Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 8 -Looking For Freedom

Looking For Freedom

I read an article in the weekend magazine supplement suggesting Australian parents have become some of the world’s most protective. This is according to a survey conducted by Melbourne’s La Trobe University. Aussie kids have the lowest independent mobility and the highest restrictions. Less than 15 % now ride a bike to school and less than 30 % walk. This set me to thinking…

Is it fear, or more accurately perceived fear driving this trend towards over protection? Is the world a more dangerous place or is the perception of danger; the fear factor, more the issue?

Fear of traffic, fear of strangers as well as a lack of faith in children’s ability to negotiate their immediate world seems to be ratcheting up the anxiety. Kid’s free time is more likely to be scheduled with constant adult supervision. Kids are frequently told what they can’t do. They are given the message, ‘you’re not capable, you’re too naive, and you’re not trustworthy enough’ to be afforded such freedoms. The risks pertaining to these matters have assumed increased significance in the eyes of many parents. The helicopter parent is in the ascendancy.

I grew up in a different era and so that experience has coloured my perceptions to some degree. But I was given plenty of freedom to explore my surroundings, to practice making decisions. I walked, ran or rode my bike down unfamiliar streets, across busy roads. My parents trusted my survival skills. If they were scared, or worried for my continuing welfare they certainly kept it under wraps. Of course they issued timely warnings and told me exactly what time to be home, or who not to hang out with. There were expectations. They insisted on knowing where I was going and with whom. I was regaled with reminders to take care at all times, particularly when crossing roads. I made mistakes. I encountered a few dragons that needed slaying, but I learned a lot and I made it through to the other side relatively unscathed.

Giving kids some degree of independence allows them to practice making informed decisions. Increased confidence, resilience and independence are outcomes of occasionally allowing kids opportunities to grow these abilities and go places without parents always hovering. How do kids learn to make good decisions? Well, they learn through being given opportunities to practice doing exactly that.


  1. I completely agree with everything you have said here. I find myself enjoying "historial fiction" middle grade books because the parent-child dynamic is more relatable to my experience. We were told to go outside and not come home until my mom called us for dinner or if there was blood. I am a parent of a four-year-old who struggles with this notion quite a bit. I want him to have the freedom to navigate the world and come into his own yet I fear the crazy world we live in today.

    1. It's a dilemma Melanie. We are juggling the wish for freedom, against some sad realities. I love the attitude your Mum displayed. she wanted you to be an explorer and an adventurer.

  2. There are many articles that have been published recently about the same issue with US kids, Alan. We talked about the changes that may have begun because of 9-11. I certainly had lots of freedom, but it was a long time ago, & in a little town in my grade school years. We lived by a park with my own children, & they had the run of the park without me or my husband. I don't know the answer, but "perceived fear" is part of it, too much 'bad' news? I taught middle school aged kids, & often urged them to learn how to ride the city bus, said they would gain so much freedom that way. A few knew how to, but many said their parents would never allow it. Good topic!

    1. Linda, I think you're correct in linking some of the attitudinal change to 9-11. Globally it had a profound impact on how people began to view the world as a more dangerous place. The loss of freedom for children today may have it origins here. Negativity in the media also contributes to perceptions.Thanks for your considered response, as always.


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