Readers! This is a heartening, even inspiring letter! Read on! — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I love my kids and I am overprotective, still, but I agree with giving your kids lots of freedom. I was able to go play with my friends whenever I wanted as long as I can remember. In kindergarten all I had to do was let my grandparents (who were watching me) know where I was going to be and I left. Of course, grandma sometimes said “no,” but mostly in my own world of alotted back yards, I could do as I pleased.
I am so scared of my kids dying, that it is not even funny or merited. My 6-year-old consistently surprises me in how capable he actually is. He deserves my trust and I deserve to chill out. I’ve found that my overprotectiveness hasn’t prevented 22 stitches in the span of less than a year and I find myself yelling and spanking my kids for the sake of safety. In an effort to protect, I’ve found myself abusive.
Little by little, I’ve been letting go with no bad consequences. My 3- and 6-year-old play in the unfenced backyard unscathed. My 6-year-old happily rides his bike around the park as I push my 3-year-old and baby on the swings. I’m not even close to letting him ride the subway, but the kids are so much happier and actually better behaved with their new-found freedom. I only have to whistle and they come running in.
The more parents that do this, the safer our neighborhoods will be, as we will all be looking out for one another. — A Happier Mom