Super-Involved AND Free-Range??

Hi Readers! Here’s an interesting angle on Free-Ranging, brought to us by Kathy Seal. Kathy is a journalist in Santa Monica and co-author of  Pressured Parents, Stressed-out Kids: Dealing With Competition While Raising a Successful Child  and Motivated Minds: Raising Children. Her websites are www.kathyseal.net and  www.pressuredparents.com. Voila:

CAN YOU HELP WITHOUT HELICOPTERING?

Ok, I’m gonna say something controversial: You can’t be too involved with your child.

You heard me right. Tons of gold-standard research shows that the more you’re involved with your kids –be they toddlers or teens — the better it is for them. And that doesn’t contradict my dear friend Lenore here one bit, because you can be involved without trampling on your kid’s feelings of independence and competence.

How? All you have to do is respect your child’s autonomy.   That’s what’ll prevent you from becoming one of those cringe-inducing helicopter parents. So what’s autonomy anyway?

It’s the feeling of initiating an action. It’s the opposite of feeling controlled by someone else. When kids — and all human beings — feel that what they do is self-initiated, they’re happier.   They also perform better, because the enjoyment motivates them to study or practice more.

Maybe you think there’s something icky about being highly involved with your kids. Like, it means you don’t have your own life, or you’re pushing them to achieve what you didn’t.  I hear you! Nobody wants to be involved like that.  So let’s define our kind of involvement as “support.”  Because a mountain of research has found that the more we support our children, the happier they are and the more they achieve. And it helps them feel secure and solidly connected to us, too.

My co-author, Clark University psychologist Wendy Grolnick, did a study of mothers of   elementary school children. The more involved the moms were with their kids — that is, the more time they spent with them, and the more they knew about what they did, liked and disliked — the better their children did on report cards and standardized tests, and the fewer problems they had in school. These highly involved mothers weren’t necessarily at home a lot, but when they were, they spent time with their children. They asked about their children’s school day, knew which subjects they enjoyed or didn’t, and who their friends were.

The big caveat is to combine your involvement with healthy respect for your child’s autonomy. And there are three ways to do that.  (I didn’t say three easy ways. But they’re not terribly hard either.)

1. Take your child’s point of view and acknowledge his feelings.

Say your 10-year-old isn’t doing his homework. He’s thinking, “It’s going to get dark soon. I want to have some fun now. I can do my homework later.”

You could take his point of view by trying to imagine, “If I were his age, what would I prefer? Riding my bike or reading a chapter on coal production?” Then you can say, “I understand that you’re having fun. But tonight we’re going to Aunt Karen’s for dinner, so unfortunately, this is the only time to do your science homework.” What counts is acknowledging your child’s feelings. You want to convey “I’m with you.”

2. Support your child’s independent problem solving.

One of the best ways to support your child’s independent problem solving is to ask questions, as I did when my son, Zach, was making a pinhole camera for the school science fair. Instead of taking him to a store to get the cardboard box he needed, I asked him, “Where could you find a big box?”

After a minutes he said, “I know — behind the store where they sell refrigerators!”

“How could we make the pinhole?” I asked next — and so on.

3. Give your child choices.

Even a tiny degree of choice boosts a child’s feelings of autonomy. So if your child is painting, you might say, “The materials need to be kept clean so you can keep using them for a long time.”  And she decides how to clean up.

As my own children have gotten older, I’ve found that questions like “Have you considered….?” or “Do you think you might want to …?” also do the trick.

Encouraging your children’s feelings of autonomy helps you stay involved without controlling them. All you have to control is yourself!

45 Responses

  1. Respect that they are people.🙂

  2. LOVE. THIS. POST!

  3. If your kid says “I’m want to have some fun now, I’ll do my homework later”, you could also *drumroll* let him.

    His homework is not your responsibility. It’s his.

    Of course, if he doesn’t do his homework, there will be consequenses. He will be punished. If he knows he will face consequenses, consequenses he doesn’t like, he will do his homework.

    This will teach them self-restraint and how to regulate their time. If you worry about your kid doing or not doing his homework, in whatever way, your kid will learn nothing except whining, turning a deaf ear to nagging parents, how to roll his eyes and how to come up with excuses.

