Let Kids Be Kids!

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Bravo!

 

 

When I was a kid back before Dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the norm was for parents to throw kids out of the houses on weekdays during the summer, with the offspring only coming back for meals.  The rest of the time we played with the neighborhood kids.  It was not necessarily idyllic.  Bullies and bores are not an invention of contemporary times.  On the whole though it worked, with kids learning to deal with people outside of their families, engaging in sports and games, riding bikes, reading books, swimming, refighting the battles of World War II, etc., all without adult supervision.  Most of my initial lessons in self-reliance, standing up for myself and others and learning how to entertain myself, I drew from those endless summer days.  It wasn’t a bad time to be a kid.  Parents, by and large, did not hover over us.  Over-scheduling of kids with activities was not usually an issue.  Overwhelmingly families had both a Mom and a Dad.  Kids were given space and time to be kids, and, usually, not treated as a disease to be cured, little princes and princesses or mini-adults.  I am glad I went through my childhood a half century ago and that I did not have to experience the childhood that so many kids I encounter in the law mines today have to endure.

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31 Comments

  1. Our local news had a televised discussion about bullying last night. We watched a little of it. During one segment, some expert said that according to government guidelines, all students from around 8th grade to 12th grade are supposed to be screened for Depression. I thought then that if we’ve come to the point where we have to screen all of our kids for Depression, is it possible we went the wrong way some time ago?

  2. Fossils like me Dave know that much of what passes for normal life today is simply not normal. Mom and Dad were never married. Mom has had seven men in and out of her child’s life since the child’s birth. Bio Dad has never seen the child. The child is depressed as a teenager? What a mystery!

  3. I’m also reminded of something my second oldest said a few years back. He said that the basic gist of what they teach today is that everyone should be affirmed by everyone, we should get what we want, and we should never have skinned knees. He said then he didn’t think the world works that way. But then my boys also noticed something when they did sports and got their obligatory ‘participation trophy.’ They suggested that the same adults telling them it didn’t matter if you won or not, or whether you were good or not, probably wouldn’t hire you for a job 20 years later if you weren’t the best. Is it possible the problem is that we’re impressing on our kids a non-reality that even the adults teaching it don’t believe?

  4. I think I’m a bit younger than you. I was playing outside all day during the summers of the late 70’s in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. I remember how we organized ourselves to play sports and many other creative games. On the minus side, we had a pyromania stage (we like to see how various items would burn just out of curiosity). Almost burn down a part of the neighborhood once.

  5. Not only are teachers lying to kids, but we could tell even 20 years ago when I was a little.

    Now?

    *snort*

    There’s a reason I keep telling y’all to ignore kids saying stupid stuff on video, when it’s PC stupid stuff. Anybody who is asking you questions like that is looking for a victim they can justify, and not everyone has the mindset to avoid it.

  6. all students from around 8th grade to 12th grade are supposed to be screened for Depression. I thought then that if we’ve come to the point where we have to screen all of our kids for Depression, is it possible we went the wrong way some time ago?

    We don’t ‘have’ to do that. It’s another raid on family life by what Glenn Reynolds calls ‘the administrative class’. The ‘concerned’ teacher and ‘concerned’ school administrator was not a figure unknown to yours truly, and I’m not a young guy. They never did the lot of us a bloody bit of good, perhaps because ‘educators’ are ordinary bourgeois schlubs whose insight into other people’s problems in living is no better than that of the average insurance agent, who isn’t in the habit of pestering you to put your kid in the hands of the mental health trade. As for mental health tradesman in the child and adolescent subracket, don’t get me started.

  7. I unfortunately did not have much in the way of a neighborhood to run around in, so much of my adventures outside were alone times in the woods. (though sometimes my friends would come visit)

    One reason I’ve kind of enjoyed listening to Adam Corolla[sp?] of late (in small doses) is that he’s one of the few out there saying that if you want to end poverty – REALLY end it – then the only solution is to keep dads in the home. (Chris Rock used to say the same.)

    There’s a lot of old wisdom that used to be called “common” which the modern culture seems intent on making rare. Thank goodness for people like Prager and Jordan B Peterson for trying to keep us from forgetting it all. Hopefully someday we’ll rediscover that families work, and kids should be free to get a few scrapes.

