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Parenting Styles: Is there a right way to keep your child safe but also independent?

13 December 2018

If you are a parent, you have probably struggled with the concept of your child having a certain amount of freedom. There are terms that pop up in conversation and online such as “free-range parenting” or “helicopter parent” and you may wonder where you fall or if there is a good balance that you could reach in your family.

“Free-range parenting” is basically taking a step back and allowing your children to have a little more freedom and expecting them to take a little more personal responsibility. According to MPRNews.org, many parents feel that this type of parenting can be dangerous while others argue that it is important for kids to learn to fend for themselves instead of being constantly monitored and directed (https://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/02/25/bcst-free-range-parenting).

In America especially, parents say they worry about something happening to their children if they don’t pay close enough attention. In many other countries, like, around Europe, for example, you will see children walking to school, riding the subway, and going swimming by themselves. When you see this as a parent, you could either feel motivated to make your children more independent or you may feel horrified that these children are possibly in danger.

In the opinion of many, there should be a middle ground to almost everything with no difference in the case of children and their freedoms. You can start small with things at home such as children picking out their own clothes before leaving the house, perhaps reminding them to check what the weather is like and to think about what activities they will be engaging in. It is all about preparation and getting kids to think critically.

Another thing that parents worry about are strangers and while many people think that their children would never go anywhere with a stranger, there is a very interesting social experiment with Joey Salads where, with permission from a parent, approaches children on a playground holding a puppy and gets them to follow him to “see more puppies” (See the video here). It is horrifying to the parents that this could happen.

There are some very crucial conversations that should happen at home and when learning moments pop up when families are out and about. Children should know that they should not talk to people they do not know and if they are ever in trouble, what kind of people they should look to for help (police officers, parents with children, etc.).

The bottom line is, yes, bad things can happen to children who do not have skills or experience to deal with difficult situations on their own. It is much more rare though for children who have had multiple conversations and even drills with their parents to get into dangerous situations. It all starts at home and no parent will ever be perfect or completely hopeless. If you are making an effort, that means you are doing great!

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