    Stop worrying about your kids homework. Thats *their* job.

  4. Great food for thought!

  5. Yes. Some people treat their kids like babies; some treat them like adults. But the most successful parents I’ve seen treat their kids like *people*.

  6. Yes, Marion, yes, yes, yes.

    Of course, if their teachers are like mine as a kid the lesson they’ll *really* learn is that teachers lie and say a lot of dumb things about homework that aren’t, in fact, true – like that you won’t pass if you don’t do it, or that next year the teachers will be stricter.

    But that’s a valuable lesson too🙂

  7. I disagree with this one. Not in the sense that the recommendations are wrong, but in that she seems to be advocating to the helicoptering minds that it’s ok to still be around your kids 24-7. It’s not.

    Studies have shown just the same that having non-parental/non-adult time with themselves is also a positive thing. So here we have a woman who **is making sense** for those of us who **know** that balance, but is also telling parents who do not have that type of balance that they can still have their cake and eat it too as long as they interact with their kids and ask them questions.

    I would have really thought this even better if she had put in THAT caveat as well. Kids still need time WITHOUT mom and dad in order to really be fully adjusted. I honestly don’t want my daughter and son growing up and **needing** support every time they make a choice, or having to have someone to enter into dialogue with them each time a choice presents itself. They need to not only have the support up close, but know they’re capable of making a choice from afar without having to consult… that’s what that alone time gives them.

    So – mixed reviews here.

  8. This sounds a lot like how my mother raised us. She was a stay-at-home mom, and thus was around most of the time. But she was around, not necessarily right there in the room. We were supposed to let her know where we were going, but she didn’t escort us to and from our destinations. For my first big research project in junior high, she helped me do the research and structure the paper. She helped me a LOT. But after that, she expected me to know how to go about it, and come to her if I had trouble. The result was that by the time I got to high school, I didn’t even want her to copyedit my papers. I wanted my grade to be based on what I did, and if I got something wrong, it was because I had done it wrong.

    The same thing was true with my dad; he was always happy to help me work through ideas and math problems, but he didn’t do my homework for me–he was just there when I asked for his help.

    I do think Nicola has a point; it’s easy to see this as balance when you’re already looking for balance. But someone could also see it as justification, and continue to keep their kids under constant supervision.

  9. Involved without hellicoptering? Yes.

    As guardian of an 11-year-old, I tried to keep distance between him and me on Boy Scout outings..

    This was difficult when other leader expected me to follow thier example with their kids, and “shadow” him.

    An example, a leader reuested that I instruct him to wash the dishes in Spanish (the boy is bilingual, English-Spanish). So I walked over to him, and he took his hands out of the dishpan while asking, “What does he think I’m doing?” He had seen a need and was taking care of it without being asked or ordered.

    Kids will usually get it right on their own if allowed a little space.

  10. Interesting post and discussion. I am loving this website for making me think!

    To me its all about balance. And the problem seems to be that people want a prescription for how to raise their children, and how to achieve that balance (how many minutes can I leave them alone, how many meters can they walk alone etc).

    Children need freedom. They also need (age/development/personality appropriate) boundaries. My take on “free-range” does not mean “here’s the world, go figure it out”. Different kids need different levels of support. If you don’t spend time with your kids, you will not know them well enough to know what level of support is appropriate for your individual child.

  11. Hallelujah!

    I’ve always been uncomfortable with the aspect of Free Range that says “don’t spend too much time with your kids.” I spend an amount of time with my four kids that would have been incomprehensible to any father when I was a kid. I play with them, I read to them, I try to take advantage of the all-too-brief time when they *want* to be with me. (My 7-year-old and 11-year old still do; my 13-year-old, not so much; 15-year-old, not at all.)

    At the same time, I consider myself a huge fan of Free Range. I spend time with them to have fun, to bond, to teach. I do *not* spend time with them to control their lives, or because I think any minute they are out of my direct control, they are likely to be kidnapped by aliens. I am not trying to teach them that the world is a dangerous place where you need constant protection, in other words. But I do want them to know that there is nothing in the world their Daddy would rather do than be with them.

