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Do we mollycoddle our children today?

(187 Posts)
Urmstongran Mon 17-Feb-20 21:05:43

On another thread I mentioned:

I was about 9y old when I read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at home, in bed, getting over ? chickenpox. Was in my mum’s bed (a treat cos I wasn’t well) on my own. Mum had gone to work - I must have been over the worst - but still ... 😱 No telephone in the house. Just told ‘stay in bed till I get back’. Needs must I suppose - no grandparents.

Then when I was just 11y and 1mth (late Aug birthday) I went to the grammar school. I was so scared as I had to get a train from Old Trafford station on my own. 3 stops. Separate carriageways in those days & big leather straps to secure an open window - remember them? No mobile phone for this new 11y old. Mum went with me ONCE to show me how to buy my ticket and which side of the station to get the steps down to the platform. ‘Count the stops and when the train starts to slow get up to the door. DON’T open it till it has fully stopped’.

Phew! I was so scared the first few times. Then confident and proud of myself.

But thinking back ... 😱
No mobile
I didn’t have the telephone number for mum at work (shop, part time)
We didn’t have a landline at home.

Sorry this is a long post.

My point - is independence good for character building? Or do I remember all this so vividly from more than 50y ago because it traumatised me? I was really frightened to do this.

What are your thoughts? Any similar experiences? How are we different with grandchildren today?

Grannybags Mon 17-Feb-20 21:09:18

I used to get the bus to primary school from the age of five! Sometimes I'd spend the bus fare on sweets and have to walk all the way home. I wasn't alone though, most of the children did it. This was the late 50's.

Harris27 Mon 17-Feb-20 21:17:16

Reading this reminds me of my mam telling me to stay in bed till she got back home from work( dinner lady) she only did three hours but I had a flask of soup and the radio and my books and I only got out of bed to go to the loo!

Bridgeit Mon 17-Feb-20 21:26:24

Yes similar experiences, definitely felt scared a lot of the time.
I don’t think we are different, but the world is ,or seems
to be more dangerous & people less trustworthy.
I don’t know if this is factually correct or if there are any statistics regarding this.

Urmstongran Mon 17-Feb-20 21:26:40

Ditto Harris!

You just reminded me of the flask of soup by my bed - ‘look at the clock and have your soup at midday’.

And going to the dentist on my own at 11y and taking my 9y old sister with me. Who was scared.

Beggars belief by today’s standards!

Jessity Mon 17-Feb-20 21:28:15

When I was 4 or 5 my father had gone to the pub which he didn’t often do. Mother decided to join him for the last half hour. This was in the days when pubs closed at 10.00.

Mum must have told me she had gone because I was very frightened and started calling for her. A neighbour heard, called up to me and asked what was wrong, where was mother, and went to fetch her. Mother was absolutely furious with me.

Bridgeit Mon 17-Feb-20 21:28:52

Yes me too re the Dentist Urmstongran,

Harris27 Mon 17-Feb-20 21:32:19

I’ve loved this thread. I really have! When I think of my grandchildren sometimes not even allowed to play outside and I think of my childhood and how I have to follow so many rules as a nursery practioner it beggars belief! I do keep my thoughts and past experiences to myself!😁

sodapop Mon 17-Feb-20 21:36:53

I used to spend days out with friends on our bikes. We went to the beach and cooked sausages on a small fire and were out all day. I didn't feel able to let my own children have the same freedom.

M0nica Mon 17-Feb-20 21:38:47

At 6 I walked down to the Baker on the corner to buy bread. In Carlisle it gets dark very early and I did it whether it was dark or not.

When I was 8, living in Hong Kong, I caught a bus to and from school each day. It was 4 miles and when I lost my bus money I walked it. To be fair my mother was worried sick about where I was, and so relieved when I turned up. It never occurred to me to walk back to school and ask for help.

At 10, also in HongKong, my journey to school involved 2 buses and a ferry. I made the journey with my younger sister

At 13, I used to travel from Reading to Leicester Square to the Royal Dental Hospital every month. I had been doing the journey for at least a year with my mother, so knew the journey well.

At 16 I was on international flights with my younger sister, nominally in the charge of a hostess, but all her time was taken up by the young children so my sister and I were unsupervised. I got goosed for the first time in my life when a porter goosed me as I was getting into a minibus at Tehran Airport. A flight crew member saw it happen and came up to me and said quietly 'Next time someone does that to you kick him where it hurts.'

