I have been reading and listening. There are 2 arguments going on right now that I am interested in. The two issues are hand-in-hand.
The first, I saw up on "Uterine Wars". Sopher comments about her neighbor’s child, left unsupervised outside.
The second, is a lack of children being outdoors.
On the first issue, I am guilty. Sometime over the winter, I took a nap and Jay let Soleil play outside. Alone. I flipped. He and I discussed the concerns I had. Fear of an accident…fear of a kidnapping…fear of an injury… To be honest, he was able to convince me that all of these were low risks. The bigger risks were her not following ground rules. We set some (stay in the yard, play on the driveway, but not past the line we draw with chalk, no going in the street) and she followed them.
The next step was to let her go out for longer periods of time. Finally we allowed her sister to go out as well. Luna is NOT allowed outside without someone else. When they are outside, I listen, I check every few minutes, I go to the bathroom ALONE.
If it were up to me, the kids would play outside all day! And on Mondays, they often do!
The second issue is caused by many factors. First, the video game. Ah yes, I remember pong. Do you? The lovely game from Atari. Glip…Glip… My favorite. And don’t forget the Internet.. and the rise of computers. But the real factor is parental fear. We can’t let a child out to explore because they might get kidnapped. We can’t let them bike out of our sight. We can’t blah blah blah.
So we over schedule our kids in programs they don’t need and keep them indoors and never let them just be kids.
Then there is the shock that kids are not outside more.
As parents, we need to do some real risk assessment. What are the dangers in our yards? What are the dangers of letting our kids out? What do our kids NEED to know?
We have spoken to both girls. Luna is still too young to do too much in the yard alone. Soleil can. They can both play outside together. They know the general rules, don’t go in the street, don’t go in the woods, don’t go with a stranger or someone mom hasn’t approved (there’s about 7 people they know they can go with).
When Jay was 5, he walked to Kindergarten. Alone. For 3/4 of a mile. I wasn’t allowed because I would have walked along Route 20 where there were no sidewalks (School policy). Crazy H walked 1/2 mile to school. Alone.
But if you mention allowing your 5 year old today to go down the street alone? You are a bad parent.
But are you? To let them explore their freedom in a slow controlled manner?
Food for thought.