I don't think it was so bad. They weren't coping, it was affecting their relationship and health. And their son roaming through the house??? Yeah. He was probably safest locked in. Roaming the house, what if he played with the oven? Stuck things in power outlets? I wouldn't go out and leave dd home alone, so I wouldnt let her roam the house while I sleep!
He bolted the door. Not dead locked. Or even locked. So anyone on the outside could easily slide the lock and quickly gain access if there was an emergency. I agree with what he said about fire fighters often struggle to locate children in a fire who leave their room, I've heard this several times before.
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