So I’m Envious

Dear eiznsdhtkd
Readers: Yup, I’m envious, of this mom, her kid, her country:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I don’t know what to say really.  I’ve just found your blog and I’m astonished with the stories I’ve read.  They’d be a lot of fun  -  if they were not so scary.

My point of view is a bit different as I live in Northern Europe where we have not yet realized how dangerous the world really is.  I’ve raised a Free-Range Kid without having heard anything about the concept.  I guess that’s how we roll, up here in the North.

My kid took his daily nap outdoors in a pram in all four seasons. Yes, in winter too.  Yes, with all the frost and snow.  He was a very healthy baby.

My kid traveled 100 kilometers to his grandparent’s house by bus since he was 4 or 5.  The bus drivers are decent people who keep an eye on a little traveler and see that he meets his grandpa at the destination.  No problem, never.

My kid walked to school and back since he was 7 and took care of himself until I or his dad came home from work.  The only problem was the front door which had to be fixed a bit so that the child was able to open it.

My kid spent his childhood upside down doing somersaults and cartwheels and jumping off the swing in its wildest speed and he never broke a single bone.

I don’t mean to say it is weird to be worried.  On the contrary, it is quite natural.

When I became a mother I looked into a mirror: “We have to talk.”  Was I going to follow all my protective instincts and allow myself to see the world as a Very Dangerous Place?  Or would I force myself to be a bit stronger and trust a bit more?

Now that my kid is 16, I’m happy I didn’t thrust upon him the idea of threats and dangers lying in wait everywhere.  All his life he has been learning how to spread his wings one day.  That day is getting closer, but that’s ok. He’s been a good learner.

They all have to learn to take care of themselves, don’t they? It is not something a young adult suddenly knows all about when he wakes up on one particular birthday morning.  Why fear and not let them learn it step by step, naturally? — Johanna


35 Responses to So I’m Envious

  1. Sofia's Ideas November 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    I’m envious of this mom as well, but for a different reason. I struggle with being a “Hover Mom”, and I know its because a few bad things happened to me from when I was young to a teenager. I know that I’m passing my fears onto my children, because I’m trying to “protect” them. I also know that the message I’m sending to my ASD kids is that they are not capable. I know this isn’t healthy, believe me.

    I envy this mom because she was able to look in the mirror and have that talk with herself. For me, it is a slow process. But reading this blog is helping me to see the world in a different way. Thank you for all that you do here at Free Range Kids.


  2. Jessika November 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    I live in the same part of the world. And although there is some helicoptering and what is called curling parents, oyu usually let kids be well, kids.
    You need life skills, those you learn during childhood by trial and error and while experiencing them in the real world. As parents you might want to warn your children of all that can go wrong, to protect them against heart ache etc., but you don’t learn anything from it. Falling down by yourself and climbing up is the only way to actually learn.

  3. Copley November 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    “…we have not yet realized how dangerous the world really is”

    Or rather, you’ve not yet developed the insanely warped view of the world that other countries seem to have (USA and UK – I’m looking at you!)

    Long may it last!

  4. Tracy November 15, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    I am guessing that I am currently living in the same country as this mom just from the things she describes and the age her child started school. Though I have only lived here 10 weeks, and will do so for just a few years, I am using their parenting philosophy as a model. You see, I am due with my first child in a few months and will be having him here, as opposed to the “wilds” of the Connecticut suburbs. Seeing these kids ride public transportation, gets themselves around town, and play in parks with other kids makes my heart sing. This is what I want for my own child. I only hope when it is time for me to encourage my kid to be “free range” and I am back in the US, I remember these lessons. I hope your blog and website are around then to serve as a strong reminder!

  5. Frau_Mahlzahn November 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    That was exactly how I felt, when I first found this blog.

    And it’s not that I don’t worry about all the threats that are outside, of which I am aware that there are plenty, it’s more that I think the best way to prepare our kids for facing them is to let them… run around, discover their environment, try things, use public transportation, walk to school, make their own experiences… Just become self-assured people who know their way around.

    So long,

  6. enyawface November 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    What children outside??? Playing!!!??? The insanity!!! Next your gonna tell me you let them feed themselves or use the toilet on their own. They’re helpless children for God sakes. The boogeyman might get them, or they might experience the unfixable trauma of failure. Please Please, get them wrapped in bubble wrap and kept that way until adulthood.
    And to the expectant mother, your going to be sure to give birth in the hospital surrounded by 30 medical personal and life support, right? I mean a baby born on its own, how could that ever possibly happen?????

