Modern Parenting Techniques: Do you Free-Range or do You Helicopter?
Are you a helicopter parent or do you free-range? That is the eternal question that parents have been asking themselves since they’ve had the words for it.
We label each other. We label one another. What happened to nobody puts baby in a corner?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a helicopter parent is “a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child.”
Depending on the age, couldn’t all of us fall under the umbrella of helicopter parents? Sure, we all like to fancy ourselves “free-range” but who has the stomach for it? Not me.
The thought of my children driving the bike around the block, out of my line of sight makes me nauseous. Of course, my girls are only 5 and 7. Truthfully, they are both still trying to maneuver the murky waters of keeping their bikes upright without help, so why would I ever let them go off riding on the trails alone?
Yes, I am perfectly aware that our moms turned us lose until the streetlights come on, but I’m not my mom. Times have changed and the world feels infinitely more dangerous with my heart walking around outside my body like it is.
I think we all know a helicopter parent or two. You may even be one yourself. Me? I’m a free-range kid who grew up to be a hovering helicopter parent.
I won’t lie, I want to be involved in my children’s lives and I really want to make sure they are safe.
I have seen a few things in my life that have made me realize that there has to be boundaries to this helicopter parenting. If you have ever done any of the following, you may want to step back and employ a tiny bit of free-range parenting.
These are things that people I know or I myself, may or may not be guilty of at some point.
- Cutting up your preschooler’s food and pre-chewing it to be sure they don’t choke or only feeding them soft foods. This is only acceptable if they have sensory issues, no teeth or some other pressing medical condition, and just barely.
- Accompanying your child on play dates as a toddler is expected, but when that carries over onto actual dates as a teen, to make sure he doesn’t get his heart broken by some girl, then you may be going a bit far.
- Making your 5-year-old wear a helmet to play on the jungle gym at school. I know it’s dangerous and we can’t be sure that our child won’t do something stupid like jump from the top of the monkey bars to the swinging bridge, but we have to consider the ramifications of the helmet in elementary school.
- Slathering every square inch of your child in SPF 2000 before allowing them to walk to the car. (Unless they are Dracula, I sincerely doubt they are in any danger of spontaneously combusting or bursting into flames.)
- Keeping your 46-inch, first grader imprisoned in a crib and wearing a diaper to ensure that he doesn’t get out of bed and wander down some stairs and stub his toe. I know someone who’s done this. I won’t name names, but I have gently urged her to buy him a big kid bed.
- Lurking outside of the elementary school, watching through the kindergarten classroom window, and patrolling to make sure that your child made it to class after drop off. Ahem, yes, I did this once because we were late, the classroom had already left for mass and there was a shady character hanging around outside. I had dropped her off in the drop off line without seeing her enter the building. My mommy brain would not allow me any peace until I knew that kid was safely where she was supposed to be. What? You’ve never done this before?
It’s okay. I say parent and let parent; free-range or helicopter. Love your kids and do your best; that’s all any of us can do.
Have you ever done any of the listed helicopter moves? What’s your most “helicopter” move to date? Or do you free-range parent like it’s your job?
Photo Source: Cafemama