Free-Range Parenting And Why I Still Hover.

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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In a culture that has taught us to always be looking over our shoulder,  and never lower our defense, how involved should you be in your child's every move?

Hover [verb]– to keep lingering about; wait near at hand.

Mike and I have been wrestling with the issue of freedom and responsibility with our children for years. Within our home we allow much freedom and encourage a high level of responsibility. We teach our children to use the stove, cut with scissors, babysit, run a dishwasher, wash, dry and fold laundry, answer the phone, feed the animals, change diapers, and the list goes on. Outside of our home is a different story.

Just a few weeks ago, I allowed my daughters (age 13 and 14) to ride bikes to my office a few blocks from home. They wanted to come for a visit and in the moment it sounded like a great idea. As I hung up the phone, I began to panic. I had never let them ride bikes that far. In fact I couldn’t think of a time I had ever allowed them to cross a busy street. I began texting instructions to my husband. “Remind them to look both ways,” “Tell them only to cross at the crosswalk,” “Make sure they know not to talk to strangers.” For the next 10 minutes my heart pounded. I could see them through the office window as they parked their bikes. Their laughter filled the parking lot. They were ALIVE!

As I breathed a sigh of relief, I realized how silly I had been. They weren’t just alive, they were actually living. They were empowered by that small taste of freedom, the wind blowing through their hair, and the potential danger of the busy street. I had trusted them and the joy of that felt-trust was beaming out of them.

My husband and I began to explore more deeply why we keep our children so close to home. Were we really afraid they would be abducted? Did we think they would do something wrong? Were we worried that they would harm themselves or someone else? We are a family of faith, did we not trust our God to care for our children? We answered “no” to every question. We also realized we didn’t see anyone else letting their children play outside. The neighborhood children play in their yards under the watchful eye of caregivers, and our parks are mostly empty. After some honest conversation we admitted it all boiled down to the perception we have of other families. We’re afraid they will judge our parenting if we are not present to defend ourselves. We are afraid they will judge our children if we are not hovering over them ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble.

Our fear stems from a desire to cling to our reputation more than a legitimate concern for children’s safety. Our fear has been preventing our children from practicing the independence they will ultimately acquire.

One day she will disagree with a college roommate and we will not be there to mediate.
One day his coworker will not want to be friends and we will not be there to make him play fair.
One day a mom on the PTA will talk behind her back and we will not be there to set her straight.
One day he will need to pay the electric bill and we will not be there with a checkbook in hand.
One day she will encounter someone who wants to harm her and we will not be there to speak words of caution.
One day, very soon, they will be adults and we will have neglected to teach them to cross the busy street.

One day. It’s not far off. It’s right around the corner. Our children’s safety is top priority, but so is teaching them to navigate through life. What better time to teach them than now!

What are your thoughts on free-range parenting verses hovering?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.