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Mollycoddled children

(64 Posts)
maxgran Wed 22-Aug-12 13:06:19

I had a bit of a disagreement with both my DIL and my DD at the weekend because I said I thought they were overprotective of their children.
My DD has 4 children, aged between 5 and 15 and my DiL has a son from her first marriage who is 14 and my own 2 GSs with my son.

My DD has only recently allowed the 15 yr old to go out with his mates - and my Granddaughter the 8 yr old is not allowed to play out at all. The 8 yr old is always pleading with me to 'make' mummy let her play out !

My DiL will not allow my step-grandson to walk home from his Grandad's, which is less than a 3 minute walk away, if it is dark and he is not allowed to cut the grass or use an iron, amongst other things.

Our disagreement got a bit heated and then I told them both that they were being a bit selfish and it was all about 'them' and not their children because were more bothered about their own fears than they were about their children having some freedom.
Usually I keep my mouth firmly shut but I was absolutely fed up of them wittering on to each other about 'the dangers out there' !!

I think I was being unreasonable to stick my nose in,.. but I still think I am right in my view!.. ha ha

Mishap Wed 22-Aug-12 22:22:32

As a society I think that the concept of risk has got out of proportion. Unless you live in inner city gangland then children need to have some freedom. Our village primary school has installed the most extraordinary gated community with CCTV and bells, locks and buzzers etc. - it is madness and sends out a very strange message to the children about the adults in the world around them. And they are planning to add to the system - the really mad thing is that anyone can squeeze their way in through the nearby hedge!

I used to take my children (then 6 - 8) into town and give them some money and send them off round the pedestrianised parts of the town - they had instructions to cross no roads at the age, and they had a ball - they loved the sense of freedom and felt very grown up.

I do so agree about the apparent need to entertain children all the time - what is that about? I guess it relates to the fact that they do not have the freedom to get out and about and do things for themselves.

Maxgran - I think you are very brave to state your view to your children - I usually keep schtumm! - perhaps I am just a coward!

Incidentally, when I was 6 I used to escort my neighbour's 5 year old to and from school on the bus with me - when I arrived at the destination I had to cross a main road and walk down a long road to the school.

Nanadogsbody Wed 22-Aug-12 22:29:29

I so agree with the point that today's children need or expect to be entertained all the time. I look after the grandchildren on a regular basis. I'm always being asked 'where are you taking them today?' when I pick them up.

Usually the answer is 'my house'....hmm

NfkDumpling Thu 23-Aug-12 06:42:07

I suppose where the child lives might have an influence. If it's a really bad area with prostitutes and drug dealers. Otherwise I agree with everything that's been said.

Greatnan Thu 23-Aug-12 06:58:23

When my sister was 9 and I was 5 she had to bring me home from school, light the fire, peel the potatoes and have the kettle on for when my mother and older siblings came home from work. When I was 10, I picked up my baby niece from the child minder and looked after her until my her mother came home from work. I could make bottles and change nappies and entertain her.
As my mother went out to work from the time I was 5, my sister had to entertain me throughout the long summer holidays- we lived in the back streets of Salford. No parents were involved in our activities - usually some older girl of about 14 would organise a trip to Peel Park with jam 'butties' and a bottle of water where we would play games.
It always amuses me when today's children think they are so mature.

My daughter became obsessive about her children's safety after the murder of their school friend, Megan Russell and her mother Lynn, on their way home from the tiny village school at Goodnestone in 1996. I think the children were more traumatised by her reaction than by the actual murders. Stranger murder is still very rare - children are much more likely to be murdered by their parents or a mother's partner.

vampirequeen Thu 23-Aug-12 08:35:35

The safest place I ever lived was on the roughest, most dangerous estate in our local city (before I was fortunate enough to move here). I never once felt threatened or in danger. I walked through the estate at all hours of the day and night. The scallies didn't bother people walking ....they kept their fights between themselves. There were some scary people but at heart they were the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. I wasn't like them....I don't drink, smoke, swear, fight etc but they accepted me for what I was and when I got my degree and became a teacher they were all so proud of me.

