We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

27 June 2007

Over protected childhood?

According to The Children's Society, Britain's kids are in danger because of over-protection by adults. The article on Yahoo news here, says that fewer kids are forming long-lasting friendships due to adult fears for their safety. They are not being let out on their own, nor given freedom to play without adult supervision, resulting in increased depression, alienation and anti-social behaviour. I can certainly see these effects present in the younger population now and don't doubt it. But as a parent, it is very difficult to let go and trust that your child will be safe. How young is old enough? Some seven year olds are let out to play on their own, and there is chatter about irresponsible parenting.

I know I've written about this before, and it is the dilemma of parenting. Thinking about my own childhood I recall freedom to walk to and from school from about 8 years old.. and not only that, but there were no 'after-school' clubs, we just went home with our key and let ourselves in..while mom still worked. At 12 I snuck off with my best friend on the bus 'downtown', which was downtown Chicago.. we survived, found our way around and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd have a heart attack if my kids did that!! But ever since I have been the one who is 'good' with directions, can always find my way and can read all sorts of maps (GPS may take away the art of map reading soon). I also drove my best friend's mom's car when I was 15, on the motorway... we weren't trouble makers by a long-shot, and yet we did take risks. There were times indeed when I felt maybe I'd taken too big of a risk, yet I dealt with it and since then have taken calculated risks, including in business.

So was I neglected then? Well, I don't feel that way, and I did well in school, etc. etc. But now as a parent, I wouldn't consider leaving my eldest on his own any time soon -- and then if I did, in this country, social services would probably be knocking on my door rather quickly. So what's happening? I do want both my children to have freedom, and to be independent and well adjusted.. I know what I was capable of, despite my parents best intentions, and yet as parents do, I don't feel my children should do the same.. but won't they be equally capable if I allow them to? If I teach them to be? Every child is unique, and has different capabilities at different ages, so I know such decisions will have to come from my gut, and I'm hoping I'll know when the time is right. Arghhhh..the conundrum....

1 comment:

RheLynn said...

I agree, my mother was so overprotective I couldn't bike around the block without an older sibling until I was 12! That was a bit extreme even for my generation.

Now my husband and I are expecting, and we are discussing how early we would let our little one wander our farm without more than the family dog... He thinks four, I'm pondering six. I do admit though, our collie-mix is a well-trained dog ;)