Pope Francis’ “Statement on the Family,” released April 8, runs 200+ pages. I cannot claim to have read them all. But here’s the part I’d call the Free-Range Passage (page 196-7):
Parents need to be involved and “consider what they want their children to be exposed to,” wrote the Pope. “Vigilance is always necessary.”
But, he added, “vigilance” is not to be mistaken for constant supervision!
“If parents are obsessed with always knowing where their children are and controlling all their movements…this is no way to educate, strengthen and prepare their children to face challenges. What is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy. Only in this way will children come to possess the wherewithal needed to fend for themselves and to act intelligently and prudently whenever they meet with difficulties.”
If that’s not the Free-Range Kids philosophy, what is?
Compare the Pope’s wisdom with the opening of this pitch I got last week for yet another safety product:
Children are naturally inquisitive and yearn to explore the world around them, as new things are experienced and creativity is developed. In turn, parents must cope with anxious moments when their child is out of view at school, summer camp and anything in between.
The Pope is so on point in recognizing that constant vigilance is on its way to becoming the new norm of parenting. Parents are expected to freak out during those ever fewer “anxious moments when their child is out of view.”
The Pontiff sees the way this excess oversight cripples kids, and he is out to keep parents from assuming the omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent role better played by…Someone Else. Someone the Pope talks to a lot, on our behalf. – L