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.