Free-range parenting: Is it the answer?

Photo Credits: Chen Zhou

In a taxi late at night, the driver talked about his family. He lamented, “Children are too incapable of hardship these days, it’s a result of too good conditions.”

This is a young immigrant family living in London, where the wife is a fulltime housewife, and the husband is busy earning money outside the home to take care of the stress of raising three children.

Husband Chen Zhou spoke of the three boys in their family, the oldest of whom is eight years old and the other two are six years old. They were all born in London and now all attend public school.

It has become an unwritten rule in their home that they are “free-range parenting”. Chen Zhou, as the father, said he was “free-range”, meaning he did not interfere much with their independent behaviour, except when they got into fights, or play games for long periods because it was detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Chen Zhou believes that family education is more important than school education, since children’s personalities and many of their deep-rooted ideas stemmed from their families. The family agreed with each other to go for a walk or picnic in the park near their home almost every week, away from their busy lives.

“Teaching three boys is still a bit of a headache,” he recalls of one trip to the park, just a 15-minute drive away. There was only one passenger seat and the children all wanted to sit in the front. Whenever they went out, they argued at least once, and ended up being unhappy with whoever was in the back seat.

There was still no solution to this matter, but the good thing is that they don’t remember these conflicts for long, so most of the time they have to let them work it out on their own, or give them some sugar as compensation.

As a family of immigrants, we chose London for its “diversity” and the fact that the city would accept “different” people. Being city that accepts “different”, so it’s a great place for us to live.

“My wife and I are both Chinese, so it’s only natural that we know both languages. But I don’t require my children to learn it,” Chen Zhou explained the general environment is too powerful of an influence for them.

The family’s current method of communication is that the children speak English and the couple speaks a mixture of English and Chinese. The children can now understand Chinese, but can only respond in English.

“It is no use forcing them, they are not children if they can be that obedient.”

Chen Zhou
Photo Credits: Chen Zhou

Chen Zhou family’s education tends to trust their children’s self-control, and their “free-range parenting” is indeed the most suitable method for their family.

Words : Yurui Zhao | Subbing : Andreea Bejan

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