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Hover Parenting vs Free Range Parenting

I recently read the story about the Meitivs from Maryland. You know the one: the parents allowed their 10 and 6 year old children to play and walk to and from a park close to their home ( I think it was a mile or so). Someone called the cops and they came and took the children into custody (temporarily). *shakes head*

Really? A 10 year old and a 6 year old playing in a park and having to walk home alone. That’s pretty much my whole friggin’ childhood, and most other people close to my age. Not only did we play outside, but we had to walk to and from school. *horrified gasp* The elementary school I attended was right across the street, but the middle school was about a mile away. And I had to walk rain, snow, or shine. Not to mention having to walk in the dark during the shorter days of winter. I wasn’t taken into custody and I was never accosted, nor were the hundreds of other kids in my same situation.

On weekends my sisters and I (as well as the other neighborhood kids) were gallivanting about the neighborhood, playing in the local park, walking across the highway (which was totally against the rules of course) to play in the cemetery or walk down to the river and climb on the sandstone rocks to explore. We’d break up into teams and play our versions of various sports or have wars (usually boys against girls) and utilize a mile square radius as out battle ground. It was glorious and we have so many memories of growing up like that.

Maryland has a rule that kids under 8 must be with a child of 13, somehow thinking that age is somehow magical in that he/she can keep the 8 year old safe. *snickers* If my own behavior at 13 was any indication, that so not true at all LOL AT 13, I was more likely to do things that were against the rules than at 10.

So why all the hovering? Why this fear of letting our kids out of our sight? The world isn’t any more dangerous. It’s only that we can hear about what’s happening across the globe seconds after it happens rather than only having local news on the TV. With everyone having phones and computers and iPads, the news is only a click away. And we all know the media never highlights wretched and scary events, often never reporting when things don’t happen *insert sarcastic face*

Do we really expect parents to be with their kids 24/7? Parents are busy. My mom didn’t have time to work and take care of the house or have some quiet time AND follow us around all the time. Having us out of the house and playing meant she could get laundry done, clean house, maybe sit down and enjoy a good book without us being underfoot. Did we get hurt? Of course. But we didn’t die, we didn’t break anything, we didn’t get into a car with a stranger, we didn’t roam too far, we stayed together, we came home at dinner time, we had a ball! What are parents supposed to do? They don’t have time to go play with them all the time so the kids end up in the house plugged into electronics, which is rotting their brains, giving them a false sense of being “social”, and they’re not getting fresh air and exercise.

But they also aren’t learning independence or to occupy their minds and bodies. If parents are always around, how will they transition to adulthood and be able to think for themselves? Mommy and Daddy won’t always be around to tell you what to do and they shouldn’t have to be. We all have to fall down and pick ourselves back up, not have someone else to do it for us. I’ve done this myself more times than I can count. That’s not to say that my parents weren’t ever there for me, because they have been. But being there for your kids when they fall, to lend a hand or give some sound advice is not the same as doing for them.

Why can’t someone just ask a simple question rather than calling the cops? Why is it we feel the need to judge and control what other people are doing? It’s none of our business. Two kids that are clearly not distressed or crying are probably not in danger and walking home. How about asking them if they’re okay? The 10 year old can answer, “We’re walking home from the park.” No need for the nosy neighbor/busybody to call the cops and make a big deal out of nothing.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some wretched parents out there who need to have their kids taken away. But Social Services needs to focus on those and leave everyone else alone. Don’t waste resources better used elsewhere. As adults, we need to teach our kids how to assess various situations, is there danger or isn’t there, is someone in trouble, etc. Asking questions and looking at body language, using some common sense is all it takes to keep a situation from becoming a giant blob of needless drama. And when we can use these skills, our kids will learn to use them also.

5 Comments on “Hover Parenting vs Free Range Parenting”

  1. jlgentry April 15, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    Great perspective. I had a lot of freedom as a kid. Plus, TV was black and white and only had 3 channels, so going outside was a mandatory for staying sane. These kids seem very well behaved and centered. I just don’t understand the neighbor’s concern. Just nosey I guess.

    • drshaywest April 15, 2015 at 11:11 am #

      Oh yeah, the TV had nothing interesting on it back in my day LOL Outside was much better 😀

  2. cpbialois April 15, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    Sounds familiar. lol From the moment I woke up until sunset, I was outside riding my bike with or without friends in the summer, spring, and fall. I understand the need to safeguard your kids from all the bad guys out there (I’m actually like that with Jamie. LOL) but at some point they have to be allowed to run and grow on thier own.

    If we’re not careful, we could end up with a lot of zombies running around depending on others to tell them what to do at all times. I’ve already seen it with some people when I worked retail. Not a pleasant sight. lol

    • drshaywest April 16, 2015 at 6:50 am #

      And I definitely see it with my students. They have no idea how to handle things on their own. They get carried along and expect someone else to come in and rescue them.

      • cpbialois April 16, 2015 at 8:16 am #

        Yeah, it’s an interesting world we live in. So many of the adults here in Florida are like that too. It’s like a disease or something.

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