Free range parenting is a relatively new terminology in the child rearing scenario. This philosophy of raising kids is completely contrary to the concept of hovering or helicopter parents. While the former focuses on self reliance and independence, the latter is all about strict vigilance.
Pros and Cons of Free Range Parenting
The Good Old Days
Parents of young children today would probably be a generation born in the decade of the 70s or 80s. Some may be a little older. Either ways, if you turn back the hands of time and relive your childhood days, one would realize that child rearing was then completely different. It was very common to play outdoors in the neighbourhood or go cycling on the streets without any restrictions. The rule of thumb was to enjoy till the sun goes down. Once dusk set in, parents expected kids to be inside the house.
Shift in Ideology
Well, this may seem like a fairy tale for kids of today. There has been a gradual shift in the parenting ideology. Today, child rearing is all about supervision and monitored activities. Adult surveillance has almost become mandatory in our society. Professionally driven parents have highly scheduled routines for children. There are fixed timings, for after school activities that children attend in a robotic manner. The need for constant supervision is also increasing thanks to the rising morality in society. Parents are constantly living under the fear of child abductions and abuse. As most parents are found reiterating, ‘we trust our kids, but we cannot trust others’.
The Positives and Negatives
As in the case of anything under the sun, free range parenting also comes with contrary viewpoints. There are some who love it, others hate it. Let us unfold certain significant pros and cons of this philosophy of child nurturing. This insight will help parents decide whether or not to let kids move out of your well guarded orbit.
- Builds self confidence and enhances the personality of the child.
- Kids learn to trust their own judgments and imbibe skills to handle difficult situations.
- When challenges are faced individually, success adds to the self esteem in a manner superseded by none.
- Children are less anxious about their surroundings.
- Imbibe managing and problem solving skills very early in life.
- Firsthand experience promotes creativity and makes them more resourceful.
- Children learn to take responsibility for their actions.
- Free playtime with friends promotes attributes of social communication, decision making, and compromising.
- Children watch lesser television and learn to explore nature and the outside world.
- The world has certainly grown to be more unsafe than it was years back. Leaving kids unmonitored means exposing them to more dangers and threats.
- Lack of adult supervision increases probability of abduction, molestation and abuse.
- The world has become more competitive. In order to achieve career goals, it has become cardinal to enroll kids into fixed activity routines rather than allowing free play.
- Additional co-curricular strengths showcase academic excellence in better light and help secure college admissions.
- More and more women are venturing out of their homes to pursue professional ambitions. This means lesser eyes of surveillance on the neighborhood streets, hence the greater need of monitoring.
- Higher percentage of working mothers has led to rise in the nanny concept. In the absence of 24/7 monitoring, the babysitter or nanny is free to operate as per their desire, which may have an adverse effect on child care.
- Left to explore the world at their own pace, children become too laid back and tend to lack the competitive drive and edge.
There are a lot of parents who seem to confuse free range with completely hands off parenting. Free range parenting canvasses letting children conduct activities on their own. However, a responsible parent following the philosophy will ensure that the child is trained to conduct the task before actually venturing out into the real world.
Strike a Balance
The dichotomy in thought continues. Parenting is a very personal issue. While some parents believe in nurturing children with a free approach and perspective, there are others who canvass 24/7 supervision and will never let kids be out of their sight. What is pertinent to understand is that there should be a balance in rearing ideology. Yes, agreed that adult monitoring is necessary, but so is giving a certain amount of freedom and liberty. Rearing children in a protected cocoon will inhibit personal growth.
The safest would be to follow a path wherein kids are allowed to face certain challenges, whose repercussions are absolutely safe and will not cause any harm. It is when we ourselves explore and do things independently that we learn the biggest lessons of life.