Going FreeRange

Es

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!

15 Comments

  1. April 4, 2011 /

    YES YES YES. This. Exactly. I got a wonky look from a mum because I let my daughter go into a public loo by herself. She is 7 years old, if she can’t figure out how to do that on her own…REALLY! It wasn’t like I asked her to cross a busy street by herself!

    • Lindy
      April 4, 2011 /

      I’m hoping that your 7 yr old can wipe her own butt because the thought of having to wipe Squidge’s 7 yr old butt is too much to handle! I don’t know what some people think is going to happen if they go to the loo by themselves- they’re too big to fall down the toilet!

  2. April 4, 2011 /

    I believe in giving my boys as much fredom as I can, sometimes it is hard and I do not tend to leave them at parties, but that is due to the fact they fight with each other!

    • Lindy
      April 4, 2011 /

      it is hard! We hear so many bad things happening to kids but I just have to remind myself that news programs only focus on the bad and not the good. Good luck!

  3. April 4, 2011 /

    I totally agree with your approach. My kids are grown up now (22 & 18) and I always let them experience life (to a point) and work out what works & doesn’t for them. They don’t learn if you never give them a chance to experience the bad with the good, plus actions & consequences

    Keep it up!

    • Lindy
      April 4, 2011 /

      Thank you! It’s a bit scary some times but I have to agree they’ll never learn if we don’t let them experience anything.

  4. rachel
    April 4, 2011 /

    Lol, I hate names to parenting styles, but I always say that Immi is a free range baby! She gets knocked down, and she gets up again etc…

    • Lindy
      April 5, 2011 /

      That’s the way to do it- teach to get up again, nothing gets her down!

  5. April 4, 2011 /

    I let my kids go to the toilet by themselves. I don’t wait around at activities unless I’m asked to (and interestingy, Missy Woo sends me away!)

    I think the behaviour you described is more likely with first time mums. Second time mums (unless their first is much much older) just don’t have the time to watch their charges like a hawk so they have to learn for themselves. I have always tried to let my kids fall over so they learn not to do it again but I am there for them if they really hurt themselves. Sounds like you figured that out with Squidge pretty quickly – and you can learn SO much by watching other parents and asking yourself if you’re like that/want to be like that. I’m loathe to start on the sleepovers tho (but they do stay over at grandparents) just cos I don’t want to have to deal with two giggling girlies or two boisterous boys! But I don’t see anything wrong with you letting Squidge go on them. And don’t feel you have to justify yourself to others – your way is different to theirs, that doesn’t make it wrong.

    • Lindy
      April 5, 2011 /

      I don’t know- you hear about mothers being so protective of their kids they don’t let them out of their sight- including when they’re playing in their own back garden- the boogyman might get them.

  6. April 4, 2011 /

    It’s a difficult line between safety and freedom., Sensible and the right to childhood. Sleepovers where you are comfortable with the parents etc absolutely. Sleepovers where there is doubt about it, then hey, ask their child to yours instead 🙂 Climbing all the trees in the park, yep! But I’ve been to A&E 3 times and once was me falling!!! Public loo visits alone, well I used to let my daughter go alone until there was the rape in the Sainsburys loo. Now I tend to check there is no one in there but not in an obvious way or we just both go in together and I say “meet at the hand dryers”! I’ve always liked to hand around at parties but that is more to do with the social side of hanging around with the other mums, I tend to completely ignore daughter 🙂 You have to do what you want to do and what feels right for you and your daughter and it sounds like you are doing a sterling job. (can’t believe you swore…I didn’t expect it from you hehehe)

    • Lindy
      April 5, 2011 /

      It’s a very fine line. Squidge is a very trusting little girl and I always worried about her when we were at parks. She has zero issues w/ going off w/ strangers. So trying to teach her to be weary and not scaring the crap out of her has been tough. I still don’t know if she gets it. She’s a tough cookie when it comes to bump and bruises and thankfully no broken bones yet. If she does break a bone I will be sooo jealous! I sooooo much wanted to break my arm when I was about 10. As for the swearing oh sweet baby jeebus if you knew me in real like you’d laugh your pants off at that comment.

  7. April 4, 2011 /

    Every child is different. Big went on sleepovers, if you can call them that! when she was 18 months old, and we regularly had her little friend over at ours. Then there was a big gap when she went barely anywhere without us, and then suddenly, a year or so back she started to pop to the shops or the library on her own. (She’s 10 now btw.) There was lots of chat as to whether this was reasonable – I can’t imagine that Small will be ready to do that at 10 as he’s utterly oblivious to traffic, roads and danger, but she was, so it’s fine.

    • Lindy
      April 5, 2011 /

      Squidge will be 5 in June so in reality her (free) range is very limited but I’m hoping that she’ll be with it enough to walk to the corner shop when she’s 10…. hell who am I kidding I’ll probably follower her in the car until she’s 16. JOKING… I hope.

  8. Mancais
    April 7, 2011 /

    Seems like you’re doing just fine as you are so keep on with it.
    I sometimes wonder if there’s more bad stuff in the world now than when I was growing up or whether it’s just that we get to hear about it now.