>> Thursday, January 28, 2010
i've been thinking about parenting styles lately. there are so many variations. mr. h was raised in the south by relatives that were grandparent age and very conservative. that has left an impact on him, though he often doesn't admit to it. he thinks children should always obey, etc. he's pretty strict. i was raised in ohio and then south florida-which is really not part of "the south". attitudes towards things were different. and while my parents were not afraid to discipline me, they also let me have my "freedom". i'm not much like mr. h when it comes to how we believe children should behave. while i certainly don't want them to act like brats, i'm more open to just letting them be kids. but it goes even deeper than just discipline.
there are now these defined parenting types like "free range" and "helicopter". which are exactly as the words mean. free range allows kids to be on their own to explore and grow without having their parent standing beside them all the time. where helicopter parents tend to hover over their kids, watching and monitoring every move. as for my parenting style, i'd like to think i'm in the middle most of the time. i really would like to be more of a free range parent and have been reading the blog, free range kids, which you can check out *here*.
as i am reading this blog and truly thinking about the type of parent that i really am, i think i am too much like the helicopter, hovering. and probably smothering. i don't like that! i don't want to be that way. the world is so dangerous these days isn't it?! it must be different than the world was when i was a kid. i mean why else would i have turned into a hovering mom?
as a kid/preteen/teen, i spent so much time outside, free to go to parks, friend's houses, etc. i'd be out all day long and i'm sure that many times i covered quite a few miles during my adventures. that was normal for then and we all turned out ok. my parents left me home alone starting at a fairly young age-younger than my girls are now. i was babysitting little children when i was 12 or 13. there weren't many restrictions on tv shows or movies, i was able to listen to any music i wanted and read whatever books interested me.
as a parent, i worry, a lot. not so much about tv, movies, music or books. about the girls' "freedom". kelley is 10 1/2 and bethany is 9. i'll confess some of my helicoptering ways...other than family the girls have never stayed with a babysitter. every single day when one of them asks to go get the mail from the box across the street i tell them to "watch for cars!", yes every single time. i hold their hands when we walk in a parking lot. when kelley had just started 1st grade i insisted on walking her to class. then i would walk her to the main hall and watch as she walked off and turned down the hall to her class. the teacher monitoring the halls asked me "is she in kindergarten?". i felt so silly worrying that she was going to get lost. (though in my defense here, both girls are very tiny...kelley has always been the smallest in her grade and probably the grade behind hers). and the school bus? there was no way i could imagine shipping the girls off on the bus and then having them arrive *alone* at school. no way, i drove them! we only started utilizing the bus last year when the girls were in 2nd and 4th grade.
the bus was a big turning point for our family. before the bus, the girls were only allowed to play in our yard. just them, they didn't know other kids lived in the neighborhood. that is until they rode the bus. it was then that we started letting them go play with friends. now that was nerve wracking! and i made it worse by not having good boundaries set up for them. for a very short time, they had sweet freedom at an abundance. it didn't take long to realize that they weren't responsible enough for that much freedom. however, i take a lot of the fault for that. the lack of defined boundaries and the assumption that they would know the proper way to handle their freedom. they had no clue, because they had never been given the smallest opportunity to be on their own. we have well defined boundaries now. and rules, like letting me know where they will be and checking in to let me know of any changes in plans. oh, and bethany just can't be out without her sister. that is a recipe for disaster!
they've only recently started going places with friends in another person's car, and those events are always accompanied with much worry on my part. they went to their first sleepover at another friend's home a few months ago, who lives on the same street, and i could not sleep that night. seriously. me, who sleeps as a sport, was back to having the mothering instincts like i did when they were newborns. i'm still not sure what i felt i could do being wide awake at home when kelley and bethany weren't even there.
yes i hover. and probably do smother, too. it's because the world is dangerous right? it is much different than when i grew up. but is it really dangerous? or am i worrying too much? i don't want to be the helicopter mom and i've been in denial about it for years. it's time to change. though i'm not sure if i'll ever be raising free range kids. it is hard!
so, now i turn to you all...what type of parenting style do you have? and am i hovering way too much?