Dear Free-Range Kids: I’ve been living outside of the US for about 10 years now and am shocked at the increasing persecution of parents back home. We live in Switzerland and have a child about to enter Kindergarten. Funny thing is, the parents have been instructed that they can walk the child to class for the first two weeks but after that, the child needs to go on his or her own – how else will they learn to become self-sufficient?!
In line with that thinking, the neighborhoods take responsibility for the children – driving safely around crossing areas, offering help to the kids if they seem to need it. It’s a great system and we love that even the kids watch out for each other. It reminds me of what it was like (all those) years ago when I was a kid – we got ourselves to school, on weekends played outside all day (only coming in for a quick bite to eat) and we knew that any mom around could step in if we stepped out of line. I think it not only builds self-esteem but builds a sense of community to boot.
Lenore here: I think so, too. And I think that the opposite –kids NOT walking to school or playing outside — corrodes community. Kids become scarce, play dries up, fear takes hold and distrust grows. And then distrust just makes us mean and crazy. But, that’s why we’re here: to reverse that trend! – L