Free Range Kids Part 2

I'd like to thank everyone that responded to the subject yesterday. I am going to post the your comments and then respond to each one.

Jennifer J said...

Kids have to have freedom, yes, but the world is a lot different than when we were kids! I am 33 and we could go out and play in the neighborhood until the street lights came on and nobody bothered us. These days you let your kids go out and they may not come back.

There are so many loons and killers out there that free range childhood is a bit impractical.

Plus, our neighborhoods are so disconnected these days. Every body's mom looked after everybody else's kids. We could all play from house to house and be safe. It's just not that way anymore. So I agree with you.

I totally understand and agree with you Jennifer. I am 34 and remember running around like it was yesterday. Things have changed no matter what anyone else says. Maybe the news has made us more aware. I see that as a good thing.

Mary said...

I'm a very middle of the road person and can see things both ways. I am extremely cautious with my kids and sometimes wonder if I'm a bit too overprotective. I do remember spending countless hours playing with friends until dark, and I will let my kids go out to play. But only in the front yard and right in front of our home. It's kind of sad that it has to be this way, but it also provides opportunity for parent-child interaction that we may not have had so much as children.

Mary, I bet you aren't too overprotective. We want what is best for of children. What could be wrong with that?

Katie said...
I grew up in 2 towns (divorced parents) and one was a city... I took the public bus to the mall when I was 11 with my friends... we walked all over town... went to the playground until the streetlights came one then had to be home within "5 minutes of the time the light comes on"... in the town my Dad lived in we walked all over the neighborhood... spent hours riding our bikes to the store that was 2 miles away.... I live in that town now with my children... its a Town... pretty small... our biggest nod towards development, is a McDonald's.

Although I wouldn't allow a 9 year old to take a subway alone... I do allow my older kids (12,14, & 16) to basically go anywhere in town... as long as I know where they are going... they need to call me to let me know they arrived, if they leave that area, to go elsewhere, they are required to call me and inform me of any changes. I have spies everywhere... and I am a spy too... everyone knows everyone elses kids... so if I mention I saw Kayla walking down High Street... and her mom thought she was on Spring Street... Oopsie.

My 6 and 3 year old are allowed to play in the yard... they have gone for walks across the street around the cranberry bogs(we have a nature reserve across the street) with the older kids... but I think they still have several years ahead of them before they get to take off to a friend's house on their own. I know that at 8 years old I would cross a main road to walk 1/4 of a mile to a playground... but I think I'll wait until my kids are at least 10 before they can go anywhere (within the neighborhood) without me walking them there.

Our bus stop is right in front of our house... so I'm going be lenient and let them wait at the bus stop alone ... (besides... I can see them out the window)

Katie, it is really great that you have that community awareness with other adults looking after these kids. I live in a bigger town where you really do not know your neighbors. Also, we live in a tourist town, which means lots of different people that aren't from around here browsing around. xoxox

Dr. Engine said...
Your reaction to the article and FRK underlies the entire point of the article and FRK. You're pulling out anecdotal evidence of a few kids abducted and killed, ignoring the MILLIONS of children who wandered the streets that day and arrived home safely.

Having said that, I think there's a balance that needs to be struck. I would have tailed my 9-year-old the first few times just to make sure he could get home and didn't get spooked. But otherwise I applaud that woman's efforts to raise an independent, confident person who's not bogged by fears they read or see on news reports.

I'm 33, and was raised by a very fearful mother, who saw kidnappers in every white van that rode down the street. It made me fearful, and not only of kidnappers, but of the world in general. That fearfulness, I believe, has hindered me from experiencing some of the opportunities I might have otherwise seized upon, such as the opportunity to study journalism in Prague when I was 18.

I think we need to expect more of our children, and they'll rise to the challenge.

Yes, I know we never hear about the millions that make it home every day. I as a parent worry about so much as it is with my children. My daughter started high school a few weeks ago. There are things I cannot control with that however, I am able to make sure they aren't roaming the streets unsupervised. It really depends on each individual child. There is a middle in this. I agree it comes with your child getting older and being able to make wise decisions.

