Free range kids/moms

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011 ( 46 moms have responded )

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We've debated this before but, I'm always dumbfounded by parents who think it's okay to let their kids be "free". I'm by far a "helicopter mom", I find myself between the two extremes of "free range mom" and "helicopter mom". For those who are free range moms, how do you stand by your decision when we see stories like this one? -

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/nyregi...

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Sal - posted on 07/21/2011

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and as almost any study on such things will show a child (or anyone else for that matter) is far more likely to be raped molested or murdered by a family member or someone known to the family, so you can keep them away from all the strangers you like but it is much closer to home that we all should be far more concerned about (like the little girl killed in melbourn when her dad threw her off a bridge)

Mary - posted on 07/20/2011

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I think there are multiple factors that play into this scenario: the neighborhood in question, the maturity/common sense of the child, and a proven ability to get from point A to B independently.

My niece is almost 9, and there is no way in hell that my sister would let her walk 8 blocks home from a friend's house by herself. While she is an exceptionally bright child, she is a bit immature, and tend to be easily distracted as well as a bit of daydreamer. Chances are, she'd see a butterfly, go off to chase it, and end up a mile from home.

My friend's daughter, who is roughly the same age, is of average intelligence, but is exceedingly grounded and practical. If she were my kid, I would be more inclined to let her and a friend walk 8 blocks (in my neighborhood) to another's house.

In fact, her father has let her do this. However, the first time, he covertly followed her just to make sure that she did know exactly where she was going, and to make sure that she did just go directly from point A to point B.

I'm not sure that this particular story is a good line in the sand for the free-range vs helicopter style of parenting. The kid lived in freaking Brooklyn, and he was alone. And while I know that there are sick assholes in every neighborhood in the world, I'm not sure that the boroughs of New York are a good place for any 8-9 y/o to be wandering alone.

Lady Heather - posted on 07/20/2011

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I wouldn't have let my kid walk home totally alone, but my 8 year old can walk home from school with a friend or sibling, given I feel they are responsible enough. I was doing that by the time I was 5.

This is kind of just one of those unfortunate freak incidents that is highly unlikely to happen but sadly seems to happen to somebody every once in a while. Technically this could happen if you let your 8 year old play in the backyard unattended (if you have a gate back there like I do). It could happen if you went to the park and turned your head for a second to talk to your younger kid while the older one played. It doesn't take long for shit like this to go down, but it's also really rare. I guess that's the comfort for the rest of us. These poor parents though...I can't even imagine.

Sal - posted on 07/20/2011

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and the thing that i think people forget it is the scum who killed the child who is guilty not the parents, there is so much hate towards the parents in these situations lets not lose focus, it is the murderer that is to blame not the parents

[deleted account]

I'm on the free range side of things. I just debated this very question on a friend's facebook...me against 4 people...including my friend's mom and mother in law. My friend's status was something along the lines of her husband thought it was okay to let their 3 year old play outside for 3-5 minutes alone and she did not. I gave my opinion and stated that I allowed MY three year old to play alone (but made it clear if she was not comfortable that was fine) and was jumped on for it. "What if he's attacked by coyotes or eats wild berries? You cannot expect a three year old to know how to handle the outdoors." Of course kids won't know how to handle themselves if you don't TEACH them.

Allowing kids freedom is not about opening the door to the wide world and saying, "Good luck, kid." It's about creating freedom within reasonable boundaries based on your personal circumstances. We live in a safe neighborhood full of our relatives and close friends. Our child displays remarkable common sense for her age and tends to be overly cautious. She freaks out when a stranger tries to talk to her. We've discussed road danger at length. There are physical boundaries in the front yard that she knows not to cross. Based on MY child and MY circumstances I'm comfortable with her playing for short spurts of time in the front yard, and longer lengths of time in the backyard.

