What is “free range” parenting? The below is a definition from Wikipedia;
Slow parenting (also called simplicity parenting and free range parenting) is a parenting style in which few activities are organised for children. Instead, they are allowed to explore the world at their own pace. It is a response to concerted cultivation and the widespread trend for parents to schedule activities and classes after school; to solve problems on behalf of the children, and to buy services from commercial suppliers rather than letting nature take its course.
First of all I hate the term “free range” parenting, kids are not chickens. This is how I was raised 20-25 years ago and it was just parenting. I was raised in the 80s and 90s and once I was around 9 my mother allowed us (my sister 2 years younger) and I to go to the neighborhood parks and friends houses on our own. We were safe in a city that wasn’t the greatest. It is actually the most dangerous city in Massachusetts. With that said I recall hearing of only two murders during my time living there (1982 until roughly 2003), one of which was gang related. In that time frame I never heard of a single abduction or molestation. From 2000 until 2012 there was an average of 2.4 murders per year. I had a hard time finding statistics from when I was younger, but I’ve heard statistics are similar.
What I get the angriest about is all the rebuttals against “free range” parents saying things like “we’re living in a different world, it’s not as safe as when we were younger.” Fact of the matter is in most crime rates are just about the same as they’ve been for a long time, some are even a lot better. We live in a social media society. In the 80s and 90s there was no state wide Amber Alert texts when a child went missing, things were spread by word of mouth and not statuses shared, news was on at specific times or read in the daily paper and not shared on social networks or easily found online. The world has not changed to have a massive influx of criminals, just an easier way to hear about the crimes.
When I was a child there were no terms like “helicopter” or “free range” parenting. I remember my mother being a little bit of both, she hovered when she needed, but allowed us freedom to learn the world for ourselves. If I needed her she was always there, but urged me to take risks and do things for myself. Do I believe that children should be allowed 100% freedom? Of course not, but I also think hovering and sheltering your child will not allow for them to learn real life common sense or try to achieve anything on their own.
I’m not a “free range” or “helicopter” parent, but I do practice a lot of attachment parenting. If we’re outside I will do activities with the kids sometimes, other times I leave them to play on there own and keep an eye on them while doing other things. I can not see Khloe (8) walking with Keira (7) and Kaylee (5) to a park on their own even just a block away. Not because I don’t believe they’ll do well on their own, but because in some ways Khloe is not mentally 8. Can I see Keira at 10 years old taking Kaylee who will be 8 and Kaleb 6 to a community park alone within a few blocks of our home? Yes. They already know not to talk to strangers, they know how to cross streets and keep an eye on their surroundings that can safely say in 3 years they will be fully capable of doing it alone. Many kids at the age of the Drama Queens are expected to walk just under a mile to and from school, but are not allowed to stop at a park to play on their way home.
Parents are too quick to attack each other. DCF is being called on each other because they don’t parent the same way. Just because one family feels they’re children can safely go on their own to a park and you feel it is wrong does not make it ok to harass and report them to the authorities.