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Unsupervised Play: Is It a Thing of the Past?

By amberdoty |

We live in the South, a place where the winters are mild, the summers are hot and there are only a few weeks in the year that cannot be classified as “outdoor weather.”

Having just emerged from that brief period when the temperature is too low for me to be convinced to venture outside for one second longer than the time it takes for me to walk to my car, my children are losing their minds in anticipation of rolling around in the yard and I am so ready to let them.

I want them to have fond memories of running wild outside…or do I?

When I was Anders’ age it was not uncommon for me and the other kids in the neighborhood to leave the house in the morning and not return until the streetlights flickered on. We’d ride bicycles, build forts in the woods, make mud pies, and climb trees. Hours would pass outside of adult supervision. Our parents had a general idea of our whereabouts, but if they needed us quickly, a bit of a search would be involved.

Over the years, I have often reminisced about those carefree summer days spent riding down hills and swinging from branches, but once I had children my thoughts on them changed. The freedom of that time in my life now seems reckless, dangerous even.

It was a different time then. This I know, but it’s hard for me to imagine I would parent my children any differently had our lives been shifted back two decades. I can’t fathom letting my grade schooler mount his bike and pedal out of sight for hours on end.

I envy our parents and the time in which they raised us and I mourn these memories my children won’t have. Of course there will still be bike rides and trees to climb and pies of mud, but these are things that we’ll do together.

How comfortable are you allowing your child to play in the neighborhood without adult supervision?

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About amberdoty

amberdoty

amberdoty

Amber Doty is a writer, scientist, wife, and mother to two boys. On Babble, Amber wrote for both Strollerderby and KidScoop about parenting news, pop culture, raising school-age children and general parenting tips. More of her work can be found on her website, The Daily Doty.

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One thought on “Unsupervised Play: Is It a Thing of the Past?

  1. Erin K M says:

    I don’t know, The kids in my neighborhood go out to the park play in the woods behind our house and bike around our street with out the parents… don’t get me wrong there are rules you must stay in the neighborhood and with the group, you need to check in every so often and the adults to poke there head out the door and see what they are up to every once in a while but at age 5 i am already starting to let my oldest join them, I obviously check on them more often (every 10 min or so) and put one older kid in charge of her but she is already starting to experiment with free play time outside and I would not have it any other way!

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