“Wish I’d Been Raised More Free-Range”

Hi Readers — Just got this note from a gal named Heather. You know I don’t dwell on, or even endorse, the idea that kids who have been overprotected  will turn out badly, because, first of all, that would mean that parents are solely responsible for how their kids turn out — a notion I don’t subscribe to. Secondly,  I really do believe that, in the end, most everyone turns out okay, so long as their parents loved and fed them.

BUT helicoptered kids do miss out on a lot of childhood, and they may have to overcome some hurdles that Free-Range Kid don’t, as this letter illustrates. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’ve been following Free-Range Parenting since Lenore appeared on the Today Show. I was already a Free-Range parent at that point, but didn’t have the verbage to describe my philosophy.

I grew up with helicopter parents, to some degree. They didn’t get as involved with teachers/grades, but they certainly restricted my independence. I remember with irony, having to drive home on the freeway as an 18-year-old to go to my father’s funeral. It was my first time driving on the freeway because I had never been allowed to do so by my parents.

I’m sure my experience was unique in that my dad died when I was 18. But, I remember feeling completely unprepared to be an adult and having no one to turn to once he was gone. I also have vivid memories of my mom telling me never to talk to strangers. Strangers were BAD!!

After my dad’s death, I struggled for two years. With therapy, things have turned out okay, but I certainly struggled with low self-esteem and anxiety. I have taken the opposite approach with my 10-year-old son. He started walking home from school alone in second grade. He’s an amazing kid with lots of independence. I enjoy watching him thrive as a Free-Range Kid! — Heather

The road to independence, for one helicoptered kid.