I took all this independence in my stride. A bit nervous, perhaps, the first time I made each journey, but certainly not traumatised.

Times have changed, there is so much more traffic and public transport is always crowded and we are much more aware of potential dangers, especially as there are now so few children on the streets compared when we were young.

When DS was 11 and his sister 9 we moved to live in a town a mile from the town centre. I promptly took them down to town by bus and walked them back so that they knew the route, DS was allowed to make the journey on his own, DD only with her brother until she was 11. By that time they were going off to secondary school on their own.

DGC's experience has been similar. At 11 DGD started walking a mile and a half to school in the morning and then back in the afternoon. Initially she did it with friends, but as they got involved in different extra curricular activities she now often makes the journey on her own. At 12 she and a friend weres allowed to travel into town together without an adult. They are both quite tall, DGD is 5ft 6in, so not obviously a child. She got a mobile phone when she went to secondary school.

I am a great believer in giving children as much freedom as possible as soon as possible. They need it for their own protection. Even back in my university days, I can remember fellow female students doing all sorts of dangerous things, because they had been so well looked after and protected throughout their childhood that they were utterly clueless and lacking in the street wisdom that I had been learning bit by bit since I was 6.

Cherrytree59 Mon 17-Feb-20 21:42:28

My first day school was the only day that my Mum accompanied me to school. (60s)
My parents attended a yearly parents evening.
Christmas Carol concert.
Parents were not expected in school at any other time.
After an absence, it was just quick note for the teacher.

Unlike my grandsons, where parents or more usually grandparents seem to be in school weekly.
Children are handed over to known parent/grandparent etc.
If an emergency pick up then password is required.

Primary is in constant touch with parents via apps, Facebook and text.
Absences must be reported by 9.30am

At the same age that my grandsons are (5 and 6 yrs), If I returned home from school and my mum was out (work, shops) I would just get the toasting fork out and make myself some toast.

I suppose we are conditioned now by constant media news.

However, I am pleased that my grandchildren are looked after and would not have it any other way.

During my time at primary several children went missing and were sadly murdered.sad

grannyrebel7 Mon 17-Feb-20 21:43:22

I can remember having total freedom, especially in the school holidays and sometimes would stay out all day. We were often given jam sandwiches and told not to come back until tea time! We would go to the park, the woods and into town. Anything could have happened to us and our parents would have had no way of knowing. I do think today's kids are molly coddled but I think our generation didn't get enough attention.

Scentia Mon 17-Feb-20 21:43:49

This reminds me of being left at home alone ‘poorly’ at 5 or 6 my dad came home at lunch to check on me and I thought he had left to go back to work as I danced down the stairs singing ‘pipkins , pipkins’!!! Needless to say that was a clout and sent back to bed, no more sick days for me.

SueDonim Mon 17-Feb-20 21:55:59

My grandfather lived with us plus I had a sister who was eight years older so I wasn’t left to my own devices much. I did get out to play on my own quite a lot, though.

However, my older sister and bro were quite often put on a train from London to Wales to stay with relatives from the age of about five!

I also have a friend who went to boarding school at the age of nine. At the end of term she would be despatched by train to an elderly relative for holidays but at the end of each school year a teacher would put her on the Orient Express and she would travel to Yugoslavia, where her parents lived, all by herself! She’d do the journey in reverse, come September.

Urmstongran Mon 17-Feb-20 22:04:25

Oh gosh SueDonim ... Yugoslavia’s a long way for a child of 9y.! Although not ‘quite’ on her own I imagine. She will have been under the care of ‘someone’. - railway staff or similar to keep a vague ‘eye out’ until arrival. Ex pats in Saudi or Nigeria used to have their children flown out to them. Cabin crew ‘minded them’ for the journey. (1980’s).

SueDonim Mon 17-Feb-20 22:06:27

Yes, the conductor I guess will have had oversight of her. When he wasn’t doing other things!

