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'The Wilderness of Childhood is gone; the days of adventure are past'

(28 Posts)
CarmelitaMiggs Sat 18-Jul-09 12:04:12

Michael Chabon piece here

sarah293 Sat 18-Jul-09 12:30:10

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Astrophe Sat 18-Jul-09 12:51:15

Thanks for sharing the article.

My DC are 5 and 3 - too little to play out anyway (and would be terrified if I sugested it)...but I have thought about this issue since reading "Toxic Childhood" last year (great read).

I am not super molly-coddly with my kids, but the thought of letting them out to play frankly scares me...although I agree it is irrational.

Mums of older kids - do you get to a stage when it seems like the right thing to do? I mean, there was a time when I couldn't imagine DD being away from me for hours at a time, but now she is away for 6 hours 3 days a week at Kindy, and it seems 'right' IYSWIM.

Apart from just overriding our natutral maternal fears, what can we do for our kids to ensure they're access to childhood wilderness?

DH and I very deliberately resist organised activities for the DC (not all, but almost all), and also deliberately resist TV and promote outdoor play and general imaginative play...but its not quite the same as trotting off into the woods for the day is it?

Astrophe Sat 18-Jul-09 12:52:06

their access blush

sarah293 Sat 18-Jul-09 12:57:09

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Astrophe Sat 18-Jul-09 13:05:37

I guess it must depend a bit on where you live and what the community is like. No way I would send DC out at 3 and 5 here - they would be completely alone as no other kids play out - rarely even bigger kids

FranSanDisco Sat 18-Jul-09 13:22:53

My children are 8 yo and 6 yo and play out on the road with other children. Ds is the youngest at 6 yo and I have given great consideration to the 'approriateness' of my decision. I am not totally OK with it but try to keep in in perspective. I am doing a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies and the issue of 'child peril' and 'cotton wool kids' has been discussed at length last semester which has helped. I am afraid of my dc's being run over but not abduction. We have rules that they must stay together, within sight unless agreed otherwise (in someone's garden). I am raising 'feral' children smile

SolidGoldBrass Sat 18-Jul-09 13:35:33

My DS is 4 and though he doesn;t play 'outside' alone yet I now take a book to the park and, if we are at a large party/event with other kids I let him get on with it. For some reason where we live there are quite a few older kids who play in the street regularly so hopefully in a year or two I will be able to let him out to join in as well.
I am fully aware of how witless most of this stranger-danger hysteria is and intend to give DS a good childhood that leads to him developing independence and common sense.

mrsruffallo Sat 18-Jul-09 13:40:24

I absolutely agree with the fear of cars being much greater than that of abduction.
My children leave the house running and don't really stop. Sometimes I lose sight of them for a few minutes as they bolt around corners etc. They are only 6 and 3, but I feel they are safe.
The amount of comments and looks I get is amazing.
I think it's one of the reasons I dislike reigns- it symbolises fear in my eyes

Jas Sat 18-Jul-09 13:40:56

I let ds "play out" for short periods while I am with him. We live on a quiet road but he is prone to dashing out into it so is very heavily supervised at 3.

The dds are 8 and 10 and are currently in a den in a field at the end of our road along with every other child over 6 from the street (there are about 12 of them). Getting to the den requires crossing a small brook, , a path flattened through stinging nettles, and a small fence.

I also have feral children!

edam Sat 18-Jul-09 13:41:08

ds is 6 (today!) and has been 'playing out' since he was 4. Much trepidation on my part at that age but neighbour's 8yo dd was very keen to take him out to play in our street.

Now he plays out with up to a dozen kids who live in the road. It's a cul de sac with lots of communal grassy areas, and at first I didn't let him cross the road - he had to stay in the middle, where our house is (although he does now).