  7. Vicki Graff November 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    This is inspiring.
    I am so disgusted by our culture of fear – as a step mom and an almost bio-mom, I don’t want any of my children to grow up afraid and untrusting.

  8. coffeegod November 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    I just shredded my Helicopter Moms membership card.

    My kid has been staying at home alone for periods of time since he was 5. He HATES shopping. He has my cell number. In the beginning I had 7 calls in 45 minutes. Now I’m lucky if I get a ‘see you, mom’ as I walk out the door.

    He goes outside and runs with a pack of neighborhood kids. Yippee! I used to do that. I’m 50 years old and still here.

    Am I scared? Not really. Uneasy yes but scared? I don’t think so.

    My kid can empty a dishwasher, pop his own popcorn, make a sandwich, plunge the toilet and do laundry. Some woman is going to be very lucky.

  9. sue November 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    I live in Germany and my 11-year-old son has been walking to school on his own since 1st grade. Now that he’s in secondary school, he rides his bike to school unless it’s raining (and even then he will if his friends are). He also rides his bike alone all over our town and takes the train or bus to visit friends in nearby towns on his own. He’s even allowed to go to the public pool or local ski slope with friends and no direct adult supervision. Sometimes he stays home by himself for a few hours when my husband is out of town and I must work. He can prepare lunch for himself and knows to do his homework before playing with friends or watching TV. He actually enjoys being on his own for a few hours.

    Unlike helicopter parents in the States, I taught my son that most adults are good people who are willing to help a child in need. When he gets into any sort of trouble, he has been taught to find an available adult to help him. A few months ago he put his learning into practice when his bike chain slipped off on the way to the grocery store and he found a man walking on the same path to help him fix it. He knows not to get into cars with strangers; and he knows what to do if someone ever tries to grab him.

  10. S Leigh Schmidt November 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

    I won’t lie. When I married my Northern European husband and we were deciding where to live, either the States or Europe, Europe won hands down for the way they raise their children to be free and self reliant. I’ve lived here almost a year now, and I am seriously in love with the idea of my children growing up here.

  11. Jules November 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Where do you live? Are there jobs there? Houses for sale?

    That’s it, I’m moving!

  12. Maggie November 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    this comment has nothing to do with this post, it’s actually in reference to a story you tweeted about two missing boys in Canada.

    I read the story twice. I find it interesting that at the end of the story they mentioned how great it was that these boys were safe but that TWO YEAR AGO another boy left home and his body was found weeks later.

    Wow…because they can’t just have a nice story about boys getting through an “ordeal” (sleeping in a ditch because they didn’t want to walk home in the dark). It’s not scary enough!

  13. Larry Harrison November 16, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    Wow, just wow–in a GOOD way. As one famous radio commentator said in the title of one of his books, it’s “The Way Things Ought to Be.”

    You have to have some faith & let go. People think I’m crazy when I tell them that, with my own kids, I would put them in their room & let them sleep and I DID NOT turn on the baby monitor. I just assumed they’d be okay and let it be. I needed my sleep, and they needed to learn they didn’t need their parents just to sleep. None of this “rocking them to sleep” and busting in there when they cried. You’re own your own kid! (When they were newborns, yes, I’d get up and feed them! But by age 3 months that wasn’t necessary either.)

    It didn’t traumatize them, make them think their parents won’t be there for them, just that you don’t need your parents to merely fall asleep. The kids are 1½ and 3½ now and I even let them play outside alone for short periods, even after that close call of awhile back, as I have observed they stay in the yard very well as of late. (Other times I will be outside but will still largely do my own thing during such periods.)

    The main example of free-ranging I’ve done recently–taking them to the lake and leaving them on the shore to play while I went in the lake. That particular lake was chosen for how it becomes deep quicker so I don’t have to go so far out to have a REAL swim (splashing on the edge just doesn’t do it for me) thus I can return to shore quickly–but yet they still can venture out a little themselves. It’s now way too cold to do this anymore, but my daughter is still begging me to take her swimming. It’s not just easier for us (call us lazy I don’t care), it’s also funner for them.

    Living in fear is no life at all. I don’t even consider it living to start with.

