Each and every night there is a steady parade of small feet to my bedroom.
One by one they creep in and one by one I carry them back to their own bed when they fall asleep. Inevitably one will sneak back in again and I will wake up with an unexpected body curled up sleeping soundly in my bed, knees wedged in my back.
It’s been happening for years.
What I never realised was that there was a simple solution at my fingertips. An easy way to keep them contained that would only require a small visit to the hardware store and an electric drill.
All I needed to do was physically lock them in their rooms.
I found this out reading social media the other day where a group of mums were discussing the best method of locking their little ones into their bedrooms at night.
A push -in button lock or a slider? A twist button device or an old fashioned key?
Why not just get a padlock I considered chiming in? Or just use handcuffs, then your child could never get out.
Tempering down my disbelief I conducted a quick Google search that showed me that this wasn’t just a selected group of
jailers parents but in fact a genuine parenting technique - quite acceptable by many.
Am I naive that this goes on? Am I wrong in being shocked? Trying not to judge – cause you know benefit of the doubt and all – I did some further research and it seems like this isn’t isolated at all.
Parents who lock their children in their rooms at night are generally divided into distinct groups.
There are those who genuinely feel that their child will escape and cause harm to themselves if they didn’t lock them in. One writing that their two-year old would wander around the house at 5am using ladders made of stacks of books to reach medicines.
Others recounting similar tales and questioning what the difference was between a simple hook and catch and a baby gate? Another told of how her three-year old woke, wandered the house till she found the glass wear cupboard and proceeded to smash each and every wine glass like a groom at a Greek wedding.
Another wrote: “My oldest loves to quietly sneak around the house if we are sleeping two years when ago i woke to find he had quietly trashed the kitchen and tried to drink a bottle of vannila [sic] extract and tonight ( we just moved and our home is not completely child safe yet) he dumped a bottle of oregano, a bunch of cinnamon sticks and broke a half dozen eggs on the carpeted floor of his new bedroom.”
The main age they use the locks seems to be between about two and four – for both daytime sleeping and nighttime.
Yes kids can get up to mischief, but we don't need to lock them up. Post continues after video...
In a Reddit thread earlier this year a poster questioned whether his family really deserved child services investigating the locks on their children’s doors after all they were just bolted. The responses were plentiful - one, a sympathetic correctional officer, oh sorry parent wrote “You have to protect your kids in unconventional ways sometime because kids do weird stuff and no house no matter how "baby proof" is safe to leave them alone in. Kids are the masters of finding dangerous stuff. Leaving them alone is so much more dangerous than keeping them corralled.”
(I am desperately trying to lay out this argument without judgment here..)
This first group in their posts quite often pose the question as to “whether this is abuse” and defend criticisms that it could be dangerous in a fire with statements like “what’s the difference between locking a bedroom door and locking a front door?”
With the second group of parents who lock their children in their rooms I feel a little less like I have to force back my imploding judgment. This group are parents of children with conditions that they feel require them to be locked in such as autism, intellectually disabled children or sleep walking issues. Not having ever had a child with autism or an intellectually disabled child then really I can’t comment.
But as for the other rather large groups of parents who actually turn a key on their child should they wander the house in the wee hours of the night speed dialling dominos pizza I say what the actual f**k?
In what universe is this actually okay? In what universe do parents not wake up when they hear their two-year old smashing wine glasses and stomping on eggs and oregano? I know the done thing at the moment is not to judge other mums but sometimes judging serves a purpose – reminding others that this is not okay.
It is your responsibility to parent, to be on alert, to ensure your child is not just safe but also mentally okay – not screaming behind a locked door.
Sure shut the door when your child needs to nap, baby gate your stairs if that’s your issue, invest in those fiddly cupboard locks galore to stop them drinking vanilla– but locking your child in their room with a key?
If you had to post the question on Facebook then come on, deep down even you know that it's not okay.
Am I being way too judgmental here? Is it ever okay to lock your child in a room?