Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Releasing the fear

I just finished reading Free-Range Kids. I've been following the blog for a while and finally read the book.

I like the philosophy behind Free Range Kids. I want to raise confident, independent kids. I want to trust them. I want them to be able to trust the world. And the statistics show they should be able to.

The book is divided into 14 "commandments" in the first section. Bearing in mind the ages of my kids, I'm happy to report that we've already reached the "Free-Range Baby Step" highlighted in each chapter. In some cases, we've even ventured beyond that.

I look forward to the boys being old enough to do more on their own (many of the steps are geared toward 'school-age' kids, so they are just on the edge of being ready to try more).

An example, for anyone who thinks Free-Range is too scary:
The first baby step is to cross the street with your school age child without holding their hand. Yep, I've done that with my 4 and 5 year olds. We've even walked in parking lots with them walking right next to me. And I point out the sounds of cars approaching or starting, back-up lights, and other information that will help them navigate streets and parking lots on their own in the future.

Recently I was speaking to another mom about the book and how much I liked the ideas in it. She said she could never go free range because if something did happen to one of her kids, she would never forgive herself.

I know that feeling. I also know that doing everything for my kids isn't helpful. For me, for us, our job is to help the boys until they can do things for themselves. And sometimes the best defense against the unthinkable is for them to know how to protect themselves.

A point that is made over and over is that crime rates are lower now than they were when we were growing up. It is actually safer now, but we hear about more crime because of the 24 hour news cycle and the availability of information from around the world.

What does the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have to say? They've been trying to debunk the myth of stranger danger. There is a big difference between teaching kids to not talk to strangers and teaching kids not to go with strangers.

We've lost that message in the constant fear.

I could keep citing all the information in the book, but there's a whole book that does it better than I could. There's a great blog to read some of the crazy things that are going on in the name of safety (some of which probably make things less safe).

Free Range may not be for everyone. But I recommend reading the book and finding out what it's really all about. Maybe you're a little more Free Range than you thought.

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