Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Not such a Dangerous Idea

First, I have to say I'm delighted that I've worked out how to post book covers without photographing the damn thing first...it would have been hard to do that with this book because I don't actually own it...but I did go to hear Lenore, aka America's Worst Mom, speak  at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas this weekend.

Not so dangerous, even for me, who is Australia's Most Neurotic Mum - to the extent that I actually had the following thought when Lucy enrolled in St John Ambulance Cadets last year...That's good, because if a homicidal maniac decides to do a mass shooting in the hall, there will be lots of people around with first aid training.

Despite my insane thoughts, Lucy and Arwen are not in fact locked up in their bedrooms 24/7. They have the freedom to go to the park, go shopping at the mall, visit the library, take a walk to post their own letters, hang out at the bookshop or the art gallery, shop at the op-shop, go to a cafe together or with friends, go to the movies with friends and stay home. Alone.

It's not much compared with the freedom I wish they could have but it's a whole lot more than many children have. They are always working on adding ' freedoms ' to the list - walking to their Aunty's house, walking to the next suburb and back, catching the bus to ballet. Sometimes I stall on what I can handle, sometimes they are satisfied with what they've got. It  never lasts long. The girls get restless. Or I tell myself to get a grip because this is a picnic, compared to when they grow up and leave and have every freedom there is.

What I liked about Lenore's talk - besides her funny and extroverted presentation and her props - disposable placemats for trips to McDonald's anyone ? Ones that protect against dirt, germs and cleaning products ? - was her clear explanation of why she thinks this has become an issue at all and in the space of one generation. Nothing radical there either - media, consumer culture, the digitisation of our world. She was well worth the $20 it cost to hear her speak. I'd imagine the book is worth the price as well.

When you hear Lenore speak, she's actually quite moderate. She doesn't think you should neglect your child, just that you should listen to their need for freedom, consider it and sometimes grant it, even if it hurts to send them out into the world.

How much freedom would you/do you give your kids ?

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