Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Range Kids?

Free range kids? Are we talking baby goats? No actually, it's a term people are using to describe children who are being raised with much more freedom to roam about then is permitted to most kids who in the prevalent climate of 'stranger danger' fear, are overly restricted in their movements.

It's not a term I favour; reminds me of free range chickens. Still the intention behind the phrase (another term is 'wildcrafted') is indicative of what parents know is right for their children. Children must have freedom to be children; to explore, to challenge themselves, to discover. And they can't well do these under their parents paranoid and anxious gaze.
Kids today are reigned in,over-supervised, hovered over where ever they are (helicopter parenting) and it's harming their capacity to grow up right. On the other hand, kids do need supervision.
I guess we parents are in a bit of a bind.

As a little kid I recall many times that, had it not been for my smarter and more street savvy older sister, I might not be around today. I was the shy kid predators would notice; "come over here little girl I have a puppy to show you," or "here's 2 pounds for candy." Even at home accidents happened due to no supervision at all; a fight leading to a torn ear, a bottle of swallowed medicine.

Frankly, free range needs to have a clearly defined range. And that range ought to be supervised. As the child grows they can go further and further but I believe that a responsible adult needs to be paying attention (even when the kids are older and with other peers have the kids on your radar).

It's not a question of lack of trust; rather what many are calling benign or wholesome neglect. Being present, at a distance, in the vicinity depending on the child's maturity level-not only on age- but letting kids do their stuff.

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