My last post was about parental over-protection, encouraging parents to give their kids the gift of assuming they can handle life, even if they make a few mistakes.
Today I’m thinking about an article I read, with a fascinating map that shows the diminishing roaming areas afforded four generations of a UK family. Whereas Great-grandpa used to be able to wander six miles alone when he was eight in 1919, Grandpa could go within one mile of home in 1950. Mama could go half a mile when she was eight in 1979, and her eight-year-old today is only allowed to go 300 yards, to the end of his own street.
I’m not going to rant about how parents should let their kids go wander. The world has changed since 1919. But in my opinion it’s less because there’s an unknown bogeyman on every corner who might snatch kids up (though of course that’s not unheard of), but more because kids wouldn’t be equipped to handle themselves with a lot of unknown occurrences. And neighbors also don’t generally feel like they’re allowed to question kids or check in on them in ways that help the village raise a kid. If kids are wandering through streets where they’re not known, the safety factor is diminished.
I’m not sure what the solutions are… but I’m in favor of all of us taking the time to know our neighbors so we know their kids (and they know ours). Then kids have a larger range roaming range… with eyes and safe spots to stop into all along the way.
What would it take to expand our communities so we could expand our kids’ roaming areas?