My teenage step-daughter and I are having “issues.” Unlike her classmates’ parents, I don’t let her wander down the local drag or around the mall without knowing her location and cohorts. I don’t trust her; I check her location using her phone’s GPS locator (she knows about it). It’s a constant battle to establish what she’s up to, both in the real world and online. Last night, she turned to me and said “I don’t like you.” Just like that. Matter-of-fact. I could see myself through her eyes, and I didn’t like what I saw. So tonight, again, I tried to explain . . .

It was one of the rare moments of peace between us. She was sitting on the lawn, lolling actually, cuddling the Schnauzer. I was smoking a cigar, leaning against the SUV’s tailgate.

I told I was freaked out. I’d seen images on borderlandbeat.com of two Mexican men decapitated by drug thugs wielding a large chainsaw. There was a link to a video, but I couldn’t watch it.

“I wish you didn’t have to live in a world where these kind of animals exist,” I said. “And I know you think you know how to keep yourself safe. But you don’t. Until you’re older, I’m going to do everything I can to protect you.”

My step-daughter tried to tell me that our world is different from the Mexican nightmare. And she’s right. It is. We can sit on a manicured lawn on an Indian summer’s night without fear that someone will come and destroy us.

My step-daughter also claimed to appreciate the fact that there are bad people in the world. “I read about it all the time at school,” she said. Also true. But . . .

I told her I was mugged downtown at knife-point at her age. “When you look that kind of person in the eyes, you know that there’s no clear border between us and the evil people that surround us.”

I didn’t discuss this with her, but I thought to myself, that’s why I’m armed. I carry a gun to protect myself and my loved ones if and when worlds collide.

Obviously, the odds that I’d be at the right place and right time to use my firearm to “save” my step-daughter from harm are extremely low. But it’s not entirely impossible. And if I needed a gun and didn’t have one and something horrible occurred to her or the rest of my family, I’d never forgive myself.

Besides, I have to protect myself, so that I can provide her with the other kinds of safety she needs. As the child of a holocaust survivor, I know that danger isn’t always “out there.” And even when it is, things change. It can come looking for you.

I may live in a bubble of safety, but evil is not so far away.

My step-daughter disappeared into the house without much in the way of warning. Apparently, our little chat was over. But the questions raised by my parental policing linger . . .

Do you live with people who believe that carrying a gun is “proof” that you’re “over-reacting” to the distant possibility of violence? Perhaps members of your own family. Have you ever been tempted to lock away you gun and . . . relax? Or can you only relax when you have access to a firearm?

Where does precaution end and paranoia begin?

107 Responses to Question of the Day: Are You Paranoid?

  1. “I may live in an American bubble of safety…” It hasn’t always been that way, and I wouldn’t count on it staying that way. Complacency is more dangerous than the paranoia Progressives will accuse you of. Meanwhile, they’re calling for violence with some regularity now…

    • Sorry, don’t think she’s kidding. This is the same governor who banned the use of guns in the aftermath of a hurricane along the NC coast. Nothing she does surprises me.

      • While I don’t think she was kidding about the election, you are incorrect about the banning of guns after the hurricane. Well only partially.
        Gov. Purdue has the option to ban guns, and from my observation, she has been very inconsistent when a state of emergency she issued.

        Below is text from the last several executive orders given because of a hurricane.

        Section 7.
        This order is adopted pursuant to my powers under Article 1 of Chapter 166A of the General Statutes and under Article 36A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes. It does not trigger the limitations on weapons in G.S. § 14-288.7 or impose any limitation on the consumption, transportation, sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages.

        That statement is not added to all of the state of emergencies.

        You can find all of the Executive Orders listed here.
        http://www.governor.state.nc.us/NewsItems/ExecutiveOrderList.aspx
        Any time something major happens in our state, I make it a point to check the website just to be sure.

    • I don’t think she’s joking, but she definitely isn’t representative of all progressive mindsets. She is an idiot who clearly hasn’t read the Constitution lately.

  2. Carrying a gun in an area where there is no crime, where there never has been any, and where none is expected, would be extreme. But where could that be? The polar regions? Maybe Antarctica? Yet even there you always need flamethrowers in the utility shed—just in case.

    However, living in the USA, almost anywhere, a gun is certainly a good choice.

    • >But where could that be? The polar regions?

      Wolfgang Hammersmith’s book Beyond the Call of Duty: Gunfight has a mission anecdote in which he travels to an Arctic research base to arrest or kill a particularly dangerous criminal, who thought it would literally be the last place anyone would come looking.

  3. First, thank you, Robert, for a thought-provoking post.

    I have a masters degree in counseling, and one of my professors many years ago was a former addictions counselor for Vietnam vets. He spoke often of the glass bubble that surrounds many of us, the glass bubble of constant positive expectation (I will get a job, I will fall in love, I will have kids who love me, I will always do better and better and live happier and happier) and how the Vietnam experience utterly shattered that glass bubble for so many vets. I wonder if those of us who carry at some point had that glass bubble broken, and we cannot pick up those shards and put them back together again. I was never robbed at knife point, but I grew up with a violent and unpredictable alcoholic father, and I was once jumped and assaulted here in Richmond. Such experiences linger and transform.

    When I have second amendment arguments with neighbors, I sometimes wonder if we are arguing over different things. I am arguing that I have the right to carry a firearm to defend myself. They are trying so hard not to accept the notion that we live in an imperfect and uncontrollable world – a world in which a sane, friendly, loving, hard-working and tax-paying person might have to pull out a handgun and kill someone in order to protect their own life or the lives of the ones they love. A world in which THEY might have to fight or to kill to protect themselves or their loved ones.

