As a father of two sons, my wife and I are always trying to strike the right balance between programmed activities and unstructured fun and free-play. It’s not always easy, but fortunately our kids are close enough in age that they play well together and that really helps. But overall, I think this is an issue that many parents have an ongoing struggle with. I came across two items recently that I think really demonstrates the extremes on this spectrum.The first is a great article called ‘The free-range child’ which speaks directly to the notion of ‘hyperparenting’ and how some parents are getting fed up with it.
“Hyperparenting is a kind of bizarre cultural perfect storm,” he says in a phone interview. “All these remarkable and in themselves not evil trends have come together to produce the moment of collective hysteria about children and collective panic that touches everything we do with childhood.”On the one hand, he says, we’re pushing kids to achieve academically and rack up life skills to prepare them for a competitive world. On the other, we’re holding them back by not allowing them freedom – to walk to school, to stay home alone – that previous generations enjoyed. With a growing swell of parenting experts to feed each impulse, parents can easily forget that childrearing is hardwired into them.
The article goes on to discuss the retro idea of raising ‘Free Range Kids’. Less structure, less handholding, more unsupervised and unstructured time. All of this sounds great, and then I stumbled across a video. What do you think many kids today would do with unsupervised, unstructured time? Watch the video.Nobody said being a parent was easy 😉