Friday, July 4, 2014

Free Range Kids

Several years ago I read the book “Free Range Kids.”  I was already sort of a free range type mom, but this book solidified and intensified my desire to provide my kids this kind of life—a life where they felt that the world was safe enough to explore without me hovering behind them at every step of the way.

Oregon has been a great place for this—the kids have often gone over to hang out with their friends at the local elementary school that is in our neighborhood—where sometimes they do things I’m not too happy about when I see the pictures later.  (I found this picture on my phone after one trip to the school.)  They also have gone on long walks and Jared goes frequently to a small skate park about a mile and a half away. 


This year when we were making travel plans to go to NC to the beach, Olivia’s mom asked if Rachel & Jenna could stay longer with their family.  Cindy Lynn and Jason each spent a month in Utah the summer they were 15; traveling on their own, armed with a cell phone and directions and phone numbers to call in case of an emergency.  The girls aren’t quite 14 but I figured that traveling together would make up the age and maturity difference.

I knew that Olivia’s mom would take them to their gate, but on our flight out to NC we taught them the different steps of the rest of the flight process—how to find your flight info on the monitors, how to find your gate, how to read the map of the airport terminal.  We looked up online to see what food places were available in the terminal they’d be flying into in Las Vegas.  We activated an old phone and got some cash.  We told them that we thought they would have a great time and that they would be *just fine* traveling without us. 

And then we left them in NC and flew home.

The boys and I flew the exact same itinerary on Wednesday so I knew that they’d be landing in Las Vegas right at 9 this morning.  Sure enough, within a few minutes my cell phone was buzzing with text messages reporting that the flight was long, boring, and uneventful.  Apparently the highlight was the little snack packs of cookies and finding out that one of the drink service options was hot chocolate.  (How did I not know this?  That would have been most excellent at 7AM the other morning!)  Pretty soon I received this picture, a permanent record of their adult-less trip through the Las Vegas airport.


I’m happy to have them back here with us.  But I’m even happier that they’ve had this experience—that they’ve done something bold and grown up and that they’ve lived to tell about it.  I hope that it makes them feel like they are going to be just fine in the world, that it is not too scary of a place.  Because, after all, they flew home from North Carolina by themselves!


(I think Russ needs a refresher course on focusing the camera before taking the picture.)


  1. That is so cool that they did that!

  2. Their hot chocolate is actually really delicious too! I never get it because I'm too motion sick when they first pass around drinks after takeoff, but our flight from Baltimore was so long that I eventually got over the queasiness and had some. I needed some chocolate after spending quite awhile walking up and down the aisles bouncing fussy kate in the ergo carrier. ;-) It was tasty!

  3. And I flew solo from nc to Utah the summer I was 13 and 14 too!

  4. The other day on our way to the library, the kids arrived at the doors on their bikes a total of 10 seconds before me... By the time I caught up with them this old scraggly, toothless guy was yelling at Miles for leaving his mother because there were 'bad people' who were going to 'snatch him up'. I was SO angry and gave him a long lecture about how I choose to focus on teaching my kids about the good of people the world and not instill in them a fear of them "and you are not helping that!" I said. "look at this child's eyes! YOU have thoroughly scared him - not the 'bad snatcher-man', but YOU! Parenting this child is my choice, and I choose faith over fear and good over evil... So keep your own ideas to yourself, please." Truthfully, the library is not a good place for a child of 5 to be alone (which is why he was with Kenz and Carson, and why I was very close), but I wonder if the man would have lost his head if I told him that those kids had ridden most of that 1.5 miles all by themselves!

  5. Don't you hate when the computer eats your comments?

    Lindsay, I just typed out a big comment about how much I had admired the way you let your kids do things on their own in Florida. It was clear that they felt like their world there was a safe place. I hope that Miles isn't influenced in the long term by the scraggly guy, but instead chooses to listen to you. Of course the annoying thing is that now you need to figure out a whole new set of boundaries i a new place. But I'm betting your kids will always have at least some memory of their time "at the beach," riding ahead of you to the library and walking on different paths to the pier! :)

  6. I have always loved the way you have raised your kiddos over the years. I just picked up a book about free range kids. Of course my kids have kept me to busy to read it. ;p