A mom who sent her 14-year-old boy and his friend to the theater was shocked to learn they weren’t allowed in, as she writes in The Times (of London):
[T]he boys were told it was a health and safety issue. If anything happened to them they would be alone… Then, warming to his theme, the usher explained that they might talk, check their phones or even throw ice creams during the performance.
Throw ice cream? Does anyone do that?
We complain about children melting like snowflakes…but it’s adults who are forcing them into claustrophobic lives. It seems many of us only feel secure when the young are…at music and sports lessons, or under the watchful eye of parents or supervisors on holiday, or in coding camps.
What we think of as an American hallmark — hovering — is a global virus, re-enforced by ridiculous rules. The British mom, Alice Thomson, continues:
In London, Regent’s Park zoo won’t allow unaccompanied minors under the age of 16…. The Natural History Museum has the same policy…. At Wimbledon, adults are expected to supervise children at all times, even when one of them goes to buy an ice cream. Most airlines have now stopped taking unaccompanied minors.
….most libraries have a policy stating, “If a child, under 10 years old, is left unaccompanied then the library service will inform the police”. Yet the most thrilling children’s novels are about unsupervised children or orphans navigating the world on their own.
This infantilizing is not only insulting, it is making young people anxious and depressed. New research shows what is obvious to almost anyone who enjoyed some independence as a kid:
The best antidote to stress is to give teenagers a sense of control over their lives, which encourages them to behave responsibly. By protecting them from themselves and others, we are actually stifling and harming them.
Give kids back their freedom and everyone wins. Keep them under constant supervision and they may start throwing ice cream. As might we all. – L.