    I would like not to have to worry about defending myself. And some of my friends and family would like it if I did not worry about that, either. And yet, sometimes, when I am walking down the street with one of my friends or family members, and we find ourselves being approached by someone who seems… problematic… they almost ALWAYS ask… “are you carrying?” And in those times, they want the answer to be yes.

    • @ RF

      At that age her primary danger is the one or two sociopaths in her class. Like they say about terrorists and a certain religion, not all boys are potential rapists, but all rapists are boys (at some point in their lives). And I can say with almost 100% certainty that you will not be at the party when one of her classmates pulls out a bottle of hooch.

        • I think a lot more women rape men than people think. I doubt that it’s usually forceful, it’s usually a women taking advantage of a severely inebriated or unconscious man.

          He had been drinking, heavily, during a party at his residence. He decided to go to his bedroom and pass out will the party continued. He awoke to a (rather large) woman having sex with him. Being a rather small guy, and very drunk, he didn’t succeed in getting her off of him until she’d finished.

          Of course, we all laughed at him. It’s really not funny though, she could have given him an STD or possibly impregnated herself. If it had been me and the former had happened, I’d have definitely pressed charges. Who knows if the cops would even believe you.

  4. My oldest God daughter reminds me of your SD. She doesn’t understand why she can’t just hang at the Providence Place Mall ( I’m not just picking on the mall, it could be anywhere because bad things everywhere and at anytime of the day) with her friends. Any of you who have seen some of the crowd that “hangs” at this place would never let one of their loved ones go there unescorted. I was there last week with my cousin who is afraid to go along because punks that wander around this mall with no intentions of buying anything. I had just completed my OC class and I had my spray and surefire flashlight ready to go just in case. She laughed and called me paranoid, but she’s the one who fears shopping here alone and always has me tag along. One day your SD will look back and realize that you were just looking out for her and she’ll feel bad at what she said to you (I’ll bet she feels bad now but won’t admit it). Kids can’t always be trusted so we have to make them follow our rules until their old enough to manage their own lives. Don’t back off RF because you’re doing the right thing.

    • So teaching her to be blindly submissive to someone wanting absolute control over her life is “a good thing”? So when she’s 18 and can vote, if he successfully teaches her this lesson, she’ll vote for the Presidential candidate that’s wanting to control the most aspects of people’s lives “for their own good”.

      Seriously people. Stop and do a little role-reversal from time to time – you’ll realize that the very things you foam at the mouth about someone else doing to you, you promote doing to your kids.

      • Toten,

        It makes sense to treat kids like kids. They are not developed or mature enough to weigh all the risks, all you can do is teach them where you can and control them until they are old enough to accurately weigh the risks (whether they actually do or not).

        It does not make sense however to treat adults like kids, as they are capable of weighing all the risks (again whether they do or not they have the capacity).

        16, 18, and 21 aren’t just numbers pulled out of the air…they are developmental milestones that (ussually) mean that a child’s brain chemistry/neurology will allow them to make better choices.

        • Elementary school children should be treated as such. However, by the time you’re a teenager, you’re old enough to be able to make a lot of decisions. Treating a teen like they’re still 6 does not prepare them to make their own decisions and be responsible at all – and that is the purpose of being a parent, to teach them to be a responsible person so that when they leave the house, they’re a responsible adult.

          I can guarantee you that there are 13 year olds out there who know more than you and are better at judging risks than you are (not saying that there’s a lot, but there are at least some). Blanketly discriminating on age is foolish and not at all something that a wise person (regardless of age) does. A wise person evaluates someone based on their character and ability, not on an arbitrary number.

          Actually, 16, 18, and 21 ARE entirely random numbers. Hence why the only reason the drinking age became 21 was that the Federal government threatened to pull highway funding if states didn’t raise the drinking age (because it WAS 18 not that long ago). You do realize that in the 19th century people were already considered full adults by 16, right? People didn’t magically regress, it’s that those in positions of authority wanted to feel better about themselves by making arbitrary rules and saying “Anyone under this age is incapable of making their own decisions” – and when you treat someone like that, they’ll respond accordingly.

        • Two questions for you Toten and MattB:
          do you have a teen aged daugher?
          can you put yourself in RFs shoes?

  5. I would call spying/tracking paranoid. I understand the need to protect our children, and I cannot imagine what I would do if something would happen to my daughter – my flesh and blood, but at the same time they will never grow up well adjusted without freedom. Bad things happen, some avoidable and some not. The best course of action is to educate them so they can make a smart decision on their own when the time comes. Controlling every aspect of their lives will only serve to leave them less capable of moving along on their own in the future. Additionally, if you are plotting every move your child makes on a map and delving into every nook and cranny of their privacy, then you are not any better than the advocates of the Big Brother architecture/Nanny State mind set that you all seem so against on here. Granted, you are doing it on a much smaller scale, but it the same nonetheless.

    • I am working to impart a simple lesson: do what you say you’re going to do. When she establishes a track record in that regard (we’ve hit reset countless times), I will stop checking. So much.

      • So you’re admitting that you’re lying to her. You have every intention of continuing this controlling behavior even if she actually does what you want – so where’s the incentive for her to do it?

        I’m also sure that you lied to your parents more than once when you were a kid. All she has to do really is get bright enough to “forget” her phone in her bedroom and your gps stalking is dead in the water.

