Hi from Austraia, mates! About to embark on a rather long trip home. (But I sure loved it here!) In the meantime, please help this mom. – L
Dear Free-Range Kids: So, this really plays into a question/problem I’ve been having. I want to have my daughter be more Free-Range/independent. She just turned 5 this month. I remember at her age being allowed to go outside to play and roam a fairly large area. But my daughter has yet to experience that. Partly because there are no other kids about her age outside, she’s not interested and I don’t blame her. However when I asked my husband at what age he’d let her go to the park by herself he basically said never. He knew a girl who said that at age 12 she was at a park in a tree and some guy came and raped her. He wants to prevent this happening for our little girl by hovering. We live in a very safe area but he is still uncomfortable. What do you say to someone like this?
Lenore here: Well, what I SAY is what I always say: In New York City there was a child who was killed by a falling tree branch. Does that mean we should never let our children walk under trees anymore? We don’t make our kids safer when we make our decisions based on rare and random events.
I also generally say: More children are killed and injured in car accidents than are hurt or killed by strangers. So do you neven intend to let your daughter ride in a car?
BUT from what I saw in filming my World’s Worst Mom (a.k.a. World’s Worst Mum, a.k.a. Bubble Wrap Kids) show, was that the thing that REALLY changed nervous parents was when I physically made them stay home while I took the kids out and let them DO something on their own. When I let them set up a lemonade stand down the street, out of sight of their worried mom. Or when I let them play in the woods, or go to the playground, or go on an overnight. I’d videotape them for a bit and then let them actually BE on their own. But in the meantime, I’d bring that video back to the parents. And when they saw with their own eyes how HAPPY their kids were and how normal and ridiculously NON-TERRIFYING the whole scene was — how it reminded them of their OWN childhoods — in 12 out of 13 episodes, the parents changed. They couldn’t help themselves. They felt the proverbial pride and joy at watching their kids live in and love the world. So to this mom I’d say: Try letting your child have a little time on her own, even in the front yard. Then come up with some way for your husband to observe it. It could do the trick. And hopefully the readers here will have some great ideas, too! – L.