Gwen's New Phone, and New Freedoms

Gwen is growing up so quickly before my eyes. Its so astounding to me how big and mature she's getting. We made a decision lately that surprised even me... even though I was the one that initiated it. It all started with a book.

(From an Instagram post:) "I recommend Small Animals to every parent trying to navigate this crazy world in which we’re raising our children. Taking a hard look at our culture of fear, and the way we are almost pushed to lose ourselves in our children/parenthood (in a way previous generations definitely were not!), it dissects the question of whether things are actually less safe now. Weaving her own narrative in with discussions with psychologists, researchers, and legal minds, Kim points out the way that society now leans towards rationalizing moralities by using fear vs using real risk to shape choices. This book has literally changed my parenting, giving me the space and the release to allow Gwen some more freedoms I’d been considering already, and emphasize the importance of giving kids room to have independence, make mistakes, be bored (and therefore employ imagination and creativity), and have unstructured time with friends to just be kids."

Now it didn't really start with this book, but it did bring to the forefront things I'd already been considering. One of the big hang ups that we had about not leaving Gwen home alone is that we don't have a home phone, and therefore, there wouldn't be a way for her to communicate with anyone if she had concerns. So... we got her a phone.

Now, let me temper any reactions the way we tempered her excitement (sorry kid). This phone has no SIM/phone number attached to it, and so it works only on the wifi. She can message a very specific set of people that we chose, and only gets to download games that I approve; so this is not an online free for all. But, its a means of communication.

Gwen is a pretty amazing kid, she works hard to earn responsibility, and it was worth giving her a shot. Not for hours and hours, but if I need to run to the store for 15 minutes, or if I want to go for a half hour run in the neighborhood... why should I have to drag her along? So we tried it out, and so far, its gone amazingly! She's abided by all rules, met every expectation; she knows what situations warrant a message to Trav or I, which ones need a call to 911, and which ones should take her to a neighbor's house (and which neighbors to head to). Plus, there have been some unexpected benefits.

 Humor... but also, sweetness on the nights that I'm not home:

This parenting thing is a balance. I want to protect her from every threat, real or perceived (or planted there by watching one too many episodes of Criminal Minds...), but I also want her to have freedoms, to earn responsibilities, to explore life and have room to make mistakes! The world feels very different from when I was a child, but childhood isn't so different in the fundamental ways. While I'd love to freeze her in time, this kids is growing up - like it or not - so I might as well make some small adjustments to what I assumed I'd be doing, to allow her some of the freedom that she deserves.

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