Monday, January 26, 2015

Parenting in the News: Should Kids Be or Walk Alone

Are we in America leaning further and further towards becoming Parents who cripple Indepenence?

Recently, in the news there have been stories about parents allowing their children independence through walking a mile home, learning to ride the subway, or even just leaving a child at home alone for short periods. The general thought is children need to be supervised at all times never left alone or to be free of adult oversight. My question is are we so afraid of what could happen we are willing to rob our children of the feeling of accomplishment of being left on their own and being okay?

I think we have let ourselves come to believe children being abused, kidnapped, snatch, or deliberately harmed by a stranger is the norm rather than the exception! Do not get me wrong I am in no way saying parents should not be vigilant in protecting their children from hurt, harm, or danger. What I am saying is our petulance of being overprotective is just as dangerous if not more so.

Children who do not develop a sense of confidence in their ability to be strong and independent. Will inherently be followers. Followers  who have not been allowed to think for themselves and have learned to let the stronger ones guide. This is okay, until the leader is the school bully who decides your child should beat up the weakest girl in school. Or the college professor who wants to have sex with them. Or the drug dealer who wants them to be a courier.

Whether CPS or the Division of Family Services or any other agency wants to admit it parenting is all about helping small people grow into strong, capable decision-makers who can stand on their own and be responsible. This does not happen without some practice and yes that does me some level of non-supervised time. Every parent must decide what this looks like for their family and each child in particular.. However, it is not optional. Children need to learn  what it is like to be alone and independent. Unless we adults get our acts together and realize living by fear will cripple rather than protect our children. We are in danger of creating a nation of followers not seen since the Third Reich.

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