Stranger Things’ Young Actress: “My Parents Don’t Even Let Me Walk to the Store”

The show Stranger zytrzesbik
takes place in the ’80s and you know what they say (or at least what the novelist L.P. Hartley said): The past is foreign country.

On the show, kids ride their bikes and have adventures on their own. Here’s what one of the show’s stars, Millie Bobby Brown, says about then versus now in an interview with Jen Chaney at Vulture:

As somebody who wasn’t alive in the ’80s, what felt weird to you about kind of going back in time and seeing how things were back then? Was it the lack of modern technology?

I think it was the freedom. Because they had so much freedom back then and I’m very limited in my freedom now, because I can’t go outside without my mom literally standing right beside me. It’s crazy because my mom and dad always said, “We used to ride our bike down to the shop and we’d get a pint of milk and go back.” And I’m like, goodness, I would never do that. If I told my mom I was going to go down and get a pint of milk and some sweets she’d be like, “Right. Okay. Well, go get in your sister’s car and we’ll ask your sister.” It’s never happening. I go to boxing, and my mom walks me — because I box every day — my mom always just walks me straight to the door.

Let’s pause to thank the Stranger Things’ producers for reminding us that giving kids some freedom used to be normal. Even if the show isn’t. – L


You know this is TV because kids still get to ride their bikes.

You know Stranger Things is fiction because kids still get to ride their bikes.


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27 Responses to Stranger Things’ Young Actress: “My Parents Don’t Even Let Me Walk to the Store”

  1. BL October 18, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    “Was it the lack of modern technology?”


    Technology explains why I grew up with rotary phones and carburetors and typewriters.

    Not why I had the run of a large neighborhood at 8 years old and modern kids can’t.

    “I think it was the freedom. Because they had so much freedom back then and I’m very limited in my freedom now, because I can’t go outside without my mom literally standing right beside me.”


  2. Vicki Bradley October 18, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    I feel sorry for this girl. As I read the post, I wondered why she didn’t question her parents about the reasons/excuses they gave her for not allowing her to do the things they used to do as kids but then I realized it’s because it’s part and parcel of the whole helicoptering attitude: “Do as I say and do not question why it has to be this way.” I believe that once your kids are old enough to start having increased freedom and independence, there is room to allow them to have a say and negotiate this with them.

  3. E October 18, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    I grew up on a small walkable community until the age of 10. My siblings walked or rode bikes to all of their schools thru HS, because it was do-able. When I was 10 we moved to another state and into the ‘burbs that were encroaching on a more rural area. There was no possible way to walk or bike to school (way too far and on country roads) or walk to anything (no retail or shopping w/in walking or biking distance). We did develop a cut-thru in the woods that connected our subdivision to the next that had the pool we joined.

    I’d be curious to know what the kids do back in our small hometown.

  4. Missus H October 18, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    This is one of the things I love about the show The Americans, which also takes place in the 1980s. (Great show, btw). The main couple have two teenaged kids, and they leave them home alone, let them come and go at will, don’t always know where they are after school, etc. Seems idyllic now, except for that whole “undercover Soviet spies” aspect of it.

  5. Missus H October 18, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    P.S. It’s hilarious to me that this actress’ mom thinks she’s safer being driven by an older, presumably teenaged, sibling than walking or biking alone. Keep my child out of the hands of teenaged drivers!

  6. Meg October 18, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    When I was that age, my friends and I would take our bikes and cruise around the neighborhood for hours. No one knew where we were most of the time.

    What’s really funny, I was known for having the over-protective mom.

  7. CJW October 18, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    They even ride their bikes without HELMETS!!! Where were all the nosy neighbors dialing CPS (on their rotary dial telephones)???

  8. Backroads October 18, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    I’m a huge nerd over that show, and seriously, one of the things I loved about it was how the young boy group spends the entire series on their own mission with nary an adult involved. Freerange! Hoooray! I kind of hope some of the show’s behaviors would be seen as normal. Not the Christmas light ouji board and the monster, of course, but the sheer free-range nature would be nice.

