Conversation, ideas and events for parents in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County

Have you heard of these terms?

Helicoptering is when you hover over your child, making sure they are safe in all instances. There are extra pads on their elbows or knees when they ride their bike. Their food is cut up on little tiny pieces so they won't choke. When they go outside, you are right there beside them. One parent I heard on a talk show recently referred to this as teacup parenting - treating your child as if they are as fragile as a teacup. She referred to a teen she heard on the phone talking to her mom, asking her which salad dressing she liked. She actually didn't know her own tastes!  

And then there's free-range parenting. This is probably very close to how we were raised when we were young, but to a different degree. These are the kids that stay outside until it's dark, and their parents have no clue where they are until they come home. They are riding the city bus on their own from a very young age. They are walking downtown without adult supervision. I read recently about Lenore Skenazy, a mom who let her 9 year old daughter ride the subway all by herself. Because of the flack she received, she wrote her own book called "Free Range Kids - giving our children the freedom we had without going nuts with worry". 

There are definite drawbacks to both of these parenting styles. And in retrospect to the other, there are benefits to each. What's your take on Helicopter Parenting and Free-Range Parenting? Do you see yourself closer to one than the other?

Tags: Free-range, helicopter, hovering, neglect, parenting

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My parenting style is somewhere in the middle, but I suppose I'm more of a hovering helicopter. Still, I must admit, like many parents of multiple children, I was much more of a hover craft over my first child and not as bad with my second (still not going to allow my youngest on a public bus by herself for a few years).

My mother always said parenting styles skip a parents were barely strict with me and my sisters, whereas, I'm more strict with my kids like my grandparents were with my mom and aunt.
I would like to say I am a good balance of the two. When in public places I try to be more helicopter mommy especially places like the mall, fair or theme parks. However I am teaching my 10 yr old girls that it is ok to walk away from me seek out the help of an employee and learn to speak up for themselves in the event that I am not always around.

In relation to this topic there is an ongoing "commercial" on the radio about the debate parents have letting their children walk to school. I recall walking every day to and from school stopping at the convenience store to get chiclets or picking pomegranates on the way home.

My mother was "free range" 100% but I did learn to travel independently, find my way around, use my resources and become independent which I think in the end is a parent's job - enabling our children to become self sufficient and wise.

Whatever parent style you are or aren't shouldn't matter so long as you talk with your children, love them and guide them you are doing the best thing for them and yourself.
I hope I'm in the middle (don't we all?), but I can't imagine letting my 9 year old use public transit alone. There are way to many creeps out there. I was approached a couple of times by that special kind of creep when I was a kid. I had the instinct to get away as quickly as possible and I hope my kids have the same instinct, but I won't bet their lives on it. I'd rather be a little too protective than not protective enough when it comes to strangers.

As far as letting my daughter play & explore, I don't sweat it if she swallows dirt or newspapers or scrapes her knees. If she's breathing and not bleeding too heavily, she's okay. I'm Free-Range in this area. I assume she'll stop eating bugs when she's full or finds something tastier.

My Mom was Free-Range all the way. Starting at about 11 years old, I was home alone in the mornings so I got myself up, bathed, fed, dressed, and hopped on the L.A. public bus to get to school. Before that, I rode my bike or walked where I needed or wanted to go. My mom worked crazy shifts so I had to be self-reliant very young. It was good & bad... I became independent & confident early on, but I also nearly burned down the house when I was 8. Here's a tip for all parents: Don't let your 9 year old try to make Mac & Cheese for lunch while she's watching Scooby Doo. A Scooby mystery is too engrossing.


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