In the ’70s We Just Called It Parenting
There has been a big case in the news recently about two young children in Maryland who keep getting picked up by the police for being in the park by themselves. Their parents say that they are practitioners of “Free Range Parenting” and that letting children explore on their own is important for their development. From what I can gather through the magic of Google, Free Range Parenting is all about letting kids make their own fun and explore the world at their own pace (and on their own). Maryland appears to consider this parenting style “neglect.” I just call it “parenting” for anyone who was a child in the 1970s.
Free Range Parenting: Children come up with their own ways to play. Technology and “adult imposed” educational opportunities are unnecessary.
1970’s Parenting: In the 1970’s there was no internet, no iAnything, and Pong was the height of video gaming. As far as “adult imposed” opportunities, the Girl Scouts were the only game in town. And by 4th grade, everyone knew it wasn’t cool to be a Girl Scout (although some of us stayed in it for the cookies). Soccer Moms were women who said “What the fuck is soccer?”.
Free Range Parenting: Children are smart young capable individuals who can navigate the world as adults do. It is reasonable to give a child a $20 and a metro card and send them off to do the shopping. This is how they will learn self-confidence
1970’s Parenting: Our parents would gladly send us to do the shopping so that they didn’t have to, and if you could find a local merchant who would let you buy cigarettes and beer “for your parents” all the better. We learned how to skim a little extra off the top to buy some Baskin-Robbins ice cream on the way home.
Free Range Parenting: Television watching is discouraged and thought to cause anti-social behavior.
1970’s Parenting: We had 5 channels of television (and two of them were fuzzy). TV offerings included such morsels as Eight is Enough and James at 15 during which the entire nation was subjected to the cliffhanger of whether James would lose his virginity (please put those clothes back on Lance Kerwin!). Anti-social behavior was rampant when you were watching The Brady Bunch on the only television in the house and your older brother wanted to watch Star Trek. Being on the streets was much safer.
Free Range Parenting: The world is not nearly as dangerous as we think it is and we should stop hovering over our kids.
1970’s Parenting: Hovering? Ha! Our parents pushed us out the door at about 8:00 am Saturday morning and would stick their heads out to call us in to dinner 10 hours later. We roved in rabid packs through the neighborhood, the woods, and down the street to the mini mall. Our range was as far as our banana seat bikes would take us, and if that was past the local prison work release program, so be it. No cell phones, pagers, or other technological tethers held us close either. If mom didn’t know where we were, she’d call our friend’s mom – who wouldn’t know either half the time.
Free Range Parenting: Families should spend time together, and eat family meals.
1970’s Parenting: Hmmmm. Does it count if you “spend time together” in four different rooms each with your own individual Swanson TV dinners? OK, maybe not so much this one.
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