Are you familiar with “free-range” education? Also called “liberated parenthood”, this rewriting of traditional educational precepts consists in raising one’s offspring by favoring the notion of independence. Teaching one’s children the virtues of individual freedom and responsibility without necessarily this state of mind tending to pure unconsciousness. In other words, a sacred balance in the strength to find for the parents.
For it would take little for this freewheel education to lead to the most shattering crash. To favor this liberated parenthood is to take the opposite approach to attitudes considered negative, such as the overprotection of one’s children, which can be suffocating and detrimental to their development. On the contrary, this parenting emphasizes autonomy. But can this freedom really be imagined without a certain discipline? A pedagogy that can be interlocking.
An ideal education?
But what forms does this education take? Simple: it is expressed through various parental choices. That of letting your children go to school alone, for example, without being accompanied by an adult, or letting them go out alone to go see their peers by taking public transport. Let them make their own decisions about everyday issues as well. Accept that they are outside your field of vision. More generally, moderate parental caution can turn into an obsession, even sickly.
The key words determining this liberated parenthood are, therefore: independence and trust. According to the practitioners of this relaxed pedagogy, the autonomy of children can only do good to the man concerned. Insurance is not so easy to favor when you prefer legitimate surveillance. Free parenthood raises real questions about the control that parents seek to maintain with their children.© Adobe Stock Education
So much so that some organizations promote this philosophy like no other in order to convince the most skeptical. This is particularly the case with Free-Range Kids, which aims to “combat the belief that our children are constantly in danger”. At the same time movement, book, and blog, Free-Range Kids was created in order to shake up the habits of parents by reminding them of the virtues of letting go, this Zen state of mind.
Author Lenore Skenazy is the instigator of Free-Range Kids. She has already let her nine-year-old come home from school on her own and has been criticized for it. In the Guardian, she tells the Guardian that freedom does not necessarily mean insecurity. Letting your children out on their own, depending on their age, is a good start. It even suggests the possibility of not leaving them a mobile phone. “In America, children spend four to seven minutes a day outdoors without being supervised by an adult,” she says.
“A high school in Silicon Valley took the initiative to bring the children to a breathtaking place: their own neighborhood. And leave them alone. Without adults. In order to encourage them to walk around, to play outside, to ride a bike to the library – normal children’s stuff,” she rejoices on her website. A real “liberated” initiative. Lenore Skenazy deplores the fact that only 13% of American children come to school on foot and sees this as a sign of a “radical new norm: a childhood spent under the constant supervision of an adult”.
“It’s about the child learning that he can solve problems, make decisions and assess the risks himself. It is said that pampering children for too long can lead to higher rates of anxiety and depression when they become young adults,” Helen Dodd, a professor of child psychology at the University of Exeter in New Hampshire, who seems to consider the legitimacy of this view of things, further explains to the British media. This unorthodox upbringing would therefore be good.
But while advocates of “freewheel” parenthood speak of experience gained and development aid, its detractors speak more readily of endangerment, abandonment, and unconsciousness. On the other side of the Atlantic, many states legally prohibit parents from leaving their children alone and unattended, not just on the way to school, but inside the house for too long, for security reasons. The standardization of this alternative education will therefore take time.