        Rob, as someone who’s more than old enough to have their own kids but not yet too far out to remember what it was like having parents try to control you, I can guarantee you that this behavior is only damaging your relationship with her and possibly her relationship with her mother as well (since apparently your wife condones you doing this). Parents who want to control every aspect of their child’s lives raise kids who utterly HATE said parents. The good parents are the ones who micromanage when the child is young and needs it but then back the frak off as they get older and continually give them more and more responsibility (and hold them responsible for any negative consequences). How else do you expect them to be an adult in a year or two that is capable of making their own decisions if they’re treated like a moron who can’t even tie their shoes?

        • Robert, This is a thought-provoking post and I’m really enjoying the comments.

          I’m older than you but I can remember clearly what it was like with an over-protective parent breaking my balls and invading my privacy. I rebelled.

          What I’m trying to do with my kids is something different. With my big girl who is 15 next month, I’m keeping in mind, and surely it’s being communicated to her in different ways, that I don’t own her. She’s not a virginal piece of human property that I have custody of until that day when I turn her over to some other man whom I approve of.

          At the same time, we don’t let her do anything she wants either. For example she had her first ever sleep-over at a girlfriends house two weeks ago. This was the girlfriend with no older brother on the scene and whose family my wife approved of.

          I think you’re already carrying the wrong message to her with your ideas of being armed all the time. Added to that, your, what I would call, excessive control is not good.

          Like you said yourself, the chances of your being able to save her from a tragedy are slim. So, just like in your attitudes about guns, in this question of proper child-rearing, I think you do more harm than good.

        • And? By the time I was 13 I’d had a job for three years and as long as I told my parents “I’m going to the mall / friend X’s house / wherever”, I was allowed to do pretty much whatever I wanted because my parents taught me to be responsible for my actions. If I screwed up, I was held accountable for it – no childish “We’re going to stalk you all the time” crap – I was treated like an adult and as such, I was always the responsible one among my friends. When you treat your children like incompetent morons, they’ll act accordingly (you’re going to treat them poorly regardless, so they might as well do all the bad things that would earn them a punishment anyways).

          As I pointed out in one of my comments (and none of the pro-stalking people bothered to respond to), try reversing the situation and thinking about how you would feel / act if someone else was trying to pull that same crap on you. Or to use a fantastic quote from a novel “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”

    • “Granted, you are doing it on a much smaller scale, but it the same nonetheless.”

      No. The govt is not a parent, and a parent is not the govt. You can argue against excessive govt intrusion and still have a sacred right to keep watch over your own children.

      As for the ability to check, it’s important. As Robert stated, where kids say they’re going and where they end up are sometimes miles apart. We trusted our eldest far too long without checking, and now that he’s burned that trust, we check. At a certain point, people need to realize that parents are not always supposed to be the “best friend” and instead be the parent.

      • “No. The govt is not a parent, and a parent is not the govt. You can argue against excessive govt intrusion and still have a sacred right to keep watch over your own children.”

        The issue is that the child who grows up with a GPS locator implanted in her rectum will grow used to it, and will have less issue with the government requiring the same of her.

        When you fail to instill a proper respect for the free exercise of rights, you contribute to the situation we now find ourselves in as Americans — one where to board an airplane one must submit to either a grope or a pornoscan.

        In short though, it all boils down to something Nigel Farage said a few years back:

        “…if you rob people of their identity, if you rob them of their democracy, then all they are left with is nationalism and violence.”

        By being overbearing in our desire to always have control, we have brought upon ourselves our current crises.

      • Except complaining about government control while doing the SAME THING to your teenage children is hypocrisy. High Schoolers are plenty capable of making their own decisions – sure, they might make bad ones sometimes (regardless of age, people make bad decisions sometimes) and treating them like property that you can do whatever you want with makes you no better than the thugs in the government who want to do the same to you.

        The ability to check is NOT important. Or do you think that for the 10,000+ years of society where we didn’t have GPS tracking that parents somehow were incapable of raising children? It’s only “important” in that it sates your burning need to control others – which is a very worrying personality trait. At a certain point parents need to realize that treating your kid like crap WILL come back to bite you in the ass someday (whether it’s no relationship with them once they move out at 18, they stand up to you violently attack you, or they leave you to die in your old age instead of paying for your expensive medical care, etc).

  6. Just wondering but how does tracking her with GPS or online do anything to protect her? At best it allows you to punish her, after the fact, if you dont like the way the people she is ‘friends’ with look, or what part of town she is in. TBH, i think you would get a better idea of what she is up to, if you threw a kegger at your house, invite all her friends, and had a discussion with her friends when they were drunk and their guard was down.

  7. We can sit on a manicured lawn on an Indian summer’s night without fear that someone will come and destroy us.

    That doesn’t mean someone can’t (or won’t). No matter how unlikely.

    It’s all about perception.

    Where does precaution end and paranoia begin?

    See above (i.e., there is no answer).

  8. There was a time when not letting your kids go unsupervised to sketchy places was “good parenting.” Then it became “overprotective.” Now it’s “paranoid?” Yes, all proscriptions probably got a bad rap from truly overprotective parents, but IMO it’s odd that parents plan their little angels’ every activity in grade school, but then let them go wild at parties as teens. I suppose it’s “the done thing,” and we wouldn’t want our kids to feel left out or suffer from low self-esteem. (My observation is that letting kids free-range, explore and fail on their own builds a far stronger self-esteem in the long run, but that’s another story.)

