The Upper Hand in Parenting: Raising Ultimate Free Range Kids

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I was talking with a cousin the other day about raising kids. Nothing scientific. Hell, there is nothing scientific about successful parenting. We all know this gig is a total crap shoot. We were over at my in-laws, which is only a mile away from mine, and the kids were outside playing. The topic came up of raising kids in the country versus raising them in the city. I may be somewhat biased here, but I do believe that I may have the upper hand.

Being a born and bred "city" girl, I never in a million years thought that living in the country -- isolated, seemingly alone -- would be something that would even interest me. I was so used to having a grocery store 5 minutes away. Want to go to a movie but it starts in 30 minutes? No problem, just hop in the car and you can make it. When we lived in North Carolina and Farmer Bob was "working for the man," we were set up in a nice double wide in the middle of nowhere. Our nearest neighbor was at least 2 miles away and I had to drive 30 minutes just to get to my teaching job. It is here that I quickly learned to appreciate the space, the solitude, the freedom.

We did spend a short stint back in "civilization" with neighbors and fences, but I think we both felt uncomfortable. The constant feeling of someone watching you, knowing what you are doing. Wondering if people were looking in your windows, criticizing how bad your yard looks, or the fact that your house needs a paint job. Afraid that someone might hear you raise your voice at either your spouse or your children when the windows are open, or question why you let your boy drop his pants in the front yard to pee, or why your girl just pooped on the sidewalk, or why you left your 2-year-old in the backyard by herself for 2 minutes while you go pee, in an actual toilet.

Now that we are back in the country, I can NOT imagine a better place to raise children. I remember reading People I Want to Punch in the Throat's blog on raising free range children a while back, and couldn't help but laugh to myself that my littles may just be as "free range" as it gets. When you are surrounded by this:

and this:

and this is where you ride your bike:

and go for wagon rides

We are the ultimate in "free range." Helmets and knee pads are not required here. Hell, if we see a car we are caught off guard. Pavement? We have none. We do have a couple of helmets, but PITA wears them more for entertainment purposes than for safety. My kids play outside unsupervised *GASP* at times. Mainly because momma has things to do. You know what I mean: bathrooms to clean, beds to make, vacuum to run.

My littles have freedom. Freedom to explore, to move, to breathe, to find themselves. For this I am grateful. We have tree forts and hidey holes, all kid made of course. They ask, make that BEG me if they can go outside and play, to ride bikes, to explore. They love it and I can't complain, or say no.

I know that the isolationism is not for everyone. Some just need the social interaction not just for themselves, but for their kids. I could not imagine living anywhere else. Somewhere my kids are kept in by fences and needed to be watched like an eagle at every moment. As Farmer Bob and I drive through my momma's neighborhood, we shake our heads at the moms standing grumpily in their driveways watching their kids play, keeping them from riding into the street; they just never look happy. Irritated that they have to stand out there, supervising. Our kids have friends over to play, and we never see them. They stay outside and they entertain themselves. It really is heaven. Not only for them, but for me as well. I love that they have the ability to explore on their own if they choose.

Our kids will sometimes, not as often now, but every once in a while ask when we are moving to "town." Our response: NEVER!!! I know that now they have a hard time appreciating the freedom that they have out here. A different kind of freedom. Someday they will realize that they have more freedom than they realize. The freedom to explore, to learn, to be themselves. I can think of no better gift to give them besides my eternal love, but they have that regardless of where we live.

Have a fabulous day, I know we will!


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