I was proud of this so I thought I'd share. My daughter recently spent the night with my parents. She was playing under the carport with the cats and my mom ran in to use the bathroom. My dad was watching my daughter through the kitchen window. The cat suddenly took off across the street and my daughter initially chased after him. BUT she stopped halfway down the driveway, because she knew not to go into the road. She was given (and continues to get) freedom in baby steps and one of the steps was learning road danger. I was proud of my baby that day! =)

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Jeannette - posted on 11/12/2011

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You know, there is an in-between. However, I don't think of this mother as being a "free range mom" because this was the first time she tried to let her son walk by himself. She even wanted to take smaller steps by meeting him halfway.
Now, having been to New York, I saw kids walking by themselves knowing I could not do this. Yet, I do not live there everyday.
That said, we cannot watch our children 24/7, which can be frightening. One of my children got it in their little head that they were going to start sneaking out at 2a.m. to go skateboarding at a parking lot just outside our neighborhood. That was infuriating and frightening when I found out because the child was allowed to skateboard all day long, but just had to follow the friends who wanted to skate at 2a.m. I am thankful nothing happened to my child, but would people blame me if something did?

Jenn - posted on 11/11/2011

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Join my new community Raising Free Range Kids all you Free Range mommies out there:)

Jenn - posted on 11/11/2011

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I am aware this is a little bit of an older thread but i myself am a proud free range mommy. Now my children are ages 5 and 2, so no they do not wonder the neighborhood alone, however i do give them more freedom then some moms may. My youngest is allowed to play in the backyard with her brother without me outside, but the window is open and i am never far. Other then that i let her climb, run, jump, and explore at her own pace and do not stop her. And because of this she is very steady on her feet, has amazing balance and has yet to be hurt seriously. Obviously you cannot be too free range with a toddler but i try not to squash her curiosity. Now with my son who is in kindergarten, i let him ride his bike on the dead end street in front of the house as well as up to the end of the block, he rides his dirt bike, does jumps on his skateboard, goes hunting with daddy with his pellet gun (and all the proper safety equipment mind you) and builds things with daddy's tool (supervised with the more tricky ones). I still walk him to school because although i know he can get there alone, it involves walking across a very busy street (There is a cross walk though). However in the next few years he will be. I love the Free Range Kid movement and upon searching COM for a community to support it, i found none. So i decided to start my own. Please join my community, it is titled Raising Free Range Kids. And do not come to criticize or judge please. There is a huge difference between knowing your childs capabilities and personality and allowing freedom accordingly or being negligent. Hope to see some Free Ranger's there:)

Amber - posted on 07/25/2011

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Even a very close community in Brooklyn isn't safe enough for me to want to let my child walk home alone, and I love the idea of free range. Brooklyn is a highly populated area (2.5 Million people) and also has lots of tourists/strangers wandering around.



I don't think 8 is old enough to navigate through a city with a population of 2.5million safely or to comprehend all of the aspects of what to do in a variety of situations that may arise. Situations which ultimately did arise.

Adrienne - posted on 07/25/2011

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Okay, a couple of points on the situation with the article in the OP. The boy and his parents did a "practice run" the day before to make sure that he knew the route. And while they were in Brooklyn, they were also in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. This is a very close community with a large population of Hasidics. His parents honestly felt that he would be safe because of the closeness of the community. Which is why the story is so incredibly tragic.

I personally fall towards the free range category, but feel it really does depend on the child's maturity level. I won't let my 9 y/o walk down the street by himself. But that's because he has proven repeatedly that I can't trust him to be where he says he will be. He asks "Can I go next door" and ends up across the street. So we only allow him a tiny bit of freedom until he can prove that we can trust him to be responsible.

Sal - posted on 07/21/2011

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i am with sara here, free range is about giving the child and every expanding freedom, when that child in particular is ready for it, not saying now your 8 walk to school,
but as others have said it is also where you live, and how you live, there is no point saying your teen take a train in the city if you have only ever driven them and you never take it, then send them on their own, or saying yep walk home after school iif they have to cross 3 major roads, it is totally about educating the child and then giving them the freedom they are prepared for,
there is nothing more dangerous than when a teen starts uni, moves away from mum and dad and has their very first taste of freedom and no idea how to behave. my first roommate at uni was just like that,.at home she had to be accompanied everywhere by an older cousin or brother or parent, she went to uni 500km from home and spent the first 3 months drunk and partying, went home for holidays and was still having to be accompanied everywhere.....so after holidays she was letting steam off again...poor girl...

