Does your mom or grandma say things like: “Those things weren’t around back when you were a baby” or “you played with toys that contained lead paint and you turned out just fine!”

Why parenting is not the same as it was

Parenting is much different than it was a few decades ago — mostly thanks to the media, medical professionals, modern advances, testing and technology. So how can we parent our children in a more free-spirited way after knowing all this new information without being (or looking) careless?

Why free-spirited parenting is important

Does letting go of your personal fears allow your child to learn more? Yes, it can! A large part of parenting is learning to find balance with your child — and what you allow your child to experience is one of the hardest balancing acts for a mom. But some moms who were either raised in a free-spirited environment or have low anxiety levels in general, often have no problem allowing their child to explore freely. “Sometimes you have to ignore what the “experts” say and go with your instincts,” says Megan, a mom of three boys.

Dr. Sears, who is widely known for his strong views on attachment parenting, encourages parents to “let go” but stresses the importance of maintaining a connection with the child. As a child grows, he needs to break away in order to learn independence and about the environment around him. “Mother does not let the child go off entirely on his own, nor does she keep him hanging onto her apron strings because of her own fears or need for continuing dependence,” Sears says.

What is your parenting style? >>

What keeps moms from parenting like they did 20-30 years ago?

According to Dr. Sears, during a child’s second year, parents often feel like they are either being over restrictive or being negligent saying, “One way carries the risk of hindering a baby’s development, the other of allowing the baby to hurt himself or others or damage property.”

The leading causes of injury-related death among children ages 14 and under are from vehicle crashes, suffocation, drowning and fires and/or burns. – SafeKids.org

There are things moms should not ignore, like the safety of her child. Even though your mom has told you time and time again how you rarely used a seatbelt let alone a properly installed car seat, technology, outside distractions and awareness have increased over the past few decades.

The best way to practice free-spirited parenting or let go of your personal fears is to allow your child to explore in a safe environment. Baby proof your home, play in age-appropriate environments and go through a quick safety checklist of your surroundings before allowing your child to explore.

30 Ways to baby proof your home >>

"I think there’s a difference between careless parenting and allowing your child to learn by experiences."

Is free-spirited parenting careless parenting?

Not exactly. Every parent is different, so while some parents may not notice the actions of others, some actually take offense to what could be interpreted as a negative "free-spirited" parenting approach. “I admit to giving other moms dirty looks when I see them allowing their child to eat off the playground sidewalk, grab sand toys from another child or show up at the park with their child who has thick green snot pouring from his nose,” says Julie, a mom of two. “But I think there’s a difference between careless parenting and allowing your child to learn by experiences.”

More about parenting

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How to adjust your parenting style for your second child
How to stop hyper-parenting and just relax with you kids

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Comments

Comments on "Are you a free-spirited or a careless parent?"

Christina June 05, 2012 | 4:32 PM

Amy, I was that way with my first son... and then he turned out to be a very sickly kiddo. So much that our ped actually told me to stop taking him to play gyms. I always pictured I would parent the way you described, but between that and PPD/PPA after my second, I've been more on the cautious side since.

Megan June 05, 2012 | 4:29 PM

This is something I worry about. while I won't let my son take toys from other kids without asking, he does do things like employ the 3-second rule at the park (much to a friend's horror) I feel like I am lazy for not stopping certain behaviors, yet it's important for me to be able to sit and watch him play (as long as he doesn't need help up a ladder) and see how he handles social interactions. If he needs me, I'm there, but I try not to shadow him.

Amy June 05, 2012 | 3:08 PM

I am definitely a free-spirited parent. I make sure my kids are always safe and watched, but I let them make mistakes and learn from them. Even when they were babies, I would take them out to run errands almost immediately and I always let friends and family hold them and what not. I figure it builds their immunity. My kids rarely got sick and are pretty happy!

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