Monday, September 29, 2008

on my own

I often think back on my childhood and remember how much I enjoyed the freedom I had. I'm talking about the freedom to travel outside my house without my parents having to be concerned of where I was and what might happen to me.

In 3rd grade, I was allowed to walk down several blocks to friend's homes to play. I remember going to a movie by myself. It was a special matinee for grade school students, but I remember being dropped off and walking in and sitting all by myself.

In 4th and 5th grade, I was allowed to play and explore the local foothills for hours at a time. I also remember selling door to door for fundraisers without my parents accompanying me. I remember going over to the local grade school and playing, with friends, on the playground.

In 6th grade, I remember riding my bicycle everywhere... and I do mean, everywhere. Even though my boundaries were pretty lenient, I often went beyond them. I loved the feeling of exploring new places and felt fearless and adventurous. I was also allowed to go to the mall with friends.

And as early as 3rd grade and every year thereafter until I was in high school, I remember walking or riding my bike to the local 7-11 or neighborhood liquor store to buy candy.

I loved this freedom I had. But times changed. The reasonably safe world I lived in as a child slowly stared dwindling away and I could not let my children enjoy some of the same freedom I had when I was their age. I don't think I was an over protective mother, just one with eyes wide open to the dangers that lurk almost everywhere. I was always concerned for their safety. I often wished things were different so my kids could have run and explored their world and then, ultimately, discovering themselves in new and fun ways.

I watched the Dr. Phil show today which was titled "Extreme Moms." There were moms who hovered over their children and monitored their every move. Extreme, indeed. And then there was a mom in New York who had her 9 year old son ride the subway home - not because he wanted to, but because she thought he needed to have the confidence to do such a thing. It's just my opinion, but I feel this is extreme, too.

At the time, this same mom wrote an article for her NY newspaper, "Why I let my 9 year old ride the subway alone," and ended up on the morning shows and pegged as the "America's worst mom." From there, she started a blog: Free Range Kids. I may find some of her methods extreme but I like that her blog opens the discussion on what is extreme and what our kids need. I encourage you to check it out.

As with anything, extreme isn't good. Balance is healthier and happier. And part of parenthood, and childhood, is finding the balance that works for you and your family.


Melissa said...

I like to think I'm a middle ground kind of mom. Our school is not quite 2 blocks away and most of the parents around here freak out when they hear that I let Red ride his scooter to school. The fact is, there are a lot of kids from our neighborhood that are all heading to school at the same time. There is a crossing guard standing out by the corner who can see the kids as they exit my neighborhood. And I want him to know that tiny bit of freedom. He hasn't abused it yet and hopefully he never will. It is sad to think of all the things my kids won't be able to do, but that I did all the time...

Short Stop said...

WOW! Great, great, great thoughts here. I have been praying about this lately...trying to figure out what is safe, what isn't...and comparing today's world with the one that I grew up in.

I have realized one thing. I will bathe my kids with prayer every time they are away from me. I can't control what happens to them, but I know the One who does.

I'm going to go over to that site and check out the discussions. Thanks for sharing it.

Momma Roar said...

Good things to think about. I believe there are extremes - but how do we know that one that is right for us may be considered "extreme" for someone else? I think it comes back to making sure that we are on daily checking in with God and making sure we are doing what He is asking for us. Some people may consider homeschooling "extreme" for different reasons - but that is where I think the discussion needs to stop because apparently, it isn't what God is calling them to do. Sorry, just wanted to share that!

Cute new look, btw!!

Penless Thoughts said...

I really remember care free days like you speak of. Both for myself and my children. When this really hit me was several years ago when we took our then 7 or 8 year old granddaughter to Oklahoma City and were staying in the motel. That morning she was dressed and standing in the open door way of the room and I told her to "shut the door" and had this feeling that someone could grab her and disappear into a room, or down the hall. At that point I remembered how we use to go to a motel and let the kids wander down to the pool, or the game room, or the pop machine and never even think about it not being safe. Truly a different world we live in today.

Jamey said...

It is a different world for our kids than it was for us. I rode my bike all over our town. And it wasn't a small town, at least not by SD standards. I am having a hard time deciding what to let my oldest do and what not to let him do. I do tend to be on the over protective side. But I also know that and try to think hard before I say no to something. It's such a hard thing though, I only want to keep my kids safe. But I know keeping them too safe now could potentially put them in danger later. When they are out on their own and don't know how to keep themselves safe because I never let them learn how. It's such a fine line!!!

Mam said...

Diana, first, thanks for visiting my blog while I was gone! You have asked two questions and I'll answer them here, to save time. A Premier Jeweler's first show is actually "done" by her "Premier Mom" and the new jeweler is the hostess. From now on, NIta is on her own and in other people's homes.
And yes, I do make greeting cards occasionally. I'm not nearly as good at them as I am the other stuff. Kelli Winn is the cardmaker extraordinaire.
The subject of this post is dear to my heart. We are SO careful with our kids (grands). Like you, I remember taking off on my bike with a group of kids in the morning, bringing a lunch and not getting back till supper time. Impossible now! I was all over the neighborhood when I was in third grade, too, and had about an hour after school - at home alone -while my mother picked up my brother from Nursery School and got home from work. I do not like it that so much of the happy freedoms we enjoyed are no longer available. We have to teach our children to be afraid. Isn't that awful.

MightyMom said...

well, for starters I'm 33, born in 1975.

I remember being in 6th grade and riding the DART (city) bus downtown every wednesday from school...needing to change buses at the big station downtown Dallas because there wasn't any other way for me to get to my mom's work and she needed to go straight from her day job to her choir directing job on the other side of town.

I remember being in 3rd grade and walking home from school every day to an empty house. I remember being followed home from school by a "group" (before the word gang came into being) of 6th graders while the ringleader shouted such things at me as "I have something for you" and hiding in my cousin's house (also a 3rd grader) glad he beat me home (we lived on the same street) while he stood on the porch with a base ball bat.

I remember being about 6 or so and being sent to the napkin aisle because mom was in line and her napkins didn't have a price tag....and having a man come up to me as I stood there looking for the right ones and say "Hey Girl, wanna make some money?....(how)...follow me outside....(no)" then walk off.

My kids don't get out of my sight and you can call that anything you like.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I can't wait to check out that blog.

You know, I read somewhere that the world isn't statistically more unsafe....just more of it is caught, etc. I wonder...

I really think the TV shows we have access to affect our ideas of unsafe - CSI, etc. We assume that stuff is happening all of the time. We'd do well to look it up in our areas.

Hmmmm....gonna read that blog later. we have been having these discussions now that K is 6 and can ride her bike.