  8. “I unfortunately did not have much in the way of a neighborhood to run around in, so much of my adventures outside were alone times in the woods. (though sometimes my friends would come visit)”
    .
    Not quite dittos here, but close. My older siblings and friends, born in the mid-50s, reported one hundred “kids” on one street. Lots of options for playmates. By the time I came around in the late 60’s, my street had maybe seven. Not a whole lot of options there, and our ages were quite dissimilar. My best friend during the elementary school years was two blocks away. Fortunately, we were allowed to ride bikes to see each other. There were other children around as well, but no where near the “one hundred” my older siblings/friends report.
    .
    By the time junior high came around, friends could be out in the country side, too far for bikes.
    .
    Did my own children live a “scheduled” life? Yes. They had no friends on the street, since the one moved away. There are only 4 other children I know of, and they are much too young to “play” with my teenagers. We homeschool, and belong to the “wrong” Church, so my children do not have any friends in the homeschool community. (There are a few other reasons why, which I will not go into here.)
    .
    I suspect the “birth dirth” and “over-scheduling” feed into each other. There are no children around to play with within walking/biking distance. This means that play dates require a car ride somewhere. This means Mommy/Daddy must leave the house and cannot get work done (laundry, yard work, etc). The birth dirth also means pick up games of Kick the Can or basketball aren’t possible or much fun, which means having to go to the Rec Center where there are a sufficient number of children. That of course costs money . . . which means parents must pay for this, and then they decide they simply cannot have another child because of the cost involved.
    .
    And, then there are the cars. My parents had a car that seated 6 of us relatively comfortably. My van seated 6 or 7, but we downsized to a RAV, which really only seats 4, or two adults and three very thin children who are no longer in a car seat.
    .
    I do try to get my two “still at home” children (now teenagers, one of whom is desperate for employment. Anyone notice what $15 an hour has done to the possibility of a McDonald’s job?) outdoors, but there is no one around to get outdoors with.

  9. DJH – I live in that now. There is one boy in our neighborhood my oldest son’s age and they don’t like each other. His bes friend is a car ride away. My township – South Fayette – has had to add onto its school buildings numerous times. However, we live in an older neighborhood that kind of hidden away.

  10. A 50s childhood was great for my brother and myself. It was just as Don described. Summers in the Midwest visiting the grandparents were wonderful…catching fireflies and butterflies, swimming lessons at the municipal pool, day camp at the park, bike rides up on the prairie, picnics with cousins, cowboys and Indians, Sat. morning movies with a serial like Flash Gordon or 3 Stooges before the main feature. Rainy days included reading the Tom Swift and Marjorie Dean Campfire Girl series, board games and putting on plays in neighborhood basements. The boys did melt the green plastic soldiers and light off cherry bombs.
    Adults didn’t communicate their own worries to the kids. Guess we kids didn’t watch the news.
    There were a few caveats, mostly just common sense: If you rode the bus to the movies, you were told to sit behind the driver. Use the restroom at the movies then always go in pairs. Don’t take candy from strangers. Don’t speak to strangers. My great grandmother mentioned the kidnapping of Charlie Ross and my grandmother the Lindberg baby. My dad said when on the beach boardwalk, if you felt a pin prick yell for the police, it could be the white slavers. We didn’t know what they did, but we knew they were bad guys.

  11. LQC, The blow test was impressive. Even better than the sub arcing out of the water on the intro of The Silent Service series.

  12. I grew up on a farm, about 2 miles from the nearest town (in England, it would be called a village).

    We regularly walked along the road into the town, to see friends, to buy sweets or visit the library on a wet day – Frequent in the West of Scotland. Seldom did a car or a lorry pass us.

    Now, there is a constant stream of traffic on it. It is a winding road with many high, hawthorn hedges. These have gaps, stopped with wire, where a car has skidded off the road. Nevertheless, drivers still travel at about 60 mph.

    It is, quite frankly, a death-trap for pedestrians. Even crossing it can be a hazard. Fortunately, in Scotland, we have always enjoyed the right of peaceful passage across the headlands of fields, but it doubles or triples a journey.

    No wonder people worry about letting their children out.

  13. The question is basic; do we seek to allow children to grow up as independent individuals or do we wish to solidify their journey into groupthink, groupact and groupsubmission?

  14. I suspect the “birth dirth” and “over-scheduling” feed into each other. There are no children around to play with within walking/biking distance. This means that play dates require a car ride somewhere.

    The number of juveniles in this country at various times has been as follows:

    1950: 47.3 million
    1960: 64.5 million
    1970: 69.8 million
    1980: 63.7 million
    1990: 64.2 million
    2000: 72.4 million
    2010: 74.1 million
    2015: 73.6 million

    There’s a certain amount of agitation contra sprawl, but it’s a pretty weak vector in local politics.

  15. The number of juveniles in this country at various times has been as follows:
    . . .
    There’s a certain amount of agitation contra sprawl, but it’s a pretty weak vector in local politics.

    Art, for pete’s sake, raw numbers are useless without context.

    For example, you mention 1950 47.3 mil kids. Well the USA population at the time was 151+ mil. The 2015 number of 74.1 mil kids is against a USA population of 308+ mil.

    So in 1950, 31.3% of the population was kids. In 2010 we’re looking at 24.1% of the population. Which means DJH was onto something – if you were to randomly teleport to a random person in the USA, the odds of you finding a kids were higher back in 1950 than in 2010.

