Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Free Range Chickens??

Well how about "free range children"? I've been raising my kids as free range children for years, now it becomes trendy.

The free-range child

No flash cards. No swimming lessons at three months. No hand-holding. Just a whole lot of unstructured time. A growing number of parents are espousing a radical philosophy: It's time our children got some life skills by actually living

Finally, common sense returns! I didn't know I was trendy. I hope this trend lasts. It's a healthy, family saving idea.

Cleone Grasham's days of shuttling her three daughters hither and yon to sports, choir and other organized activities are over.

The Toronto mother has scaled it back to one gymnastics class for one of her kids – and that's it.

“It was wearing on everybody,” says Ms. Grasham of her family's once-packed schedule.

“Everything was late and dinner was always rushed, and by the end of the day no one seemed to have done as much as they had wanted to do.”

For one thing, school offerings such as plays and community service projects already keep her kids, 6, 10 and 11, busy.

But with her own fond childhood recollections of simply playing soccer in the park until calls of “Dinner!” summoned her home, Ms. Grasham is actively embracing a gleefully retro rethink of the condition of the modern child.

If my boys ask to get involved in an activity, we will support their choice, as long as they want to do it, but they go in with the understanding that they must finish what they start. This makes them think carefully about how they want to spend their free time. No fast food suppers in this house, except pizza on Fridays. If my boys want me to make potato salad or perogies, they have to help, if they want to eat it. Glad to see some other parent's are catching the common sense bug.

On the one hand, he says, we're pushing kids to achieve academically and rack up life skills to prepare them for a competitive world. On the other, we're holding them back by not allowing them freedom – to walk to school, to stay home alone – that previous generations enjoyed. With a growing swell of parenting experts to feed each impulse, parents can easily forget that childrearing is hardwired into them.

That's the problem, all those so called "experts" probably don't even have children of their own, or if they do, they use them as guinea pigs for their books. This just shows the Conservatives $100 a month universal childcare plan, that gives parents a choice, was the right plan for families. Imagine, parents as the "parenting experts" and not some lefty socialist "expert".

So, free range children? I'm all for it!


Anonymous said...

I would say this is true except for young teenagers who can get into a whole mess of trouble if they free-range and hang out in the park with troubled teenagers.

I think the philosophy of having the kids to stick to an activity for a specified length of time if they sign up for it helps cut down on the number of activities.

Anonymous said...

keeping kids tired and active in orginized sports or other activites lends itself to keeping them out of trouble... like everything else in life you have to balance it between being not enough and too much...thats being involved in your childs life and raising a young adult...we already have too many grown up children...just watch the opposition in question period to see where that got them...

Anonymous said...

Your logic escapes me. I agree that planning every waking moment of a child's life from the time they emerge from the womb is ridiculous.

However, as a working mother, $100/month is no substitute for universal childcare.It is certainly not a choice either. It's a baby bonus.

The Harper govt has actually encouraged families to enlist their kids in organized sports with tax credits. No help for those of us who don't plan to spend our weekends at the hockey arena.

Quite frankly, I find this whole hockey dad/mom stereo-type annoying.

Whether it's your reality or not, more and more Canadian families are living in big cities. Often, both parents must work for the family to survive. Moving to rural communities simply isn't an option or a desire for many.

Universal daycare is a big issue for me. It creates an equal playing field for our children regardless of economic background.

I spent 8 years in university. I don't need to be told by social conservatives that I must choose between my career and my family. You certainly wouldn't tell my husband such a thing.

My career is important to me. So is the money it brings into the household. The $100/month scheme is tell-tale of a govt that doesn't have enough smarts to come up with anything better.

Anonymous said...

Guess it comes down to priorities. I have done both. The important element is TIME.
No amount of structured time and relentless activity to 'induce fatigue' is a match for special time and teaching for kids. If kids sense your career is more important than they are, they will look for acceptance and belonging somewhere else.

Reid said...

It's about time some common sense began to return to the generation of "bubble wrapped" children.

Could you imagine the horror of letting your kindergarten aged child walk to school alone? What the hell has happened to people?

My understanding is that there actually hasn't been any increase in crimes against children, like abduction etc, only in the media reports of these crimes. When I was a kid in elementary school, during the time and area of Clifford Robert Olsen, my parents, and my friends parents, didn't even think twice about letting us do our thing. The bike rack at school used to be full because every kid rode a bike to school (no one got driven to school and those that did got made fun of for being "sissies"), my parents had a whistle to call me and my sister home for dinner (we could hear that thing for miles). But now parents are calling out the mounties if their kid slips out of their sight for 5 seconds.

Life skills people... life skills.

Reid said...

Off topic... but coincidental weirdness. On a day I bring up CRO as a tangential comment... he's in the news for having a MySpace page.