them as much as possible. Thankfully this is not an issue, the few times we do need a sitter we have our parents and our neighbors if we do need them.

[deleted account]

I always go with gut feeling. If I feel comfortable with the person I will accept but i always trust my gut and my child's.

[deleted account]

I think if I was in that situation and someone as respecable looking as you offered help, I would probably accept it. I probably wouldn't ask though. I've never asked a stranger to watch Jacob, even for a second. But I do think how a person looks and dresses, their cleanliness....all of that affects who we "trust" and who we don't.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms