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What do you think of free range parenting?

Poll Results: What do you think of free range parenting?

 
  • 8% (6)
    Negligence
  • 9% (7)
    Lazy parenting
  • 26% (19)
    Okay in some situations (elaborate please)
  • 12% (9)
    Okay in most situations
  • 39% (29)
    Great idea, I do it (or plan on doing it)
  • 4% (3)
    Everyone should allow their children to free range
73 Total Votes  
post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

I'm just curious as to what people think of "free range" parenting?

 

 

post #2 of 35

I think parents should (and usually do) tailor their parenting style to each individual child. Some kids need more guidance than others. I bet plenty of children could flourish with a free range parenting style, while others might crave more structure.

 

Also, adhering to - or being dogmatic about - any one parenting philosophy is bound to leave gaps.  No one theory or style has all the answers.

post #3 of 35

As with most things, it really depends on the individual situation.  The kid's personality, the mom's personality, the kid's age, the location of busy streets nearby,  the child's ability to safely cross such streets, the number of other children in the neighborhood who are out and about, the number of neighbors you know, how many of them are out and about on a regular basis, and so on, all would factor in to my decision. 

 

In my current neighborhood, I would be willing to allow a child to be free range quite a bit.  But kids walk to school starting at 6 here and there are adults and other kids out everywhere.  Plus there are good sidewalks and the streets aren't terribly busy.  Until a child was quite a bit older I probably wouldn't allow them to cross the major streets (2 blocks north, 6 blocks east, and 1 block south) though.  I think I'd need the child to have demonstrated the ability and judgement to handle those crossings with me present first. 

post #4 of 35

I think if you haven't actually read the book/blog, you should! :) Most of the people I know that are 100% for or against 'free range parenting' have no idea what the concept actually is, and they get all distraught one way or the other.

 

I'm not in favour of ever blindly following any parenting style, but taking what works from each thing I learn if it fits into our family.

post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by dejagerw View Post

I'm just curious as to what people think of "free range" parenting?

 

 


I think that some people misinterpret the idea of free range parenting and decide that they can be  neglectful and label it 'free range" instead to make it sound better.  They get the whole "free range" thing and miss the "parenting" part of it.

 

I think it can be done well, and safely.  But I also think, like any parenting style, there are people that take it to the dangerous extremes.  

 

post #6 of 35

With ds1 we are "free range". It is age appropriate however, I don't just let him roam the town or anything, he's only 4. There is also still structure, rules and discipline (gentle) in our home, so it's not like I don't parent him. Which is what I hear a lot when people hear of free range.

post #7 of 35

I'm moderately free range. Our kids go outside and play for an hour or two and I don't check up on them. Our daughter has been riding her bike around the block since she was 5 (she's 7 and just now are the other kids allowed to do that). I'd let my 10 year old ride further, but there's nowhere that he wants to go. When he hits 11 or 12, I'm going to let him ride the bus across town (one light rail ride + transfer to bus) to see his best friend. He's a remarkably cautious kid, so I probably will have to go with him the first time.

 

I really like the philosophy, though. I think that many parents have become all too alarmist. I know someone who got upset because her 14 year old daughter walked home from a friend's house and had to cross a busy street! dizzy.gif. She wanted her daughter to call for a ride.

 

The free range kids website is good: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

 

My favorite quote from there is:  "Confident kids who feel at home in the world are SAFER than coddled kids who have been taught they are dainty prey without mom or dad by their side."

post #8 of 35

I like the idea of free range in age appropriate / place appropriate situations.  We live in the middle of a big city consisting of mostly sidewalks and streets, so obviously I'm going to be a little more cautious with my DD, who first has to learn to navigate around safely.  I think a kid will adapt to the environment in which he/she is raised, so I don't think it is necessarily safer if a kid free-ranges in the wilderness or suburbs vs. the city.  It is just different, with a different set of skill sets required.

 

That being said, here's my mini vent of the day:  I have a neighbor who has two girls (7 and 9).  Sometimes said neighbor and I (as well as DD) walk home from the subway.  This neighbor drives me nuts with his alarmist attitudes!  For instance, DD (who is 4.5) started running ahead of us down the long sidewalk.  Neighbor shouts out for DD to come back, and then chastizes her and says:  "You need to stick with your mother, anyone could reach out and grab you."  I was livid.  Maybe too livid, but instilling fear is so contrary to how I want DD to equip herself for the world.  Power, not fear. 

post #9 of 35

I wouldn't be the least bit worried about my child being grabbed; but I would be worried about someone backing out of a driveway and not seeing a little kid running behind them. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

I like the idea of free range in age appropriate / place appropriate situations.  We live in the middle of a big city consisting of mostly sidewalks and streets, so obviously I'm going to be a little more cautious with my DD, who first has to learn to navigate around safely.  I think a kid will adapt to the environment in which he/she is raised, so I don't think it is necessarily safer if a kid free-ranges in the wilderness or suburbs vs. the city.  It is just different, with a different set of skill sets required.

