My boys are nearly 8 and just turned 9 and last summer I championed #Freerange parenting. I tried to give them freedom to explore, play and investigate independently.
We are very lucky that we live in a housing estate on the edge of a village and have an excellent environment for children to play in. Cars drive slowly through the area, we have fields nearby and a woodland area and back all within 2 minutes of the house. The estate is filled with children of all ages and a lot of them are allowed to play out and you can often find a group of them playing football or cricket after school or during the day.
My boys are allowed to walk to and from school on their own and to visit one of the local parks. They are allowed to visit friends and to play football on the green. I trust them. I know they they will push boundaries, but that is what being a child is all about. I insist that they wear helmets when on their bikes and their scooters.
Am we free range enough?
last week Forest Poppy linked to a great post about The Overprotected Kid. It got me thinking that I maybe need to be a little more freerange with the boys.
It left me wishing that we had an area such as The Land near us. It also reminded me of an incident last summer that initially had me pretty scared.
Mini came home to get a bottle of water and when I asked why he told me they were using a magnifying glass to try to start a fire!
I was petrified, but then after talking it through my MadDad he told me I should be pleased that Mini felt he could tell me and also that he was sensible enough to make sure they had water. Oh and that as a child he had set fires on the farm with his glasses and this is what boys do!
Both the boys are members of the local Beavers and Cubs and they do a lot of life skills activities there and love it and they are spending next weekend at camp and I have to swallow my urge to wrap them in cotton wool and keep them at home.
Why we free range parent
I have to admit that I do not find free range parenting easy. I have to make sure that I fight my fears for the good of my boys. I want them to have street smarts, I want them to enjoy the childhood that MadDad and I did. I remind myself constantly that the danger is no worse than when I was a child and that the fact is we are just more aware of it.
In fact parenting isn’t easy full stop. I want to raise well rounded, caring and independent individuals who can cook, clean and be good company!
I find it hard balancing their needs in this modern world. Finding an acceptable balance between screen time and other activities. I do worry that they are over reliant on technology, especially during the winter months.
Are you a free range parent? Do you worry that your children live in to much of a protective bubble?
Found this really interesting Jen, even though I’m years off worrying about this with Lucas I still think about it. I even look at the route he is likely to take to his future school! He’s not even in nursery yet! Parenting is hard but it sounds like your boys have enough sense about them to be able to have freedom and great as well that they will tell you what they are doing, however scary it may seem to you.
I’m quite over protective with mine, they are quite young though. We take them out a lot to explore places but seeing them climb up high whether in castle ruins, or near cliff edges or high play equipment really freaks me out at times – maybe because I’m scared of heights myself, but I force myself to give them a bit of freedom – but not too much cos it does scare me! My middle boy has autism and with that comes a real lack of danger awareness for him, although I see him developing it a bit but that concern is always there.
Really interesting post, I still need to read the original article!
Nice to hear you speak Yday at blog camp btw, I didn’t get chance to say hi!
I’m definitely not free range enough but try so hard — I trust my kids and actually want them to try/make mistakes/learn, but I have a hard time trusting others (like the drivers that go waaayyy to fast through our neighborhood and text – grrrr!) So I’m always nervous when the kids go off on their bikes. And my husband tells me the same things about boys — her grew up with all boys so he’s less ‘free range’ about raising our daughter. And I have thought about the idea of bubble wrap before sending them off to play, but the kids keep telling me it’s not much of a fashion statement 🙂 Great post!
The hardest part about being a parent is letting them fly…I wish sometimes we had that idyllic place where I could have let my boy go out and play, but we didn’t, so it’s only in the last few years where I’ve actually let him go out on his own – and living in a town makes that all the more scary with busy roads etc.
A great thought provoking post!
I think children should be allowed to play and be independant on their own at the same time safety needs to be important too so striking a happy healthy balance is the best way to go handle this. You can’t wrap them in cotton wool same time you can’t let them roam in the park if you think its not a safe place.
I can remember having so much more freedom when I was younger but personally times have changed and I don’t feel we are in a position to be free range parents
It’s so hard to give them a lot of freedom as the horror stories always fill the news. I would say I’m overprotective but I give them freedom just not letting them roam the streets
I remember being given quite a lot of freedom as a child but things were different then. I don’t know whether it was necessarily safer but you didn’t hear as many horror stories! Mine are still young so don’t get much freedom other than being able to go in the garden on their own. I am quite overprotective but hope as they grow older I will relax a little.
