A New Year of Trust
Relationships are the back-bone of our lives. When we lose someone we love we turn to those around for comfort. When we experience joy we share it with those around. Other people give us an important reflection of ourselves. Who am I? How does this person in front of me react to me? By gauging the reactions of those around me I get to know myself better. What kind of person do I want to be? How could I have made that interaction go better?
It feels bad when someone reacts in a negative way to something I’ve said. I take a moment to reflect and adjust so that next time I get a better response. It feels good when someone reacts positively to something I’ve done or said. Imagine building your network of friends to include the people directly around your home. How would you behave differently if you were friends with the person next door? If you needed your mail brought in who do you ask? Is this person in your neighborhood?
I heard recently that a man did a study on children’s boundaries over one generation. He asked kids in a small town what their boundaries were and then followed them to see where they actually went. Almost all answered a block or more but in fact went well beyond the edge of town. He went back to this same small town when those kids had grown and had children of their own. He then asked those children where their boundaries were. Almost all answered that they didn’t leave their yard and when he watched them he saw that indeed they didn’t leave their own back yard.
How far were you allowed to roam as a child? When I was 10 I was allowed to ride my bike as far as I could pedal and make it back without being completely exhausted. We are living in a much more child restricted culture. We are convinced that our child will be hurt or abducted should they go outside alone. When a child in the neighborhood is allowed to ride freely we look at them and think “that child is so wild, I wonder about his parents”. There was a recent story about CPS getting called on a woman who allowed her son to walk to the park by himself. Are these fears warranted? What are the consequences of an entire generation of house arrested children?
Fear is not the only factor in keeping children inside the house. Digital entertainment: with TV, computer, phone, or other hand-held gaming devices there is no need to leave the house when you have all the entertainment that you could ever want. When my daughter goes to a friends house she plays games instead of going outside.
Fear and technology seem to be working together to keep our kids inside. I admit that I too am terrified about my kids getting hurt or abducted. I regularly think about suggesting the outdoors but stop myself short of doing it. When I was young and loud I remember my mother forcing me outside. I never force my kids to play outside unless it is a super nice day.
There is little we can do as a culture to combat the lure of technology, however, there is a lot we can do to combat the culture of fear. I imagine a neighborhood where I know just about everyone and they know me and my kids. We all look out for one another and trust that our kids are safe together.
Sharing services in the Hour Exchange will help us get to know and rely on one another. Our main goal for the time bank is to help this wonderful community grow closer together and build the trust we need to have a safer environment. This will go a long way in helping get our children out of the house to get messy, get loud, get unsupervised time, make mistakes, get scrapes, get healthy, and finally become the strong independent people that we want them to be.