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Parenting...

Paul and I talk a lot about how different childhood is from when we were kids.  How we (gasp!) had bumpers in our cribs as babies, sat in the front seat of the minivan, were left sitting in the car when our moms had to run a quick errand, were allowed to run through the woods behind our house, ride our bikes around town, or hang out at the mall with our friends.  And we survived.

Our parents always jump in with the fact that when they were kids there were no car seats, or even seat belts, and about how they'd leave their house in the morning and not come home until it got dark out and that was okay, and even encouraged.  Today most people wouldn't allow their children to do these things out of fear that their child could be abducted or hurt. 

Today I read an interesting article on babble.com: Parenting Without Fear. Our kids are safer than ever. So why are we still afraid? By "Free Range Kids" author Lenore Skenazy for Babble.com.

In the article Skenazy writes about how the world is actually safer than we all think it is.  She says "Crime-wise, we are back to the levels of 1970. In the '70s and the
'80s, crime started going up until it peaked around 1993. After that,
it started going down again, steeply. So if you were playing outside in
the '70s or '80s (are you ready for this?), your
children today are actually SAFER than you were."

The first time I took Little Paul to Pennsylvania to visit my parents my mother and I took him to the mall in his stroller.  I left her standing next to him to go and look at something and when I turned around she'd wandered about 15 feet away into the clothing racks.  I didn't say anything but quickly walked back to the stroller, scanning the store to make sure nobody was coming over to try to snatch him away.  At the time I thought she'd messed up, leaving my son "alone" like that!  Looking back on the situation though she wasn't wrong to leave him there- it's not like she'd gone to another store or left him alone on a busy street corner in New York- we were in a small suburban shopping mall with hardly anybody else, and she'd been a mere 15 feet from him.  I was simply being the overprotective mother that society expects me to be these days. 

We're not at the point yet where his safety when he's out by himself or with his friends is an issue (we're still at the should he have crib bumpers/try not to drop him/is he pooping enough stage of our parental smothering) but I'm hoping that when we do reach that stage I'll be able to see things clearly, and to remember that just because children are abducted all the time on Law and Order SVU does not mean that my child is unsafe if he's playing in our front yard.

In the real world children need a little bit of freedom in order to become responsible adults.  If the apron-strings are tied too tightly they'll never have the chance to learn and to grow on their own, and really, isn't that ultimately the point of having children?  To raise the next generation of mature, capable adults?

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