Opting Out Of The Village

The above photo sparked outrage and anger amongst two very VERY large moms at the park the other day … so much so that the police were called. Luckily, the police officer was of sound mind and didn’t even say word one to the kids about their “delinquent” climbing of trees and balance acts on the fence. Kady overheard him say, “They are allowed to be here, don’t give them any grief, they are just playing with their siblings.”

When did it come to this? When did moms start calling the cops on children who are playing innocently at the park. When did it become admirable to conform? When did it become the goal to ensure every kid mimics the other kid? I thought diversity was beautiful? I thought courage and bravery (two different things) and strength and a little bit of crazy was what we all try to instill in our children! What about independence and self-reliance and …

But apparently I’m wrong because this happens more often than not. What the majority of people want, in terms of kids, is quiet, non-challenging, obedient, invisible children. That’s where our parenting style collides with normal America. We don’t conform. We don’t ply them with pills, we don’t helicopter parent. Instead of saying, “Don’t do that” or “Be careful”, I say, “If you think you can” and “Be smart”. Instead of planting my kids in front of the TV and allowing hours upon hours of video game playing, we take them outside.

Outside is where you learn who you are and what you are made of. It’s where you push yourself and learn your own limits and then you learn to blow those limits out of the water. Climbing is to childhood what Apple Pie is to America. In fact, Dally was describing a playground to Grady and his exact words were, “It has a sick roof.” You can’t protect them from life, so you have to give them the tools to excel, the self-reliance and self knowledge to be smart in their choices.

The problem I’m seeing is utter laziness, hypocrisy & narcissism in parenting. Most parents don’t want to stand under a tree in case Johnny falls. And for the majority of parents, it’s just so much easier to control everyone else than to actually parent your own kids. These two particular moms were enormous. Probably about 300 lbs each. And they each were enjoying a meal from McDonalds and chain smoking. Why does this matter? I’ll tell you why. It matters because they were bellowing about my kids being “good role models”. Are you kidding me? Call me crazy, but I believe parents are the most important role models. Modeling a healthy active lifestyle is as important as any other value you choose to instill in your children. But, again, it’s easier to live by the rule, do as I say, not as I do, right? The whole throwing stones at glass houses thing really seems appropriate, no?

But it also occurred to me the following. Just when did it become my kids responsibility to model behaviors that other moms deem fit for their own children? I’ll tell you what, you will never hear my children curse or say God’s name in vain. You will never see my children bullying another, you will never see them vandalize or litter. You will never see my kids smoking or drinking or breaking the law. You will, however, see them pushing their limits hucking waterfalls, paddling epic rivers that you wouldn’t expect to see kids on, climbing rock faces, delving into unknown caves, flying down snow covered mountain faces, and yes, climbing trees. So, in my mind they are the ultimate role models, they model strength and skill and bravery and crazy!

Anyone who has been reading my blogs for any amount of time has heard me say, “It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes two involved parents.” I’ve seen the village mentality and I want nothing to do with it. You can take your perfect attendance, your straight A report cards, and your conform mentality and shove it! 🙂 We’ll take to the trees and look down on the world from our high perch!!

19 thoughts on “Opting Out Of The Village”

  1. The maple tree I grew up climbing is still in my parents back yard. Best fun ever. (Last time I was up in it I was 5 months pregnant.) Wait until that tree leafs out and they can hide up in the tree. We used to jump out of it into the snow. shovel the roof off in the winter and jump off the roof. My fall “job” was to climb the apple trees and shake them so we could make apple sauce and cut pie apples. Never fell out unless it was on purpose to scare my mom. ;)These “Ladies” only have the upper body strength to eat. Rather doubt they have ever climbed a tree. Opportunity missed I say. Go Kellogg family! Neighbors have a great tree in town here my oldest 2 boys grew up in. Doesn’t everyone build a tree fort? Sadly – another opportunity lost.

  2. “it’s just so much easier to control everyone else than to actually parent your own kids.”
    So TRUE…….
    While you are letting these people “off the hook”, your GREAT guidance of your Kids shows every post you make.
    THANK YOU for all you do…….

  3. Amen to you and your family!!!! You are so right about everything. Most kids today are so afraid because their parents have instilled fear in them. If my son come home from a day out clean…there is something wrong. How are kids going to learn about life if they don’t experience it. I thank God everyday my mom and dad took is camping, backpacking, traveled each summer wherever the road would take us. As I homeschool my son now I get the “are you crazy!!!l look from most people…I love my son, I love being around him, I love learning and discovering the world with him. You have an incredible family…loving, supportive, amazing family. My son and I watch your videos and never once have I ever seen or heard your kids be mean rude or bully
    anyone. God Bless you all..and keep you safe!!!

  4. Susie,

    This reminds me of a time when Henry was 8. He was paddling in Golden (unsupervised for the most part) and some woman came up screaming at me about what an awful father I was to allow my son to do what he was doing. She had her phone out and told me she was calling the police and CPS. It was about that time that Henry had gotten out of his boat and came over to see what was going on. After hearing her rant, Henry told her, “Lad, I’m an expert at this, you’re not – leave my dad and me alone”. He proceeded to grab his boat and head back up to the hole.

