Kids today have it tough.
Not so much on “life is difficult” front, of course; compared to life in the Depression, for kids who were going to grow up and go off to World War II and spend Christmas of 1944 in weather more or less like this sitting in foxholes in the Ardennes, kids today have it pretty OK.
But on the “adults are scary and stupid” front? Kids today have it rough.
School counselors have been reporting a wave of…timidity? Kids don’t socialize as much today as they used to; school counselors note the amazing, depressing numbers of children that head directly home after school, watch television/do homework, and rarely if ever get outside without direct adult supervision. Part of the problem is the epidemic of single-parent homes, most of whom are headed by single mothers. Parents’ styles are as individual as they are, of course – but one of the reason God, biology, remorseless fate or whatever you do or don’t believe in made families with mixed-gender parents is because different genders bring different traits to the table; mothers are stereotypically “nurterers”, and more risk-averse; fathers are, again stereotypically, the ones that imprint adventure and risk-taking on the kids (and no, feel free not to flood my comment section with stories of what an exception your mother was; I know, already). And so, with no male in the house to model behavior from, the kids become…nurtured. And overnurtured, as the case may be. It’s not the only explanation – but then, this post isn’t about explaining things.
Lenore Skenazy at Free Range Kids – a blog that is going on my blogroll today – writes about a letter to the editor she got:
Dear Free-Range Kids: My name is Shaylene Haswarey, and I want to share a story with you today.
This morning, my doorbell rang, and two police officers were present. They asked me if I am the mother of my children, and I said yes. They said someone called them because my three oldest kids (ages 9, 7, and 6) were walking around our GATED town-house complex, unattended. I said, “They found a cat, and I let them go out and feed it.”…
…I told the officer I am from Idaho, and kids play outside like this all the time. He said my kids are too young to be out, because we do not have a yard, and this is a complex. He also told me there are predators around here. He finally told me if I let my kids out again he will have to call social services because I am endangering my children! What is wrong with this picture???
Mitch’s answer – which is one reason why I don’t do a blog on parenting – is “they’re prepping your kids for the hyper-feminized school system, where uncontrolled risk-taking is actively squelched”.
Back to Skenazy’s letter:
1. Is it against the law to go out in the rain in your pajamas?
2. My kids know how to watch for cars. They were following the cat and feeding it.
3. There are NO predators in my neighborhood. I looked on Megan’s Law, and there are only 6 in our whole city, and none are in my neighborhood. I live in Aliso Viejo, CA. Aliso Viejo is a small city in between Irvine and Mission Viejo. These cities rank #1 by the FBI for the safest cities in America with a pop. of 100,000+. Therefore, Aliso Viejo is safer than the city I grew up in in Idaho!
After the police officer asked for me and my husband’s name and birthdates, I freaked out! I am NOT going to let my kids go outside without me again! I don’t want social services knocking on my door. What do you think I should do if anything, about this? My husband’s family is from India. They have a big house there. I am thinking of going to their village this September and staying there for a few months, so my kids can be normal kids. — Shaylene
Lenore writes back (emphasis added by yours truly):
Dear Shaylene: Isn’t it incredible that you are living the “American Dream” — a house, four kids, nice town — and longing for the kind of childhood a kid can get in a much less affluent country? Meantime, I put this question to readers: What can this mom do to prove to the cop that she’s not off base? How can we she convince him (and other cops and other neighbors) that being outside is normal and healthy for kids? Should we all call the police department there? Start a petition? Any ideas? — Lenore
Well, you heard the lady ladies. Let’s cough up some answers!