12
Feb
10

Is it time for parents to just back off?

Have you heard the term helicopter parent? Here’s an article that describes it in detail but it’s probably fair to say the term means a parent that is very involved in what their child is doing, all the time. Should be good, right? Well, a number of parents are saying parental involvement has gone too far and it’s time for parents to back off.

David Code thinks all the attention on kids is making the marriage suffer, he thinks marriage first, kids second.

Lenore Skenazy was called ‘America’s worst mom’ after allowing her 9 year old son ride the New York subway alone. The media firestorm that ensued led Lenore to write a book on parental over-involvement.

Lenore asks why do certain countries namely the US, UK, Canada and Australia, although safer than ever before, insist on protecting children from a non-existent danger. One example Lenore gives to illustrate her point is that only 11% of children in the US walk to school alone. She also thinks we outsource kids’ childhoods to scheduled classes, supervised playdates with little room for them to be self-sufficient.

Lenore calls for ‘free-range kids’ that are allowed to live their own lives, giving them space and independence to do their own thing. World Have Your Say listener Elizabeth in Connecticut, ‘free-range should only be for chickens’.

What about in the part of the world where you live? How involved are you in your child’s life? Do you think kids are given enough independence? And using the Lenore Skenazy ‘freedom barometer’….at what age did you let your kids walk to school alone?


67 Responses to “Is it time for parents to just back off?”


  1. 1 TomK in Mpls
    February 11, 2010 at 16:36

    As I remember, the kids that had the most parental protection, were the ones that suffered the parents fears the most. Illness, teasing, insecurity…..

    • 2 W
      February 17, 2010 at 00:21

      I hope my comment is not coming in too late. A few shows ago a young man called from Nigeria and he said he was studing Fisheries because that is what his parents want him to study. From his voice, he sounded unhappy and hollow. He also said he was having difficulty carrying on with the course. My question is along the lines of the topic of this blog: really, should any parents make a child sound so uhappy? Really. I felt very unhappy when he spoke. My heart went out to him. Some people believe that kids are lazy and do not want to work hard and study so called “good subjects”. For instance science subjects are preferred by some families to social-science and art subjects. However, should this go on? Some would argue that parents know best and want the best for their kids. But why make these kids spend a number of years in the university and drop out or, alternatively, graduate and never practise using the “knowledge” gained.

  2. 3 audre
    February 11, 2010 at 16:41

    This topic strikes at my heart. I can only speak from experience but I was certainly a free-range child.

    My father died after I was born. My mother, while there in the physical sense, was not present emotionally. I learned to read books before I started school, probably to keep myself occupied. I roamed the beaches and woods and was never home during a storm. I simply loved storms… reveling in the rain, wind and huge waves.

    The outcome of my upbringing is that my life is pretty even and emotionally secure. Would the outcome of a different childhood have produced the same results? Who knows?

    My children never had the time to be free. They are looking for freedom now that they have finished their post secondary education. In my view it would have been much better if they had been free as children. But again , who knows?

  3. 4 Elias
    February 11, 2010 at 16:43

    Too much attention and advise to children growing up can be negative for the childrens sake. It is better to show the children how to be good and proper from table manners to whatever, but it is not sensible to brainwash them. Give them the encouragement they need for their schooling and so forth. Do it in a matter of fact way without pushing them too hard. They need simple guidance and not indocrination. As they grow up they will find their own way to be a better person so that they can face life with confidence.

  4. 5 osadebe chifunanya nnajiofor
    February 11, 2010 at 16:44

    A typical african child will say leaving your parent is just like having no family. so the idea of leaving or forgeting your parent is very very bad in the sight of God and man unless you are old enoungh to cater for your self but remember that your parent is always your parent.

  5. 6 John in Salem
    February 11, 2010 at 16:58

    The world can be a dangerous place but it is even more so for the child who has not learned how to take risks.

    • 7 Olu in Canada
      February 11, 2010 at 18:48

      I agree partly with you that the world is a damgerous place, but, I will say a child should be guided closely by the parents to take responsible risks. The world is what it is today because of the extent of “freedom” we allow our kids and all the so called “rights”, which I often define according to my own theory define as “abusive freedom”; such as kids talking back at parents, getting out whenever they wish etc. I grew up with close monitoring from my parents, some not too good; but overall it made me who I am today, though, am not perfect, but my life is worth it.

  6. February 11, 2010 at 17:10

    In the UK we send some selective parents to prison if their child plays truant from school. These parents are always a)single parents, b) from very poor homes loving on what are termed ‘sink housing estates’, c) they are also always white.

    Children who go missing from school who come from ethnic minority families can disappear completely and no one bothers to find out where they are. These children are usually girls. In the UK the number of Asian girls who just disappear from school in years 9&10 is quite amazing, but no one bothers to find out where they are or follow it up at all. They have almost always been forced into marriage or ‘disposed of’ in an ‘honour’ killing if they wont comply.

