We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, October 26. 2017
The Fragile Generation. Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed.
My parents would be in jail today for neglect. I think the theory used to be that kids needed adventure and freedom, along with a load of mandatory chores, because the goal was to create resilient and independent people as soon as possible.
We had BB guns and made campfires in the woods. Nobody knew where the heck we were because we had bikes. As long as we got home for tennis lessons, there was no problem.
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Growing up in the 1940s and 1950s presented its own problems; but, for the most part the grown ups took care of those.
In retrospect we were very lucky. I have referred to us as "free range" kids; and that is a good description.
I didn't take tennis lessons, so it was usually, "be home in time for supper". That worked quite well.
Not only did we have bikes to give us a wide range, we would also hitch-hike when that was more convenient.
Strangely enough, I recall little serious trauma befalling kids within my sphere of awareness.
Roger that. Out the door at 8 with bb gun in hand and hop on the bike. Maybe a pick-up game of baseball or off to the swimming hole. Back for dinner. And no fooling around because the moms in the neighborhood kept and eye on all of us...and one of them usually fed us a sandwich at lunch.
We watch a lot of real-estate-hunting shows. I'm always amazed by how consistently parents express fears about the safety of prospective houses for their kids. They nearly always say they're scared to move their kids into a house with any stairs or even small level changes.
Lots of people around here are afraid to let their kids go int the woods, because there might be a snake.
Really? A snake in the woods? My nephew, the archetypical Wild Child, would be all over that. Come to think of it, me too.
Nope, for us it was be home by the time the streetlights came on when we were young. (and thought it was grand when the street light on our block burned out - it gave us an "excuse" to stay out later)
By high school we had no curfew; BUT, we had better not sleep late and miss the bus in the morning! If we missed school we had to find our own way to not let our grades fall.
And, we also had chores. Wash our own sports clothes. certain parts of the yard were "the kids" responsibility, etc. I was rather stunned upon arrival to college and learned that some dorm mates didn't know how to wash clothes! How could someone reach adulthood and not know how to use a washing machine?!
Today, my local gym's men changing room is always a pigsty. I'm convinced it is because too many of these guys are used to their mother or their wives cleaning up after them. Seriously, who let's a wire hanger drop on the floor and does NOT pick it up?
You struck a chord. I can remember having my Red Ryder on "lay away" at Kresses. Seemed like forever before it was paid for.
I do have a few chills when I recall how many times someone was shot with a bb gun. (Although the rules were no shooting above the shoulder) Fortunately, no serious damage; except for the first time a neighbor kid used mine and shot my little brother, who told Mom.
Born in 1957 I am a child of the 60's and 70's. I'm the eldest of six children and recall a time when school was out in summer that my sainted mother would feed us breakfast and then send us out of the house to do whatever it is we could find to do. We were allowed to stay in the house on days when the weather was inclement, but not required to.
We would return for lunch, if we weren't eating at a friend's house, and then sent out again, expected to return in time for supper.
My mother, were she to do the same with kids today, would likely be in jail.
I think the key was mothers at home. While we were free range, there was always the restraint that someone’s mother might be watching out of a window. And an adult nearby if there was a real problem.
Of course, being 'reality' tv that's manufactured fear. But, it adds to the perception that things are worse than they seem. There are a lot more drug addicts and sexual degenerates than one or two generations ago due to certain very real factors. It's not completely a warped perception. Still, I don't think twice about letting our 6 and 8 year old boys run around the nearby creek in our neighborhood, as long as they stick together. It's not a magazine neighborhood, so parents have a different attitude about letting kids have fun.
No BB guns, though. I'd worry more about paying for broken windows and dented cars, than someone getting hurt. If we lived in the country it'd be different.
Speeding cars are still the biggest danger many kids face. That's a real danger and real worry.
6:00 church bells for dinner, after dinner depended on day of the week, time of year.
My neighborhood grew up around the parish church - even the non-Catholics respected the authority of the bells. I often thought from a birds eye view it would look like ants scurrying back to the hill when those three dozen kiddos ran home for dinner.
When I was 12-13, in summer I would frequently disappear into the woods with a couple of sandwiches, a few cookies, a .22 rifle and a knife. I'd be gone three or four days.
Mom sometimes worried about it a little. The Old Man would tell her not to worry - "he'll come home when he gets hungry."
Somehow I survived all that.
For a true "free range" kid autobiography, I'd like to recommend "The Old Man and the Boy" by writer, journalist, and big game hunter Robert Ruark. Wonderful read.
I think i have figured out in part why i have turned into a grouchy older guy. and articles like this bring to light that kids today are being cheated out of a life a kid should have in order to grow up properly. I, like my 3 brothers and 4 sisters were brought up in the late 50's and early 60's down in the panhandle of Florida in a very small town ( Oriole Beach ) and we had the run of the world at the time. Water, forests, friends, baseball, beaches and lots of friends who were let loose at dawn and came home at dark every day. Broken arms, skinned shins, sunburn were all part of life and that was that. My brother and i had a paper route and so had spending money on top of an allowance for chores done around the house and yard just like the rest of my siblings. We grew up in a 3 bedroom house yet we all grew up happy and fairly well adjusted. We saw our fair share of adversity but i think that helped temper us. I would do it all over again. A simpler world even with the threat of nuclear war from Cuba.