Friday, April 11, 2008

Let Your Kids Be Kids

Bruce Schneier pointed out a news story today in which a mother let her 9 year old take the subway home by himself (at the kid’s request).

Normally, the people who comment on Bruce’s blog hold great contempt for security theater and the like. However, it seems that not even they are immune to “think of the children”.

Apparently in their opinion, and the opinions of far far too many others, children should be wrapped in bubble wrapped and locked in a padded room until they’re 18.

Give me a break. At 9, I was roaming all over my hometown as well as camping by myself on the farm my family owns (about 350 acres with quite a bit of woods) and roaming the neighboring farmlands.

Heck, man. At that age, I missed the bus a couple of times and walked the probably mile and a half or two miles to school, getting there before the bus did.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your kid a bit of independence, yet it seems like every generation is more restrictive when it comes to their children than the generation before it.

There was a time when kids used to play outside all day with other kids and still make it home for dinner. Now it seems like parents freak when the kids are outside for 5 minutes.

The common argument is generally that the world is more dangerous now, but I don’t buy it. The world really isn’t any more dangerous for kids or adults than it was when my parents were children or when their parents were (you get the idea). Some of the dangers may be different, and they’re certainly more publicized in order to capitalize on fear, but it’s not really any more dangerous now.

Do yourself, and your kids, a favor – teach them self confidence, make sure they have a good head on their shoulders, teach them to be aware of their surroundings and not to have blind trust in people, let them train in martial arts if they’re interested, give them a bit of encouragement, have some faith in them, and send them out into their world to explore, play, and be kids. They’ll come home in time for dinner.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about their wellbeing. Quite the opposite, actually, because you’ll be helping them to be more self reliant people.

This sort of thing is important. Part of being a kid is learning to push your boundaries until you find your real boundaries. Sure, you might get a few cuts and scrapes, but those heal. Most of life’s lessons aren’t learned by sitting inside, sheltered from the world, and your kids will need them when they’re finally out there on their own.

Current mood: calm
Current music: Alice Cooper - Poison

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