I love reading other mom's blogs to hear what other moms think and their creative thoughts surrounding their families, kids, problems, etc. But through the string of blogs that I subscribe to, there has been (or probably has been, I'm just late showing up to the conversation...no surprise) a discussion on "free-range" kids.
The idea that as moms, we need to learn to cut the cord and be able to teach our children how to be independent....safely.
Now, just saying those words, brings up a whole basket full of ideas and emotions coming from moms, ranging in attitude from the extremely protective to the extremely aloof. Moms have been writing their comments, posting their blogs, all defending their opinion with the facts that help their case.
Because the issue is with our children, we, as mothers, become quite passionate when it comes to child-rearing and especially when we disagree with another woman's opinion and decision making skills regarding her children.
But.....I have a hard time when it comes to stating an opinion about someone's parenting skills......who made me the judge of her??? or him???
According to the blog of Lenore, FreeRangeKids, she believes that parents should use safety in regards to their kids but still enable independence without being overbearing or overprotective.
I agree with this outlook on parenting because I feel there has to be a balance with our kids. Letting them go outside and play at 10 and 11 is a part of childhood, just like riding a bike, or having sleepovers. As a parent, I believe it's my job to equip them by talking to them about dangers and dangerous situations so they will be aware. I also believe that they need to learn basic safety awareness and what to do in emergency situations. I talk to my kids a lot about "what-if" situations that involve other kids and other adults.
Samantha, being the oldest at 14, has had her share of safe talks and being aware of her surroundings......and these are the talks and lectures she hears EVERY time she goes to the mall with her friends (YES, I allow that! Imagine!). But she also has her cell phone, with a tracker so I know where she's at, and she's reminded to check in with me every 1/2 hour.
But the buck stops there.....at some point she has to take all of those talks and lectures and reminders and make them her own. I CAN'T DO THAT FOR HER! There's a point in which I have to let her go little by little and understand that we live in a world that I cannot control. I can only pass on knowledge and skills that she must choose to utilize.
Now, would I let my 10 year old have that freedom?....I think NOT! She's not old enough, mature enough, or aware enough to have that responsibility. I don't feel 10 is an age that justifies that kind of freedom. Madison is more aware of her surroundings than I have seen from other kids. She knows her limits and has a sense of fear that I feel is healthy and helps to keep her safe. She wants me standing outside the door if it's getting dark outside so I can watch her go to her friend's house, 2 townhouse doors from me. But does she need that during the day, every time? No. Is she able to go to the park, 20 ft. from our door, with her friends, not by herself? yes. And do I go out and check on them periodically? Of course!
But balancing for me, is the key. I don't think kids learn by having constant conversation without the ability to practice. They have to learn by doing, safely.
On the other extreme, I don't want them living in a bubble. Being so overprotective that they grow up without maturing and experiencing. Being able to make mistakes or not doing things right, is the way humans learn. Looking back at the situation and evaluating whether or not those choices were valuable or not. This is always a risk when it comes to children, I know. Risk is reality, though. Not stupidity or ignorance, just reality. I have to come to the conclusion that I have very few things in my life that I can control, and the hard fact is that I cannot control other people's lives when they come into contact with my children. I cannot control the weirdos out there or the emergency situations that might come up. And although I can control what situations I choose to put my children in, I know that dangerous things can happen despite my best efforts. It's more important to me to prepare, teach, and facilitate knowledge with my kids and then pray that I have done everything I can to bring them up as responsible individuals who can make mature decisions.
Yet, this is my opinion......I don't have a need to convince anyone else of this same mentality. I don't fault someone else for having a different opinion.
Am I going to tell another mom that I think she is crazy because she lets her child do something that I wouldn't? NO...she's an adult, and like it or not, she has to come to her own conclusion about what is best for her child. Now if that same mother was my friend and she asked for my opinion on the matter, then I would be more than willing to offer it. But only in that case.
Just as we are teaching our children how to grow up in this world, we are also teaching (like it or not) how to interact with other people that have different opinions than ours. We are showing them how to live and find peace and happiness.....how to smile when we want to cry and laugh when we want to scream....we want our kids to look back at their childhood, despite all of our mistakes as parents, and remember the joys of being free...WE make that happen for our kids....WE direct that path.
And in my humble opinion, this happens when we find BALANCE in our lives as parents.
Now, it's your turn, please share your thoughts......I would love to hear more on this topic.