Free (Range) to Be You and Me
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"How much is too much?" It's a question everyone grapples with from time to time - and it affects nearly every segment of our lives - from spending to saving, clothing, self-expression, real estate, easter candy consumption...the list could continue on and on. But where do we draw the line on things like parental supervision?

Lenore Skenazy, a blogger/writer, has a very interesting blog that monitors this very topic. Ever since I got my first opportunity to babysit my niece and nephew overnight, I have been thinking alot about children. I don't involve myself in the mommy wars online because I don't have kids, therefore, my input is not only irrelevant, but also unappreciated. But spending uninterrupted time with them has me thinking about my own skills and values as a parent - even if it's just a temporary parent.

Spending real-life time with my sister's children forces certain issues to the front of my mind. Raising a child must be an unending series of difficult questions and paralyzing decisions. There is SO MUCH judgment in the world - parents are simultaneously canonized and vilified for every decision they make, and if they choose to live any part of their lives online, the risks of pissing people off is even greater.

I appreciate Lenore's take on childrearing very much - I grew up in a reasonably restrictive, but fun, environment - and while I don't share her more extreme values/choices, I can absolutely see the logic behind them. As a parent, I can only imagine one might be torn between raising a child the safest way possible and raising a child the way we were raised. You know, back when the school bus didn't have seatbelts, and an evening game of hide-and-go-seek with the kids in the neighborhood was perfectly alright. After all, everyone has a different and valid definition of what is "normal."

There are parts of life that are not fun and games. I'm sure all loving parents wants the opportunity to make their child(ren) happy and balanced - to avoid the things that we all find so unpleasant about "real life." On the other hand, there's something to be said for giving a child the room to do things we all try so intently to avoid: flunking an exam, hurting someone's feelings, saying the wrong thing, getting lost while driving somewhere, making mistakes, etc. There are things I have learned about real life the hard way - by experiencing them! I am a more complete person because of this.

I *absolutely* understand why parents would tend towards helicoptering (I literally lost the breath in my chest a little when my sister said my niece would be coming home on a school bus. She is only 5, after all. Every maternal instinct in my body flew up into my throat), but smothering a child under the guise of "protecting them?" That argument simply doesn't hold water. At least, not in my world.

If you were raised by a parent who was able to let you do your own thing, you might find the following articles interesting.

Raw Cookie Dough: Death on a Spoon?

Walking to Soccer Unattended Ends in 911 Call

Stunted by Safety?

I know this is a much-debated issue online (and in real life), so have at it in the comments if you want - but play nice, kiddies. Or I'll get all helicopter on your asses and pull the comments in order to reinforce a fake but harmonious existence in which everything is sunshine and daisies, and where no one ever disagrees.