By the time you have reached your third trimester, you have probably been doing a lot of research online about parenting styles, how-tos and anything else you have questions about. You have probably talked to other parents, your own parents, and received plenty of unsolicited advice. By this time, you have probably heard some of the terms that people have come up with for different styles- from overbearing (helicopter and lawnmower) to the concept of the "tiger mom." What about parents who give their children near unlimited freedom to learn and play on their own? The new age term is "free-range" (although most people probably grew up living free range).
Free-range parenting is about allowing your child to make their own decisions and mistakes without an adult constantly hanging around. Our world now is considered more dangerous, or we are more aware of the dangers now, and it's obvious why some people are overprotective, but what about those that don't want to be? What are the benefits of being a free-range parent? The bad?
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800"] Via ThinkStock[/caption]
The positive is that it teaches independence and gives children confidence. It shows that the parent trusts their little one and they learn how to operate on their own, sadly, some of the things can get their kids taken in this day. It also teaches them to make their own decisions and face the consequences of their choices.
The bad is that in some areas, it's still considered neglect but that is changing slowly. States like Utah have redefined neglect to protect free-range parents.
There is also the (unlikely but still valid) chance of the child being abducted or harmed- but that would vary based on where you live. If you live in a quiet, small town where everyone knows each other, your child will have a higher likelihood of getting to and from the locations they are trying to get and getting home safely. If they live in a larger, higher crime area, they still have a higher chance of getting home than killed, but they are also more likely to have to depend on a stranger if they get lost. Once again, child abductions are not as common as the news makes it seem, but they have a higher chance in the bad part of town or a higher crime area.
In the end, it's all up to the parents. This form of parenting has pros and cons but more pros than a lot of the other forms. Free-range parents do not go specifically by any age, they go by the maturity of the child and let them earn their freedoms. Some children are ready to stay home alone at 9, others aren't ready even at 13 but free-range parents teach their children how to function independently. Of course, make sure that you are always focusing your child's safety and best interests, and you can't go wrong!