Thursday, August 28, 2014

Balancing Freedom, Growth, and Risk

two girls in Changde, Hunan, China
Two girls out on their own and having a good time in Changde, Hunan

In "Why I let my children walk to the corner store — and why other parents should, too" columnist Petula Dvorak wrote:
“It’s a different world out there today. It’s not like when I was growing up, and we’d all play in an apple orchard and we were safe. Today, you just don’t know who’s out there,” said a lovely, well-meaning grandmother who was keeping an eagle-eye lookout on her grandchildren at a water park this summer while I let my kids do the water slides by themselves.

Yes, it is a different world. It’s a safer world. It just doesn’t feel like it because we know too much.

Back in the apple orchard and latchkey days, there were plenty of child molesters, killers and pervs lurking around. We simply didn’t talk about them and didn’t hear about what they did.
Dvorak's piece isn't just about raising children but also speaks to the challenges in evaluating everyday risk and how the good old days aren't always as good as people think. And it reminds me of how I have seen children in China in some ways leading far freer lives than many of those in the US. All issues worth pondering . . .

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