Shannon has a M.S. in Geology, is a teacher in a Waldorf School and has background as a children's yoga teacher.

She is passionate about connecting children to themselves and to the natural world.

About Backyard Mama

Backyard Mama's mission is for every child to spend time outside every day.

The intention of this blog is to offer inspiration to do that. Take this tips and tools and use them, or contact me and I can run a program at your center.

Our programs take many forms:
* classes in your school or childcare center
* classes for camps or nature centers
* professional development through conferences and workshops
* professional development designed for your staff
* community workshops at libraries and agencies

We're always excited to design something special just for you!


Parenting with Style


My Childhood

My fondest memories of childhood are from a time when my family lived in a cabin in the woods, we walked down a path to get to our two room home and we had no running water or electricity.  

All this was so fun for a little 7 year old girl, but the best was that my parents let us wonder the surrounding woods freely.My father made up a system for “tracking” us- he would whistle once and we would respond with one whistle back; if he whistled twice- it meant we better get home fast.  

This worked, no one got hurt or lost or kidnapped, we didn’t sink into the swamp or get attacked by animals.

My style

I am sort of a “free range parent” I previously posted about allowing my son to take risks.

Last week we were playing out in the backyard and my son wanted to go down the street to the big puddle (oh yeah, it was raining out-big surprise!). I explained that there were children asleep in the house and I didn’t want to go that far away…

A few minutes later I looked up and Jeremiah was gone. Hum, I went inside and looked around… well it didn’t take long for me to head out the front door and find him…

He’d gone off by himself to play in the puddle.

I got nervous- what if someone saw? What would they do? I let my three year old play in the street alone.

Now, he’s a smart kid; he’d get out of the road if a car came. He’d run through the woods if a weirdo came… he’s not a big fan of anyone he doesn’t know. 

{Or maybe what’s important is that I believe this about him.}

Dad’s Style 

Charlie’s style is very different. He hovers and worries and limits activities. Jeremiah is much “safer” with him than with me.

Yesterday we went to Jeremiah’s soon-to-be-school and he climbed up a big wooden boat that’s outside. It has a mast with a ladder and my little dare devil went right up and onto the roof of the boat.

His dad was there to remind us this wasn’t all that safe. There were sharp corners on the boat, it was rickety, and a number of other things I don’t remember.

A Winning Combination

I’ve come to like that we have different approaches.

I give him a cup without a lid and he pours his own milk; his dad gives him a full cup of milk with the lid on.

But I like taking risks; they help me learn to have faith.

I still think I am going to instate the whistle rule to keep my ducks in a row!

How bout you, what’s your style? How was it for you growing up? Or what’s it like to co-parent?

This post is part of the 30-minute blog challenge of Steady Mom.

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14 Responses to “Parenting with Style”

  • Hmmm, it depends on the risk.

    My twins are still very young but I think I allow risks far more than my husband does.

    BTW< I love your father's tracking system – now if only I could actually whistle LOL

  • Shannon says:

    That’s interesting, I wonder if it’s just a maternal thing… in some ways moms know the limits of what their kids can do safely. Thanks for stopping over!

  • Alison Kerr says:

    Got to say, I’m more of a hoverer. I’ve really had to work to curb that tendency. Kids need some space, and responsibility, to grow.
    .-= Alison Kerr´s last blog ..Extreme Back Yard Makeover =-.

  • Emily Geizer says:

    I love this post! I think it is so great to let children explore and test their own (and mine) comfort levels. There needs to be an awareness, though, of setting the child up for success.

    To use your example, Shannon, if I never taught my child how to pour, but then encouraged him to pour his own milk, the results would not have a positive outcome. For “free-range” to be effective, we need to give our kids the tools to be successful.

    Teach your kids how to pour and then let them at it. Teach your kids how to clean the spills. Teach kids about road or stranger safety and enjoy the independence and learning process that follows.
    .-= Emily Geizer´s last blog ..Traits of a Good Teacher =-.

  • Shannon says:

    Alison, My grandma always said that everything in moderation is good. So hovering isn’t always bad and we all do it… I’ve just noticed lately that Charlie hovers so much more than I do. It’s interesting! Jeremiah has become so independent though because of the combination! Cheers! Shannon

  • Shannon says:

    Emily, so true. I have been down the street with my son a hundred times, so I have some idea of how he’ll be. Everytime we walk down the street we look both ways. We always run into the woods when a car comes. He has done this with me hundreds of times, so Ihave some idea how he’ll respond on his own giving me comfort. My husband has not… it’s different. Thanks for stopping over and I’m so excited that you enjoyed this! (It was fun to write!)

  • amandaginn says:

    I loved this post!

    While I’m no dare devil, I am a little more “flexible” than my husband. We call him (very lovingly) “Captain Safety”. And like you said, he’s my perfect parenting complement.

    It’s so reassuring to know that at the end of the day, he’ll be careful with our daughter. I would hate to have to “babysit” my husband while he’s being Daddy.

    Plus, I love that his concern for safety translates into treating our daughter like a delicate little girl, which is what she is. Of course, we also love watching her take risks and explore her growing world!

    Found you at Steady Mom.
    .-= amandaginn´s last blog ..Ainsley Speak =-.

  • Shannon says:

    I am glad that you found me! I love Steady Mom, and the blog challenge is so fun cause I always meet great new bloggers.

    I do appreciate tht my husband is cautious. I also enjoy that I am flexible and a “free range” sorta gal.

    Great to meet you and hope to learn more!

  • Nina says:

    I don’t have a co-parent so its just me. I try not to be a helicopter parent but I do stay close. I interfere more when he is interacting with others – keep your hands to yourself, let them have a turn – then I do about stopping him from trying out new things. my son is naturally cautious so he pretty much regulates himself. my step-parents had a cabin in the woods (for a long time a trailer as they built the house) in Amish country in PA and we had a blast running around like loons except when my brother decided to pee from a tree and I ran past! ;O

  • se7en says:

    This gave me a smile!!! It sure takes two to parent in our house!!! We have very different parenting styles and our kids now where to find their freedom when they want it and where to get their tighter security when they need it too!!! Great post!!!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..This Week At (29 March) At Se7en… =-.

  • Great post! This sounds a bit like me and my husband. We call him “Safety Dad”. I think a lot of it is because I’m around my son all the time and know his capabilities and limitations. But yes – it’s perfect because my son can benefit from both of our parenting styles.
    .-= Abby @ New Urban Habitat´s last blog ..March Showers =-.

  • Mel says:

    My husband is the hoverer in our family–most of the time. I think it is so important to step back and let your kids try things on their own. But, it can be scary sometimes.
    .-= Mel´s last blog ..Make a bug house: part II =-.

  • Danielle says:

    I’m pretty laid back. As moms, especially since I stay home, we know our children deeply and intimately. We know what they are capable of (or not). We know, instinctively, when we need to step in and when to step back. The hardest thing for me is when another person steps in for me, when I am watching my child and being sure of his safety, sometimes other parents feel that they must hover for me. It drives me crazy.

  • Shannon says:

    I just want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to comment here. I feel deeply honored and grateful to share my life with such outstanding mothers and others. I appreciate all the thought provoking comments! Happy parenting! All styles are great, it’s just wonderful to know there are other ways to do things and I know that I, for one, don’t always have it right! Blessings!

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