You just had to see past the protective wall they'd built up around themselves. They would complain bitterly about immigrants and asylum seekers but when a family moved onto the estate from Afghanistan, people made sure the children had bikes, toys etc. because they couldn't bear the thought of the children not having things that their own took for granted.

I never once feared for my girls on the estate even when they were older and stayed out late. They would phone me once they were on the estate and I would start to relax.

Greatnan Thu 23-Aug-12 10:20:53

What an encouraging post. I have also found that if I approach a group of teenagers and ask politely for directions they first seem surprised that I have done so, then answer very helpfully.

maxgran Thu 23-Aug-12 10:54:56

MISHAP,.. I am not brave,.. just too outspoken with my daughter at times smile

There are lots of things I see and hear and eventually it gets too much and I just blurt out whats in my head! I am lucky though because we can clash and have a go at each other but its always over and done with and we are always ok afterwards.

One thing my daughter did,.. when her 7 year old daughter was going on a school trip to a Safari park - she could not volunteer to go as a 'helper' because she had 2 younger children and you couldn't go as a helper and take other children with you.
SO,.. my daughter decided to take the younger children on a trip to the Safari park on the same day. This was so she could lag behind the school party and keep an eye on her daughter - She did not trust the school to take care of her and I also think she feared her daughter may stray off and get eaten by a lion or something !
It doesn't help my situation that her daughter keeps asking me to 'tell Mummy to let me play out'

Greatnan Thu 23-Aug-12 11:00:59

I let my 13-year old gd bring two friends with her to stay with me when I lived on the Mediterranean coast. My daughter also came. Their two mothers then booked a room at the nearest hotel, which I found very insulting. I had, after all, considerable experience in dealing with problem teenagers from my years in teaching. I was also expected to meet them at the airport and take them back. They wanted to meet up almost every day and when one girl started her period she had to go and stay with her mum because 'she gets upset very easily'. I came to the conclusion that the mothers suffered from separation anxiety and it was being passed on to the girls.

maxgran Thu 23-Aug-12 11:33:55

Greatnan, I think you are right. Children do pick up on their parents anxiety.

I find I am trying to undo the fear my GC pick up from their mothers. I had to teach my GD that going high on a swing is not really scary and that she CAN ride her bike withoug stabilisers... and my 6 yr old Grandson that he IS capable of climbing to the top of a climbing frame in the playground.

Charlotta Thu 23-Aug-12 11:35:50

We can't turn the clock back to when there was nothing to do and we had to play out on the street. Of course we did skipping games and played rounders and time flew by. The roads are too busy now and this is another generation which has to come to terms with the society they live in with constant entertainment and ongoing dumbing down of everything on TV.

One of my GSs is an only child and he can entertain himself. His Tv and computer time is rationed and the rest of the time he reads and really likes to be by himself. His mother told me he often has children playing in his room and he is sitting downstairs finishing off a book he's reading. It's not because he's antisocial as he is very popular.

I think we were often very bored indeed but have forgotten it. We shouldn't glorify the past when children had to cook meals and stand in queues at the shops. But we can try and prevent too much mollycoddling, try to find middle way. I don't offer much entertainment either. They bring their scooters and we stay at my house.

Greatnan Thu 23-Aug-12 11:41:31

I would not dream of glorifing the past, Charlotta - my childhood would have been very grim if I had not had so much love from my mother, sister and brother. It would have been lovely to have come home to find my mother cooking the dinner.

NfkDumpling Thu 23-Aug-12 11:53:14

Vampirequeen, I suppose I agree with you really, I expressed it badly. I shouldn't have singled out prostitutes, although a lot nowadays do have a habit. The row of shops near where my DD lives often has dealers and addicts hanging around at all times of the day. I know from experience that someone on drugs can look at you and see something completely different. There aren't boggle men around every corner but sometimes it pays to be a little careful. The drunks and drop outs around when we were gals we're a different kettle of fish.

maxgran Thu 23-Aug-12 12:02:03

These days we seem to have many parents who seem to worry far too much about how their child is 'feeling' - they don't seem to be able to bear to see their child upset - even if the child is upset because of its own doing !

