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25 April 2011

Raising Free Range Children through Free Range Chickens…

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I recently found Lynn’s site through babble and I kind of devoured it over the course of an afternoon. Do you do that with new blogs you like? You stumble upon something that really hits home and then you just read and read and want to see everything that person has ever written? 

Anyway, she is all for free range children. So am I. …and while I am not for letting my kiddos go alone on the subway yet, I am totally with her on a lot of things. She is an advocate for being able to leave your kids in a locked car on cool days to drop your preschooler off at school or running in to drop off library books. She is an advocate for letting your kids actually play outside without constant over the shoulder supervision. She is an advocate for letting your kids have a little adventure and a little life in their life. So am I.

It drives me crazy that I feel extreme amounts of guilt for leaving my sleeping baby and grumpy 2 year old buckled in their carseats, car off, 50 degrees out and raining while I run my eldest into the preschool class a few hundred feet away. What could possibly happen that would be prevented if I were there? Isn’t the risk of pneumonia from the rain a bigger threat than whatever could happen in the 30 seconds I am leaving them buckled in the car. Seriously?

I want my kids to skin their knees and learn how to take a fall. I want them to bonk their heads a few times and climb trees and learn how to build a campfire so they know their limits and they know adventure. I want to raise men that know how to hunt and fight, but men that know when to use their skills. I want to raise men that love to play and love to seek adventure, but men that don’t need to do those things in adulthood because a need for those things was not met in childhood.

I have to stop myself from running behind the big wheel jeep when my 1 year old is strapped in and I have to stop myself from yelling at them to stop rolling down the hill because they are going to run into a tree. I need to make myself join them when they are sledding and join them doing cannonballs into the pool because it is not my nature to want to do those things (but of course I enjoy it once I join in!) 

…and the chickens? They will be free range and their diet of chicken feed will be heavily supplemented by weeds, grass and hopefully stink bugs in our yard. My kids are going to learn to be kind to the chickens, lest they get pecked and my kids are going to learn to care for the chickens by giving them food, and water and cleaning out their pen. They are going to learn how to handle eggs gently, and they are probably going to break a few along the way, but they are going to learn. They are going to learn that this is where chicken nuggets come from. They are going to learn to respect the food we eat. (No, we are not going to eat our chickens, but I want them to see the creature that meat comes from).

There are so many things I want to teach them, and so many things I am sometimes scared to teach them. Should I protect them from bullies or give them a lesson in how to swing a fist and then teach them whether they should use their skill or just walk away? Should I teach them how to carry scissors to lesson the chance of an accident or just not let them have scissors until they are 15 years old? Should they have to use baby scissors when they are no longer babies, or should I lecture them until they are deaf on proper scissor safety?

Such are the lessons of parenthood. While I am on the free range side of the fence, I still have questions and concerns. I know that I won’t ever know if every decision is the right or wrong one, but I at least want those decisions to be conscious. I want to make rational decisions on how to raise my children well. Decisions that are not based on public or popular opinion.  I want them to know of danger and know how to handle themselves, but I don’t want them to ever have to use their skills. I want them to be adventuresome, but I don’t want them to ever get hurt. I want them to be strong, but know how to use their strength to help the weak.

Are you a free range parent? 

While this is a serious post, I wanted to leave you with a few photos of the said chickens to make you smile.  
Remember when they were THIS BIG?  Now they are teenagers, with actual feathers and attitudes to boot.
 This little one has more attitude than all of them that head cock... a photo doesn't accurately capture the just have to trust me that the cock of that little girl's head is deFIANT

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