Kids can handle independence
It’s been said again and again: kids are being raised differently than we were, than our parents were, and than our grandparents were. Children have more freedom and independence now than some of us could even have imagined at that age. Some older siblings would say their parents are going soft and are letting their younger siblings get away with and do more things than they could when they were younger.
Of course, sometimes parents are just the opposite and are stricter on their younger children, claiming they will not make the same mistakes twice. The older children are sometimes considered the training tools in parenting. Parents sometimes learn what to do as well as what not do when raising children
That doesn’t apply to every household with two or more children. Every case is indeed different in its own way, but as the behaviors and attitudes of children have changed throughout the years, so have the behaviors and attitudes of parents.
According to a Newsweek article, New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy has been receiving a lot of criticism as well as applause for allowing her nine-year-old son to ride the subway alone from school.
Does anyone remember your grandparents’ or parents’ stories about walking five miles in the snow to school or riding their bikes wherever they needed to go? According to Skenazy, modern children need that same independence and trust from the parents as the baby boomer generation did.
She calls children such as her son "free range kids," because they seem to thrive on the fact they are being allowed to do things most parents wouldn’t even dream or think twice about.
Some of her readers called her "an irresponsible mother" and said she was being too "cavalier with his safety." But is she really being irresponsible or "cavalier" with her son’s safety, or is she trying to instill an "I can do anything" mentality in him?
Who didn’t feel a sense of independence and self-pride when our parents let us help with something that wasn’t a chore? Yes, parents have every right to be afraid of what could be waiting for their children, but at the same time the same dangers parents fear the most are sometimes right under their noses at home.
As adults, we cannot live life in fear of the "what if," nor can we expect our children to do the same. What other reason could there be for teenagers rebelling against their parents’ rules?
We cannot always protect our children from everything in the world. To do so would mean sheltering ourselves from the life we’d otherwise be living.
Children need to experience and familiarize themselves with the world so, when they are older, they grow up to be well-rounded adults and citizens. If a child is accustomed to the workings of the inner city, what harm is it for him or her to ride the bus or take the subway home? Then again, who is really being harmed by the notion of having "modern free range kids" – the parents or the children?
Latimer, a post-baccalaureate English student, can be reached via [email protected]