I'll take 'free-range parenting' over 'helicopter-parenting' any day

Because I was a stepmom for several years and I saw what my husband's overprotective and overbearing ways did to my stepson, I knew even before having my own children that I did not want to raise them that way. When I met my stepson, he was 7 years old and he didn't even know how to serve himself his own cereal! His parents dominated all areas of his life so much so that he always, even to this day (and he's 21), had an extremely hard time making his own decisions.

I wasn't raised like that at all and so the "helicopter parenting" approach is definitely not for me. I'm raising my children using pretty much a hands-off approach, hoping they'll grow up to be as independent, self-sufficient and self-confident as I am. I just didn't know there was a name for it: "free-range parenting."

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I was born back in the '70s and grew up in Peru, Mexico, Argentina and South Africa. The amount of freedom we had as children was pretty amazing. I'll never forget when we lived in downtown Buenos Aires and my 12-year-old sister was in charge of my 8-year-old self and my 4-year-old brother while my parents worked. She got us ready for school and then dropped my little bro off at preschool while I walked several blocks to school all by myself. 

I don't know of too many 12-year-olds who can do the same these days. I know the world is sadly a different place than the one in which I grew up. I know our children are not as safe as we were, but I always think we've taken the whole "protecting" thing way too far.

My sister's daughter, who's only one year younger than my stepson, was raised using this so-called free-range approach and the difference between both these young people has always been abysmal in terms of independence and self-confidence. At 20, my niece recently moved to New York City and she's had absolutely no issues adjusting, surviving and thriving in one of the toughest places in the world. 

I can only hope my children are capable of doing the same when they get older.

How would you describe your parenting approach?

Image via Treetop Mom/flickr

Topics: how to parent  on parenting  parental control  parents and children