When Free Range Parenting Fails

When Free Range Parenting Fails

Mari VanPeltMari VanPelt
Blogger | Mother

This post is an example of why I got into blogging into the first place.  I wanted a safe judgement free zone for parents to share their parenting wins & fails with no harsh judgment.  So Please forgive any typo’s and grammatical failures, this topic is fresh and very personal.  I am raw and I just need to get it out.  I will let “grammerly” handle this for me.   My apologies in advance.

Let me clarify my personal stance on parenting.  I lean towards “free range parent.”  I won’t quite let my 8 year old ride the city bus alone, but I will teach them how to navigate their way around alone and ask directions.   I may giggle at your weird sanitizing a pacifier routine when it falls on the ground but I won’t hold it against you.  I on the other hand adhere to a strict 10-20 second rule and then lick it clean myself before giving it back to the baby.

When Free Range Parenting Fails PinterestMy free range policy also applies to my teens and their use of devices.  I as a Christian as well as my husband who was raised in the church feel that this is a strong backbone to helping them understand the hard choices they will be faced with.  We also try to keep an open conversation with them and talk openly with them about sex, drugs, my own life experiences in an effort to stay “approachable and open” to them.   So why would I ever think “Free Range Parenting” would fail?  I wasn’t a camel sticking my head in the sand.  I thought I was doing everything “right,” or so I thought.

I thought everything was going ok,  until this morning.  We occasionally do “spot checks.”  I choose this method vs monitoring software or anything of that sort.  It’s just a personal choice again, you do you boo.  While looking thru a phone I found some disturbing material, and let me clarify…no one was killing puppies or doing anything illegal! Just stupid sh*t  that would upset a parent.  I’m not going to get into specifics for the sake of my children.  But nonetheless it was upsetting.

And yes, you are going to say..”Mari this isn’t about you.”  But isn’t it?  That is the first person we blame.  Ourselves for our children’s missteps right?  Their failure to make the right choices in life.  No matter how hard we try to do the right thing, is it ever right?  I’ve seen “helicopter moms” with the same problems. So do any of us know what we’re doing?

I attended a “Coffee with The Principal” this week at a school my child attends.  And while of the “helicopter moms” was ranting about how parents should be more involved, we were all shaking our heads in agreement.  I was thinking “Yep they should.”  Silly me!

I have a child making not so great choices…How?..  I am involved,  I am a presence at my children’s schools,  I engage with my children,  I host other children at my house constantly!  What is the answer?…Because right now I am at a complete loss and feel like a disappointment  who has given everything and not enough at the same time.

Does anyone have the magical parenting answers to figuring out these tiny humans?  What do you do when you have a beautiful, smart and loving child that is obviously struggling, and you are doing everything you are “supposed” to be doing.  Yet it’s still not enough?

This post was originally posted on the simplycomplicatedmom.com blog.

Mari VanPeltAbout Mari VanPelt

I am a mother, a sister, daughter, friend, and wife. Some days I am good at these things and some days I fail miserably. I am a wanna-be yogi. I love to play in the dirt and watch things grow. I enjoy taking random photos of irony and randomness but never call myself a photographer because I have a fancy camera but don’t know how to use all the buttons. I am obsessed with my animals. Probably because they can’t talk back and they love me unconditionally. I try to live every day with intention and try to teach my children to do the same. I know I can’t change the world but I think I can.

I have ex’s and baggage and that’s what makes me human. I have a millennial family where everyone has a different last name. I used to carry that with shame but I no longer do. I have crashed and burned a few times but have always gotten back up. I know now that these are the life experiences that we grow and evolve from, so embrace them because there is a lesson to be learned even as crappy as it feels right now.

I am wanting this blog to reach other women that are going thru messy life experiences to understand that our lives aren’t always recipes, cleaning, and having kiddos with straight A’s. I wish they were! Our lives sometimes involve divorces, Wellbutrin, and a little therapy or a lot and that’s ok. We need to laugh more, lean on each other more, and lend each other a non-judgmental ear when needed.

