Indigenous parenting for the modern world

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 14, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Sisson posted a link to this article on Sunday: http://m.guardiannews.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/04/leave-them-kids-alone-griffiths

I'm curious if any fellow PHackers have thoughts on the matter. I'm currently 30 weeks pregnant with my first, so you can see where this article would spark my interest!

Is this style of parenting even feasible in a modern world? How can a parent impart such ideas of freedom if the child is growing up in a major city, with threats indigenous people don't face? (Ie: traffic, threat of kidnapping etc)

I understand keeping the infant close at all times. That doesn't seem so hard: just pop them in a sling/Baby Bjorn and go about your business. My boyfriend and I are already planning on using a family bed with our infant sleeping with us. (Using safe bed-sharing practices, mind you.) what I can't quite comprehend is how letting an 8 year old just go and be off and do what they want all day could possibly be safe in such a hectic, modern society. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Or am I just being a paranoid modern mother?



on May 14, 2013
at 10:02 PM

You dont want to raise them in a plastic bubble but at the same time there are way too many horror stories you hear on the news particularly in the big cities. Nitemarish at times. No way you can let kids roam to the same extent that maybe some of us did when we were young.

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on May 14, 2013
at 12:32 PM

It's possible, to some degree, but it will look different depending on where you live. Honestly, I think its less of a matter of what exactly your kids do with their day, and more of a matter of attitude and words. If your child tries to climb a tree, do you say, "get down, you'll get hurt!" or "good climbing - I see your grip is getting stronger!" They love to test their physical limits, and you just have to bite your tongue and let them. They love to roam and get lost. It's healthy for them to try new things and push themselves.

One thing I've run into is local laws that don't help. For instance, when we we lived in Virginia, there is a law that children under 7 should NEVER be alone, not even in their own backyard! Don't believe me? Here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/childrenyouth/supervision_eng.htm

I would always let my 3 and 5 year olds play in the backyard and driveway alone. I thought this rule was total overkill until one day a friend of mine had a neighbor call her in for doing the same thing. She had to fight for her kids, just for letting them play in the backyard alone...

So now we are in Florida, where there is no such nonsense! My 7 year old routinely rides his bike up to soccer fields nearby with friends to play. Illegal in Virginia (sheesh).

This lady got in trouble for letting her son take the subway alone in NY. She has a book and website: http://www.freerangekids.com/

Her story and more is discussed by Peter Gray, who has a fabulous blog that discusses a lot of that article you linked and more: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201112/how-children-learn-bravery-in-age-overprotection (You have to read this - he tells how he let his son go to europe alone!).

At this point, my 13 year old can pretty much bike wherever she wants. My 7 year old has about a 2 mile radius of roaming. My 5 and 4 years old have about a 1/2 mile radius, which is fine, bc that's where all their friends live. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm crazy when my 4 year old hops on his bike and rides around the corner to see if his friend is home! But then they all ask me, "how are your kids so responsible?" Um, because I trust them.

I like what that article said about food, too. We hear so much about "family dinner," and honestly, sometimes that works. But this time of year when the sun is up so late it just turns into a battle. A while back I decided to let it go, and tell them just to come home when they are hungry. They are usually in by 8, and starving! No dinner time fights. They eat everything in sight, lol.

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