someone’s bringing it lately

Lenore Skenazy from Free Range Kids has lightening-fast tweeted and posted a few wonderful articles in the last twenty four hours.  Even though I rarely do a linkdump here on my personal blog, these have been edifying and encouraging reads.

I’ve thought about the support I receive from most vocal quarters regarding the trust and freedom we Hogabooms give our children. Sadly, on any subject we tend to encamp with those who share our same views, fears, trepidation, and judgments. But I wish every middle-class parent/caregiver who kept their child under wraps – in what I would consider the typical style of many Americans – would read this piece: “What The Authorities Can Do If We ‘Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There'” a guest post by Trip Gless at Free Range Kids. Gless gives a parent’s perspective on children’s freedom (to walk about town, to go to the park, etc) which includes some “child neglect” statistics, the intent of neglect laws and their confluence with the ogre of molestation and Stranger Danger, and CPS investigation and response to child neglect calls. Rather timely for us I need hardly say, as the article was posted yesterday, the same day of our little CPS visit for Nels’ jaunt to the bus station.

A brief review of the film Babies (2010) at babble provoked so many feelings inside me. First, I am excited to see this film and I have a feeling I will love it. Second, I feel such sadness that when my children were babies I did not have the wisdom then that I do now. Yes, yes, I know, the hindsight so many parents voice, yadda yadda. But for me the pain, although not overwhelming, is acute. I could have enjoyed things much more, I could have been an activist much earlier, and my children could have had a heck of a lot better baby- and toddlerhood. Looking around me I see Americans doing silly, unnecessary, and arduous things around the care of our children due to misguided, harmful, and socially-enforced agendas (please note, I don’t necessarily find these Americans themselves silly, most of them care very much about their children); when I had my own babies I fell prey to many of these things as well (perhaps fodder for a future post). My thoughts and aim these days are to help any individual family so that they can have an improved, empowering, and more dignified family life – whatever their circumstances (in fact just this morning I have two messages in my email queue seeking assistance on these subjects). Yet despite daily positive experiences, sometimes brand-new or not-yet parents ask me for advice or perspective and I feel lost; anything I have to give will likely be lost in the sea of cultural messages they have been getting since far before they ever thought consciously about the responsibilities, work, and joy of caring for another human being.

Sierra at Strollerderby’s babble blog featured a wee piece entitled “Will you be arrested for leaving your kid alone the park?”, which outlines briefly what legally constitutes “neglect” in our United States (so many people I know believe there’s a legal prescribed age a child can be left alone; I think parents sometimes find comfort in this imaginary “rule” as it alleviates them from making their own choices). More importantly, in this brief little blurb Sierra tells us why she’s willing to take the (small) risk of “getting in trouble” for allowing her children a park playdate. And I applaud her for this.

And now to my emails and – joy! – our first day back to Homeschool Sports, which I have been looking forward to probably even more than my children.

5 thoughts on “someone’s bringing it lately

  1. As an urban free range kid myself, I saw so many things that I’m sure made me wiser, but that I do not wish my kids to experience. I’m pretty sure that I’ve blocked out at least 50% of it. I’m not stating this as opposition to the free range kid philosophy, but I am curious as to how some people overcome their own well-founded fears to become the mature, child-empowering parents of today. Because frankly, it scares the shit out of me.

    I am all for the free range kid philosophy. It’s just that I would be a wreck most days if I gave my kids that much freedom to wander and explore.

    It’s my baggage to carry, but it does affect my kids so I would like to overcome it. I’m much better than I used to be, but nowhere near your level Kelly. I’m only pointing this out because I think it may be at the root of many misunderstandings between parents. “I would never let my kid do that!”, seems to be an attack when I think it may actually be a defense mechanism for that person’s world view. I always do my best not to apply my paradigm to other people’s kids. Most of the time I succeed.

    Actually, I think you addressed this already, but it was swirling around in my head so I typed it out.

  2. …and thanks for the links to the articles. I’ve been in AZ most of my life (born here too), so the statistics are very interesting to me.

  3. “I would never let my kid do that!”, seems to be an attack when I think it may actually be a defense mechanism for that person’s world view.

    Absolutely. Which is one reason I don’t join in with those who sneer at “helicopter parents” and their hovering tendencies and how hovering RUINS LIVES etc. – although now and then I do need a good venting session about paranoia. ‘Cause it bugs me (and affects us, obviously!).

    It took me a while to get to my “level” and it isn’t always easy but I will say, observing my kids and their abilities, joys, freedoms, independence, happiness, sense of adventure and confidence, life skills and autonomy are a huge payoff. Also, my “level” has included my acceptance that lots of other people parent more conservatively, or whatever you’d call it.

    As an urban free range kid myself, I saw so many things that I’m sure made me wiser, but that I do not wish my kids to experience. I’m pretty sure that I’ve blocked out at least 50% of it

    Ah, reading this makes me want to hear more. Because one thing about my kids, I feel so confident that if something happened that bugged them, they’d let me know (and they have). Wondering if you felt you could come home to a safe place or if you felt unsafe or… Just, wondering. Feel free to email because I love talking about childhoods!

  4. Sometimes it was safe. Sometimes it wasn’t. It’s funny you asked for an email because I originally began to comment, decided it was too long, then started an email, decided it was too “woe is me”, and finally settled on the brief version above. I’ll type an email up for ya though. It’s somewhat colorful, disturbing and funny all at the same time.

    It may take me a few days.

  5. I really do appreciate it. I take my email correspondence seriously, and I’m always looking for more personal anecdotes and others’ experiences to broaden my perspective.

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