    She shut up and left….. 🙂

  5. This reminds me of the time, years ago when I took my daughter to the swimming pool~ like all little girls she was screaming as she jumped in~ NOT THE ONLY GIRL DOING THIS. Another mother reprimanded her in a very nasty tone. Excuse me?! I nicely said ” she isn’t the only one doing this “. We left. Truth is, the mother simply did not like ME! Her loss because I really was a lot of fun and so was my daughter who is now a young women and remembers the rudeness of adults in my area.

  6. Most moms that I see at the playground these days are too busy looking at their cell phones to notice anything except how much dirt their kids got on their clothes. You’re a good mom!

  7. You are totally, completely, 1 million percent right – every word of that. You’re making better choices than “they” are. It’s scary to think of what the world is going to be like in another 10-20 years when those zombie kids “grow up”.

    However, it’s a good learning experience for your kids to encounter people like this. They’ll know how to deal with them when they also are older and have to work alongside the zombies.

  8. I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear you say this! My oldest son is but 7, and he has reached a new stage of tree-climbing that has me feeling the teensiest bit nervous, but also excited. Excited to see him focus on his goal, persevere through the work it takes, and succeed in reaching new heights. It is absolutely good for them! And individuality and role models are great too. I love everything you write, Susie!

  9. Haha!! Kalle and I would probably be at the bottom of the tree telling Emmett to smile so we could get the best photos!!!! That tree is EPIC!!! I’m glad parents in Canada tend to be a little more involved on average than in the States but I see the issues involved in the Village mentality every day. Here’s to involved parents!!!!

  10. I totally agree! The amount of people that want to tell my perfectly capable children they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” drives me insane. Why tell them they can’t do something when they haven’t even tried. Stop them before the attempt so they will always give up from the start? On the other hand, please do not “help” my child do something above their ability level. Let them trust themselves and learn how far they can push! Thanks for the great read!

  11. I love your parenting ethics. I know where this park is. I seen your RV in my area and had to look it up on the internet. I am ashamed to know that people in my area are so low minded. You guys keep it up and enjoy life. Don’t change a thing. I admire you for handling 12 children. Most parents cant handle one at home much less living in an RV with them. This tells me your children are well behaved. I wish I could adopt your ethics. Thank you for standing up.

  12. As an almost 300 pound, McDonald loving mom of kids who do say bad words I would defend with my last breathe your right to raise your kids the way you see fit for them. You are unique in the sense that you have actually put time and thought into how to raise them. I have known some amazing, smart, and wonderful kids that use a lot of electronics and I would not change those kids or those parents either. So it isn’t the actual activity but the right to pick what works best for a given family or child. I agree 1000% that it is two involved parents – MOM and DAD, that provide the world with great children and even the great people that will someday lead this world. We are not nearly as physically active as your family but are healthy (don’t chain smoke anything) and active. Just like you we are criticized for just being us. I hate that. Your kids are great climbers and the day at the park we had I was shocked that they were on top of the buildings. I love that they saw that building as an adventure, one to take on and conquer not one to fear and worry about the rules of how and why. I just wish the rest of the world, fat or thin, smokers are not, climbers or computer gamers, homeschoolers, unschoolers or even public schoolers would all learn to think for themselves, get involved, give it a try and stop depending on someone else to tell us what is right and wrong. I hate that people try to use our peace officers to ‘protect’ children from a tree. Crazy.

  13. I remember taking a friends two girls to an outdoor pool one summer, one was 8 year old the other 10, the older one has always stood her ground in any confrontation, and she got into an argument with another girl at the pool, the other girl lashed out, so Nicola, the older girl fought back, and I knew she would not back down, she was a bit of a tomboy but after a minute the other kids siblings crowded round and I knew it was going to get bad so I stepped in the pulled them both apart, and pulled Nicola away, I didn’t tell her off, she did nothing wrong in my opinion, anyway within seconds, just like you said in your story above, these two huge women came over and started having a go at me for touching their daughter, all I did was pull them apart to end the fight as I knew Nicola would end up seriously hurting the other girl even thou she was larger and probably older, and way these women started having a go at me, and I lost it and told them where to go or I’d shove em both in the pool to cool off lol, anyway they said they were going to get their husbands to come down and sort me out lol, so we ended up leaving just after they did, but another woman came over with her 3 little kids after the huge they had left, and said I was in the right and had every right to threaten them with being thrown in the pool, she said she would have loved to have seen that lol.
    Anyways a similar story to yours, let kids be kids I say, whenever I had anyone`s kids stay of a weekend, I would always take them out somewhere, just can’t sit at home all day, I much prefer to see kids enjoying themselves, and all the kids I used to look after, always wanted to come back again and again, I just loved taking them out and seeing them have fun, which is what kids should be doing, not sat at home playing computer games, that’s why I love watching your video’s, your all out having fun and its great to see you and the kids enjoying themselves, I can’t think of a better set of parents, and it shows in how your kids conduct themselves, you have a wonderful family.


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