Are you a free range parent?

Have you heard of this……Free Range Kids? Seems to be a bit of buzz words these days.

This was a foreign concept to me until a few years ago when a friend brought it to my attention.

She told me that there was a site/book/author/blogger that advocated a parenting approach that focused on children taking responsibility at a young age. She told a story of a young boy (age 9) taking the subway home for the first time by himself. She was horrified that a mother could leave her child to safely ride the train home. As she was describing all of this with doom and gloom, I was thinking something quite different.

To be honest, I didn’t say much in return in that discussion. I took it all in until I could research it myself. My search lead me to this site. Click here for a description of a free range kid.

I devoured the information and subscribed to the newsletter. Daily, I rec’d an email with newstories happening around our nation in schools and communities reinforcing the helicopter parenting that runs rampant in our nation. Stories of high schools making policy changes that essentially treated the teenagers like toddlers. This newsletter filled my inbox for about six months before I unsubscribed. I found the newsletter informative, relevent and interesting. But, I also found it to be disheartening. The rare glimpse of some tidbit of hopeful news wasn’t enough to keep me going.

Check out some of the articles on Free Range Kids. Makes me think our nation is gone a little batty.

Dad on foot arrested for refusing to wait in line of cars to pick up kids……

Cops Say Mom Left Kids Home with 13 y.o. WHY IS THIS A CRIME??

The fact that this free range kid perspective even needs to be pointed out, discussed,  and debated is frightening. Though I am beginning to wonder if the title of free range kids really in truly needs to be changed to free range parent.

Where are the days that kids could learn adult tasks by doing them? When did parents decide that hovering and smothering was a necessity?

In our family you learned to drive a tractor before age 10 and a pickup before that.  We hauled hay with a hay crew of other kids our age and drove down the highway to the barn or next hayfield by ourselves.  We were expected to pump our own fuel for these tasks.  We fed and watered the chickens, milked the goats, feed the bottle calves, and did our chores all without supervision.  If we ran into a snag of sorts, it was our responsibility to figure it out, find help via a brother or sister, and then go get Mom or Dad as a last resort.

I DROVE TO THE FEEDSTORE (30 MILES AWAY) BY MYSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME AT AGE TWELVE.  I don’t say this to brag or highlight the fact that is was technically illegal.

I write these words to say, that at age twelve I was mature and responsible enough to DRIVE TO THE FEEDSTORE (30 MILES AWAY) BY MYSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME AT AGE TWELVE.

It is different time you say…..Well, it might be.  But, I want to do everything in my power to turn back the clock for our family. Mae Mae is a lucky girl to have the opportunity for a lifestyle that will instill responsibility at a young age to facilitate her developing into a capable, independent adult.

There will be naysayers that will say that a farm work ethic is child neglect and will limit the child somehow if life. Bologna I say! A little discipline and a sense of purpose that comes from having a few chores would go a long way for the couch potato and video gamer kid.

When I got back around to discussing this further with my friend, it was clear that we had very different takes on the matter. She grew up a farm but has lived in the city for sometime now and it has changed her. When I told her that I was very lucky to live where we did and that we could allow children the freedom to roam, explore and problem solve. She replied, “Well, I guess so. As long as you lock the farm gate.”

Really???? I don’t even lock my house.

I didn’t have any words……

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