Most parents dream of a childhood filled with freedom for their own children, similar to the carefree one they probably enjoyed.
But the reality quite often doesn't match up and even the simple act of allowing your child to walk to school seems fraught with problems.
Quite often time constraints play a large part in the decision to drive your child to school: parents who work have to then whiz off so as not to be late. Heavy traffic, often created by other mothers on the school run, and not choosing a local school but one further away means that a lot of children are driven to school. And the same goes for after school clubs too.
One mother who let her ten-year-old walk to football practice alone found herself being ticked off by police after the boy was spotted making the one mile journey.According to the New York Times, passers-by called 911 when they spotted Lori Pierce's son walking alone. A police officer drove him home and allegedly told Pierce she could face charges if anything happened to the boy while he was out alone.
And yet parents are often told children do not have enough freedom and that parental fears over paedophiles are hampering little ones' development.
It seems as a parent you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
The New York Times also reported that parents and school officials have created elaborate rules and rituals to protect children as they travel to school.
Apparently some parents drive up to the school with their child's name displayed on the dashboard and a school official then escorts the child out to the car.
I vividly remember walking home from school, in particular, and letting myself into an empty house when I was ten or 11. Both my parents worked and I was a very sensible only child. On a Friday there would be my favourite treat and comic waiting for me. Even so, I can't imagine allowing any of mine to do that.
One mother in Tuscon, Ariz., mother told The New York Times that she was happy for her young daughter to walk to a friend's house just five houses away on the the same side of the street.
That was until that friend's mother drove her child home one day. "She said, 'I just drove her back, just in case ... you know,' " Amy Utzinger told the newspaper. "What was I supposed to say? How can you argue against 'just in case?'"
Of course it does depend on the age of the child and their level of maturity. Where you live also has a bearing on how much freedom your child has too: living in the same town as their school will obviously make easier to walk there.
I grew up in a town and once I had started secondary school I walked the two mile round trip to school and back every day, sometimes with friends and sometimes alone.
I can't remember going to many after school activities though (or maybe I was just a lazy child) and my days certainly seemed less busy than children nowadays but I relished the freedom.
I wonder what we are denying our children when we ferry them around? Do you allow your child to walk to school? Or do you prefer to drive them everywhere?
Source (New York Times)
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