    I’ve lived a charmed life. I’ve been “assaulted” once (yanked off my bike by two yahoos in a Toyota), but other than that have no cause to be paranoid. I do think people who look for the imminent collapse of the dollar are overreacting, but that doesn’t stop me from having a store of food, water, emergency gear and ammo in the basement. I’ve found being prepared (whether with extra food or a gun on my person) makes me more optimistic and less fearful, come what may. To each his own.

    • “There was a time when not letting your kids go unsupervised to sketchy places was “good parenting.” Then it became “overprotective.” Now it’s “paranoid?””

      I’ll freely admit that I only skimmed the first paragraph after this, and I apologize, but that does not change the meat of the issue shown above.

      Namely, the issue is that what constituted a “sketchy place” evolved from the few truly sketchy places in the world to the entirety of the known universe.

      I’m only 22 and I remember that, at 4-6 years old I spent many an unsupervised hour out and about riding my bike and otherwise playing around my neighborhood.

      Nowadays it seems that parents won’t let their children do just this without some kind of always-pingable GPS tracking device worn around the neck that takes periodic pictures of the child’s surroundings.

      Quite frankly, our neighborhoods have NOT gotten measurably less safe, at least in terms of abduction and/or abuse by child predators; the only thing that has changed is the widespread perception of such, and that’s a major issue.

      • I’m older than you and definitely remember back when parents weren’t psychotic about “OMG! If my child isn’t wrapped in bubble wrap with constant GPS and video surveillance 24/7, the world will explode!!!”.

        If you look at violent crime stats, society has gotten safer over the last few decades – it’s just that parents have gone batshit crazy and forgot how to use common sense.

        • Toten, I don’t know where you get your stats, but when I check the stats on government websites, I see that violent crime itself has increased over the last 30 years. In addition, rape has doubled over that time period.

          I would rather not loosely base my parenting on stats. My goal as a father is to not let my children become a stat. As parents, we have to constantly be on our guard. Whether you believe it or not, there are threats lurking around every corner. That is not paranoia, that is fact.

        • You mean the stats from the FBI talking about how crime rates are significantly lower now than they were 15 years ago? Yea, those are pretty bogus.

          There are only “threats lurking around every corner” if you live in the ghetto. Seeing how most of the country does not live in such places, the crime rates for the areas most people live are very low.

  9. They’ll call you paranoid until something pops that bubble and then you are the smart one. You constantly hear people say how surprised or shocked that crime happened in their neighborhood.

  10. as the father of a 20 yr old daughter at college 300 miles away. been there and done that . you are doing the right thing. when she was 13,14,15, my daughter “didn’t like” me or her mom ocassionaly. we all got through it fine. If a early teen child does’nt have issues with your watchfullness , you are not doing your job.
    the bottom line is that young teens are gulable and vulnerable , that is why they are ofen the target of sickos and predators . besides , which way do you want to error? if you are to cautious you have a grumpy teenager. they all are. If you aer to lax you incerase the odds you have to take her to a rape crisis center, or maybe you have the joys of teenage parenthood to help her with.

  11. Robert:

    If you are in error, you are on the right side of the line. I wouldn’t change a thing. She will appreciate you later. Now is a critical time in her life that will set up the path of the rest of her life.

  12. I don’t really feel that GPS is warranted unless one’s child is a felon, flight risk, or has proven themselves repeatably untrustworthy and untruthful with regards to their location and/or activities. But, I don’t have a child, and who’s to say my view won’t change when/if my kid asks me to let them stay out until 2 or 3am?

  13. When you read that there hasn’t been a violent crime in your area for __ years, the average person will say “we’re safe forever”. The smart person will say “We’re due”.

  14. If your child says to you “I don’t like you” then you are absolutely without any doubt doing something (probably many things) wrong.

    • “If your child DOES NOT say to you “I don’t like you” then you are absolutely without any doubt doing something (probably many things) wrong.”

      Fixed.

    • This is absolutely, without a doubt, horrible, horrible advice. I am now 26 and had the best, most supportive, parents in the world who I now feel did a great job balancing freedom with responsibility and protection (Small town, ~5000 people).

      I can’t remember the number of times I told my parents I hated them! Because I was a stupid little ignorant shit who didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about. I was a kid.

  15. “Where does precaution end and paranoia begin?” Good question. Paranoia begins when precaution becomes consuming and debilitating. The Scout motto is “Be Prepared”, it’s not “Be Paranoid”.

    Most of us know that bad stuff can happen anywhere at anytime; randomly and for no good/rational reason, though one can work to keep the odds in there favor. That’s just life. Stay alert. God gave most of us five senses, we would do well to use them fully and wisely. Living in Condition Yellow isn’t so tough. Just don’t be consumed by it.

  16. Not Real Eloquent was actually quite eloquent. You’re on the right side of the line. Your daughter doesn’t understand that “no” means “I love you.” Maybe she’ll figure it out some day, maybe not. That’s on her. What’s on you is doing your best to keep her safe. That’s your job. Do it the best way you can and don’t look back.

  17. Sorry, but it sounds like you’re more concerned with controlling than “protecting”. Even if your stalking lets you know she’s in the bathroom at the McDonald’s, that doesn’t do a single thing to protect her from some guy decided to run in there with a gun.

    Parents raised children for thousands of years without being control freaks and wanting to know their (literally) exact location every second of the day.

    Your step-daughter has good reason to not like you. Stop and think about if YOU were the one with a benevolent dictator wanting to know your every location and control your every action – I don’t think you’d like it one bit.

