Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Where Has All The Freedom Gone?

A few months ago I 'required' the kids to read 'My Side of the Mountain', by Jean George.  It's a tale of a 12 year old boy who decides it's his life's calling to be a naturalist, like Thoreau, so he leaves his home in NYC to go out to the mountains in upstate New York to live on his own.   He journals how he finds food, builds shelter, etc.

Last night we watched the film adaptation and thoroughly enjoyed it.  However, it struck me from the first scene where the boy leaves his parents a note saying he has gone off to live in the wilderness...where has all the freedom gone?  For our children, I mean.  It wasn't that long ago that boys of this age could pack up a tent and campling gear and head out into the woods for a weekend of camping.  Now we can't (or don't) even let them out of our sight. 

When I was about 9 or 10 one of my favorite things to do was go roaming around in the woods. We lived on an Air Force Base at the time, and little did we know those woods were part of a FIRING RANGE...but my parents didn't have a clue where I was.  If a bear had eaten me up, I suppose that would have been considered 'consequences for my actions'.  My parents were not about to shield me from either the consequences nor the actions!  But again...if my son were to go out unsupervised for an entire day, miles from here, without any cell phone for contact....I'd be in trouble for allowing it.  (By the way...all those cell phones?  To me they are just high tech 'apron strings'.)

So, is it because the world has really changed since those days?  Or is it because parents are held to a stricter standard of parenting?  I mean, if I allowed my son to go out camping overnight in the woods, I am pretty sure if someone found him out there, DFACS would be called and I would be in trouble.   

I'm not saying we shouldn't be cautious with our children, but something is just sad to me that kids can't do anything in this world without being afraid, or for that matter, that parents are so afraid to let them experience the world without them tagging along two steps behind.

Maybe children should be permitted to endure negative consequences once in a while, instead of being micro managed to the 'n'th degree. 

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