Free Your Kids!

Parents, it’s time…we really must free our kids and allow them to be kids with the understanding that we are raising them to one day become adults. I have often spoken on this blog about the differences in raising elder boy who is now 18 versus his sister mini me who is 4. There is almost 14 years that separates them yet the world of child rearing has changed and I am starting to think not for the better.

Today many of us view raising kids as a calling, that’s cool believe me there are some folks who you know are just meant to be parents but damn it somewhere along the line we lost all sense of perspective. We coddle, we baby and frankly I fear we will have a generation unable to do anything. Already we have kids in my son’s generation (generation y, millennial generation) whose parents are not able to let go, these kids are heading off to college and we are still trying to plan everything for the kids. They get waitlisted from the school of their dreams and we are on the phone with the school.

 I had no idea how bad it was until about a year and a half ago when my son’s best friend who lives an hour or so away in New Hampshire wanted to come to our house and I suggested the kid take the train to our house. No, not a subway, I am talking Amtrak commuter service that ran from close to his house to the town we live in. His Mama said no, she was scared about him taking the train, scared that there might be predators on the train. This boy was 16 at the time and getting his drivers license!!! Call me crazy but I would be a lot more scared about allowing a 16 year old boy to drive a 2000 piece of machinery than I would allowing him to ride on the train.

Since that initial incident, when he turned 17, he was allowed to start taking the train to our house. Um….what magically happens between 16.5 and 17? Now at 18 he will be flying out to the Midwest to see my son before flying back out here with him. I am glad he is now able to travel but the maturity gap between a 16.5 year old versus a newly turned 18 year old while it can be big often is not. No, more that a parent realized oh, time to loosen the apron strings.

Since I stared reading this blog, I have been happy to discover that there are folks who like me realize we are raising individuals who will one day become adults. Lenore Skenazy has caught a great deal of flak since she initially came to the spotlight after allowing her then 9 year old to ride the subway in New York City. Oh my! The horror! Lenore caught a lot of flak but at the same time earned a loyal following, folks like myself who see no problem in not directing every minute of our kids lives. I will also add that as someone who grew up in a large city learning to navigate the transit systems is a valuable life skill that should be taught early.(I know people in my age range who have never taken a public bus or train and get scared at the very idea) At 9, I knew how to take buses and trains and occasionally did so alone!!! Damn, my parents were bad parents. Of course that doesn’t compare to the fact that at 14, I took 1 bus and 2 trains’ roundtrip 5 days a week to get to school and clearly I survived. Hell, I remember once there was a pervert on the train exposing himself, I got up and went to another car on the train.

Reason I am talking about this is because recently Skenazy called for a take our kids to the park and leave em there day. The idea being that for most kids starting at age 7 and up some free play without a parent hovering in the background is a good thing. Well as you can imagine many folks liked her suggestion but many others once again thought she was a bad parent. Funny thing is that many of today’s current parents were raised in the late 60’s through the 1970’s and 80’s when the world was actually a far scarier place than it is now. Crime rates have gone down in many places yet because of our perceptions; we fear the unknown and are effectively creating a generation of kids that are probably going to be anxious. I live in a smallish town (compared to where I was raised) yet I am surprised at how many kids do not walk to school. Hell the parents don’t even walk em when they live in walking distance. (walking builds community folks!) I recently registered the girl child for school and realized the school is about a 15 minute walk from our house yet I have already been asked will we take the school bus. Why? Shit, that walk will be my exercise, it’s convenient and guess what it’s free! You can bet as soon as the girl is old enough she will be walking herself to school too! I was 8 when I started walking to school and let me tell you I enjoyed it. After school I would stop and play, spending way too much time playing and then having to run home, funny thing I had no cell phone to call and say I would be playing, but my parents and I both survived.

Now it seems as soon as they start school we feel the need to give em cell phones, do we really need to be that connected?

For the sake of your sanity and that of your kid’s I say free the kids!