But it's still so restricted compared to my own childhood where, as Riven says, we would go off and play the whole day, up to the woods or down to the stream or across the fields...

mrsruffallo Sat 18-Jul-09 13:42:04

That sounds idyllic Jas

mrsruffallo Sat 18-Jul-09 13:44:35

Happy Birthday master edam!
I was brought up in the city so didn't have the bubbling streams and woods to explore but we had our own version of it and would regularly play out all day unsupervised with the other local kids.
It was a pretty great childhood

Jas Sat 18-Jul-09 13:44:57

I am very lucky to live heresmile My house is too small and there is nowhere to park, but that is more than compensated for by the fact that they can play freely.

FranSanDisco Sat 18-Jul-09 13:52:46

One of dd's friend's mums was complaining about the school trying to encourage more children to walk to school. She felt it wasn't safe due to paedophiles!! I asked her where they were as I thought she had some insider info about one being harboured in a house nearby blush. She said "well you know ..." hmm. I tend to keep DS 6yo on an imaginary choke chain, letting a little out at a time, and if he is seen crossing the (quiet) road without looking properly he is quickly pulled back to heel and made to sit in the house to 'think' grin.

mrsruffallo Sat 18-Jul-09 13:56:38

Well, it doesn't matter if your house is too small if they are spending all of that time putside grin
Seriously though, I think it sounds like a very special place
Anything for sale around there?

Goblinchild Sat 18-Jul-09 13:59:39

But they might meet a random poet, wandering lonely as a cloud, and then God knows what might happen. wink

FranSanDisco Sat 18-Jul-09 14:12:48

Yes I do hate random poets jumping out and comparing me to a summer's day or trying to engage me in debate about my name, roses and smells; very tiresome wink

cory Sat 18-Jul-09 15:52:52

I am very very lucky in that we get to spend the holidays in Sweden, where childhood hasn't changed that much in 30 years; dc's friends there are still let out to roam for hours. In a couple of years time we'll probably let ds (who is now 9) take the boat out on his own. Dd was allowed to go swimming with her friends last year (at 11) on condition that she keep to shallows as she has a joint condition and can collapse. So not that different from my childhood.

Here I try to let ds have some of the same; he can play with his friends in the cul de sac across the road, and he and his friends pop over to see each other. I would let him play in the park if he had a friend to go with, but noone else is allowed sad

funtimewincies Sat 18-Jul-09 18:44:51

I swore that any children of mine would taste the fabulous freedom that I and my brothers had to roam and explore the countryside where I (luckily) grew up. Unfortunately, even if I let my children out to play, no-one else will be allowed to play with them sad.

expatinscotland Sat 18-Jul-09 18:50:50

This type of article and/or book is getting so tiresome!

Yes, times have changed over the past 40-odd years or so since this guy was a kid, big fecking deal! What did he expect, for it all to stay the same?

And of course, it's always the parents and their 'stranger danger' paranoia. It's never councils who allow developers to knock up tens of thousands of shoe box flats instead of family housing with a car park instead of a garden so there's not place to play out, or widen roads/put in more roads so there's more and more traffic, governments whose policies jack up the cost of living so both parents have to work all the hours God sends to keep the wolf from the door and so little Johnny has to go to after-school care rather than play out.

Fecking lazy arse writing, if you ask me.

edam Sat 18-Jul-09 19:45:56

thank you on behalf of Master edam, Mrs Ruffalo. smile (Was out setting up his party/having the party/clearing up. Am knackered.)

cory Sat 18-Jul-09 23:12:10

well, expat, it depends on where you live

round here there is a nice big park with lots of good trees to climb in etc

but ds cannot find a single friend who is allowed to go and kick a ball around with him on a Saturday afternoon

and dd's friends tell her we are mad to allow her to swim in the sea (accompanied by responsible adults): apparently swimming in the sea (even in a sheltered cove) in Britain is terribly dangerous because it is so cold and you get hypothermia hmm

so my experience is that attitudes have changed

expatinscotland Sat 18-Jul-09 23:15:19

i'd be more concerned about dirty water in the sea, tbh.

sarah293 Sun 19-Jul-09 08:43:23

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