    Lenore, if you are reading, you will love this–my wife & I just got a minivan (we were driving small cars), so now this means we have enough room to have the 3 nieces-nephews with us as well as our own 2 (before it was very difficult & we’d have to take 1 or 2 & leave the others behind).

    Way to go Northern Europe!


  14. JeninCanada November 16, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    I don’t think FR parenting has anything to do with her son not breaking any bones. That aside, good luck to her and her boy in the upcoming years when he really spreads his wings. I know he’ll make her proud.

  15. Larry Harrison November 16, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    Pardon me for the excessive length of this post.

    I needed to clarify–in my example, where I mentioned letting the kids play on the shore while I ventured in the lake–as I often do, I butchered my writing & gave a somewhat skewed impression.

    No, I don’t leave the kids on the shore while I go, say, half-a-mile way off to where I’d have to practically take the ferry back to where they are. Not at all, it’s not even remotely that far. It’s about the length, say, that one would encounter if you were doing this, say, at a larger-sized motel’s swimming pool (not the tiny ones that only go to 4-5 feet, rather the longer ones which would take you, say, 30-45 seconds to swim the length of–but not the huge Olympic-sized ones that you see, say, at a city park).

    In other words, it’s as such that you could get to them rather quickly & you can see them very well too.

    It’s not all as I probably made it sound, so I wanted to make sure no one got the wrong idea & took my lead (please no!!).

    Or, I may take them with me out to the deep end–but that’s with them sitting in an inflatable raft which I’m pulling, and they have life-jackets on as well. (Or they have the “island floaties” where they’re in the water but they can, in no way, get out and be “bare” as it were, and I’m definitely right there close in such cases regardless.)

    The great thing about Free Range is that you are empowered to use your own judgment–but of course you have to make sure you’re using the RIGHT judgment & temper it with REASONABLE caution. Lenore herself clarifies in her book that drowning is a REAL danger that isn’t as exaggerated as much the predator-kidnapping risk is in the media.

    On the other hand, I have seen it exaggerated in practice, not necessarily the media. My “favorite” was the woman at our apartment complex who freaked out at her kids going in the deep-end even though it was at an apartment complex’s relatively small pool, with no one else around (but me, on the edge) and even though the kids were almost teenagers & were going all over the place like it was nothing. The woman herself could swim, too (I had seen her do so) and so she’d easily been able to rescue them easily, so all in all, I felt she was overreacting and restricting them way too much.

    On the other hand, recently close-by in Shreveport LA some 6 teenagers drowned in the river when their parents-aunt-uncles etc took them there to swim but no one could swim at all, not even the adults who took them there, and they had no life-jackets or whatever at all. One of the teens got in trouble & the others on the shore jumped in to try & help, but none of them could swim–and all of them drowned.

    But most of all, again, the adults who took them there couldn’t swim either, and didn’t bother with life-jackets or anything at all.

    That was very highly reckless and irresponsible, perhaps even criminal–and sometimes we have to make sure that, in the spirit of not being helicopter, we don’t go far off the deep end (pardon the pun) the OTHER way. (In fact, I don’t know that they were necessarily practicing “Free Range Extreme” as much as they were just not thinking, or worse.)

    It all comes down to that one word which I have often-times said is my favorite word of all–balance.


  16. motherbear November 16, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    I think it really depends on where you live…Life for my son & I was very much like the woman described when we lived in another state and things were different financially for us. Then we moved to kind of a rough area and our surroundings were different so we either adapt or we wait for the whole city to adapt to my ideals for my child. We’re not full of fear, I’ve never subscribed to that kind of life. We’ve just been taught by our surroundings and experience and that in order to not be continually disappointed, we have to make different decisions and be a little harder too when we need to be. My best friend and her daughter moved here from Spain recently and believe me there’s a difference and it’s not imaginary one that comes from excessive fear.

  17. River Greenway November 16, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    Jessika, said:

    “I live in the same part of the world. And although there is some helicoptering and what is called curling parents…”


    I love it !!!
    THAT is how bad some parents are as they run interference for their kids.

    This video says it all:

  18. Edge November 16, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Holy crap. Just saw your WSJ article “‘Stranger Danger’ and the Decline of Halloween.” While I don’t have kids, the article so resonated with me and my partner. She and I used to walk to school alone, heaven forbid. Now there’s a bus stop outside our house and the parents gather with their children even though each of their houses is just a few houses away from the stop. The fear is palpable through my walls!