    I think there are children here in the UK who would love to have some ‘in-your-face-parents’ making sure they are fully entertained and occupied with every opportunity available to them throughout their childhood or even given the chance to have a childhood at all.

    Between pampered or neglected and abused I’d go for pampered, wouldn’t you?

    • 9 Hayley
      February 12, 2010 at 15:12

      There is a very big difference between neglected and Free Range. The idea is that you don’t protect your child from mistakes or failure. You allow them to learn and to grow, thereby becoming independent, secure individuals. When a person is faced with a challenge, they need to be able to think for themselves with regard to how to best confront it. Free range parenting helps to prepare a child for that self-sufficiency. They won’t crumble every time they encounter a problem. Instead, they’ll feel confident that they can handle what comes at them. Free range parents DO engage their children, they encourage them to learn and they love their children dearly. But they don’t hover and they don’t shelter. That’s the difference. Pampering a child can be just as damaging as neglecting them.

    • 10 Jack
      February 14, 2010 at 01:29

      Your response has nothing to do with the topic.

  7. 11 nora
    February 11, 2010 at 17:24

    The hardest part of parenting is deciding how much structure and how much freedom is appropriate for age, development and surroundings. If your child likes to see how far a plastic bag, a dixie cup and a cigarette can fly before they ignite, you need to step up the structure and supervision.

    I had a Euromom who gave me a bus pass for my 7th birthday. My freedom made me who I am. What I experienced made me significantly more protective of my own children, because I experienced real danger. Trusting your children one step at a time while helping to develop talents and skills allows for healthy separation and solid adults. Each family is different.

    Balance freedom and responsibility, teach common sense. The old adage.

  8. February 11, 2010 at 18:05

    Far too much pampering these days.I walked to school from day one,there was no other way to get there.Discipline at home yes,chores to do yes.After that the time was your own,no hovering parents.Which meant when I reached early adulthood I was “me” and not someones ideal.

  9. 13 Clamdip
    February 11, 2010 at 18:17

    Th.e funny thing about parents is that they are overly protective when their kids are really young then are hands off when they reach the tween stage because they can’t control their children after 9 years old or so. This is usually the time when a child needs a lot of encouragement and guidance because his/her friends become so important and influence their lives. Helicopter parents are the ones that call college administrators over poor grades or call employers and negotiate pay. Parenting is really a balance. Raising good, decent citizens requires some self criticism and a few skills. Follow your child. They will lead you in the direction they want to go and usually they can make sound decisions if raised well.

  10. 14 Clamdip
    February 11, 2010 at 18:46

    Audre
    In some ways I can relate to your free range experience as a child. We did things back then that few children are allowed to do these days though a little more supervision would have been helpful. I wish children could just live naturally and play in different environments all day and just read or be read to. Something akin to the philosophizing of the Greeks. I think children would be much more imaginative and inventive if they were raised with fewer overt constraints. Children who have some control over their choices seem more responsible
    and are usually better decision makers. I feel sorry for children in school today. They need to be outside of the classroom experiencing the world. Schools are like little prisons to house children while parents work. That’s why there are so many unhappy children who attend them.

  11. 15 Linda
    February 11, 2010 at 18:46

    40 years ago I was a lucky free-range child. My cousins, brothers and I roamed all over our little town on summer days and just had to be home for dinner. We climbed trees, rode bikes, waded in the ocean, and stole the occasional apple from a neighbor’s orchard. My own children, raised in the fearful 1990’s, were taught not to converse with strangers, not to leave the yard, to always be within vision or calling distance, etc. When our family took a trip to a Prince Edward Island and stayed on a lovely little secluded farm, the kids didn’t know how to explore. They had no idea what to do with woods, meadows, and beaches on their own. It was very sad.

  12. 16 Robyn Lexington, KY USA
    February 11, 2010 at 18:52

    I think we not only need to give kids more freedom (with reason) but we need to bring discipline back too. My mother told me her pediatrician told her kids need to be in bed by 8:00 so she can have some time with her husband. I have friends who let the kids sleep in the bed with them and wonder why their marriage suffers. With all the hovering it seems alot of basic teachings are missing from todays kids.

  13. 17 gary indiana
    February 11, 2010 at 19:00

    Up to moderate population densities societal interactions, both positive and negative, increase as the square of the population. More people equals the potential for much more good, or much more mischief. The likelyhood isn’t that parents are watching too much; but that they are watching too many of the wrong interactions. Often, dangers arise from those interactions that may appear least threatening, for instance from slightly older cildren or extended family members. It is the familiar interactions that inspire the child’s trust that can lead to sexual abuse or introduction to drug use. Pretty well everybody knows to avoid the aqualungs of the world.
    g

  14. February 11, 2010 at 19:05

    Parents should be exemplary. In the same breath they should allow children to discover things for themselves.

