Welcome To The Playborhood

I think I have now figured out the real reasons why parents don’t want their child(ren) to play outdoors unsupervised.

  1. In addition to being spared the rod when naughty, children must also be spared the deep, painful, impossible to scratch itch that manifests in the layers of skin separating a broken bone from the exterior plaster cast.
  2. Children must also be spared the emotional pain that comes from their #1 crush not signing said plaster cast. It can be pretty intense.

Oh hell, I don’t even have a third.

My rationales sound pretty silly though, don’t they?

So is Melanie Thernstrom’s take on a playborhood built by a father of two young boys in her present home town in Silicon Valley, California.

Unsupervised physical risks? Cue the pearl-clutching! I wish I had Mike Lanza as a neighbour. My eyebrow did indeed twitch, however, when I read that part of the reason he redesigned his back yard was to address his issue that “boys today […] are being deprived of masculine experiences by overprotective moms, who are allowed to dominate passive dads.”

Yes, and from where I am sitting, moms with small children still outnumber the dads at the two playgrounds within walking distance of my house. I have to say, though, the ratio is slightly better for the men during the morning and afternoon school run. I’ve also seen a noticeable difference within the dog-walking subset, with men of all ages holding the leash for very small, extremely yappy, fur-children.

But I digress.

Where I strongly agree with Mike is with his desire to want to trust his kids given the play boundaries he as their father sets out for them. He believes that he “is reaching a higher level of parenting if [he] can honestly trust them. And [he] believe[s] they care about keeping [his] trust.”

I can go for that. Give me a winning ticket, Lotto Max, and I’ll see what I can do about making this happen in my corner of suburbia.

After I finished reading the Thernstrom piece, I clicked a link to an article about a high school sophomore in Central Jersey who (fortunately, only) broke her ankle after climbing out of her high school bathroom window, for the sole purpose of avoiding the day’s scheduled PSAT.

Again and again and again, it bears repeating that

Research suggests that students with controlling “helicopter” parents are less flexible and more vulnerable, anxious and self-conscious, as well as more likely to be medicated for anxiety or depression. Similarly, children whose time is highly structured — crammed with lessons and adult-supervised activities — may have more difficulty developing their own “executive function” capabilities, the ability to devise their own plans and carry them out. Conversely, the more time children spend in free play, the better they develop these capabilities.

Instead of raising a million monkeys banging on a million keyboards, how can it not be our imperative to get back to teaching our monkeys how to climb and swing from trees?

 

playborhood-sign

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