sad little rant ... please send your kids out to play ... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you can. It depresses me that so few kids are going to the park by themselves, or playing on the sidewalk together. Parents in my (good) neighborhood and nearby desireable neighborhoods seem to be good about taking their toddlers to the playground, but when they get older, they're just nowhere to be seen unless a parent goes with them, and I appreciate that no one has the time.

We were out at a huge park July 30, nice weather, from 5pm-6:30. When we got there, there were 2 kids -- one teenager, one probably 9 -- on the skate park portion. Nobody else anywhere! We met two families of kids 4 and under there, and by the time we left, the older boys were gone. There was one accompanied daughter, about 6, who visited the park. I wanted to know what the kids who, in my day, could clearly be out playing by themselves (9+), were doing. They aren't riding bikes on the sidewalk anymore, they are not at the park, they are not having war games in the woods. I never see jumpropers, I just don't see unaccompanied kids.

I fear they are inside watching TV, playing video games or chatting on the computer.

It depresses me. I want this generation to be healthy and active.

If you are going to buy a house in a neighborhood where a small lot costs $240K, and there are sidewalks and multiple parks in the neighborhood -- can't you send you kids out to play on a summer evening?

Thanks for listening.
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#2 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:15 PM
 
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I agree. This may have nothing to do with it but I have noticed it much more since we moved to Georgia- I see you are in Decatur, we're in Powder Springs/Kennesaw area. Back in Colorado there were kids of all ages outside ALL the time. I think the weather is a definite factor, we can't be out as much as we used to b/c of the mosquitoes.

I also grew up living outdoors all summer long. It is a bit depressing. I can't really blame the kids when the parents can't even walk to the n'hood pool when they live a street away. It cracks us up that the parking lot is so packed and half of the people live within a few blocks. I understand if you bring coolers and a ton of toys, but most people have one pool bag and their towels.
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#3 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:19 PM
 
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I'm sure other people will be around, but there is no way in the world I would send my children to a park unattended. I am a stickler for supervising children. My kids have recently been allowed outside unattended but I stand and watch them at the kitchen window.

Things were much different back when we were children. I remember hoping on my bike and going all over. I remember walking home from school at 8 years old. Now, I look back and wonder what my parents were thinking!!!

To be completely honest, I don't think very highly when I see children unattended. I had to stop letting my daughter stay at a family friends house because the boyfriend would let my DD1 and her DD2 (ages 7 and 8) run the neighborhood and leave them home alone. No three strikes for those offenses!

Granted, if I lived elsewhere, I might feel different.

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#4 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:24 PM
 
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I agree, but I do have to say that as a mom of an 8 year old, it's harder than you think. I was vehemently against scheduling my children for things like summer camp or other activities because I just wanted them to be outdoors playing in the summer. I remember doing all those great things as a kid, riding bikes, playing hide and seek, whatever. So, for my son's first two years of school, I didn't sign him up for any summer activities.

We have kids in our neighborhood and I just kind of assumed that if I sent ds out to play, there would be others out there too. Well, all of these other kids were at camp or wherever every single day! My son had no one to play with and, while he can entertain himself outdoors for a bit, he gets bored of it too. (His younger brother is too young yet to be out unsupervised.) So, for the past two years, we've done a summer day camp for him, just so he can be around other children his age. So, add him to the list of kids who just isn't home during the day in the summer.

By evening, he's usually wiped out. The kids in our neighborhood, my son included, are actually outdoors playing a lot more during the school year. After school, they are all outside riding bikes and playing, for a time.

And, because we have a three year old, we tend to stick to our fenced in back yard when we are outdoors, my older son included. Though he knows he is welcome to go out front to bike ride or play with friends if he wants. There just isn't anyone around for him to play with, so he'd rather stay with us.
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#5 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:33 PM
 
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i think its a misconception that things were somehow safer for us as kids. each generation glorifies their youth, ya know? there were still molesters and kidnappers back in the day...that said, i let my nine year old go to the local park alone, or ride his bike to the 7-11. he enjoys the freedom.
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#6 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:38 PM
 
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In our neck of the woods the weather has been nasty: cold and wet. I take dd out when it's relatively dry, but now I've caught a cold and don't feel like hanging out in cold, damp weather for more than a few minutes. The other problem is that for insurance reasons, dd may not go out and run around on her own until she's seven. So if I'm not with her (or another adult) then she's just not going anywhere.

