March 4, 2007
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Richard Louv’s stirring article, No Child Left Inside, is a good read. I have a 6 yr old, so I think about this stuff a lot. I had a game, starting when I was 7 or so: ride my bike somewhere I’d never been and get “lost”. It allowed me to explore and test the boundaries of my world. It was wonderfully fun. (It was also good exercise, since the more I played this game the further I had to go to successfully play.) That game is partly responsible for making me what I am today. But, for all the great memories I have of this game, I cannot imagine my son having the ability to play it, and it breaks my heart. [via Boing Boing]
Of all the reasons I seen ascribed to the current condition of children today, with respect to freedom of mobility, I have never seen this one…
The size of families has declined in recent decades. Single child families are no longer the strong exception. When I was growing up, I knew very few families with one child (a single one comes to mind). Most had 2 or more, and the family across the street clocked in at 7. My wife is the youngest of 9. Right now I can think of one family of 5, but most of my son’s contemporaries have a single or no sibling. Families of 1 or 2 are the norm, and larger ones are just plain rare.
The psychology of a single child parent has to be different than one with 2 or more kids. I see it in myself. There is a protective mindset that occurs, I imagine, because all of my eggs are in one basket. The what if‘s are that much worse when you have one child. When you have more, a loss of a child would be crushing, but you would have to recover from it for the sake of the rest of the family. With a single child… that is almost unthinkable. Especially for those who are past the ability to have more children. I can’t prove any of this.
So, I have to wonder, if I got into a time machine and went back to the time and place of my childhood, would I allow or deny my own single child the behavior I myself had?