Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Old Fashioned Childhood and the Helicopter Mom

When I think back at the childhood I had, it was filled with outside play and sometimes hours of boredom. I didn't have the endless hours of searching the internet or the fast pace of social media. If I wanted to communicate with my friends it was a phone call on the house line or a bike ride (or roller blade) to their house to see if they were home. Those were the days of simplicity. Those were the days that kids played outside all day long until the sun came home and Mothers were not accused of neglect if the kids were unsupervised at the playground. This post is probably going to be a bit more serious than most of what I usually post. This is something that weighs heavy on my heart and I'm not holding back from showing you my biggest fears and a little bit of anxiety craziness that perhaps I have kept under wraps.

There is so much going on in our world today and I want my kids to have the opportunity to slow down. I don't want them glued to their phones checking Facebook statuses every hour. I want them to find ways to occupy themselves that forces them to become creative and think outside the box.

I don't want my children to be influenced by the age of information and social media.
Hypocritical I know, coming from a communications and emerging media major.

At the same time I want my kids to have an old fashioned childhood, our society and the dangers are more present than they were 30 years ago. Human trafficking is much more of a thing and not just international but here in the U.S. It's a big business with little risk and huge income. Did you know that nearly 80% of sex-trafficking victims are American born U.S. Citizens? I truly feel this is an issue that doesn't get enough attention today and I'm not exactly sure why. Is it because we don't want to believe this kind of thing goes on, we don't want to visualize the horror of young children being kidnapped for this purpose? It's hard to swallow as a parent of 2, soon to be 3, little girls. So how do we balance shelter and space with our children?

My sitter watches my youngest once a week while I make the trek into the weekly office visit to let everyone know I still work there. I usually drop off my littlest after I take the oldest to school. The babysitter is a school mom and has three kids, including one in my daughter's grade. I nearly had a heart attack when I dropped my kids off at the babysitters early and she had to take one of my kids to school instead of myself. My daughter is in Kindergarten. My fear was that she wouldn't walk my child directly to the school door. I know, helicopter mom. I was afraid she would just let my daughter walk with her kids, two of which my daughter has never met... What would be the dangers of that? My anxiety and over reaction kicked in as I thought of all the possibilities of my daughter not arriving to school that day. I would not be able to visually verify her walking through those school doors. I was a crazy wreck because of the dangers our society presents. Not because I didn't trust this Mom. I didn't trust the world around us.

She did end up walking them all that day and even if she didn't I'm sure it would all be fine. But still, I just want to shelter and protect my child. What is ironic is that growing up I lived only 4 house down from a known and convicted child molester, who was a repeat offender. Still, I was allowed to play outside and run between each neighbor's yards as if the danger was not present. Perhaps my children can still live the carefree old fashioned childhood, just under the loving shelter of our home.

I recently read this article about why a parent does not allow sleepovers for their children. Not even with family members. At first, I thought this idea was a bit extreme but then after really thinking about it I'm never really at ease when my children are away from the home. They often sleep over at their Nana and Papa's house and I'm very comfortable with that. As a person who usually leaves her phone at the bottom of her purse and can hardly be reached on the weekends because I just like to unplug, I always have my phone by my side when the children are a way.

The article does open a world of the possibilities and dangers that are present when a child is away from home during the overnight hours. They're much more vulnerable to these dangers at a sleepover. What I appreciate is the author points out the not so typically dangers that seem to be more than not, the situations we don't necessarily think of. Were these dangers present when I was a child, absolutely. Can these risks be possible even in the care of a child's own family, yes. The point is to minimize these risks and I think I will do the same.

I hope to shelter my children, so what little they do have left of a childhood they can enjoy the old fashion way. I hope to shelter them just enough to protect them but not hover... Maybe just a little. I want then to climb trees and scrape their knees. I want them to come home with dirt between their nails and an amazing adventure to tell.

What do you think about sleepovers? If you do allow them at what age is it okay?

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  1. I'm all for sleepovers! I started at age 6. I think if I had a child with medical issues or food allergies, it'd be a different ball game. I also wouldn't let a child with food allergies sleep over. I would not want to be held liable for the child accidentally ate a snack at a sleepover party. Sleepovers are such a fraction of time in the game of life. I loved sleepovers! I was into them in elementary school. By the time jr. high or high school rolled around you get so caught up in activities, sports, boys, that you really don't do them anymore. I'd let my kids embrace childhood and sleepovers. Eventually it won't be convenient to have sleepovers because who wants to sleep on a floor and have a bad night's rest when you have Saturday morning practice.