Janine said...
I live in South Africa, which I think in terms of risks is fairly similar to New York. I would NEVER let my almost-9 year old go alone on a train or a bus. He's not even allowed to walk to the corner shop alone. Just too many what-ifs.

I agree. I am afraid I tend to think about "what-ifs" too many times.

Katie Mae said...
I started writing my comment but it got to be book-length and I wasn't even half-way done!

I'm gonna take your topic and post a blog on it myself :) It's interesting stuff!

I am very pro-free-kid-range LOL! I feel it helps children in lots of ways, such as being independent, stronger decision makers and helps them with creative thinking/playing.

The safety aspect is what REALLY turns me more toward free-range! The chances of something bad happening to my children while they walk to the store 7 blocks away are as great as someone breaking into my home in the middle of the night and taking/harming them. Being free-range has made them much more aware of their surroundings and they have taken in the precautions to take... ie. look both ways before crossing the street, Stranger Danger techniques, stay hydrated, know our name and number in case of an emergency bla bla bla.

WKRP, I left you a comment yesterday basically saying my kids are able to make decisions for themselves and they are very independent. They just aren't out walking on the streets alone. xoxox

Jaime said...
Unfortunately we no longer live in a world where it is safe to allow kids to just be kids while roaming free. There are too many whack jobs out there.

I totally agree with you.

Thank you for the comment. I AGREE WITH YOU as well. :)

Kelby said...
I'm sorry, but I used to be a police reporter. I've written about even older kids, kids who should be smarter, getting abducted, raped and killed. Frankly, we are all lucky we made it when I think about just how free range we were... You shouldn't hover over your children constantly. They do need to learn some degree of independence and self-confidence. You ARE, however, responsible for their safety and well-being. In this day and age, letting a child roam free is flat-out irresponsible and dangerous.

Kelby, I want to repeat something you said above because this is how I exactly feel. You ARE, however, responsible for their safety and well-being. In this day and age, letting a child roam free is flat-out irresponsible and dangerous.

Shari said...
At 36, I am also old enough to remember "going out to play" myself, walking around the neighborhood, visiting friends and playing, sometimes close to a mile away from home. There was no such thing as a "play date". In hind sight, the care free days of childhood blinded me to all the "what ifs" mentioned before. In hind sight, my parents had NO IDEA where I actually was at times. As someone who is about to become a parent for the first time now, I am horrified by that thought. Yes, a middle of the road needs to be reached, and yes, it depends on the individual child, but what it boils down to is: this is a different world than it was 25 or 30 years ago. It is a much scarier place, and that is sad.

That's my 2Cents - Shari

Thank you Shari!!! I am glad you posted your 2cents.

cj said...
I think it was last week when I had seen this story on the Penn & Teller's Bull&hit show. I have to admit that I was in the "are you kidding me?" crowd. Free Range Kids are way out on the crazy limb of the spectrum for me. On the other hand, I can also see some of the "stranger danger" stuff being equally as crazy on the far end of the spectrum. What works for one family won't work for another..... like the woman across the street from me who leaves her 2 year old in the house while she walks 3 blocks to the bus stop with her two other kids. For me - somewhere in the middle of the spectrum makes sense to me.

CJ, I agree with you. What may be good for family may not be for another. We have to find a happy medium as they say. Thank you for the comment. BTW, I'd never leave a 2 year old to walk 3 freaking blocks. That says STUPIDITY all over it!!!!!

Tina Williams said...
Ok...I have four daughters and the only thing free range in my world will be some eggs and occasionally some chicken! I a 44 and both a New Mom and an Old Mom with my girls being 2,11,12 and 13. I absolutely remember the days that our parents sent us out a first light, put out some PB&J and Koolaide for lunch and didn't see us again till the street lights went out.

We do not live in that world!

My kids do have freedom to a point. One thing we have taught them that I don't think we were so aware of is to be aware of our surroundings.

My older girls have taken basic self defense classes. They also have been taught to trust their instincts. If someone or something doesn't feel right get away.

I agree with you 150%. Having been heavily involved in Girl Scouts, my church, my school and several sports as a volunteer leader or coach I can't tell you how many parents live by this "free range" philosophy out of sheer laziness!

Bottom line you don't get a second chance with your child...protect them without smothering them.

