Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gen X Parenting - Raise 'em & Trust 'em

Interesting question posed by a friend on social media: "Would you let your ninth grader hang at a house with no parents home? Would you let that 9th grade male hang at a house with two girls?"

My answer was: "Sure. Raise them and then trust them."

That's the difference between a Generation X parent and a Baby Boomer. The Boomers created and refined the idea of the helicopter parent, and a few Gen Xers have become infected with that generational anxiety. But for those of us who grew up the 70s and 80s as latch-key kids, we have slightly different ideas about parenting and raising kids.

In reality, our parents probably trusted us too much and shouldn't have. They probably worried too little about safety and maturity. By contrast, contemporary parents should probably trust their kids more, but don't. I am always baffled by the parents who are aghast when my kids ride their bikes to a friend's house that is a couple of neighborhoods away. And, I am a bit critical of the parents who barely let their kids walk to school where we live, when it's within a half mile, or for many about 1000 feet.

Trusting our kids to be alone and travel by themselves raised a huge controversy in 2008, when a mom and blogger allowed her nine-year-old son to take the subway to Times Square by himself. It was a classic Gen X move, refusing to be controlled by conspiracy and hysteria. The reality was the kid was fine - but many questioned the "carelessness" of the mom. I will admit that nine is on the young side, and Times Square is not walking to school or to the store. Still, I'm on the side of trusting and not hovering over my kids.

So, back to the high school question. Yep, I'd trust my kid in that case.

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