Free Range Parenting is Hard— Here’s Why

Free Range Parenting is Hard— Here’s Why


My wife and I decided last year to start free-range parenting, after our children began exhibiting symptoms of being smothered — for instance, they told us they couldn’t breathe.

So we started to let them go out into the big wide world by themselves and we agreed to stop hovering above them and protecting them from every little thing.

Oh gosh, the first time we let our kids out of their rooms was really tough for us.

“What if they fall down the stairs,” my wife said.

“What if a spider bites them,” I said, looking at my pet spider Terry the Tarantula.

“Terry wouldn’t bite them,” said my wife. But then she didn’t look so sure. “Would she?”

Then my kids made it to the first floor, and started heading toward the front door.

“Oh Gosh, what if they go outside,” I said. “Won’t the sun blind them?”

“Probably,” said my wife. “I mean, we’ve kept them trapped in here for ten years. In the dark of our strange Adams family mansion. And we’ve had them locked in their bedrooms, for their own good, while we homeschool them via closed circuit television. Because if we were in the same room as them we might give them our germs.”

“And of course they haven’t been vaccinated,” I reminded my wife.

“Because we don’t like autistic children,” she said. “So we’ve avoided any contact with them, although we have slid their vegetarian low fat meals under the door to them, and not let them starve.”

“No fruit juice,” I said.

“Fruit juice is pure sugar,” my wife said in horror.

“That’s true,” I said. “We have given our children nutritious foods. But we have imprisoned them.”

“They’ve basically been our hostages,” my wife said.

“What if they go outside, and they get run over by a car, or…go to the police,” I said.

“They don’t know what the police are,” I said. “Or do they? I mean, we haven’t allowed them any internet connection or electronic devices, other than the closed circuit television for their lessons. Because we believe what we’ve been told about kids spending too much time playing video games and doing social networking and how it is bad for their brains and their body image.”

“Yeah, we bought the whole hand wringing parent thing hook line and sinker.”

“But maybe they read about the police in one of the books we forced them to read because we really think text in a book is fine, whereas all other texts, visual, oral, or otherwise are vile and harmful. But we haven’t scoured every word of every text. Now that I think about it, they probably do know about the police.”

“Oh shit, what should we do?” I said.

“We should chase after them and bring them back,” my wife said.

“No, we have to be strong,” I said, holding her back. “We can do this. We can let the kids out of the house, into the front lawn, because remember, we do have a forty foot wall around our Gothic compound.”

“That’s true,” said my wife. “Whew. I forgot about that.”

We looked at each other and smiled. Our kids would be OK. We wouldn’t be arrested. After a few minutes outside we would bring the kids back upstairs and lock them in their rooms again. They wouldn’t die.

Oh, but we were so terrified.

This free range parenting thing was harder than we’d imagined.

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