Forgetting Super-Mom – redefining parenthood by raising free-range kids

Super Mom

Let go of the Super Mom image

We talk about raising children who are creative, not afraid to take risks, confident in the outdoors and who love the opportunity to play independently of adults. But what of the parents? How does this philosophy change parenthood?

As free-range parents, we are to shun the archetype of the super-parent (or more often, the super-Mom). Free-range parenting resists the pressure to put children in every activity, have them look perfect in name-brand clothes, and plan out their lives twenty years in advance. This kind of parenting scoffs at the marketers who try to get us to buy their toys, brands, and ‘educational’ products.

Once the superficiality of parenting is taken out of the picture, what do we have left? We have parents who define themselves as people other than purely ‘parents.’ They are individuals with interests and aspirations. They are people who can talk about subjects other than just ‘kids.’ Their homes are not perfectly clean and they don’t consider their vehicle or stroller a status symbol because they are no longer participating in competitive parenting.

But most importantly, they are parents who can speak honestly about their lives – parents who have worries and doubts. Because being a parent is tough. And free-range parenting is about letting go of the ‘I’ve-got-it-all-together’ image.

So, I want to admit that we used Smarties as a bribe to toilet train. I confess that our children regularly wear hand-me-downs. I admit that I have moments when I yell. And that since we had children, I have been permanently exhausted.

I’m not fessing-up for sympathy. I’m confessing because I think it is time that we talk more honestly about how hard parenting can be and how it can take its toll. Nobody can be a perfect parent, so why do parents try so hard to seem perfect?

Put down the Pregnancy Fitness magazine. Ignore Angelina Jolie’s seemingly saintly missions. Let go of the image. Contribute to a more honest narrative on parenting. And let’s support each other rather than judging and worrying about being judged.

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5 Responses to “Forgetting Super-Mom – redefining parenthood by raising free-range kids”


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  3. 3 Ms Ella February 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I am most thankful for how my parents raised me. I suppose if you have to put a title on their style, which seems ridiculous because they were just being themselves with a third joining them, you would call it free-range. Brand names? Did we even have that growing up as a child?

    Just the other day I was talking with my friends who are parents and telling them that as I was growing up my neighbourhood was like the united nations. I grew up in apartments by Stadium station. Yup, that’s right, a bit if the hood. When reflecting, I cannot believe how lucky I was. My friends came from Korea, Romania, Africa, and Native American. I remember taking off without telling my parents, everyday, at the ripe age of 4, with my brown flare cords, my yellow raggedy ann and andy t-shirt and no socks or shoes. Ah yes…the good old days. And where would we play…by AND on the train tracks and return home some time before dinner.

    I am sure I came home a few too many times with bumps and scratches, but never a broken bone!

    I just hope that when my time comes I little of how my parents raised me will rub off on me. I am not interested in feeding into the state of paranoia that our lovely media has created…and I sure do hope I trust my instincts and the response of child(ren) rather than comparing myself to the Angelina’s and whomever else lives down the road.

    • 4 Mama Tortoise February 28, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Thanks for the comments, Ms Ella. It’s fun to compare how we raise kids today compared to how we were raised. It’s amazing that we all survived without seat belts, peanut butter in our lunches, and a case of the Chicken Pox. I also remember learning to start a fire in Brownies when I was six, swimming across a lake (unsupervised) when I was ten, and jumping from the roof of my friend’s home onto the trampoline.

      I’m sure our parents had different pressures. Remember, our parents were products of the ‘Leave-it-to-Beaver’ generation when Moms had a different type of image influencing them. Either way, letting go of normative images helps us to remember – and VALUE – what we do and how we feel as parents. And, as you’ve pointed out, appreciate our own parents a whole lot more!


  1. 1 Crusaders Quest Trackback on January 13, 2015 at 9:24 pm

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