Help children master public transit
Here in Japan, children must be at least 6 years old before they are allowed to take the train on their own. They often travel in groups, socializing and playing quietly and appropriately.
In Tokyo, it is common to see young children (even in first and second grade) taking all kinds of public transport alone until they cross the pedestrian bridges above the stations, meet their classmates on the train platform on their way to school. Zero adult supervision.
Take time for yourself
Be brave, drop your kid off at the party and go. Other parents want to do the same, but are afraid too.
Here in the Netherlands, no parent would attend a children’s party; it’s always free time for parents. You are giving a gift to other parents if you do not demand that they stay for your 6 year old’s birthday. Give them this gift.
I live in a family-friendly society where children have a lot more freedom. They are independent at much younger ages than in the United States. Hovering doesn’t happen here, not in parks or birthday parties. Moms also seem much less stressed. I am not looking forward to returning to the land of surveillance.
Hear the children laugh and scream
I have now lived in Mexico for 14 years, a society in which children are ubiquitous. On my last trip to New Jersey, I was biking through my friend’s dense suburban neighborhood and kept wondering, “Why is this so weird?” ”
I finally figured out that it was around 4pm in the summer and that it was oddly quiet. No children. No basketball hoops. No other cyclist other than the occasional occasional adult. No playing, shouting and laughing. It’s weird in America these days.
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