When my grandchildren do something they have been told several times NOT to do and then get upset because they get hurt or their toy, whatever, gets broken,.. I am glad they are upset! Its a lesson learned.

Greatnan Thu 23-Aug-12 12:06:55

maxgran - you are right and I have to admit to having been a mother who couldn't bear to see my children upset or disappointed, even when they deserved it. My chickens have come home to roost in a big way.

vampirequeen Thu 23-Aug-12 12:59:50

Totally agree maxgran. Yes it hurts to be told you can't do something you want to do but it happens all the time in adult have to know how to deal with it.

We've gone from a society that didn't have time for it's children to one that is now so child centred that it's damaging the very children it's supposed to be supporting. I don't know anyone who likes to be told 'no' but that's life. We can't have everything we want.

We need to find some sort of happy medium where children feel loved and cared for whilst no expecting instant gratification no matter what the cost.

dorsetpennt Thu 23-Aug-12 13:07:14

It is said that this generation of children are virtual prisoners in their own homes. I think there are two avenues of worry:- traffic, lot more then there was when we were childen and of course 'stranger danger'. There are no more strangers or paedos now then there was years ago. Just that they are more mobile. Like nanaej I too travelled from Darlington to London to visit my g/parents on my own at 11 years of age. There was a dining car in those days and Dad tipped the dining steward to keep an eye on me - I had a great time with a seat in the dining car being fed all sorts of titbits by various stewards. My brother and I were free to wander all over the place whether we lived in the country or city [we moved a lot]. Mum never walked us to school other then the first day. When I was 11 and a half we lived in Hong Kong. We lived on the mountain next to the Peak. A driver picked me up in the morning and took me to the Ferry - over the Ferry to catch the bus to my school [St.Georges] at the back of Kowloon. On the return journey my Dad picked me up at the Ferry. All this freedom meant that both my brother and I had confidence when travelling and if we got lost did not panic but found it an adventure.

maxgran Thu 23-Aug-12 15:08:30

When I was 11 I used to travel into Manchester with my friend. It was over half an hour on the bus. We also used to walk miles to the Cinema on a Saturday morning ( from the age of 10)
I used to be in charge of my younger brother who was a year younger. We had a few scrapes on these trips, one being my brother falling into a shallow boating lake. I took him home, wet through, and got a real ear bashing from my mother but she didn't stop us going again. She viewed it as an experience that we would have learned something from.

We were wary of strangers in those days and wouldn't hang around if an adult spoke to us,.. but these days, because children are around adults all the time with their parents, I think they would stop to chat to an adult who spoke to them if they were alone.

Grannylin Thu 23-Aug-12 16:11:08

I had a similar experience maxgran with my sister.We used to walk over a mile home together from junior school.One day we decided to see if we could walk to Gran's house in the opposite direction.We dawdled in the park,played on the swings and eventually found her house. She was surprised but not angry and gave us peaches and evaporated milk for tea.She then walked us home and warned us to put a book in our knickers, in case we got smacked!We had no car or phone and Mum was very relieved to see us.No search party though, just 'Wait til your Dad gets home'.

Gally Fri 24-Aug-12 10:31:10

My 3 girls all travelled to school, on their own but with a crowd of others too so none of them were ever alone. I dropped them at the station, they got on the train to Edinburgh, got on a bus, crossed a main road at the lights and walked to school. All done in reverse in the afternoon. The whole journey took about 35 minutes. DD1 started at 10; DD2 started at 8 and DD3 at 7. Occasionally there was a hiccup - delayed trains etc. but I was there to sort it out and pick them up; there were no mobile phones and it taught them to be independent from an early age. Other Mums used to deliver their little darlings right to the school gate and pick them up in the afternoon until they were 17 or 18 and were horrified that ours travelled on their own. My lot knew the rules and they stuck to them (so far as I know grin). They all agree that it was good for them and I know they will let their own children be as free as is possible at the right time for them. I was an only child and far from molleycoddled; I am, in retrospect, amazed at the amount of freedom I was given as a child and it has done me no harm.

absentgrana Fri 24-Aug-12 10:49:22

I think the volume of traffic is a major reason why parents are unwilling to let their children do things on their own. We tend to forget how few cars were on the road when we were young and played on bikes and roller skates in the street.