Sal - posted on 07/21/2011

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i am with sara here, free range is about giving the child and every expanding freedom, when that child in particular is ready for it, not saying now your 8 walk to school,
but as others have said it is also where you live, and how you live, there is no point saying your teen take a train in the city if you have only ever driven them and you never take it, then send them on their own, or saying yep walk home after school iif they have to cross 3 major roads, it is totally about educating the child and then giving them the freedom they are prepared for,
there is nothing more dangerous than when a teen starts uni, moves away from mum and dad and has their very first taste of freedom and no idea how to behave. my first roommate at uni was just like that,.at home she had to be accompanied everywhere by an older cousin or brother or parent, she went to uni 500km from home and spent the first 3 months drunk and partying, went home for holidays and was still having to be accompanied everywhere.....so after holidays she was letting steam off again...poor girl...

Valerie - posted on 07/21/2011

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It really does depend on the circumstances, environment, age of children, etc. And no matter what, something can ALWAYS happen.. Educate your kids the best you can while they are younger... and as time goes by and they get older, I don't know how it is even possible to not start letting the reigns looser and looser... I have a 21 year old son, he is happy, healthy, 2 jobs, college full time, his own apartment, AWESOME son, and he was VERY mature at a young age.. he used to go play with the other boys in the block without me being there as he has twin sisters 5 years younger... they are different.. they aren't as mature.. now that they are almost 16, I am letting them go to the mall, etc. and hope they have it in their heads the things I taught them. So far so good!

[deleted account]

Ah, it's okay Schenk. I have lots of practice from DM standing my ground. And my friend actually took up for me. =)

Dana - posted on 07/21/2011

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That's horrible that people jumped all over you Sara. As I've said before it really depends on where you live and if you're using common sense. Clearly where you live it's safe and your children are mature and wise enough to know better.
I think what really gets my goat is, ever since the mother of a 9 yr old in NYC let her kid ride the subway around town by himself, moms have picked up this trendy "free range" thing. Not all of them are irresponsible moms expecting too much of their kids though but, there have been a few stories since then where you're left thinking..."wth were they thinking??"

Sherri - posted on 07/21/2011

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I am not a helicopter parent. But my kids can not have free range here by any means. They can't leave our street because of major traffic, no lights, no sidewalks. Kids are not allowed to walk to school here (until 7th grade but we live way to far to walk) they have to take school bus or be driven by adults.

However, they can play outside in our yard unsupervised, My two oldest if we go to the mall can go off by themselves and meet at a designated place and time. My oldest two can stay at home by themselves if we need to run errands etc.

Amber - posted on 07/21/2011

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I think I fall more free range than I do helicopter. My son doesn't have the option to walk home from school because we live out in the country and he'd never make it there walking... So, I don't have to make that judgement call, but I think I'd let him, as long as I knew he was mature enough, if we lived in a different setting.

As other moms have discussed, free range doesn't mean just tossing your kids out into the world. It means giving them proper guidance and letting them exert their independence when you know they can handle it.

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I don't think I am a helicopter parent, but I know I am not free range either. I like to think I am somewhere safely in the middle, but I am often told I am paranoid or too cautious. I feel the need to prepare and take action to prevent most bad things from happening to me and my family. I am comfortable and confident in my area WITH the precautions I have taken.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that you can take precautions without stifling freedom. Adding a security system to your home does not take any freedom away, but it protects us. Giving your kids a safety net of protection won't stifle them, but it will keep them safe while they learn.

Tara - posted on 07/21/2011

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Not a lot of time right now. But I am a free range parent, and this story does nothing to change my mind about being one.
But I don't live in Brooklyn, I live in Baysville. Pop. 1200 spread out over hectares of land. We know all our neighbours and they know us.
Being free range isn't just a "style" of parenting, it comes with a feeling of comfort in our environment, trust in our community and faith in my kids. I don't parent them all the same way, that would be silliness. As well I don't give freedoms out based on age alone. Everything they do that would constitute being free range is done based on each kid. Based on their own abilities to make good decisions.

They are all given the tools they need to be free range.
This boys parents clearly did not do enough to ensure he was ready to take this journey alone. He got into a freaking car with a STRANGER.

