With some time off for most of us, I wanted to remind you to take me-time, laugh and play time, and alone time for you and for your kids. Ilene Dillon said it best.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho! It’s Off To Play We Go!
By: Ilene Dillon
Raising my children in the 70′s and early 80′s, it was possible in the area where we lived for them to do play on their own. My daughter rode her pony in the woods (starting at age 10), my son rode his bike (via the back streets, which I taught him how to do) to the next town over to his school when he was in second grade. Much like the experiences I had on my grandparent’s farm when I was growing up, they had the opportunity to meet the world without the watchful or protective eye of an adult on them. This happens more when you are a single parent (which I was), yet I made a point of helping them to have solitary time away from me whenever I could.
Children NEED this type of time in order to connect with their deeper self. To me, it’s a tragedy that most children, today, never have such an opportunity. When kids can spend time alone, they develop the ability, little by little, to care for themselves, develop confidence, make decisions and grow to respect their own decisions. Allowing our children to venture into the neighborhood is not so much about “age” as it is about:
- what kind of neighborhood we’re in
- what kind of relationship we have with others in our neighborhood
- how much decision-making responsibility we have allowed to our child previously
- whether there are trustworthy older children to watch out for the younger ones
- if our child wants to venture out alone.
This will be different ages for different children. Parents are best to assess these different factors, and then check in with their own gut. My children, at the age of 13, had grown to the point that they did some international travel on their own. My daughter spent a week in London, England, doing a homestay with a family with children her age. My son traveled for a weekend to Kangaroo Island (from Adelaide) Australia on an organized trip, while I taught a workshop in Adelaide. They both did beautifully. They came back to me feeling strong and empowered.
Thirteen is one of the two ages (4 and 13) during which children explore “power.” It was perfect for them. Start small, allow bigger as your trust–and theirs–develops. I always told my children I would trust them to the point they demonstrated to me they could not handle it. Then, we would go back to an earlier level of freedom, and they could work their way up once again!
Yesterday, my son sent me a video of my granddaughters, ages 7 and 5, touring me through their new Forest Service cabin in the Sierra mountains. “Grammy,” said the older girl, “the best thing about this place is that we can go out into the trees and be alone!” Her father commented that it was a great thing not to have a parent around every single second. She was grinning at the thought.