Baby Steps...

When my hubby runs across something he wants me to read he grabs my laptop when I'm not fused to it at the wrist... um using it, and opens tabs in my browser for me. This weekend I found myself reading this blog Free Range Kids. My hubby has a 45 min. drive to work everyday and has developed a hard core NPR addiction. Being that I have a two hour a day reality tv show habit I find myself wondering if the (very sexy ) Dr. Drew would give us a buy one get one free stay at rehab. The point? I believe that NPR is where he heard the story originally. The cliff notes version of the Free Range Kid's site is that many parents are feeling like we are raising a generation of over-protected kids and that if they are never given the chance to do anything on their own how will they learn to make their own choices? I admit I can be one of those parents obsessively stalking, um watching her kids. But, in theory I agree with Lenore Skenazy who has the blog and writes for the New York Sun. The story my husband heard was about how she let her 9 year old ride the subway home from Bloomingdales, ALONE, without GASP a cell phone. Of course this has sparked heated arguments from both sides. As I said before in THEORY I agree with the Free Range Kids idea, you know the whole 'our generation survived riding our bikes, in the street, with no helmets to play in a vacant lot with matches and lived to tell the tale' aspect of it. However, I also like to think I am not so naive as to believe that with the changes in the world since we were kids that our parenting styles shouldn't adapt also. An urban evolution so to speak.

When Breanna was little I was watching Oprah and Gavin DeBecker was a guest. After hearing what he had to say I immediately checked out his book, Protecting the Gift from the library. I highly recommend it. In fact it is on my Bookmooch list right now because I want re-read it now that my kids are older. For you cliff notes readers I borrowed the book blurb from Amazon, because they say it better than I could.

Writing with a precision honed from his long experience as a security expert predicting violence in order to protect high-profile clients, and with a depth born of his own childhood understanding of how it feels to be hurt by the adult you love, DeBecker describes how we can keep our children safe. Although he devotes separate chapters to the special threats facing children and teens, females and males (the murderous romance of boys and guns is covered), his basic message is encapsulated in 12 steps. The first step involves teaching children to honor their feelings specifically, the intuition that makes them fear certain people. Children also need a parents permission to be assertive, to defy adults, to yell and fully resist. Throughout, DeBecker stresses a child's need to trust that a parent will be open to listen about any experience, no matter how unpleasant. He opens and concludes with tales of ordinary mothers who overcame their doubts and inhibitions to experience a brilliantly intuitive wild brain as they fought off attackers to protect their children. De Becker offers a guide to fostering this fierce intelligence in our kids, ourselves and our society.

My girls are 9 (in less than 2 weeks) and 5, and I guess this spring time air combined with their birthdays and realization that they are no longer babies has had me thinking I've got to start learning to let go lately. So even before being introduced to Free Range Kids I had been making an effort to let my kids exercise the brains God gave them for the love of Pete ... um better judgment. If you happen to live near me you may actually see my kid's playing out front, with no adults, THE HORROR! Okay, I am sitting in the living room and peaking out at them periodically. Baby steps!

With all this swimming in my head this week I made a huge decision yesterday. Ran it by my neighbor/mom of my daughter's best friend/of the same mind thinking friend.

AND... this morning our soon to be (dear gracious this month) 9 year olds rode their bikes to school 1.25 miles all by themselves! They were so excited!

It sure isn't the New York subway. Baby steps , people! BABY STEPS!


I let the sprog roam but he has his cell phone with him and he has to tell me where he is going to be. I agree that the changes in our environment have to lead to a change in parenting styles and they (unfortunately) don't have the freedoms we had.

Even back then though, the world was not as safe as we made it out to be. I was faced with a man exposing himself to me when I was 12 and he pulled over to ask for directions.

April 17, 2008 at 12:47 PM  

I saw the same story of the subway on The Today Show or something. I remember thinking way! Too many freaks out there.

In reality, there is a time when you have to trust that you have taught you children well and that they will do the right things. That part I am okay with.

Being a new mommy, I just don't know how to get past dealing with the freaks in the world that don't think twice about hurting children etc.

Now, driving (somewhat related) is kinda controllable. I practice extremely defensive driving. I stay away from speeders, tailgaters, semis or anybody else that has capability of causing accidents. Can you teach your kids defensive life tactics...yes but to what degree?

Personally, hubby and I have already discussed that we will be following Twinkle and she will know that we MAY show up at any time...LOL.

I've actually watched tweens being dropped off at a large shopping center near us and then they go change clothes into something totally slut like...UGH.

Congrats on giving your eldest a longer must be hard but she is a good kid with her head on straight :)

April 17, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

Oh, Star, I agree, but I have to admit to was one of those preteen girls that was dropped off only to change into something that I would have never been allowed out of the house with....I was seriously overprotected in a bizarre psychotic way! You just have to have faith you raised them right and know they are gonna to do crap to piss you off...such is life!

April 17, 2008 at 5:19 PM  

Don Mills Diva talked about this the other day. Instead of recreating the wheel I'm just going to cut and paste my response.

Also, I'm also a hardcore NPR addict. Cannot. Live. Without. It.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...
I think planning a situation to blog about is totally different from making sure you've got the tools to blog about something you would do anyway.

I'll probably get crucified for saying this, but I'm not sure I think her letting her son ride the subway was necessarily bad. It really depends on the kid, and the environment he's been raised in.

Many years ago, when my husband was out of town, I got very sick. For a solid week my kindergartener got his younger siblings fed, dressed, and packed lunches while I lay on the couch. If we were New Yorkers I might have trusted him on the subway.

April 17, 2008 at 7:01 PM  

Apparently this was a hotter topic than I realized I have seen all over the blogosphere today lots of people are talking about it.

I laughed about the girls riding to school alone being our subway this morning. But really if we lived in a big city and my 9 year old rode the subway everyday with me, it would probably be just as easy to her as riding her bike home.

I'm telling you all that book by Gavin DeBecker is really amazing. Definitely helps define the difference between real dangers,and the few and far between scares the media hypes up.

I know the kids I knew growing up that were the most sheltered were the wildest when we went off on "our own" to college. Hubby and I are trying our best to "teach them well and let them try things for themselves." He was raised with very few rules, I was much more sheltered, so I think we help balance each other out.

April 17, 2008 at 8:57 PM  

I forwarded your article and link to my better half so I'm sure a vigorous discussion is at hand. We have a few years still before we get to the subway, bike, cab, whatever stage but this has really made me think.(re. panic)

Bravo to hubby for sharing yet another gem from those wonderful NPR folks.

Bret (NPR fanatic, hubby, dad, blogger, photographer, BS'r etc. etc.)

April 19, 2008 at 1:19 AM  

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