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#7 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:46 PM
 
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Your right. I just think now people talk about more issues. If an abuser was in your family it was hush hush and some family secret while now, people talk about it. Kidnappings are more publicized than they were back then. Now, we know where every registered sex offender lives and back then we didn't. Now feels so different.

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#8 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In our neck of the woods the weather has been nasty: cold and wet. I take dd out when it's relatively dry, but now I've caught a cold and don't feel like hanging out in cold, damp weather for more than a few minutes. The other problem is that for insurance reasons, dd may not go out and run around on her own until she's seven. So if I'm not with her (or another adult) then she's just not going anywhere.
Well, most of Europe does a little better at this than the US, right?
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#9 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 01:52 PM
 
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I had been hoping to see more kids out too. We are homelearners and I look forward to the summer as an opportunity to meet more kids. We have been going to the one large local playground and there are only maybe 5 kids there at a time... often they are young teens just hanging out. Most of the time it is 80 % toddlers. They even have a big waterpark.

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#10 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i think its a misconception that things were somehow safer for us as kids. each generation glorifies their youth, ya know? there were still molesters and kidnappers back in the day...that said, i let my nine year old go to the local park alone, or ride his bike to the 7-11. he enjoys the freedom.
I'm not aware that we have a higher level of sociopaths or that we have any trends that would produce more than in the past. We do have a higher level of things that make children safer from harm when out and about -- cell phone technology, internet listings of sexual offenders with pictures so you can show your child what he looks like if he moves into your neighborhood. We have Amber Alerts. We have DNA technology. We have law enforcement agencies cooperating and able to share info easily on the internet. Hopefully we are catching offenders earlier in their game with all this, and preventing them from reoffending as often.

Of course we have a hard time keeping them off the internet; your child cannot be befriended by a molester online in the time when they are off their butt on the sidewalk.

Here are some ways I believe our children are less safe playing on their own:
Fewer people on the streets, fewer children out playing probably leads to less neighborhood awareness.
Fewer children playing / riding means drivers are not as aware of young people.
Much lower levels of sidewalks, as far as I can see.
More obesity and diabetes and heart disease and subpar vitamin D.
More time spent in cars with that risk of injury.
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#11 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 02:33 PM
 
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I agree with you, but I don't think that the consensus is with us. Look at the huge thread about the mom who is concerned about a 8-9yo girl playing alone at the park- there are pages and pages of posts talking about how horrible it is for children to be unsupervised.

Like you, I don't think that much has changed since I was a child.

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#12 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 02:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post
If you can. It depresses me that so few kids are going to the park by themselves, or playing on the sidewalk together. Parents in my (good) neighborhood and nearby desireable neighborhoods seem to be good about taking their toddlers to the playground, but when they get older, they're just nowhere to be seen unless a parent goes with them, and I appreciate that no one has the time.

We were out at a huge park July 30, nice weather, from 5pm-6:30. When we got there, there were 2 kids -- one teenager, one probably 9 -- on the skate park portion. Nobody else anywhere! We met two families of kids 4 and under there, and by the time we left, the older boys were gone. There was one accompanied daughter, about 6, who visited the park. I wanted to know what the kids who, in my day, could clearly be out playing by themselves (9+), were doing. They aren't riding bikes on the sidewalk anymore, they are not at the park, they are not having war games in the woods. I never see jumpropers, I just don't see unaccompanied kids.

I fear they are inside watching TV, playing video games or chatting on the computer.

It depresses me. I want this generation to be healthy and active.

