We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You the 1970s

…Via this fantastic commercial. Actually, I’d never heard of the advertiser  before — it’s Halfords, which, according to its Twitter feed, is the U.K.’s “leading retailer of automotive, leisure and cycling products.” It also seems to be a leader in supporting Free-Range Kids! (And, okay, nostalgia. But it’s legit!)

Let’s hope seeing all the fun that kids can have outside, on their own, reminds everyone to celebrate Saturday’s holiday: TAKE OUR CHILDREN TO THE PARK…AND LEAVE THEM THERE DAY! Spread the word!

19 Responses

  1. It looks like two of the four kids in this commercial are supposed to be the parents.

  2. Interesting to see some kids with helmets, some without. The big inspiration for me here is how clearly the kids had an adult get them to where they were exploring, but they were exploring on their own, knowing where “home base” was. Sweet.

  3. How childhood used to be. Thanks for posting.

  4. I can’t watch the video. But I have a question for free-rangers. I grew up in the 60s-70s and was free-range. However, the freedom made it possible to get into stuff I shouldn’t have done. I’m not talking about safety (that too), but about mischief. Minor stuff such as stealing a candy bar at a store, but still, stuff the community should not have to put up with.

    Now my kids are 5 and have started to discover devious thinking (and occasional doing). I posted on a favorite forum asking what other parents do to stop this, and the recommendation was basically to watch them like a hawk 100% of the time. “Tomato staking” was suggested. As a free-range parent, I can see the point of this temporarily, but not over an extended time period.

    So I can see a “moment of truth” coming. I give up a certain amount of control, not only over my kids’ physical safety, but over their moral development, based on the philosophy that their experience equips them with the tools to make overall good choices. Of course I guide and discipline when I’m with them, but when I’m not, I’m taking a leap of faith. Am I crazy? Are there tricks I haven’t learned yet to make this work?

  5. Part of the hover parent’s problem is that they do not want to face up to the time when they must actually punish their child. No good parent wants to do this, but it is sometimes necessary.

    Your children will probably do something at some time that needs correction, and when that time comes you must do it with a cool head (which is what prevents a swat on the behind from escalating into a full-scale beating). I had a child who grew into a lovely young lady, and we had to face these moments too. (Yes, there will be more than one.)

    It is your responsibility to dole out corrections as well as praise — that one of the conditions you signed on for when you became a parent. Do it wisely and you should be all right.

  6. @skl1… paybacks a bitch isn’t it…lol thats the advice my mum gave me…and I will be passing it on to my daughter.
    pick ur battles, and try like hell to stay one step ahead of them… most importantly- Don’t ever show fear….. pmls

  7. Loved the video and the kerbangers! My kids actually do a lot of the things in this video (sling shots with acorns are fun to shoot)as we are fortunate to have a great stream near us and good access bike paths to explore without need for cars.

    @skl1- I also grew up in the 70’s and did stupid things with my freedom but was overall a good kid. My kids are getting older now and have earned their independence and freedom at different levels. They are a lot like raising my dogs. I have an older pup and a younger, more devious pup. The oldest one is the most “faithful” and always follows directions, can run off leash and stays by your side, isn’t distracted by shiny objects. But she can’t resist sneaking food off the counter when it’s left close to the edges. On Mother’s Day, she ate most of a taco dip that was left on the picnic table. It wasn’t pretty (she had room-clearing gas and diarrhea the next day.) So, I mostly trust her, but know she’s capable of temptations, just like all kids are. My younger puppy is a total spaz and I keep her on a shorter leash, just like my middle daughter. Though she’s close in age to my oldest, she routinely loses privileges (free play time, does more chores) and gives me most of my gray hairs with her drama. My husband and I laugh at some of her antics (got a call from school that she spoke in a Briitish accent to the substitute teacher all day) but some of her stuff is so over the top that she needs to be shown consequences. I like to have fun to but don’t tolerate disruptive or disrespectful behavior.
    Good luck and enjoy them!