I am very over protective of my boys, particularly with Riley. I think because he was born so prematurely and we came close to losing him, i’ve built up a protective barrier around him. I’m hoping as he gets older, wiser and stronger i’ll be able to relax a little xxx
Hi Jen, I thought you’d like that article! It really got me thinking too. And I pretty much echo all of your thoughts. At the moment where we live isn’t ideal for freeranging but we do give them a lot or at least as much as we feel we can, much more than most of their friends. We’re hoping to move to small estate on the outskirts of a wee village/town (maybe a little similar to your situation) and the plan and hope is that they’ll be able to have a lot more.
I was very lucky to grow up with a lot of freedom as we lived in the countryside but as a downside we didn’t really have any other children to play with. Juliex
I am most definately over protective , you know the one who shouts dont run as they are having fun in the park , or imagingin them tripping over a curb when in fact never do lol x
As a family we find this a bit tricky, I’m pretty free range but my husband lost his brother in an accident after they were left on their own, so understandably he’s very protective. At the moment both of mine are too young to go out at all by themselves so I guess we’ll just have to see how we do.
I’m pretty over-protective with mine. But then we live in a city. Although I think I would be wherever we lived really!
This is really interesting…I’m not yet a parent so I can’t really comment on my personal experience, but I’m a nanny and I often wonder how differently I will do things when I finally have my own. I do find it hard to balance between following her around and letting her be-but then I do have the added pressure that she’s not mine and I have to follow what the parents want. x
We haven’t got to the paying out stage, but I already know I am going to be overprotective. It is not your children you need to trust or not, it is the horrible people that sometime hurt them. x
My boys are definitely too little for a lot of this, but it is definitely a route I see myself taking. I grew up playing outside with the other kids on my street and I loved the freedom and fresh air. I want my boys to grow up responsibly but with a sense of community, freedom and nature as well
We’re free range parents, I think it’s important to allow our children freedom to just be, to explore and to learn for themselves x
Very interesting post. I remember myself as a child – I was playing outside for most of the time with group of friends, never had an expensive toy or iphone/ipad and the best toys were always those which you could take easily outside and play with everyone 😉
I found this post really interesting Jen.
I try to take a free range approach to parenting, but it’s hard. I am hoping it becomes easier once my sons get a bit older.
It sounds like you are doing a great job. You seem to have found a good balance between their freedom to explore and your natural instinct to protect.
I love this, Hayden loves being outside and exploring EVERYTHING!
Just wish I lived somewhere that was more exciting and safe for him like more woodlands.
He absolutely loved Barbados.
Thanks for sharing
Very interesting Jen.
I’m a nix I think. I’ll happily let the kids play with mud and dig in the safety of our home yet outside I’m over protective
I’m not too over protective in that I allow them to explore their surroundings but I do worry when we go somewhere where there are so many more people as they are used to a very small village.
I’m very over protective of Amelia. I’ve never had anyone look after her other than my mum and i never left her until she was 15 months old haha! So i have no idea how i will be when she’s older, i would like to think id like to know what shes up all the time but i guess we will see x
I am totally with you and I try and let my kids explore.
i’m not a parent, but if i ever was, i know i’d be the sort of person that would let them make their own mistakes, but to obviously not let them get into any harm. my parents were like this too actually, and we were often allowed out by ourselves to explore and play. i guess we just had the common sense instilled in us to not do anything dangerous!
I would like to think I am a free range parent. We go on adventures that push the boundaries but I am protective too. I have only just let Isaac start playing out the front of the house, on the green whereas I was allowed to walk to school alone at his age.
This is a difficult one.
It may be that the danger is still the same as when we were young and that we’re just more aware but because I am aware now, I’m very conscious of the potential dangers when I make decisions about they can and can’t do.
I guess it depends on lots of factors doesn’t it?
No, not free range over here, far from it. Although I think I disguise it well and talk to my children enough to make them street smart. My 15 yr old often says I’m over protective. He obviously goes out a lot now and thats fine, he’s 15 but I try to keep tabs as much as I can. He’s very street smart and can hold his own so I don’t worry about that, but it’s the stuff they come into contact with and people they meet etc if you give them too much freedom that you have to be careful of! I’m dead against free range!! xx
My eldest is only 3 so too young yet, but I would struggle with this to be honest. I live in the middle of Birmingham so couldnt really let them out of sight but not sure I would anyway.
Mine are younger than your two (7 and nearly 5) and I don’t let them go anywhere on their own yet. We live next to some common land though and I often think at what age I will feel happy for them to go on there on their own. At the moment though I still need to keep them within eye sight but I totally agree they should have more freedom and as long as they stick with each other and you set some ground rules I don’t see any issues with that. x