Good Things to Grow up With

Jasmine Williams

"Riding my bike at all hours of the afternoon to the evening throughout many neighborhoods without being stopped or asked what I was doing there," was one memory I had growing up. Another person I asked was grateful for "summer nights & days spent riding bicycles anywhere & everywhere with friends, only needing to come home when the streetlights came on," while nonetheless another recalled "having a peaceful, free-range childhood." Countless others cited the freedom to explore--with restrictions--as a privilege of their childhood. That message seems to be gaining traction. The state of Utah, for example, recently passed a"free-range" parenting law intended to give parents the freedom to send kids out to play on their own. For many of today's kids, that privilege is disappearing. American kids have autonomy today and less independence than they did. As parents have become increasingly worried about safety, fewer kids are allowed to go exploring beyond the confines of their own backyard. Some parents have even been prosecuted or charged with fail for letting their children walk or perform unsupervised. Meanwhile, child psychologists say that too many children are being ushered from one structured activity to another, always under adult supervision--leaving them with little time to play, experiment, and make mistakes. Another privilege cited by Twitter respondents was regular time around the dinner table, on weekends, on vacation--and access especially grandparents. 1 respondent wrote "My paternal grandparents were my daycare and their house in the country was my playground." Another stated ,"my Italian grandparents lived on a road with a slew of their sisters and brothers. Nobody had any money. Everybody's doors were open all day. Coffee always on, something on the stove. Endless stories and laughter. The happiest world." That's a problem. Kids who have freedom and independence are less inclined to be anxious, and more likely to develop into competent, self-sufficient adults. It is more than natural to ensure the safety of your kids, we have great home security systems, neighborhood watch, police force and other things in place to help with the security of ourselves and our children.