Monday, October 4, 2010

Giving kids some freedom

I often go through this dilemma in the school holidays.  I want them to get out and do something outside, get some fresh air, away from the blessed screens, but it means I have to get out there with them.  And I can't always get out there with them.

I want my kids to experience some freedom, some space, some breathing space, some independence.  But we live in a world where we're told we can't take our eyes off our kids for a second - they might get stolen, abused, attacked ... the list of horrors we hear on the media just spirals around in our brains.  Like a mantra in our heads - "you just can't take your eyes off them ...".

I live in the city - on a busy road but near a wonderful, vast park.  Our house backs onto a reserve - a child's wonderland.  I want them to enjoy the satisfaction of creating your own world, in your own imagination.  I want them to go on adventures.  Give their brains time to grow, rest, explore.

And this year I have been slowly letting go.  Letting the older kids go to the park in pairs.  Letting them play out in the reserve together where I'm close by.

Patient father putting together newly purchased bikes
Today we bought bikes.  So we can go out together as a family but also so that my older children can ride, ride around the park, go to a friend's house, get some space (get milk from the corner shop for me!). Think, dream, imagine, pretend.  Learn some independence.

Not quite sure I'm ready to send my 9yo on a subway yet but I do find Lenore Skanazy's 'free-range kids' blog encouraging. (she's been in Australia this month)

8 comments:

rodneyolsen.net said...

It freaks me out to think of the freedoms I had when I was the age my kids are at now (11 and 14).

I'm trying to force myself to give them greater freedom. Not easy.

alison said...

This is the best! Bikes are fantastic. I hope your kids have a great (and safe of course) time exploring :)

Sarah S said...

I'm with you!

We had some great humpies and imaginary lands in the trees out the back, and the plums trees were the boundary for the kids if I was not with them. The greatest dangers we encountered were the friends who'd wander in the back gate!

For a while I was enjoying the challenge and joys of letting my kids out on a longer leash, but a wise person told me why I need to reel them back in a bit more in my context. I'm trying to find other contexts for them to try out greater levels of independence. My 10 year old planned and executed a 3 course meal which was pretty good.

Go the space and freedom though - the possibilities are as high as the sky!

Peter Sholl said...

There was that time a guy set fire to the stand of trees over the back fence on a total fire ban day, but the garden hose just reached then the fire engine came. How exciting was that!!

Beck said...

Lenore Skanazy rocks!Nuff said:)

Pip said...

Very interesting thoughts and link (will be reading more of her blog).

Fiona McLean said...

I've been letting my 10 and 9 year old kids go on solo bike rides in suburban Melbourne. They love the independence! But I do find it hard where to draw the line. When am I being irresponsible??

Fiona McLean

Jenny said...

Hi Fiona. That's a tough question isn't it? I think we tend to think it is a parenting issue that sits at either the, 'you are never leaving my sight' end of the spectrum or at the other end of the spectrum - 'I haven't even registered that you've left the house'.

But as with most parenting stuff it's not that clear-cut which means it involves wisdom, judgement, discernment and trial and error rather than clear rules. Which is why it's hard!

So, sorry - no easy answers from me!