Let your kids have some fun

When investigating the disappearance of the much-loved rope swing at Bright Angel Park this week, we couldn’t help but consider the possibility that somebody arbitrarily decided it was too dangerous and removed it.

From photos sent to the paper, it certainly appears that the branch to which it was tied was deliberately cut with a chainsaw of some kind.

While simple vandalism is a more likely explanation, it got us thinking further of the kind of unfettered summer fun most of us who are now adults experienced when we were children, and how a lot of the things we did are now off-limits to many kids, deemed too unsafe by their parents.

The terms helicopter parents and bubble-wrapped kids are well-known to most of us today.

They’re descriptive of behaviours that have become prevalent in parenting, as a generation of moms and dads attempt to keep their kids out of harm’s way both physically and emotionally – to a fault sometimes, we would argue.

One case in the U.S. brought the whole thing to a head earlier this year when a mom and dad from Maryland were investigated by Child Protection Services because they let their kids, 10 and six, walk to and from a neighbourhood park with just each other for company.

Someone called in a complaint, seeing the duo walking together, and police were called and it turned into a ridiculous hullabaloo.

Most of us remember that when we were kids we ran around our neighbourhoods – and even further afield – from daybreak to sunset with maybe a few check-ins during the day

Nobody called the police, and nobody was injured beyond the usual childhood scrapes, tears and the occasional broken bone.

Somehow, we all survived.

And it was a heck of a lot of fun. We’d push logs out into the ocean, clinging to them as we kicked away from shore where parents were watching.

We’d compete to see who could jump from the highest step, who could climb the highest.

But, paedophiles, crime, the argument goes.

Facts help here. Crime rates are down from when we ran wild.

It can be hard to let your kid start to be independent. But you have to arm them with knowledge, then send them out into the world. Not all kids will be ready at the same age.

Helicopter behaviour, in the end, can create kids who are immature, afraid of the world, don’t know how to solve their own problems, are overly dependent on their parents and don’t know how to properly assess risks they will inevitably come across in their lives.

It’s a disservice to them, not a gift. We have to let kids be kids and have fun – like we did.