I hate that new trendy phrase “Free Range parenting” used to describe what I consider “Normal” parenting. It somehow makes the parent sound like a spaced out hobo whose kids are barely registering on their radar! So when I read this article I wanted to just hug the author so tight. This is every day of my life! From the article-
I’ll admit it, on penalty of being called an irresponsible mother, a monster, and a criminal.
I’ll be told I don’t deserve my children but that I do deserve to have them kidnapped and that I’m setting them up for some serious stranger danger.
Someone will threaten to call social services. Someone else will be amazed no one yet has called social services.
People will assume I’m lazy. People will tell me I should be afraid or that I shouldn’t have had kids at all.
Still though, I sometimes leave my kids alone in the car.
My children aren’t toddlers anymore. They could manage if they were ever lost somewhere. They are also extremely friendly and enjoy meeting people, even strangers. So I have tried really hard to not crush their spirit and introduce them to unfounded fears. We talk about what’s normal and what isn’t but I do not teach my kids to not talk to strangers.
When I was a kid I knew I had to be home before it got dark. I grew up in a very busy metropolitan city. I never felt I was in danger and my parents never felt the need to stand over my shoulder. There were ground rules to follow and they were drilled in. No one asked details about where we were or what we were doing. My parents also barely attended any of my sports or school events. Parental attendance was usually reserved for special occasions.
As a parent today, it can be extremely exhausting to function in our helicopter culture. And it’s not just parents. If I pop into a store at the mall while my kids play with each other outside; at least 4 people will stop and ask my kids if they are OK.
Concerned shopper 1: “Are those kids yours?”
Me: “Yes they are mine”.
Concerned shopper 1: “Just want to make sure they are with someone”.
Me (THINKING): You didn’t think that they drove themselves to the mall to hang out alone and be happy did you?
Concerned shopper 2: “Do these kids belong to someone?”
Me: “Yes me.”
Concerned shopper 2: “Oh wasn’t sure if they were with someone.”
Me (THINKING): You could have just asked them! They’d have told you!
And on it goes. We hike often and we take a trail that is a loop. I walk and my children ride their bikes. For every loop I do, they do three. It’s pretty awesome. It allows all three of us an outdoor activity we enjoy. The park is filled with other joggers, bikers, parents and grandparents with kids. Yet when people see small kids riding their bikes alone they are so bothered by it.
Recently I got text messages from 2 different neighbors asking me if I was aware my kids were in the front yard alone. The horror! My boys were digging some dirt. I was in the house. I wasn’t remotely concerned. I responded with “Glad you are watching them!” to one particular neighbor that I’m quite friendly with. I couldn’t tell if she got my sarcasm. It’s gotten to the point that I sometimes worry someone might call social services because they’ve deemed me to be a negligent parent. And I hate that feeling so much!
What are your thoughts? Do you fear the unknown when it comes to your kids? Do you buy into Stranger Danger?