free range children and sacrifice

I’ve been watching Season 7 of Project Runway lately… and when the final designers were making their collections, 2 of them were talking about how they came from immigrant families and the sizeable sacrifices their parents made so that they would have ‘a better life.’ It has kickstarted some serious thoughts in my wee little brain.

This isn’t a novel concept – I’ve been hearing reference to parents working long hours and numerous jobs, going without and living a life to a lesser quality than necessary for the sake of their children’s future. But these days I hear a lot more about making the children’s childhood important and special and ‘right’. Ensuring they have the right experiences, the right amount of attention and tuition and love.

I guess what my thoughts boil down to is that by staying home, I am not only reducing our current quality of life (in material terms) but also I am not putting any money towards my children’s future. And this doesn’t really bother me, except occasional moments of panic. (but i have occasional moments of panic surrounding most topics!).

But it does make me think. Because my mother’s choices as mum and my choices differ greatly. She probably thinks I pander to eden and I’m too soft (which again,  i may well be). I read books about not passing babies around too much because of personal space issues. I refused to leave him to cry (until he was old enough to be tantruming at me) because I didn’t want him to be insecure. When he developed separation anxiety at 10 months, I let him stay with me instead of leaving him in a different room. At the same time, I don’t want to wrap him in cotton wool.

I came across this article recently (good old BLW). I want to raise free range children. I want children who are independent and are able to be children. At a village meeting about the park they’re planning on building, the architect described a park that isn’t completely safe, and that it isn’t on purpose. I believe in that kind of thing. I let eden run around on the tarmac outside, even when I know that he’ll probably fall. And when he does I don’t react, unless he really is hurt. But sometimes it takes conscious effort to let him do things for himself.

But then my mum’s reaction to the article filled me with all sorts of conflicting emotions. She reminded me that a week after my 17th birthday, I boarded a plane to return to Canada, to move to university and left them in their new home in Costa Rica. In that, she reminded me that I did EVERYTHING young.. and believed myself to be fully capable and fully independent. The truth, however, was that I wasn’t. But I don’t know how to reconcile that with the fact that I had a brilliant time at uni and was very happy with my life. They didn’t make the wrong decision in letting me go but I do wonder if there were factors that could of been changed. I was very convincing at being capable. It’s now that I am fully-fledged adult that my incapabilities shine through. There are things missing in my development and I think it’s because I was working so hard to prove that I could manage, I didn’t even realise there were things I couldn’t do and that those things mattered.

So what age will I let eden (and his sibling of unknown gender) board a plane to visit his grandparents on his own? I don’t know. Will I let him walk to school on his own? What age? The world is different than it was when I was a kid, but it remains different because of fear. I believe many of the dangers are worse because we stop ourselves from doing things that used to be safe.

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