“Reverse Culture Shock” as a Parent Returns to America

Hi Folks! One of the things I like to remember is that what we think of as “normal” is normal for HERE (America, in this case), and completely freakish to other cultures. Keep that in mind when somebody screams at you, “How DARE you let your child play on your front lawn?” or some such local nonsense. – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: My kids are Free-Range almost by accident.  We were overseas for my first 7+ years of parenting, I didn’t watch CNN, and I had no idea how insane things had gotten in the US. I just raised my boys as I was raised.
When we moved back to the states — and back to my childhood neighborhood, which is even safer now than when I was growing up — I let them do everything that I’d done at similar ages.  It was only after living here for several months that I realized that no other kids were out doing the things that mine were.  I now refer to this as my moment of “reverse culture shock.”  I was a little lost trying to parent in Russia, but I’d assumed that I’d know how to do it in the U.S… and apparently, I didn’t!  It was crazy!  And it made me crazy.

My kids are now 9 and 13, we’ve been here for more than 5 years, and the comment that I get most often about them is that they “are so mature.”  For a couple of years, I didn’t see this.  As I watched, they seemed exactly like my brother 30 years earlier… and no one ever would have accused him of being particularly mature as a pre-teen!  It was only when I looked around that I realized how everyone else had just fallen backwards, somehow.  Again, what a shock!  I now this “maturity” to their Free-Range upbringing.  They know how to get themselves around town, they are confident solving problems on their own, and they don’t need to turn to me for instructions for all of their daily actions.  They are totally normal kids.  They just belong, apparently, in the 1980s.
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Anyway, I am now consciously (sometimes, militantly) Free-Range.  It continues to be a challenge, but I am blessed to have a decent number of parent-friends who I can commiserate with when needed, and I turn to your blog and book on a regular basis to remind myself that I’m not the one who is insane. – A Mom Back Home