Wherever You Roam

I remember the first time I was confronted with the changing attitudes toward raising children in America. I was a single twenty-something working in Southern California. One Saturday afternoon I stopped at a friends house just because I was in the neighborhood. He was a bit older and already had 2 kids. I found him sitting on a lawn chair in his driveway with the kids, probably age 4 and 6, playing in the yard. We chatted a while when the conversation turned to something Fred wanted to show me in the house. He rounded up the kids, we all went in and in a few minutes were done with whatever we wanted to see. OK, he said to the kids, we can go back outside now. Wait - that only took a few minutes. Couldn't the kids have just stayed outside? Fred looked at me like I was crazy. They can't play out there without adult supervision!

That had to be 20 years ago and I distinctly remember how foreign the concept of not being able to let your kids out of your sight for even a minute was to me. I figured that was how things were in California. Where I was raised it wasn't like that. By 5 I was certainly allowed to play at the neighbors with no adults hovering. By 10 I could ride my bike pretty much anywhere I wanted (within reason).

Now that I'm a parent, I clearly see this isn't just how things were in California. Things have changed. Even in my home state of Minnesota, parent's ideas of what's safe for their children, and what's not, have changed. And that's exactly what I think has changed - beliefs, not circumstances. At least not so much.

If you're wondering what got me on to this rant, it was an article that started as an op-ed column in the NY Sun. The author, Lenore Skenazy got such strong reaction she's decided to start a blog on the topic. Check the article out on her blog FreeRangeKids - Why I let My 9-Year-Old Rid the Subway Alone. It may make you think.

1 comment:

kippur said...

I saw that news story. Now that I am a parent this has really come to the fore front of my mind also. Obviously we have a few years before it really becomes an issue but I can't help but think about it. Growing up we spend whole days in the summer out in the woods, only stopping home for lunch and dinner. I think the only time I remember the door being locked was when we went on our two week vacation!

A agree with you completely. I think it is just attitude that has changed(perception). I do not think that the world is any less safe than it was when we were children.

I have to say, I give credit to our parents because now that I am a parent I know it will be difficult to let my daughter out of my sight once she gets a little older. I wonder if they thought of it as being that difficult, or if it was just the way it was and it wasn't so much of a worry. I guess I could just ask her.