Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Freedom to be...

Today really does feel like spring is around the corner. The thought makes me very happy. Everything is brighter and more alive - or maybe I feel that way. Whatever the reason, I'll take it. Last night I went to bed wearing a short-sleeved shirt and didn't even need my usual fleecy, green blanket. That's a good sign.

I watched a taped documentary that aired on Saturday about how children are no longer encouraged to play freely and independently. Their time and energy is so structured that the freedom to be kids without expectation is being threatened. The documentary talked about how parents don't trust that their children can play safely outdoors. To compensate, they sign their children up for all sorts of teams and classes. While doing so keeps their children active, structured activities don't offer kids the problem solving, exploration, and confidence of free play. Psychologists talked about how parents cram their kids days with activities and cart them from one commitment to the other. Experts called this "hyper parenting." Moms and Dads who fall into this category have good intentions but run the risk of putting too much pressure on themselves and their children to perform. Rates of anxiety and depression among little people have increased as their schedules have become packed. Isn't that scary and sad?

The idea that technology allows parents to track their children's every move was highlighted as a modern disadvantage. Aren't we losing something by watching our children when they are off being interdependent? Who can parents trust if they can't trust their own children? Isn't their growth in dealing with a little risk each day? An anthropologist questioned what happens to a baby who never learns how to pick himself up when he loses his balance and falls to the ground? What kind of society are we becoming if we are not allowed to experience the joy of freedom as children? If we can't be free as kids, when can we be free?

I understand how scary the world can seem. Bad things happen every day. I'm not a mother, but if I was, I'd want to protect my child as best as possible. I'd probably be guilty of "hyper-parenting" myself. After watching the documentary, I realized the value of letting go and having fun. Tonight the Observer and I are going to see Britney Spears in concert. The show is Christmas gift. The Observer LOVES Britney Spears and also the Pussycat Dolls who are the opening act. I know the Observer will cheer, yell and hoot. Though I am shy to show excitement in public, I hope the Observer feels comfortable to be himself. We all need to be free sometimes, no matter how old we are. Tonight will be the Observer's third time seeing Britney. He's probably going thinking, "Hit me baby, one more time."


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