My own dc have flown as minors on planes. Dd1 met Sean Connery on board, the first time she flew alone, aged 12! He was lovely to her. smile

Urmstongran Mon 17-Feb-20 22:15:10

And (again as a junior school child) being admitted to the Royal Manchester Eye Hospital (on Nelson Street - I kid you not!) for an operation to correct a squint. I knew summat was up when we got to the children’s ward.... mummy stayed only a few minutes, I was with a nurse in a starched uniform, cap and upside down watch on her chest. Told not to be a silly girl, stop crying now, mummy would be back to see me ‘tomorrow’....

Maybe being frightened half to death under the age of 10y actually makes us stronger - long term??

Chewbacca Mon 17-Feb-20 22:25:56

In the 1950s, I walked the 3 miles to school, in all weather's, alone. Part of the journey was across open fields with no houses or buildings or people anywhere nearby. In the school holidays, I was turned out of the house, straight after breakfast, and was given a bottle of water and a "sugar piece" to last me for the rest of the day until tea time. I used to walk the 4 miles, there and back, to go and play in a park that had a boating lake. I knew not to go back home until 5 o'clock. It was only when the Moors Murders started to happen that anyone started to think about children being out on their own and being in danger. I can't quite believe the risks that were taken with our safety but I suppose it was a different world then.

Curlywhirly Mon 17-Feb-20 22:26:13

I am amazed when I look back at how little supervision I had. Never got taken to school, even on the first day, just followed my older sister. Was a latch-key kid, as Mum was at work when I got home from school, and once my sister went to secondary school (I was 6) it was my job to make the fire, as I was first home. Can't believe I was trusted to do this. My Mum only washed on Mondays; as I didn't have enough school uniform to last a week (my Mum was a single parent, Dad beggered off when I was a few weeks old) at age 11 I started to do my own hand washing twice a week. Carried on doing this until I got married at 20. Needless to say, as soon as we could afford it, the first thing we bought when we got married was an automatic washing machine!

Jaffacake2 Mon 17-Feb-20 22:35:47

I look back and think I had carefree childhood. All the kids on the estate used to spend the summer on the beach and take old tyre wheels to play in the sea with. My mum like the others used to send us off with sugar sandwiches,and not expect to see us until the sun set. Sounds very Enid Blyton but now I look back and think it was neglect. All the children had accidents or mis haps,I broke an arm, my brother cracked his head open and some poor kid drowned.
So maybe not so idyllic. And what nutrition was in a sugar sandwich ?!!

Yennifer Mon 17-Feb-20 22:41:27

I was much more careful with my children but dangerous situations happened to me as a child. 3 Men once tried to grab me as a teen and if I hadn't started cycling fast as soon as the car screeched to a halt next to me I don't know what would have happened! I went down an alley and I still remember losing a chunck of my hair as one nearly caught hold of me. I think now the dangers are more known. My children do help around the house and cook at times so not wrapped in cotton wall, just more supervised x

Curlywhirly Mon 17-Feb-20 22:48:53

Jaffacake2 I also agree that though it sounds like we had a good time as there didn't seem to be much supervision, I do look back and think some of it was neglect. I have a mouth fully of fillings; I was never told to wash my teeth, and only started washing them regularly when I was about 10, not because I was told to, I just realised that I should. Also, being left on your own in the house for hours, being out all day and told not to come back until teatime. There were times when I was scared, but you just had to get on with it. I must have known it was wrong though, because I vowed I would never do those things when I had children. My experience definitely contributed to me being a very 'Mumsy' Mum!

Curlywhirly Mon 17-Feb-20 22:50:42

*Mouth full of fillings.

Curlywhirly Mon 17-Feb-20 23:14:17

Actually, I am so pleased Urmstongran started this thread. It is a relief to hear other members had similar experiences to me. Lately, for some reason, I have thought quite a lot about my childhood; my Mum died 30 years ago and I had started to wonder what on earth was she thinking to bring us up that way. It is now obvious, thanks to you all, that it was quite common and sadly a sign of the times. Thank you ladies, it has made me feel a lot better thanks

SueDonim Mon 17-Feb-20 23:24:07

I don’t think it was neglectful in all cases. In some places, everyone knew everyone else and I think parents had trust that should problems arise, there’d be someone who could step in. Most houses in those days had someone at home all day, unlike today.

Children today may have less freedom to go out and about physically but on the other hand, they have much more scope to be in contact with dubious characters online. That’s not a healthy way to grow up.