http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ ....this website (about kids and not chicks :P) was started by someone who was accused of being 'America's Worst Mother' because she let her, then 9 year old, ride the subways of NYC by himself. (ok don't quote me on any of this...I'm going by memory of what I read few months ago...for accurate details visit the website). Well, I would NEVERRR feel comfortable enough to let MY child/children ride the subway ALONE at 9...or at 13 for that matter ...I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving them alone anywhere there isn't someone I trust with them. Now at first, my initial reaction was that I was completely 100% ANTI-freerangekids, but as I read more from the site I realized I wasn't against the philosophy of letting your kids enjoy their freedom; if anything I wish that I felt I could allow my children the same freedom the children in previous generations had; walking a kilometer to school, riding your bike around town with friends, exploring in the small patch of woods near your house. I remember a time when, as a child, being allowed to bike to the library by myself was an adventure...it was part of childhood...part of many memories I cherish. But I have a couple of very bad memories too. I'll share a bit of one with you here (without a few I-don't-want-to-think-about-it details).
When I was 10, we lived in a large apartment building and my parents gave me a certain degree of freedom. I guess, as protective as my father was, my parents never thought about the stuff I, as a parent will have to think about. They were from a more naive generations...pedophiles and crazy criminals were not a part direct of the world they lived in. I was allowed to ride the elevators by myself by age 6, go across the street to Mac's for a slushy and pop rocks by self anytime, and walk to the nearby building and community rec areas to play with my friends on weekends. One day, a Sunday, at around noon, I was on my way back from my friend's apartment on the 19th floor. We lived on the 6th. I got into the elevator and a few seconds later it stopped on 18th floor. A man walked in, really tall, long grey blond hair, creepy looking. He kept staring at me. I nervously watched the elevator buttons for each floor light up as the elevator kept going down. Then he started talking to me; I realized this man was going to try to hurt me and I became so terrified, I tried pressing the button for the 6th floor over and over, in hopes that the elevator would get there faster. I accidentally also pressed the 8th floor button. As soon as the elevator opened...I ran out and ran to my apartment door and started banging on it. Only when I realized that no one was opening the door because no one was home, did I look up at the numbers on the door - 801...not 601. My heart dropped. The stairs were on the other side of the hallway. Meaning I had to run back, past the elevators, and I had a feeling I didn't want to go near those elevators. I had no choice...when I think about it now...I could have easily just kept knocking on doors till lots of people came out and someone let me call my home so that my mom could come get me, but I was only 10 and I was scared. So I ran and just as I was passing the elevators I noticed he was hiding behind the corner beside them. And he started to chase me. He quickly caught up with me...and that's when an angel saved me.
No, I really do think an Angel did. Not a person who I think did something angelic. When that bad man caught up with me...I couldn't scream so I continued to pray...I prayed in my mind for God to save me. Just then, we both heard footsteps on the stairs. It sounded like it was coming from a few floors up. The man let me go and made a run for it down the stairs. As I sat there on the stairs, waiting for the man to be at a safer distance from me before I went down to the 6th floor, I also waited to see who this person was whose sudden presence has rescued me. Now, this is why I believe it was an Angel - No one came...the footsteps suddenly faded. No door opened or closed, no one was there...just as suddenly and as timely as the footsteps had appeared...they had stopped. Anyways, eventually I heard the other guy open and close a door far downstairs and I was able to run home to my mom. I was fine..nothing, except emotional trauma, happened. But my point is, no matter how safe these free range parents want to believe it is out there...or how safe they want their children to feel...It isn't the safest world, most of it isn't at least. Free range parents to free range kids are (my interpretation of their approach) all about freedom, letting children make their own mistakes and parents not sheltering their kids from everything (over-protective parents). *Again read the website yourself...actually read the FOR or AGAINST section too...and make your own interpretations*
I want to raise my children to be independent and adventurous...I am not going to keep them locked in the house to prevent them from coming home with the littlest of scratches. But at the same time, I don't think children are mini adults! They are not capable of reacting or processing things they way we do. They are children, life hasn't taught them everything, parents can't teach children everything growing years can and children just don't have the know-how to get out of difficult situations like adults do. Free range parents are calling non-free range parents fear mongers, COME ON! They just love their children in a different way...I feel very overprotective of the people I love, and for me worrying comes with loving. As parents, I believe we have the responsibility to protect our children and gradually teach them responsibility and rights. I want to allow Arissa to ride her bike around town...but will I allow her to go far while she's only 6 or 7...no...I'm going to be at a safe distance..So she knows I'm there for her when she needs me...I'll teach her what to do when she is in trouble and as the years go by, once I see that maturity emerge in her...I'll loosen the 'reins' a little. Anyways, I do wish we lived in a world where kids could be 100% free range...but since I don't think we do...I think its irresponsible parenting on the parent's part if they choose a completely free range parenting lifestyle...especially depending on location - I mean if you live in a small, safe town or rich gated community...then go for it (to a certain degree). However, not every city is safe...and there are also degrees of safety within a city itself. I remember living in Jamaica, New York and sometimes it scared the bejesus out of me to be outside...I even got into an argument once with a man who was dangerous enough to threaten to push me and my unborn baby into the streets..Sunvi wasn't with me at that moment and I remember being terrified even with the hoards of other people around us. Can you imagine how terrified a kid or teen even would feel being near people like that? Of Course Manhattan would be so much safer in comparision. Anyways I think I'm just rambling now...not sure of any of what I said made sense. Moving on.
*Edit: I read in the papers (recognized him from the picture) few months after the above mentioned incident that the man was jailed for charges of robbery, rape and attempted murder. !*
I absolutely love this website...blog site... http://www.drmomma.org ...The site is titled 'Peaceful Parenting' (such a perfect title!) and it discusses everything from breast feeding to co-sleeping to baby wearing/carrying. These are things that I came to do and love on my own, realizing this natural way of parenting was the best for me and Arissa. I do plan on writing a blog about my whole parenting approach soon...in the meantime...Take a look at this ...That McDonald's ad I find extremely disturbing and unnecessary (for any of you who don't understand why...its because it likens a mother's breast to a burger). And please don't say 'Its just an AD!....' I know it is...but the thing is...who is it supporting or helping and what the heck is it trying to say/sell? Anyways!
Also if this 'non-westernized, don't push your baby away' style of parenting speaks to the inner momma in you...please read the other posts they have...very good resources :)