Whatever happened to the command “go out and play and don’t comeback until dinner and don’t be late”!!! This wonderful parental method of creating space between mothers and her children seems to be a thing of the past. Nowadays, it has been replaced with scheduled play dates, paid use of athletic fields, indoor playgrounds, professional coaching, and licensed babysitters. Gone are the days of getting on a bicycle without a helmet and enjoying the freedom of adventure that was found exploring the “neighborhood”. It seems that the media enjoys professing the fact that danger is lurking around every corner in the lives of our children. They force that mommy into becoming the pilot of her own helicopter and constantly hover over her brood members to guard against all those unforeseen catastrophes about to happen to her precious little chickadees. Some modern all knowing daddies are even worse. Am I a heartless old grouch who talks like he knows it all and pines for the “old days”? The answer is a definite “maybe”. Times have changed. Neighborhoods have changed. Mommies and daddies have changed. Through all this flux only kids have remained the same.
Much of this subject matter is more applicable to city and suburban areas of our country. This is where the majority of our population lives and works. These child-rearing dilemmas affect all kinds of family structures. Some of these changes are good and some are not. Basic family unit values have been altered to meet these changed structures. The key is to make sure the kids are still “home based”. Successful parents should make decisions with their children’s well being always in mind. Examples of this are things like should you accept a different job offer, should you move to a new home, should I make my kids change schools, should I change their diets because I want to lose weight, should I have pets, what type of heating system should I have in the home, etc, etc. Many parents would not consider some of these things as important in the raising of children, but they are. Example, hot water, steam or electric heat means potential burns; hot air heat means more respiratory pollutants. Don’t just jump at the cheapest price or the biggest salary without first thinking it through. Many of your families’ decisions should be decided at that dinner table. The entire days events of everyone in the family should be discussed at that time. The children should have input into many of these decisions so that they feel they can contribute to the bonding of that family’s structure. It makes them feel more important and it builds a higher sense of self-esteem in them. They then know that they always have the family to fall back on and that allows them that sense of risk and adventure that is so lacking in today’s fear mongered environment. Kids have not changed but us parents sure have. That is why mommy always said to enjoy your freedom but “be home for dinner”.