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Article...Stop worrying about your children!

post #1 of 102
Thread Starter 
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/200...ids/index.html

Quote:
Amid the cacophony of terrifying Amber Alerts and safety tips for every holiday, Skenazy is a chipper alternative, arguing that raising children in the United States now isn't more dangerous than it was when today's generation of parents were young. And back then, it was reasonably safe, too. So why does shooing the kids outside and telling them to have fun and be home by dark seem irresponsible to so many middle-class parents today?
What do you think?
post #2 of 102
I agree with a lot of things she says and I've been trying for a while to get in that mindset.

I decided we (as a society) were being entirely irrational when one day, I was exhausted and fell asleep and DD's nurse let DS outside to play. I guess he was bothering her and there were some kids outside about his age. She knew I needed sleep and sent him outside rather than wake me up.

When I woke up, I didn't hear DS in the house and I panicked and flew downstairs and asked where DS was. She told me he was outside playing with some kids. I just about lost it on her! I kept my cool though and went outside to check on him. He was just in the side yard connecting the 2 apartments, playing with a 5 year old girl. No harm done.

Then I went back inside and I realized she had opened the window so she could see and hear him. He wasn't in danger. It just never occured to me that a 4 1/2 year old could be safe playing outside alone. DD's nurse is my mom's age. All of us kids played outside by the time we could walk. A lot of times there were older kids to watch us, but they were all of 7 or 8 years old. By the time I was 5 I was playing across the apartment complex and going up and down the street. By the time I was 6, I was walking to school, about 6 blocks away. No doubt her daughter did too.

So I never said anything to her. Instead I thought long and hard about it. I let him play outside alone the next day and the next day.... I can always hear or see him and I made friends with the couple next door. They are grandparents and their granddaughter was the one DS was playing with. They are nice and the grandpa and I compare oxygen supply companies and products like geeks. They adore DD and had a niece with CP who died a long time ago, so they know what I'm going through.

I think part of the problem is we're not as friendly and neighborly as we used to be. Everywhere I've lived, we haven't made friends with our neighbors. Nobody seems to want to talk and I'm quite shy really. I don't know if it's like this for other people. So I've been trying to talk to everyone and get to know them. And in turn, they learn who my kids are and if there's ever a problem, I know they would come to me, like if DS fell and scraped his knee and was crying on the sidewalk. And I would do the same for them. It used to be that everyone kind of kept an eye on everyone else's kids. If you looked out your window and saw little Tommy from up the street talking to some man you'd never seen, you'd walk outside and find out what was going on. You wouldn't just ignore it. It's easier to ignore when you don't know the kid or his parents.

I talked with DS about his boundries....don't go in the street, don't play in the puddle (it gets deep when it rains), don't play around the dumpster, ect. I just had the "stranger talk" with him a few days ago. I don't want to scare him with stranger danger. I told him not to go with strangers, not to let them in the house, not to take things from them, ect. I did NOT tell him not to talk to them though. I don't want my kid thinking everyone is a bad guy and they can hurt you just from talking to you. In fact, I told him if he's ever lost, the best person to find to help him is another mommy. I told him if anyone ever tried to take him, he's supposed to yell, "This person is not my mommy/daddy!".

When he's older and I'm sure all of that has sunk in, I'll let him out of my sight.
post #3 of 102
I agree with her on all counts except the police background checks in Great Britain. I had a couple of jobs working with teenagers in England where I had to provide that background check, and it was in no way onerous-- took me a two-minute phone call and that was it. We require criminal background checks in the US too. I guess her concern is that it's required for volunteers too, but really it's EASY and quick. It does not limit the children's freedom the way the other things she talked about does.
post #4 of 102
Very enjoyable article. When I was a kid I was shoved out the door in the morning and told to come home when I was hungry.

I hope to do this with my son as well. We live in a neighborhood with lots of kids and they are always outside which is nice.