  12. I disagree entirely.

    The job of every parent is to raise kids who DON’T NEED YOU.

    That takes backing off. They have to learn to deal. Not at six, but gradually, and by the time they’re 18.

    You can, yes, be too involved in your child’s life. Get over yourself and let them learn to cope.

  13. I love this post because it explicitly states what I believe which is simply that free-range works best when you pay attention to who your child is an an individual, observe what s/he is capable of, assist them when they need it, and take the time to remember that children are not dolls they are people too.

    At any age, knowing the names of your children’s friends, knowing what subjects they like and dislike, what they excel at and struggle with, what their habits are, and what matters to them is NOT about hovering, invading their space, oppressing them, or making one’s life all about our kids. It’s about learning about them as people and not making assumptions about them. It’s about showing them that they matter to us. Nothing can replace that for building a child’s ego-strength.

    A child with healthy attachment (in psychological terms) is able to explore the world confidently because s/he knows the caregiver is consistent and emotionally present. That healthy attachment comes from giving children enough room to explore, succeed, and fail and then return to the parent for support, nurturing, love, and sometimes scolding. These kids are able to leave Mom or Dad’s side when the first day of school rolls around without tears and enthusiastically greets Mom or Dad and the end of the day. Healthy attachment is about making kids feel safe with the caregiver, with themselves, and with the world.

  14. I love this. I have a hard time not staying involved with my children, but I do try to follow the suggestions mentioned so that I am not an every controlling presence in my children’s lives.

  15. After more thourouhly reading the comments I think some people are confusing the idea of being involved with being omni-present. It’s not the same thing.

    The poster even says:
    “These highly involved mothers weren’t necessarily at home a lot, but when they were, they spent time with their children. They asked about their children’s school day, knew which subjects they enjoyed or didn’t, and who their friends were.”

    Note the line: WEREN’T NECESSARILY AT HOME A LOT.

    Being involved is not about being there all the time. It’s simply about being aware of your kids and being a RESOURCE for them, not controlling their lives.

  16. @ Elizabeth: I don’t think we’re confusing omni-presence with involvement. The idea is that through this post, those that **are already** omni-present will have more fuel for the fire as to ***why*** they are omni-present.

    I agree with the post on the points she makes, but at the same time, I see it as a way for those helicoptering parents to justify what they are doing. I would have liked for the poster to mention that time alone for kids is also an essential part of their development in the hopes that helicopters can understand that time with your kids is good, but not 24-7.

    It’s like this… if I were to write a post on how alcohol is good for you, but not include that in moderation it’s good for you. Therefore, alcoholics could take my article and justify why they drink all the time. Were I to have said moderation is good, alcoholics could not justify their destructive behavior. (I know, alcoholism can’t really be comparable to helicoptering, but just used it as the first example to pop into my head. 😀 )

  17. I believe kids don’t “need” to be away from mom and dad so much as they will WANT to – if they feel you support them in their autonomy, if they feel safe, if they feel loved, and if they feel enabled (that is, not overwhelmed by the independent task facing them). As I write this my kids are “away” from me – out in the yard digging up worms and building a flagpole, resp.

    Every family has its own balance of values and those values often aren’t any more “right” or “wrong” than other families. For instance I am a homeschooler / unschooler, so I don’t feel kids need institutional care to grow their independence nor to get an education; obviously I don’t prioritize homework in the traditional sense. This doesn’t make me wrong, nor do I see other parents who put kids in school as “wrong” either. For my kids, having them out of the institution has, if anything, helped them build their Free Range skills.

    Independence and success are too often measured by markers that don’t make a lot of sense. For instance, academic achievement in and of itself makes no more sense as a measure of holistic success than, say, making six figures a year. I think we should trust parents to look deep into their hearts, their gut, and use their mind to know what “success” really looks like for their family, and their children.

    One thing I love about having kids is it has challenged my world view in a way that likely would not have occurred if I’d remained childfree. I am definitely enjoying the journey!