  8. Andy — bingo. The goal isn’t to prevent them from ever doing anything bad — you can’t. When they do, you make it a Learning Experience. Contrary to some folk wisdom, there really aren’t any kids out there who are perfect models who show NO SIGNS of ever getting up to anything in front of their parents and never get caught, but are hellions out of their sight. You WILL find indications they’re up to no good, and you WILL catch them eventually. And then you deal with in a way that causes them to learn from the experience.

    The reason this myth of “perfect in front of mommy and hellion outside” exists is because parents have the wrong standards for perfect. If you know your kids, you will know something’s not right if they’re actually so devious that they’re leading double lives.

    IOW, discipline isn’t always a priori. You can’t always “guide them out of” doing wrong stuff. Sometimes you have to make them pay, after they’ve already done it. And sometimes, when it’s a pretty serious thing, it’s hard to do.

  9. My question for skl1 is – did you turn out to be a bad person because you did a few mischievious things as a child? The fact that you are on this forum asking the question that you did tells me no. So, why do you think that it is any different for your kids? That is what really confounds me about the whole helicopter parenting thing…why? Didn’t most of us turn out pretty well despite our less than perfect upbringing? My kids have told me about things they did when they were younger that I didn’t know about, and all I can do is roll my eyes. I think a lot of our tendency to watch our kids like a hawk is from the pressure we feel from society to be perfect. We think everything our kids do is a reflection on us. And, I hate to say that in our judgemental society, it probably is. The key is to not let our own insecurities get in the way of parenting our children in the way WE feel is right. Unfortunately this means that there will be times where we will be worried, our kids will get hurt…get in trouble, etc. But it is in going through these experiences that our children LEARN about life. What happens when they don’t learn how to deal with hardship? Because at some point in their life, they WILL have to. Do we want them to be confident that they will get through it, or do we want them to become a nervous wreck propped up by anti-depression medication?

  10. saw the ad last night while watching tv. Funnily enough I thought of you🙂

  11. Kim, I do think I turned out badly, considering that I’ve spent so much time on FRK today when I shoudl be doing my work.

    Actually, my parents got wind of my activities from time to time and punished me “the old-fashioned way,” after which I’d be “good” until I got brave again. So, my mischievous activities always remained minor, thankfully.

    My actual conscience seemed to develop around age 12, after which I was an absolute, insufferable prude. I’m sure that saved me from a lot of bad decisions, but I’m not sure I want to wait 7 years for my kids to develop a conscience.

  12. @skl-
    It seems to me that “watching your kids like a hawk” to prevent them from doing a little mischief, is the equivalent of moral training wheels, that is, I don’t think kids truly develop their own conscience while they have someone constantly preventing them from getting into a little trouble (don’t learn to balance a bike while the training wheels are on…even if you leave them on til they are 12).

    My kids are a little older (newly 8 and almost 11). I think about the things I did as a kid (and the things my brother did as a kid) and worry, but, we both turned out okay. Lots learned from mistakes (mischief) and the consequences.

  13. I was afraid last week that I let my free range philosophy go a little too far. My just turned 7 year old daughter took it upon herself to go, with a friend who is a year older, on her bike, down to a pond about 1 mile from our home. Dinner was almost ready so I hopped on my bike to go fetch her to come home. About 20 minutes before that, my husband said “look, there goes Elizabeth and Jillian down Hunter’s Chase”…the road that leads to the pond, and then some. I live in a quiet neighborhood, so wasn’t concerned for her safety as far as cars, so have been letting her ride her bike up and down our street to go play with friends, and it didn’t even occur to me that she would do that. But I was very scared when there was a 5 minute window that I didn’t know where she was. When she came home, she was clearly upset, as she had already realized she shouldn’t have gone down there without an adult and we reinforced the idea with restriction through the weekend. But, I think she has learned her lesson, and won’t do that any more. I HOPE!! AHHHHH!!

  14. One of the benefits of given your children (age appropriate) freedoms is that you can take them away! If it’s a privilege to go to the park alone or ride bikes in the neighborhood or go the corner store or whatever, and their behavior does not match your expectations or family rules, the privilege is revoked. And it’s a harsh consequence to be restricted to the backyard or the house when they’re used to the open road! I think it’s better to deal with small-ish behavior problems and subsequent consequences that reinforce your family’s morals and values than “watch them like a hawk” until they sneak out(!), move out or go off to college where the behavior/consequence cycle can be more damaging.