We have code words for the kids, if someone comes to them and says anything like "your mom told me to come get you. Or your mom said I can drive you home etc" they have to ask for the code word, if said person doesn't know it, well then the kids go tell another adult. It's never happened probably because of the small village we live in, but it is a safety net.
btw, the code words are things no one would ever be able to guess, besides if they don't get it the first time, they aren't legit. lol
Once I had a good friend try to give them a ride home from skating lessons (a two block walk from home). This friend has been a friend for years, the kids asked for the code word, she didn't know it, so they said "no thanks". And walked. lol
She thought it was ridiculous that they wouldn't accept a ride from her, (they KNOW me, she said) but I think they were just following the rules, which in this case are never to be broken, ever. So yeah, I trust my free range kids. And I will still be a free range mom.
But I think the BIGGEST factor for anyone and how they parent has to do with geography more than anything else at all ever.
Most of you who say you would never let your kids out of your yard etc. would likely be totally different if you lived where we do.

Dana - posted on 07/21/2011

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Great post, Jodi. I agree 100%! I also agree with Mary, there are some kids who would be fine walking home alone and some kids who aren't going to be fine. This is where I think common sense has to come into play. I don't think parents can just say, "I'm going to be a free range mom" because it's the "new, cool" thing to do, without using their brain too! :)

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C'mon Katherine - it can't be NEVER! There's gonna be a day when she's gonna walk out the door - ON HER OWN! Your job now is training her to be ready for that day.

Sal - posted on 07/21/2011

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i didn;t realise he got into a car with a stranger.....that is like the first lesson in childhood......never get into a car witha stranger...
but like loreen jodi and erin, maybe it is a aussie thing but i did let my son take walks at around that age, i also lived in a quiet little beach side place....

Jodi - posted on 07/21/2011

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"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard." ~Sloan Wilson

Ez - posted on 07/21/2011

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I agree with Loureen and Jodi. Maybe it's the Aussie in us.. IDK. But I don't see an 8yo walking by themselves to be a huge deal. I'm also not in Brooklyn though.

I was walking home from school with my younger brother and a group of other kids at that age. I see plenty of kids that age walking to and from school in my area (suburbs) now. Of course the idea of a psycho who dismembers children is horrifying, but if we lived our lives based on the unbelievably remote chance we might come across someone like that, we would never do anything!

There's not enough information in this article, but it seems this poor boy was ill-prepared for such an adventure. The very fact he got into a car with a stranger when he found himself lost shows that.

Sarah - posted on 07/21/2011

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It's such a sad story.

I would say though that the kid got into a car, with a stranger. Surely one of the first things you would tell your child when you've decided to let them walk somewhere on their own is to NEVER get into a car with a stranger.....EVER.

I'd like to think I'll be more of a free range Mum than a helicopter Mum.......my daughter has just turned 7 so it's getting near to that point of finding out I guess.

I think you just have to drum "stranger danger" and road safety etc into your child from a really young age, so they're more prepared for going out on their own.

Charlie - posted on 07/20/2011

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Ever Katherine ?

(for)Ever is a long time.

"As far as the saying "things happen or shit happens" goes, yes that is very true but if its something you can avoid you need to do it."

I DO agree that we should minimise risk however and avoid certain situations but sometimes these situations are unforseeable (sp?)

We should only avoid so much , In general letting a kid run free before they know their way home or before being given enough knowledge on how to respond to situations is risky but holding a child back from experiencing "controlled" risks is also developmentally stunting , it creates children who grow into adults who have no idea how to function in the world on their own shifting the danger of being alone as a child to finding themselves in danger of being alone as an adult because they lack the skills to be aware , this has a trickle down effect to their ability to function socially.

A psychotic murderer who dismembers children would have found a victim no matter what ...the risk wasnt in the child being alone ..it was a tragedy that the boy was the one .....The risk was in no one picking up on the nutcase who killed him before he found a victim ...I will be damned if I let the sickos in the world prevent me or my children live a full life , it will always be a large part of what I teach my children that they can walk in confidence armed with the physical ( self defense , run ) mental ( stay aware of your surroundings , think quick ) and in this day and age technological ( phone ) abilities to enjoy independence these are things my parents taught me.

I walked to school without a parent at 6 years old ( often with a lot of other children walking down the same road to school a lot of them in my year ) I have carried these things I have learned with me my whole life , I walk everywhere confident even as a teen / early twenties walking at night in the city on my own , If at any time I feel uneasy or unsafe within seconds I know where I will go and what I will do if something happens , I am ready for fight or flight ( preferably flight first ) but if it comes to it my Dad made sure I knew damn well how to fight.

