Mary Stobie
Mary Stobie asked:

Are there any other mothers of risk-taking adult sons out there? My son hops freight trains and eats out of dumpsters. And I wasn't that bad a cook! Do you agree with Lenore on letting your child have more freedom so he or she can learn to make decisions?

Marta Zaraska Yes, I do! First of all, it's a common misconception that North America is now more dangerous than it used to be. It is not. The media are just much more vocal and omnipresent - and "if it bleeds, it leads". So we are made to think that the world is more dangerous than it truly is.

I grew up in communist Poland. By the age of 7 I walked to school by myself (all the kids did), and by the age of 9 I not only walked by myself a mile to the bus stop, I took a public bus to school. And my parents were considered quite protective. My best friend by the age of 9 used to cook dinners for her 7-year-old brother, as they both awaited at home for their parents' return from work. She is now an amazingly capable, strong woman.

I think we, the parents of today, are often led to be over-protective by the media (the "if it bleeds, it leads", again), and by the producers of all the possible gadgets that will protect your kids from all the harm possible (think walking helmets for toddlers). But this over-protectiveness, just as Skenazy argues, can make our kids too dependent, anxious. She is not the only one who raises such points, either - many researchers do as well. Studies have shown that if parents help their children a lot with tasks at age four, for example, the kids will be more anxious at age nine. Over-protectiveness at the time of a natural disaster, makes children's PTSD worse. And there are many other examples, too. Just google scholar "parental overprotectiveness" and find for yourself.
Suzanne Komaniak Wow. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. We had neighborhood schools and walked to and from school--even middle and high school. We were a 1 car family. Dad had the car for work. We had no choice but to walk! NEVER an issue aside from the occasional kid-bully, but we learned so much problem-solving. We weren't obese--far from it.
I understand that it's a different world now, but this Mom of 4 is pro walk to school!
Tytti I find it almost scary to read how many parents or teenagers themselves are asking if some book is "appropriate" for a 15-year-old. For some reason I don't think reading a novel is that dangerous for a teenager, even if there were some swearing or sex in it. And the society expects these people to make important decisions for themselves in a couple of years when they can't even pick up a book without asking?!
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