  18. Good article!

  19. I think the article is spot on. My sibs and I were definitely raised free-range. We walked to school, played in the woods and creek unsupervised, rode bikes for miles around the neighborhood, etc. On the flip side, our parents were very involved. They knew when, where, and with whom we were going and when we’d be back. Freedom was a privilege, earned with responsible behavior. Irresponsible behavior resulted in temporary restriction. We were encouraged to handle our own issues. For example, my 7th grade English teacher had a personality issue with me one day [I frowned at her & I had a good reason] and called my mother to complain. My mom asked her if I was respectful- always, polite- unfailingly, obedient- absolutely. Satisfied, Mom suggested that the teacher discuss it with me if there was an issue to work out. She could have gotten involved and either pressured me into compliance and an unwonted apology. She could have defended me as a perfect angel like many of today’s parents will (I was not). She instead refused involvement and I learned an early lesson in diplomacy (yes, frowning got me what I wanted, but I could have saved a lot of trouble by taking another tack). My parents managed to raise us into adults who don’t need parental involvement AND be super-involved in all the ways that matter.

  20. Very well said! Excellent! I have always thought that everyone – not just children – functions so much better when they don’t feel “put upon” to do something or other. It’s so much better to “help” by making sure they know you’ve “got their back” when they need you, because the defenses will always come up when a person feels forced. It’s “game over” once that happens.

    I call this my “all volunteer” approach to kids, friends, and life.

  21. I did this just yesterday with my daughter’s gymnastics program. She’s been asking for gymnastics for a year, and I finally arranged enough time and money to let her take a class. Then I found a couple of options and *let her choose*. The results were amazing. Here’s my post about it: http://childwild.com/2009/08/18/todays-gratitude-gymnastics/

  22. Great piece. We have started involving the kids (6 and 10) in cooking and menu planning at home and they love it. Last night we had a romantic candlenight meal of sausages and mashed potatoes on the good crockery. 🙂

  23. @the mother- “The job of every parent is to raise kids who DON’T NEED YOU” I really don’t mean to be a smartass, but I was under the impression that in free range the job of a parent is to raise ADULTS who don’t need you. It’s ok for your kids to need you sometimes. I know, you did clarify, not right away, but it seems like an important destinction to me. Like in the all powerful walking to the busstop example this site always refers to: what if your 6 year old is not yet ready to walk alone? It’s a goal to work towards, but pushing them into it before they think they’re ready will just make them clingier.

    I don’t agree with this post entirely, I think there should be a couple additions. 1. Don’t pester your kids. If your kid says he wants to make a pinhole camera, you don’t have to ask leading questions unless they ask for help. How about: “That’s a great idea! I can’t wait to see it.” 2. Sometimes, you can be selfish. I think it’s perfectly ok when your child wants to play dolls with you for the millionth time today, to say, “I think I’m going to read for a while. You have fun.” That does not make you uninvolved.

  24. Blast. I meant distinction.

  25. Meagan, I’d also say (and I agree with what you did say) that you don’t want to raise adults who need you so little that they have no interest in you at all. It’s okay to be interested in your kids lives just because they’re your kids and – hey, you like to know them. You talk to your spouse, your coworkers, random strangers on the internet… talking to your kid and spending some time with them != being overinvolved.

  26. I agree with this post. I consider myself to have a free-range style of parenting. However, as a homeschooling family I am with my children almost all the time. There is a huge difference between helicoptering and being supportive. I love attending my children’s games to watch them and support them but I don’t feel guilty if I miss one, not even if I miss one because I just want to sleep in. I love being the one to teach them new things and see that excitement and that “lightbulb moment”. But I also love setting them free with a subject to see what they come up with on their own. It’s all about balance. Support is not a bad thing as long as it is evened out with ample opportunities for them to support themselves.

  27. I have a couple of comments. The first is about the first few comments about homework. Imo, when your child is in elementary school, seeing that his/her homework is completed IS your job. There aren’t many children who will independently sit down and do homework rather than play, and that’s perfectly natural. Children are not good at delaying gratification. It is our job as parents to teach them that at times they must. Now, if you’ve done this for years and your pre-teen kid knows the drill and is determined to go play rather than do homework for one night, fine, let him do it and see what the consequences are. But assuming that homework is the “job” of a second grader and not yours is not responsible parenting. I’m not going to get into whether or not homework is a good thing, but I can tell you that if your child has it and you let him choose not to do it, it will not help his relationship with his teacher, or his educational progress.