If you are going to buy a house in a neighborhood where a small lot costs $240K, and there are sidewalks and multiple parks in the neighborhood -- can't you send you kids out to play on a summer evening?

Thanks for listening.
Well, at 5- 6:30 we are having dinner and spending time together as a family. That may be true for other families.

I do see kids riding bikes and stuff in my small town all the time btw.
I think a lot of kids in cities are in several organized activities and don't have time for the free play you are remembering.

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#13 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 02:45 PM
 
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If anything, I think kids are even safer these days than they were back in the 70's and 80's (when I was a kid). Aren't all the child molesters online now? Especially since all the kids are sitting in front of computer screens anyway. Why bother going to the (empty) park to lure kids into their car and put themselves at risk of being caught? :

The only problem is that there's no one out on the street or on their front porches anymore. No "neighborhood grannies" to tattle on our kids when they see them putting themselves at risk or picking on each other. The world needs more busy-bodies!

YES! Please send your kids outside to play! Let them run wild and make their own fun!
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#14 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 02:51 PM
 
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We bought a house on a dead end street, just for the summer/evening outside play.

We put a bball hoop down at the end, we have hopscotch, and four square painted on the street, there is a 1/4 pipe that can be pulled out of someone's side yard by three kids, I want to put a badmittin net up (one that can easily be taken down if a car comes) there are buckets of sidewalk chaulk, a slip and slide, bubbles, and my husband made every one of the kids in the hood a kick bike. http://kipanderson.net/media/Kickbike-done.jpg
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#15 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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I know. It has gotten to the point of ridiculousness. People's children are going to die from lack of exercise due to the fact it is literally impossible to do everything that is expected and have even more than one child. And people don't care. Because they think they are being stellar parents.

The fact is, everyone is fixing the wrong problem. Making your children into people who are going to die early because they have incredibly bad habits and never go outside and live in fear is NOT the right answer.

Saving your child from play, but assuring they have a lifetime of problems relating to exercise, self-direction, etc. is NOT helping them.

I think it is sad too.
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#16 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 03:14 PM
 
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I'm not allowing my children out to play alone. I have two older boys that could do it but # 1 we live in the country on a gravel road in which we would have to drive 20 minutes to get to a park and # 2 even if I did live in a big neighborhood with easy access to a pool or park I would still go and supervise them. I'm not the type of parent to allow my children to go out alone with their friends and hang out. My DH and I both did this as children (because we weren't supervised by our parents) and we ended up being bad kids and worse teenagers. I won't teach my children that they need to supervise themselves from a young age like my parents did.

I totally agree that all kids need to be outdoors a lot and do it daily, weather permitting. I take my kids to the lake, hiking, biking, the park, out to play in our pool, and they go out alone and play in our woods in the back yard all days of the week. So I definitely agree they need to be outdoors more. But mine only do it supervised unless it's something they are doing on our own 10 acre piece of land.

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#17 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 03:27 PM
 
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5-6:30 is dinner time. I would think (OK, hope!) most people were all inside having dinner together as a family.
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#18 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 03:33 PM
 
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My kids are 4 and 15 months, so going outside alone even for DS for more than a few minutes is not really practical. DS does play outside some though with us watching (we are on a cul de sac in a safe neighborhood) through windows. Mostly just going out a couple minutes before we come out or something like that. DH I think is more lax about this than I am since he grew up in the Soviet Union, where this wouldn't have been considered an issue at all. When DS is a little older I plan on getting walkie talkies and he can play outside on his own within the walkie talkie range, except in the forest, which I won't let him go to on his own until he's probably around 10 or so and a lot taller, b/c there are rabid foxes and while I haven't seen coyotes around our house, they are in the park not too far from us and I wouldn't want him to run into one until he's much taller and older. As for "stranger danger" which I think is probably less if anything than it used to be (and less IRL than online), I will rely more on teaching kids what to be aware of than anything, since you can't anticipate and protect every possible situation. They have to be able to do that for themselves eventually (after all, when they go to college, or move out on their own otherwise, they will have to do that for themselves -- you have to let it go sometime). This is what my parents did and I think I was very afraid of the possibility of someone hurting me, so I wouldn't have gone anywhere with a stranger or got to close to a strange car.

