“Wish I’d Been Raised More Free-Range”

Hi Readers — Just got this note from a gal named Heather. You know I don’t dwell on, or even endorse, the idea that kids who have been overprotected  will turn out badly, because, first of all, that would mean that parents are solely responsible for how their kids turn out — a notion I don’t subscribe to. Secondly,  I really do believe that, in the end, most everyone turns out okay, so long as their parents loved and fed them.

BUT helicoptered kids do miss out on a lot of childhood, and they may have to overcome some hurdles that Free-Range Kid don’t, as this letter illustrates. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’ve been following Free-Range Parenting since Lenore appeared on the Today Show. I was already a Free-Range parent at that point, but didn’t have the verbage to describe my philosophy.

I grew up with helicopter parents, to some degree. They didn’t get as involved with teachers/grades, but they certainly restricted my independence. I remember with irony, having to drive home on the freeway as an 18-year-old to go to my father’s funeral. It was my first time driving on the freeway because I had never been allowed to do so by my parents.

I’m sure my experience was unique in that my dad died when I was 18. But, I remember feeling completely unprepared to be an adult and having no one to turn to once he was gone. I also have vivid memories of my mom telling me never to talk to strangers. Strangers were BAD!!

After my dad’s death, I struggled for two years. With therapy, things have turned out okay, but I certainly struggled with low self-esteem and anxiety. I have taken the opposite approach with my 10-year-old son. He started walking home from school alone in second grade. He’s an amazing kid with lots of independence. I enjoy watching him thrive as a Free-Range Kid! — Heather

The road to independence, for one helicoptered kid.

Shelter Your Kids AT THEIR PERIL!!! (And Happy New Year)

Hi Readers and Happy New Year! Feel like posting a Free-Range Resolution? Go ahead! Inspire us all!

Meantime, this article on the site Scientific Blogging is a little long, but it’s a good one to start the year on. (And thank you, GreenDadsBlog, for sending it.) It boils down to a truth many of us suspected: When we try to shelter our kids from all stress — the stress of disappointment, difficulty, confusion, pain, regret — we’re not doing them any favors. As the author, Andrea Kuszewski, says:

Parents may feel that by preventing their child from encountering any and all potential hardship they are helping to preserve their emotional well-being, but going through a little stress and encouraging them to cope with it effectively will benefit them far more when it comes to being a more resilient, independent, and emotionally stable adult.

God knows, the world could use some more of those! So remember (the article continues):

…not all stress is bad. Even as children, being faced with challenging situations is a good thing. We learn to problem-solve, think for ourselves, and build resilience to protect us from harm in future unexpected events. As an added bonus, dealing with stress early on helps us to develop emotional stability as well. You can’t buffer your child from every non-happy moment in his life, so at least take comfort in the fact that while he is suffering in the short term, he is enhancing his well-being in the long term.

That being said, here’s wishing a challenge and stress-filled New Year to you and yours! (Punctuated by long furloughs of great joy.) — Lenore