Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Free Range Kids

If you find that you are an anxious parent, always worrying that something or someone is going to harm your child, and/or find yourself living by the mantra "You can't be too safe!" Then you should most definitely go out and purchase this book! Or if you know me in real life, you are more than welcome to borrow it.

Written with a equal parts humor, sarcasm and brutal honesty, the book is broken down into two parts. Part one is her explanation of The Fourteen Free Range Commandments and part two is The Free Range Guide to Life.
Purchase on Amazon
The Fourteen Free Range Commandments
  1. Know When to Worry—Play Dates and Axe Murders: How to Tell the Difference
  2. Turn Off the News—Go Easy on the "Law and Order" Too
  3. Avoid Experts—Who Knew You Were Doing Everything Wrong? . . . Them!
  4. Boycott Baby Knee Pads—And the Rest of the Kiddie Safety-Industrial Complex
  5. Don't Think Like a Lawyer—Some Risks are Worth It
  6. Ignore the Blamers—The Don't Know Your Kid Like You Do
  7. Eat Chocolate—Give Halloween Back to the Trick-or-Treaters
  8. Study History—Your Ten-Year-Old Would Have Been Forging Horseshoes (or at Least Delivering Papers)
  9. Be Wordly—Why Other Countries Are Laughing at zee Scaredy-Cat Americans
  10. Get Braver—Quit Trying to Control Everything. It Doesn't Work Anyway
  11. Relax—Not Every Little Thing You Do Has That Much Impact on Your Child's Development
  12. Fail!—It's the New Succeed
  13. Lock The Out—Make Them Play—or Else!
  14. Listen to Your Kids—They Don't Want to Be Treated Like Babies (Except the Actual Babies, of course)
What I really love is that at the end of each commandment (chapter) she gives an example of a baby step, brave step and giant leap toward becoming a Free Range parent. They help connect what she is saying to day-to-day life, and if you're on the fence, allow you to let go of your fears a little at a time.

My favorite commandment to read in depth about was number six, Ignore the Blamers. Because it's the one I struggle with most. I am very much a Free Range parent, and facing judgement from other parents is the hardest part about it. Tim and I have had a mom bring Love Bean back over to us at a playground because they thought she'd wondered to far from us. I left my girls in the care of a sweet old lady at the grocery store, while I ran to my car in a down pour. And I still haven't heard the end of that one from my husband or mother. (Note—once you master commandment two, what I did won't seem like as big of deal. Also, I'm resisting the urge I have to justify my actions)

My biggest take aways from part two, (which debunks many common parental fears like, eating raw cookie dough, BPA poisoning and "stranger danger") are it is confident and self-assured kids who are least likely to become targets of creeps, and "don't talk to strangers" is one of the worst lessons you can teach your children.

By telling children NOT to talk to strangers you are in effect removing hundreds of safe adults that could help them if they did feel uncomfortable or were in danger. For example, if someday one of my girls is at the mall alone or with friends and some creepy dude is following them, I absolutely want them to know that they can approach another man or woman and say, "hey this creep is following us, mind if we sit here with you for awhile."

Instead what we should teach our children is that they can talk to strangers, they can ask them for help. What the should NOT do is ever go off/leave with a stranger. Even if that stranger says something like, "you're mom couldn't make it, so she sent me to pick you up."

Seriously, I think this book should be required reading for parents. Even if you would already consider yourself Free Range, it will reaffirm and encourage you. If you are interested the author also writes a blog of the same name, Free Range Kids. If you have any questions about Free Range parenting, the book, or anything else I mentioned in this post feel free to comment here, or on our Facebook page.

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