I’ve been reading the Free Range Blog for over a year, maybe longer. I’ve been a committed Free Ranger for a while and when I found this website I could finally put a name to the parenting style. Although we all try to not be judgmental of other parents sometimes watching someone do something will crystallize a belief or idea in you, for me it was raising a Free Range kid. This happened when Squidge was less than 3 months old and we were at a baby group. One of the mums would run like stink to pick up her precious little girl when ever she fell on her bum. The little girl was just beginning to creep around furniture and would regularly lose her footing and fall on her cushy diapered bottom. She would scream like she sat on a hot poker to get her mum over quicker. I know we’re not supposed to judge but I did. I thought to myself that I didn’t ever want Squidge to act that way. I knew that it was behavior reinforced by her mother. In her attempt to soothe/protect her she was creating a child that couldn’t handle a bit of a bump. Life is full of bumps and we’re not doing them any good by not acknowledging that!
I’ve been trying to raise her that when she falls she gets up and keeps going. I don’t want her to be afraid of strangers while instilling a sense that not everyone can be trusted. I try to guide her and let her know that she shouldn’t go off with people she doesn’t know. It’s a difficult thing do to without filling her with fear. I want her to be outgoing and self confident. I believe that there’s plenty of time for her to learn that the world is full of things that suck. I don’t think that filling her childhood with fear is going to do her any good.
Since she started school in September she has a pretty active social life. Ballet and tap lessons, after school dance club, swimming, play dates, birthday parties (x50!), dinners at friends, evening play groups, trips to the cinema and even a sleepover. I would say that in more than half of these situations I drop her off and don’t hang around. The first time I did it during the evening play group I felt a bit odd not to have her in the house at 6pm but that was just the novelty of the situation. When she had her sleepover she was BEYOND excited and her little friend was (if possible) even more excited about it. I didn’t think it was odd to have an almost 5 yr old on a sleep over but by the reaction of a mum or two at school you’d think I was handing her over to John Wayne Gayce. That is if JWG liked little girls instead of teenage boys but you know what I mean. It’s not like I dropped her off at a strangers house- we’ve gone on play dates, cinema trips, played at the park and Squidge goes to the same dance club with her. Still I was the recipient of a few comments and felt the need to defend myself. I hate the fact that I had to defend myself and really resent people who feel it totally appropriate to question my parenting. I don’t judge you and how you raise your kids so please back the f^&* off about how I’m raising my daughter, thank you very much!
I think back to how I was raised and although I know I don’t live in a street where EVERYONE knows you and someone’s parent would be on the phone to your mom before you could finish doing whatever it is you’re doing that you’re not supposed to be doing. I know that the world sucks and bad things happen but I don’t want to live expecting bad to happen. So Squidge will continue to go (and have) sleep overs. I will drop her off at evening play groups even though I apparently miss her terribly around 6pm. My free range daughter doesn’t need to be introduced to the crap of this world yet and long may that last!