The news this morning reported parents “anxieties” about letting their children enjoy the freedom of outdoor play. One tabloid even reported that parents were “forcing” their children to play indoors thus creating a new generation of obese children. As a parent of two young boys I am aware of the dangers that are out there to our children. But I am also aware that inflicting our fears on them could turn our children into a generation of scaredy cats. There is a fine line.
So what are we to do? Raise scared, obese children to be scared obese adults? Or do we take the unthinkable risk and let them run wild on the assumption that the “stranger danger bogey man” is not hiding behind every bush?
My guess is that you have to trust parents to make that decision subjectively.
We are very lucky that we live in house with a nice area of green outside for our children to plat on. It is set back from the road, and big enough to kick a football on. To the delight of my children is also perfect for a communal (paddling) pool to share with their friends. We have the added bonus that our neighbours have children of similar ages so there is very much a communal feel about our area. On a warm weekend we will all have our front doors wide open, we feed each others children and have them running in and out of our houses. There is only the occasional upset when we have splinter or the children have an argument.
We have actually HAD a summer this year (and long may it continue). With the kids now on the summer holidays their outside existence is there in abundance, with the occasional blip of a rainy day or a reluctant yet dutiful Grandparent visit.
Like I say, we are lucky. Our children are able to have the freedom of the outside with the security of knowing their safe haven is a stones throw away.
As parents I am also happy they are building their little imaginations with their outdoor games. When I quietly watch them from the step I can see their natural leadership, organisation and social skills simply ooze from them.
Not to look through rose tinted glasses, but my childhood was equally idyllic. We played a little bit further away perhaps, but this was the 1980’s. And things were different then. That’s not to say things didn’t happen, but there was not much news of it. Or if there was we as children were shielded from it.
I am aware that in a year or two I shall have their questions about heading to the park with their friends. Now the park is not on our doorstep but requires them to cross a road and it is also out of our viewing range. I shall cross that bridge when I come to it…..!
So what do you do if you have children in a flat or a townhouse on the edge of a busy road? Do you feel that you have no choice but you have them play indoors unless you are there to watch their every move? What age is acceptable for them to “wander off” to explore with their friends? What boundaries do you set?
I would love to hear your opinions on this.
I have never been particularly academic. That's not to say I wasn't smart. I firmly believe there are different levels of "smart".
I know someone for example who is an extremely bright and academic Lecturer yet it took her seven attempts to pass her driving test. Something that I proudly did first time (just..!).
I guess in life I have been lucky to have been able to climb the career ladder from a combination of drive, and people I know.
Let me take you back to my first "proper" job. This was working for 12 hours on a Saturday for a large chain of bakers. This job was offered to me by an old friend of the family who managed the shop at the time. Before long I was Head Saturday Girl (this is the drive I was talking about) but also gazing wistfully across the road at another large chain of cafes who I knew paid slightly more than the £1.45 per hour I was on. I was friends with a girl who worked there, who put a word in for me and before long I was waiting tables and sweeping carpets for 10p an hour more than I was used to.
Back to the "drive" that I have. It was becoming apparent that I had no interest in making waiting tables a long term career path for me. With my late teens became a sense of vanity and before long the smell of grease and burgers seemed to seep from every pore.
A friend of my Mum's told her at this time that as soon as I was 16, I was able to start working at a Call Centre with her. This Call Centre were crying out for flexible staff so I found myself happily hanging up my apron, and donning some rather swanky (but second hand) office wear. It was from working at this Call Centre on and off for the following 4 years, that I was able to make the contacts I did to start working for a Global Pharmacuetical Company as an Adminsitrator, which lead to working as an Account Manager and subsequent Business Development Manager (there's that drive again!) and now onto doing a job that I love as a Marketing Manager.
I could (if I'd had the brains) lead a very different career path. If I had managed to scrape higher than 3 GCSE passes I would have gone onto do A-Levels rather than a basic business course at college. If I had passed the A-Levels I would have perhaps gone onto University and got myself into masses of debt and permanent liver damage. But this would have meant I would not have had to oppurtunity to work aboard and thus broaden my horizons.
No, I am happy with the brains I was born with. And ever happier with the friends and family I have been blessed with! Its them I have to thank to be leading the life I am today. Thankfully, because its not like I could have relied on brains alone!