    These nervous nellies amaze me. I thought all rational thought had gone out of child rearing until I saw the blog. Thanks for writing it.

  19. Matt November 16, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Tell us where you are, so we can move there, please.

  20. Diane November 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    I think one of the biggest problems in the US is the too many laws issue. One place we lived the bus driver could not let my k-2 graders off of the bus at the front of our house if I was not standing at the door. My friend had the police come to her house because her 6 children, 1- 12 years were playing on their front lawn. The officer said the kids could be kidnapped and a parent had to be there if the kids were not fenced in. It seems silly that kids should not be allowed in their own front yards and considered safe. But since some one thinks they are not, parents can get in real trouble.

  21. Mia November 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    I dont even know where to start. I dont have kids on my own, but live with a person who has a son from prev. marrage. A NIGHTMARE! boy is nealy 9 and he doesnt step away from his father for a second. He needs to be told everything (even how to play). Once i bought him coloured pensils and paper and he said that he doesnt feel like doing homework right now…. (??? what???) . All he does all day is either play lego, watches lego movies on youtube or watches dvds (same ones, over and over again). He doesnt go outside, even though we have little backyard. I can’t say anything as my partner sees it as me critisizing his precious boy. So just come here and read your posts and im grateful that Im not the only person who is still sane about kids being kids. Let them out!
    I grew up in Europe, we used to hang out outside for hours, walk to and from school etc. No one was kidnapped, killed or anything like that. I believe kids in groups of other kids are much safer being outside and should be encourage to do so.
    Apparently research shows that these days 7 mins kids spend outdoors and 7 hr watching tv/internet. Safer at home, huh? right…
    And if everyone is so paranoid about their kids getting into trouble – how about we just stop having kids. Wouldnt that be SAFER option??? no need to worry 😉
    About Johanna’s letter – yes, so agree with leaving kid outside even in winter. Makes immune system stronger and kids dont get sick so often. The wonder of fresh air 🙂
    Thanx guys for writing here!

  22. JW November 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Europe definitely has a leg up on the U.S. in many ways, but I wonder if there is a difference in the U.S. between kids in cities and in suburbs. It seems it would be easier to be a free-range kid in the city, where there are sidewalks, actual community, amenities close-by for children to walk to, and good public transit. Here’s a post from Grist about the environmental benefits of parenting in cities.

    It only implies at some free range principles, but it seems to be the first post in a series. Maybe she’ll have more to say about it.

  23. tiina November 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    This “mysterious” unnamed northern country might be Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Iceland. Well, we all believe in Freerange Kids -philosophy. We have done it already for generations. Now, the next step is to raise our children in such a way that they won’t start using drugs and especially drink alcohol as adults. Alcohol is the leading cause of death -at least in Finland-and according to the latest studies considered now one of the worst drugs. Let’s hope these kids can learn to get their “fix” from the nature or some good hobbies and if they get depressed – as many do in Scandinavia – they won’t start drinking but go to see a therapist which is still somewhat of a taboo here..

  24. Douglas John Bowen November 17, 2010 at 12:14 am #

    I’m fortunate enough to offer my son an environment in both city and woodlands, and (per the observation above on cities and suburbs), I can say my approach differs slightly in each locale. (I don’t have either down perfectly, let me acknowledge upfront!) As a very rough measure, my Free-Range emphasis in urban settings is more time-oriented; at some point I want my son to check in (though not every five minutes, please!). In the woods, it’s more distance-oriented; if he’s beyond a one-mile radius, I’d like him to let me know at some point.

    This was highlighted first last weekend when my son’s “cousin” visited us in the woods; though she’s far from a worst-case victim of Helicoptering, her parents tend to keep a far shorter leash on her than we keep on our son. (Whether that’s based on gender, or something else, I can’t really say, and I won’t wish to judge unfairly. It’s their call.)

    To that end, her parents tried hard to rein in their concerns when our son decided to “stalk” us during a short hike (per Boy Scouting). When they couldn’t see him (he’s pretty stealthy!), they became visibly agitated, though they bit their tongues–they know we strive to be Free-Range Parents. They kept asking my wife if all was well. “He’s out there, he’ll get here,” she kept saying confidently. And he was, and he did.

