Helicopter and Free-Range parenting and how they affect your child
Keeping on top of all the different parenting styles can be tricky. Here we explore 2 specific parenting styles and talk about how they may (or may not) affect your child. In this article we cover Helicopter and Free-Range Parenting.
Most people have heard of this Parenting style. The term “Helicopter Parent” was first used in 1969 by Dr. Haim Ginott in his book, Between Parents and Teenagers. The term actually came from teenagers who used the word “helicopter” to describe their parents. This term is used to describe parents who are constantly “hovering” over their children. They are often over-involved in the lives of their children. They also appear to take ownership of their children’s experiences and absorb their successes or failures as their own.
Parents behave this way for a multitude of reasons which may include: fear of failure, anxiety, overcompensation for their own inadequacies or even peer pressure from other parents.
Of course Helicopter Parenting exists on a spectrum and in extreme cases it can be dangerous. In a more mild form it can be helpful, especially for children who may need some very specific interactions to succeed. Parents are the authorities of their own children and can determine what is in their best interest.
How this approach affects your child
Children who do not make decisions on their own often suffer from a lack of self confidence. It also teaches children and parents poor boundaries. A 2014 article in Psychology Today reports problems are arising in graduate schools with parents. Parents are interfering with decisions independent young adults should make. To read more on this article, Helicopter Parenting—It’s worse than you think
- Allow children to do what they can already do for themselves;
- Allow children to do what they can almost do for themselves; and
- Avoid parenting behavior that is motivated by our own egos.
Free-Range Parenting is considered the antithesis of Helicopter Parenting. Free-Range embraces the idea that children need to experience the world and should be allowed to do things on their own. Lenore Skenazy, one of Free-Range Parenting’s pioneers and the woman labeled as “America’s Worst Mom” allowed her 9 year-old son to take the subway home alone. Some viewed it as irresponsible and others praised her. She currently runs a website called Free Range Kids.
There is a spectrum of how much freedom Free-Range Parents allow their children however most agree that children are more resilient than adults think.
There has been some backlash against Free-Range Parents who have had people calling the police when they notice children walking home or in the park unsupervised.
How this approach affects your child
Every child is different and the amount of freedom a parent allows their child to have should be measured against a parent’s understanding of their child. The balance between Free-Range Parenting and neglect is difficult to distinguish for some.
For the safety of children anyone using the parenting style should consider the following: Regardless of the task, parents are still responsible for their minor children and they still need supervision.
- Parents should evaluate their child’s ability to successfully accomplish a given task.
- Evaluate the situation their child is to confront and it’s possible dangers.
- Role-play different scenarios before embarking on the task to prepare the child.
- Provide an easy method for communication with the parent and other helpful adults throughout the task.
So what kind of a parenting style do you use?
Are you a mix of these different parenting styles? Most parents adhere to multiple approaches but that is good since no child is exactly the same as another. Having multiple choices allows parents greater freedom in raising their children.