Dear Free-Range Kids: I just read your response to the viral video on the secondary drowning. My “worrywart” friend told me about this last week and I thought it was an overreaction as is so much these days. I read your book years ago and every time someone tells me a scary kid story, I remember the book and don’t worry. I wish I could get all parents to read your book! And you know what, even when the “worst thing happens,” you survive. My middle daughter was diagnosed with a terminal genetic disorder when she was 3 yrs old. She’s seven now. Everyone says, “I don’t know how you do it.” You do it because you have no choice. And I decided a long time ago, I could either overprotect her 2 sisters or not.
I choose not! The worst thing has happened to us and we are still marching on, sometimes sad, but mostly happy and trying to enjoy all the time we are together. Thanks for bringing some sense into the crazy world of parenting. – Stephanee
Beautiful post. Thank you.
Stephanee, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have a child with a terminal condition. . .and I commend your attitude and your strength in your commitment to not let that define you and how your parent your children. I wonder, when you have already faced the worst that can happen, maybe it’s easier to avoid the worst first thinking. Those parents living in terror that their school-age children might accidentally consume enough sunscreen to hurt themselves must seem frivolous! Thank you for your post.
Exactly. I remember so many people telling my parents when I was young that they could never be foster parents, could never adopt like them, and now that I’m grown, people say they could never move continents and be a military spouse…but it’s just what Stephanee said. You do it because you have no choice. And life is all the better for it.
I so agree. I had a child fight cancer for four years and then die. It only makes me more free-range because for one, I saw that what he wanted most was to just be a kid and experience life, and two, it made me acutely aware that we CANNOT ultimately keep our child alive by our own doing. A tight grip is not some kind of insurance policy. Illness and accidents do happen and will happen to anyone. If you pretend you have some kind if control by keeping your kids micro-managed than you are deluding yourself. This is not to say I never struggle with decisions with my other kids – I just try not to forget the lessons I have learned and I only wish their brother was there to have these experiences with them.
I sympathize with your situation. My son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2 that left him with a 92 percent chance of not making it to age 5. Now he’s seven years old, incredibly active, and still full of energy even in the wake of huge physical challenges and partial deafness caused by chemo.
Cancer could have made my wife and I afraid of the world, to try to cocoon him and his younger sister, but instead it ended up re-invigorating our commitment to the entire concept of free-ranging — a kid who has faced down literally one of the scariest things in the world can probably be trusted to walk around the block. We would’t have it any other way. (And Lenore, bless her, is always willing to spread the word when I write a blog post about his horseback riding or my latest tribute video to him :). )
And as others here have noted, the biggest thing childhood cancer teaches you is that some things are simply BEYOND all control. Better to focus on keeping moving rather than live in fear of the maybes and what-ifs.