  15. 19 Alan in Arizona
    February 11, 2010 at 19:11

    I think a hoovering annoyance like a parent can be detrimental to a child’s growing social, educational and personal skills.

    I think you have to love them like the are the most precious thing in your world and let them know it. Let them learn about life and all of it’s cruelty’s and joys. Be their closet friends. Be willing to let them led their own lives, but be there with kind, caring accurate advice on life, love, work, and dealing with everyday problems. Set a good example for them and don’t try to hide the world from them. Make sure you teach them everything you know and as they grow help them explore the world in a safe knowledgeable way together without hoovering.

    You have to remember that someday our kids will know more than we do.

  16. 20 patti in cape coral
    February 11, 2010 at 19:20

    I’m probably on the over-protective side, but have worked hard over the years to loosen my white-knuckled grip. My daughter is 20 and at University now two hours away. The separation has been good for both of us, but we are still very close, and I’m the only mother I know that gets called by her daughter nearly every day, even though I think that’s because we just get along well.

    I was very overprotective of my disabled son but finally realized how much I was over-doing it. I realized the more independent he was, the less likely he was to suffer abuse from an overwhelmed caretaker when I’m gone. Even so, one of my worst nightmares came true and there was an incident at his job where a fellow student exposed himself to my son. After I finished freaking out I realized it could have been much worse. Instead of locking him up safely at home( which was my knee-jerk reaction), his teachers and I are working on self-advocacy, and the other student has lost his privileges to be in the work program. In the end ,my son loves work and school and his happiness and self-sufficiency is what it’s about. Sometimes it’s really hard to strike a balance. One of my friends thinks I’m way too permissive, and another one of my friends thinks I’m way too protective, so maybe I’ve done okay.

  17. 21 Clamdip
    February 11, 2010 at 19:22

    Gary fro Indiana
    Didn’t really understand your cryptic blog unless its veiled? Can you elaborate?

  18. 22 patti in cape coral
    February 11, 2010 at 19:37

    @ Clamdip and Garry from Indiana – I think I know what Gary means. When I was a teenager I was vacationing in New York with my parents. I was sitting on the front stoop and a neighborhood boy I knew asked me if I wanted to go get an ice cream. We went to go get one, and when I got back my mom almost had a cow, even though I was perfectly save. Later that week we went to a carnival and I was left alone with a trusted familiy friend that I had to fight off while he tried to get his hands everywhere. Sometimes parents aren’t looking in the right place.

  19. 23 MINA
    February 11, 2010 at 20:00

    sorry for my simple language, but .. i think simplicity is alsways the best even in the way parents bring up their children.. in the area where i live, there is no chance to open such discussion ( i must be honest) let alone trying to be an independent “girl”. im talking here about myself depending on my experience. although i never breathed freedom in choosing my way in life like in the west, i believe inside that life without freedom is just like living in an open coffin.cause i never was accustomed to the way of my life as freedom in my opinion runs in everyone’s veins and i still remember many of my tries since my childhood to feel freedom and independence and know how it tastes. and i remember the first day of school in my life! when i turned back home without calling my parent and crossed streets myself( i wont mention the consequence !(: ) .. anyway, i agree with parents who let their children to select their way in this simple and short life. it is not a big deal it is another source of life like water and food. and as much freedom you give to your son, he will give you what are you waiting for. there is no place for worry since you believe in your way of bringing up. if you are a good and lenient with him\her, he\she will be the same to you.

  20. 24 @guykaks
    February 11, 2010 at 20:02

    Children are so precious.We should give them space to discover themselves has we give them correct advise and nurturing.

  21. 25 loudobservant
    February 11, 2010 at 20:04

    When I add a correction,WHY is my original expression OBLITERATED?
    Is this racial profiling?
    Answer me now!!!

  22. 26 Cabe Searle UK
    February 11, 2010 at 20:21

    I remember as an under 10, being a latch-key kid, going by myself to the shops, and playing in the woods with cousins all summer long without supervision and I’m more adventurous and less neurotic because of it! I agree with the Authour. Partner first, kids second! Kids should NEVER be granted the knowledge that they have power over adults they need to Earn that first through experience and, we ARE total control-freaks when it comes to giving them experience. Lots of Parents are over-emotional, self-absorbed and transfer all their fears onto their kids. The media is to blame, and as always, the minority of bad-crime gets Global coverage and this present generation of mothers – seem more susceptible to it than previous ones! Maybe our shrinking global village makes everything closer who knows?
    Some Cultures h,ave communual families and We have bording schools so WHY such a Fuss?? The UK WAS a nanny-culture in Victorian times and parents only saw their kids to say ‘goodnight'” Before that, women hired wet-nurses, and before that young kids would be fostered out to other towns – so there’s never been a continuous time when children have had the exculsive attention of parents until Now! Maybe there’s too much leisure time? But by smothering them with security they may be too insecure to live in the real World when they grow? Maybe Parents need to go back to school to learn how to let them be happy carefree kids, not fearful ill-equipped child/ adults?

