Free-range? Am I raising chickens or children?


When I sat down to write about parenting, my intension was to type (mostly) on how it is to be a mother of (2) young adults and (1) elementary age child.  The journal I keep on my nightstand is filled with the past parent successes, and the flaws that my husband and I have collected over the years.   But my idea for this particular writing has taken a turn – it’s probably going to be in the “rant” category.   (up for debate?)

I’ve learned over the course of 20 years that parenting techniques change like the fashion industry.   What was in quickly went out.  Bell bottom jeans.  Skinny jeans.  Boot cut.  Boyfriend {{sigh}} jeans.    You get my drift here.   Parenting techniques have changed just like the styles we wear.   I’m going to age myself here….but when I was in elementary/middle school, most of my friends lived in the same neighborhood- we all went to the same Catholic school, and we pretty much had policing from other parents or neighborhood watch dogs – known as Stoop Sitters.  This collection of individuals knew who each child belonged to…and exactly what time we were to be “off the streets”.   “Off the streets” meant- riding our bikes home from our friends house- before the alley light came on.  That was called curfew.  In the summer, boys and girls in my city neighborhood would gather together like a gaggle of geese.  We would ride our bikes to the local Italian Ice stand, or the corner candy store and to the local swim club – meaning, whoever was lucky enough to have a swimming pool.  I was one of the lucky girls in the neighborhood to have a swimming pool.  My friends gathered at my house or my friend Karen’s house for swimming. We created our own version of “Club Med”.   But…when the sun began to settle- just before the alley light shimmered- it was time to gather up your towel and jump on your bike for home.  I loved those summers.

Not too long ago, our oldest two children had the opportunity to ride their bikes throughout a suburban Pennsylvania neighborhood.  Back and forth from one friends house to another.   We had a community pool, so that meant at least one parent would sign up for pool duty each day. Which I took most days since I love being by the water!    If my children were not at our community pool, they went with Grammie to her larger club pool.  Supervision.   That’s what Grammie did.   Though her two grandchildren thought she was sunning herself, swimming a lap or two, and catching up on the latest novel.   It’s amazing how we can give our children space to enjoy time with friends, but yet supervise and guide them at the same time.   And they didn’t even notice.  And Grammie enjoyed her time with these two guppies immensely!

Today as I went to pick up Apple from school, I arrived a few  minutes early.  It was another warm sunny day here, so I decided to hang out by the shade trees and chat with some other moms.   Apparently before I reached the shaded area- the topic of conversation was the media coverage of the Maryland parents who are Free-range Parenting.     Free-range Parenting?   Are we now raising chickens?

I would say, 6 of the 8 mothers (including one dad) was for this free-range parenting.   It’s about teaching responsibility, following instructions, independence.   Here is my rant; no child of mine has ever gone free-range.   When I wanted to instruct responsibility , I began in our own home with chores.  Following instructions – chores and school work.  Which comes with commitment(s).  Teaching life skills by teaching safe skills.  I never kept my children in a cage- however there were times when I wanted to lock myself in a cage.  {that was a funny}    I never insisted my children walk by my side after the age of 10, however they had each other to walk with.  Disney…would we have allowed them to roam freely at the age of 10 in a huge theme park?   No.  Have I given them free range to roam at the beach?  Yes.  Within reason.  And that was in the water.

Have I given my children freedom?  Yes.   Perhaps my husband and I fall into the trap where our oldest two had too much freedom.   As parents, we learn by our mistakes.  The third time around with parenting- we have learned a few lessons of our own.  There are twelve and eleven years between our youngest and her two older siblings.

So, now with a much younger generation of parents going free-range….where do we stand?

News coverage, TV host, social media….it’s all gone free-range parenting overload!!   I typically don’t follow this type of coverage, if anything I hear it from another source, read it on another blog, or see it posted on social media, and that’s where I can tune it out.   That’s called freedom to be me.   {another funny}

I’m in NO way stating that my husband and I are the better parents because we don’t have our youngest chick roaming around free-range style on our farm.   We don’t live on a farm….and she isn’t a chicken.   But we parent her at this stage of her life as we feel is the best for our lifestyle.  My mother would say to me “you’ll know when it’s time to allow the flight wings to grow back”.   Again, my siblings and I were not birds, but my mother had a useful tool that she passed on to me.

I want Apple to enjoy her childhood.  I want her to have the same opportunities that her siblings had while they were in elementary school.   I want her to be safe.  Most importantly, we want her to know that whatever we do as parents….it’s out of love.   Perhaps Football Superstar and I became “old school” once more in our parenting methods.  Perhaps we are getting old….perhaps it’s just because we learned the first time around (thankfully they were back to back) what successes we had and what mistakes we made.  Young adults will choose their path no matter what guidelines they had at home.  Less boundaries and restrictions, less pick that up before it grows legs and feet.   I recently learned that with all the pick it ups, and be home before curfew, no you may not go with them, all the no you may not(s)…..have paid off.  Well, at least in some areas.  Our college daughter informed me her roommate was sick (again).  After enough times of the roommate running to the dorm bathroom and making it….apparently the last trip, she missed opening the door…and well….ugh.    Our College Daughter (the one who would get sick herself if she witnessed violent vomiting) found herself cleaning up after the sick roommate.  I was given an award that night- a gratitude of thanks.  “Man, oh, man – how did you ever do that mom?   “And, you did it for three of us!  Thanks mom for taking such good care of me.  All of us”.  {{my eyes are watering}}

I did it, and I would do it again and again.  Well, chances are it will happen again (hopefully not too soon) with our youngest before she enters high school.  It is what I did.  What we did.


Back to this free-range parenting…..    We don’t live in the city- even if we were to go back to the city- we would continue our close-range parenting.    And does it really matter where we live?

We’re going to allow the flight wings to grow- but not until our little Apple is ready.  Working in the field of education the past twenty years has given me a telescope to the world.   Especially in social services.  I send prayers to those parents who give free-range, that their children remain safe, and are given the life skills needed to be responsible – even if it is just walking home from the bus stop – at any age.

I’ll rant no more.

Home….home on the range……

I don’t eat chicken….or beef….but I LOVE Chick-Fil-a adds!


4 thoughts on “Free-range? Am I raising chickens or children?

  1. I don’t have kids so I may not have much to add to this topic. I did grow up on a farm, really completely “free range,” and I loved it and think it had a lot to do with making me who I am today. What I think is most important is that parents make decisions they are comfortable with and can justify, regardless of the trends.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Parenting is quite different today than in the past. I remember when we purchased the house we raised our daughter in over 30 years ago. It had a brook at the bottom of a ravine. The water was no more than a few inches deep at any given time, even after a strong rain. It never occurred to me that it would be a source of concern for my daughter’s safety. No one I knew thought that way back then. Fast forward to when we sold our house a few years ago, every couple that looked at it who had kids or were planning on having kids wouldn’t consider the house for that reason. We ended up selling it to a couple that wasn’t going to have a family. Our real estate agent had said she had seen a huge shift in attitudes. Young parents are cautious to the point of paranoia. Who’s to say what the consequences of this will be. As for me, I can’t imagine having had a childhood where my every move was monitored. To me, that’s not a childhood, but a prison.

    Stopping by from Over 40.


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