I want them to be confidant , alert and aware that doesnt come with protecting them from things that should and in majority of cases are simple things like walking alone ....That comes with allowing them freedom and independence as each child is capable of .

[deleted account]

That is terrible, I cant even begin to try to understand what the parents must be going through.



As to your question... im am so far from a free range parent, I kinda of hover around helicopter mom. I will let my oldest in the front yard by himself ,very rarely and when I do im at the window or door watching. I allow him certain freedoms as he is getting older and needs some independence. But as a paretn Im far too aware of the dangers of letting my kids run free. We know the kinds of things that can happen our children dont fully understand it yet and its our job to keep them as far from any kind of danger as long as we can.



As far as the saying "things happen or shit happens" goes, yes that is very true but if its something you can avoid you need to do it. In my opinion an 8 year old child should never be walking anywhere by himself. My kids are never out of my sight, aside from being in school and if that makes me a full blown helicopter mom then so be it. Just my opinion.

Katherine - posted on 07/20/2011

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I personally would never let my kid walk home alone. Not from anywhere. I don't consider myself a helicopter parent, but I'm not totally free-range either.

My kids play in the yard without me (my 5 year old does) but that's our yard where I can see her. When we grocery shop she can go to the next aisle and pick something up. But NOWAY is she walking home by herself EVER.

Jodi - posted on 07/20/2011

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My son was about this age when he started begging me to ride his bike to school. I was reluctant, but he didn't have to cross any major roads, and we live in a pretty good suburban neighbourhood with lots of bike paths and many children who walk and ride to and from school in the local area, so I decided to let him have a go and see if he was capable.



On his first time, I DIDN'T just let him go for it. I wanted to make sure he knew where he was going and that he was paying proper attention to his surroundings.....so I followed him (he knew I was with him, but HE had to lead and show me he knew where to go and what to do). He did great, so I felt comfortable letting him go.



There are several things the parents in this scenario *could* have done differently to prevent this situation, none of which included stifling the child. It was his FIRST TIME. Personally, I would have found a way to follow him. It is quite one thing to know the route somewhere from a passenger's perspective. In general, a child doesn't need to know HOW to get from Point A to Point B. Throwing them suddenly into that situation without already ensuring they knew their way without help is asking for a child to get lost. Secondly, making sure they know what to do if something DOES happen or they get lost. That includes making sure they NEVER get into a car with a stranger, no matter how friendly they may seem. Making sure they have money for a phone call. All those things.



I do also agree it depends HUGELY on the neighbourhood. Not sure I would have been quite so comfortable allowing my kids the freedom in a place like Brooklyn.



Anyway, the article in the OP is a tragedy, and I don't think it is in any way an example of why you shouldn't let your children have some freedom. It is an example of how there are plenty of sick people out there, and we can't always protect our children from every tragedy waiting to happen. Not knowing the full details of how the parents prepared the child, I would say they *could* have done a better job, but I don't think that would be fair, given I don't know the exact circumstances of their preparation.

Rosie - posted on 07/20/2011

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i agree with heather, this type of thing can happen in your own yard. it can happen to adults. are we supposed to just keep them cooped up forever?
however, for this particular situation i am not sure if i lived there i would be letting my kids walk alone though. i'm sure i'm stereotyping alot here but brooklyn isn't known for being the safest of places. if i lived in an unsafe neighborhood, i'm thinking i wouldn't be so leinant. each place/case is individual though.

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011

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Heather, "I realize not every kid lives in the same place, but personally I wouldn't be driving my kid everywhere just because of things like this. I'll do my best to prepare her for the world and partner her up like my parents did. "

That's the thing though, why does it have to be one extreme or the other. Can't common sense prevail?

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011

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Yeah, that could happen to an adult but, it didn't, it happened to a kid. A kid who I don't think should be walking alone at that age, especially if he got lost so easily.

Lady Heather - posted on 07/20/2011

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Yeah, but that could happen to an adult too. He just asked the wrong person for help. I wonder if they talked to him about who to approach? Maybe he just got kind of panicky. That's why, like I say - I would have my child walk with someone else. I think two are probably less likely to freak out and talk to the wrong person. In any case, the odds that your kid is going to freak out and approach some crazy killer are insanely low.

