Take your kids to the park, and leave them there

I must have looked like a nodding dog while I was reading this article – it makes so much sense! It just can’t be healthy for children’s development to keep them so closely supervised all the time. And, as the article says, people tend to forget the statistics which say the vast majority of crimes against children are not committed by strangers – I think it’s just so much easier to focus on the “stranger danger” issues, because that’s something you can actually do something about, you can teach your kids not to take sweets from strangers, you can mollycoddle them and supervise them in the playground, so you get a sense of control. One of the quotes from British parents in response to this “take your children to the park… and leave them there” idea was from a dad who said that he’s not willing to take this kind of risk because he needs to know his kids are safe. But hey, can you ever really know that? Is there such a thing as complete and total safety in this world? All you can really have is an illusion that your kids are safe.

And if you wrap them up in cotton wool, you’re taking different risks – you’re risking your kids growing up without having a clue how to make decisions for themselves, how to make good judgements about risk-taking. You’re risking your kids growing up to be over-anxious adults.

And yes, I know, it’s easy for me to say – I haven’t got kids to worry about. But I’m pretty sure that if I did, I wouldn’t want to raise them on the fear & anxiety diet that my own mum brought me up on.

For more about this stuff go to Free-Range Kids – How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children

6 thoughts on “Take your kids to the park, and leave them there

  1. rob was kidnapped by a stranger, so he's hyper-sensitive to issues of letting the kids go out on their own. our rule is that they should always go in pairs (at a minimum). nathan does bike on his own to a friends house a few blocks away, but then they travel as a herd from there to school.

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  2. that's understandable Meg…but the fashion for paranoia is so sick! My (ex)b-in-law is a professional photographer; he was taking general shots on a beach in Britain, a while back and some stupid woman started accusing him of pedophilia because her kid might or might not have been in the shot!

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  3. oh yes, totally understandable considering Rob's own personal experience. after all, the natural thing is for parents to want to protect their children. I just feel there is a general tendency these days to go seriously over the top. kids going to school together "as a herd" sounds very healthy to me. it's how it was with coming home from parties when I was at school – there'd be a kind of gradually dwindling herd of us walking home together, the boys making sure they've dropped all the girls off first. but we didn't have a long walk to school – here it seems that kids go a lot further than we did and so many parents take them by car and then the kids wait at the end of the school day to be picked up at the gates. and then it's up to the parents to ship them around to all their after-school activities. when I was a kid we walked around free-range within our neighbourhood, and there was a sense that all the neighbourhood grown-ups kept an eye.

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  4. that is exactly what i like about having the kids in the public school. in fact, i've been wanting to write on that. i'm hoping i can get to it some time this week. the fact that i know all the kids in my kids' grades, plus i've gotten to know several other kids from other grades, and i've met their parents and their parents have met my kids, it creates a huge community feel and helps us to feel invested not only in our own families but in our communities (and therefore other families) as well. i definitely feel better knowing that on almost every block in our neighborhood is at least a parent or two that knows my kids.

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  5. I feel really sorry for the children of these over anxious parents..they are being made to suffer their parent's inadequate neuroses!Until these parents learn to grow up and accept that the world isn't made of gingerbread their kids have no chance of dealing with the real world.

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