I have been thinking a lot about an article I posted recently about “Free-range Parenting.” You may recall that a family was under investigation by the Child Protection Services because they let their children walk to the park alone. It was a mile away and deemed safe to get to by their parents. The children, ages 6 and 10, had done it many times, but someone in the community took it upon themselves to call “the authorities.” The family was scrutinized and still is today.
I have had conversations with my husband, friends, and colleagues about giving our children more space to explore. Can they walk to a friend’s house down the street if it means they need to cross a busy street? At what age is it appropriate to let them go to the playground on their own? Is the perceived threat of strangers a real threat? Can they stay locked in the car for a moment by themselves? We have had interesting discussions, but it seems that there is not a clear cut answer.
What I do I hear is that people are afraid of making choices for their children because of the judgment of others. They worry that someone in the community will decide they were an unfit parent and the repercussions are unthinkable. It is sad to think that this is happening.
I am fortunate to live in a town with a tight sense of community. Yet, there are many styles of parenting. How can we start a dialogue to re-write the rules? How can parents work together to look out for children collectively while giving them the space they need (and deserve) to explore? Who should start the conversation? Would parents engage in this sort of gathering in order to bring about change?
I want to know what you think. I want to know how we can move forward together. I would like to facilitate the next steps if you will join me!
Here is another piece to make you think.