Parenting

What is free parenting and is it right for your child?

What is free parenting and is it right for your child?

Loose parenting has had its share of controversy over the years, but parents and experts who support the parenting style say it encourages independence. (Photo: Getty Creative)

For some, the phrase “freedom parenting” conjures up images of parents letting their children run wild without supervision or intervention. Left alone at home or allowed to go to school or the park alone, children on the loose have made headlines for a variety of reasons over the years. But parents like Lenore Skenazy say it’s a common misconception that loose parenting focuses on child neglect or lack of parental supervision. In fact, the New York mom says these popular beliefs couldn’t be further from the truth.

Skenazy, author of Children at large and co-founder of let growa non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents raise independent children, has received national media attention for being “America’s Worst Momwhen she let her 9-year-old son ride the New York City subway alone.

Skenazy defines free parenting as “the rejection of the idea that this generation of children is in constant danger”. When she was a child, walking to her friends’ house was not out of the question as it is for many children today. Skenazy says it’s not that parents on the loose don’t care about their children, it’s the opposite.

According to Skenazy, who hosts the reality show The worst mom in the world, where she helps parents she deems “extremely overprotective” to change their parenting style, the idea behind parenting on the loose is for parents to understand that the world is not as dangerous as other people and that the media makes it so. claim. They also believe that children have enough street smarts to be left on their own, but rarely get the chance to use it.

“It’s nice that the kids have some independence,” Skenazy told Yahoo Life. “It’s good for them to work out some issues on their own and see their friends and have a life that’s connected to you but not under or constantly overseen by you.”

Skenazy isn’t the only parent to add loose parenting concepts into his family dynamic.

Stephanie Lips says that although her son is now 22, she fondly remembers allowing him to run around their neighborhood, play with friends and stay out until dinnertime.  (Photo: Stephanie Lips)Stephanie Lips says that although her son is now 22, she fondly remembers allowing him to run around their neighborhood, play with friends and stay out until dinnertime.  (Photo: Stephanie Lips)

Stephanie Lips says that although her son is now 22, she fondly remembers allowing him to run around their neighborhood, play with friends and stay out until dinnertime. (Photo: Stephanie Lips)

For parents like Stephanie Lips, the idea of ​​letting her children practice independence came naturally since that’s how she was raised. Her closest relatives weren’t bothered by it either. “Not a single parent questioned what I was doing,” she shares. “We were all parents the same way – the way we had been a parent – wanting to go out to play first thing and only coming in when it was dark.”

Lips says when her now 22-year-old son was 7, she didn’t mind seeing him running out shortly after breakfast to knock on his friends’ doors. They biked and skated all over their neighborhood, held street hockey games, then ran around his backyard to play baseball and jump in the pool afterward.

Similar to Lips, Dan Emery, owner of New York Guitar School, incorporated elements of loose parenting into the lives of his children when they were younger. “I would give my kids and their friends a few bucks to pick up pizza from the street while I had a meeting,” Emery says. “I would entrust them with doing their own laundry instead of doing their laundry for them.”

While the concept may make helicopter parents or parents who practice other parenting styles scratch their heads, there are ways to slowly incorporate aspects of loose parenting into your own parenting practices. children.

Think about the future when raising your children

When deciding whether or not to incorporate elements of loose parenting into your child’s life, it’s important to consider the future benefits.

“Children raised in the wild are often quite independent, resilient and good at problem solving,” says Bethany Cookauthor of For what it’s worth: a perspective on how to thrive and survive parenthood from 0-2 years. “Children raised in this parenting style are more likely to succeed with the challenges of adulthood.”

Dan Emery says that as his free-range children grew, they expressed their gratitude for being allowed to learn so many skills on their own as children.  (Photo: Dan Emery)Dan Emery says that as his free-range children grew, they expressed their gratitude for being allowed to learn so many skills on their own as children.  (Photo: Dan Emery)

Dan Emery says that as his free-range children grew, they expressed their gratitude for being allowed to learn so many skills on their own as children. (Photo: Dan Emery)

Emery agrees, saying years later his children thanked him for giving them independence when they were younger. “They told me they liked the way they were allowed to take long walks. They feel really good today because they have been able to do their own laundry since they were very young. They appreciated that my wife and I encourage them to have their own relationships with teachers and mentors and they loved getting their own grades and results,” Emery says.

Be aware of the consequences

While there are many benefits to free parenting, society isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea, so it’s important to know the laws and other protocols your state has in place to let children without supervision, says Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and CEO. of happiest baby.

“Each state has its own laws regarding the ages at which children are allowed to be alone…and those ages vary widely.” said Karp. “Ultimately, tune in to what you think is good for your child. and find out about the laws in your area.”

Cook says it’s also wise to think about the psychological consequences that can arise from society’s lack of understanding of free parenting. “Society is not as accepting of loose parenting as a whole and sometimes the police or protective services are called in to assess a family, which can be traumatic for both children and parents,” it adds. -she.

Slowly and steadily wins the outdoor race

You don’t have to let your child ride the subway alone to be considered a free parent. It’s totally okay to take baby steps, perhaps starting with letting your child do one thing on their own.

“Let It Grow has a guide available online for parents who want to give their children more freedom but don’t really know where to start,” says Skenazy. “He has plans for schools to send kids home with an assignment: go home and do something new on your own. .”

It can be as simple as knocking on a friend’s door to play hopscotch outside or pouring out your own bowl of cereal. “Freedom parenting is about teaching and supporting children’s independence,” says Karp. “Here, parents allow their children to do things on their own, but with expectations in place and guardrails to lean on. This style of parenting can do a lot to promote problem solving, confidence and even creativity.”

Have a good parental support system

Surrounding yourself with other parents who practice free parenting can make it easier for you to implement it in your own life without fear of judgment. Emery says that was key when raising his own children on the loose.

“Parenting can be very difficult and it’s easy for me as a parent to feel like I’m not doing enough or doing things wrong,” he shares. “Other parents feel this too, so I felt a lot of interest from other parents in our approach. I learned a lot and felt supported by other parents who have a similar philosophy. .”

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