    On a tangent, I played the oddest game with my three-year-old yesterday. I have no other name to give it other than “Helicopter Mom”. Next to our little front porch is a short brick wall maybe all of 2.5 feet high. My daughter has recently discovered that if she climbs the stairs and shimmies a bit over, she can climb onto it without demanding help. Anywho, yesterday, she pushes over a little table and some empty flower pots to make some sort of stepping stone system and procedures to climb the wall, climb off the wall, and hop around tables and flower pots. All cute.

    Except… except she pretty much gave me a script. My part of the game was to tell her “No! Don’t climb that! That’s too dangerous! You’re going to fall! Be careful!”

    So… I played along and recited my lines while she preceded to ignore them and climb and jump and hop anyway. Never mind, all things being equal, her greatest risk if falling as a scraped knee.

    Am I so free-range my preschooler has to set up a game in order to feel the persecution of a Helicopter Mom?

  9. Backroads October 18, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    I’m also sure the Demogorgon was really just trying to look out for those poor unsupervised kids.

  10. Richard October 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    Vicki, I don’t think it’s necessarily a refusal by parents to negotiate. Some of the more attentive parents I know have the same kind of conversations with their children as I do about increasing their freedom/responsibility. The thing is that they are working from different underlying assumptions so the level of freedom/responsibility being negotiated is different. They still discuss their reasons with their kids, and listen to them. They just see the danger of the neighborhood boogeyman being as good a reason to limit their kids’ freedom as I see the danger of a local irrigation canal being a reason to stop a 5 year old from from playing next to it.

  11. Reziac October 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    I would guess that if things actually became as dangerous as the hovering crowd believe, suddenly kids would have more freedom again — because when there actually IS risk, people learn to evaluate risk. When there is no risk, they don’t and can’t learn how to gauge it.

    Andrei Simic, the Gaean philosopher, has theorized that primitive man, evolving across millions of years in chronic fear, pain, deprivation and emergency, must have adapted intimately to these excitations. In consequence, civilized men will of necessity require occasional frights and horrors, to stimulate their glands and maintain their health. Simic has jocularly proposed a corps of dedicated public servants, the Ferocifers, or Public Terrifiers, who severely frighten each citizen several times a week, as his health requires.

    — Jack Vance, WYST

  12. bmj2k October 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    She’s 12, a working actress, clearly responsible. Her mom is trying to stifle her but luckily this girl sounds like she’s doing fine.

  13. Rebelmom October 18, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Hey Backroads, sounds like you’re an awesome parent. I’m bet the lines you’re supposed to say about being careful (given to you by your child) are ones he/she hears all the time from other parents not bc of any desire to be helicoptered. 🙂

  14. Kirsten October 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    It’s funny. I grew up in the 70s/80s and I watched the whole series without perceiving that the level of freedom was greater than what kids have today. If you had asked me to make a list of the difference between then and now that would not even have made my top 50. I guess I am a little bit out of it in terms of modern parents. I am still hoping to have kids, but have not managed it yet.

  15. Curious October 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    Love our children to pieces, don’t we?

  16. Curious October 18, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    And then there is the grabbing and groping by the rich and famous.
    Maybe Mom is smart to keep the young actor under lock and key.
    What is a poor mother to do?
    Best not to judge?

  17. Neil M October 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    I very much enjoyed that series, but as I watched it I made mental note of all the things that would, today, end up with law enforcement involvement. The boys who rode their bikes after their D&D session would have been driven home, and if not their respective parents would have received visits from CPS. The parents of the boy who vanished would have been vilified by media and very likely charged with criminal neglect by polish. The high-school boy who climbed the trellis to the girl’s bedroom would, if caught, have ended up on a sex offender registry. It goes on and on.

    I’m not saying the 80s were better in general, but back then we sure were less scared of mundane things.