Now, I wonder about something. My neighborhood is middle to lower middle class and there are always kids around. In the richer neighborhoods I almost never see kids outside just playing. Do you think this huge safety push is more concentrated in upper middle class homes and neighborhoods when in reality those kids are probably safer?
post #5 of 102
I have such mixed feelings.

Overall I agree that kids need some freedom in order to learn and grow, and that being outside and in the community is a really important part of that experience.

On the other hand, I think her nostalgia for the 70s is a bit – odd. As someone who walked or took the streetcar and bus to school alone starting towards the end of kindergarten, I remember quite a few bad things that happened that I would prefer not happen to my kid. In a snowstorm I waited for the streetcar rather than walking and my boots were wet and I almost lost some toes. My friend and I discovered a dead baby in a bag in a ravine. I was flashed twice. I was robbed a few times. I was pushed down and broke a finger. In fact there was a lot of older kid bullying.

It was definitely not all la la la roses and joy.

Also, I don't think that it's fear of stranger danger that is the biggest factor in the loss of middle-class kids at the playground & around the neighbourhood.

I think it's actually more about the prevalence of two-income families who actually do find care for their kids (rather than a lot of SAHMs, or using extended family) and of course if you're paying for supervision you expect – supervision. Added to that is a fair amount of pressure to go for organized sports and activities and there's just less time.

And there's the draw of the tv, video games, etc. So the kids themselves may be choosing to stay in.

I think as with most things there is a middle ground, and a lot of parents ARE finding that middle ground. Meanwhile she's making money berating helicopter parents. I think her hype about how all kids are confined is pretty much just that – hype.
post #6 of 102
Even the police checked worked -- I think I would be on board with it. But in reality they don't. You can have no record of being a pediphile, physical abuser, or verbal abuser. Also, with our current sex offender list they are becoming useless because they have to many people on it for things that doesn't mean they will harm children.
post #7 of 102
My 3yo is playing outside right now. I like more contact than "be back before dark"-- I check on them every 15-30 minutes. Our rules are: don't go in the parking lot or street, and ask permission if you're going to go further than my sight range from the porch.
At 6, I rode my bike over a mile to school with my 9yo boy neighbor. At 7, I walked home with my 5yo sister, let us into the house, and played inside or in the yard until my mom got home from work at 5. Nothing bad ever happened to us, if you don't count bickering (which my boys do plenty of with me around).
I want my kids to be equally capable, even if necessity doesn't require them to stay home alone for 2 hours a day. Within the next year, I'd like to be able to leave my oldest at home alone for a half hour. They love the freedom being able to play outside with their friends. The kids I know (family) who aren't allowed to play outside, just sit and watch TV or play video games for many hours a day. No wonder we have childhood obesity!
post #8 of 102
While I don't feel that modern times are more dangerous than when I was a kid or my parents were kids that doesn't mean I think they are any safer either. We're talking about an era of Ted Bundy and Son of Sam and John Wayne Gacy and Albert Fish. Modern technology has made it possible to solve crimes more efficiently but also made it possible to commit crimes more efficiently. I live in a culdesac and ALL my neighbors except the one who is gone 90% of the time driving a truck have young children. All our kids go outside every day when the weather is good and play. They play in my backyard or another neighbor's back yard or ride their bikes in the culdesac or climb trees. They range in age from 4-13. They come in when the streetlights come on or we call them in for supper. Occasionally one of us will look out on them to make sure we can hear or see them and they are ok. My 2.5 year old twins play in my fenced backyard alone or with the older kids out there. I leave the window open to hear them and I can see them from wherever I am in the house. I don't reminisce about the good old days because the good old days are always the days of childhood when life seemed simpler because for children it is simpler. You can hardly base the frequency and likelihood of danger on the perspective of child vs adult. To an adult life will always seem more dangerous.
post #9 of 102
Works for me.

