Independent Kids

When I was eight years old, I went out trick-or-treating by myself, returning hours later (long after dark) with an immense bag of swag. In those days, this sort of thing wasn’t remarkable. The urban myth about razor blades in the treats hadn’t made the rounds yet. The world was a reasonably safe place for kids, and everyone knew it. Kids went outside to play and were supposed to be home by dark, or dinnertime, or bedtime, or something. It worked great.

Nowadays everyone is terrified by the idea of independent kids, although it’s as safe as it ever was, so they keep the kids in sight at all times — until they are suddenly left on their own in their mid-to-late teens. What’s the point of cloistering our kids in this way, other than leaving them more dependent and less competent, while driving their parents crazy?