    On the difference b/t being involved and too involved (dare I say “enmeshed”) with your child – to me it’s great and necessary to know who their friends are. Helicoptering is when YOU set up all play dates and activities for a child capable of doing it herself. Ditto the difference b/t knowing your child has a project and what it entails, and providing age appropriate help, vs sitting down w/them, going step by step and correcting them if it’s not the way you would do it. Certainly the original writer is correct that good parents are involved with their children, know about their lives, offer support and set basic boundaries. When a parent does that and then gives their child autonomy within those parameters, good outcomes are likely for the child.

  28. @ Karla — I can’t fully agree that making sure my young child gets their homework done IS actually my job as a parent. Kids need to learn that they’re responsible for managing their time. Of course it’s natural that kids will want to play rather than do homework — I think that’s natural for anybody, even adults. But what better age for them to learn the consequences of not effectively managing their time than when their young and the consequences aren’t too dire?…

    Also, the study referenced in the article regarding the involvement of mothers of elementary school concerns me a bit:

    1) Focusing solely on mothers ignores the influence and contributions of fathers or other partners, and rather than marginalize them, I’d like to see this study studying parental “involvement” as opposed to strictly maternal.

    2) Focusing on mothers reinforces the idea that mothers are soley responsible for familial success or failure. Junior didn’t do well in school? Well, where was his mother?!!! I think this attitude invites MORE scrutiny, judgment and one-upmanship.

    3) Success of “involvement/support” being equated with the child’s performance on report cards and standardized tests and the fewer problems they had in school. Of course we all want our children to do well in school, but using scholastic achievement as the barometer seems to feed in to the culture of competition our narrow focus on performing to tests. I’d rather see the results reflect happier children, more confident and well rounded children, fewer mental health issues, etc.

  29. @ Karla — I can’t fully agree that making sure my young child gets their homework done IS actually my job as a parent. Kids need to learn that they’re responsible for managing their time. Of course it’s natural that kids will want to play rather than do homework — I think that’s natural for anybody, even adults. But what better age for them to learn the consequences of not effectively managing their time than when their young and the consequences aren’t too dire?…

    Also, the study referenced in the article regarding the involvement of mothers of elementary school concerns me a bit:

    1) Focusing solely on mothers ignores the influence and contributions of fathers or other partners, and rather than marginalize them, I’d like to see this study studying parental “involvement” as opposed to strictly maternal.

    2) The study reinforces the idea that mothers are responsible for familial success or failure. Junior didn’t do well in school? Well, where was his mother?!!! I think this attitude invites MORE scrutiny, judgment and one-upmanship.

    3) Success of “involvement/support” being equated with the child’s performance on report cards and standardized tests and the fewer problems they had in school. Of course we all want our children to do well in school, but using scholastic achievement as the barometer seems to feed in to the culture of competition our narrow focus on performing to tests. I’d rather see the results reflect happier children, more confident and well rounded children, fewer mental health issues, etc.

  30. Such an interesting back and forth! I’m interested in the comment about raising kids to not need you. Yes and no — yes, we want them to become competent and self-sufficient. And yet, I think we all want to stay connected….and occasional financial and emotional support is part of staying connected, over a very long time. But the kind of support that they want, and that still fosters their autonomy.

    Kathy

  31. @MaeMae: Beautifully put.

  32. @Karla, I have to respectfully disagree and say that I DO think that homework is the “job” of my second grader and not mine. She thinks so too. She gets out of school at 2:15, goes to an after school program, then I pick her up at around 6. She knows perfectly well that she is expected to have her homework done BEFORE we get home at night. By halfway through first grade, I didn’t even ask her every week (she got a packet on Monday, due on Friday). The one time she forgot to do it, and was upset Friday morning, I let her know that she’d just have to talk to her teacher and explain that she had acted irresponsibly and she’d bring it on Monday. Only once, though!

