This is a wonderful article discussing the shift in ‘childhood culture’ over the past few decades, mostly in the US and the UK. In the past, children grew up with much greater freedom and independence. They took risks, looked after themselves, built forts, explored nature, had adventures. They had a world, at least partly, free of adult supervision. As a result, they learned how to face their fears, how to overcome challenging situations, they learned to think for themselves and took pride in their own accomplishments.
This is so different from how most children grow up today. There is so much fear and worry involved in parenting. Everyone is a potential child-molester or child-abductor. Every possible safety risk has to be managed and eliminated. Children’s entire lives need to be constantly supervised, controlled and planned by adults.
How are children supposed to learn to be self-sufficient, to take responsibility for themselves, to test and overcome their limits? Ultimately, how are they actually supposed to grow into functional, capable, adaptable, confident adults?
It is a difficult challenge for parents to balance that impossibly strong desire to protect one’s most valuable ‘possession’ – one’s offspring – and to give them the independence and exposure to challenge and risk that makes childhood both more rewarding and empowering.
This is a great article for parents, grandparents and those who work closely with children of all ages. It’s definitely food for thought!
THE OVERPROTECTED KID – A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution. | Hanna Rosin | THE ATLANTIC