Luke 2:41-52 New International Version (NIV)
The Boy Jesus at the Temple
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
The practice of free-range parenting was in the news today. As I understand it involves giving your child freedom to develop self-confidence and self-reliance, even if it means potential risks to the child. It sounds a bit stupid, frankly, to let your kids do what they want and call it parenting. Conversely, it's about as stupid as over-scheduling your children so that no one in the family has time to just kick back and be themselves. My own childhood had elements of both. Coming from a big family, I was rarely alone, but it sometimes meant my older siblings were supervising me. After school activities cost more money than my parents could afford, so outside of church, they weren't especially encouraged. My dreams of wearing a Brownie uniform went unrealized but I don't think it scarred me.
I've tried to think of a Biblical example of free-parenting and could only come up with young Jesus staying back in Jerusalem to discuss things of God with the temple teachers. What made perfect sense to him, frightened his parents. Jesus knew he was in his Father's house; but his parents thought their home was his, and it was. Jesus obeyed and returned to Nazareth. So even Jesus was never a free-range kid. He belonged to his Father and was obedient to Him, as we should all be. I'm thankful that I'm not a free-range child of God.