Melissa Smalley

It takes a village to foster independence

Raising kids in today’s world is a community effort that requires understanding and assistance

Some of my best memories growing up in the suburbs are when my brothers and I spent long summer days venturing free in the neighbourhood, no parents or guardians to be seen.

It’s often referred to as “the good ol’ days,” when kids could roam free till the streetlights came on, without parents worrying that they wouldn’t come home in one piece.

I’m a firm believer that today’s children can still experience the kind of freedom we had growing up; not only can they live it, but they should. It’s integral to the development of their problem-solving skills and in forming a sense of responsibility and good decision making.

But we need your help.

A close friend of mine, who lives at 108 Mile Ranch, shared a troubling story with me recently.

Her backyard is the unofficial muster point for many of the neighbourhood kids who spend hours climbing in their tree fort, bouncing on their trampoline and playing all sorts of imagination games.

A few weeks ago, she needed to run to the market but didn’t want to disrupt the fun in her backyard. So she asked her next-door neighbour (who was working in his yard and whose son was among those playing in my friend’s yard) to keep an eye out while she quickly popped out.

A few hours after she got back, she got a call from the police. Someone walking the pipeline behind her house saw two of the boys building a cardboard creation in her fire pit (no flames or lighters or matches to be found) and were worried they were going to start a fire.

Instead of peeking over the fence and asking the boys what they were doing, they called the RCMP.

After explaining the situation to the officer who called, thankfully there was no further action taken.

But my friend was understandably upset that the passerby felt that calling the police was the best course of action in response to what turned out to be a harmless situation.

Parenting has always been hard, and nowadays is no exception.

But as a community – especially one as caring as ours – we can help the next generation of kids grow up to be smart, independent and confident humans by reacting with understanding and assistance rather than judgment and assumptions.


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