Daring to Raise Free Range Kids


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Let’s be real, parenting is HARD. How do we balance our desire to give them everything with the need to let them figure things out for themselves? In this episode of the #doitscaredpodcast, where Ruth talks about how to raise "free range kids" and give them their independence w/o neglecting your parental responsibilities! #livingwellspendingless #doitscared #doitscaredpodcast #doitscaredmovement #parenting #ruthsoukup

The Do It Scared™ Podcast with Ruth Soukup provides weekly motivation, inspiration, and practical instruction for anyone tired of settling for “good enough.” Each week we tackle topics like goal-setting, overcoming procrastination, finding the time, energy & know-how for accomplishing our dreams, and overcoming the challenges that stand in our way. Don’t miss an episode; subscribe here.

Let’s be real guys, parenting is HARD. It’s exhausting and frustrating and even a little bit confusing. How do we balance our desire to give them everything with the need to let them figure things out for themselves?

But the thing is, our job as parents is to raise our kids to be good people. And if we hand everything to our children, and hover and meditate every single one of their interactions with others, how are they ever going to grow up as self-sufficient humans?

Our kids need us to teach them to be self-sufficient and to stand on their own two feet.

Even so, in an age of helicopter parenting, that’s an idea that’s becoming more and more controversial.

So how do you actually give them that independence without feeling like you are neglecting your parental responsibilities?

In Episode 21 of the Do It Scared™ Podcast, I share some practical tips for allowing your kids to be more independent.

And I’ll be honest–this one is a topic that I am SO passionate about!

You see, my childhood didn’t involve a lot of parental supervision.

My youngest brother Joel and I were free to roam around the neighborhood, and roam we did. We pretty much came and went as we pleased. We were never bored. And our parents never worried.

After spending this summer back in my hometown, my girls got a taste of that freedom too. They were free to go off and play with the neighbors, to go visit my mom or my sister down the street, or to wander around the shops downtown. They could go to the park or the library, and they could spend their own money however they saw fit.

Kids who are raised to be independent are happy and kind.

And can I just tell you?

They had the BEST summer!

The whole experiment was a pretty powerful lesson in learning to let go. We realized how much we were doing for them, instead of just letting them figure it out for themselves.

And yet, our kids need exactly that! The freedom to learn and do things on their own.

So how do we start letting go and give our kids the gift of self-sufficiency?

I believe it comes down to adopting three fundamental core beliefs. Read a brief recap of them below:

Freedom comes responsibility

Here’s the thing—we all want freedom. We want to be free to say what want and do what we want and watch what we like on TV, to wear the clothes that we want to wear, to have religious freedom and the freedom to make our own decisions about life.

And that’s why it is important for all of us, but ESPECIALLY for our kids, to understand that with freedom comes responsibility. You can’t have one without the other.

Before we tied in this responsibility piece the girls would run wild, the freedom just went straight to their heads. We knew freedom without some sense of responsibility was doing no one any good. So we decided that they had to prove to us that they could be responsible, or their freedom would be taken away. Thankfully, we weren’t too late to turn things around, and we had a MUCH better summer after that!

Because with freedom comes responsibility—that’s core belief number 1.

Teach your kids to save in their piggy banks and the value of money.

Money comes from work

This one is a core belief I’ve been driving into my kids for a very long time, and while I wish that I could take credit for it, I can’t—it comes from a guy named Dave Ramsey. You’ve maybe heard of him.

Dave truly believes that it is so important for kids to understand this one thing from an early age- that money does not grow on trees or come from the tooth fairy, or from some magic plastic card that you stick into the wall. Money comes from work.

And that can be a hard concept for kids!

I make sure my kids understand that even if Mommy and Daddy are doing well, that has nothing to do with THEIR finances. They need to work really hard to make their own money to afford the type of lifestyle they want to have. There is no safety net to fall back on and it is not always going to be someone else’s job to take care of them. Their money should come solely from their own work.

Sometimes you have to let your kids fail

This one is the hardest one of all to follow through on. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about toddlers learning how to walk or feed themselves for the first time, or teenagers learning how to land their first jobs…

We have to let our kids figure out these challenges all on their own. We need to let them struggle a little bit, to have to push past obstacles and to overcome frustration and to realize that they might be capable of a more than they even knew.

We’ve got to let our kids fail, sometimes spectacularly so, so that they can also learn to rise again. To get up, to dust themselves off, and to start over, as many times as it takes.

Let’s be real, parenting is HARD. How do we balance our desire to give them everything with the need to let them figure things out for themselves? In this episode of the #doitscaredpodcast, where Ruth talks about how to raise "free range kids" and give them their independence w/o neglecting your parental responsibilities! #livingwellspendingless #doitscared #doitscaredpodcast #doitscaredmovement #parenting #ruthsoukup



  1. Joni
    September 3 at 10:06AM

    Your podcast is always so inspiring. Love listening to it first thing to motivate me though my day/week ahead! Already started to implement some of the things you discussed with my little ones. Thanks again!

  2. Katie
    September 3 at 10:47AM

    As we just moved both of our boys out to college, I trust that we taught our kids well. From being young men with integrity to being wise with their money (thanks Dave Ramsey), they have the confidence that they can figure things out because they have a firm foundation.
    Ruth, thank you for your insight and encouragement. Your last few posts have made me cry, as the timing has been perfect and just what I needed as my babies leave the nest and learn to soar!

  3. September 6 at 11:11AM

    I agree with this on so many different levels. I had this discussion with my son and other moms several times this summer.
    My son is 9 and I came to the realization that my type A personality, wanting to control everything, is getting in the way of my son learning responsibilities. He’s plenty old enough to do many things on his own. We made a list of his responsibilities that he needed to complete every morning and night. I can tell that he feels really good about being responsible, like I trust him and know he’s capable. He’s to the point where he doesn’t need to look at the list and just knows what he needs to do, unless he’s distracted.
    We live in a very small town, so letting him and his friend ride bikes to the ice cream shop and spend his own money lit him up with excitement. He can’t wait till he’s old enough to get a real job.
    And another thing I’ve done which has been hard for me, is reminding him of what he needs. I know one of my fellow parents is really against this, but I’m not teaching him anything by reminding him of everything he needs before he walks out the door everyday. Even if it’s something as simple as his water bottle. He’ll never learn the lesson if he doesn’t take ownership.

  4. September 25 at 07:44AM

    It’s a good thing nowadays that parents allow their children to let their children be a free spirit but at the same time be responsible and able to learn different things. Having your children know how money works and how to save them is really good to teach to them while they are still young. And with regards when kids fail its good to always be there for them to explain and discuss about certain thing that will help them and make them realize of what needs to be done after failing.

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