Monday, May 25, 2015

With the recent focus on free range parenting, criticism of helicopter moms has been flying around the internet (pardon the pun).   For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a helicopter parent is one who pays extremely close attention to their child's experiences, problems, and education.  
I unapologetically admit that I am most certainly one of "those moms".   

Reminding my child to be careful when she ventures a bit too close to the edge of the playset? 
Yep, I habitually do that.

Standing with outstretched arms while my little one climbs the ladder just in case she falls?
Guilty as charged.

Carefully monitoring her interactions from my perch on the bench fifteen feet away?
Of course!

Heavens to Betsy, I even have the audacity to play with my child, a practice that has been discussed quite harshly on several prominent parenting websites.

While I am certainly not here to bash those who practice free range parenting, I refuse to feel guilty or "overly" protective when I keep a watchful eye on my child or dust off her knees when she stumbles.  I will continue to offer kisses for each and every boo-boo and cling tightly to her hand as we cross the street.  I will never stop being her advocate when she is mistreated.

As a South Florida mom, I am keenly aware that at any given time I am within ten miles of a victim of human trafficking, many of which are children snatched off the streets. I have seen the horrific headlines depicting the tragedies of abduction and abuse.  I also know that the 5 o'clock news depicts the worst case scenarios and that statistically most people are not out to harm my child.  She will likely return safely if she ventures out of my sight.  Nevertheless, I am unwilling to gamble with my child's safety.   My little one will spend her entire adult life fending for herself.  There are many struggles that I cannot possibly protect her from.  However, she is currently my baby girl and will be treated accordingly.  

No, I am not concerned that my child will never become self-sufficient.  At nearly three and a half years old, she has already developed an age appropriate sense of independence.  She is trusting, confident and generally fearless.  To be quite frank, I have no interest in toughening up my child to face a cruel world.  I am much more interested in raising my child to be a kind and compassionate adult who helps create a world that is a bit less scary.

Perhaps there is a middle ground somewhere between free range parenting and helicopter moms where we should all ideally meet.  If we can see past our differentiating methods, we may even see that we have a lot in common.  After all, don't we all just want the best life possible for our beloved children.   Until I reach that happy medium, please be patient if I instinctually lend your child a helping hand when they take a tumble at the playground.  In return, I will attempt to bite my tongue the next time our children are squabbling over who's turn it is on the slide.  Maybe.

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