There is an article floating around the parenting corner of the internets lately, about the dangers of leaving children unattended. It’s not actual danger, like injury or abduction, but the danger of busy bodies do gooders waiting to turn in well meaning mamas.
I wonder if perhaps the bigger danger here is that we are churning out an entire generation of young adults who, having never been trusted to survive alone for a minute or two, cannot or will not function in the big wide world.
Yesterday, Andrew and I took seven kids to a nearby living history museum. These kids are sweet and well behaved, but if you’ve ever taken seven kids anywhere, you know that they can’t ever agree on which way to go first. Actually, if you’ve ever taken two kids anywhere, you know that they can’t agree on which way to go first! In this particular case, we had three direction desired all at one time.
Three boys, 15, 14, and 10 aren’t overly interested in calves or basket weaving and I can’t say I blame them. They were polite and perfectly willing to wait, but I could tell that they were chomping at the bit to check out the newly built tree house. With my permission, they headed off to the tree house, which is just a short walk down the path. It was out of site of where we were, but the kids all knew where they were heading and the park was not overly crowded that day. Andrew followed about five minutes later.
In that five minutes, they were asked to leave the area, because they weren’t accompanied by an adult. These boys are 15 and 14 year old. In the era of said living history museum, they’d have been fighting in wars, working to support the family, or riding the pony express. But today, they can’t respectfully walk over to the next area of an outdoor, interactive museum without an adult.
What are we teaching them kids responsibility when, today, they aren’t allowed to walk five minutes ahead of an adult? How is this generation of children supposed to learn to handle themselves in the real world if they aren’t allowed a moment outside of the parental watchful eye?
It is our responsibility to teach and form these children into responsible, functioning adults. This isn’t even a possibility if we never give them a bit of room to spread their proverbial wings.