  23. 27 taremwa constantine
    February 11, 2010 at 21:49

    i honestly think perents getting involved in their childrens life means loss of their freedom. people should stop thinking that a child would simply reject a parents involment in his or her life simply because the parents are there too much!

    there has to be another reason that would cause a child to hate a parents involvement in its life.

    where i live, parents are always involved in their childrens life so closely from the time they are born, to marriage and sometimes to death. SO IT DOESNT APPLY TO SUGGEST THE INTERFERENCE IS TOO MUCH, BECAUSE HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH INTEFERENCE?????

    remember, parents have that right and responsibility.

  24. 28 Patrick
    February 11, 2010 at 23:07

    Im 29 years old right now. I suffered from a form of invasive parenting. From the age of 5 to 16 I was forced to play hockey constantly and on average I would play hockey 9 times a week because I was on multiple hockey teams and all my summers were spent at hockey camps. I really never hade a childhood and currently I am struggling to deal with practical things in life. I had alot of difficulties in my early 20s with drug abuse. I didnt understand the concept that education was valuable and I didnt understand what the job market required or anything and the reason for this is I was raised to think hockey was the most important thing and my parents never discussed the importance of education with me and I never had a part time job growing up and nothing work or school related was ever discussed with me… I was just forced to play hockey constantly even though I said I didnt want to play hockey. Looking back on my childhood I would have liked to have had a part time job and I would have liked for my parents to explain to me that doing well in school was important. I wouldnt mind playing a sport but not multiple teams simultaneously and no summer sports camps. I think parental involvement to some degree is important in terms of explaining basic information and explaining the dangers of rcreational drug abuse. But I really am against parents trying to mold their children into super athletes or super brains. Eating healthy and not being a fool is important but if people try to create super beings out of their children it can be very harmful to the child. At this point in my life I am burnt out.

  25. 29 McCallum
    February 11, 2010 at 23:13

    ACTUALLY IT WOULD BE BETTER IF THE KIDS STEPPED FORWARD.
    Get the kids to find their own power again. Have the system use the 2500 year old method, PILL-FREE, TIBETAN MEDITATION, but use the word RELAXATION or CONCENTRATION, since people tend to put a RELIGIOUS CONNOTATION TO THIS P H Y L O S O P H Y (or is it philosophy? yes, that’s it!)
    ANYWAY, AS I KEEP SAYING, THOSE TIBETAN MONKS ARE SO WILLING TO SHARE THEIR WELL-BEING, for a donation, one for each shool, in the gym, 10 minutes before classes.
    If this works for India’s kids, well, it can work for everyone. The same method is for adults too, SINCE WE ALL HAVE A MIND, one that is very undisciplined, not only kids, A WILD HORSE. This is why we can’t stop eating too much, or drinking, or doing drugs. We don’t feel good within ourselves, with our outside world, so we try to get away from it. And that HAS NEVER WORKED. This is why the parents are soooo messed up, so what can you expect of their kids, right?
    I’ll keep listening to find out if, after so many years of complaining, THE RIGHT SOLUTION IS BEING USED.

  26. 30 John Henry
    February 11, 2010 at 23:19

    Is it time for parents to just back off?

    When a scientific way is able to determine when adulthood begins then a more measured answer can be offered,

    An emotional response will forever suggest that the ties that bind are unbreakable…no matter what.

    Culture and religion both play a part in the responses of parents to children. I know someone whose son lives at his home in Tobago with his Hungarian girlfriend and whose parents, because of their strict religious upbringing, insist that they – both adults (30+) – sleep in separate bedrooms!

    Caring parents can only back off if they cut all emotional and physical ties with their
    children. Of course, if one is in any way related to the rabbit family, then there would be no need to back off because physical and in particular emotional ties may never have existed.

  27. 31 James Ian
    February 12, 2010 at 07:53

    Sounds to me like Lenore Skenazy is just trying to justify herself and the way she raises her kid. As far as I’m concerned she can raise her kid how ever she wants but I wish she wouldn’t try and convince me or anyone else that her way is the best way and if we don’t do it the way she does that we are wrong and are damaging our children and society. Personally I believe latchkey kids are are lost souls, but hey, that’s just me and I know it.

  28. February 12, 2010 at 08:00

    I feel very sorry for helicopter parents. They are full of anxiety, and to them other people are indecipherable and dangerous.

  29. 33 touqeer W. Chishty (Pakistan)
    February 12, 2010 at 08:39

    Well, ya childrent shoulb be given some space, but for some extent, given them free hand could cause a serious harm to them. So parents should keep an eye on their parents, and on the other hand childern should also show some respect to their parents. Its not fair to desrespect them even though if a child disagrees with them on some point. Parents should not force them either, they need to understand what their child wants to be, they should not impose their own wish. If a child doesn’t want to be a doctor, dont’ force him or her, just try to understand what they want, yes theny can advice them so that they will be able to choose a right path.

