Letting kids be kids (Perental control)

Bethany (11) is cycling to school with a friend, they’ve both just started secondary school and I cycle part of the way with Bethany and then she meets up with her friend and they cycle on together. In the next few days I’ll let her cycle by herself the short distance to meet her friend at the meeting point halfway between their houses as I think that although there are dangers it is important that Bethany learns that she can be trusted and that we know she will be sensible. This view is not shared by all and this stage (tweenies, not quite a kids but not quite a teenager) is a difficult one to get the perental control right.

 I experienced a weird example of this today, Bethany’s friends dad met us in the morning (he cycles with his daughter is the same way that I do) and the first thing he said was “what happens if it rains?”. This stumped me because I wasn’t expecting it as it was a sunny morning. He then said “Not today but what happens if it rains when they need to get to school, we can’t expect it to be sunny for the next seven years”. I said I hadn’t given it any thought but I expect they have waterproof clothing they can wear. He said that his daughter has something as well but he doesn’t mean if it’s drizzling, what happens if it’s a downpour! – I didn’t say anything at this point just stared at him which might have been disconcerting because he just said “We need to give it some thought and come up with an answer later”.

I went home and spoke to Nikki (my lovely wife) about it and she said that same as me, we both walked or cycled to school every day as kids ourselves and nothing stopped us, so why should we want to make complex arrangements to avoid a bit of water falling on our kids. I said to Nikki I wondered if his daughter dissolved in the wet. It worries me that parents generally are getting very over protective of their kids which does two things (a) It makes the kid feel nervous, valunerable or inadequate that they need to rely on their parent for everything (b) It makes the kid less likely to form independent thoughts. The parents do all the thinking for them. More than that though it seems to be making kids spoilt, I see it more and more in our society and I think kids need to know that they wont always get a ride to school in dads car when it starts to rain and that they will have to think of ways to stay dry by themselves.

They are young adults and how we treat them is important. I don’t want Bethany to grow up too fast but equally I don’t want her to stay a baby.

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About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

3 Responses to Letting kids be kids (Perental control)

  1. Patrick says:

    Hi Will,
    This should have been put to the test by now! Did you get the car out when it poured with rain on Monday!

  2. willwoods says:

    I was forced into driving but did so reluctantly and we agreed that once the kids have waterproofs clothing we’ll let them make their own way. I should point out that it’s only a ten minute cycle to school and the car journey is horrendous (if not down right dangerous because of the scary mums trying to squeeze their cars into a too small car park).

    I have been cycling to work this week in the rain so I think if I can do it then the kids jolly well can, they haven’t got the creaky bones yet!

    By the way I’ll pop in to your site and comment on your blog post tomorrow.

  3. willwoods says:

    I was forced into driving but did so reluctantly and we agreed that once the kids have waterproofs clothing we’ll let them make their own way. I should point out that it’s only a ten minute cycle to school and the car journey is horrendous (if not down right dangerous because of the scary mums trying to squeeze their cars into a too small car park).

    I have been cycling to work this week in the rain so I think if I can do it then the kids jolly well can, they haven’t got the creaky bones yet!

    By the way I’ll pop in to your site and comment on your blog post tomorrow.

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