Free Range or Helicopter: What's Your Parenting Style?

5 years ago

Remember the days when you ran wild all day long? Remember drinking from the hose because you hated to go inside, soaking up the sun and playing with your friends from sun up to sundown? For many, those days are gone and our parents today would probably be considered 'free-rangers' for allowing us to do so.

Although 'Free-Range' and 'Helicopter' are terms that no one associates with parenting, these terms have become an intergral part of modern parenting. Just as soccer mom, attachment parenting, or worse, the Honey Boo Boo syndrome are terms many of us readily recognize, so to will many parents began to accept or reject these terms.

To be clear, the Free-Range parent allows their children to be wholly independent. This style assumes that children have received a solid foundation in morals and will conduct themselves appropriately, regardless of the situation. It also allows that children should be able to go play for hours unattended as they have a watch and cellphone and thus, will be safe. As long as the children are home in time for dinner, this type of parent can enjoy a little bubbly, cook dinner, run errands, and so on, while their children are playing.

The other extreme, however, is the 'Helicopter' parenting style. This style is closely related to attachment parenting but may be even worse. This style of parenting is viewed as one that suffocates children in order to keep them safe. With this style of parenting, every decision is made for the child, the child is rarely out of the parent's site and even then, it's probably only long enough to use the bathroom.

In other words, this style assumes that although the child is growing up, he or she will never be fully mature enough to handle decision-making, or use sound judgement. Thus, the parent fears that their child is never safe because anyone or anything could harm him.

Because of the predators, the Sandusky's of the world, parents always have to be vigilant, but at what cost? Although most of us recognize these extremes at some point when viewing unattended children in grocery stores, movie theaters, or seeing children playing far beyond daylight, we often use these children and their parents as examples of how not to raise children. But there has to be a fine line, a tipping point from which many of us draw inspiration to steer our children correctly while also letting them enjoy some form of independence.

Fortunately, many of us manage to wield a variety of styles, picking up parenting tips along the way. Not to mention, there is a natural learning curve that seems to happen with multiplicity. By the time you've had a few children, you may be less concerned that your children are fragile and feel that they can handle themselves. Plus, you realize that they have older siblings looking out for them.

So do you use either of these parenting styles or have you found your own happy medium?

Originally published on N. Meridian is a proofreader, editor, author of No Crying For Elena, YourTango Expert, and freelance writer of various subjects. You can follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook/#!/inamerdian.

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