What Is Free-Range Parenting?

5 mins read

In free-range parenting, children are allowed to make their own decisions with minimal parental supervision. Children are left to do most basic things on their own, such as playing in the backyard, going to school, or spending the night in the house alone.

This does not mean the parents are being lazy or neglectful. Rather, the purpose of free-range parenting is to give children a chance to learn and to become independent. It also allows children to interact with other children and learn from them.

One book supports the free-range parenting style, saying, “After all, we can’t do everything for them forever. Raising happy, responsible, independent young people is parenting’s goal. Go free-range.”

Free-range parenting is best used for children who have already learned basic safety measures. The age of the child will influence its success.

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Advantages of Free-Range Parenting

Free-range parenting has the following advantages:

  1. Confidence. Children of free-range parents develop the courage to deal with issues and to execute new ideas. They believe that they are capable of handling anything on their own. For example, if the child loses his or her way of coming home, the child is confident enough to approach an adult and ask for directions.
  2. Adventure. The children become adventurous because their parents let them explore their surroundings. The parents may provide guidelines, but, for the most part, they leave their children alone. For instance, the parents may let their children play football with other children instead of taking them to football lessons, believing they will learn better by playing the game rather than by being coached and instructed. Free-range parents also may take their children to the park and let them have fun without feeling obligated to be there all the time.
  3. Independence. Children of free-range parents are more mature than children who are always pampered and given warnings. They have strong decision-making abilities, which make them more self-reliant.
  4. Socially active. The children tend to be more socially active. They strive to interact with other children and to go on more adventures.
  5. Academic success. Children of free-range parents take responsibilities and duties seriously. They strive to achieve goals on their own without being forced. They also interact well with teachers.

Disadvantages of Free-Range Parenting

Free-range parenting has the following disadvantages:

  1. Exposure to crime. A news piece discussing the pros and cons of free-range parenting states, “Critics argue that letting kids strike out on their own can leave them vulnerable to serious dangers, from criminals to cars.” Children of free-range parents can be easy targets because the parents are frequently absent. Anyone with ill motives may easily harm them.
  2. Road accidents. Poor judgment by either the driver or the child can easily cause an accident that hurts the child.
  3. Harmful information. Children are exposed to a lot of information, especially when they are allowed to use the TV or the internet without any parental restrictions. Exposure to harmful information can negatively influence children’s character and behavior.
  4. A neglected feeling. Some children want to be pampered and have everything done for them, always staying close to their parents. If this is what the child wants, free-range parenting will make him or her feel neglected.

Before trying free-range parenting, consider its advantages and disadvantages as well as the child’s abilities and then decide accordingly. Children should be able to follow instructions and should be well-behaved. Parents also need to have a good relationship with their children before practicing free-range parenting.

Free-range Parenting
In free-range parenting, children are allowed to make their own decisions.


  • Lufkin News. “TEXAS VIEW: Free-Range Parenting Should Be Choice of Parents.” Odessa American. April 18, 2018. http://www.oaoa.com/editorial
  • Skenazy, Lenore. Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2rKp56b

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