Are you a Free Range parent or a Helicopter Mom? If you’re like me, you’re getting tired of parenting labels or people trying to find a new rubber stamp to identify a parenting style.
I’m not sure why I get as upset as I do sometimes when it comes to parenting fads or labels. Maybe it’s because it seems like pigeonholing people, judging people, or labeling people is so frowned upon in the rest of society but for women (and moms), it seems like it’s perfectly ok analyze someone’s family and paint a mom trying to raise her children into a corner.
Let’s analyze a couple of popular parenting labels others bestow on parents (mostly mothers).
HELICOPTER MOM – To me, the helicopter parent definition was invented by hipsters (hey, I can label too) as an effort to chide parents who “over-parent” or are “too protective” of their kids. The people doing the labeling tend to remember “the good old days” where kids didn’t have to wear helmets to skateboard and bullying helped “build character.”
The Helicopter Mom or Helicopter parent is usually taken as derogatory and is often a double-edged sword. For instance… If I have my kids wear their helmets to ride their bikes – I’m a helicopter parent coddling my precious snowflakes. If they don’t wear there helmets – I’m an idiot providing an unsafe environment for my son or daughter. I’ve yet to meet a mom that proclaims “Oh yeah, that’s me! I’m a helicopter mom”.
Sure, there is a danger to over-protecting children but I’m not opposed to extra care and extra effort being thrown into parenting when I compare it to the alternative of not caring enough or letting kids go completely unsupervised.
FREE RANGE PARENT or FREE RANGE PARENTING – Free Range parenting is a direct response Helicopter Parenting. Free Range parenting is throwback parenting where you train your kids to be independent as you let your kids experience life – much like children did in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
It is usually implied that “the world needs more Free Range parents” but there is a downside. Earlier this year a couple who practices Free Range Parenting had their kids picked up police and had Social Services called to their house because they let their kids (6 and 10) walk home from a neighborhood park unescorted! The parents even had to use “I practice Free Range Parenting” as an excuse to Social Services! The term can be applied to parents who seemingly don’t care about their children whatsoever and use the Free Range Parenting label as a crutch.
Am I a Helicopter Mom? Nah, I don’t think so, and I certainly don’t appreciate the stigma. Am I a Free Range Parent? Maybe a little… but I hardly enjoy being branded as term usually reserved for animals (Free Range Chickens, Free Range Turkeys etc) – yeesh. It’s funny how parents can be labeled in an unflattering light no matter what their parenting style.
I’m just a mom that tries hard and I think most of us do. I’m not sure how others would label me as a parent but I can honestly tell you that I don’t care. Go judge somebody else, I’m just trying to be a mom here. What are your thoughts on parenting labels?