I always read about helicopter parenting, and the extremes that some parents will go to make sure their kids never experience anything negative. I can’t relate. A few years ago, I read a guest post on Free Range Kids that was one mother’s lament that her daughter would not enjoy the same freedoms that she had as a child.
Then, this morning, I read this post on Free Range Kids, and I remembered this post I wrote in 2011. I’ve edited it and am sharing it again.
I stand by my original freedoms. I see more risk in trying to cloister and protect than letting go a little and allowing your children get a taste of independence.
Five Freedoms We Make Certain Our Kids Have:
1. Recess - During school, the kids get two or three recesses per day. If I can get them to school on time, they can have a short one before school begins, so that makes FOUR. Rain or shine, the children are outside; running, climbing, swinging, making up wild games like “Lava Monster” and playing.
2. Getting Hurt – Girl Child got a blister on her hand from all her monkey bar climbing, and it popped and bled at school. She told the duty teacher, went to the office, got a bandaid, and went right back out for the remainder of her recess. No forms, no injury reports, no inquisition, no phone call home….dealt with, done. Boy Child bonked his nose on the handle bars of his bike, bled all over the place, and we somehow managed to NOT sue the bike manufacturer. Kids fall down. They get hurt. 99.9999999999% of the time they come out of it with a good story. I’ve told Girl Child: scars are stories. So are small owies.
3. Playing outside – Playing inside – When the kids gets home from school, they are allowed to get a snack and rest their brains, and then allowed to go outside and play. They ride their bikes, run around, play with our neighbor’s children, and I stay inside making dinner or folding laundry or taking a deep breath. I don’t hover. They know their neighborhood boundaries. When they are at school, they are doing hands-on activities with computers, going on Urban Walking Tours; they are raising salmon eggs and watching them hatch, they go on trail walks in the pouring down rain….no one is having a hissy fit about this. No one.
4. Activities - The SubKids have lots of things they wants to try. We are incredibly fortunate that we are able to give them the luxury of test-driving several activities. That said, the kid’s activities this last school year were Mondays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings. They are not all afternoon/evening, every day. I’m perfectly fine with my kids NOT being Olympians before they’re 15, or a musical/dance/sports/blah blah blah protegé before they’re in high school. Somewhere along the line we’ve all bought into the myth that unless we keep them “busy” they will get in trouble. I wasn’t busy constantly. SubHub wasn’t. No one else that I knew was, and yet here we are, fully functioning human beings who learned as we grew. Not an Olympian in the bunch. My ego isn’t driving my children’s activities.
5. Long summer days with hours spent outside – There are days in the summer where I hardly see either one of my kids. They’re outside, playing with the neighbor’s kids, having water fights, riding their bikes, occasionally coming in to ask for snacks, something to drink, a towel, etc. The door is open, the neighbor’s windows are open so we can all hear what’s going on, and good times are being had, memories are being made, freedom is being tasted.
Things aren’t as horrific EVERYWHERE as the media would have you believe. A reality check is in order. Walking out the door isn’t an invitation for your children to be harmed. We harm them more when we try to account for every possible danger and keep them from experiencing life.
Note: no heads or necks were harmed in the making of the bumper car ride shown above.