“So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.” » Gordon W. Allport

She can be reached at her website: simplycomplicatedmom.com



Mari VanPelt

7 Comments on “When Free Range Parenting Fails”

  1. @Jamie Parenting is hard. I too have a blended family. I divorced my ex when my littlest was 3. She also dealt with anger issues. Unfortunately we have absolutely no control with what goes on outside our homes. It may just be something as simple as him watching tv at your ex’s house. Try to have as much as an open communication with your ex as possible. All of this is still pretty fresh. The dust will settle I promise keep showering with love. And if possible try to incorporate a positive male influence. If dad is not available. Gpa, uncle, Boyscouts. You are doing an awesome job! If you ever need to talk I’ve done it all, 4 kids blended family, divorce, therapy, mommy burn out. And I’m still standing…kind of. Simplycomplicatedmom.com. mvp@simplycomplicatedmom.com

  2. I’m feeling like I’m failing as a parent, in a way…
    Today I had recieved a message regarding my 5 year old at Headstart.Tuesday, yesterday an incident occured and it needed to be discussed further. Arrangements were made and I went in today for parent-child day, anticipating meeting at 1:30..
    While engaged with my son, ‘shooting hoops’
    his teacher comes up alongside me and gives me a little insight as to what yesterdays incident was.. My son was playing puppets, puppet show with another child, there was conflict when the other child took a puppet from my son… My son proceeded to say he was going to take a knife to school and kill kids. :( Being told this was completely devestating… That my 5 year old is holding such anger.. :(
    I do not know where he could have picked up such violent thought.. I know I am by no means perfect, single, divorced mother to 2 children. My 5 year old being my youngin’. I do alot of my chores with my bacl turned, and the kids have ipads, television, etc. Not completely restricted settings, but I also know that I have NOT exposed my children to any of the recent highly talked about school violence,attacks, via media.
    I feel this is purely anger, and feelings he does not know how to comprehend,or furthermore express. I said I was divorced.., since June. This 50/50 parenting, and my ex husband moving on, with another woman, and 2 young boys of her own, I feel that my son has gone from being doted on, the only little man, everyones joy, to being put on the back burner (as i suspect he feels), to being treated as an equal alongside these two other children, blending family.
    I’ve not moved along, neither with a man who has kids, or doesn’t. My children are my prime focus.
    Being told my Son, my darling 5 year old had those strong of words, really really made my heart sink. My eyes welled up upon being told, I had a short break between parent-child engagement, and I just drove home sobbing, hurting for my boy.. I have seen an increase in anger, and behavioral problems increasing.
    My 5 year old and I met with teachers, and 2 police officers (SRO-School Resource Officer)
    I think my son understands the severity of what he said, with the sight of full suited officer, But again, he is only 5…… He does not even grasp ‘death’ I don’t think. A boy being a boy? perhaps. I have got my son referred into some counseling, and we will start there.
    I don’t want to fail as a mother, and I don’t want an angry insensitive son…

    1. Thanks for sharing Jaimie-May. You are definitely not alone in this. I, myself come from a blended family, as my parents had a terrible 6 year divorce when I was 8. I also have a blended family myself. My husband has two sons from his previous marriage and we have had to deal with the anger issues as well. we also have a daughter of our own now. The only advice I can give you because it has worked for my family is to offer counseling for your son. Allowing him to talk to a third, non-biased party can help. it can also help with the coparenting. I’ve found that when the parents are on the same page, it allows the child’s life to be more stable and consistent. I think it is natural for your son to feel like he’s been put on the back burner. We also have my step-sons 50/50 and we just really try to give them a stable household filled with love, equal love for each child. We reprimand and love each child the same. What has also worked for us is allowing my husband one-on-one time with his sons when we have them since our daughter gets that from him while they are not with us. Maybe opening up that line of communication with your ex and asking him to try spending some time alone with your son will help. I am by no means a doctor and I can only speak from my personal experience and what has worked with our family. I hope this helps!

  3. I love this post,”I am also mother, a sister, daughter, friend, and wife. Some days I am good at these things and some days I fail miserably. ” I can add grandmother and I too fail miserably sometimes ,we all do we are human and we fail all the time that’s how we learn to be better.

    1. Thank you Kathy!..Parenting is the most difficult role ever and every time you think you’re over the hump another surprise is there waiting!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read!

  4. Fabulous post . As a parent and now grandmother , all you can do is your best . For me being there when they needed me and being supportive was important . It is never easy and you will always second guess decisions .

    1. Sherry, Thank you! This post was very personal for me and I was very “raw” when I wrote it. I appreciate the time you took to reply. I can only hope to be a grandmother someday now that my littles aren’t so little now!

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