Parenting: Helicopter Parent or Free Range?

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Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. Now they have categories for parents. Are you a Helicopter or a Free Range parent? There is no right or wrong. We make it up as we go!

What is a helicopter parent?

Think about a helicopter and what it can do. A helicopter hovers in the air above and can watch from a distance. When there is trouble, you can watch from safety or land quickly and get involved. The choice is yours.

man-announce-02Helicopter parents are like that. The challenge is knowing when to land and intervene in the scene below. This becomes a negative when you are always hovering and watching. The people below spend all their time focused on what you are seeing and become afraid to take a risk because that helicopter may land and then the trouble begins.

In the case of parenting, the helicopter is the over vigilant parent and the people they are hovering over are:

  • teachers
  • day care providers
  • coaches
  • children (often not just their own!)

Success quoteEven their own children become more focused on satisfying what they think their parents want rather than being in the moment and just enjoying whatever it is they are doing. Always afraid Mommy or Daddy is going to get angry and never being comfortable taking a risk. And, the poor teachers and coaches, always looking over their shoulders worrying about the next time they will have a parent berating them because they believe the teacher or coach went too far when they should be helping the children stretch and grow.

Are you a helicopter parent?

 

What is free range parenting?

Have you ever seen animals in the wild when they aren’t aware you are there? They don’t seem to have a care in the world and frolic and play. Sure, they have learned to be mindful of the world around them and watch for predators and dangers. That’s part of life, there is always risk and danger. You are pretty safe if you have been taught the basics and common sense. Wild animals teach their young what to look for and be aware of before sending them on their way. Eventually, a mother bird will push her young out of the nest. Not yet adults, and amazingly, they fly!

Free range parenting is much the same.

Parents spend time with their children teaching them what the risks in their world are and how to protect themselves.

  • Knock on a door when they see a stranger following.
  • Don’t get into a stranger’s car.
  • Know their physical and emotional limits.
  • Ask for help when they need it.

Brett_Ash_SkiAlways encouraging them to take reasonable risks and giving them the freedom to make reasonable choices. Letting them just enjoy being kids without worrying about having to make an adult happy. Giving them the space and approval to make mistakes so that they can learn and grow. All of this is measured and not just given all at once, but it is given.

A free range parent will reward a risk, even if it doesn’t work out. These risks are seen as teaching opportunities, not horrors to avoid. Caveat: these children will challenge authority and may even get hurt once in a while. These are the children who will be the next generation of leaders, shakers and movers. They are the ones who will change the world because they are not afraid of risk.

Are you a free range parent?

Who is right?

You are!

We all need to decide how to raise our own children. The challenge is to recognize when we are transferring our own fears to our children and holding ourselves in check rather than holding them back. By all means, if you have fears and need to hover, do so. Just remember to check yourself before you land on them and scare the heck out of them.

Alternatively, make sure you are not so hands off that you aren’t teaching your children some degree of caution and providing them with the tools they need to make good decisions. Find the balance of helicopter and free range that works for you and do that.

Now, go play!

 

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for time tobogganing in Red Hill Valley when I was a kid (about a kilometre from home and no parents!). I’m thankful my parents taught me to think for myself. I’m thankful my kids have learned the same.

What are you thankful for today.

 

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