    One night later, back home in the city, my son tried to phone me from his Scout meeting to inform me he would start walking home, per our arrangement, even though it was nighttime. (Plenty of lights in the city, though.) In a comedy sequence, he couldn’t get through because he and I were calling each other simultaneously! A parent at the meeting (whom we know well) offered to drive him home because it was dark, and our son accepted (and finally got through by phone to let me know).

    I asked my son if he had made it clear to the parent that he was allowed to walk home (we were to meet halfway; he’s fine with that), and my son said yes. The parent offered, anyway, and I (In turn) am fine with that (after all, my son accepted!), as long as the parent knows my son had the option to say, “No, thank you.”

  25. Jessika November 17, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    I live in Sweden where I was born. I’ve lived in New York and Kyoto.
    My niece has been walking and later cycling to school since she was 7. I walked but then the school was just 5 minutes away, until I was 12, and then had to bike to school circa 2 km away.
    Every country has its own problems, not everything is sunny and peachy, but compared to the US, I think we give kids pretty good conditions. I hope freedom and a general sense of what you should experience during childhood prevails despite news about the (few) instances where children are deliberately hurt. There’s few outright crimes directed at children but you have the average problems with bullying.

  26. Tuppence November 17, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    JW Good point. In Europe they strive for all housing (urban or not) to be in walking distance of some shops. I know here in Germany, even in the smallest villages, there’ll be a small “town” center with a few shops. The explicit idea being that everyone should have a chance of getting to a least a few shops by foot.

    Contrast this with where a friend of mine was living in a suburban development north of New York City. They don’t even bother putting in sidewalks in anymore! When my friend’s child was a toddler, she wanted to take her to a park that wasn’t far away from her house. So she put the kid in the stroller and off she went, on foot. After a few blocks,she turned back (shaking!) and went home to take the car — She seriously feared for her life! Not only are there no sidewalks, but the drivers so don’t even expect anyone to be walking, they took the turns at, to put it mildly, incautious speeds. Not likely then that’d she’d be letting her kids walk or bike those roads on their own.

  27. pentamom November 17, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    The good news is, I really don’t believe you have to move out of the US to see some sanity in this regard.

    All you need to do is live in a city of about 25,000 or more, but not in the most affluent neighborhoods. Even a fairly nice middle class neighborhood can work if it is in an area served by a school that includes kids from a mixture of socio-economic backgrounds.

    Because the dirty little secret is that the authorities (real or self-appointed) know they can’t enforce overbearing helicopterism in communities where kids HAVE to survive (and remain safe and happy) without constant supervision from a parent, or constant access to a personal vehicle. And I’m not talking about kids who are homeless or neglected, but about kids whose parents (however many of them) have little time to assist them in playing or going a reasonable distance to school or even running errands (and no ability to pay someone to do so constantly). It’s about kids who live the way nearly all kids did at least until the middle of the last century, because their parents’ lifestyle is closer to that of earlier, less affluent generations. This is mainly a small-town, suburban, or upscale urban issue.

  28. JW November 17, 2010 at 3:22 am #


    “It’s about kids who live the way nearly all kids did at least until the middle of the last century, because their parents’ lifestyle is closer to that of earlier, less affluent generations. This is mainly a small-town, suburban, or upscale urban issue.”

    Bingo! I live on the edge of a university neighborhood in a city of 100K plus. I’d say it’s a mixed middle-class neighborhood like you say. My kids are still to young to walk to school–they don’t even go to school yet! But I was playing tennis with a friend in the park when elementary school was letting out three or four blocks away. Lots of kids were walking home from school in groups or alone. Some met parents in the park. Some went to the park to hang out alone. I hope I’m living in a neighborhood that will be sane about these sorts of things.

    My in-laws, however, live in a wealthy suburban neighborhood with no sidewalks in sight. It’s quite difficult to reach the one playground within walking distance. There isn’t anything else within walking distance of the house. There’s no mass transit for anyone to take, let alone kids. I wonder if the same mentality that causes someone to want to live in such a neighborhood is the same mentality that makes one want to be overly-protective of one’s kids. At the very least, it’s virtually impossible to be a free range kid in such a neighborhood.

  29. diplomom08 November 17, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    I sent a note on Twitter, too, but couldn’t DM…anyway, we lived in Iceland for 3 years (as U.S. expats) and everyone put kids first. It was fabulous, kids were indenpendent, babies slept outside and everyone was happy.

