Warning: lots of motherly bragging and raving in this post
I came across the coined phrase ''free range kids in Helena Post's blog:
'' A friend told me there was an article in the local newspaper about a woman who’d reached her 100th year, and was asked about the biggest differences she saw around her now, compared to when she was growing up. And what she said, was that the children today had lost all their freedom. That really sat with me. And on our forays into the city, and to parks, and libraries, and museums, and all the places that children used to inhabit, I notice more and more the great disappearance of unruly kid energy and laughter…… And where have they all gone?? Poor little buggers are stuck in front of televisions, the internet, and DS9’s, getting madly advertised at and conditioned, and desensitized to death and destruction, while losing their freedom to be just what they are…..children. To play, and ride bikes without helmets, and sit on swings without hovering parents, and make up imaginary worlds, and build cubbies, and play dress ups and all the other kooky and possibly dangerous things that the kids of today are being kept from. Our kids are still free…..very free…..in fact I’d have to call them all free range kids. And as we roam around and find people increasingly impatient with their noise and childlike abandon, I feel sad for a generation of kids that are so quiet and entranced by media and the need for ‘stuff’, that they’ve stopped training the adults around them how to accommodate the needs of the free kid''...
Though circumstances in our lives(mine and Helena's) are radically different,I,too,try to raise free range kids.In fact,our decision to live in my own small town,Serres, instead of Athens,the capital,where my husband comes from,was influenced by the fact that we wanted to raise free range kids.
Free range kids to me means basically that when it comes to their upbringing we trust them,their innate guidance system and judgement more than we let our fears get the better of us.There are only two approaches,actually,in life,fear and love and we have chosen the latter.
We trust them enough to let them form their own eating habits.
Meaning:from the day they are born they can choose what and how much to eat or not to eat.No strict feeding schedules when they are infants and though I breastfed them all exclusively for as much as they wanted to,if and when they decided they'd rather have the bottle,that was fine by me,too.If food on the table does not appeal to them,they are allowed not to eat and are not forcefed stuff because it's supposed to be healthy or urged to finish off what's on their plate or else.
Also,we don't sit down to eat in front of a table unless we have guests or are guests ourselves .We enjoy eating mostly just like ancient Greeks used to eat: reclining comfortably on a couch or armchair or bed,with the food on a table in front of us,resorting to spoons and forks only when absolutely necessary.(I have a saying of my own making,which appals my husband,really:''if God wanted us to use cutlery,he'd have given us knives and forks instead of fingers).
Quite often my kids eat in their rooms because that's where they are busy doing things they don't want to get away from,or the younger ones eat crouched next to me on the couch.The outdated notion of a family only eating together in front of a table sounds as alien and lacking in meaning and purpose to us as consuming solid food does to astronauts.And I also find the idea of a family only talking to each other during family meals pathetic really :there's so much talking going on-both of the frivolous,everyday chat and of the meaningful conversations kind-with us that I'd give anything for just an hour of uninterrupted silence in my home.I believe that our eating habits reflect our sexual habits anyway,so it's even more important to me for my kids to choose their own eating patterns.
Same with bed time schedules.Kids who are tired,go to sleep.If they aren't tired,why should they go to sleep?Even if they do go to bed,they won't be able to fall asleep,same as an adult.If they go to bed too late one day,they'll be so tired at school ,that they'll go to bed much earlier of their own accord the next day.And now that I've mentioned school,I have to say that I am an avid supporter of unschooling.But homeschooling is by law allowed only to mentally and physically disabled kids in my country so this is no option for us.So I make it clear to my kids that I don't trust or like state schools,that their father and I couldn't care less about what marks they get at said schools and that all we want from them is not to fail their class each year,because this is gonna cost them in time.All we want is for them to get over and done with their compulsory education years,so that they can go on following their dreams and bliss.
My three older kids have a PC of their own each and umnlimited access to Internet.Because we believe that real education is only self education.We trust their innate judgement to steer away from b#llshit.And they do.In fact,thanks to the Internet,my two oldest boys speak English perfectly and have each got a certificate in English that makes them quallified English teachers in my country.They have gotten this certificate( which some of my students study real hard for and pay handsome tuition fees and still do not succed in getting ) without studying English properly for a single hour in their lives and in spite of having dropped out of the Engish classes in my school years ago.Charismatic!NOT!They just realised that English was very important to them and delved into it until they were proficient.
Also there are no rules for my teenage sons for coming home at a specific time at night.They can come at whatever time they wish,so long as they tell me or call me they'll be late or that they'll have a sleepover.I trust them enough not to treat them as inmates of an institution but as free human beings.And they've never abused my trust.My oldest son came home drunk once two years ago,he probably wanted to have that experience.I made no fuss about it it.The next morning he had the worse case of hangover ever,felt like sh!t all day long and told me that getting drunk was for idiots,it sucked big time and that he had no intention of repeating it.And he didn't.
More importantly,trusting our kids contributes to their developing a healthy sense of trust for the world,which is important if they are to become balanced and free individuals as it is stated in this quote from Dr Jeremy Hayward(which I got from Rainbow Love Farm:
"In order to communicate very openly with the world, you need to develop fundamental trust. This kind of trust is not trusting “in” something, but simply trusting. It is very much like your breath. You do not consciously hold on to your breath, or trust in your breath, yet breathing is your very nature. In the same way, to be trusting is your very nature. To be trusting means you are fundamentally free from doubt about your goodness and about the goodness of others."
We raise all four of our kids in the same way.And yet,just like every parent of more than one kid knows,they have totally different personalities,totally different outlooks on life.Because just like each and everyone on this planet they are unique and special from the day they are born.
My oldest son,Konstantinos,Kostas for short,is a health fanatic.His self control when it comes to food is a constant source of inspiration for me.He will refuse to eat anything that he considers unhealthy,like junk food or french fries and rarely any sweets or most kinds of processed food.He's been working out for two years now,goes running every other day,does weight lifting everyday and consistently trains with a dance group that he has formed with his friends.They go to clubs where they are getting paid to perform their electro dance routine.
Here is a video of him training: