Free Range Moms

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 by 5 Comments
Free Range Moms

We had Tiger Moms, then Helicopter Moms, and now Free Range Moms. I am pretty sure eventually we will be categorizing moms the same way we do hurricanes or Google updates and with just as much variety. But for now, Free Range Moms are in the spotlight.

A Free Range Mom is a mother that backs off and lets her kid experience life. In 2009 Lenore Skenazy allowed her (then nine year old) son to ride the New York subway by himself.

Not surprisingly there was immediate backlash from the media as well as other parents. I mean, I have been to New York and I am not sure I want to ride the subway by myself – and I am decades older.

Skenazy says that nothing terrible happened. She claims that parents are too worried about kids because of all of the violence and scary stuff we see on the news. She assumes that basically people are pretty decent and the odds of something happening are pretty slim.

In some ways I agree. I think we do shelter our children too much, retard the development of independence, and make them afraid to take chances.

The rules go on and on -don’t run, don’t climb trees, don’t ride a bike without a helmet… I remember the euphoria of riding my bike down a hill, the wind blowing my hair straight back and my hands off the handle bars and high in the air.

Adrenalin rush!

At the same time we have an instinct to protect our young in this quickly changing world. Sometimes the balance between letting go and protecting can be a line so fine it can hardly be seen. Lenore Skenazy has a point – and it’s a good one, at least until it’s your kid that gets hurt.

You can read her blog and more about her philosophy at Free Range Kids.

photo credit: kaybee07 via photopin cc

Posted in: Parenting
Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. As a work at home mom she has a unique perspective that encompasses the overwhelming deadlines and commitments of the professional woman as well as the constantly changing needs of a homeschooling mom with a large family. She is the author of one cook book and the creator of Restless Chipotle Media, a network consisting of two food based blogs, a blog for “women of a certain age”, a video site on Youtube, and upcoming blog on kitchen decor, and downloadable eBooks. Marye also is a freelance writer, editor, and book reviewer.

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  • Penny W.

    I know one mom in particular who adheres to this strategy, and her kids are strong, independent thinkers with lots of creative energy and who love being outdoors and doing “crafty” stuff they do themselves. Seems to work for her! Of course that means they don’t sit down and follow orders … but what kind of adult do you want your child to grow up to be?

  • Emily (CityBaby Living)

    I think that all of these “types” of moms are extremes. There are helpful and (in my opinion) hurtful elements to each. I try to observe, take the best theory from each and do my best. I prob won’t let my 9 yo on a subway alone, but I do let my 5yo play outside by herself even though we live on a busy street. She needs to know I trust her and that she can have the freedom we enjoyed growing up in the 70’s. I watch her out the window a lot though!

  • Melissa Y

    Agreeing with Emily here, parenting is very personal, we all take bits and pieces form our experiences, our world views and advice we’ve been given and try to do the best job we can.

    In 1979, my then 5 year old husband used to ride the bus alone across town to visit his mom at work. In the 80’s I would spend 8 hours out of the house on the weekend and my parents had no clue where I was. We got picked up on Sunday mornings by random church buses and our parents wouldn’t know which one we were at that week until we got home. I always tried to get on the bus that gave away goldfish (real fish, not the snack that smiles back) because what kid didn’t want a free fish?

    I survived. You survived. He survived.

    And chances are, whether we are free range parents, helicopter parents or anything else, chances are our kids will survive too. Can’t we all just relax and stop judging each other?

  • marye

    I agree. The issue seems to be that so many parents want a formula that is guaranteed to work – just like moving from diet to diet in attempt to lose weight. And thank you for grouping me in with you guys age-wise. When your 5 year old husband was riding the bus I was in the military. :) I know what you mean though, I had even more freedom growing up in the 60s. I used to take a train by myself to shop in a nearby town when I was 10 or so.

  • Kurt B

    Yay! That’s my photo up there.