    As any FYI, my son also slept outside once we moved back to the states. There was nothing like the fresh air and natural white noise of the outdoors to give him a good long rest…if you ever want a U.S. expat opinion on these matters (and dealing with moving back to the States and helicopter parents, just ask away….)

  30. Tracy November 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    My “mysterious” country is Finland. Not sure it is the exact same, but as a prior commenter suggested, it is similar in many of the Nordic/Baltic countries. Also, as both Jessika and Tiina said, not everything is perfect here, we’re not living in utopia, so we make trade-offs. Overall, though, for having small children, it’s a pretty darn good place. At least from my perspective. I’ll enjoy the time here and take the philosophies back to the US with me in a few years. And, yes, I will give birth in a hospital, but surrounded by 3 people, my husband, the nurse midwife (as doctors are only brought in for emergency situations) and her student. It will be interesting . . .

  31. Sky November 18, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    “seems it would be easier to be a free-range kid in the city, where there are sidewalks, actual community, amenities close-by for children to walk to, and good public transit.”
    Funny, maybe it’s because I live in the subrubs, but it seems to me it would be easier to be free range in the suburbs– less traffic to worry about, less crime to worry about. I certainly had a very free range suburban childhood. I rode my bike to the local strip mall with friends. We bought lunch or snacks, and went to the movie theater on our own. We rode bikes to each others houses. We walked to the nearby creek and explored it, following it the 2 miles to the lake where it emptied, hung out there, and walked home. Hmmm…no wonder I’m fat now. To be a free-range kid again!

  32. Sky November 18, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    “It’s about kids who live the way nearly all kids did at least until the middle of the last century, because their parents’ lifestyle is closer to that of earlier, less affluent generations. This is mainly a small-town, suburban, or upscale urban issue.”

    I don’t know about this. I now live on the very same street where I grew up (after being away six years, I moved back). It’s not any richer on average, I don’t think, than it was when I grew up here. But things have changed – a lot. I just don’t see kids having the freedom I had when I grew up, and it isn’t because their parents are financially better off than mine were. Now, the kids do play outside here, and go to one another’s houses, and sometimes ride bikes and skateboards and such – BUT – only within 1-2 short streets from their houses. We rode within a 3-4 mile radius – they ride within a block. We all walked to school – but now there’s a bus stop where a bus never stopped in my childhood, and no one walks unless they are within 1/8th a mile of the school. There are no bike racks at the local strip malls anymore, as there used to be. Somethings changed, and it isn’t class or money.

  33. pentamom November 18, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    Sky — I’m not saying that things haven’t changed for othe worse almost everywhere as far as people letting their kids have freedom, my point is that (at least in my perception) the excessive “enforcement” of helicopterism doesn’t happen in places where people can’t taxi their kids to and from school and be expected to be with them or driving them somewhere or paying someone to do it 24/7, because they simply can’t. I have in mind things like schools that “forbid” kids from walking, neighborhoods full of people who call the cops when they see kids in the park without an adult, etc. People are no doubt less Free Range all over, but it’s only in places where it’s even possible for everyone to drive their kids everywhere and hang around with them all day that it becomes some kind of crime not to. If schools in some neighborhoods tried to institute some kind of insane rule that kids couldn’t walk to school, or even walk to school without a parent, you’d have hundreds of people showing up at the school board meeting asking what the h*** they were supposed to do when they didn’t own a car and had to catch the bus for work at the same time the kids left the house for school. It’s only in neighborhoods where there aren’t hundreds of people like that, that such insanity can become institutionalized.

  34. Antje November 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Thanks for your interesting and entertaining blog!

    Raising my children (5 and 8 years old) in a Dutch village, I am quite bemusement and amazed by some of the entries and comments.

    I agree, though, that we need to be aware and adjust our parenting according to context and surroundings. My heart goes out to her Sofia:

    “I struggle with being a ‘Hover Mom’ and I know its because a few bad things happened to me from when I was young”

    As a child, I unfortunately also had some bad experiences, and I am often terrified that anything could happen to my children.

    But I know that I must let my demons thwart my children’s development . Thus I strive to give them sufficient freedom and opportunities to develop their Independence and self sufficiency.

    It is important, though, to provide a safe and loving ‘harbor’ for children to retreat to, when they feel the need, and encourage them to share their experiences and feelings (both good and bad)! After all, I myself was not abused by a stranger on the street, but within the apparent ‘safety’ of a family friend.


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