If 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