Edgy Mama: Stick family car stickers: creepy or cool?

I’ve been seeing lots of those stick family car stickers around town, mostly on the back windows of mommy vans and stud-daddy SUVs. Driving to and from Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, practically every van I passed contained a traveling family boldly advertising their family/pet configuration on the rear windshield.

What’s the point of these stickers? What are these folks really advertising? How happy their families are? Is it part of a religious movement? Are they saying, “Here’s my contribution to world overpopulation?”

And why do I care? Possibly because I find the stick family decals both cute and irritating – both creepy and cool. Like bumper stickers, they’re hard to ignore. If you’re sitting behind a soccer-mom in traffic, you have little choice but to examine and contemplate the family stick figures splashed in front of you.

While driving down the highway, I almost wrecked my clunker while trying to see if the families inside the vans matched their window displays.

“Wow,” I’d think. “That family has a teenager, two young kids, a baby, two cats and a dog. I wonder what kind of dog? Is it in traveling with them? Are these people as happy in reality as they look as cartoon characters that my 7-year-old could draw?”

Then I wonder what happens when the baby becomes a young kid. Are the stickers easy to remove and upgrade? What happens if the parents get divorced? Do you just leave a blank space where Dad used to be? When the dog dies, do you just “x” him out, or plan to replace him quickly so the kids don’t cry every time they get in the car?

Also, folks can customize their stick family by, say, having little Addy kicking a stick soccer ball and teenager Jay playing a stick guitar. If these people’s kids change their extracurricular interests as often as my kids do, the stickers must be easily removable and replaceable.

The customization’s intriguing as well. Does young Jimmy get to decide what his stick figure’s doing or does Mom (who’s probably ordering the decals on-line) decide for him? All these questions run through my head as traffic starts moving again, and I try to catch up with another van to check out the real family in front of the stick family.

Turns out, like everything else, the stick family decals have stirred up controversy. Some of them include names, which has upset child safety folks. They say it’s easier for a child predator to gain the trust of a child if he knows the kid’s name. Add in knowing his siblings’ names and mentioning Lassie, and the kid’s more easily disarmed. The kid might think, “He can’t be a stranger if he knows all our names, right?” Wrong. The bad guy just memorized the back of the van.

Of course, statistically, kids are more likely to be hurt in a car accident while being carted around town than they are to be stalked by a child predator who’s learned their names from car stickers. But why take the chance?

I called FamilyStickers.com, a company based outside of Boise, Idaho, because they’re the first business that pops up when you Google “family stickers.”

“We don’t push names being on the stickers from a safety standpoint,” says marketing director Aaron Ellsworth. “But it’s an option.”

Ellsworth admitted to displaying the family stickers himself, although he doesn’t include the names of his five kids.

I asked where the stickers originated, and Ellsworth says he first started seeing them for sale at county fairs and mall kiosks about 10 years ago. But only in the past few years, as companies have started selling the decals on-line, have the stickers gained in popularity, he says.

FamilyStickers.com is a small part of a large company that creates all sorts of signs and lettering. While Ellsworth says the family stickers aren’t a majority of the company’s business, he says they sell well and ship all over the world, although he guesstimates 95 percent are sold in the U.S.

He thinks the stickers are so popular because they give folks a way to personalize their vehicles and show family pride. He said he knows of grandparents who plaster the backs of their RVs with all of their grandchildren-in sticker form, of course.

For $4.75 per person and pet, you too can flaunt your family across the back of your jalopy. And know that, while I won’t be joining you because I’m paranoid, I will be checking out your stickers and your family as I drive by.

Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.


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22 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Stick family car stickers: creepy or cool?

  1. Ash's Dad

    I like them, same as you, I think they are both cute and creepy (a little).

  2. Ken Hanke

    Are you absolutely sure these symbols aren’t “Driving Ace” things like on WWI fighter planes, denoting the various things the driver has run over?

  3. Trey

    The new “baby on board”….. equally as annoying. Look at me, I have kids, and a dog, and a big truck…. big FN deal.

  4. John

    Its too bad that being proud of your family qualifies as ‘creepy’.

