I am a child of the 70s. We grew up playing in the neighborhood for hours on end with no adult supervision, no cell phones to check on us, and no expectation to be home until dinner time.
We rode facing backward in the back of my parents’ station wagon with no seat belts. We took trips to the Little League field in the back of our neighbor’s pickup truck with our hands and feet sometimes hanging out the sides.
My parents rarely locked the house. In 40 years, they have never been broken into and the worst vandalism they ever suffered was a smashed pumpkin on Halloween and some soapy car windows on Mischief night.
They let us walk by ourselves everywhere.
Nobody got dropped off at school. Instead we waited on a corner at the bus top, playing tag and “Red Rover,” then jumped up and down on the seats in the back of the bus as high as we could go, trying to get the traction to launch us over the seat into the one in front of us as the bus ran over bumps in the road.
We passed hand-written notes in class. Which we may or may not have gotten into trouble for depending on the content of the note. But back in those days, the raunchiest it got was if we were planning to meet up with our “crush” under the bleachers at the football game for a make-out session.
Now our kids can’t go to school without us worrying about them being shot or bombed.
It’s heart-breaking to see the world our children are growing up in. There is fear lurking around every corner for parents.
My children like to sit in the rocking chairs on my front porch and I won’t even allow that unless I’m watching them from the front window, panic stricken that some stranger might snatch them off the porch.
I do double safety checks on each car seat before pulling out of the driveway, and then still question myself since every month, it seems there’s a new report out telling us that the way we’ve been doing it is wrong, or the car seat has been recalled, or that even buckling your children into their car seat wearing a winter jacket is not safe.
Then there’s the internet. Social media. And cell phones. All wonderful, modern conveniences that help us monitor what our child is doing and track them down when we need to.
Except now we have to worry about online predators, cyber bullying, our daughters sending nude pics of themselves to the wrong guy and then ending up on the internet for the world to see.
I want the best of both worlds for my children. The old-fashion ideals and lifestyle of decades past where they can spend lazy summer days out in the neighborhood playing with their friends till dusk, ride their bikes to the park to play on the swings or kick around a soccer ball, and still take advantage of the positive aspects of the internet.
I want them to not be scared to go to school. To never have to watch a news story of another child their age being shot and killed, or a local school being under attack, or hearing about the suicide of a friend who was cyber-bullied.
Unfortunately, that’s not the world we are living in today. And I know I can’t shield them.
As parents, all we can do is educate them on safety and caution, teach them what to look out for and make them feel safe to talk to us about anything without fear or shame so we can intervene when needed.
And pray. Pray that they are kept safe and that one day there will be greater peace for the children in our world.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Travis Swan/Flickr