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Benefits of Free-Range Parenting

Declaration of Independence

Freedom has to be earned and learned. Help your kids—and yourself—feel safer as they move out of your orbit.

Start with the facts.

Don't base decisions on feelings. Find out exactly what real hazards there are in your neighborhood.

Know your kid.

If she follows through on tasks, owns up to mistakes and tends to look before she leaps, you're probably safe saying yes when she asks to ride her bike to the park, have her curfew extended or go to the mall with a friend.

Practice.

Go with your son to the bus stop until he gets the hang of it and tells you he feels comfortable doing it on his own.

Power down.

If your kids call constantly for your advice (Lenore Skenazy's son once rang her from home to ask if he should eat another piece of banana bread), try turning off your cell phone for at least part of the day, to allow them the chance to make independent decisions.

Dial back fear.

People who watch more news and violent dramas on TV tend to see the world as more dangerous than it is. Skip the graphic shows in favor of less frightening fare.

Go easy on others.

The next time a kid you know hurts herself or does something dumb, resist the urge to blame her mom. Even if our parenting styles differ, we're all in this together.

Originally published in the July 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.