The article "Free-Range Kids," on May 22, asked readers to respond to the question, "Do you think American parents are overprotective?" Here are excerpts from some of the answers.
Yes. Children these days are so coddled as to be suffocated. Everything is made "safe" so that adversity and rich experiences are missing from their lives. I was fortunate to grow up at a time when adventure was part of the educational process.
After school I would explore an old brick works where parts of the American Revolution were fought. With imagination and toy guns, I pretended that I was partaking in these battles. I did not end up in a prison because of toy firearms. Instead I became a physicist and technical manager and hunted for recreation.
Thanks to my parents who realized that growing up meant learning how to cope with adversity and diversity of interests.
Paul Michaelis, Watchung, N.J.
Yes. When I was 3 or 4 years old, my family moved, but I still wanted to go to Sunday School. So I got up while all the rest were still asleep every Sunday, dressed myself, took the two dimes for carfare and nickels for Sunday School collection that were set out for me, and took the trolley all by myself both ways.
When my oldest son was 12, we sent him from Elizabeth, N.J., to Montana by train all by himself to meet camp directors. He played cards on the way out with the men on the train. Granted, it was a long time ago, but it made for trusting, responsible leaders.
I surely do! When you think of the freedom that those of us who grew up in the 1930s and '40s had, the fear and restrictions on today's children is shocking. How can children develop the skills to look out for their own well-being and gain confidence to try new things if they are always protected by their parents?
Children never seem to go outside to play. There are no "pickup" games that I can observe in my neighborhood. The only activities children do are those that are organized by adults.
Why are parents so overprotective? I think it is because they are having messages of fear dumped into their living rooms daily. Turn off the TV! Teach your children to protect themselves, and then give them the freedom to try their wings.
It is going to be very difficult to change the overprotective parenting patterns that have developed. It's tough to go against the tide. But we will never get there if we don't make a start.
Mickey Safstrom, Glenview, Ill.