When I was a kid we left home in the morning and played in the neighborhood until dinner. Then in the summer we went back out to play steal the flag until bedtime. We built forts, pranced through the woods, marched through the creeks, played cards, kickball, hide and seek and any number of other games. It sounds cliche to compare the upbringing of children way back in our time to the upbringing of the current generation. The methods are not even close. I know things have changed and that it is not realistic to raise children the same as we did in the 50s, but they should have some opportunity for freedom.
Kids once took special pride in “knowing how to get places” alone, and in finding shortcuts adults normally wouldn’t use. But today, they never have a chance to be on their own. Are you the kind of parent who gets fidgety and uncomfortable whenever your child is out of your sight? Are you the type of parent who prefers a safe, controlled environment rather than letting your child explore the world on his own, mildly unsupervised as a kid covered in mud and filth? Are you a helicopter mother?
Without freedom to explore, do children learn more or less? Are they more prepared for the world they will live in or are they simply coddled? If they are not granted a little freedom, will they rebel? What does a lifetime of being watched create in a child – insecurity or confidence? Self centeredness or self consciousness?
The dangers in this world are great but are they really greater than when I grew up? Will hovering make your children stronger or dependent? I believe a world where children are free to play outside, unguarded but with certain boundaries, is preferred to the closed and structured world that most American children experience today. Even though the world is not the same as before, we should at least grant children the freedom needed to explore and understand the world. They should learn through their own experiences to be equipped to face the real world one day.