  30. 34 Jethron
    February 12, 2010 at 09:05

    A child is a child and the sense of responsibility in a child is instilled.The family becomes the central unit of socialization and development for a child.Thus parents have a responsibility to guide this child until that time when he can be entrusted with his own security and life in general.Freedom without control is no freedom and there is nothing as such as absolute freedom.Some of us will actually admit that if our parents would not have been active in our lives,then we would not be the a dults we are.Please parents be ever present in your children’s lives without necessarily being authoritative.

  31. February 12, 2010 at 11:39

    How are children going to learn if thay are not allowed to make mistakes

  32. 36 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    February 12, 2010 at 12:39

    The first thing we were taught as kids is to know one thing. To know who is in charge and who next and the consequences that may follow for not doing so. Secondly you were taught to know what you were in charge of and the role you were expected to play. It meant that the whole community was in charge and freedom was not an absolute and you earned only through defending it.
    I there fought for and earned my freedom whose defense of was crucial in order to gain the trust to maintain like everyone else. Why I succeeded is simply because as described above it was not a world where seniors would seduce you into dirty things or sell drugs outside the school canteen. Movies were movies and that was not us. My parents did not even know where my secondary school was – they trusted all communications from school and trusted the fact that they understood to what extent I could be relied on to take instructions on how to get to school, pay school-fees, use my pocket money wisely and – to maintain the bus fare cash at the end of each school term.
    My point is – its not just the kid alone and the parent involved in the success story. All of us are involved and kids learn firster than you think – and – I hate to be closely supervised thank you!

  33. February 12, 2010 at 12:43

    Is it time for parents to just back off?
    Hi,
    the article shows only one sided picture, and that is wether the children should be free in their evry decsions, work or activities…etc
    let me share my view in d context of this article,
    we must think long term in this perspective..because we may ignore the good or bad activities for the sake of child amusement or pleasure, but if we see the picture of other side, then we can analyse that we are actullay deveolping the habit of child in that particular activity..
    so my point is that we must have chek and balance over the child’s activities…like what he is doing, where he is, what he wants, what is good and whats bad for him…..etc..
    i am not against the liberty of the children, bt just saying not to let them free on their own decsions..etc.

    As said by JETHRON:-
    Parents have a responsibility to guide their child until that time when he can be entrusted with his own security and life in general.Freedom without control is no freedom and there is nothing as such as absolute freedom.
    thank you.

  34. 38 JanB
    February 12, 2010 at 12:50

    Balance and common sense are what it’s all about. when in doubt you could think back of your own childhood, maybe that will help.

  35. 39 Kenneth Ingle
    February 12, 2010 at 12:51

    Of course children make mistakes, but adults often do to!
    Nevertheless, as long as parents and not society are held responsible for the actions of their offspring, there is little choice.
    One problem is, the State keeps telling parents what they should do, although many of the so-called experts have no real idea of family life. Another problem is that some parents try to push their duties on to the teachers in school, something that just does not work.
    Children however do not need a boss to order every action, but someone who can show the alternatives in life with all the advatages and disadvantages which may occur. Here are many parents doomed to failure because they themselves never had a chance to think for themselves.
    Both parents and society have the duty to co-operate in watching what chidren get up to. The time to step in comes first when something is done which can hurt the child itself or others. This applies however also to adults in many cases.

  36. 40 Bob in Queensland
    February 12, 2010 at 12:52

    Just about the hardest thing about parenting is knowing how and when to let go…but it’s one of the most important skills.

  37. 41 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    February 12, 2010 at 13:07

    Nowdays parenting is a different thing all together, there is no community order and moral decadence and communication breakdown is the order of the day – how does a kid get it? Its hard enough for parents to deal with the chaos let alone children. Unresearched opinions are shoved into your head – media, The UN, your government – these have often even undermined the school environment and its outonomy in the molding of minds since we stopped hiring talent and went on to hire political or social connections.
    The parents role might include a dose of protection though they need to cultivate that sense of freedom guided by the right information – a balancing act but it can be achieved.
    I once asked a girlfiend of mine why she was so fond of me and not someone else all the time. She kept quite for a few seconds and then replied – “What I admire in you mostly is your sense of freedom- I wish I could be like you”.

  38. February 12, 2010 at 13:15

    It’s not so much a matter of neglect versus pampering, but rather a matter of letting your kids do things on their own and learn and grow (and make mistakes and learn better from it) versus parents supervising and scheduling every moment of their kids’ day so the kids never “have” to make any decisions for themselves, or learn to plan or experiment or deal with consequences. Helicopter parents seem to believe that somehow their fragile, supervised seventeen-year-olds will turn into competent, confident adults on their eighteenth birthday. Then when that doesn’t happen, they’re either shocked and critical of the kids, or they go right on leading and supervising.

