Motherhood in the Age of Fear
I recently re-read an article that the New York Times posted last year called, “Motherhood in the Age of Fear”. It’s a fascinating article focused on a handful of stories of mothers being arrested for “neglecting” their children - either letter them play in parks alone or leaving them in cars for mere minutes while they pick up their (presumably mobile-order-ahead) coffees in Starbucks. It uses these stories, however, to get to a larger point about how we are parenting our children - whether we are giving them the freedom, independence and skills to navigate the world that we were given as children. I remember from my own childhood spending almost every weekend wandering the neighborhood in a pack of kids - walking alone to my friends houses to play. I’m pretty sure I usually didn’t tell my mom where I was going (I’m also pretty sure Mrs. Conrad picked up the phone every time I showed up to tell my mom “she’s here”), and I was granted that freedom. This was in late elementary school and early middle school, and I was lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where that was safe.
One of the reasons we chose our current community is because it has neighborhood elementary schools, meaning most kids are walking distance to school. There’s even a school policy on what age kids can walk on their own and at what age they can bring their younger siblings along without a parent - it takes away the judgement call of individual parents worrying about what others will think and creates a new social norm around giving kids independence and getting them moving before the school day.
What simple acts of independence are you giving your kids?