It's such a hard, hard subject to figure out. I thank the good lord we live on base, because those times we have lived off base I did not allow my children to have the freedom they do now. My youngest daughter was allowed to go to the park alone starting at age 5. I would not let my second daughter go to the park alone off base, and she's 9.

And often people off base will look at me like they are considering calling Child Protective Services for the things we allow our children to do. The parenting peer pressure is enormous.

I think one big difference that I had growing up (and I'm 3 years older than you) is that everyone in the neighborhood where I lived was a part of our upbringing - I got yelled at by more than one friend's parent for doing stupid things, and they would report my transgressions to my parents despite every plea I made. Now, so many people just ignore what is going on around them. And no wonder, really, with so many parents being hypersensitive about their children's behavior and making excuses for their spoiled brattedness.

Just for the record and for anyone who lives near me - please do not hesitate to correct my kids if you see them doing something wrong. PLEASE. I'll send you a fruit basket in thanks.

Posted by airforcewife at June 21, 2007 11:43 AM

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over that bike helmet thing. I mean, it's like someone took a silly SNL sketch way too seriously.

My kid is 2 so a lot of this doesn't apply just yet. I'd like to think that he'd have the same freedom I did to take off on his bike and then come home when the street lights came on. But he probably won't, mostly because the other Moms' won't let their kids.

My question is, though, how much of this is really necessary? I mean, it's not like there weren't dangers out there before. Hell, there may have even been more danger between homemade bike ramps and those burning hot, dangerously slick slides that could shoot you a good 5 feet off the bottom. And yes, there have always been flashers and pervs around.

I also wonder, in the end, if we aren't doing more harm to our children by trying so hard to protect them.

Posted by Non-Essential Equipment at June 21, 2007 11:50 AM

I think there are two types of danger:
1) children harming themselves
2) other people harming children

There is a problem with the former, that some parents want to protect their children from every boo-boo, but then in the long run the children are more susceptible to big boo-boos, because they never learn how to avoid dangerous situations, because they can't recognize them as dangerous.

The latter is the thing that many parents nowadays really have to worry about. A car hitting their child, or their child being purposely harmed by someone else. My parents gave us a lot of freedom to harm ourselves, but raised us in an area where they didn't really have to worry about other people harming us.

But I would be very wary of allowing my children the same freedoms we had on a small island, in this big city.

Posted by CaliValleyGirl at June 21, 2007 02:18 PM

I guess it's not clear to me that there are more harms out there today than before.

I grew up around the time that Adam Walsh was kidnapped. And then after, there was a rash of other kidnappings -- one attempted fairly close to our house. Did my parents stop letting me go outside? No. They talked with me about how I was to never, ever accept a ride/candy/etc. from strangers.

I'm beginning to believe it's just a different mindset today more than anything else.

Posted by Non-Essential Equipment at June 21, 2007 04:08 PM

It's hard to allow your kids to do things that you know are so potentially dangerous. After you become a mom, hearing the freak accident stories really affects you. Well, it did me, at least, and the news is plastered with scariness. A kid drowns in two inches of water in a bucket while the mother is hanging laundry nearby, a child chokes on the venetian blind cord while the mother thinks the kid is sleeping in the crib, a kid gets run over by a family member because of the limited visibility of those satan-created SUVs, a kid is strangled on the slide by his hoodie while the mom sits in plain view.... All of these things happen to mothers like me (and someday, you)! Not the I-don't-know-or-care-where-my-kid-is-I'm-smoking-crack mom, but the ones that take precautions and ARE paying attention. That makes it even worse! The worry and the guilt are enough to kill you!

I don't know about letting kids do anything anymore.

My parents let me do *whatever* and I grew up in the 70's & 80's in a pretty major city. I rode my bike all over, without a helmet, all day and into the night. When I was 5 or 6, I was staying home alone at night if they wanted to go out, "Don't answer the phone and don't touch the stove. Watch TV and go to sleep. We'll kiss you when we get home." I didn't have brothers or sisters. There were no cell phones, and barely 911.... And I am still here.

Oh, but I will tell you another thing! My oldest fell off of a retaining wall and broke her arm. Her uncle was washing the car outside 100 feet from where she fell.... The looks you get from people when you have a four-year-old with a cast? Holy shit. You might as well wear a sign around your neck that declares you completely unfit for motherhood! Glares, stares, nasty looks. It's ridiculous.

I WANT to be the mom that isn't so over-protective....

And then you see and hear what KIDS are doing these days.... At ages that are shockingly young? Sex in school, drugs.... My 5 year old wants a cell phone and an i-pod. What the hell for? "PSHAAA, Mom! To, like, CALL my FRIENDS and, like, LISTEN to music!?!" To which I raise an eyebrow and say, "Uhm, EXCUSE ME?" Then the little girl comes back and sheepishly kicks her toe into the ground and mumbles, "I was just kidding." Sure you were. Little windows into what's really happening in the school yard.

If it were just playing hide-n-seek or climbing trees? Maybe!

Posted by Wochenend mit bier at June 21, 2007 09:35 PM

Having fallen off my bike and smacked my blessedly helmeted head on concrete in a situation that would otherwise have resulted in at best a concussion and at worst paralysis, I must say I am a strong advocate of bike helmets.

Much like seatbelt anecdotes. I think safety is more important than looking cool.

Posted by Sabbrielle at June 22, 2007 03:22 AM

OK...I tried to leave a HUGungeous comment here yesterday, and it was not allowed. I didn't even swear in it...

However, it did spur an entire post, in my head. Now if I can type it out, so it does not sound like the oooompa band in my head.

I do know, it will make people mad....

and I hate to do it....

I am expecting onc I get it up, I will get hate mail, like you get.


Posted by armywifetoddlermom at June 22, 2007 04:22 PM

Son's nearly four, so far I don't have to deal with letting him outside by himself because he's still too young not to wander into the street in front of a car.

It's going to be hard for me when he gets older.

Posted by Anwyn at July 9, 2007 01:55 PM