  18. Holy shit people actually monitor their child’s movement with a GPS device….

    Monitoring a child using a GPS device is a horrible (and selfish) way to raise a child. I say selfish because you are doing it to satisfy your need to know that your daughter is safe at all times and that she is obeying you. I say horrible because your daughter is not going to be able to develop independence and decision making skills that will do her great justice in the future. In essence, you are retarding your daughter.

    This insatiable need for everyone to know what the hell everybody is doing (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, other stupid ass websites) is insane.

    Also, if I was a bettin’ man, I would say that these GPS locations are most certainly being saved on a server somewhere, likely to never be erased. Are these records able to be subpoenaed? Sold to the government? Hey, give em to the local sheriff, let him plot the points in Google Earth…he could stay busy writing jaywalking tickets all day long.

    • This is happening whether RF is also tracking it or not. Your phone tracks you everywhere you go, so leave it at home (btw, can’t remove the battery from an iphone). He’s just also getting that information.

  19. GPS tracking your daughter? Any sane youth would just buy a prepaid phone. Best to leave Daddy’s Track Phone (excuse the pun) with the trusted friend while partying it up elsewhere.

  20. I have three kids and can relate to the post cause I feel the same way about my kids safety and security. If there is a way for me to be sure of where my daughter is at all times when she is not home you bet I’m going to take advantage of it.

    As you mention while they are incapable of making and sound decisions or protection their own life’s against harm or death you are ultimately responsible for their well being and whether you like it or not all the wrong decisions they make will affect you if you care for them.

    So making sure they are following the right path, staying honest and safe will give you some peace of mind.

  21. Robert, you may be a little paranoid, but that is our job as parents. We have to worry about all sorts of things–even things that are are not very likely to happen

    It is NOT your job to be her friend or buddy–she has plenty of kids her own age for that. Many teenage girls HATE their parents, step or otherwise, so rating a “don’t like” isn’t all that serious.

    In a half dozen years she will come to you and thank you for all you did for yer.

  22. A child’s parent is their parent, not their friend. Which can suck, but it’s how it has to be. I’ve known kids who were raised by parents who decided to be their child’s friends and not their parents. It doesn’t work out like they hoped.

    Whether it’s paranoid or not depends on what the actual threat is. Truthfully, most modern parents are paranoid. They worry like crazy about things that are crazy rare and don’t worry about the things that are more likely to be threats. For example, the rate of violent crime against kids in 2005 was less than half the rate it was in 1973. Do you restrict you kids based on fear of crime less than 50% as much as your parents did?

    There something like 100 real stranger kidnappings of kids in the US every year. There are something like 80 million kids in the US, so the chance of of any given child being abducted are minute. It is about 10 times more likely that a kid will be killed in a fire and something like a hundred times more likely that they will kill themselves or be killed in a car accident. What are you protecting them against and how likely is it? And steps you take against stranger abduction are going to increase her safety about as much as taking steps to protect against tiger attacks.

    So if you sit down and think about what the actual risks to your SD is, are you effectively taking steps to protect against the actual threats and do your attempts at protection have a significant chance of resulting in some sort of reaction that will instead significantly increase the chance of “something bad” occurring?

  23. Edited in regards to the post about John Carpenter’s “The Thing”: Those guys had flame throwers, shotguns, pistols, axes & the Swedes before them had assault rifles & grenades, but still it wasn’t enough.

    Up until recently extra terrestrials were rolling deep in Antarctica, you had an infectious life form capable of camouflaging it self as anyone, there were xenophobes which gestate inside a living host, don’t put off heat signatures & have highly concentrated acid for blood, & to top it all off you had 8 foot tall musclebound, rastafarian looking dudes, with plasma weapons (probably not in the 40 watt range though), active camouflage systems, & small personal explosives capable of leveling 300 acres. Antarctica was the stomping grounds of some seriously bad hombres. The penguins/people in Antarctica should just be thankful that Graboids are content with being posted up in the Americas & don’t try flexing their pre-cambrian muscle down south more.

    I know you worry for your step daughter & you have reason to, but there’s only so much you can do. If you’re probing her personal life with friends too hard she’ll build a wall between the two of you & will be less vocal about things with you, she’ll do stuff in spite of what you’ve communicated to her (regardless of how valid it was). Learning the hard way is often times the only way people will think clearly about what they’re doing. I’ve done a lot of shady/stupid/immoral things in the past & the only things that got me to stop doing those things was having the law put me in my place (I can’t ignore detectives with legal authority as well as I can my parents) & maturing to the point where I changed my habits for the better.

    Having strong communication with your loved ones is probably the most important thing to guiding them along the right path. If you can communicate well with others their gonna heed your advice, their gonna come to you with their dilemmas & ask for your help.

  24. Honestly… I’d be more concerned about the trust in your relationship. It’s more important to her safety that she actually go where she says she’s going, do what she says she’s doing, and avoid bad activities because she believes you when you tell her that they’re a bad idea.

    Yes, there’s a low percentage chance that she could be robbed, raped, or murdered by a random guy out there. There’s a much higher percentage chance that she’ll do drugs, catch a disease, get pregnant, or fail out of school because why listen to anything Dad says when he’s a paranoid nutter.

    Teach her to take care of herself. Teach her to watch for the same things you watch for. And then let her go in little steps.

