A lot of people have been talking about free-range parenting these days, even here on YMC, so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon because I'm a Leo and I hate to miss a good party! (Though, to be honest, I haven't been to a party that's free of diapers and sippy cups in a very long time. That's for another post...)
Anyway, if you somehow haven't heard the term free-range parenting, don't beat yourself up—it's hard to stay on top of the many parenting style classifications these days. What ever happened to the good old parenting style called, um...parenting? You know, the one where you just try your best to provide love, food, shelter, and generally keep your kids alive?
But for those of you who haven't heard of free-range parenting, it became a "thing" in 2008 after a woman named Lenore Skenazy wrote an article in the New York Sun about how she let her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone. After that, people went crazy, she became famous, appeared on many talk shows, and wrote a book called Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry). She also landed a TV show out of the whole ordeal. Not bad. Well played, Lenore, well played.
And now, I hear the term free-range parenting everywhere. Everyone is doing it. It's the "IN" thing. If free-range parenting were a fashion trend, it would be a beard. And the thing is, like beards, not everyone can pull it off. Some guys just let their facial hair grow wild without making any effort to trim, clean, or maintain it. They call it a beard. I call it laziness.
Similarly, I think some people are using the term "free-range parenting" to justify their lack of child supervision (and that's not what it's supposed to be about). Their child will be playing with a shard of glass on the sidewalk and they'll say, "Hey, relax dude. I'm free-range parenting." But what happens when that child needs 35 stitches? Then you're just a free-range-negligent-asshole, if you ask me.
Honestly, I think as parents we all need to try our best to be in tune with our own child's abilities, and also understand the limitations of their age. We're talking brain development here, people. There are certain things that two-year-olds, for example, just can't process. My son threw a fit because he wanted me to put his poopy diaper back on his bum, so there is no way I'm going to trust him to walk to the corner store and cross a busy road by himself. It's just not happening.
So now, let me ask you—where do you lie on the parenting spectrum? Are you more a helicopter-type or a free-ranger? When you see the images below, what do you see?
A grape, coffee table, and hot coffee? If yes, then you probably don't have children. Or if you do, I'm assuming you collect stamps at your local emergency room "The 10th visit gets you a free tote-bag!" Because when I look at the images above, this is what I see:
A choking hazard, stitches, and 3rd degree burns requiring a skin graft.
I guess this means I'm not a very good free-range parent, right? Perhaps I'm just a free-range-ish type. I just can't help but to err on the side of...paranoid. It's in my nature. I'm a mother. I'm a Schlumberger. It's in my DNA. Worrying and foreseeing accidents is what I do. So if that means I don't get to join the cool kids in the free-range club, so be it. I'll just un-buckle my kids helmet, loosen his bubble-wrap suit, and we'll sit in the shade and enjoy some sliced grapes as part of the My Kid Is Intact club.
I've always been on the fringes of cool, so I guess it's best to just stay here. And I'm okay with that.
So tell me, do you subscribe to the Free-Range method? Why or why not?
And if you'd like to read more about free-range parenting on YMC, check out "Why Free-Range And Helicopter Parenting Labels Suck," "How Can I Be a Free-Range Mom When I'm Afraid To Let Go?" or "Free Range Kids = Safer Teenagers."