What Free Range Kids Means to Me

I’ve been following Lenore Skenazy’s blog, Free Range Kids, for over five years upon recommendation from a parent, Jennifer, I used to work for, and respect immensely. Lenore’s book of the same title, resonated with truth for my friend Jen. She told me that she, “really liked Free Range Kids because it was because I felt like I found my tribe.” She knew I would feel the same. (Jennifer is currently a writer for Today’s Parent, with a blog called Run at Home Mom, where she  shares her experiences parenting after “giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children .”)

I’ve not read yet Lenore’s book myself yet, but I’d like to share my personal definition of what free range means to me, based on the articles and rants shared on her blog.

To me, free range parenting means letting go of society’s fear that the bogeyman lurks around every corner. It means trusting your neighbours and your neighbourhood as an acceptable place for your children to grow and play. The free range philosophy is respectful of people of all ages, backgrounds and gender.

When my son turned five this spring, I knew that this summer I would be applying the Free Range philosophy further and letting him play more in our small townhouse complex a little less supervised.

The rules I firmly ingrained in him were:
– Never go in anyone’s house
– If someone gives you food ask me before you eat it
– Stay off the road
– Wear a helmet when you ride your bike
– When I call you -you come home.

We had some practice tests,  I watched him linger on someone’s doorway as he waited for a friend to come outside and  when someone’s’ parent was handing out freezies I heard him say “Well first I have to ask my mom!” and he ran back to our door with a massive smile.

I’m so overjoyed that my kids are learning that they can trust themselves, that I trust them and that their world is safe. I can see in their confidence growing daily as they interact with their peers without adults over-intervening but instead mildly watching from the window pane.

My son, Spider Man and his Batman bestie from the neighbourhood

Have my kids encountered scraped knees, hurt feelings and uncomfortable encounters with strangers? Yes, but I feel it’s a healthy part of life and I know that they’re building resiliency and these experiences that are vital to teaching them how to face bigger challenges in their future.

I’m looking so forward to picking up Free Range Kids at McNally Robinson this summer for some inspiring reading! I hope I’m not too star struck when I meet Lenore in September!!!


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