    And if you get to know the other people in your neighborhood, it won’t take long for stories of good behavior or bad behavior to reach your ears! Being Free-Range is more than just letting your kids out to play – it’s about creating communities where you know your neighbors, store owners, and the other kids running around too. Part of this philosophy is to help create neighborhoods where we all look out for each other rather than just sending the kids outside and crossing our fingers!

  15. What I really don’t get about helicopter parents is – do they expect/want the children to live with them forever? Kids don’t turn a certain age and magically know how to be a responsible person able to live and function on their own so…really what do they hope to achieve, lifelong dependence of their kids? Kudos to all you free rangers! More power to you and your kids!!!!

  16. Apart from the scene with the one boy riding his vintage bike but wearing a modern helmet, this commercial took me way back. And even though it was a recreation of times past, it was very accurate. We did all of those things and more back in then. And for anyone who still likes to use the phrase “but, it was a different time back then”, yes it was. In a time where crime was much higher, most kids enjoyed childhood as depicted in this video. Even with all the new toys and technology kids have at their disposal today, I wouldn’t trade my childhood for them. All the bumbs, bruises, cuts, scrapes, getting into trouble, learning from mistakes, and finding my own confidence and self satisfaction of accomplishing things on my own was all worth it. I am who I am today, because I, like my siblings and friends, were allowed to flourish as children should.

  17. @ m: It’s really about themselves. They are trying to quell their own fears and insecurities. You ask them “why”, and the first word to come out of their mouths is “I”. “I feel…”, “I’m afraid…”, “I don’t…”. It’s less about the children, and more to do with the parents. And really, that’s pretty selfish if you ask me. They are hindering, or even damaging their children’s future selves, because THEY are the ones with the issues.

  18. @ Julie: Why was your daughter “clearly upset” when she got home. What had happened to her when she went off with her friend? We used to go off with our friends when we were her age, away from our parents sight, and for the most part of the day. And that was practically everyday during the summer holidays. Not to mention, it we lived in the city, with many cars, and we’d ride our bikes, or walk to a creek 15-20 min away. Except for the cuts and bruises every so often, nothing ever happened to us. We’ve even dealt with strangers on a regular basis. Who, most of the time, would be watching out for us. That’s just how it was back in the day.

  19. @Skl1 – My 3rd grader came to me earlier this year to confess that she had stolen something from a girl at school. She knew it was wrong, but had done it anyway and it was eating away at her.
    We talked about it and I made her apologize to the person she had stolen from and return the item. The girl forgave her and they remained friends.
    This act unleashed a floodgate. It seemed my daughter had gone klepto on me. For the next month she continued to make confessions, return stolen items, replace or pay for items that weren’t returnable (candy she had stolen and eaten, things she had lost, etc.)
    She was grounded during this time until all reparations had been made. I also made her go talk to her teacher. I went with her to silently support her while she let her teacher know what had been going on and that she knew it was wrong and that she was working hard to make it right, and to stop doing it anymore.
    I also took away of a few of her most favorite toys, to show her how it felt to have someone steal something that you cared about. I kept them on a shelf in my room and when she had gone a month without stealing anything I began to give them back to her.
    We both learned a lot from the experience. Kids have a need to try things, including devious acts. Showing them how their actions affect others, and giving them the opportunity and support to make it right teaches them great skills for the future.
    My daughter had to live with my temporarily broken trust of her. She lost privileges, had to put up with me questioning her daily, and had to face all of the people she had stolen from and admit her fault and make it right with them.
    She hasn’t stolen anything in 9 months, and I highly doubt she’ll be doing it any time soon.
    The point of this is two fold – one, kids learn from their mistakes. Our job is to help them learn the right things. (I could have told her it was no big deal and let her off the hook, she would have gone on stealing.)
    Two – she committed these devious acts at school. Even the most diligent helicopter parents don’t (yet) stay with their children all day at school.
    Children are going to get into trouble. That’s their job – testing the world, testing the boundaries, testing the rules.
    It is not our job to make sure they never fall, fail or get hurt.
    It is our job to be there when they do mess up, to pick them up, dust them off and help them make better choices the next time.

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