Will Free Range Parenting Lead To Troubled Teens?


Have you ever heard of the term “Free Range Parenting”? An example of Free Range Parenting would be to allow your 10 year old to ride is bike a few streets over to visit a friend. Or letting your child walk to the local grocery store to buy candy, all while NOT hoovering over them like a “helicopter parent”, which I am guilty of. I was an overly paranoid parent. I wouldn’t even let my kids walk the dog outside without watching them the entire time through the window. Or let them play with their friends around our condo complex without having them call every so often to let us know they were OK.

Growing up my parents were lucky if they knew where I was half the time. They knew I couldn’t be far. I spent a lot of the time playing and exploring the woods behind our home. As long as I was home by the time it got dark they were OK with it. The one and only time I was late getting home they called the Police and there were Police cars up and down the street looking for me. Oh boy! Did I get grounded for that one.

I was allowed to go ride my bike into town (several miles away), or go to local deli and play the arcade games they kept in the backroom. My parents never any reservations about me going anywhere by myself. Fast forward to when my children were little. They NEVER left my sight – EVER! It’s only been within the past year that I will let my kids walk home from the bus stop (about a quarter of a mile from our condo). We’ve even allowed our 15 year old to go to the mall with her friends (although that still makes me very nervous).

Free Range Parenting is based on the idea that we should give our kids the same freedom that we had when we were kids without going crazy with worry. The idea is that by giving kids freedom you are giving them the chance to build self-confidence and to make smart decisions (in theory anyway).

Check out this interesting post about Free Range Parenting by Kari Ann.


One of the hottest and most contested parenting topics over the last 10 years has been free range parenting. These modes of parenting focuses around letting children roam free in their neighborhoods and their communities. Some parents claim that free range parenting is an essential part of creating competent, confident children, but others claim that free range parenting can lead to troubled teens.

When considering this issue, the most important thing to do is to define free range parenting. In particular, it is important to understand the difference between free range parenting and neglect. A free range parent is one who does not believe that the world is innately damaging to their child. They may cite statistics about how much more likely a child is to die in a car crash than to be kidnapped by a stranger. These parents may allow their children to ride their bikes to the library or to school. They may allow their children to stay home alone occasionally, and they may even send them to the grocery store to grab eggs or milk. These parents do not push their children past their comfort zones, but they allow them to explore the world.

The child of a neglectful parent may also roam freely, but they may act without the parent’s consent. The neglectful parent may not even know where their child is. A free range parent will be available as needed for their child, but they will give their child room to move and grow. A neglectful parent, in contrast, may hardly ever be available to help their child.

Once one understands the difference between free range parenting and neglectful parenting, they can start to explore the issue of whether or not free range parenting will create troubled teens. In most free range families, the teens have had the opportunity to deal with autonomy during their childhood. This may impart them with the ability to make smart decisions even when they are not being directly supervised by an adult. The child of a neglectful parent, in contrast, may become a troubled teen. In search of love, they may turn to drugs, sex, or alcohol. They may act out, skip school, or break laws.

The issue is relatively complicated. However, it is important to keep in mind that not every child who is alone is neglected. Many children who roam free have supportive, interested, engaged parents at home, and those parents will help those children to grow into healthy teens and adults.

Kari Ann is a freelance writer and mother who loves to get advice at www.FamilyCompass.com.

What are YOUR thoughts about Free Range Parenting? Are you all for the idea of giving our children the same freedoms that we had as children? Or do you feel that times are different now and we do not live in the same “world” that we did when we were children, and that there are more dangers then ever before for our children to succumb to?

Free Range Parenting – Yes or No? Why or why not?

Feel free to share your thoughts? I always love to hear from my readers.



*This is a guest post. There was no compensation.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. april yedinak says:

    I really appreciate that you differentiated between free range parenting and neglect. There are parents in my neighborhood that toss their toddlers out sans shoes and proper clothing and never pay attention to them. I am a pretty paranoid parent, but I knew from day one that I would not do my children any favors by hovering or passing that paranoia on to them. So, they have all been apprised of various dangers, prepped on safety plans, given self-defense instruction and they must travel in pairs or with a larger group. In our neighborhood they are free to roam as long as they answer when I call. They are allowed to walk to the park or store (about 1 mile and 1/2 mile away, respectively) as long as they pair up and take a cell phone. Now, every moment they are gone on these jaunts I am biting my nails, but I want them to have the opportunity to experience some independence, so I just suck it up. I know better than most people how horrible the world can be, but I do my best to prepare them for every situation, train them to handle danger and I try to remember that the chance of anything ever happening is slim to none. But, I still vibrate with anxiety every time they roam from home, Lol!

  2. There comes a point when you have to trust your child and allow them to trust themselves. This may be difficult for parents but it is necessary in order to have independent adults. It’s not easy to do but it is worth the benefits. I agree with what April said in the comment before mine that they need to experience some independence.

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