When it comes to raising children, everyone has their approach. Researchers who have spent years examining the effects of various parenting methods on children have concluded that there is no such thing as the best approach to raising children. As of late, news on one parenting method—free range parenting—has been widely reported. But what is free range parenting?
What is Free-Range Parenting?
The term “free range parenting” might mean different things to different people, but generally, it refers to entrusting children with increasing levels of independence as they grow up. Each child’s skills will determine the scope and nature of these obligations. They could involve going to the park alone, riding a bike to school, or using public transportation without adult supervision.
Free range parenting is not the same as detachment because parents are still actively involved in their children’s lives. Parents will play a crucial role in their children’s development by imparting valuable life lessons, helping them overcome obstacles, and providing them with important safety information. Although free range parents emphasize these values, they step aside and let their children take the lead in putting them into practice in the real world. The goal is to foster a greater capacity for autonomy, self-assurance, problem-solving, originality, and more.
Helicopter parenting, in contrast, involves excessive involvement. As a bonus, free range parenting brings to mind the days when kids would play outside all day long until their parents brought them in for dinner. Some parents see this as a welcome opportunity for their children to do what comes naturally: explore the world as children.
Characteristics of Free-Range Parenting
While some people associate this kind of parenting style to negligence, on the contrary, it’s about proving freedom and enabling children to be and act as children. Below are the characteristics of free-range parenting:
There are plenty of unscheduled activities. Children do not strictly follow daily routines, but instead, they are free to do what they feel like doing, whether it’s running and playing tag in the backyard or camping in their bedroom.
Children are encouraged to be independent. Parents rarely tell their kids what to do and how to do a certain activity. Instead, they challenge the children to be as creative and independent as they can.
Play is vital. Free-range parents let their children play a lot. They believe that playing in nature is essential, and their children need this time to experience the fun and excitement of playing while they are young,
It’s okay for children to get hurt. While they also enforce safety measures, free-range parents are not overprotective. They let their children to explore around their surroundings and try new things even if they might get hurt sometimes.
Controversy and Restrictions Behind this Type of Parenting
One of the most incredible things a parent can do for their child is to step back occasionally. The proponents of free-range parenting believe kids flourish when they’re allowed more independence and the space to learn from their successes and failures.
In 2008, journalist Lenore Skenazy penned a column for the New York Sun titled “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone,” in which she gleefully described leaving her kid in a Manhattan department store, planting the seeds of what is free range parenting. Skenazy finally caved into her son’s pleading and handed him a metro map, twenty dollars, a prepaid subway card, and enough change to make a phone call so he could take the subway and bus home by himself. The youngster arrived safely at their house. According to Skenazy, he was “ecstatic with independence.”
However, the public met the column with criticism. It sparked a nationwide debate about parents’ rights and responsibilities, child safety, and the boundary between children’s autonomy and neglect that society should establish. However, there have also been some substantial risks. There’s a reason more and more parents have tended toward helicoptering in recent years. Everyone has heard horror stories about what may happen when kids are given too much independence.
In addition, the risk of legal repercussions is a significant worry for parents who are open to their children engaging in unsupervised research. Child Protective Services has been called on parents in the news who have let their children play outside unsupervised or who have permitted their children to walk home from school alone. Sometimes criminal charges have been filed.
The truth is that a lot has changed in the world during the past several decades. Not so much in the actual threats we face, but in how we internalize and externalize those threats and how that affects our connections with others and the larger community. Because of these shifts, free-range parenting may become more challenging, if not impossible.