The Pros and Cons of Free-Range Parenting

Ask five parents to define "free-range parenting," and you'll likely get five different answers. For some, it means giving children the freedom of previous generations: the ability to wander the neighborhood, permission to ride bikes without adult supervision or time to play outside without an adult in ear shot. For others, it is considered lazy, or worse, irresponsible and risky.

As the mother of a ten- and eight-year-old, I try to strike a comfortable balance. I allow my kids to play outside unsupervised and walk to friends' houses up the road without me, but I don't let them ride their bikes around the neighborhood alone, because I know they aren't always responsible when pedaling across the street. I am continually reevaluating and adjusting what I allow my kids to do based on their behavior--giving them more freedom when they act responsibly or taking away freedoms when they demonstrate poor judgement. Being a parent means adapting to the ever-changing abilities of kids.

Free-range parenting has its pros and cons, and in the end, everyone needs to decide how to parent based on their kids and their specific situation.

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