  5. Family

    Finally! An article to highlight your snootiness. Maybe it is time to give the family friendly brewery strong consideration?

  6. David Cohen

    I’m with Ken.
    Maybe someone will come up with one that has squirrels, possums,tricycles, and/or morons who cross the street without looking to see if anyone is coming, while listening to their iPods or Tweeting their friends about the fact that they are now crossing the street.

  7. David Harper

    Hard hitting journalism. I can’t wait until next week’s column about the merits of using spit to wipe your children’s faces in restaurants.

  8. David,
    This is an opinion piece. It’s not supposed to be hard-hitting journalism. If you want that, there are other sections of Mountain Xpress that should fulfill that for you. If you don’t like my column, don’t read it.

  9. contentpersephone

    Regards the “baby on board” window shade things and such – I always thought that their purpose was that if you were in an accident, the paramedics or police or such would know who was involved…..I thought they were supposed to be a safety thing. I had one in my car when my son was an infant. It wasn’t a sticker – it was one of those detachable suction thingies that goes on the back window.

    Then, a while back, one of my friends confessed to me that she didn’t understand the point of them at all and thought people were “bragging or something”. I had taken mine down a while before, because it kept falling and anyhow the boy wasn’t a “baby” anymore…but the whole misunderstanding did give me a chuckle.

    In any case, that’s just the “baby on board” signs that I’m talking about….the family stickers – well, I really can’t see any safety benefit there at all. especially with names on them.

  10. Mysterylogger

    No more as creepy as the other bumperstickers that litter countless cars all over town.

    But if a bumper sticker is political its A-Ok, but someone wanting to potray their family as a funny Characture then there is a problem. LOL

    Now what if they use the family Sticker and have politcal bumper stickers on their car is that ok or is that still creepy?

    Got to love the free thinking in Asheville, Its free thinking as long everyone agree’s LOL.

  11. Jenny

    quote:”The new “baby on board”….. equally as annoying. Look at me, I have kids, and a dog, and a big truck…. big FN deal.”

    I agree..like they expect me to drive more safely around them just because they have a baby on board or they are announcing their breeding capabilities.

  12. David Harper

    “Edgy” Mama- It’s less like a column and more like a blog. I remember when the Xpress used to run hard hitting investigative pieces. Now they waste precious copy on your little diary.

  13. If you’d like to offer constructive criticism and comments, please do, David Harper. But being snide and condescending probably isn’t going to get you results or foster change.

    I find it interesting that you seem to be a long-time Xpress reader, yet you’re suddenly taking issue with my columns, although I’ve been writing them weekly for 80 or so straight weeks.

  14. Gordon Smith

    Gosh – who knew that the folks with the stick figure decals would be so catty?!?

  15. ButtercupMcToots

    I saw a van yesterday with a daddy fish with a cross, a smaller fish, and two even smaller fish.

  16. Bob Davis

    Are they creepy? No. Are they cool? I don’t think so either. I don’t know…I suppose it’s no worse than having your kid’s jersey number or “my son is on the honor roll” on the back of your car. This probably all falls into the category of “just a bit too much info for the guy driving behind you.” But who knows…maybe this stuff has a tendency to cause people to not drive like jerks around you and cause a Car accident. If so, then they’re definitely cool.

  17. pixie dust

    I think they are rather boring and lacking personality. My friend recently got a sticker for her car that actually looks pretty cool. It’s a cartoon of her son playing baseball. It looks just like him! Although I think car stickers are dumb I’m considering getting one of my daughters because they’re so cute. Has anyone heard of http://www.avatarsforcars.com? Apparently, you can send in a photo and they’ll make a custom cartoon sticker. My friend has been getting a lot of attention with hers.

  18. Alan

    Edgy Mama just mentioned overpopulation. I may not hate her guts after all.

  19. So dissapointed

    Well I can honestly say I have never seen a column quite like this…and I hope to never again. I can’t believe you would waste time complaining about stickers. Who freakin cares what people have on their cars and why they have them? I would hope that people have better things to think about. It is so dissapointing to see this is what people really concern themselves with. Get a life.

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