Readers — This comment, inspired by the previous post, gets to the heart of the matter for me: Connecting. Free-Range Kids is about giving kids freedom, of course, but delve a little deeper and it is about trust: Trusting our kids, our neighbors, ourselves. And the more we trust and connect, the more safe and powerful we are. The more we distrust and disconnect, the more we look to the fear-mongering marketplace or draconian laws or plain old demagogues to protect us. Personally, I prefer connecting. — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I love delving into the sociology of our collective hysteria about the dangers of current-day childhood.
I think in large part it is due to the death of community and interdependence brought on by wealth: a form of “affluenza.” …
These days, from birth on, your kid is yours, not the neighborhood’s. You live in near isolation in your little 4-bed, 2-bath prison and have to consciously ARRANGE interaction with other kids, sometimes weeks in advance.
Over time, since we don’t really know our neighbors and have so little shared history, we begin to buy into the media hype that there’s a serial killer on every corner and a molester in every bush.
There were bad actors back in the day; there are the same proportion of bad actors today. The only thing that has changed is our quality of life. It’s dismal, for now we are shackled together, parent and child, each of us growing more wary and less fulfilled by the minute.
I have to laugh about these affluence-driven, futile efforts to protect kids from each other and unforeseeable events. Wake up, people! The world might become really dangerous, on the level of boiling seas and unbreathable air and lack of foodstuffs. We may all be huddled together and interdependent again by necessity and not by choice. Then it will indeed seem outrageously silly that we ever had laws against leaving school-aged children unattended for half an hour.
For me, I am striving to equip myself and my kids with compassion. It seems to be a great gift in any circumstance, foreseen or not, and a return to interdependence is definitely on the horizon. Fear and judgement are always in long supply. Stock up on compassion now. — Mollie Kaye