    University administrators call these kids teacup students because they’re so fragile. They can’t do things on their own, can’t make decisions, can’t discipline themselves to live their lives. They’re the ones who take their laundry home every weekend, have their moms showing up with food three times a week, have their dad calling professors to argue over bad grades. It’s ridiculous, and it comes from being over-protected throughout their childhood.

    A parent’s job is to raise a competent, confident adult. That transformation — seeing your child grow apart from you, doing things on his own, making decisions for herself — means you’re doing it right. And it can’t happen all at once on your kid’s eighteenth birthday. It’s a gradual process which begins when your kids are very young; a little bit at a time is the way to go. Clutching your kids with both hands, directing and guiding and yes, even protecting, all through their childhood and teen years does them no favors.

    Angie

  39. 43 Cabe Searle UK
    February 12, 2010 at 13:51

    My parents were cool but Hey! – I got my ‘licks’ as well as my freedom because they found the sense somewhere to be both fair and strict. What the author is saying is not about normal child-rearing, she is talking about ‘helicopter’ parents, ones who are so insecure about their kids that they ‘hover’ over their every waking moment – that to me is a bit psychotic and unnecessary.
    But, I understand why some do it and I think its mainly due to the huge press coverage that crime gets every day. Its easy to think that we are a ‘bad’ world and it’s always bad news and untimately that would send any parent over the edge with worry and be enough to completely curtail their childrens freedom.
    = When I was younger, crime was happening but we just weren’t bombarded by it on such a scale. Now everything – sex, war, hate, terrorisim, abuse, rape, kidnap, torture etc, etc, is reported in such open detail and instantly beamed around the World, that unless it’s stopped – I don’t think parents will or can change the way they operate anymore ! And It only takes a few generations to change the path of the human race, so parents have to be more canny .. (unless of course you live in some small, calm, mostly crime free paradise somewhere on the moon ?)

  40. 44 @guykaks
    February 12, 2010 at 14:02

    For me i feel freedom is paramount and with all the dirty minded individuals who have had a bad background of up bring should not elude children to their unfounded behaviors.I remember when i was in primary level i would be given fare from home to school and back and would manage to keep the fare despite the temptation of eating roasted maize during break time.The worst time was when i bought chocolate to my girlfriend using my own fare.Guess what happened?

  41. 45 Lola
    February 12, 2010 at 14:13

    Call me old-fashioned, chauvinist or whatever. But for a while now I’ve been feeling that all the “right to have children” or “fulfill your desire to be a parent” ideology has made children the object of their parents’ rights, instead of being subjects of their own rights. Consequently, at least where I live, they have been treated more like pets than actual human beings. Coddled as babies and toddlers, when parenting requires to set limits, exercise authority, take time and effort to listen and counsel, and above all set an example of adult roll models, then children are either left to their own devices (neglected), or else just wrapped in a bubble ’til they’re 18.

  42. 46 Elizabeth Kuranchie
    February 12, 2010 at 14:24

    I don’t think parents should back off! Even when there are involved in thier childrens’ affair look at what happens and they deciding to back off! It’s time for parents to have enough time with their children. I mean to keep them company!That is one responsiblity of a parent! Not only bringing forth the children and leaving them for their own fate-NO!

    • 47 SLQ
      February 12, 2010 at 17:48

      >”I mean to keep them company!That is one responsiblity of a parent!”

      What is that even supposed to mean?

      As Angie said, “A parent’s job is to raise a competent, confident adult.”

  43. 48 D in Indiana
    February 12, 2010 at 14:32

    Marriage first kids second! Wow, I just got dumber reading that line.

  44. 49 Jim morocco
    February 12, 2010 at 15:24

    i think some have been sarcastic by saying they should of give freedom to the kids like if the kids can run their own life without help . i am married person but i still resort to family for moral support and tips as they are experienced than me life is hard for the kids especially this era everything became difficult the funny was some readers want to give much freedom to their kids like if they want to rid from responsibility but the outcome wont be good they will face lot of obstacles let’s put the shoe on the other foot do you think kids will behave during their parent absent the answer is no in the end of the day they will blame their parent who give up on them as we have a saying : freedom spoil the kids . so we shouldnt let the kids rely on their seleves or make their own decision if not they discuss it with their parent life must be shared between the kids and parent becouse we all know nothing runs smooth in life otherwise it would be too easy

  45. 50 patti in cape coral
    February 12, 2010 at 15:41

    I don’t think kids are born completely blank. Of course their characters are in part determined by their upbringing, but I think the upbringing has to be tailored to the individual child, too. Some kids need more freedom, some kids need more supervision. I’ve always preferred to err on the side of caution. I agree with Cabe that the news you hear can make you very paranoid.

