Rite of Passage Part 2   1 comment

I stood and watched my two sons, ages sixteen and twelve, drive away in our van on their way to South Dakota in July of 2008. They were going camping for a week and wanted to sightsee at Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Deadwood. This was nearly eight hundred miles from our home in Wisconsin. Was I crazy?  Was I doing the right thing in letting them go alone? I asked myself these questions often while we were planning their trip. Then I began to reflect back on all of our years of homeschooling, teaching them to be independent and strong, critical thinkers and problem solvers. They were ready, and I knew it. 

We perceive our world as a dangerous one filled with murderers and kidnappers ready to strike our children. But statistics show that violent crime is down from past decades and the reality is that we have more to fear in getting into an accident driving to the store than we do of a stranger snatching our children.  According to stastics found in the book, Free Range Kids, a child is 40 times more likely to die as a passenger in a car crash than be kidnapped or murdered by a stranger.  Yet, we take that risk everyday, but keep our kids from enjoying the freedom to roam and be independent because of fear blown out of proportion – partly due to extensive media coverage of the few unfortunate incidents that do occur.

I had been raising my children with a lot of freedom and arming them with the ability to handle themselves with people.  Since my oldest son was seven he had been walking to the store alone and learning to feel comfortable approaching employees for assistance if he needed help locating something. They have been allowed to ride their bikes or walk to the library, to their piano lessons, to their grandparents, to church and anywhere else in town they wanted to go.

Our homeschooling lifestyle has enabled them to be independent, to make their own choices in how they spend much of their time, and to feel comfortable navigating themselves out in the world. So when the boys were sixteen and twelve it did not surprise me that they wanted to take a camping trip to South Dakota on their own.  It was a natural step in their freedom filled childhood and I wasn’t going to let my fears keep them from making it.

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Posted January 3, 2011 by The Nonconformist Mom in Uncategorized

One response to “Rite of Passage Part 2

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  1. Friends thought my kids shouldn’t have an early morning paper route when they were in middle school. A young teen paper carrier was abducted and never found in Des Moinses at the time. We weren’t worried it would happen to them in Bettendorf, IA. Before they were in middle school they had already been walking to Target and the 7-11 by themselves.

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