Monday, July 18, 2016

Free Range Children

I guess it's a universal fact of society that people and groups have their own views about how to rear children as well as the long-standing opinions on politics and how many cats should a person be allowed to keep. Anyway, it seems that the presently common parental styles of attachment parenting and helicopter parenting have a subversive opposite: the concept of free range children.

Basically, the term "free range children refers to children who are allowed to roam around the neighborhood or even town without immediate supervision. The desirability of this concept seems to be founded in books like Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. To be sure, nineteenth-century river towns probably had fewer perils than large cities do today. Also, there was less widespread awareness of those possible threats. Some parents told their children to beware of the boogerman (or bogeyman). Was this term a euphemism for a child molester or killer?


Some proponents of free-range parenting occasionally elicit visits from Child Protective Services because others see her or his style to be neglectful of their children. One set of parents got called out because they allowed their eight year old daughter go on the subway unaccompanied. In response, the free-range children parenting advocates have organized free-range play groups, free-range playgrounds, and free-range Sunday School classes.

Organized free-range groups: is that an oxymoron?

Anyway, I was told when I was young that I could ride my bike anywhere in Lakeview (in big, bad New Orleans) up to the railroad underpass and Larry's Homedale Inn. Alas, Tad Gormley Stadium was not in that area, but the Mardi Gras Fountain, Harrison Avenue, and Rockery Inn were. We once put detergent in the fountain!  I made it into adulthood.

Needless to say, the French Quarter and the Central Business District were far away.

The point is, peoples' ideas about proper parenting change, sometimes this is related to the real-life situations that children have to be in. Parents should understand the child's neighborhood. And so should nosy bystanders.


10 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

i grew up in rural central wisconsin, and we were definitely free range there. maybe not so much now, anymore...

John Hill said...

We were free range kids in my little town. We pretty much had the town (and surrounding countryside) as our playground; anywhere our bicycles would take us! No helmets, either.

Linda Kay said...

I do think that free range is a thing of the past, due to all the stuff going on in the world, things that we didn't worry about when I was a youngster growing up on the farm. But still I had some restrictions.

Birgit said...

Am I bad to have initially snickered thinking it was a pun about free range meaning on a spit doused with salt, pepper and a little Barbeque sauce?? I know I am evil. I grew up in the country so we played outside sometimes until 11pm because we played tag after dark. We would walk to the store a mile away. Once, my mom actually put my brother on a train when he was about 8 to travel to Ann Arbor to visit family. We never thought of it as a bad thing. Now, where is my fork and knife.....:)

Mike said...

Grew up free range in the middle of St. Louis.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I'm glad others had a chance to roam freely without adult monitoring.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Some people just like to put their two cents worth into how other people are rearing their kids.

Gorilla Bananas said...

The philosopher Stephen Pinker recently told his sister that America had never been a safer place for children. The statistics proved it, but she refused to believe him. But I don't like the idea of free range children unless adults have the right to twist their ears if they get too unruly.

Bilbo said...

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1950s and early 60s, and we were true free-range children. I often walked several miles to visit friends in other subdivisions, coming home well after dark. Things were much different then, and the world of today is a more dangerous place ... and not just for children. It's sad.

mike spain said...

Yes I was a lot more free range when I was younger.