    On the other hand, most weeks she had to do a reading response sheet where she wrote her thoughts on a book she’d read. I DID look at those when I remembered, not because I needed to “check” it or even to be sure it was done, but because it’s interesting to me to see what her independant thoughts are about something she’d read. To me, that is what “involvement” without “helicoptering” means (as far as homework is concerned).

    I’m a single mom, and although I don’t have a lot of time with my daughter on weekdays we do spend a large portion of our “free” time together (non-work, non-school time). I don’t monitor her every move, but I did coach her soccer team. I go places with her, sometimes just the two of us. Sometimes I evenr (*gasp*, how not free-range!) accompany her to her friends’ houses, because I enjoy spending time with their parents. (Works out fine, except she was a little annoyed that I went over there without her while she was on vacation this summer!)

    We have FUN together. I know most of her friends, and their parents, and sometimes I know more about the kids than I need to because she enjoys telling me things. I don’t tell her to practice her guitar every day – it’s not MY job, she’s the one who wants to learn to play and she’ll only improve by practicing. What I DO is ask her occasionally to play me a song. I’m interested in her progress, and want to hear what she enjoys playing, but I’m not managing the process (well, except driving and paying for lessons). She has her freedom…. but she doesn’t use it to shut me out. She called me yesterday to tell me that the first thing she wants to do when she gets home (from the summer at her dad’s, where she likely has little to no freedom to go anywhere without an adult) is walk up to the bakery near our house and buy me breakfast.

    As for it being our job to raise them to be adults who don’t need us: I agree. Mostly. When she turned 7, I joked with my daughter that she doesn’t need me to do anything for her anymore (not true of course, but in the day to day things we were discussing it was accurate). She quite seriously agreed with me, saying “nope. I can pretty much do stuff for myself. Except I still need you for hugs and kisses”. So yes, we still want our kids to need us a *little* bit… we want them to need our love, but not need us to manage their lives. At least that’s what feels right to me!

  33. My school aged children (grades 7 & 4) are responsible for doing their own homework and have been all along.The most I ever have to say about it is, *What’s your homework situation today?* if they need help or have questions, they ask. Other than that it’s on them. No problems.

  34. So glad to hear that kids are simply doing their homework on their own! That’s how I did mine and that’s how my sons did theirs. I was beginning to think we were freaks, so it’s nice to hear that not every parent has to help with homework day in, day out.

  35. I think of parenting as establishing a safe secure base for children from which they venture out with gathering confidence into the wider world. Parents know their children and slowly give them more rope to venture farther over time with reasonable but not perfect safety. With reasonable limits children learn they can return to that safe base as needed, discuss their accomplishment and fears/problems, gather adult advise and perspective go out and try again until they are ready for more rope.Hopefully by late teen parents can let go of a very long rope. So long the child will hardly notice.

  36. @harmil2: very well put.

  37. To me it is sad. This article is actually a remainder of why I came to the website and not in a positive way. I am so sick and tired of the parenting style that constantly requires and asks the parents to constantly support, ask appropriate questions of course the encouraging kind… To me this is not free range parenting and agree with the poster that homework is the kids’ job. I have always been an A student and my parents did not even bother to check my homework. I forgot it occasionally, sometimes on purpose… but now I am earning 6-figures… and did not turn out too bad. Parenting is not supervision, homeschooling, asking only educational or encouraging questions or support choices… Parenting means raising kids that are successful, self-responsible, self confident and happy. It is your job to love them… Honestly, reading this post made me sad. I did not like it one bit. I am not saying the author is wrong. Au contraire. I just think the author posted the basis on which helicopter parenting grew… parents that overanalyze every single step they make in face of their kids. Even if it is asking them what they want to eat. Sigh.

  38. From here, it looks like the people who say that it’s a parent’s job to make sure a child does homework and those who say it isn’t, are saying the same thing.

