Letting Kids Walk

I don’t know your current situation and I don’t know how you were raised (or when you were raised) so maybe you’ll have a different reaction to this story from the Washington Post than I did.

As a child, I do not recall my parents being either “helicopter” or “free-range” parents. What I do remember is when I demonstrated the proper maturity and responsibility I was permitted to do more challenging tasks. For example, we had a street light in our front yard which allowed my neighbors and me to play outside for lengthy times in the evening. As long as we did not abuse that privilege (e.g. not coming inside when called or straying too far away from the yard) we were allowed to play.

In the years that followed, more opportunities and responsibility came our way when we showed we could handle it. That’s why I could take tennis lessons at a park some 5 or 6 miles from home and get myself to and from the park by riding my bike. Of course as with all children who test their parents, I went to some places I prayed my mom never found out about later (and lived to tell about it, just not her). I was allowed to become a responsible person through this process.

So when I read the above mentioned article where children are picked up because someone thought it was too dangerous for them to be out walking to their destination, I have to pause and consider what this means.

First, it is a far more dangerous world that we live in today and I can understand the fears of some.

Second, it truly bothers me to see children remaining inside their homes watching TV, playing video games, listening to music and not getting outside to enjoy our world. This is especially troublesome when I see kids only participating in sports when it is a vastly over-organized team and league basis. As a kid, I played outside with my neighborhood friends as much as I could as we didn’t belong to many organized teams. We made it up as we went along.

Playing ball outside taught me to hit most everything straight away since we were playing in the street and anything hit in front yards on either side of the street were out of play. The street ended in a cul-de-sac so we were pretty safe as long as we kept ourselves out of people’s yards.

Children today don’t learn such basic information because they aren’t outside playing and if they do play, their parents are micro-managing their sports careers by dragging them everywhere, even when the kid isn’t particularly interested in the sport.

Third, I believe that with some common sense children could go outside these days and play or walk safely. Go back to letting the child demonstrate their level of responsibility and adjust from there what he/she can or cannot do.

Finally, just let children play for exercise and the joy of discovery of the world in which they live. It may be tough in some corners of the world to do so, but find a way to let children be children.

This rant turned out much longer than I imagined but I feel better. I pray our children do to.

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