Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Free Ranging It...

After my last post, and as a parent in general, I've been reflecting quite a bit on what is "safe" or "okay". In our house the childproofing is fairly minimal--our bookshelves, tall and filled with heavy books, are not bolted to the walls (he's not really a climber) and the baby gate guarding the stairs is not attached with hardware. Part of my, seemingly, lackadaisical approach stems from the general truth that my guy is a relatively cautious kiddo--he is quick to reach out a hand to step off of the curb into the sandbox sand and is just now okay with "swinging fast".

We "try" to encourage reasonable risk taking and eagerly anticipate his first time rock climbing (he has to be four for much of it) experience. We want him to ride, run, swim and play fearlessly as he grows...but in order to have him do so, it feels like we need to set aside our own fears and anxieties. I really wrestle with how much hovering may be too much and how free range may be too excessive.

My wife used to play down at the creek by herself when she was in elementary school. I would spend hours in the pastures around our home when I was little, climbing trees and imagining adventures. I would ride the horses along the road side and pedal my way up and down our dirt drive.

I'm not certain how much of the kind of freedom to play and explore which I took for granted as a child I would allow for my own child. Largely because, God forbid, if something happened...

But what are the odds, really?

Check out this site Free Range Kids, worth reading and reflecting!


Eva said...

Wow, Joy - good questions and points. We wrestle with the same thing all the time. With two, I've learned that each kid is different and I impose different limitations for each b/c of both age and capability. This is unequal, but each kid is different.

I've heard crazy stories of parents observing their kids from a distance when their kids didn't know they were there... I long for my boys to gain the confidence that is bred from independent play outside - and - I'm not sure exactly what or when or under what circumstances that will happen.

I guess I'll just live in faith that we'll all know when those boundaries need to be expanded...


Manisha said...

I wonder about this all the time. Our house isn't the most child-proof nor the cleanest. I had a lot of freedom when I was child but I see my mother really worry about her grandchild. Recently, a neighbor felt the need to tell me I should remove a stone table I have in the living room.

My little one has never been seriously hurt and I have seen her be more cautious after a boo-boo or a scrape.

It's all a learning process, isn't it? For us parents and for the little ones.

Joy said...

Hi Manisha! It's funny, I was repeating CONSTANTLY "sweetie, if you pet the bee it will sting and that will hurt." Yet, he persisted...and guess what, he got stung. Now he no longer pets the bees--but he had to be stung to get it.

So, what I'm saying is that sometimes the hurts are the thing that teach rather than our words. So, sometimes I feel like if I prevent the "safe" hurts (the kind that don't require medical care or anything beyond mommy/mama kisses and a band aid) I deprive him of learning.