Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I am believing more and more that the way we rear our children can cause fears and phobias. I have never liked the term "free range children," because it sounds too cattle-like to me. But I am coming to understand that term more and more.

When I was a child, I was never allowed to do certain things - do things that would cause me to get dirty, go places that could be less safe than others, etc. I was never allowed to go hiking, for instance, for fear of snakes and insects. I was never allowed to go to a lake because the water would be dirty. I was never even allowed play in the dirt. Believe it or not, I never even finger painted until I was in sixth grade. I was always pushed toward academics. Now, don't get me wrong, I have always enjoyed academics; but, to this day, there are some phobias that I have.

A good example happened on Friday evening. Kelsey and I took Taliesin and Nathanael to Salina's new water park. Now, you have to remember, I had not been in water other than the bathtub or sprinkler park since I was eight years old when I took two swimming lessons before I quit for various reasons. I am now thirty-five. Taliesin and Nathanael had a blast; and, I admit, I did, too. It was so nice letting go and just having fun. I think what really made it sink in was when Taliesin went down a small water slide, and I could not bring myself to. I have told myself, when we go back, I am going to go down that slide.

Since we have started unschooling (back when Taliesin was three years old), I have done things that I have never done before - hiking in the hills, finding rocks at the lake, playing at the water park. I think what I see is that I do not want Taliesin and Nathanael to allow fear to hold them back. I see children whose parents are afraid, much like my mom was, to allow their children to be children. I know what that feels like as an adult. I do not want Taliesin and Nathanael to grow up with those fears. I want them to be adults who aren't afraid to swim in the ocean or climb a mountain or fly an airplane or travel around the world (Taliesin's goal).

So does that make me a believer in "free range children"? I still do not like that label. And I still exercise caution with my sons. I'm not going to let them roam around anywhere they want to go alone. I do believe in adult supervision. But I also believe that children should be given the opportunity to try new things, even if that means scrapes, bruises, dirt, and bug bites.



Deb the Turtle (slow and steady ya know?!?) said...

i hear ya on the fear thing - personally i really dig the 'free-range' label - makes me think of happy little chickens clicking away in the yard :)

i'm sure your fears will continue to melt away as you see your wonderful sons blossom!

jaci said...

I think you misunderstand the term "free range" children. I was a very over-protective mother, but I managed to raise free range children (before someone coined the phrase). It isn't about letting them do whatever they want (trust me - I am a "rules" mom), but it is about allowing them to be children and to explore.

But then I like bugs, dirt, water, fish... Children left alone with me are expected to be returned to their parents dirty. Healthy dirty.

I'm glad you're letting go of your phobias a little bit, Kandy!

unschoolermom said...

I know what you mean, Jaci. I have had more than one daycare parent express concern that their kids come home dirty - as in playing outside, painting, gardening, etc. I actually have it in my contract to be sure to send children in play clothes! LOL


Lila said...

I enjoyed reading this, Kandy. Great things happen when we allow our children the freedom to learn through experience whenever it is reasonably possible.

致念致念 said...


Sparkling Adventures said...

I love it when our kids move out of our comfort zones. Sometimes I just look away... otherwise my heart is in my mouth. But it's a good learning experience for THEM and ME!