You've likely heard about free-range parenting and the debate surrounding it. While the term is almost a decade old, it’s gained notoriety among parents recently — mainly because of its stark contrast to the “helicopter parenting” concept.
Helicopter parents tend to stay over-involved in their children’s lives, by assessing all the risks they could face in school, at home and in social situations. By doing this, however, parents often hinder their kids from learning how to assess risk. Helicopter parents often extend their hovering well into adulthood, which critics say makes sons and daughters less prepared for college, jobs and marriage, not to mention the most stressful challenges life can offer like cancer, miscarriage or the death of a loved one.
In contrast, free-range parenting prioritizes creating age-appropriate experiences that involve a little bit of freedom to help develop independence and self-reliance in kids. For example, letting your daughter walk the dog around the neighborhood by herself or letting your kids walk to school together without you. Free-range parenting is a throwback to when parents weren’t hyper-focused on safety.
While some parents have been celebrated for giving their children more freedom, others have had the cops called on them for their “irresponsible” actions. The question remains, why exactly? Here’s a complete guide to better understand free-range parenting and the debate surrounding it.