Now when I get home from work I try as much as possible to play with the kids outside in the evening when it's cooler, and on the weekends we spend a lot of time outside if it's not way too hot or raining. However I imagine in the future they will have sports, day camp and so on, so they won't be hanging outside all day in the summer, but hopefully will continue to hang out with me some outside in the evening. In our neighborhood I do see kids out on their bikes and so on in the evenings when it's not really hot, but not during the day (on the days I am home to see). I know a lot of kids are at the pool for hours on end, which is one reason they're not hanging out in the neighborhood.

I played outside a lot as a kid on my own, but it was also really hot where I grew up and I read a lot inside because of that. I didn't become a "bad" kid as a result of playing outside unsupervised and I don't think having one's parents around all the time will prevent that. After a certain age you have to let kids make decisions for themselves in a lot of areas, and anyway, a lot of kids chafe under too much supervision and start sneaking around and doing worse things than they would if they felt they had some freedom and responsibility.
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#19 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 03:50 PM
 
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We were out at a huge park July 30, nice weather, from 5pm-6:30.
I hear what you're saying, but Monday at dinnertime probably isn't the best time to get an accurate sample of how many kids are typically outside playing.

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#20 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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It is just way too hot to send my child out to play .. that, and he's only 4.5 so he's way too young.

It's really too hot to go to parks for any period of time, so we like to go to the local water park. I bought a season pass and my son has a blast playing with the other kids, while staying cool.

I played some outside while growing up, but I also spent plenty of time indoors reading, playing with friends, etc. I just don't see the big deal about inside time. My son and I spend many afternoons planting, painting, reading .. all indoors. Heck, I don't think there are any kids home in the afternoons where we live anyway, nearly everyone here works full time.

Anyway, we much prefer to be indoors, or at the water park for hours on end when it's this hot and I don't really see the big deal.

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#21 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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Well, come on over to our local public pool and you will see such a mass of young humanity it will restore your faith in our younger generation's love of outdoor play.

Seriously, it's been wall to wall kids for weeks out here. I don't think we have too much to worry about.
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#22 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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It is just way too hot to send my child out to play .. that, and he's only 4.5 so he's way too young.

It's really too hot to go to parks for any period of time, so we like to go to the local water park. I bought a season pass and my son has a blast playing with the other kids, while staying cool.

I played some outside while growing up, but I also spent plenty of time indoors reading, playing with friends, etc. I just don't see the big deal about inside time. My son and I spend many afternoons planting, painting, reading .. all indoors. Heck, I don't think there are any kids home in the afternoons where we live anyway, nearly everyone here works full time.

Anyway, we much prefer to be indoors, or at the water park for hours on end when it's this hot and I don't really see the big deal.
:

5:00-6:30 I am leaving work, fighting rush hour traffic and walking in the door at 6:30pm. I am then trying to answer the question "What's for dinner"

5:00-6:30 DH (WAHD and takes care of DS during the day ) can be anywhere in the city (with DS) coming home from meeting a client. Sometimes, he is picking me up from work during this time and since we have both been working all day we are scrounging trying to get DS fed. Even if it means going out to dinner as a family.

DH and I are both full time working parents and those are hideous hours for us.


I'm in GA too, but you have to be realistic, we are experiencing 95+ degree weather here. That's too hot. We took DS to the playground one day last week and not 15 minutes later the sweat was poring down our face and his breathing turned shallow. We could not sustain the heat.

DH and I packed him up and left. It was simply too hot. When it gets cooler we will start back spending more time outside. But supervised.

DS is too young to play alone outside unsupervised.

Further, I PREFER to see Parents who are supervising their older kids (Ages 9 and up).

As for "Where are the Kids??" Well, that's a loaded question if you ask me...this is summer time and most kids I know are in Summer Camps or their Local YMCA.