    We don’t live in a peaceful bubble. But we also don’t live in a war zone. We live in a generally peaceful place where one out of a couple hundred law abiding people have something bad happen to them every year. But our brain doesn’t know how to deal with one out of a hundred. It just sees the stories on the news of every person whose number came up wrong in a hundred miles.

    I carry a gun because while the chance I will need it is low, the cost of doing so is negligible. A few dollars in gear and practice, and a bit of extra weight on my belt. The cost of locking your daughter in a virtual guard tower is much, much higher. It’s not that you’re paranoid – it’s that you’re discounting the costs you are inflicting on your relationship, and their effects on your daughter and even on her eventual security when you *aren’t* watching. The weak link in any security system is the people, and if your daughter is actively wanting to suborn, she will eventually break out. Much better she find that freedom with a loving hand to guide her than on her own in active rebellion.

  25. My parents attempted to control my sister’s life, and it didn’t work. She may finish college after 8 years of classes in one place or another. She has had an abortion and was very nearly sent to jail for threatening one kid, was kicked out of her high school, and just escaped a DUI. She is someone who needed to have their hand held(or cuffed) by her parents.

    I ended up normal. Never had a legal issue. Finished in 4 1/2 years of college. My parents stopped telling me what to do around 16.

    In some cases, parents can be far too paranoid. In the case of my parents, the needs of each child necessitated a different level of paranoia/care/fear for each one.

  26. Robert, yes you are a paranoid, untrusting and bad parent. As others have said, you should trust your 13 year old daughter. You should trust that she is going to be where she says she is going to be, and that she will be doing what she says she will be doing. Because, we all know that our teenagers are completely honest with us and never fall victim to their temptations. They do not give in to peer pressure, avoiding alcohol, drugs and sex. They do not put themselves in positions where they could be sexually assaulted or worse. Teenagers are not naïve to these issues. They can rely on their worldly experience and maturity, which keeps them out of trouble. 😉

    It is our duty, as parents, to parent our children. Too many parents want to be their child’s friend and lose sight of the parenting part. I am a father of three kids, two of them being teenage daughters. I have a great relationship with my kids, but they know that I am their father first, and their friend second. They have their iPods, cell phones and social media. But, they also know that these are privileges and that we monitor their usage. You can teach your kids about right and wrong, about making wise decisions and about all the dangers in the world, but that is not going to prevent them from straying down the wrong path. We made that mistake with our oldest daughter. She is an honors student, involved in her youth group at church, very active in school activities and well-liked and respected by her teachers over the years. That did not stop her from making poor decisions. That did not stop her from drinking and putting herself in dangerous situations. Only recently did she tell us that she had been sexually assaulted on one of those occasions. And all this happened despite our feeling that we were too restrictive and too involved in her activities. She now appreciates our efforts and has thanked us for always being involved and for always checking up on her. Unfortunately, just talking to your kids and hoping they listen to you and abide by your advice is not enough. She now wishes she had listened to us and followed our instruction. We now wish we had not been so trusting. Even the best kids in the world will make poor decisions at times. Our jobs as parents is to make sure that they don’t make mistakes that will follow them the rest of their lives.

    Robert, in case you missed the sarcastic nature of the first paragraph, let me just tell you now… keep up the good work. Not sure you need to resort to GPS or following her places, but definitely keep tabs on where your kids are, who they are hanging out with…and call them out on occasion. I guarantee you they are not always doing what they say they are doing or going where they say they are going. My advice to other parents….get to know your kids. Get involved. Know where they are and who they are with. Set boundaries and administer discipline when needed. Show them you care about their schooling and extra-curricular activities. Take the time to go to their school awards, performances, games, or whatever it is they may be involved in. It is our jobs to raise our kids and to love and protect them.

    • Wow and in no place do you accept that people, regardless of age, sometimes make mistakes / bad decisions. You want to keep up the lie of parents being perfect and all knowing – and that’s the biggest mistake, because your children KNOW that you screw up and the hubris just gives them reason to ignore anything you say since you’re pretending to be God instead of a human being.

      The job of parents is to raise responsible children who are able to be responsible adults. Treating your kid like an inmate at Folsom is NOT teaching them to be responsible – it teaches them the lesson that people in positions of authority are jerks and not worthy of respect.

      • Wow, you completely missed the point. Not once did I say parents are perfect. How do you get “pretending to be God” from anything I said? I agree that another part of our job is to teach our kids responsibility.

        You are so far off the mark here it is not even funny. I have met parents that sound a bit like you. They are the ones that allow their 8 year old daughters to come over to our house to play with my kids and they have never met us. They are not concerned with whether or not their child is at someone’s house with only a male there. Then, after dark, they expect their child to walk home alone. Oh but, I guess in your eyes, that is okay.

        Don’t tell me what my job as a parent is. You have no idea. I could write for the next hour, but I know my words fall on deaf ears. Leave parenting advice to those who actually have experience.

        • Your entire rant was about how you know better than everyone else. Just like how in this most recent comment, you again think that no one but you is capable of knowing what’s best / right.

          And that’s the very problem. Your ego gets in the way of you being able to stop and think about your actions because you want to think that you’re incapable of making a mistake.

  27. Every kid and every relationship is different (even more so in a step-role), so I think some of the judgments here are a bit harsh. (she’s 13 not 17 everyone).As far as being “controlling”- it seems at one point she had a level of freedom and trust and violated it, and so some level of additional supervision is perfectly acceptable. I think the important part is the communication.

