Rage Against The Minivan: Why I’m Not A Free-Range Parent
It seems like everyone is talking about â€œfree-range parentingâ€ these days. It started in 2008 when Lenore Skenazy wrote a piece in the New York Sun about letting her 9 year-old son ride the subway alone. Her essay made such an impact that Skenazy later wrote a book called Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry). Itâ€™s become a popular parenting philosophy, but not without itâ€™s own controversy. Now there are stories of parents being arrested because they let their kids play in the front yard or walk to the park unsupervised..
Personally, I love the idea of teaching kids to be self-reliant. Iâ€™ve written about trying to raise independent, confident kids. And I get that free-range parenting is a good way to do it. But itâ€™s not my thing. Free-range parenting is not for us. Yes, I understand that crime statistics are lower than ever. I’m not a hovering mother . . . my concern isnâ€™t coming from paranoia about stranger danger.
But I know my kids. I know myself. And thatâ€™s why, if my kids are playing outside, I usually have them in my line of sight. I know who they are with and what they are doing. No, watching them doesnâ€™t automatically protect them from all the injuries that could happen outside. They are kids. Things happen.
And those things happen whether youâ€™re watching your kids or letting them free-range all over the place. But parenting isnâ€™t just about protecting your kids from random accidents or injuries. Kids need more than freedom for outside activities. Our parenting style is about helping our kids be productive nowâ€”and then building a foundation so they can become motivated teenagers and independent adults in the future. Giving them the specific structure to develop this way is my job as a parent.