Would Your Parenting Pass the Scrutiny of a Video Camera?

“To err is human; to forgive, divine” – Alexander Pope

I think people need to remember that parents are human. We are going to make mistakes. We are not always going to make the right choices.  We will be distracted and our children will fall. We will leave a bag of candy within reach and they will eat themselves sick. We will forget to lock our door and our children will open it and try to leave the house. We will hand our children our keys to play with and they will lose them or worse lock themselves in the car or out of the house.

Does this mean we deserve judgement? Imagine if your every move as a parent was scrutinized and video taped… or worse sent to the authorities? Imagine if one bad decision resulted in the potential to lose your child.. even if no one was hurt. Even if it was not even against the law, but rather fell into that gray legal space that is open to interpretation.

The Salon.com article titled “The Day I Left My Son in the Car” is currently making the rounds on social media. I read it and was stunned by the idea that someone felt so compelled by this mother’s actions that he or she video taped the child left in the car and then anonymously sent the tape to the authorities — even though the mother returned within moments and no one was hurt. Is this what our society has come to? A culture that leaves you fearful of judgement, penalty and repercussions by people lurking in the shadows with cameras?

Should we be forced to parent as if we’re on reality TV? Should our decisions and protectiveness of our children come down to what others will think or do, rather than what makes sense for our family or our child?

I do not condone leaving a child in a car, especially one so young, even for five minutes on a temperate day. It was a poor choice by a mother who was distracted and stressed and trying to avoid a fight, but did her actions deserve the potential to lose her child? Absolutely not.

She deserved the benefit of the doubt and kindness and maybe even help. Not judgement from afar. This observer should have said something to her, or simply waited by the door with the child until she returned. This observer who was so taken by this mother’s actions could have lent a hand instead of reporting her.

I can’t imagine what kind of parent the world would think I was if there were people videotaping my actions. I am human and I make poor decisions all the time.

When my second son was only 22-months-old he burned his hand on my curling iron. I was only feet away and bending over to put on my shoes, yet his speed and curiosity got the best of me and him. His burn resulted in a few trips to the burn unit at Children’s Hospital. Imagine if this was caught on film and sent to the authorities.

A few months ago, my two middle children were hiding under my bed because they did not want to get on the school bus, which was coming in less than 5 minutes. I lost it and started yelling at the top of my lungs that they HAD TO GET ON THAT BUS, OR ELSE. Yes, I screamed (loudly) and yes, I threatened. It was not my finest hour by any measure, but imagine what a video of this would look like to Child Protective Services.

This weekend, I allowed my 8, 6, and three-year-old to play in our fenced-in backyard unsupervised. I was just inside and they were playing so nicely. When I went to check on them, they were gone. They had opened the gate and walked across our pipe stem (shared driveway) to play in the backyard of our neighbor’s house with their friend. Imagine if a passerby had videotaped them walking by themselves.

I am NOT perfect and I err all the time, but this does not mean I am a bad mother. This does not mean I deserve to be judged or scrutinized. No one deserves this. Being mindful and protective of children is a good thing. You should step in and take action when you believe a child is being harmed or could potentially be harmed. But making the decision to be a “good citizen” by secretly video taping a stranger’s actions and reporting their less than finest parenting moment without taking that extra step to offer real help for the child and the mother is disturbing. And it says a lot about the culture we live in today.

A culture of not wanting to actually make that human connection. Where we hide behind technology and think that a “like” is enough. Where an anonymous video makes you the good guy and everyone else subject to the judgement of your lens. Where you look at a situation and automatically assume the worst because you have seen too much television or read too many sensationalized headlines. Where perhaps this disconnect from others makes us forget that we are all simply flawed humans who are trying to get through each day the best way we know how.

What would your parenting look like if subject to video cameras or the scrutiny of strangers simply passing by? Would you pass the test?



Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. Interesting question. Most days, I probably would pass the test. Many days I wouldn’t. Before I had kids, when I’d hear a mom yell at her kid in the store I would shake my head and be upset. Kids don’t deserve to be yelled at all the time. What I didn’t realize is it isn’t all the time. It’s an isolated incident throughout the day. Sure, the mom may look like an ogre for the moment, but how many times has the kid asked her the same question, acted up in the same way, or hit his sister? I would judge those parents based on no knowledge of the day they had. Anymore, I just remember that we’ve all been there. It’s just one moment, and we can’t judge a parent based on one moment in time.
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  2. I think you nailed it by highlighting that we all deserve kindness and the benefit of the doubt, not judgement. Should that mom have left her child in the car? Absolutely not. But, who knows what circumstances she was dealing with that day, surely she did what she felt was best at the moment. I love my kids but there are days when I would probably fail the “scrutiny video camera test”! Great rebuttal to the Salon article!
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  3. I had thought of living my daughter on the car before on similar situation but I’m so glad I didn’t our generation is a record generation and we are been judge by everyone, it’s doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not people will record everthing, I fell for her but at the same time I heard so many stories about kids left on the car and if something happen to us when we are out in store or even worst instead if recording they kidnapped her son, I had moments if caught on camera I would be in trouble not just wit my daughter but with my husband ,families and friends,
    I’m way to worry to leave her alone for even 2 minutes but I know when I see a Mom going trougth a tough time. Unfortunately we will be judge no matter what I probable still not passing the test.