Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota
There are about 850,000 people in Amsterdam, and more than 1,000,000 bicycles. Bremen was rife with cyclists, as well. It took skill to discern what part of the sidewalk was for bikes and what part was for pedestrians. We saw families on bikes, babies in infant seats perched precariously between handle bars, and dogs in baskets attached to the front frame. People of all ages, even very old people, rode bikes to get places and go shopping. No one wore helmets.
We marveled at the freedom Bremen and Amsterdam parents gave their children. There were unsupervised children all over the place, riding to and from school and the shops, with no hovering adults to be seen. Daughter-in-law commented that she wished US children could have a similar lifestyle. I read somewhere that German parents encourage and expect a great deal of independence and self-sufficiency from their children, and that “free range” parenting is the norm there. Risk taking is thought to teach safety.
I am sure that there are bad people in Amsterdam and Bremen, and that bad things happen to children there, but no one seemed to let that change their behavior or restrict their children’s mobility. I told this to some of the more hovering parents I know, and they were appalled, yet curious. There is a dignity in risk.
How risky are you?