I Think I Am One Of Those Free-Range Parents

I have not always been; and I most certainly never intended to be. But there it is. I am becoming (if not already become) that chick. After years of excessive hovering, I now sometimes let my kids go do stuff without me monitoring their every move. I lie in bed for hours as they run up and down our street, entering neighbors backyards (and ever so often possibly homes). I sit in my car–seat reclined unto lying down–as they race around the playground or park. I get up when I need to. They check in. We all win.

Until recently reading articles on huffingtonpost.com and slate.com going back and forth about it, I had no idea this was a THING. I mean, I have never considered it one way or the other globally speaking. As a teacher, I have a sworn duty to protect and correct kids everywhere; I do ‘t care where I am and who their parents are or even if said parents are around. I am used to children being children–which means some have much more freedom than others and I sometimes need to step in and restore order.

Having read all these articles and kind of looking it up online (halfheartedly because WTW?), I find so many things about this concept interesting. I have questions!

Is this an urban/suburban thing? I am from Mississippi, where neighbors and neighbor’s kids aren’t always close by. I recall my mom being pretty strict about going into certain people’s houses but we got to move around pretty freely outside. Of course there were some unspoken boundaries; yet I do not ever remember getting in trouble for going too far. Definitely don’t remember the police being called because we were by ourselves.

What is it about white people seeing kids “close” to a parking garage or a shopping plaza a big deal? I mean, they can’t go into a bar. So….? Why trip? Many kids walk around many unsavory places without harm; also, most of the harm that comes to kids? From folks they know, usually family members. So walking past a parking garage isn’t that serious. Playing at the park without your mom right there swatting flies won’t usually end in tragedy. Sleeping at home is just as dangerous.

Is this a white people thing? Don’t get me wrong–I am not saying that having a discussion about children and boundaries and freedom is a bad thing or that black people just let their kids go off all willy-nilly. O, noooo! Most black parents I know are incredibly hands on. It just seems that white people have this love/hate relationship with giving their kids responsibility AND with others interjecting.

I think black people have traditionally been more comfortable with other people correcting their kids in public places (though that is changing now, and I am sad). Like, part of being a free range kid is having ghost parents all over the place–a village, per se. I mean, that IS the reason you moved to the burbs to begin with, right? To have a village? Otherwise why live so freaking close to other folks?

The second part of that “white question”: Do you think other kids are less precious or their parents less concerned? I watch you drive pass kids of other cultures all the time who perhaps need some supervision, but you don’t call CPS. I raise all the eyebrows at double standards.


Is it THAT serious that you call the cops? I find it odd that adults balk at calling the cops when they see someone getting their butt kicked or see a child clearly in physical or emotional distress. Yet you have zero qualms calling police when you see a well adjusted kid or two in a space that makes you uncomfortable. Oh. Never mind. I answered that for myself. You are comfortable with watching children beat each other up on Facebook and teenage strippers twerk and rap about taking the sausage, but somehow 10 year olds walking around without a mom attached make you nervous. Hmmm.

I said all that to say… Nothing! I think free ranging is good within limits. Boundaries are great until they become totally restrictive. I just find all the debate interesting. Because when did this become a THING?

Help me out here.


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