 

That being said, here's my mini vent of the day:  I have a neighbor who has two girls (7 and 9).  Sometimes said neighbor and I (as well as DD) walk home from the subway.  This neighbor drives me nuts with his alarmist attitudes!  For instance, DD (who is 4.5) started running ahead of us down the long sidewalk.  Neighbor shouts out for DD to come back, and then chastizes her and says:  "You need to stick with your mother, anyone could reach out and grab you."  I was livid.  Maybe too livid, but instilling fear is so contrary to how I want DD to equip herself for the world.  Power, not fear. 



 

post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maedze View Post

I wouldn't be the least bit worried about my child being grabbed; but I would be worried about someone backing out of a driveway and not seeing a little kid running behind them. 
 



 


Being grabbed by potential kidnappers/molesters and people backing out of driveways, two different issues, and on the issue of people backing out of driveways, DD knows the the protocols.  Again, it's how you equip your child to deal with real dangers as opposed to overthought (can't think of a better word) dangers.  DD knows about cars and other traffic dangers, but I'm not going to create dangers based on hype.  Big difference in my opinion.

 

Edited to add a smiley:  smile.gif   Not trying to be adversarial, just want to make it clear that I hope to recognize real danger from perceived danger.  

 


Edited by CatsCradle - 6/29/11 at 8:13am
post #11 of 35

I had a look at the FAQ on the website because I wasn't entirely sure what Free-range parenting meant. Based on that description I am wholeheartedly in favour and already practice it with our 13m.o.

 

We were free-range parented when we were growing up and it was great.

post #12 of 35
From what I know of it, I like it, assuming it is done with care. I sense that some people hear 'free range parenting' and think it means letting your 1yo wander the streets of NYC alone or something. If careful consideration is given to the child's developmental level, needs, and abilities, I think it can be a wonderful thing. I'm not OK with just being too lazy to chase after a kid who still needs that supervision (for whatever reason) or broadly applying the same rules/lack of rules to ALL children of a certain age with no regard to individual circumstances.

I was raised the opposite of free-range, whatever that is... I was 15 before I was allowed to ride my bike alone, take a walk, etc. and my mom was the type to call my teacher and make them change my grade if I got an A instead of an A+ and make my phone calls for me (re: doctors, bills, etc.) even after I left home. So I am actively trying to avoid raising my kid in such a stressful, fearful home while also trying to not go TOO far in the other direction. The hardest part is overcoming a lifetime of being told (and STILL hearing from my parents!) that XYZ is sooooo dangerous (ironically, with little regard for actual dangers like toddlers on riding lawn mowers....eyesroll.gif) and trying not to let my own anxieties & phobias affect DS.
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post

I had a look at the FAQ on the website because I wasn't entirely sure what Free-range parenting meant. Based on that description I am wholeheartedly in favour and already practice it with our 13m.o.

 

We were free-range parented when we were growing up and it was great.



How do you practice free range with a 13 month old?

post #14 of 35


I agree that being grabbed by a Pedophile Boogeyman is a highly unlikely scenario (perceived danger, although not perceived by me. LOL)

 

I disagree that a four year old can successfully navigate her developing impulse control so as not to foolishly dart out without looking at just the wrong time.  Kids are kids.   That's why we don't recommend putting four year olds in boosters as a general rule...their impulse control is still way too fickle.  

 

My son, who is about to turn SEVEN, has known for years about traffic safety, walking in a parking lot, etc.  The other day he surprised and horrified me by running directly into oncoming traffic when he was playing tag with a neighbor kid.  He just got so involved in the game he 'forgot' the rule about the parking lot irked.gif     I was screaming, running, and barely managed to pull him out of the path of a car ....and he never even realized what he'd done.    And he's a NT kid who is fairly serious, reserved and rule-oriented.  

 

So, yeah, I would tend to disagree that not allowing a four year old to run ahead up a sidewalk is a response to 'perceived danger'.   In this case, I would qualify it as quite real, although I agree your friend is a bit batty. LOL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post




Being grabbed by potential kidnappers/molesters and people backing out of driveways, two different issues, and on the issue of people backing out of driveways, DD knows the the protocols.  Again, it's how you equip your child to deal with real dangers as opposed to overthought (can't think of a better word) dangers.  DD knows about cars and other traffic dangers, but I'm not going to create dangers based on hype.  Big difference in my opinion.

