Anger as Dad Leaves 6-Year-Old Son To Walk Back From Beach Alone: 'Livid'

A woman who was "livid" that her husband sent their six-year-old son to walk back to their vacation apartment on his own has received a wave of support on parenting forum Mumsnet.

In a post on the U.K. platform's Am I Being Unreasonable (AIBU) thread, the mother (who used the handle "throwauay") said her husband was down at the beach when her son arrived at the apartment and told her: "Daddy told me to come back on my own" and he was "proud of himself" for making it back.

The user asked: "Could you get worked up about this or am I being precious?" She explained that the family was staying at the top of an apartment block. "When you get outside the block, the beach is down three steep sets of stairs, through a narrow, very uneven and twisty alley, across a road and down some wooden steps."

A young boy walking outdoors alone.
Stock image of a young boy out on his own. A mother has gone viral on Mumsnet with a post about her 6-year-old son. iStock/Getty Images Plus

She wrote: "I'm livid because he's six and there are any number of strangers and hazards between there and here." More than half an hour after their son arrived, she added, her husband had not called to check he had "made it back safely."

Most Mumsnet commenters felt this mother's concerns were reasonable, but academic studies have pointed out that an overprotective parenting style can lead to children being unprepared for life.

A January 2017 report from Michigan State University said overprotective parents were "fearful of everything when it comes to their children and expect bad things to happen."

Tim Elmore, a leadership expert quoted in the article, said: "When we rescue too quickly and overindulge our children with 'assistance,' we remove the need for them to navigate hardships and solve problems on their own. This prohibits them from becoming competent adults."

In an August 2016 article for Psychology Today, Nathan Lents, a professor of biology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said children should be protected from chronic stress, resulting from abuse, neglect, sensory deprivation, excessive worry, regular exposure to violence and so on. "Acute stress, on the other hand, is the response to a frightening, competitive or dangerous stimulus that is completely resolved within seconds or minutes."

Lents added: "It's a short burst of stress, then it's done. Many forms of play, especially physical play, involve some level of acute stress … evidence is mounting that acute stress is not just fun, but beneficial, even necessary for childhood development."

The mother in the Mumsnet post said her husband hadn't "bothered" to give her a heads-up that their son was en route.

The mother said their son "could have gone back and down another set of beach stairs and into the water. He could have been snatched. He could have gone to the wrong apartment. He could have slipped on the flinty, cracked floor of the alley and hurt himself. Anything could have happened. AIBU to be shocked and angry?"

Several Mumsnet users sided with her and berated the husband for the "totally unacceptable" and "worrying" behavior.

User DelphiniumBlue said: "Yes, the fact that he hasn't even checked that he's made it back, or warned you to look out for a strange country, by the sea...That is so worrying."

User mountainsunsets said: "YANBU [you are not being unreasonable]. Totally unacceptable."

Crunchymum shared: "I'd be utterly livid too. It's unforgivable."

Some even said they would have been tempted to "scare" the husband by pretending to be unaware of the son's arrival.

HPandTheNeverEndingBedtime said: "I'd be tempted to text him and ask him if he and DS [dear son] needed anything and scare the bejesus out of him."

Theonlyoneiknow agreed: "I'd be mad too OP [original poster]. I would also send a message to your DH saying you hope that he and DS are having fun at the beach and see what he says!"

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