Do you ever...let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free-Range Kid! Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe I'll use them in a new book. Here's to common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times!
I have been through the portal. Not as scary as I thought.
Cagey, thanks but we already got that one earlier last week. As for this one, major LOLs here.
Thinking of portal to the outdoors, took my son to camp yesterday and into our little 14ft boat for a ride. He loved it! Then on the ATV to the beach where I could barely get him out of the water long enough to warm up and have some lunch, and then when we got back we spent some time with the chickadees and nut-hatches, squirrels and chipmunks. The real treat came when one of the young foxes my parents have been keeping an eye on (and feeding dog treats and other food) came around for his nightly snack. There’s NOTHING like getting outside and connecting with nature.
Any tips for someone whose kid HATES the outdoors? The rest of the family loves it – we hike, take walks, do letterboxing, ride bikes, go play in creeks, etc., etc., but he only likes to go outdoors if it’s a) walking in an urban area; b) a sculpture garden (which is great, but it’s not like we have sculpture gardens around the corner); or c) an organized activity, such as something the nature center puts on.
I should note that we live in an urban area with no parks nearby. We do have a very small yard and garden that I try to send him into, and give him some gardening chores. I also have shown him outdoor sidewalk games, chalk-drawing, etc., but to no avail.
LOL! Like Laura, we too have been through the portal. Maybe THAT should be a kid’s t-shirt: “I have been through The Portal. And lived to tell the tale.”
Gawd, I loves me some Onion. 🙂
How is it possible for the Onion to be so great? I don’t think we’ll ever truly know.
@ Susan: Wow. That’s a hard one. Let me see. . . I do remember when I was staying in Kumamoto, a bunch of the local kids (and a college student whose parents and my host family’s neighbors) would gather in the street and play when they weren’t at school. Note that the houses were really close together, so there was no actual yard for them to play in. Maybe you could try exposing your son to some of the local kids that he might like and seeing if that’ll get him playing.
I don’t know the situation in your neighborhood, but if you have a street that’s lightly traveled and children his age nearby, it couldn’t hurt to try. I can tell you from experience that a child in a group of his peers will do more than he will just with his family. As a personal example, I would never have taken up skiing had I not been part of the University Honors Program at Montana State.
Could also be that he prefers regimented activities, so you could try finding something like a museum tour (the ones with outside exhibits). Probably can’t do that too often due to cost, but it’s a start.
I was flabbergasted yesterday when I took my kids to a local park. There, this one mother was being dragged around by her son on a leash. And there was no more than 2m between them. The son? Not a small tiny toddler. Oh no. He was about the size of a 5 or 6 year old. He had on shades, a hat, and a “sun suit” for water play. Mom was also carrying a huge backpack full of stuff. The boy was at the fullest extent of the leash and seemed to be straining against it. Nor did mom actually interact with him, just let the boy drag her around. Nor was it a “normal” kid leash. This thing was made out of climbing carbiners(sp) and rock climbing harnesses. That poor kid. Unable to simply explore or play. Nor were any of the other kids playing with him. He must have been so lonely being unable to play or interact with the other kids simply because of how close his mother was.
My kids were more or less free range depending on their age. The youngest had dad near her. The next eldest had me following around about 30 feet behind, but I would stay away and let her play and discover on her own. And our eldest? We lost track of him but he came when he was called, which is exactly what was expected of us when we were kids.
@North of 49 & all commenters: Please be careful of judging other families you see in public. You have no idea what their circumstances may be. Many special needs kids are not always visibally so. I met a mom of a toddler once at a park. She had her normal looking daughter in a padded helmet. I was rolling my eyes internally b/c I thought she was being over protected learning to walk. Turns out, the child only had a partial skull! You just never know, and it’s none of our business. I’ve noticed the free-range commenters becoming more and more self-righteous, and I would hope that everyone would please try to remember not to judge so quickly. Be free range, be confident in your own convictions, but please allow others to live up to their own Light as well.
Could it be your blog is inspiring the Onion writers?
Once I was on a mountain biking discussion board and the topic at hand was whether marijuana use made trail riding better or worse. I could not comment directly to the topic but I mentioned that when I was in architecture school, the pot heads would wax eloquently about their creativity but alas their work was cr*p. Minutes later there was a link to a brand new article at the Onion “The Oft Overlooked Field of Stoner Architecture”.
BTW, I always wear a cycling helmet. One time I even used it!
@ Freeranger – good point. I have noticed that too.
As for this post, I have not laughed that hard in a while. That was great! I posted it right to my facebook page. I love the t-shirt idea.
@Susan – How old is your son? It could help people to give you advice. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to just accept that they will not like something. I have sadly decided that my son will never enjoy books as I do. I have tried everything but he’s more into the piano and guitar.
Thanks, Blake & MaeMae. My son is 7, about to enter 2nd grade. Although a through street, our street is not all that busy. He can play outside by himself, and cross the street if he lets me know. There are some kids around, but most of the boys play sports. It’s all free-rangey – pick up games and such – but it’s still baseball, stickball, basketball. He’s so not into that, and not very coordinated either, so likely will never get very good at sports even with practice. He likes playing with one or two or three other kids, but not a crowd, which is another issue with hanging out with the neighbor kids.
Maybe I’m just being a neurotic parent in another way. Yes, it would be nice if he would like to do the things that the rest of the family does, but I’m also thinking about “nature deficit” and the lack of unstructured outside play that this blog points out can be a problem for kids nowadays.
@MaeMae, you may be right that I just have an indoor, city kid on my hand. Instead of getting frustrated, I should maybe work towards acceptance. 🙂
@ Susan: He’s only 7. He may very well change at any time. I was a child who loved to play organized sports but was more content to stay inside reading a good book than running around the neighborhood with my friends and siblings. I did play outside a lot, mostly when my parents would kick us all out and lock the door, I enjoyed myself but as soon as I could return to my book I did. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I became outgoing and wanted to join everything and do everything. Give him time but just make sure he has the opportunities to do it. A little nudge won’t kill him, I appreciate my parent’s taking my book away and forcing me to interact with other kids every once in a while. My friend has a similar problem and she found that her son loves to golf. He’s not a team sport kind of kid but he loves to golf with his daddy.
My daughter loved that one! She’s a Stargate fan too…. 😀
Hi, could you please post about radical games? I wrote about X-Games..my friend told me that it’s make a bad effect to kids…do u agree with him? thanks.