Everyday Celebration Of Parenting
Every year at this time, in North America and other places today is celebrated as Mother’s Day. My personal view is that every day is a day to take even a minute and celebrate all who are parenting in some way shape or form. However, at the heart of days like today is the wish to make a special note and shout out, as they say, the celebrant.
Author Robert A. Heinlein said this about mothers: “Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” It is a statement that could be made more general of parenting. It is an attitude.
Today is a good time, in my mind at least, to rehash an old post. It is one that was written by me a couple of years ago on this very subject – the attitude and styles that many are parenting.
Free Range Parenting
Back in the 60’s when I was a kid, all of us were what they are now calling Free Range Children. We:
- Played ‘dolly house’, in cardboard boxes out in the backyard.
- Sipped on deliciously flavoured mud tea and ate leaves for cakes
- Ran buck-naked with the dogs
- Bathed outdoors with the garden hoses
- Sat under the mango trees and ate the fallen fruits
- Walked to and from schools alone or in packs of 6-year-olds.
After 10 or more years of running wild and free, most of my childhood playmates are still going strong. With doctorates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law, communications, medicine, theology and many other fields, we all became geniuses at the most coveted field – “Thrivers in Life.”
Life Lessons Learned On A Horse’s Back
My regular readers might recall a story that I shared of how my daughter and a playmate fell while horse playing. For those who have never heard this story, let me summarise.
As there was no money to seek medical treatment for both, my daughter got her first lesson in mind control. She learned many other lessons before and after that on the open fields of life. Among them, my daughter learned:
- To sleep when and wherever she needed to through years of slumber swaddled on trains across Europe.
- To eat and appreciate most foods at least once and show respectful to those give it to her. This was taught to her through many meals of Spam, sardines and chicken back – all we could afford at points in our journey.
- To entertain herself with very little. She spent many hours with other kids in the nearby caves, played alone with sticks and stones and fed the pigs and chickens at her grandparents’ home in rural Jamaica.
- To focus, having done her homework or slept on the floor under my desk or my ex’s desk in a noisy newsroom.
Free Range Parenting
If free range parenting is:
- allowing your child to explore the colours, texture and variances of our world with open eyes and hearts
- parental guidance of right and wrong and a compass to get back home after such exploration
then I am all for it!
Quoting from the National Public Radio:
“Last December , parents in Silver Spring, Md., allowed their two children — 6 and 10 years old — to walk home from a park about a mile away. Someone reported seeing unsupervised kids, the police picked them up and then the parents found themselves under investigation for neglect by their local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency.
The parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, say they believe in “free range” parenting. They want to instill self-reliance and independence in their children. But now they are under investigation again. Earlier this month, police picked up the children as they walked home from a park and took them to the CPS offices. They were returned home hours later.”
Cautious In This Day And Age
Yes, there are people around who have ill-intentions towards children. I have had that experience. In my case, however, they were not out by the ballpark where my posse of 7-year-olds had gone to play. The predators in my story were right in our house or literally next door.
When I opened my door and unleashed my child, it was with her head loaded with information about: which ‘pasture’ she ought to roam in, mealtimes, description of the wolves and foxes and what to do if one showed up and not to wander off from her fellow chickens!
In a digital age, it is comforting to know that there are technologies available for us to check the whereabouts of our children. The flip side, however, is that so many tie their children’s living to an app or device. Being a “free ranger” myself, I am not immune to this. My daughter and I got into a debate on this when I declared that my granddaughter’s first birthday gift from me would be a Tablet!
A couple of years ago, my neighbour was a woman with two lovely children – free range kids. This gift was very much one from their grandmother, who grew up on a farm here in Alberta. She is a “DIY“ extraordinaire – around the house and in the yard. As she is out and about, with or without the children’s mother, the kids could be seen sitting in the dirt having a ball! Not once did I hear either mother or grandmother warning them of bacteria, bugs or getting their clothes messed up. Winter time the same deal. They were out in below zero temperatures – cold but warm enough to be outdoors, making snowmen or beating the crap out of each other with snowballs. And these were not children short on toys, books, gadgets and televisions to watch!
Balance – It Is Always About Balance.
That is the key! Balanced parenting is one that supports a child’s development, natural curiosity, well-being and in fact, health. Back in 2014, it might have been a new buzz word. However, there is nothing new about free-range parenting. It is how we 50+ plusers grew up!
As for that Tablet for my granddaughter? She got it last Christmas when she was two-years-old. And like my former neighbours’ children, she eats and plays in the dirt, does her laundry in the toilet (that is another story) and will pull a dog’s tail given the opportunity.
There is no manual for parenting. We all do the best we can. Hopefully, that leaves room for children to explore, be and evolve into their full selves.