so, we youth workers know that there are parenting styles at both extremes these days: those who give their kids way too much freedom, and those who are paranoid and smother their kids (and, of course, those who live in the tension and aren’t at either extreme). we read articles about smothering parents, we see legislation forcing all kinds of helmets and harnasses, we deal with parents who don’t want their kids to play a game, or are terrified of what might happen on a mission trip. but we also encounter parents who don’t give their kids any boundaries at all, or, at least, not enough. even some parents who might protect their child’s physical safety in ways that seem overboard, will let their kids freely roam the internet at all hours of the night, or play extremely violent video games.
even the success of “the dangerous book for boys” (and its girl counterpart) seem to challenge the current cultural trend toward over-protecting kids.
so, this story of a manhattan mom who started a nationwide discussion (with lots of passion on both sides) because she let her then 9 year-old son ride the subway (only on a “straight shot” and only with an adult on each end), is very interesting to me. the mom started a website, and has a book coming out, pushing for safety that makes sense (seatbelts, skateboard helmets), but reasonable freedoms as well. her blog/website and book are called “free range kids” (which is a great title, by the way!).
new york times columnist lisa belkin tells the story, and raises interesting questions about what age is appropriate for different freedoms. in fact, belkin took a poll of parents some months back, and she discusses this in the article.
anyhow – i find it all fascinating. we’ve started letting our 14 year-old daughter ride the san diego trolley (and started letting her when she was 13). even last weekend, liesl and a friend rode it downtown san diego, and walked around for a couple hours.
of course, this isn’t just about riding mass transit. this particular case brings up the tension of parenting kids to independence. what are your thoughts?