    Take my, and everyone else’s, opinion with a grain of salt- I don’t have kids, and I certainly don’t have YOUR kids, but I don’t think you’re being paranoid or overprotective. The fact that she is allowed to go places without parents being present at 13 is a lot of freedom. Locking her in her room would be restrictive and paranoid.

    • “The fact that she is allowed to go places without parents being present at 13 is a lot of freedom”

      You’re kidding, right? I was allowed to do that when I was like 8 – and no, I’m not some 75 year old who grew up in a totally different world. This is a problem that’s been endemic to our society for a good 30 years or more, where every generation parents want to extend the period of childhood (I’m talking actually being a CHILD, such as in elementary school) more and more to the point where I’ve even come across people claiming that if you’re under 30 you’re incapable of making your own decisions. People respond to how you treat them and when you treat a 13 year old like a 5 year old, they’re going to react accordingly. If you treat a 13 year old as a responsible person capable of making their own choices and suffering the consequences of bad choices, they’ll also respond accordingly. How else do you think someone becomes a responsible adult? There’s no magic that teaches you responsibility when the clock strikes 12 on your 18th birthday – it’s something that parents have to teach you and let you experience for years before that.

        • 27, and I’d rather shoot myself than have kids. Part of my reason for not wanting to have kids is that, almost universally, once someone has kids they turn into everything that they claim to be against. I’m not trying to insult you here, just saying that I’ve come across very few parents in my life that weren’t jerks.

          My parents treated us like human beings instead of property – as such not one of us ended up with unwed pregnancies, one did drop out of college to become a stay at home mom but the rest of us either completed or are currently finishing up graduate school, no arrests, no drug use, etc.

          I’m assuming that since I’ve only heard you mention your step-daughter that she’s your only child? If you had a son / step-son, I have a feeling he’d be pretty quick to tell you off and / or get violent if you pulled this same behavior on him.

        • Sometimes the best opinion on something, is someone on the outside, not in the same situation.

          Glocke is right though, without children, you would be of a completely different opinion.

        • Toten, you have issues man. I can give you a referral to a therapist if you need. You obviously have some issues from your own personal experience.

          Unless you are a parent, you really cannot understand. I am relieved to hear you do not have kids of your own, because the last thing we need are more parents who just let their kids roam freely getting into trouble.

        • Did he ever say he would just let them do anything they wanted, regardless of what it entails? I don’t think so. You have to have a balance, your children will learn much more from your advice, than they will from your control.

          You gotta learn when not to be an overbearing controlling parents (as in tracking their EVERY MOVE), which is what you people seem not to understand.

          What you’ve all ignored is, if the government tracked your every move, and said it was because they were worried about you, would you be all for that too? I don’t think so. Step back and take a good hard look at every perspective, not just your own.

        • Jordan, yes he does seem to think that a 13 year old girl should just be trusted, which is wrong. Any of you with daughters know that. And don’t get me wrong, it is not just daughters…

          And no, I am not saying I agree with GPS tracking of my kids. And the idea of tracking my spouse is just disturbing.

          Parents need to know where their kids are though….who they are hanging out with and what they are doing. I would love to live in this Utopian society that Toten lives in, but I don’t. I live in the real world. You don’t have to live in a ghetto for there to be dangers lurking around every corner.

        • I agree with you, parents have the right to know where their children are, but not 24/7. There has to be a mutual trust, and tracking their every move does nothing to build that trust.

          Unfortunately, you’re right and there are dangers everywhere in this country, and as a parent you have to do your best to protect your children, but there’s only so much you can do without being controlling. Sorry to say this Robert, but what you’re doing is extremely controlling, but I know your heart is in the right place.

        • So, thinking that all human being should be treated as human beings is “having issues”? And thinking that people should follow the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is also “having issues”?

          Clearly you fall in with the majority of OFWG on here and you have serious issues with needing to control others and force your will upon them.

  28. Actually when it comes to violent crime, it has been on the decline for the past 30 years. I know, it doesn’t appear that way with what we see in the news, however it is true:

    http://www.moralityindex.com/crime.html

    overall violent crime is down since 1980, as these graphs demonstrate as based on the Uniform Crime Report. Now this was last updated in 2003 but eh trend continues, I did not have my references handy at work to give the most recent graphs.

    • Okay, so based on what I am hearing in these comments, it seems most would agree that parents are more “paranoid” and protective in recent years. AND, as pointed out by many, the rate of violent crime has been decreasing. One could almost draw the conclusion that the “paranoia” displayed by more parents these days is actually paying off. The stats don’t lie, right?

        • I know. I was just being a bit facetious. 😉

          My point is that the statistics really have nothing to do with deciding how to parent our children. Just because violent crime rates have decreased over the years, does not mean we have any less responsibility for the safety of our children. It is when we become complacent that we get in trouble. Not to mention that it is not all about crime either…

        • ……..Sorry, but violent crime has been decreasing and in the past parents weren’t psychotic, so how does being psychotic now that there’s LESS danger make sense?

  29. This is your closing question:

    “Do you live with people who believe that carrying a gun is “proof” that you’re “over-reacting” to the distant possibility of violence? Perhaps members of your own family. Have you ever been tempted to lock away you gun and . . . relax? Or can you only relax when you have access to a firearm?”

    But I don’t think that’s the question you are actually asking. I personally don’t have anyone living with me with issues over my gun ownership/habits.

    Your article is more of a question of how much rope to allow your children and does that make you paranoid. You sound maybe a just a *tiny* bit paranoid on that front.

    Good luck to you, raising children is the hardest thing in the world to do right IMHO.

