Readers! This cautionary note just in:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I wish I had been raised Free-Ranged. What parents don’t seem to realize is that when your parents are constantly hovering, it’s like being told No You Can’t every single day.
I am sixteen years old. I am sixteen years old, I don’t drink, I don’t even LIKE parties, and I have never even seen a real joint. I am a straight A student who is currently taking more college courses than a college freshman. I am also, apparently, too irresponsible to ride my bike to school. Or to my best friend’s house (which is about halfway down my would-be bike route to school).
I had this really odd realization the other day. I noticed that when I go bike riding with my dad, I tend to be less competent than when I go by myself. The days when I do my homework without being told are the days when no one is there to tell me to do it. When there is someone there to “hover” over me and make sure I’m okay, I become less capable. One time, while riding my bike, I went past the “boundary lines” for where I’m allowed to ride, and instead explored another part of my neighborhood (by the way, my neighborhood’s definition of “youth crime spree” was when a kid spray painted a p***s on a fence two and a half years ago). When I decided to head back, I was able to remember which streets I had taken without a problem. This took me completely by surprise.
I think what happens for a lot of kids is that when our parents keep denying us the chance to look after ourselves, we eventually stop trying, which our parents see and take as evidence that we’re not ready yet.