Helicopter Single Parents: Will You Give Your Kids Freer Range?
It happened last weekend. My eight-year-old son asked if he could bike over to his friend’s place two blocks away.
Right away I said no. What if they got hit by a car? What if some predator chased them down the residential streets? I wanted him within eye/ear sight. Just in case.
But when I opened the front door, there sat his two friends on their bikes waiting for him.
“YOUR mom said it’s OK?” I asked one.
He nodded and said: “I’ve done this many times before.”
I turned to the other: “And YOUR mom says it’s OK?” He nodded vehemently.
I exhaled hard. “Alright. But you guys stay together, you hear? And be VERY careful of cars!”
And I watched them gleefully ride off, remembering the ‘good ol days’ when I used to bike around the entire neighborhood; you know – back in the days when it was ‘safe.’
Today, however, I read an article on Yahoo that says crime today is on parr of that of the 70s, according to Crimes Against Children Research. From 1970 – 1993, crime was on the rise, but ever since it has plunged dramatically – particularly sex crimes which are down 79%.
I was shocked – I thought the world had gone to hell since the good ol days. From what I’d seen on the news and TV commercials and from parenting experts, a hovering parental eye was always required.
Then I read about mom and author Lenore Skenazy – a woman labelled “America’s Worst Mom” because she allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the subway alone in New York last year. A resident of New York, she armed her son with a subway map, a Metrocard, $20 in cash and a few quarters in case he needed to phone her. The point of this exercise? To teach him independence and self-confidence. She felt he was more than capable.
Lenore is the crusader of a new movement in safe but ‘sane’ parenting. She says we’ve become so accustomed to thinking someone’s going to hurt our kids that we deny them life skills including those around independence. The aforementioned statistics she says, speak for themselves: crime is on parr of that of the 70s. She says we’ve been so bombarded with stories of the opposite, that we’ve become ‘helicopter parents’ that unnecessarily limit our children’s personal growth and enjoyment of life.
Do I agree with her? The helicopter parent in me says no. But I’ll be hovering over her website to check out her ideas. I know my son was thrilled to ride over to his friend’s place last weekend with his buddies. Maybe the good ‘ol days aren’t totally gone – just my nuclear family is.