 

Edited to add a smiley:  smile.gif   Not trying to be adversarial, just want to make it clear that I hope to recognize real danger from perceived danger.  

 



 

post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post





How do you practice free range with a 13 month old?



we tried when our dd was 13 mos.  i think when they're babies/toddlers, at least for us, that means not intervening as they explore the world, even if that means a minor tumble or two, or picking up dirty things (and intercepting only if said dirty thing is en route to the mouth).  for me at that age, it means watching and hanging back.  and letting the kid make a bunch of noise or a mess, etc.  and then teaching cleaning up.  just not stopping the exploration or action unless there's an actual danger. 

 

yes, we intend to free-range, even more so in a complex way as our child/children get older.  gaging appropriateness by maturity/choices of the child.  but we moved to the boonies so we could let our kids grow up outdoors, in the woods, unsupervised, etc.  as both dh and i were.  i learned so much about nature, the world, and myself by being alone in the woods, and learned a few things, too, from my decision-making and actions when presented with dangerous situations on occasion (though i sincerely hope that my child/ren make better choices than i did- i was a pretty daring kid in a pretty bad way). 

post #16 of 35

As long as it is comfortable for both the parent and the children I think free-range parenting is a great philosophy.  However like most philosophies (A/P, CC, etc) you will find parents who take it to one extreme or the other. And you will find that one persons "free range" is another persons complete and utter freakout. So these days I try not to "label" how I raise my son. 

 

My child is "free range" in the sense that he has been given multiple opportunities to build the skills and confidences he needs to venture out on his own. A perfect example was the grocery store. Our grocery store is HUGE and there are multiple exits.  It is loud, noisy and busy. However for a couple of years now, as his request, I have let him hang out in the book aisle by himself while I shop. Parents (especially moms with kids still in carts freak out) but it's not like I just one day left him in the book aisle and came back an hour later. We worked up to it so not only did HE feel safe/confident/comfortable but so that I also felt the same way.  Baby steps so speak.

 

We have done the same with playing outside alone, riding his scooter to the park, going to the neighbors, etc. All of which he does regularly and has for quite sometime.

 

We have recently been discussing him staying home alone. A number of his friends do and frankly I was home alone often at his age. I have no issue with the idea and would be happy to start trying but I also know that he is not ready. He talks a good game with is friends but when it's just him and me he tells me he doesn't want to...yet. So while I could easily leave him home to go for long walk, run to the store, etc I won't because the goal is for him to be comfortable. It is really not that hard to bring him along.

 

post #17 of 35

I said in some situations, but really I just mean the limits are going to be different depending on where you live, if you know your neighbors, the age and temperament of the child, etc. 

post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post





How do you practice free range with a 13 month old?


Basically what Hildare said. I let her go out into the backyard by herself and potter around. I don't shadow her at the playground (unless there are other kids there). I let her touch, taste, pick up pretty much anything unless it is very hot, poisonous, belongs to someone else.

 

From what I read on the website you can do free range at any age because it is about age-appropriate exploration but maybe I misinterpreted and I should more accurately say that we do a *precursor* to free range parenting.

 

post #19 of 35

 

I voted "great idea", but leaned heavily toward "okay in most situations". I guess I can envision times where it would be problematic. Some children have poor impulse control. Some have anxiety issues and may interpret too much freedom as an absence of support and caring. They may need a lot more guidance and even limitations than others. I am in favour of giving children lots of opportunities to explore and challenge themselves and develop their independence. 

post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post




Basically what Hildare said. I let her go out into the backyard by herself and potter around. I don't shadow her at the playground (unless there are other kids there). I let her touch, taste, pick up pretty much anything unless it is very hot, poisonous, belongs to someone else.

 

From what I read on the website you can do free range at any age because it is about age-appropriate exploration but maybe I misinterpreted and I should more accurately say that we do a *precursor* to free range parenting.

 



Nah.  I have not read the website, so did not understand what you meant by free-rangeing a 13 month old.

 

To a degree I think freerange is just good parenting.  I think we  have a term for it because of all the misplaced fear of strangers and the boogeymen that took place in the last 20 years.  

 

I sometimes think people go too far and use freeranging as an excuse - it is not ok to let a 2 year old play outside in an unfenced yard by themselves, it is not ok to let a 13 year old sail around the world by herself (remember that one, anyone?).  

 

I am not sure whether those who do nutty things in the name of free-ranging are really just people who are susceptible to overdoing it in the name of philosophy or are negligent/lazy parents  and now have a handy word to pin their negligence on?

 

Either way, I think those are extreme examples and outliers, and most free range stuff makes some sense.

 

 

 

 

 

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