In a country such as South Africa, where the child murder statistics are horrifying, and where we read about the murder, mutilation, and rape of children as young as 9 months old, letting a child out alone is terrifying. You read many stories in the newspaper about children who go out, even if on a simple errand, and never return alive. It’s scary. It scares me to the deepest core to think that if I let my own son out on his own that he might not return alive.
However, in other countries where the statistic isn’t as bad as it is here, how do you feel about letting your children out alone? Over at Boing Boing is a discussion about a woman who let her 9-year old son take the subway alone, in a society that seems to be mollycoddling children. I do applaud her–she’s probably far braver than I am, but then my son is 2 and a half…and still has no sense of self preservation.
No, I did not give him a cell phone. Didn’t want to lose it. And no, I didn’t trail him, like a mommy private eye. I trusted him to figure out that he should take the Lexington Avenue subway down, and the 34th Street crosstown bus home. If he couldn’t do that, I trusted him to ask a stranger.
Apparently, half the people that she’s told the story to want to turn her in for child abuse–mollycoddlers the lot of them, I imagine!
Has the level of trust in our children decreased from previous generations? Are we coddling them too much? Should we learn to just let go and let them find their own feet? I agree that we should…in principle. In practicality, it’s far, far more difficult. But then, how do you expect the kids to get a sense of street-smarts if you don’t? I was brought up in a sheltered environment, and I’ve no sense of street-smarts whatsoever. How best do you think should be accomplished without smothering the child, no matter how good-intentioned?