Free-Range or Helicopters?

April 28th, 2008

I’m a free-range parent. I’m a big fan of letting kids become independent. I don’t like to hover over her. When we go shopping I don’t insist that she stay in a stroller or keep her on one of those kid leashes, she wanders around, picks things up, sometimes gets out of my sight and comes back when I ask her. I didn’t do too much baby-proofing. We put those locks on the cupboard and the little plugs in the outlets. There’s a baby-gate at the top of the basement stairs but it’s rarely closed.

I don’t panic about dirt and germs. When her nuk dropped on the floor, I just picked it up and gave it back. My kid is the one who spills her box of raisins on the floor and then sits down to pick them up and eat them

She climbs stairs by herself, without us watching and plays in the rooms that we aren’t in.

When she’s older she’ll get to stay home by herself. She’ll ride her bike to the park. She’ll take the bus to friends’ houses.

I’ll teach her about strangers and crossing the street safely. She’ll always wear a bike helmet and wear her seatbelt. But I think she’ll enjoy her life much more with out me hovering over her worrying about if she’s hot, cold, tired, hungry, thirsty, if the kids aren’t sharing, if people aren’t being nice, or that they didn’t get the toy they wanted.

4 Responses to “Free-Range or Helicopters?”

  1. jaime on April 28, 2008 9:20 pm

    Thanks for being among the last normal parents.

  2. Josh on April 28, 2008 11:34 pm

    Steph has an interesting perspective on this issue, having been raised in what I’d consider an ultra “free-range” home. I don’t have the authority or proper knowledge to speak for her, but ask her about it sometime. There are certainly two sides to this coin.

    Still, I came from a home that was not so much free-range, got a lot of hand-holding (more in some areas of life than others), and had to work to recover from some of it, too. It’s a complex subject and depends a lot on the kid’s disposition.

  3. tpy on April 29, 2008 7:17 am

    But then how will you re-live your life through her? Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? If she doesn’t take on all of your failures as her own burdens, what will she have to rebel against? What will she have to say in therapy?

    It sounds positively un-American.

  4. abby on April 29, 2008 9:28 am

    @Josh – It’s sort of that nature vs. nurture debate…are the kids timid about the world around them because thier parents hover, or do the parents hover because the kids are timid about the world around them?

    I think that’s why I take the free-range approach. I’m going to assume that Lexi can handle typical 2-year old situations on her own and sit back and see how she deals, if I sense that she needs help or if she asks for it, then I’ll step in.

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