My father and stepmother died 7 years ago in a car accident, leaving me (at the time 27), Lucas (26), Theo (6), and Arthur (6), four brothers (we don't believe in the concept of _half brothers_) that were left to fend for themselves. We're, respectivelly, 34, 33, 13 and 13 now.

Lucas took into his own hands the raising of the kids, even doing a legal stunt to keep the parenting rights — the laws say the grandparents keep the kids and, well, Lucas didn't do law school for nothing.

While the kids' parents raising was very different from mine and Lucas' — our mother, dead in 2007, was much more into the "let the kids play" than Andreia, father's new wife — so when everyone was gone Lucas insisted in changing this educational model. The kids were meant to break their arms, scrape their knees, hurt their feet and come home covered in mud after a rainy day. That, for Lucas, was safe play. Staying at home playing videogames was dangerous.

Now, both the kids — taller than Lucas and I, in the start of dreaded teenage years — do _everything_ by themselves. They ride their bikes to school and back, they get groceries at the market, they visit the nearby skatepark, they go to their english classes. We're in Brazil, so this kind of independence is difficult to see and it's also dangerous.

But danger, as Lucas says, teaches. One of these days Theo fell from his skateboard and hurt his hand and knee. He walked home, bleeding a little, to take a shower and tend to the wounds. He didn't cry or complain "I'm hurt, I fell". He was angry because the road had a bump, and now his hand would hurt for some days. And that's it, let's throw in a bandage and good luck, that's life, let's go.

I'm proud that they are growing tough and ready to face some of life's challenges, and pretty sure they are tougher than most of their friends. I hope we're not raising boys that are afraid to cry or that think feelings aren't nice. Teenager years suck and Lucas and I have no clue what we're doing — we never chose to have kids and now we act as father-and-father to our brothers.

All we've got is hope.

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Mar 4Liked by Étienne Fortier-Dubois

I grew up in the 70s and had endless freedom. I came home to an empty house when I was six because both my parents were working and travelled much further than the grandfathers in Sheffield.

I wanted my kids to have the same freedoms as I had but they were just completely uninterested. We specifically moved to a little housing development with dozens of kids to play with. It was next to a forest on the side of a mountain but my kids never left the house ever because of video games. No kids ever left their houses.

Imagine what the next generation of parents — the ones who never left their houses as kids — will be like…

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the safetyism thing reminds me of my high school chemistry class – there was some incident where a teacher accidentally drank a not-safe substance, and so they implemented a city-wide rule that no one could consume any drink in any science classroom. I kid you not. if you wanted to have a sip of water, you'd have to take your bottle and step just outside the classroom, drink it there, and then go back. tried protesting this by emailing the principal and some school board trustees, to no avail.

very much hopeful for this vibe shift!

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As an older American, I have happy memories of the “benign neglect” of my childhood. I worked hard to not over-protect my daughter, now 30, but I know I was less permissive than my folks. It will be interesting to see what choices she and her wife make for their son, now 2.5. I’m rooting for benign neglect and risky play.

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Ellen Sandseter, the most frequently referenced researcher on risky play, wrote her doctoral thesis on the fact that the entire point of risky play for children is to go look for big emotions. Thrill, frustration, anger and belligerence, and most of all fear.

That’s the part that’s the hardest for parents. Many parents may have been coached and educated into tolerating the physical injuries of natural gross motor development and vigorous outside play, but they still have an enormously hard time when their children are upset. It’s not just about changing play spaces and policies. It’s about a complete shift in how adults see children, from projects that reflect us (contentedness included) to independent, competent and resilient humans from birth.

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Hear hear. I'd only query the choice of the location Rotherham for the UK comparison of the decline of child freedom: '2010: teen girl abducted and assaulted by gang,' would sadly be the thought prompted by most of those familiar with the name. And to do the 'safetyists' justice, there is a lot of nostalgia, among adults too young to recall it, for what was effectively benign neglect if nothing worse, in the 1960s and 70s.

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