I've done a season's worth of Ask Dad columns in parenting now, and it's led to a lot of reflecting as the autumn leaves fall, though here in Los Angeles the leaves are imaginary -- imagineered, actually. I want to revisit a few of the more buzz-making installments to share some wise thoughts I've had since.
Nothing caused more of a rumpus than my saying you should let your child out of your sight more -- and that maybe Ramona Quimby's mom wasn't history's greatest monster for letting her kindergartner walk to school alone. It caused quite the firestorm in comments, as I expected. I knew many of you would declare it just too dangerous. What I didn't expect was the amount of backup I got, both in comments and likes. Clearly the divide was deep. I felt the need for my own little Rally to Restore Sanity.
But to both sides I should say -- I'm kind of all talk on this.
On the occasions when, proud of my courage and her independence, I've let my daughter wander off, it often ends with my scrambling and shouting her name like the Bradys yelling, "Bobby! Cindy!" in the Grand Canyon, followed by hugs and sometimes tears with vows of "I'll never let you out of my sight again!"
One more point in favor of free-range kids, not that I'll listen to myself. My sister and I were talking about the hours-a-day of exercise we got as kids without even thinking about it, and how we have to plan and work to get the slightest physical activity for our kids. The reason we landed on -- we were allowed to roam freely. We walked and rode our bikes for blocks and sometimes miles. We had a huge territory before we hit our parent-enforced boundaries, and of course sometimes violated them.
So just like putting your kid in your car instead of letting them ride the bus or subway can put them at more risk, not allowing them to roam freely in the interest of safety can actually be worse for their health.
Not-at-all controversial were my feelings on how much play dates can suck for grown-ups. In fact. In fact I don't think I could've gotten such universal agreement if I had declared that cancer's not cool or kittens are cute. (It's not and they are, by the way. Who's with me?!) I did not expect this. Moms and dads really don't like being forced to spend time with other moms and dads. Or, to borrow from half a thought from Sartre: Hell is other parents.
Finally, there have been some questions I've been on the fence about, but decided to dive in and make my half-hearted opinion whole. I'm glad I've gotten mass confirmation that I was right to declare crushing on teacher a harmless and even helpful rite of passage, that I was close to the truth in declaring candy is all about the dosage, and that I was correct in taking the coward's approach in talking to daughters about sex.
I'll avoid all the stuff I was wrong about. For now.
Until next week ... do you have any questions to Ask Dad? Spill it.
Image via Flickr/SusanNYC