    Not to mention other factors that are harder to measure but still don’t align with a strict raw number interpretation.

  16. There’s also the problem that most of the places where there are lot of kids, you really don’t want the kids wandering around. Because you can’t trust the police to enforce the law when you’re victimized by a feral kid. Remember the should-have-been-a-rap-sheet for the Parkland shooter? Chances on him being the only psychopath who’s figured out that the law cannot touch him?

  17. Art, for pete’s sake, raw numbers are useless without context.

    No, they’re not. How many children are there to form play groups? That’s how many. While we’re at it, not only the share of the population working in agriculture has declined, so have the raw numbers, so you’d expect fewer children dispersed to isolated farmsteads.

  18. I hear this argument a lot, and I’m sure there is some merit to it. But for those of us parents trying to do the right thing with our kids, and being part of the generation with little money and lots of debt, we don’t have the luxury of just letting the kids be kids outside, unsupervised. We live in a run down neighborhood. The kids are from broken homes with massive problems. There is a level 3 sex offender out of prison and living two houses away (he anally-raped young boys). I would be a terrible parent if I just let my kids out and “be kids” in this neighborhood. The Benedict Option is the only option, but maybe only for those well-heeled enough to move to such enclaves. Thanks for the guilt trip, but unfortunately, my reality is all too real.

  19. There are no children around to play with within walking/biking distance.

    Mr. Winchester seems to think its of great significance that the ratio of youth to the remainder of the population has declined by 30% over a period of 60-odd years. Now, to my mind, there’s a certain amount of distance between a 30% decline and a 100% decline, which is what ‘no children’ implies. This isn’t that difficult.

  20. Again:
    There are no children around to play with within walking/biking distance.

    It doesn’t do any good for there to be kids if you aren’t in range, and that was pointed out from the start.

    Additionally
    Number of households in 1950: 43,500,000 with 47,300,000 kids.
    Number of households in 2010: 114,800,000 with 73,600,000 kids.

    And that is before one deals with “little” issues like age mismatch. Obviously, the initial baby boom had a leg up on that issue; we’re near the bottom of the population flux by age, according to the world fact book’s image. (You can see the big bulge of first group baby boomers, the decline, their kids, the decline….)

  21. There demonstrably are children around with whom to play. If they’re not in range, it’s where you chose to live. As a society, the amount of developed land per juvenile resident may have increased, but that’s largely a function of local land use policies and how things play out in real estate markets.

  22. There demonstrably are children around with whom to play. If they’re not in range, it’s where you chose to live.

    Those two sentences contradict each other–and the second one flatly moved the goal posts from the lack of kids to play with to “why.”

    We have multiple people who spoke from first-hand experience of there not being kids around to play with, multiple stats and were even able to take the stat you are hooked on and show that it, too, demonstrated fewer kids around. Heck, did it even better than Nate’s raw reduction, when put it into context with the number of households.

  23. Mr. Winchester seems to think its of great significance that the ratio of youth to the remainder of the population has declined by 30% over a period of 60-odd years. Now, to my mind, there’s a certain amount of distance between a 30% decline and a 100% decline, which is what ‘no children’ implies. This isn’t that difficult.

    Are… are you autistic, Art? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s helpful to know when trying to converse with someone whether they’re capable of grasping common quirks of conversation or not. Because I work with computers so it’s not hard for me to do over-literal semantics if that’s what you need.

    Assuming you’re just not getting it: let’s just do a mental exercise. Let’s imagine a group of 10 houses that are all “within range” of children’s territory. Let’s also simplify things and assume all juveniles can play with each other (they don’t, but just assume it). So, in a population where 30% are juveniles, we would expect to find that in those 10 houses, we would find 2 parents & 1 child for a total of 10 children to play together (out of a total pop of 30). If, years later, the kid population drops to 20%, then what would we expect to find? Well let’s assume each house still has a couple in it, only this time some are childless. That then means only 5 houses will have kids, leaving us with 5 children (25 pop total) in this new neighborhood – in other words HALF of what it used to be. Do you see the problem now? Even if the population of kids increases, it means we have to add houses onto our territory. But for every house with 2 parents + 1 child, we also are adding a house with just 2 adults. So we have to go up to 20 houses (total pop: 50) now just to reach the same number of kids as we started with. If you want to have more kids, then our territory has to consist of 30 houses – tripling the original territory. For the exercise, let’s assume each house occupied 1 acre. That means that in the past, the kids had to cover 10 acres to socialize. Now, they would have to cover 30. Well that’s a bit of a distance. How did DJH put it?

    “There are no children around to play with within walking/biking distance. This means that play dates require a car ride somewhere.”

    Now start adding in real life factors like that children stratify across age groups (i.e. tweens and teens don’t want to hang out with toddlers) and the compounding costs pointed out. Do you see it now? Can you get how a decline in percentage can break down the old way even though raw numbers went up?

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