How much independence
should we give our children?
We all know the term “helicopter parenting.” Its connotation is negative, but its wellspring was love. As parents, we desperately want to protect our children. The best way to do so, many of us determined, was by hovering over their every move. Unfortunately, that tactic backfired. In our efforts to protect our children, we denied them vital skills such as self-reliance and resilience.
Another term I encountered recently is “free range parenting.” Perhaps, our children are indeed like chickens. They will be healthier if they can roam the fields a bit, maybe even cross the road all by their lonesome. There are inherent dangers with this approach: kids might get hurt, parents might get judged.
I recently left my nine-year-old daughters at home so I could go exercise. They have access to a phone and know not to open the door or cook eggs while I’m gone. Am I a “bad mom” or a “good mom”? Am I being derelict in my duties or giving my children the space to grow and mature?
Summer seems the ripest time to let kids have a little independence. A lot of that is rooted in our own memories of childhood: riding bikes to the corner store, exploring in the parks and woods near our homes, camping out alone in backyards. Are those things safe? How do we know? What do you think is the right amount of independence to give our kids at any given age? What do we stand to gain and lose? What do they stand to gain and lose?