Monday, May 4, 2009

Free Range Kids

One tip that I got from the baby books is to "each day, take 5 minutes and think about what kind of parent you want to be". I know that most of that is probably bs, because I've heard so many times that you don't really know what kind of parent you are until it's too late anyway. So I'm not even going to go there.

But I read this article in Salon today, and it does echo some thinking that I have been doing about what kind of world our baby will be born into.
Growing up myself..I didn't really have that many restrictions. I am one of many siblings and by the time it got to me, I'm guessing my parents were jaded. At least my dad. When I was 8 years old, he put me on a train to go more than 100 miles away to visit family. Included on that trip, I had to switch trains in a big city hub. My dad had given me very specific instructions to talk to the conductor. Everything worked out fine, and I didn't really think it was that big of a deal until someone told me so.
My dad is a great person and I can probably count on one hand how many times he has questioned my decisions, even though he probably should have (backpacking in Burma in 1997, really?) Believe me, I have addressed this with him many times. The conversation goes something like this:

Me - How is it that you don't question my X decision?
My Dad - You will figure it out yourself
Me - But what if I want your opinion?
My Dad - Then it won't be your decision.

As can be understood, this conversation leads nowhere and the mess up/success ratio ends up at 50/50.

I did however finally figure out his philosophy in a conversation not related to child upbringing, I think we were watching a movie or discussing a book. He said "You have to cut the chord with your kids. If you don't, they will never fully become independent individuals"

So back to the article - if the world that we live in is not safer nor more violent than in the 1970's, why does it feel so different? I live in California now, a state that I am absolutely in love with and I can think of no better place for a kid to grow up. The state of California has 40 million people in it, 4 times the size of Sweden. Would I put my 8-year old on the train to San Francisco to go see our friends?

It certainly has me thinking, that's for sure.

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