I know you probably know all about Lenore Skenazy and her book and great blog, Free Range Kids. If you haven't already, check out these thoughts and insights from a sane (and very funny) woman on an insane (and getting insaner by the minute) world. And listen to this interview she did on NPR.
I agree wholeheartedly with Lenore and we let our kids do all sorts of 'dangerous' stuff... most especially climbing-related, as they have all demonstrated that they are really adept physically and (I think) make really good choices about what they can and cannot do, because they are given the chance to explore those boundaries. But reading her blog also makes me see where I need to grow a little. I do tow the party line in some ways that I haven't been aware of, and I do (I'm a bit embarassed to admit) feel extremely fidgety at the thought of my kids going out into the world on their own, in the not-so-distant future. When I was a kid I could be gone for the whole day and I don't think my mom would even bat one eyelash. We spent the summers in this tiny town in Oregon and would ride our bikes all over... to visit friends, to the river, to the store to buy popsicles... and it was all hopelessly idyllic and completely normal. It's weird that it is up to us to normalize something that was normal only 25 years ago...but there you go. It's up to us. Free range them children, y'all.