Helicopter Parents and Free-Range Kids

We’re all fairly familiar with helicopter parents, the kind who figuratively hover over their kids, regardless of the child’s age, ready to swoop in at the first sign of trouble and resolve the issue, regardless of what it is. It could be a coach who benched the kid for a bad attitude, a professor or teacher who dared give the budding Einstein a “B” (thereby ruining the child’s chances for Harvard) or even attending a job interview.

Now a counter-culture is growing, the idea of Free Range Kids. These are parents who buck the norm, who let their kids walk to school unaccompanied by an adult, drink from a hose, and actually climb on the jungle gym at the playground (if you can find a playground with a jungle gym anymore). Whereas helicopter parents don’t, as far as I know, have an official organization and spokesperson, Free Range Kids do. They even have a website. On the website you can download (for free) a “Free-Range Kid Card” that identifies the carrier of the card as a free-range kid, one who is just out on his or her own but is not lost or abandoned.

Now all of this sounds humorous, if a bit off-the-wall. But when you consider that a Maryland couple is being investigated for allegations of child neglect for allowing their two children to walk a mile to school unaccompanied or hear about parents who will only let their child use his skateboard on the lawn and then only if he stands still on it, you wonder: what happened to society? And more importantly, what kinds of adults will these kids grow up to be?

And lest you read this, shake your head and say something about those poor kids who have helicopter parents, ask yourself, “Am I a helicopter parent?” For some insight on how you might be one without realizing it, read this great blog post from The Sisterhood of Sensible Moms. You might be surprised at what being a helicopter parent really means.

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