Teach them to be safe themselves.

Great post!

Tina, thank you for your comment. I also agree kids have to have freedom to a CERTAIN point!!!! There is no second chance.

Monkey's Momma said...
I am 39. When I was a kid, it was nothing to spend all day long playing outside with my friends. We lived in a small rural area. We biked, skateboarded, built forts, etc.

Not to shock you, but outside was safer for me than inside because my step-dad was a pedophile. I wanted my friends as far away from him as possible (and myself too).

Now, the outside world is unsafe too. My five year old son will NEVER be free range. I live about 30 miles from where Shawn Hornbeck, the Missouri Miracle, was abducted (Google it). I have seen what his parents have been through, and I would not wish that on anyone. He was a free range kid because his parents were trusting, as all the other parents in their community were.

We must remember: Child molesters are everywhere. You probably know one. You just don't know it. It is our job to protect our children. It only takes one incident to change our child's life forever.

First, let me give you a great big hug. ((((((MM))))))) Thank you for opening up and commenting on something you know all about. I remember when that young man was found. It broke my heart. I would hate for my child's innocence to be taken away, when I could have helped prevent it.

Dr. Engine said...

And as a spin-off to this conversation, my wife and I were discussing the double-standard that we both embraced when we talked about this blog. I would tail my 9-year-old boy on the subway (and I live in NYC, by the way, it's not that dangerous). But I probably wouldn't let my daughter ride the subway alone until she was 13 or so. For the record, I have no children. But do you find that double standard as well...letting your boys do things you'd never let your girls? Curious about that.

There is a double standard with sons and daughters, I am sure. My son is 10 and I still won't let him do certain things. Let him be a child for as long as he can because once he becomes an adult, he can never go back to playing and being a child. Thank you for bringing that up.

Anonymous said...
Our family is suffering while I type, as a result of "free range kid" parenting. The truth is...all children are different.

Here are my truths.

1)all children are different. We have leaders followers, hyper, docile. Each personality impacting AND taking impact from their world differently. Our oldest son, when he was 14(of course never 9!) could make good decisions even above maturity level for his age. He's a big guy and walked confident. He's a true leader and much less likely to become an abductee or be solicited by a harmful person. Our 2nd son...well...just put him in a room with other kids, and no matter what they're doing,good or bad, if it looks fun or generates excitement he's gonna get involved on some level. Both kids raised with the same standards and values(set high by the way)

2)You can deny it if you want, but it IS a different world than 25 yrs ago. Yet 25 yrs ago, even in my neighborhood a little girl was abducted on her way home from school. I will never forget the pastor of our church crying and telling all of us that they found Melonie's little body. Melenie was raped and killed. Hollywood, Florida.33023. Look it up. Adam Walsh was also from Hollywood, Florida. Same zip code. Look it up... and yes...when I was 9 years old on pembroke road, walking back from Pic'n'Pay grocery, a man pulled over and grabbed my arm trying to force me in the car with him. Thank GOD IN HEAVEN another man saw and stopped his car and confronted the "would be abductor" who jumped in his car and sped off. So there you have 3 incidences in one neighborhood. Please don't minimize what has happened to these children by putting them into a statistic and don't set the value of protecting today's child according to statistics. Set the value according to your love for them. Every child of all age deserves age appropriate supervision and protection. Every parent owes it to their child to become educated on what is the safest and wisest way to protect their child. What are the real dangers? Have you looked at the National list of registered Pedophiles to see how many live near you? I'll bet you'll find at least 2 between most of your homes and children's schools. I would be interested in hearing all the damage that parents caused their children once grown because of the protection and supervision they gave. Not including the cop-out excuses of blaming their parents for their college drug days and wild oat sewing because their parents were too strict. Just about everyone goes thru the wild "I'm finally free" stage no matter how they were raised.