  46. February 12, 2010 at 16:55

    In Jamaica, parents letting go and allowing kids to “range freely” is none existent. Some parents are over protective! In my case, my mum was the true owl guardian, yet sometimes absent (when i went to tennis or played in various tournaments). This type of parenting is the best because parents are in tune with the child’s progression, yet distance so that the child can learn how to be independent by themselves.

  47. February 12, 2010 at 17:13

    There should be a balance.

  48. 53 Andrew in Australia
    February 12, 2010 at 17:27

    Constructive hovering and involvement. Pestering your child for the sake of it, or living vicariously through them for your failings in life or regrets serves no purpose. But think the opposite is better? Not when you see the sad state of kids and teens in the modern age in the west, a bunch of hoodlums waiting for their chance to be obnoxious and unruly. We need to ensure that children are supervised so they can grow up to be decent considerate people – what is wrong with that, things would be much better if there was more consideration shown by this latest generation? Sadly that is lacking, and the me generation is taking over with little thought of the consequences. By all means be involved, very involved, but as I said, let it be constructive and positive.

  49. 54 nora
    February 12, 2010 at 17:44

    The mothers and grandmothers of this generation went through the molester priest and coach era. Some, like myself, were victims. Sending your kid to soccer or church camp just wasn’t possible because the structures that hid these freaks were still in place. I spent twelve years of my life changing law in this arena. My two daughters, who at eleven and fourteen wrote a letter to the Methodist Bishop criticizing him for harassing our family, were well aware of the dangers because of my work. They developed safety strategies with their friends and always called in to let me know they were alive, even if they had boned out the window. When asked by a friend of mine why they always called in, the girls responded that so many people I cared about disappeared in Chile and Argentina in my youth that they didn’t have the heart to make me fearful that they too had disappeared. The human element. Not parent or child but the practical nature of love is the essence of it all.

  50. 55 George Williams Bangirana
    February 12, 2010 at 18:06

    A parent has a right and the responsibility to bring up a kd. Question lies in deciding when is the kid able to make decisions and take care of themselves.
    Cultures vary so much. Where there was a community to look out for the good in kids now is an empty space. I was once spanked by a stranger for playing in the road on my way to school which was 5 kms away from home, but I couldnt even tell my parents simply because, the stranger was an elder who even and I was 9 years of age.
    Now everyone lives on their own. When my kid gets to 3 years she can roam about one block away from home. I drop her to school and pick her in the afternoon. When she is in holidays, she goes to the village where the sense of community still exists and there she goes to the woods and the grasses to graze cattle and goats.
    Therefore, parents only have fears that kids may never perceive as real till its too late, but once a kid is around 10 years, they shuld be able to be free range

  51. February 12, 2010 at 18:07

    Wow, I didn’t know where this article was when I read the title. The content was equally mixed. In some respects I agree with Ms. Skenazy in some sense, she seems to miss the point with dangerous potential on others. Let us face it, there are plenty of “free range kids” in the inner cities. They call them “gangs”.

    That said, you have to have confidence enough to believe you have taught your children to make good choices by the time they reach a certain age. My daughter is not even 3 yet. I have never had a lock on a chemical cabinet. She is allowed to grab a sharp knife without too much concern. She can point out the “business edge” and the part that will poke you. She often cooks side by side with me and is aware of a stoves potential “hotness” and knows to hold her hand close to feel for heat before touching it. This has been the result of a lot of time spent with her. I wouldn’t trust any other 2.5 year old I know to do these activities. We work on making choices every day. I never demand that she does any one thing. It is about giving her “freedom” to choose. The choices arte always ones that I find acceptable. She is a skilled negotiator at her age.

    The point is there is plenty of ways to give a child “freedom” without allowing them physical freedom.

    Now that said, in a country where the average parent works 40 hours a week, almost all of that time during their children’s waking hours. Then there is a feeling of a right to have “free time” or “marriage time” added to the already reduced hours. Let us face it, most parents see their kids about 3 to 4 hours a night. Part of that time is spent arguing with them. Most of their time is spent being influenced by something other then you the parent. I don’t think too much time is an issue in the west.

  52. 57 TomK in Mpls
    February 12, 2010 at 18:19

    Failure is the best teacher. Risk management is the most important lesson.

  53. 58 reed smith
    February 12, 2010 at 18:41

    nannied kids become clueless brats and grow up to be waste of space accountants, bank managers and status quo sheep.. natural selection is there for a reason. what the world needs is innovation and progress

  54. 59 urthlvr
    February 12, 2010 at 18:57

    I work for a university-I have first hand experience with helicopter parents. If your adult child doesn’t have the oomph to complete applications and submit materials to grad. school, we don’t want your child! We need students who are capable of critical thinking, motivated and able to function without having every move guided by a professor.

    I am also the mother of a2.5 year old. During the infant and toddler stage I feel that attachment parenting (co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.) is very important for that child. However, we are now at the stage where my daughter wants to push boundaries and we are making allowances for her to explore her world without serious danger to her life.