I remember sending my daughter off to the coffee shop a block away from us when she was 7, to buy me a mocha (and I think I funded something for her, too ). It was just a block down a quiet street, but some people freaked. By 10 or so she was wandering around downtown Davis with a friend for a few hours, and by 12 she was flying solo cross country, even changing planes. Once she had a cell phone I really had no worries...

dar
post #10 of 102
But what do you do when you want your kid to have freedom but you live in a town that has a registered sex offender and 2 years in a row 2 different men trying to lure kids into their vehicles. Some of the kids DD's age(9) do wander all around the neighborhood and usually I think it is insane..but then lately I started to think maybe I am a worry wart and then I hear about the guy trying to kidnap kids.
post #11 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Worm View Post
But what do you do when you want your kid to have freedom but you live in a town that has a registered sex offender and 2 years in a row 2 different men trying to lure kids into their vehicles. Some of the kids DD's age(9) do wander all around the neighborhood and usually I think it is insane..but then lately I started to think maybe I am a worry wart and then I hear about the guy trying to kidnap kids.
We ALL live in this town. honestly, all towns have registered sex offenders...and crimes occur everywhere. There is reasonable cuation, and over-caution..and think the author is trying to get us to realize our ideas of reasonable caution have totally croseed the line into extreme overprotectiveness....
post #12 of 102
I had to laugh about the comment on kneepads for crawlers. We almost bought these for DS! Not b/c of the crawling, but due to the fact that he "walked" on his knees until he was 20 mos old. Hardwood, asphalt, tile, you name it! It was one of the craziest things to witness.

On a more serious note....I've decided that as parents we have to pick our battles. I've learned soooo much via MDC and similar forums and at times have become very overwhelmed. I'm now in the mode of continuing to learn but make a very consious effort as to what I get worked up over. It will do my children no good if I'm a nervous wreck.
post #13 of 102
My neighborhood is more middle middle class. My baby is still young, but I asked my husband one day, when we saw a family riding bikes together, "What if DS wants to go outside and ride his bike, and I don't want to go?" He didn't know the answer. I was basically wondering if/when it was ok to just let him go have fun/get into trouble, what is considered poor supervision, and what is considered neglect. In my neighborhood, you never see kids just riding bikes. We have a pretty nice neighborhood, with open streets that aren't busy at all, sidewalks, and a nice green park area with a trail. That is pretty much all I used to do growing up. If I went to a friend's house, it was always to ask if so-and-so could ride bikes. I would get turned off if every time I wanted to ride bikes I had to twist my Mom's arm, change my clothes and find all of my protective gear, have Mom trail me, then go home when she got ready to go.
post #14 of 102
I agree with her 100%.

"So every adult there who has any interest in children is assumed to have an interest that's very prurient -- perverse until proven otherwise."

I've seen this attitude to men frequently on MDC.

"My big idea is: "Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day." I think that would be a great thing for our country.

Maybe the 7-year-old will walk the 5-year-old home, and nobody would say: "Oh my God, where are the parents? Let's arrest them."

I've seen this a lot on MDC as well. OMG, unsupervised children at the park. Should I call CPS?

Wasn't there a thread once where someone thought she should call CPS over seeing a 6 yr old go to the store by herself?
post #15 of 102
There is a fine line I guess...

I saw 2 1.5 y/os at the park playing by themselves...the parents were out of eye sight, out of ear shot clear across the park. Not USUALLY a big deal...but this park is...well not 1.5 year old friendly IMO. There are 5ft high ledges where you either repel off or use the firefighter pole...slides you could easily fall off...6 or 7 feet. I let James play alone, but I don't let DD play alone...she doesn't have the concept of "Fall from a 5 ft ledge=broken leg" yet...

We live in a safe neighborhood. Maybe around 9 or 10 I'd let James walk to the gas station or the coffee shop alone...if we're still living here (we're about 4 or 5 blocks away)..9 or 10 because we do live on a fairly busy road, and 2 of the intersections he'd have to wait for a green light, the other 3 it's our right of way
post #16 of 102
I know this won't be coherent, but I just feel like kids should be free to be kids and not be expected to be in charge of their own well-being at the same time. I think childhood is a time for fun and exploration, with adults providing the environment to allow that to happen safely. I don't think a 9 year old should be applauded for riding the subway by himself; I think it's sad that his mother doesn't view him as a child and expects him to do things an adult does.