3)Finally, Why in today's society does everything have to be extreme one way or the other? After reading "Free Range Kids" I was shocked at the insulting tone that was directed at parents who love and protect their children. When you understand the value of something you want to protect it and keep it safe. Children are a valuable treasure. Boundaries are not always comfortable, but they keep us ALL safe every day. Those boundaries are a reminder that our life is valuable and important. I'd rather send THAT message to my child while they are young. The "I trust You message" comes as they EARN and GAIN the trust. Their learning Independence comes with the territory a little at a time. Since when does a bird push a chick out of the nest before the feathers are grown? Since when does a bird hold and not allow a maturing chick to spread it's wings. You see? There doesn't have to be extremes. Since I mentioned "messages" we send to our children. Parental involvement at all ages sends a wonderful message to kids. They will definitely let you know when it's too much and when it's time to reevaluate the level of involvement and in which activities it is necessary. Here is where I notice parents making some of the biggest mistakes. There kids become adolescents and want freedom and are not afraid to challenge, manipulate, and fight for that freedom. Mysteriously suddenly, the "parent first, friend second" role becomes revered and parents become afraid to say "no" because they may have to accept a challenge, or actually explain , "I do trust you and you will continue to have many opportunities to be trusted, but I am the parent/adult and I possess grown up judgement. No. You can not spend the night over your boyfriends house who I found out smokes marijuana and I haven't even met his parents."

It is acceptable to protect, loosen leashes, permit flying solo etc. All in due time.
Just make sure you really know the challenges that could face your young one, that you have equipted them to face the challenge, and finally that they personally are able and skilled enough to take the challenge. Not all are.

"Free Range"
comparing our children to animals for slaughter. Hmmmm.

Thank you so much for commenting on the subject!!! I hope that all my readers take the time to read your post! It was awesome and very honest.

I think we should let our kids be kids for as long as they can. They eventually become adults and will have all sorts of responsibilities. Let them play and have fun. There is a happy medium, as we have mentioned before.

Anonymous said...

this link says it all

Wow, never knew this existed. Thank you for sharing. Pretty scary when you take a look.

Brenda Jean said...
I grew up in the country on a farm, my husband grew up in the inner city. I wasn't allowed to "free range" except on our own property. My husband pretty much was allowed to roam with his brother and cousins. We both think this "free range" kids thing is full of crap. He looks back and thinks "Man, that was stupid." and he wanted a different life for our kids. We have friends and relatives who think we are overprotective at times. So what? All it takes is ONE incident, ONE second and ONE accident to change your family forever. I think we can be protective but still allow freedom, imagination and growth within safe boundaries.

Brenda, thank you for your comment. I am going to repeat something you said because it is RIGHT ON!!!

All it takes is ONE incident, ONE second and ONE accident to change your family forever. I think we can be protective but still allow freedom, imagination and growth within safe boundaries.

The main point we have as parents is to protect our children. Teach them and help them grow. Being a little strict is needed to have a strong foundation.
Thanks to everyone that left a comment. I look forward to hearing from you all again.


Monkey's Momma said…
Very good comments! Like many commenters said, it only takes one second, one incident, to change your family's life forever.

As parents, it is OUR job to protect our kids at all costs. So what if we are deemed "overprotective" by others. I would rather be overprotective and keep my child safe than to forever live with the regret of "what if".
Laura said…
Where does it end, though? Isn't control addictive?

You start thinking that you can protect your child against every hurt and every risk, and it's just not true.

There must be a balance.

I posted about it this morning.
Brenda Jean said…
Great post, great comments and I was bending my husband's ear last night while he was trying to catch up on election stuff. Too bad-- I wanted to talk!

As far as drawing the line-- every parent has to do this themselves. Each kid is different, each situation, town, school etc. But I'm not controlling my kids-- I'm guiding them, and teaching them to be safe without putting them in harm's way, at least on purpose.
Professors Make Super Dads said…
And beyond kids, when I grew up in the fifties dogs ran free, both the good ones and the mean ones. The bad ones wore muzzles. Of course, our world was speckled with dog excrement and so were are shoes which regularly had to be scraped. We lived next to a forest which lots of single digit kids were roaming in without fear of grownups but more fear of stepping on snakes (yes, this was in Westchester just North of New York!) or getting in a fight with a kid a tad older and stronger. Though,usually that happened only after I lobbed a wad of mud at them or something. ;-) It is hard to know if it is really more dangerous than it used to be. I guess fifties crime rates were indeed lower than now.