My daughter, Willow, has always been a free spirit. She loves to explore and solve problems on her own. I know every mother thinks their child is brilliant, but when she broke the time record at her Montessori school’s escape room, I knew I had a child who could handle herself.
I first heard about free-range parenting at our Mommy and Me drum circle. I was intrigued by the concept, so I decided to do some research and tailor the philosophy to fit our family dynamic. The idea is simple: The only way for a child to learn responsibility is by trusting it enough to make its own decisions, so once a child knows the difference between right and wrong, they should be entrusted with the same freedom as adults. Free-range parenting isn’t total anarchy, however. I compiled a simple list of guidelines that I heavily suggested she followed if she felt like it was the right thing to do.
Willow’s Rules (abridged) :
- Stay hydrated.
- Don’t cross major highways without someone eight years or older accompanying you.
- Please let us know if you are going to be out later than expected.
- Make friends! Try using your “yes and” technique when approached by “strangers”.
- A scraped knee is not a crisis; emergency trips home should be reserved for snake bites and accidental gluten consumption.
- Leave your screens at home; wood is nature’s iPad.
- Be grateful.
- Be present.
We’re now on week seven of this new philosophy, and things are going brilliantly. It’s liberating for both of us. Time I used to spend carting Willow to and from activities and watching her like a hawk at playgrounds is now free for embroidery and sound baths, and she’s been using her newfound independence to explore her interest in collage. Here’s one of her most recent pieces:
It looks like she’s made some friends as well. Her best bud at the moment seems to be someone named Forest John. Apparently, his parents let him out with a camera, because she loves sending us pictures he’s taken of her holding up current newspapers making silly faces. I’m guessing it’s some sort of meme-challenge that we’re too old to understand. Regardless, I think she’s won, because we have at least seven of the things decorating our fridge now.
Otherwise, we haven’t heard a peep! Our journey hasn’t been entirely hitch-free, though. We did have to address an issue with Willow regarding financial support. When she agreed to this lifestyle, she conceded that whenever she was home, we would take care of her, but any outdoor spending was to come from her trust fund. Needless to say, we were not pleased when we started getting Venmo requests in the hundreds of thousands from Forest John on behalf of Willow. These demands may be annoying and disrespectful of my personal time, but considering I haven’t had to buy any GoGurt or Shopkins in almost two months, it’s totally worth it.
Free-range parenting has made me a whole new woman and completely revitalized our family dynamic. I never thought that giving my child freedom would free me as well, but here we are. I haven’t seen my daughter in weeks, and we’ve never been closer.