    Discipline is also important. I don’t mean beating your kid black and blue. I mean enforcing the rules/boundaries. We as parents are supposed to be the ones in charge, not the kids. Yet kids need to have the time and space to make mistakes and learn.

  55. 60 Michelle from Jamaica
    February 12, 2010 at 19:12

    “A parent’s job is to raise a competent, confident adult” – What does this entail? There is no blue print for being a parent. You love your kinds your treat them with respect; you guide them; you step in when necessary and you back-off when necessary. Has parenting changed over the years? I think so; parents are tooo busy and children are raising themselves. Parents don;t need to back-off any further. WE NEED PARENTS!! I am 36 and I can’t be disrespectful to my parents, but children today get away with everthing! Com’on folkes, back-off. You will always find some parents too overprotective and some too carefree. There is NO BLUEPRINT to being parents. Just do your best with love.

  56. 61 K
    February 12, 2010 at 19:56

    Free-range kids are not unsupervised kids left free to roam unchecked. If you follow Lenore for any time, it is clear that Lenore believes in allowing children controlled bits of freedom in ways for which they are prepared.

    For example, she didn’t travel to NYC from the country, toss her son a token and tell him to meet her in midtown. She’s a NYC native and her child ASKED for the freedom to use the subway alone. She verified that he knew which combination of trains to take, and that he had both tokens and a way to contact her if he needed. This is NOT neglect. The child felt empowered that he could navigate his hometown unassisted.

    This is free-range parenting – and, while I don’t live in the city and my nine-year-old will do no such thing any time soon – he hikes in the woods alone. I don’t throw him into the wilderness. But, he can run ahead on a trail and meet me at a pre-determined check point.

  57. 62 Edward H.
    February 12, 2010 at 20:21

    Free Range does not mean abandoned or criminal behavior.
    It does mean local and national governments need to recognize these young people are citizens the same as everyone else and so deserve the same respect. Laws which pretend to protect them from nonexistent peril need to be removed.
    Why is it illegal in Great Britain to take a photograph if an unrelated child just happens to be in the frame???

  58. 63 ecotopian
    February 12, 2010 at 20:34

    I remember reading this same topic on the NY Times http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/a-new-look-at-over-parenting/

    I don’t hover over my kids. It’s their lives, not mine. I’m here if they need help or advice. I let them fail to help them learn from failure and to know it isn’t the end of the world. I let them explore to get a better understanding of the world around them. I give them the freedom to let their imaginations run wild. Before any of you think they don’t have boundaries and limits, they do and they are enforced. Parenting is a balancing act of giving kids enough freedom to become independent and making sure they become good citizens in the process.

  59. 64 Bert
    February 13, 2010 at 00:17

    When I was gowing up, in Paris, my brothers and I were going all over the place on our own. On the Metro to afterschool activities, on bikes all over the Bois de Boulogne, to school, and so on. Starting at, say, 9 years old. Was it just that it was safer then? We did ewncounter the “clochards” (hobos) often enough, but were savvy enough to steer clear. I’m not talking about some small town where everyone knows everyone else.

    On the other hand, I have a friend who still attends his daughters’ sporting events, even though they are beyond their university years. And still chases after them to fix their cars and the like, and they moved back home after graduating from college.

    I don’t know the answer, but I can’t think that such level of babying is “good parenting.” Maybe I’m wrong.

  60. 65 ABDELKADER EL HAMDAOUI
    February 14, 2010 at 18:58

    Parents should be seen and not heard. More often than not children are victims of victims for parents themselves are victims of their parents who are victims too of the good old days and bad old ways. Good advice should be given and taken only when parents themselves are too old to set bad examples. Today, with all the information they are better suited to assimilate children are more likely to teach and guide their parents than the other way round.

  61. 66 Pankaj Kumar YADAV
    February 15, 2010 at 00:54

    It is very important that children should get enough space to do what they like and explore their creativity. But we have seen that on most of the occasion it gets misused.

    So, of course children should get freedom but parent must talk to them often and parent must be aware of what their child is doing. It is not good giving them instructions all the time but when it is required they must sit together and talk.

    I feel like if you don’t talk to child often they will be kind of isolated from the family.

    Independence brings responsibility to an individual which is good but not not every time one will get success. So to save them from frustration there must be some someone to encourage otherwise it may end up in disaster.

  62. 67 Jeff Wadulo
    February 19, 2010 at 11:06

    However much we may try, our children will never be exactly the same as we were/are, period. To try to make them so is a serious violation of their rights to being the individuals they were created to be. In fact over involvement in a child’s affairs is tantamount to abuse which is criminal regardless of whether it is the child’s actual parents who are involved. This over involvement however may be psychological, telling of a certain condition in the parent such as a fixation, inferiority complex, or even an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Parents and children in such circumstances may need professional help (Psychosocial counseling)

    Jeff in Kampala


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