Lenore Skenazy's fabulous book Free Range Kids makes an important argument: kids are missing a childhood of freedom and self-reliance, and it's hurting them and us. She reminds us that most of us live in safe enough places to give our kids the independence to explore and learn and ride bikes and run to the corner store…much like many of us did as kids.
This philosophy feels right to me, both in terms of the stats and the gut. Overprotectiveness has never been my style. In fact, I tend toward underprotectiveness; I default to trusting a situation when a little more caution might be wise.
That said, perhaps because I now homeschool my 11 year-old son, I'm aware of how little I truly understand my daughter's experience of school. It's not a problem exactly; I believe it's good for her to have her own world, in some ways separate from me. But I also assume she'll come to me when she has problems or needs help. Turns out that assumption may be faulty.
Dana (a regular Parenthacker) wrote an excellent post detailing her struggle to walk the line between "free range" and responsibility. Does it really make sense to assume everything is okay when we don't hear otherwise? Her experience says no, but she's not willing to veer toward controlling parenting, either. What to do? How to do it?
There's no right answer. I'd love to hear your take, either here or in the comments of the original post at Working Moms Against Guilt. (Dana encouraged me to expand the conversation here.)
Win it! I've got two extra copies of Free Range Kids sitting on my shelf, and I will happily share! On 4/13 at about 5pm PST I'll randomly choose two commenters, each of whom will get their very own copy. If you'd like to enter the drawing, please leave your comment here at Parent Hacks so I can keep track.
As of 4/13/11, 5pm PST, the drawing is closed. I'm leaving comments open so we can keep talking — I love reading your thoughts on this topic.