This Free Range Parenting Thing

It made the news here a few weeks ago about a family whose children aged 10 and 6 were reported to police as being alone. Police came upon the children and questioned them as to why they were alone and drove them home to their parents. Their parents knew they were alone, they were at the playground, together but alone. CPS is now involved. The court has deemed them neglectful parents!

Well fed, well clothed, happy, healthy children with independence skills… nope they’re neglected.

Just wow. We might be lost as a society.

These parents are self confessed ‘free range’. They deliberately allowed their children out alone to foster independence, after teaching them how, something which is seriously lacking in many children and young adults today. There seem to be 2 camps, you’re either in the camp of “Oh my god what were they thinking! The children were in grave danger” or the ” Sounds like a great idea to let your children learn to be independent’. There’s no guesses which camp I belong to.

I think that it goes a little over board when people freak out about unsupervised children. Eventually they’ll be unsupervised adults. Don’t we want them to have the skills to be trusted members of society? It’s not a switch people, these skills must be learned.

We need to stop hovering and swooping in when something goes wrong every single time. Life is hard and not fair and full of things that go wrong but we must allow our children to learn how to cope and how to handle situations in life(guiding and helping when required) lest we breed a group of adults who can’t do anything and the next generation dies out from lack of resoursefulness.  I’m not even kidding. We’re already breeding kids who can’t do anything practical for themselves. Once we used to learn woodshop and metalcraft and sewing and cooking in high school, all qualities worthy of becoming an adult, we’re loosing skills, practical skills, skill on how to survive.

Children helped their families on farms and in businesses. Image that, having to work after school at your parents store. The horror.

Current Education practices are changing all that, it’s deemed more important to learn book smarts than to be able to do practical things. Which in turn breeds helpless adults who need people to do everything for them. Don’t even get me started on how that affects economies and industries and jobs…

At what point is it ok to intervene in another parents life anyway? Really, I’m asking. What right do we have in anyone else’s business? Is it when we see their child walking alone in a neighbourhood park? Is it when they have a bruise? Is the child being beaten? Or is the child, a child with childhood bumps and scrapes? Because you know, children fall over, and off bikes and slides and over vacuum cleaners and dogs knock them down and they do dumb stuff. They fall off bunk beds and chairs and tables and as much as we try to keep them safe, shit happens. Does that mean we freak the fuck out when they get a scrape? Why is every emergency department visit clouded with questions, how did this happen? Did mommy do this to you? Are you sure you fell? I admit there is abuse in homes and that is unfortunate but for the most part, people love their children and want what’s best for them, and what’s best for them is teaching them to be self sufficient and productive and kind and self reliant and honourable and well mannered and thoughtful humans to function in society.

Why are we so concerned with everyone else’s business enough to call the police or CPS, adding to parental stress. Isn’t it enough that parents are so stressed and overworked and sleep deprived because as a parent you have to give your child everything all the time and you can never say no and you’re expected to provide every entertaining whim that child wants until way beyond normal limits? When did this become reality?

It feels like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

There are better ways, sure you can be concerned, but who are we to assume our way is better? Just checking in might be enough. If the child is ok, accept that. Calling authorities is spiteful and selfish.

In all honesty, how many parents would pass a CPS check? Would you? Would I? Is having alcohol in your home unacceptable? What if you smoke?What if you haven’t childproofed? Maybe you chose to house proof your child, teaching them not to touch certain things. Does that make you a bad parent? What if you’ve let them sip wine with dinner? Are you reportable? Have you ever smacked your child on the bottom as a discipline strategy? Is that child abuse?

Can we all say slippery slope?

Children are sueing parents for college payments now? Seriously? Grow up! The world doesn’t owe you a job, an education, or anything. You need to learn to work hard, pay attention, learn skills and stop sitting on your ass and waiting for the world to bring everything to your feet.

Life is hard, children need to learn that the world isn’t fair and people are mean and things go wrong and you can’t always get what you want, but they also need to learn that being empathetic toward others and being kind and well mannered and thoughtful and considerate and helpful and responsible makes the world just bright enough for us all to get along.

It does take a village to raise children. A village where we’re all working toward a common goal, even with different ideas of how to get there, growing the next generation to make the world a better place. Not a village where everyone is out for what they can get for themselves and we judge everyone and we hate and argue and are rude and thoughtless and spiteful and mean.

That’s a shit village. And villages like that seldom prosper.

Comments 4

  1. “That’s a shit village,” love that line! I am so guilty of not giving my own kids enough opportunities for independence. My oldest has Down syndrome and has to be closely watched for safety and we naturally did the same with our next two. When I hear about free range parenting, I admire it and want to move toward it, even in small ways.

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  3. Great article. My kids are in their mid to late 20’s now, but even then they didn’t get everything that they needed to learn from school. Isn’t that what they have parents for, to give those additional lessons. We lived in a pretty safe neighborhood with lots of green belts and a lake for the kids to roam, play, fish, and swim. Once they were all safe around water and could swim well, they roamed free, with limits. I think that parents should be allowed to decide what limits they are comfortable with, and what their children can handle. My children, like me, left the house in the morning to go and play during the summer, and came home for lunch and dinner, as did the rest of the neighborhood kids. I understand peoples’ fears for childrens’ safety, but come on, if the parents know what they are doing and where they are and they are comfortable with that like these parents were, then they should be left alone.

    I wanted my children to have not only an education, but practical skills also. During summers if they did not have a job, we had lots of jobs for the to do and learn at our home. They learned how to refinish furniture, they learned how to make a new dock when the old one went bad, they all knew how to clean a house and do their own laundry from the time they could reach a washing machine or clean a toilet. God forbid anything happens in this world, I want them to be able to take care of themselves, their families, and be self sustaining. They have educations and work in offices and on computers, but they can survive if necessary without luxuries. One was a marine, and he will certainly survive in any situation, he is in school still.

    I agree, I think that kids need to learn to be confident in themselves, so that they can survive anything. Whether it is in the business world, socially, or in the wilderness. Nothing in life is guaranteed, I wanted them to be self sufficient, self reliant, and giving adults, so that is what we taught in our home. Other people can teach what they want, but teaching your child to be self reliant is not a crime or neglect.

    Now that I wrote this whole thing, I also want to say that I do not condone any type of abuse, physical or verbal. For whoever may jump in and decide to send negative comments. That is not what this post is about or what this comment is about.

    Now I want to thank you for sharing this post with last week’s Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Have a great week.

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