Readers! Here’s a note from a doctor, Par Donahue. He’s author of the book and blog, Messengers in Denim, all about the things we can learn from teens (and life). Here’s one lesson he got from kids that he did not like. (Nor I.) — L
Dear Free-Range Kids: I am a retired pediatrician who walks my dog twice daily in our neighborhood and enjoys talking to kids — after all, that’s what I did for almost 40 years. But, now I feel like bogeyman.
When kids are outside, they see me coming and run into the house. If they are waiting for the bus, they stare at the ground or cross the street when I approach. If I say good morning, or, “Have a nice day,” they either do not respond or they grunt without looking up!
Some years ago my wife and I moved into a new neighborhood where a family with two small kids lived next to us. They were usually in the fenced back yard when we came home from work and would always run into the house as we walked from our garage to the house. After 6-8 months of this the younger boy, 4 or 5 years old, stayed out and actually said, “Hi.” His older brother, 6 or 7, quickly grabbed his arm and said, “Don’t talk to them, they might be kid-nappers.”
What a terrifying life parents make for their kids when they teach them to be this afraid. With very rare exceptions, kidnapping is done by estranged parents or other relatives. We, of course, hear about the half dozen kids in the USA who are kidnapped each year by strangers. Fear, as Michael Crichton said in “State fo Fear” controls! So sad! — Par Donahue
Lenore here again: Par’s note reminds me of a great essay someone sent me the other day that I have to go dig up. It’s about a parent deciding NOT to teach the kids that strangers are “bad.” There IS an alternative to automatic distrust and fear!