Flying Solo: Raise an Independent Kid

6. We can't keep our children completely safe, but we can drive them crazy trying.

We watch the news and worry about all the terrible things that can happen to our kids. One mother of three children, ages 11, 8, and 7, told me that they live only three blocks from school. "I know I should let my kids walk, but I just can't," she said. She believed she's depriving them of an important childhood experience, but she's only doing what most American parents are doing. Forty years ago, 41 percent of children walked to school; now only 13 percent do. Kids have also lost ten to 12 hours of free play per week. Many aren't allowed to roam in the woods or even play in their own backyard; instead, they sit indoors near their parents, watching TV or using the computer. Parents are trying to do a good job of raising their children, but our constant focus on safety is making us anxious and suffocating our kids' capacity for independence.

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