“Were we bad mothers,” my friend asked me at lunch the other day, “because we let our kids walk and bike to school?”
“Certainly not,” I replied. “None of us were driving them. And the walk was good for them.”
In 1969, about 50 percent of all children in the country walked or biked to school, while 87 percent of those living within a mile of school walked or biked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.
Less than 15 percent of children today walk or bike to school, according to the CDC. In Palo Alto and Los Altos, I am guessing that percentage is even lower.
Of course it’s nice if a parent drives a child to school, but there also are lots of advantages in walking. A child can learn how to handle mishaps in life – what to do about forgotten books or lunches left on the kitchen table, how to make friends en route to class, planning after-school activities with those same friends, juggling umbrellas and missing puddles, learning not to dawdle and just having time to think.
Parents drive their kids to school because of traffic issues and fears about their safety. Online reports of a kidnapping in Tennessee now make it seem it happened across the street. So parents want to protect their kids.
But in doing so, are they also spoiling them?