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Growing Up "Free Range"

Free range

First of all, I don't agree with the term simply because it reminds me of cows or chickens but essentially I was raised this way. I was given pretty much free reign of what I wanted to do. There was a huge discussion about this on the 'Anderson' Facebook page which is what prompted me to write about my own experience. A lot of the commenter's were under the assumption that just because a child is given more independence compared to their colleagues, that there weren't any guidelines, repercussions or morals being instilled and followed. 

At home I was raised this way. As long as my homework was done and chores were finished, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted. I think my curfew was 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I had to be home for dinner and if I was going to be at a friends house for dinner, I'd be sure to ask. 

I wouldn't say I was 'encouraged' to go outside. It was more like I was forced. My mom didn't want me in the house, not like most kids these days where a majority of their time is spent on the computer, watching TV or playing video games. There was none of that for me. 

I was given plenty of sport equipment to help facilitate my being outside. I learned how to roller skate when I was about 4 or 5. Then learned how to rollerblade shortly thereafter. I had my bike and all types of balls. Soccer, volley, kick, and tether. If I wasn't doing any of that, I was dancing. To say that I was an active kid is an understatement. 

Yet at the same time I was raised to know right from wrong. I never stole as a kid and even as an adult, I find that it's something hard to do, as much as I would love to hijack that Wells Fargo armored truck. (But honestly, who doesn't think about that?)

As I mentioned before though, there were consequences to negative actions as well. I couldn't go outside or watch TV until my homework and chores were done, albeit my only chore was to take out the trash, it still had to be done.  If I was getting bad grades, my mom would make me do an extra hour of homework. She would go to the bookstore and buy those workbooks for me to work on. If I got into a fight or did something bad, I was whipped. Yes, I was a kid who got whippings. I would also get punished and have my things taken away from me. Sometimes I'd have to face the corner for periods of time or given words to look up in the dictionary.  (I attribute my mad spelling skills to that). 

My grandma's house was pretty much the same story. Aside from sleeping and eating, the only time I was in the house was to get something to drink or use the bathroom. I remember my  cousins and I being outside until, anywhere from 11 o'clock at night to 2 in the morning, then being called in the house and this was when I was 10, 11, 12 years old. 

Just like at home though, we had chores to do. Making our beds, cleaning our rooms, doing our laundry, going for errands, washing dishes, sweeping and mopping the kitchen after meals. Everyone's worst punishment would be having to stay in the house. Nobody likes to be in the house. Even to this day, we can all always be found outside. The only time we could be found inside the house and enjoying it was on the rare occasion that they would let us fill up the pool or if it was raining. 

The commenter's also mentioned the possibility of joining gangs or doing drugs and all sorts of other hogwash,in my opinion. I'm pretty sure I was susceptible to joining a gang but that's usually for people who don't feel loved at home so they go searching for it somewhere else. I had no need for that. I know that my mom, dad, sister and other family members loved me. 

In high school, there's no denying, I hung out with the stoner crowd and never once did I partake. Now that I look back on it, I had friends who didn't pressure me. They'd ask, I'd refuse, they'd say, "Are you sure?", "Yup." and that was that. No discussion. They'd say I was supposed to be 'rebelling'. Rebelling against what? I had plenty of independence by the time I was in high school. If I was going to be at a friends house, I'd call my my mom just so she wouldn't worry. She had all the phone numbers to my friends houses just in case I DID forget to call. I didn't come home pregnant at 16 which is good for a teenager with the independence that I had. I started working when I was 15 so I, for the most part, didn't have to ask my parents for money. 

I'm 26. I still don't have kids but when I do have one, maybe two, I'll raise them the same way. I read people's comments and the one that kept reappearing was, "The world isn't the same as it was when I was growing up". That may be true, but I can't hover over my kid night and day ultimately rendering them incapable of doing things for themselves on their own. I'm not always going to be around for them, so the quicker they can learn independence and responsibility, the better.

I had my first apartment when I was 19. I'm a law abiding, tax paying, productive citizen and it's because I had the notion of responsibility, instilled in me and the independence and moreover the TRUST that I was going to follow my moral upbringing and differentiate the right and wrong things. Because that's what this whole thing is really about. Trust. Trusting your kids.

Amanda ❤
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