Are you a free-spirited or a careless parent?
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!”
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 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.”
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.
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.”