Saturday, October 3, 2009

Free Range Parenting

Today my home page had an article about "the worst mom in America."

Since up to now, I thought that was me, I had to check it out.

Seems that I am not alone in my feelings on "common sense parenting."
Author Lenore Skenazy shares her views on raising "free range kids" in both her blog, and new book "Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry.”

For quite some time now, I've felt like American's are becoming more and more "disabled," thanks in part to "helicopter parenting," coupled with the desire to "succeed via lawsuit" rather than working toward excellence.

Guess what folks…Real Life is NOT “Upward.”
Even if you can't see a scoreboard, someone somewhere is keeping score.

How do you teach someone to deal with life’s disappointments, if you don’t have any teachable moments?!

We as parents must equip our children for life as adults! That means learning to do things for themselves, make decisions by themselves, earn some money for the things they want by themselves, not make the squad because they aren’t skilled enough, then do the work to try out again, and Heaven forbid, lose a football/basketball/soccer game every now and then.

Now I admit that I've done my share of "helicopter parenting" (also known as hovering). As a parent, it's natural for one to want to protect their little one from any harm. But short of adding bubble wrap to diapers, that is just not healthy parenting. Our kids must eventually learn that life has bumps, scrapes and hard knocks along the way, and there is a proper way to deal with them without resorting to a lawsuit or running off to hide under Mommy's apron.

How do you teach a child to be trustworthy, without giving them an opportunity to be trusted?
I am doing my children an injustice if I make all their decisions, pay for everything they want, whenever they want something, and stand over them every minute of their day.

I expect my children to have good self confidence and high self esteem. But I don't want them to think they are better than anyone nor I'm not going to expect them to win every battle. The key to being a true winner, is learning to deal with the disappointment of losing every once in a while. Yeah, it sucks, but you learn from your mistakes and move on. And you learn some humility. Once my son made a snearing comment to an opposing team player in line at the concession stand after a victory in park league ball. I will never forget how embarassed that made me, because it showed such a lack of class. I embraced that teachable moment and I quickly reminded him that only 2 weeks before, his team had lost, and regardless of the outcome, you should always be humble. Nothing is gained by being arrogant and rude.

Whatever happened to working harder at something you want to achieve? How much do you really appreciate the things constantly handed to you, versus the things that you've earned?
What ever happened to rewarding excellence?

I will never forget the local lawsuit back in the late 80's brought by the parents of a high school cheerleader hopeful. When the girl did not perform as well as others (despite being a cheerleader the prior year), and did not make the squad, her parents sued the school in an effort to put her on the squad. Rather than encouraging her to work harder to make the squad next year, they expected the school to just give her a spot.

I also don't believe in "paying" for good grades. Good grades should be expected and students should strive to acheive them without having to be bribed. We don't need more school days Mr. Obama. We need more SCHOOLING in school. The school my children are attending care more about what they are wearing than what they are learning.

And how are we to expect our children to behave in public when they are on their own, if we don't teach them how to behave in public when they are with us? I've seen parent trying to reason/bargain/bribe their kids into behaving. What does that teach the child...if I pitch a big enough tantrum, I will be rewarded! Personally, I remember getting my rear-end torn up when I misbehaved in public. I'm a different person because of that...I learned how not to misbehave in public! Nowadays, someone would probably report my mother and she would be arrested for abuse & neglect. But the children that are truly being abused are the ones who's parents are neglecting to properly prepare them for adulthood. I am not condoning all out physical abuse, but a swat on the hand or behind does get the point across quickly.

As I write this, I see a friend has posted on Facebook about being the only parent in the play area of a fast food restaurant. I'm certain her concern stems from being there with a small child. However, if the parents were doing their job, teaching their children how to behave in public, she need not worry.

Okay, I'll crawl down off of my soap box here.
But I leave you with this...
Bucky Covington's "A Different World"

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