Helicopter Moms vs. Free Range Moms: Who's More Annoying?

Rant 20

parentingIf you thought those hyper-vigilant helicopter parents were annoying, they are nothing compared to the ones on the other end of the spectrum. I am talking about moms and dads who let their kids run wild, barely keeping an eye on them. The free-range folks. It's maddening, especially when their relaxed parenting approach affects your life -- and inevitably, it will.

In general, I consider myself somewhere in between the two types. Yes, I hover when my four-year-old is on the playground trying to mimic what the 7-year-olds are doing on the monkey bars. But in general, I like to step back and let him play without feeling smothered. I don't even step in for every conflict. At this point, I want him to at least try to resolve those little, petty squabbles himself -- as along as I am pretty sure the other kid isn't a hitter or a biter.

But that's a delicate balance many parents don't even bother with. There are those that  are either all in -- like white on rice -- or so disengaged you wonder if they remember they have a kid there at all. I have relatives like the later. Their brood runs in the door, scattering like marbles. The parents don't even look in their direction -- not when someone knocks over a glass vase, not when another jumps on the couch with her shoes on, or the other spills juice on the carpet. Their attitude is that kids will be kids and if you are on them for every little thing, it won't allow them to be children. It's a little too lax for my taste. They don't even say anything when one of them is doing something that could get them hurt. I think you have to reign kids in a bit, especially when they are being unruly at another person's house.

Then there are those parents who let their kids go free range only the times they need to get something done. One mom told us she let's her 18-month-old roam the house while she takes a shower.  I can sympathize with this plight, though it does seem a little dangerous even in the most child-proofed houses. Toddlers have a way of finding danger even when we are absolutely sure there is none. But again, this isn't nearly as bad as than people who just let their children go wild in public places or while visiting other people.  Not that being attached to their kids every second is great. At times, you have to let kids feel out things on their own. How else are they going to learn to be independent? There is a happy medium out there -- you just have to be willing to find it.

What do you think is worse -- helicopter or free range?


Image via Leonid Mamchenkov/Flickr



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Truel... Truelove77

Helicopter mom over free range mom any day :)

Hyman Hyman

What you describe is not even a free range mom? It sounds like these parents have no boundaries and have not taught house rules or what is acceptable. Even my 18 month old is learning that at his own level and I'm a free range mom. I won't allow what you describe not will I ever! ...

So you should know, even if they describe themselves as free range, they're misinterpreting it.

EnidA... EnidASophiaA

I think you are miss using the term Free Range. The parenting you are describing is non existant parenting. Free range is allowing our children to become independent, not run around like animals. When I take my six year old to the park, I don't watch her like a hawk or run to her if she falls. But if she starts acting mean or being rude, I call her out. Please don't use the term free range when referring to absent parenting.

tuffy... tuffymama

I also think you've confused free range parents with slovenly/lazy, or neglectful parents. One of my aunts was free range with her kids, but they were not permitted to act like little pigs. I'm not free range, not by a mile, and I don't feel it is the best form of parenting, but come on, it is still PARENTING. If they allow their kids to run amok as you say, the relatives you cite here are just lousy people.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I hate helicopter moms. They drive me nuts! I am more of a moderate free range parent. I let my kids discover things on their own without putting them in imminent danger.

Nycti... Nyctimene

I think the terms are misleading and I think get thrown around too often. To me a true 'helicopter parent' is the ones who are still doing it when their child is an adult; ie going with their 18+ year old to job interviews, calling after potential jobs for their child, calling college Professors about bad grades, etc. When did it become bad and wrong to supervise your child and not let them run around and be a jerk or a bully? 

And vice-versa, 'free range' sounds like some sort of Hippie-dippy parenting tactic when in fact it's just neglectful parenting and ignoring your child.

So those should be the terms used.... A supervisory parent or a neglectful one. And in that case I think obviously the parents who pretend their child doesn't exist are more annoying because children NEED to be supervised because they can be annoying and get into trouble and most people in this day and age are NOT comfortable disciplining other people's children (and can get in a lot of trouble for doing so).  

Pinkmani Pinkmani

I think free range moms are more annoying because they think it's cute or okay that their child is misbehaving. 

When I was a teen working at a candy store, there was a 3 year-old boy that was trying to pull a giant lollipop out of the stand. He ended up knocking over my entire display of 50-something lollipops and they all cracked. She smiled at me and ran off with her kid. 

Flori... Floridamom96

Wow. Why on earth would you write an article for the express purpose of pitting parents against one another?

nonmember avatar Jennie

Wow. That is not what "free-range" parenting means. Helicopter parenting describes an extreme. The other extreme would be negligence, as in allowing wild-animal behaviors. Free-range parenting decribes a style that allows for exploration, independence, etc within reasonable and safe parameters, with respect toward others, and as determined by the parent. According to the style you descibe as yours, you are closer to free-range than you think. You are letting your little one explore and learn from his world, but stepping in to guide him back in the right direction when he is in danger. Kudos to you!

craft... craftycatVT

Ditto Floridamom.

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