Free Range Parenting vs. Helicopter Parenting: Is There A Right Answer?

free range parenting

Helicopter Parenting vs. Free Range Parenting?

Has parenting become so obsessive that we now trust no one, least of all the parents of the children, to raise their kids? All you need to do to answer that one is look at a recent case where a Maryland couple were charged with “unsubstantiated child neglect” for practicing free range parenting. Nothing horrible happened to these kids to cause a local parent to call the police. The concern was that they were walking home without adult supervision. Has parenting paranoia finally gone too far?

Parenting Fears And Data Clash

The reality is that we live in a far safer age for our children then any era before us. We even have the data to back this up. A recent report from the Crimes Against Children Research Center shows that physical and sexual abuse against children has dropped by over 50% since the early 1990’s. At the same time, abductions by strangers have also fallen by the same amount and motor vehicle deaths of children have fallen by 43%.  Which is interesting considering the recent rise of free range parenting.

Yet parenting is more restrictive than ever with “helicopter parents” also becoming the norm. In an age when violent crime is falling in all categories, for both adults and children, parents act as if we live in an age where their kids are in more danger, not less.  Could our decisions on parenting itself be the cause?

Scarcity Drives Obsessions

One of the reasons may be that we are having fewer kids and having them later in life. Today’s college educated mothers wait until later in life to have children. They also have fewer of them making them more precious. Waiting until your 30’s to have kids and then having one or two instead of five or six can make a difference. We worry more about the individual child and so our parenting reactions become obsessions.

Time For A Change

These obsessions are revealed in our Facebook posts as readily as our inability to let the kids leave our yards. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our protectiveness.  Parents who can learn to love without obsession might find they are less alarmed. But doing this will mean embracing that it is time to learn some new parenting skills.

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