There has always been a risk of abduction but it has always been slight. After a girl from my junior school was abducted and murdered we were all a bit nervous for a week or two. Then life went back to normal – for us not her family, of course. However, all the children in the school did their best to show their sympathy to her little brother by playing with him, sharing sweets and so on.

As far as the children in my family are concerned, they all have jobs to do, such as emptying the dishwasher and helping the four-year-old get dressed, and if they don't do them, pocket money is docked. I taught the older girl how to iron – her mother doesn't do ironing, just saves it all for me. I also taught her how to make pastry. The eldest boy mows the lawns at home and his grandfather's lawns with an electric mower to earn extra pocket money.

gangy5 Mon 27-Aug-12 15:58:23

I very much agree with most of what has been said and do agree that it is not easy to state your opinion on grand childrens' freedoms to their parents. I would like to say something to both my son's about their children but prefer to stay quiet and thus remain on good terms.
I'm worn to a frazzle as we near the end of the school holidays. I enjoy my my GC's company but am finding it more and more trying as I get older and they do too. In my opinion they are at a stage when they should be out and about with young people of their own age.
For all the freedom I had from a young age, I feel very fortunate. I was outdoors more than in and on the days that I wasn't playing with friends I would be messing about in the garden on my own - a happier childhood I can not imagine!! and Summer holidays consisted of maybe 1 or 2 weeks away and for the rest I was left to my own devices.

Marelli Mon 27-Aug-12 17:58:53

I think things started to change in the late eighties/early nineties, perhaps? That's when it seemed to happen with my adult grandchildren and their friends, I think. My children seemed always to be outside, although my eldest was more of an 'insider'! My son was out from breakfast-time till evening - racing in for food only, and usually taking it away with him! They played in the fields and the woods, and I never really felt afraid for their safety. My grandchildren (the older 2 are in their 20's now) hardly ever went very far, preferring to be inside playing, though when they came to me they were greatly encouraged to get outside! When I think back to my own childhood, it was rarely raining, and all my summer dresses were faded! I seemed to be playing outside most of the time, often on my own as I was an only child...but never a lonely one! smile

annodomini Mon 27-Aug-12 18:50:34

My two had a great outdoor life when we lived in Norfolk - near the common and not far from the playing field. There were plenty of children their age around and we hadn't quite reached the video games era, so there was every incentive to go out to play. When we moved north there was a sports club round the corner where they played tennis, squash, cricket, hockey, snooker.... and discovered under-age drinking - as I learnt many years later.

Nanadogsbody Mon 27-Aug-12 22:12:01

Another thing I find strange is special meals for children at home. As soon as mine were weaned they shared our food, eating the vegetables mashed up at first and meat chopped up naturally. Now it seems most families cook two completely different meals.

dorsetpennt Tue 28-Aug-12 09:23:10

Adding again to this thread. There are some parents who seem to want to slow their child's maturity. I have neighbours who carry their two and a half year old everywhere, unless he is in a buggy. He's carried out of the front door and into the car. Carried around the side of the house until they get into the garden. Carried to the end of the road when going to their shop. It is quite rare to see him actually walk. He can walk and and run.[ You see celebs doing this with their enormous children on one hip with legs dragging down either side of the parent. Someone likened it to a sort of 'I have a child' trophy.] Children need to walk for simple exercise, but also to learn the rules of walking in the street. Another baby is due this week, going to be interesting to see how he reacts to this, he screams a lot anyway so ear plugs in.