    Both agree that it’s our job to teach our kids that it’s their responsibility to do it, and to help them learn to be responsible. I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that we don’t expect the child to take any responsibility unless the parent is breathing down his neck. But some are just pointing out that like everything, it’s something you have to teach the child to do, and it’s our job as parents to teach it, and keep an eye on things until the lesson is learned. How else could a seven year old learn to understand responsibility and consequences? We’re raising humans, not wolves.

  39. I Love this Article

  40. @pentamom — “But some are just pointing out that like everything, it’s something you have to teach the child to do, and it’s our job as parents to teach it, and keep an eye on things until the lesson is learned. How else could a seven year old learn to understand responsibility and consequences?”

    Responsibility and consequences are learned when the child goes to school with incomplete homework and deals with what happens. A parent who makes sure that homework gets done is interferring with the natural learning process, not aiding it — they’re buffering their child from the real consequences.

  41. @ Meaghan etc.,
    I don’t think commenters are necessarily talking about “interfering.” Whats being advocated is establishing expectations. At some point, children need to be taught (whether through conversation or example) that education is an important value. There are plenty of children in our school system whose parents do not “interfere” with their children’s homework. They “let them suffer the consequences,” and when that child decides the consequences: a poor grade or scolding, have nothing to do with their real lives, the result is indifference. A parent’s role in school and homework is to help a child understand that it is important, and to give clear expectations.

    Also, time management is a learned behaviour, and it’s not one that every child can pick up through consequences. Parents can help show the skills without getting in the way when a child chooses not to use them.

  42. Yes, Meagan-without-the-h🙂 that’s what I meant. Associating behavior and consequences is to some degree a learned skill, especially when the behavior and the consequences are twelve or more hours apart. We teach them how the behavior affects the consequences, and give them guidance into putting it into practice. THEN we let them mess up. But you don’t just throw a seven year old out there to sink or swim — that’s not what parenting is. Parenting is preparing them to face the water, so to speak.

    To make a comparison, you don’t let a kid stumble around tripping until he “learns the hard way” how to tie his shoe laces, and why it’s important to do so. You teach them. THEN when they don’t do it, it’s their problem.

  43. Thanks to Meagan and pentamon for explaining my position better than I did. I’m a school psychologist and I constantly see the exceptional children who can do things being held up as examples for why ALL kids should be able to do those things. Children develop at different rates and learn in different ways. Some second graders CAN prioritize their time and do homework independently. Others cannot. It is our job as parents to know our own children and what they need. It may be different from what others’ children need. And as someone who has taught and observed child development for a number of years, there are plenty of kids who need more direct supervision. “Allowing” them to choose whether or not to participate in school (by doing homework, behaving in class, etc.) results in their opting early and before they can make an informed choice.
    Some of the saddest and most frustrating words I’ve heard from parents of young children are “But that’s the job of the school”. Well, since when are you also not responsible for your child learning what it takes to do well in school?

  44. Hello,

    I am a graduate student and I have heard from professors that in the last two years more parents have called the school then every before. In fact, the school states this is a new phenomenon with “helicopter parents”. When they received their first call in 60 years from a parent 2 years ago they didn’t know what to do. I agree it has gotten two far when a parent is calling graduate school to speak for their 24 year old “child”. I have seen the first hand the trouble this has caused for the students in my graduate program. Most of them know how to do very little on their own. I on the other hand had grown up a little too “free range” if you ask me, but at least I know how to do things for myself. Just remember their is a balance that is often hard to find.

  45. I find it interesting that someone condones over involved parenting as a means to an end of achieving better grades on standardized tests! Your children are wasting approximately 12 years of their formative years to be taught what could be learned in 6 without standardized school. To be involved does not mean you need to be overbearing. If you actually have any faith in your children, you will understand that they can and will guide their own education and success. Most of them are more inquisitive and intelligent than those that bore them, even by the age of 10. Helicopter parenting is simply parental insecurity. The need to relive their own childhood through the regimented regulation of their children’s lives in the hopes that they will over achieve even their success levels. It is a sad sad cycle that education is in, in this country. Listen to your children, give them space, give them freedom, they will excel more than you can imagine if they feel that their voice matters. Free Range children yes, but Free Range Education can take you even further.

    You parents will be taught by your children, are you ready to absorb it?

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