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June 10, 2010

Free Range Kids: a rough landing for helicopter parents

You can't miss aDaniel and lionll the finger pointing lately aimed at helicopter parents.  If helicopter parents didn't feel guilty enough, a new study was just released, which indicates their  children grow up to be neurotic (there’s a real scientific breakthrough….).

The flip side is Free Range parenting,  personified by Lenore Skenazy, the Manhattan mom attacked as “the Worst Mother in the World” after she let her 9 year old son ride the subway alone  (which I would still not allow my adult children to do …LOL).

What’s a parent to do?  Having been there,  I get both sides.

I'm a Jewish mother, and sometimes I think that alone could qualify me as a helicopter parent.   Although they didn’t call it helicopter parenting back in my day– since helicopters hadn’t been invented yet. (that is a joke, people)   We used a different word to describe it:  neurotic “overprotective” –and yeah, I was, too—(See “Uncontrollable Mothering.)

I was  forced to land the helicopter when I got cancer.  So cancer could technically be viewed as good news/ bad news.  The good news being that my two kids turned out to be pretty good pilots on their own.  Following my version of Free Range parenting helped them turn into two responsible adults.

Years later, probably I still harbor a few leftover helicopter parts.  Such as---I think even adult kids should provide their parents with hourly daily regular updates on their lives.

My Free Range kids don’t subscribe to this policy; but they’ve made modifications.

For example, my college-age son– currently studying abroad in Argentina.  Everyone who knows me, or reads my blog, knows I totally trust Daniel’s maturity and judgment.  So when he’s out of touch—as he was recently for a few days, I try not to don’t worry.   When he did call, I was relieved---although kind of surprised----to find out he'd been with friends visiting the most benign of places:  the zoo.

Noticing he mentions this AFTER the fact and not BEFORE— I assure him– NO worries.   And then I find out there were also  NO zookeepers present, NO trainers, NO leashes, NO rules—and the visitors at Lujan Zoo  go by themselves INSIDE the cages.  NO kidding.

Biblical references aside, Daniel in the lion's den is food for...thought. 

Maybe something to think about next time you take your kids to the zoo.  Personally, I think of it as Free Range Kids:  The Sequel.

Darryle Pollack thinks about parenting and much more---at her personal blog, I never signed up for this.


 








 

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