  30. I’d say for your daughter, being paranoid is probably the best thing to be, but to her, you’re coming off as extremely overbearing and controlling. GPS locator in her phone? That’s overboard by like.. a mile. Would you want the government tracking your every location from your phone 24/7? No? Exactly.

    You need to know when to advise, when to prevent, and when to back the f*** off. The more you want to know about what she’s doing, or where she’s going, the more she’s going to want to fight back, just like any other human being. Especially if she KNOWS you’re tracking her. Even if she didn’t know you were, that would DEFINITELY be paranoid and controlling.

    Another angle would be this: Would you track your wife with the GPS in HER phone? She’s equally as vulnerable to threats.

      • Whoa whoa whoa, you want to talk about how she’s SO irresponsible, yet you give her a $600 phone?!?!

        Yet another reason Android is better than iOS – with Android you can turn off GPS =D

        • It wouldn’t be so bad if corporations like Apple pushes you to track your children. They give you the opportunity, but it’s the parents who exploit it.

          In this case, YOU’RE big brother, and if the tables were turned, and the government were tracking you, you would not be going along with it.

          Did your parents track after you wherever you went? Follow you around in a car because they didn’t trust you? This is just ridiculous..

  31. I have a daughter also and I think you’re right on, Robert. She’ll appreciate you when she’s more mature. A 13 year-old girl needs a parent looking over her shoulder.

    • There’s a difference between “looking over her shoulder”, and “tracking her every move”

      Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Learn to give your children a little slack sometime, in case she decides to rebel someday and forget her phone. Children will go to incredible lengths to escape a controlling parent.

      • Jordan, I agree. I do not track my kids, and I try to give them some room to live their lives. But it is a delicate balance. You have to know when to give them space and when to reel them in. You want to protect them, while at the same time prepare them for life. You cannot always trust that your child is where they say they are, doing what they say they are doing. And it is not always a matter of trusting your child’s intentions. They could have good intentions, but using poor judgement. Wearing clothes that don’t match is poor judgement, but that will not end tragically. However, getting into car full of wreckless teens could end in tragedy. Teens don’t always see the harm that could ensue. That is when parents need to step in. I love my kids and I know they love and appreciate me. They are not always happy with my decisions, but that is okay.

        And for the record Toten and Jordan, I respect your opinions. We are all entitled to them. I did not intend any animosity here. Seriously though, I think your opinions might differ after raising kids for over 18 years.

        • No harm intended by any of the comments here. I realize that there’s a balance in raising children, but I’ve noticed a lot of parents these days who don’t respect that balance. I’m not trying to lump anyone here into that category, but it does exist.

          I’m not saying to let children do anything they want, whenever they want, but you have to trust that you’ve taught them well, and they’ll do the right thing when the time arises.

          Just gotta learn where your boundaries are. For some people, that can be a difficult thing to do. About my opinions after raising children.. I’m sure they would change, but not drastically. I’ll never know though, because I don’t plan on having children. My opinion may be wrong in some people’s eyes because I don’t have children, but I don’t think I’m that bad, haha.

        • Wow, another person who doesn’t want kids? That surprising.

          But yes, you’re right and it’s what I’ve been trying to point out. No one is saying “no rules”, all I’ve been saying is “Don’t be a obsessive controlling jerk”. You can have rules while treating your children like human beings – parents did it for thousands of years. This recent notion of treating children like inmates at a prison is simply ridiculous.

  32. You know…I was looking for gun reviews and ended up in the middle of a heated discussion on parenting!! How did that happen?? LOL

  33. Ah, the joys of having a daughter. Good luck.

    But I think you’re over that paranoid line just a bit. Not much. But . . . you’re there. I’d step back a hair.

    Fact is, it’s safer today for kids than it was when we were kids. Doesn’t sound like it if you read and listen and watch, but the crime stats are uniformly substantially down from the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s. Communications are so much better today, however, that we all hear way more about crimes all over the world than we ever did, making it seem like it’s all much worse. But it’s really not. (Unless you actually do live on the Mexican border, of course, in which case my only thought would be Move Now.)

    Plus, because of that communications thing I mentioned, kids today are far better educated about dangers and perverts and risks than we ever were at that age. So, between their better knowledge of danger, and the decrease in danger, they’re safer than you might think. Keep in mind, too, that people who carry are more aware of daily dangers than most others, simply because we make it a subject of daily consideration.

    Now, believe me, you gotta lose the GPS, and you gotta start showing her some trust. You can worry about her, (and you will), and you can try to help her make good decisions, but if you flat-out don’t show her that you trust her, the only way you leave for her to deal with it psychologically is to decide that she doesn’t care if you trust her, which very quickly leads to ending the connection between the two of you. Not only that, but then she goes off on her own with the implanted belief that she really is untrustworthy, and stands a good chance of becoming untrustworthy in everything she does simply because she figures it’s too late, she’s already not worth trusting . . . Vicious circle.

    It won’t be all that long before she’ll be making all of her own decisions. Best to let her practice now, while you’re around to give her help and advice when she needs it. Doesn’t mean “sure, dear, you can ride off with those drunk tattooed bikers, just be careful”, but the mall? Yeah.

    (My credentials for speaking to this issue: two boys, now 20 and 18, and one daughter, now 17. I feel your pain.)

  34. When my daughter was growing up, she went to risky places. Being that she was too young to conceal-carry, I bought her a stun-gun. I also taught her some nasty hand-to-hand self-defense moves. In short, I empowered her to be safe. Part of growing up.

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