Parenting has changed quite a bit in the last 30 or 40 years, and a lot of those changes could easily be attributed to the rising level of technology. Before the advent of the internet, there wasn’t much public opinion about the ‘correct’ way to raise children, if there even is such a thing. Instead, parents would simply step back and let their children explore the relative safety of the world in ways that most parents today would instantly scoff. Parents are no longer comfortable letting their children ride bikes around town without some sort of adult supervision, or shoot bb guns, and their positions are based entirely in fear. They fear something might happen to their child that could be considered traumatic, and that fear translates to overprotection.
You might have heard this buzz-phrase before, but what does it really mean? The idea is fairly simply: it describes the act of parenting while hovering over your children so they are constantly protected in a bubble of your attention. Parents that operate in this manner often don’t realize what sort of harm they are bestowing upon their children. By consistently protecting them from even the smallest dangers of the world while also doing everything for them, you’re doing nothing but raising them to be dependent on outside influence. This means that when your children are grown, they won’t know how to adequately deal with the pressures and pitfalls of life.
Nearly an entire generation of American children are growing up under such parentage, and with the way parents view other parents in society through social media, many have fallen into the trap that forces them to believe helicopter parenting is the best parenting method. Any parents who aren’t totally involved in every aspect of their child’s lives must be subpar parents, according to the standards of society, but that isn’t true at all. In fact, research has shown that children need to be taught self-reliance and sufficiency as early as possible for optimal psychological growth.
With all the perceived dangers in society, many parents have a hard time adapting to this sort of parenting style. Free-range parenting basically means that parents will raise their children without standing over them and making every single decision for them. As long as there isn’t any significant risk, parents allow their children to make many of their own choices. The idea was first envisioned in 1946 by Benjamin Spock, who wrote and published a book on the subject. He got the idea by viewing the most common parenting methods of the day and trying to look at them from the child’s point of view. How would certain parenting ideals affect the children before they are capable of expressing how it might affect them on a personal level?
The concept of free-range parenting has certainly been present in society for quite some time, yet many still find it to be an unacceptable form of parenting. A lot of that stigma comes from the fact that the generation championing helicopter parenting experienced a smaller version of it themselves, thereby implanting in their psyches that such a parenting style is the only way to protect your children while also showing society that you care for them. This might seem like a good thing, but it is quite selfish on the part of the parents. Free-range parenting focuses on what is best for the children, not what is best for the social standing of the parents.
One of the best ways to go about free-range parenting is to stop constantly protecting your children from sources of danger that aren’t entirely realistic. Knives are often considered much too dangerous for children to use, yet parents have no issue with letting them use forks and spoons. There are special knives that aren’t particularly sharp that would be perfect for introducing a toddler or young child to the tool. By showing your children from a young age that knives are nothing to be scared of when used properly, you’ll instill a sense of growth and freedom in your children.
By working with your young children to help them become comfortable around knives from a young age, you’ll teach them to more appropriately judge potential sources of danger. This will help them grow into well-adjusted and self-reliant adults.