  18. Kevin Thomas October 18, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    I hate to defend the parents but I can see a reason for caution in this particular case. Now, personally, I’d never heard of her but then I don’t watch that much TV. That doesn’t change the fact that she is now a celebrity (minor or major) who no doubt has her share of fans. Sometimes those fans get obsessed and even dangerous. That can be tough enough for an adult celebrity to deal with but it can be worse for a minor. Possibly they have even received letters that have caused some concern. I’m not saying that is the case, there certainly isn’t enough in this story to know, but it is a possibility.

    And yes, I know that is worse case thinking but it is possible they have a reason to worry about that.

  19. Ellenette October 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    Dear Curious, please don’t act like bullying, filthy demeaning language, and sexual assault by the powerful is something new. In the not too distant past, these behaviors were simply regarded as the everyday routine, something women and girls were expected to tolerate lifelong. Luckily, that’s changed for the better. We shouldn’t be locking up our daughters–we should be prosecuting the predators.

  20. Andrea D. October 18, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    It seems odd to me that someone wouldn’t let their kid cross the street but would let her be in Hollywood, a den of pure corruption. They need to get their priorities straight.

  21. Art October 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

    I can provide some insight into this I think. I was friends with Heather O’Rourke’s (THEYRREEE HEERRRRE!) Dad. He passed away a couple of years ago. The problem in this case was that Heather was getting recognized on the street on a semi regular basis The problem was that when Poltergeist was released and as other guest appearances on TV started to come up, Heather was recognized more and more on the street. At times, there was a reasonable chance of them being mobbed. It happened a couple of times.

    While Millie is definitely not at the level of Heather, there’s definitely a good chance she’d be recognized.

  22. Michelle October 18, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    She’s TWELVE. The summer after I turned 12, I spent every day, all day, home by myself while my mom worked and my brothers stayed with my grandparents.

  23. Donald Christensen October 18, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

    Kids learn at a young age and this will influence their life pattern. If they learn not to go outside to play, they are less likely to do it as a teen. This is one of the reasons why there are so many nocturnal gamers.

    When they’re a year old and they want a glass of milk, don’t always get it for them. Let them open the fridge and pour the milk. So what if they spill it? That’s how they learn. They learn:

    Hand/eye coordination
    An attitude of self reliance

    It’s much better to start them off with pouring milk than it is with crossing the street!

    I remember helping my mom bake. We didn’t only bake cookies. We made lasagna as well.

  24. sexhysteria October 19, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    The 1980s were when the mass hysteria over stranger danger started. In the 1970s, mainstream publishers were selling books that included photos of children with “full-frontal” nudity.”

  25. EricS October 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    @Vicki. I don’t think it’s about “negotiating”. I don’t think we as parents, should be negotiating with our children. They haven’t earned that right yet. However, we do know right from wrong. We do know about being fair. And we certainly know how we were raised at their age. For me, I don’t negotiate. I pretty much say what they can and cannot do. Final. But, I don’t treat them any differently than I was at their age. I just follow what my parents did with me. Making a few adjustments here and there to “get with the times”. So when my oldest wanted to start walking ahead of us instead of holding our hands when he was 3 going on 4. We reminded him of what we discussed on how to walk. And we let him walk ahead of us. He knows to always keep within visual and auditory distance. And he knows if he doesn’t comply with those restrictions, we would hold him back. We make it a learning experience. With each responsibility/us allowing certain things, they have to earn it, as well as sticking to the “rules” to keep that privilege. Consequence of action if you will. He’s 10-11 now. And we’ve never had a reason to worry. His siblings are the same.

    Our take, if you teach them to negotiate at such a young age, they learn to work you. lol From the time they are born, up to when they hit 12-13, what you say goes. Nuff said. Just be fair and honest as to why. They need to learn that not everything will always go their way. And that they can’t just “negotiate” every time. Sometimes they just have to do, for their own benefit and safety. And really, what do they know that gives them negotiating power? 😉

  26. Jess October 21, 2016 at 1:22 am #

    I hope the kid is at least given some freedom when she’s working.

  27. Serena Milan October 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    She does boxing but her mom walks her there and back? She more prepared to go out by herself than I am.