2-Year-Old Who Drowned in Washing Machine Makes Me Want to Keep My Kids Close

helicopterThe story of the tragic accident that happened to Oregon mom Tiffany Hebb's son has me thinking a lot about helicopter parenting. Hebb's, who was doing laundry with her 21-month-old son, Ollie, left the room for a minute. During that short time, Ollie climbed into the washing machine and drowned.

I don’t think any mother would ever expect her almost 2-year-old to climb into a washing machine. How could you? Why would you? I’m not sure how it's even possible.

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And how many of us have left our 21-month-old unattended for a second to go to another room? All of us, right? It’s not like she left him with a loaded gun or in a tub of water. She went briefly to another room and she returned to find her entire world had shattered; a mother’s worst fear realized.

My heart breaks for this mom.

I never planned on being a card carrying member of either the helicopter parenting camp or the free-range parenting camp. I simply wanted to mother my girls the best way that I could. It’s ended up translating into a healthy dose of hovering and a tad of free-ranging to help them find their independence. Though I must admit, I’m a little more hovering helicopter than free-range. I think that mostly has to do with my fear of something terrible happening to my children.

But I'm realizing that maybe I'm not completely crazy in my over-protective ways. Okay, maybe I am. But it’s what works for my family. Every family is different. Some parents might not be as overly worried as I am about something horrible lurking around every corner. Clearly, I’ve read too much CNN.

But I'd rather be labeled certifiably helicopteresque than to let my kid free-range themselves right into harm's way. I know we can’t protect our kids from every single hurt and danger in the world. We can only take the time that we have with them to raise them well enough to know the difference between safe and unsafe and pray that they figure out how to put those tools to use by themselves when they are out of our sight. I am a helicopter Mom. Hear my hover. It may be excessive and exhausting but it’s what works for my peace of mind.

I do realize that as my girls get older, I am letting them free-range quite a bit more but I am never too far behind in case they need me to hover a bit.

And sometimes, as the Hebb's tragedy shows, it doesn't matter what we do -- unforseeable accidents happen.

Are you a free-range parent or more of a helicopter mom?

Image via JohanWeiland/Flickr

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