The Limits We Don’t Talk About – Celebrating Pride Week

Thanks to a woman who I greatly respect, today I have been inspired to pay heed to the fact that it is Gay Pride Week here in Edmonton. How does this fit into slow parenting, you may ask? The answer is in assessing all the limits that we place on our children.

Free-range kids, defined by Lenore Skenazy, are kids who are offered independence. They have the freedom to explore on their own and make their own mistakes. They have parents who do not over-protect them or micro-manage their lives. They have parents who are willing to challenge limits that are ordinarily placed on children.

Free-range parenting followers often talk about lifting ordinary restrictions from childhood – let them play in the park without adult supervision, let them bike to school on their own, let them travel on their own. Don’t worry so much about defining your child, let them out to discover the world and define themselves. But free-range parents rarely talk about lifting other restrictions that we unthinkingly place on our children.

Our family is pretty boring. We are white, heterosexual, and able-bodied. We are the family represented in the predominant social narrative around us – we are the family of children’s books, the movies, the stories of ‘tradition’. The Bear and Banana can (for the most part) find their likeness all around them. They find comfort in finding their life story affirmed for them.

To me, this is a great limitation. It is subtle, usually unquestioned, and extremely powerful. I am frightened by the idea of our girls growing up to think that they are ‘normal.’ And perhaps, anything outside of ‘normal’ is somehow wrong. This is a limitation that needs to be challenged often. Children who are unexposed to difference, or perhaps aren’t taught about understanding difference, are limited.

In my definition of free-range parenting, I would include the need to free children from the limits of ‘normal.’ I would aim for lifting restrictions that impede children from acknowledge the differences all around them.

Part of challenging the limits of ‘normal’ is to change the social narrative. Try reading a book to your child that is outside of their ‘normal’. In honour of Gay Pride Week, here are some picture books that contribute to a narrative that includes homosexuality.


2 Responses to “The Limits We Don’t Talk About – Celebrating Pride Week”

  1. 1 sharon June 13, 2011 at 2:51 am

    “Normal is the average of deviance.”
    — Rita Mae Brown

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Inspiration for free-range parenting or simple living

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