I’ve been seeing posts shared on Facebook recently talking about how ridiculous it is to be a “helicopter mom” and talking down on those who choose to keep a close eye on their children. I’ve also seen a lot of discussion about “free-range parenting”, the benefits of it and the confusion when society doesn’t necessarily agree with it. I’m not here to talk down on anyone or say one way of parenting is right or wrong, but I am going to tell you how I feel and how I prefer to parent.
First and foremost, I think both methodologies are a great way of parenting. It’s great to keep your child safe, but it’s also great to let them be free to make their own choices as well. I get it. But when it comes to parenting, I think the way you should parent is the way you feel comfortable parenting. If you’re going to “try” to let your kids do the free-range thing but you’re worrying so bad you’re sweating and practically hyperventilating every second they’re gone– then free-range parenting probably isn’t your thing. If you feel more comfortable holding your child’s hand while they’re at the playground or going with them while they walk or bike around the block, then I think you should do exactly that.
Alea is five-years-old. Cory and I have been discussing boundaries and how far is too far and if it’s okay for Alea to play outside by herself yet. I have to admit that I’m not comfortable letting Alea roam free by any means. She’s a very smart girl and I’m always amazed at the choices she makes. Just recently, one of the neighbor girls was over and she told her, “You know what my doctor told me? She told me that when we’re riding our bikes or our scooters, we should always wear our helmets. Because if we don’t, we could fall and get hurt very bad.” She said this because the little girl wasn’t wearing her helmet and it made me so proud of her! It’s not always easy to tell others things like that. What a brave little girl!
Even after that, though, even knowing she would make those good choices, it still makes me nervous to let her roam about the neighborhood or ride her bike outside alone.
On the other end of the spectrum, my parents let me do my own thing for the most part. During the summer months, I would bike around the neighborhood, walk to the park with my friends, go to the “bunny store” (a convenience store about a block away from our house) to get ice cream or candy, and I’d go to various friends houses throughout the neighborhood. We’d play outside all day long without a care in the world! It was so much fun! Even after being raised that way, I can’t imagine myself doing the same for Alea. Not yet anyways.
I truly do believe that we live in a different world now. We live in a world where kids go missing every single day. Where drivers are inattentive and on their cell phones while driving and may not see your child crossing the street. Where there are some people that you just can’t trust. I’m sure there were instances like this when I was growing up, but in this day and age it just seems so much more prevalent. I just can’t wrap my mind around it and I can’t help but try my hardest not to expose Alea to the evils in life.
This is just one of those “different strokes for different folks” kind of situations. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay if you feel comfortable to let your kid play outside in the yard by themselves or if you feel comfortable letting them ride their bike around the block. You’re their parent and therefore it is your choice. Just like it’s my choice to not feel comfortable letting my child do that.
To each their own, but quite frankly, I’m sick of parents hating on other parents for either choice. I’ll always be a helicopter parent and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Are you a helicopter parent, a free-range parent, or somewhere in the middle?