4 years ago5,000+ Views
Recently, there was news about a family getting in trouble for raising their children "free-range" style in Maryland. Today, I'm reading an article about "free-range parents" who are telling people to leave them alone: they're not doing anything wrong!
So what in the world is a free range child? What is free range parenting? These are words I have never heard before, and now, after looking them up, I'm a bit confused.
Free-range parenting, as used in these articles, refers to letting your child (usually under the age of 12) play outside, wander outside, or be out of your site (or that of a trusted guardian).
Now, I don't know about you, but this is how I and nearly every other person I know was raised. My parents were strict when it came to many things: doing my chores, cleaning my room, doing my homework, etc., but they didn't keep me on a leash or trapped in the yard as it seems like some laws expect you to do, such as Maryland where a child under 8 cannot be left home alone, but it doesn't specify the rules for public spaces.
What confused me even more is that this article said that "free range parenting" started in 2008 with this woman's column; but I have to disagree. Free range parenting has always been happening, particularly in suburbs, country areas, etc.
So why are we putting a name to it, and getting parent's threatened with losing their children, simply because they are trying to raise their children to be responsible for themselves? Obviously, everything must be done in moderation. You're not going to tell a 6-year old that is in a new location to go home on their own, or put them in a dangerous situation. I support "free range" aka normal parenting, I don't think children benefit at all from being coddled nor could I handle that much 1:1 time with a kid, but I'm beginning to wonder, am I in the minority?
@lottiemoon Yeah, I was wondering the same thing, too. I get leaving your kids (probably over 7 or 8 depending on their maturity for me) wander the neighborhood/farm/city block that they know well, but leaving them go for such long distances is different. I guess it depends on the town and all, but it seems weird to me, too. I think normal parenting (aka letting them wander a reasonable distance like @nehapatel mentioned) and "freerange" are different in that those parents that think they are doing "free-range parenting" are actually pushing their kids to wander farther than a "normal parenting" procedure might allow, and that seems dangerous to me, too.
I am honestly still quite confused as to how free-range parenting works. When I was a kid, between the ages of 9 and 13, my Mom and Dad gave me more freedom as to how I explored outside of the house. Which is more understandable, but I am hearing about parents in Ohio who are letting their 5 and 6 year olds roam around within a 2 mile radius all around the town they live in. That, to me, seems dangerous. I know we all roamed free when we were kids, and even further back than that, our parents did, too. But it wasn't any safer. It's just that they didn't have the media telling them all about how horrible people can be. I think free-range parenting could be absolutely great, if your kids are old enough to handle the responsibility of going out on their own. I just don't understand how you could send your 5 year old out and expect them to find their way back home all by themselves.
In my opinion, anyone who feels the need to prescribe to a particular kind of "parenting" that isn't their own/just well-informed parenting is doing it wrong from the get-go in my opinion. If you don't know your limits as parents personally or your kids personally, you might be putting them at unnecessary risk. Just my thought.
@lottiemoon @amog32 Under 9 and I'm really, really hesitant to say they can handle the responsibility. But it depends on the exact child, of course.
I can't really say if I'm for or against this because I don't really understand how they're trying to use this word.....all I know is you have to not be a hovering parent, but you also have to keep your children safe. How you do that depends on your situation, and no one should unjustly judge that.
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