Sunday, August 27, 2006

Kids and freedom

Too tired to blog, but I enjoyed this article in today's Post. It's about parents who are not "helicopter parents" in that they let their kids roam around the neighborhood rather than shuttling them to every activity.

Best stat in the article: According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, only "115 of 260,000 child kidnappings a year nationwide fit the classic scenario most parents fear: children snatched by strangers. Most kidnappings are done by family members or by people the children know." So the fear of "stranger danger" that's keeping kids constantly under mom & dad's watchful eye is, statistically speaking, irrational.

I'm not saying I'm going to start sending my toddler to the corner store all by himself to pick up some milk. But when I look down the road, I hope I will still feel confident in sending him to the playground or the store when he's older. I have fond memories of walking to the 7-11 with the other neighborhood girls when we were as young as 7 and 8 years old. I really want my kids to experience that feeling of independence and freedom.

15 Comments:

Blogger ccw said...

This summer we started letting Kid L go to the pool by herself. I had a very difficult time making this decision, but I realized that I rode my bike 6-7 miles to the pool at her age and she would only be walking 4 houses down and across a non-busy street. Plus, the plice/fire station is in front of the pool.

She has treated her freedom with great responsibility and always comes home on time. I am very glad that I let go just a little.

8:30 AM, August 28, 2006  
Anonymous Lisa V said...

Also the percentage of kidnappings haven't gone up since we were children, or even our parents were children. We are just more aware of child abductions than they were because of the all present 24 hour media.

Still, I had a ton more freedom than my children do. My 12 year old can ride to the park (3blocks away) and even take her siblings. My 14 year old can pretty well go in this part of town on her bike. My 8 year old can't leave the driveway alone though. I was all over town at 8. But I just can't stand the thought of it. I am unjustifiably paranoid.

8:45 AM, August 28, 2006  
Anonymous Lex said...

When I was in the early elementary grades, at least, I was leaving the house in the morning, maybe eating lunch at home or maybe not, and coming home just in time for dinner -- sunburned, sweaty and exhausted, having spent the day with friends up and down the street.

I want my kids to have that freedom and that fun.

9:47 AM, August 28, 2006  
Anonymous Kelly said...

I agree.

I used to spend hours in the woods behind my house as a kid. It was great. My brothers and I let our imaginations run wild.

That said, it is a tough thing to teach your kids to be fearful of what they should be, but not afraid of everything. It reminds me of the best lines from "Finding Nemo":

Well you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

2:10 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger oshee said...

Growing up I was allowed to roam the neighborhood, or escape to the playground at the school behind the house. I let my kids walk the 1/2 of a mile through residential streets to school. I pick them up after school because it is really hot here still.
I have yet to let them do more than ride around out block on their bikes unsupervised.

I don't worry so much about kidnapping. I worry more about accidents when I am not close enough to help. We live not far from a couple of busy streets. As much as I trust my kids, they are still kids and there are bunches of idiots on cell phones while driving out there.

2:53 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Maggie said...

Wow, that's a great article. Puts things in perspective.

I'm only 20 so I guess I'm living proof of how fast that mentality has changed. I ran all over town as a kid and this was only 10-15 years ago. I want my son to have that freedom but I've always been horrified by the idea. I'm starting to wonder how justified I really am in that fear...

3:10 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger liz said...

Amen. MM is going to be allowed to go to the corner store by himself once I can trust him to safely cross the street (two years from now? Three?) Same for the pool when I trust him in the water (and he passes the pool test)...

3:29 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Quinn said...

I'm so trying to be Dory and not Nemo's dad. I know the stats and I want the kids to have the freedom I had (like y'all, I fondly remember going "out to play" and coming back by dinner). It may take some time, but hopefully by the time DQ begins grade school, I'll be ready to let her go a little.

4:53 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Jessica said...

I, too, used to walk to 7-11 with friends and siblings....

It is a shame that we even have to worry about such horrible events, however - I would find it difficult not to fear "stranger danger" even if the stats show it to be less likely.

5:47 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

I totally agree, but what if the number of stranger kidnappings is so low because parents ARE very cautious and paranoid? How can we quantify that?

I'd like to be less paranoid than my parents were, but growing up in California, there were an awful lot of kidnappings around. It has scarred me for my children.

7:55 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Yankee, Transferred said...

Our kids had neighborhood freedom very young. They always had a buddy, but they would walk to the little park up the hill, or down to the convenient store, or into Walgreens to run errands for me-on their bikes, on foot...it was great, and I can tell you this-it makes for easier times when they drive and travel on their own. You're not sitting there with your heart in your mouth the whole time.
And then they go to college...

8:57 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I'm so trying to be Dory and not Nemo's dad.

Quinn, I love this. I'm going to adopt this as my philosophy on parenting. Although by the end, Nemo's dad is much better.

9:01 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger BernieRA said...

My son just became old enough, in my opinion, to go off and do things on his own. He walks with his sister to the store, goes to friends houses, and rides his bike a mile to the lake.

I thought I would freak, but I didn't. I was of a mind that the new world was too tough for him. I guess once I got to know him, I got over it.

12:29 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger DaniGirl said...

To continue Quinn's lovely philosophy, APL, don't we all hope we get better as we go along in this parenting thing?

I used to walk to and from school by myself at four. FOUR! I used to walk down a busy street to the corner store at the same age. Now, Tristan can ride his bike six houses down the road to the stop sign and back only if an adult is also outside.

This article gives me hope.

1:16 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger kmsqrd said...

Finding the balance is always one of those things I worry about being able to do if I ever have kids.

I always find it helpful to remember that even if I didn't know the folks in my neighborhood they knew me. At least well enough to let my dad know when I'd fallen off of my bike and damaged myself pretty good (I was 14 at the time) so he could ride to the rescue.

11:27 AM, September 02, 2006  

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