According to the popular blog Free-Range Kids, “Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts—safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school-age kids go outside, they need a security detail.”
I couldn’t agree more. I wrote The Sex-Wise Parent because I believe that giving kids information and language about sexuality is as important as buying that helmet or car seat. When my child takes off on his bike and runs into a family friend, I want him to know exactly what to do if that person’s hands end up in the wrong place.
If you’re shocked, you shouldn’t be. The pedophiles I interviewed for my book told me—in no uncertain terms—that they look for unaccompanied children. Is this a reason to turn into a helicopter parent? Absolutely not. What I believe is any child old enough to ride her bike to the playground is old enough to be given accurate information about the male and female sexual anatomy. The child should understand how to set and hold boundaries and know that they can and must share anything out of the ordinary and all adult interactions with their parents. While no one can diagnose “grooming” behavior from a single anecdote described by a child, parents need to be aware of every adult in their child’s life and draw their own informed conclusions.
Giving your child information about sex requires a different skill set than providing them a well-fitting bike helmet (a trained clerk in a sporting goods store can help you with the latter form of protection). When it came to providing my child with the tools about sexual health and safety, I knew I was the best source of information. It’s not easy and yes, it may even be uncomfortable but find the courage to talk to your child and explain what you want them to know. This parent-to-child communication is better and more effective that if the information comes from a third-party.
Free range or not a child needs language and information about sex to help keep them sexually safe and healthy. Free-rangers believe in “common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times” and so do I.