I remember hearing Dr. Phil say a few years ago something about "There was a study done, and while playing in the schoolyard at recess children would run to the very edges, and climb on the fence, and run and play and holler, enjoying that entire playground. Then they took the fence down, and children stayed close to the building, they were feeling unsafe with not having the boundary."
I bought that for a while, I can see that happening.
What I didn't see, until a couple of years later, was the relevance of the boundary itself.
It's not the physical removal of the fence itself, but what it means to them. School kids are fenced in. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. They are taught from a young age that "this is the way life has to be", that you're limited, expected to stay within various parameters, that all people should learn the same things and be taught the same things, and behave the same way. Molded.
It makes me angry and sad that some people believe that from birth children will behave in the worst possible way if left to make their own decisions. It just isn't true.
I'm sure, if given liberty, at first a child would not know what to do with himself, and may feel lost and confused. But that's because they don't have the skills and experience of making their own decisions, of listening to their heart and spirit. They've been told what to eat, when to go to bed and rise, what to study, when to read, what they should be interested in and when - most of their lives have been dictated to them.
So the question begs asking, "So what if the fence was never there at all?"
My children don't live with imperialistic or intellectual barriers.
Do they get everything they want? Probably mostly, if it's important to them, and we can afford it. Same as I do, or Eric does. If we have to save for a while, or wait for a bonus, or a birthday, we will. Are they spoiled? This to me means screaming, whining, pointing, and hearing something like "Daddy, now!" and we certainly don't treat others that way in our home. But our children are honored in other ways too, and so this sort of behavior isn't necessary because they get loads and loads of love, attention and respect in our home.
I'm not afraid that my children will become sociopaths because they were given an abundant amount of freedom and love. Indeed, I already see evidence of the opposite.
There are boundaries, of course. My son doesn't have the physical capability to jump 12 feet high. My daughter doesn't have the wisdom to know that mommy's scissors can hurt her, or someone else. They don't realize the possible consequences of running up to a stray dog. My son doesn't have the height or the long legs to reach the break and clutch on our truck which would enable him to drive.
But they live with a lot of freedom, and they are kind, happy, shiny little people.
Instead of imposing even more limits on my children, I want to help them to jump, leap, and eventually fly over the ones that are in their way.
That's what I want for them.