I realize not every kid lives in the same place, but personally I wouldn't be driving my kid everywhere just because of things like this. I'll do my best to prepare her for the world and partner her up like my parents did.

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011

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I can agree with that Heather, however I do think that it all depends on where you live. What might be safe for one kid, might not be safe for another. And yes, our kids could get snatched right out of our yards but, there is a difference between a child secure (mentally) in their own yard and a child who's gotten lost in the city and looking for help.

Charlie - posted on 07/20/2011

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Thats right Heather kids have been snatched from peoples own yards in fact a few years ago a girl was snathced from her bedroom ....there are some sick fruckers out there who find advantage in many situations :(

Elfrieda - posted on 07/20/2011

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No, sorry I wasn't clear. The woman who came up with the term "free range kids" has a website, and talks about what happened.

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011

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I agree, Loureen, we can't live in fear. I don't blame these parents at all either. I think it's horribly tragic. However part of me thinks, "What were they thinking letting an 8 yr old walk alone in a major city". :( But, still I don't blame them, I imagine this has ruined their lives and it's just awful.

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011

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No, she doesn't, September. Although I consider that free range.. This is not the first story of free range moms letting their kids tour large cities on their own or to walk to and from school on their own at such a young age. So while she may not title herself as free range, in this case, it does fall under that, imo.

Charlie - posted on 07/20/2011

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That is very sad and heartbreaking I feel for the child and the parents.

I think I lean more towards being free range , I would prefer to be free range but I know I have to make decisions now and in the future about how far that will go depending on many things including the enviroment our children live in however this story doesnt make me want to "hover " closer it makes me want to be prepared , it makes me want to prepare my boys because we cant live in fear of the unknown because of unforseen tragedy , I remember when I was 13 two girls not far from my hometown went missing walking home .......their bodies were found in the victorian bushland , it freaked everyone out but my parents didnt stop me walking alone or with a friend they made sure I knew never to get into a car , to run , scream and put me through martial arts so I could defend myself.

It is absolutely tragic I cannot imagine the world of hurt the parents are in, the parents are not to blame IMO who could have known that the path lead to a psychotic killer , the chances would have been slim and if it wasnt this little boy he killed it may have another child .

Sal - posted on 07/20/2011

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shit happens all the time, this is so sad and i imagine the parents would do anything to go back and change that day, but there was a little girl where almost killed when a car ran into her day care centre, another child i know died of cot death at alomost 3 so no matter what you do shit happens the only thing i can say is that you live each day with love so that there will be no regrets ever, and i think we have to realise that there is neglectful parents and free range parents and they are not the same thing, and their are suffocating parents and cautious parents, and again they are not the smae thing, to me free range is teaching the child how to do something then letting them when you are confident they can handle it, not just sending them off

September - posted on 07/20/2011

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Does it mention in the article that the OP provided that she considers herself free range? I think I missed that part.

Dana - posted on 07/20/2011

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There is a website? And she does consider herself a free-range mom? Do you have a link? :)

Elfrieda - posted on 07/20/2011

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If you go to the freerange kids website, you'll see her response to it.

Jenn - posted on 07/20/2011

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This story is tragic and unbelievably evil. The parents had never let the child walk home alone and he begged them to allow it. They did and will forever live with that decision which is terrible for them.

Karla - posted on 07/20/2011

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What an awful story, unbelievably sad.

On your question though, I see myself as between extremes. I have friends who appear to micro-manage their kids, and friends who let them run amok. . I doubt I would have let the kid go-it-alone at the age of 8, and I'm always harping about having a "buddy" when you go places.

I think this situation was one of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Its rare and wrong and tragic. My heart aches for that family.

September - posted on 07/20/2011

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That is such a sad story, those poor parents! How unfortunate that the first time they allow him to walk alone such a horrible thing happened. However I think both free range and helicopter Moms have or would at some point allow their child/children to walk alone. Our son is only 2.5 years old so he will not be walking alone anytime soon and to be honest I don't know when I'll feel comfortable enough to let him walk alone. We live in the City and well things happen.



Edit to add: I wouldn’t necessarily consider these parents to be free range parents, how do we know what type of parents they were? Such a sad story!

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