I have tons of neices and nephews and I can tell you that's exactly where they are. I would think that being in Summer Camp allows them outside play as well.

And here in GA, we are extremely fortunate to have LOTS of cool indoor places where the Kids are protected from brutal 95+ degree weather:

The GA Aquarium
Monkey Joes

Are just to name a few.

Six Flags over GA is offering season passes, White Water, American Adventures, Dixieland Fun Park------->Maybe some kids are at these fun exciting places!
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#23 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:13 PM
 
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this must be the GA thread. I was raised in a snooty little neighborhood in Dunwoody/Roswell. Back then we biked, skateboarded, crossed the golf course to get to the Majic Market, walked to the swimming pool.... all unsupervised. My mom would ring a cow bell at 6pm, to let us know it was time to skedaddle home for dinner.

Same neighborhood today - no way. I moved to Århus in 2000 and I have two kids, one nearly 3, the other 8 months. My kids are raised like I was back then, and I am soooo grateful. By next summer my DS will be able to go to the playground by himself. He will be able to walk or bike himself to school by age 5 or 6.

I think it is important for kids to have some unsupervised time. Not just for the physical health, though that is important too. It allows their creativity to blossom. It allows them to be with other kids and do things with kids without the adult eye 100% on top of them. It allows them to get into a little trouble and use their brains and resources to figure out how to get out of it.

I don't mean letting a 3 year old out for 5 hours, completely unsupervised. But some are posting about an 8 or 10 year old being too young. I worry for these kids. What happens when they turn 16 or 18 or go off to school, and it is the first time they have to function by themselves?
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#24 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:18 PM
 
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PS - regarding the weather - I think that is an excuse. It is horrible weather here 95% of the time. Deep snow, freezing, long and dark winters, pissing rain a lot of the spring and fall, summer which goes from 92f on wednesday to only 68f on friday.... Our kids are out almost every single day. In the summer, t-shirt and shorts with sun screen and a lot of water with them if it is hot. Snow boots, coats, hats, mittins.... in the winter.
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#25 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:21 PM
 
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Well, most of Europe does a little better at this than the US, right?
In my personal experience, I believe that's true.
I live in Europe now though I was in the US before here.

Here there are kids out all the time and the parks are packed. I try to go to the park with my daughter when we visit my mother in the mid-west and there is no one around. I never even see anyone walking anywhere or even in their gardens! I am always surprised how scheduled everything in for kids in the US.
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#26 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:27 PM
 
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PS - regarding the weather - I think that is an excuse.
I don't consider it an excuse at all. If you see your child turning beet red and trying to catch his breath, how is bringing him inside from the hot hot sun an excuse? :
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#27 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:28 PM
 
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It is horrible weather here 95% of the time. Deep snow, freezing, long and dark winters, pissing rain a lot of the spring and fall, summer which goes from 92f on wednesday to only 68f on friday.... Our kids are out almost every single day.
Good for you.
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#28 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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When we go to the big park(where we have to drive to get to it) there are always tonnes of kids around.

But from 5-6:30pm alot of people are eating supper.
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#29 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:44 PM
 
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We live in the country so our kids can play outside whenever they want, hot or cold weather. We also have our own pool so we don't have to deal with crazy pool rules Besides the nearest pool is 12 miles away.

There is no way I would send 8+ year old to the park to play alone. Way too many weirdos.

And I really do believe kids where safer when we where kids.
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#30 of 122 Old 07-31-2007, 05:54 PM
 
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All I can tell you is that in our area, there are kids, of all ages, out side all blessed day. And when they get out of school at 3pm they are out side till it is dark. I just love it.

However, as a SAHM with 2 small kids (3 1/2 and 1) the park at "nap time" and dinner time is just plain dead. I wouldn't count on that as a baramoter of whether or not kids are playing out side.

And yes, the weather is a valid reason - not excuse. My DS cannot handle the heat. Bottom line. Cannot. We stay indoors till DH gets home from work then we go swimming.
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