Saturday, January 26, 2013

I just wanna parent like it's 1985

I miss the 80's. Not just Duran Duran and John Hughes movies, but the way things were back then. The attitude of it all, ya know? When I was a kid, it was perfectly acceptable to walk around the neighborhood knocking on your friends' doors until you found someone to play with. Then you would wander off together to the local playground, or ride your bikes to the grocery store to stock up on candy and rubber bracelets. If it was wintertime, you would spend the afternoon in an empty parking lot (I grew up across the street from an elementary school) sledding down the monstrous hills left behind by snow plows. Life was just so, so... carefree! Now it seems like every minute of my childrens' days must be planned, executed and heavily supervised. We tried to invite a neighborhood boy over to play a while back and his mom was all upset, accusing him of trying to go someplace uninvited (she only heard his end of the phone conversation). Oops, I thought to myself. I regularly send my child to her house to ring their doorbell hoping he'll find some more productive way to spend his time other than torturing his younger brother or playing endless rounds of Uno. When the friend did come to our house, mom and dad dropped him off and picked him up. He lives up the street. Am I the only mom who allows my six year old to ride his bike around the neighborhood alone? Mind you, I do not let him cross any streets (we live on a court at the end of a long street with courts on the opposite side - so his "block" is actually quite extensive). But still. Everyone else seems so much more overprotective than us. These other parents were all children of the 80's. They all survived childhoods in station wagons with no car seats (and rarely a seat belt), bike riding with no helmet and sledding directly into the street. Okay, so I make my kids wear helmets. They fall down a lot. And I appreciate the fact that things are generally safer now. But I firmly believe that we have gone overboard in our overprotectiveness. I work with teenagers who have no idea how to make safe, independent choices, and I worry about how they are going to survive out there in a world full of hurty things. I want my boys to be able to navigate the world on their own. But I am a parent in 2013 and my views are not exactly popular. What's a mom to do?

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