I think that I disagree with Skenazy's basic view of childhood. I think that children should be encouraged to be children and not be weighed down with too many responsibilities. She sees children as miniature adults. Using Ben Franklin being apprenticed off at age 12 is not a convincing argument for more childhood freedom to me. It doesn't make me think that centuries ago kids were given more freedoms; it makes me think that centuries ago, people like poor Ben weren't allowed to enjoy their childhoods! I think it's wonderful that a modern 12 year old isn't expected to do the level of work 12 year olds did in the past. I don't think Skenazy convincingly makes the argument that children are self-sufficient because they were previously allowed to do things at a certain age. I think children are children and should be cared for accordingly.

I also disagreed with her assumption that people are living in fear of rare situations, like stranger abduction. I don't let my almost 4 year old play outside by herself because I have some irrational, not-based-on-statistical-probability fear of stranger abductions. I don't let her play outside by herself because she is a young child whose limitations I know. My daughter is not capable of making safety decisions for herself (like what to do if she were injured, what to do if approached by animal, how to stay in the yard, not to run after a ball into the street, etc.). There are other dangers that are much more likely than stranger abduction, and it is those dangers that I am worried about for my daughter.

Also, I realize just how dangerous it is to ride in a car. That's why when we do, my children are restrained in the safest manner possible for their size (currently they are both rear-facing). It is precisely because riding in a car is so dangerous that car seat safety is so important.
post #17 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommybree View Post
I don't think a 9 year old should be applauded for riding the subway by himself; I think it's sad that his mother doesn't view him as a child and expects him to do things an adult does.
I don't think he should be applauded either. I think it should be so much the norm that no one bats an eyelid.

My DDs were both well able to navigate public transportation by 10 years old. It doesn't take adult skills.
post #18 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
I agree with her 100%.

"So every adult there who has any interest in children is assumed to have an interest that's very prurient -- perverse until proven otherwise."

I've seen this attitude to men frequently on MDC.

"My big idea is: "Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day." I think that would be a great thing for our country.

Maybe the 7-year-old will walk the 5-year-old home, and nobody would say: "Oh my God, where are the parents? Let's arrest them."

I've seen this a lot on MDC as well. OMG, unsupervised children at the park. Should I call CPS?

Wasn't there a thread once where someone thought she should call CPS over seeing a 6 yr old go to the store by herself?
See, I completely disagree with her statement "The 7-year-old would be taking care of the 5-year-old, and oftentimes the 5-year-old would be taking care of the 3-year-old." I don't think a 7 year old should be responsible for a 5 year old and I don't think a 5 year old should be responsible for a 3 year old. I think at those ages a child's obligation should be having fun. I guess my sentiment toward childhood is the complete opposite!
post #19 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommybree View Post
See, I completely disagree with her statement "The 7-year-old would be taking care of the 5-year-old, and oftentimes the 5-year-old would be taking care of the 3-year-old." I don't think a 7 year old should be responsible for a 5 year old and I don't think a 5 year old should be responsible for a 3 year old. I think at those ages a child's obligation should be having fun. I guess my sentiment toward childhood is the complete opposite!
I had two younger sisters for whom I was often responsible. It didn't take away from the fun at all - we were used to playing together as a unit. I didn't have to earn the rent and food money, just bring them to my mom when they fell and cut their knees. We all fell and cut our knees a lot, but you know, that didn't take away from the fun, either.
post #20 of 102
I have three younger siblings that I spent the better part of my childhood watching. My sister is close in age to me and my brothers are 7 and 9 years younger than me. I liked playing with my sister, but we had to watch my brothers. I wasn't playing with them; I was preventing them from jumping off the top stair, etc. I guess we know where my biases come from regarding this issue!
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