Thursday, May 28, 2015

Balancing the Helicopter vs Free Range Mom Type

Have you ever been to the park and noticed the two ladies sitting on a bench chatting and not paying any attention to their kids? These moms drive me crazy.  They are in a deep conversation about what their husband did (or didn't do) last week and can't be bothered to stop their kids from throwing rocks.

We had an incident a few weeks ago where two ladies were doing just that and their kids were off hauling large rocks from the park landscaping around and throwing them on the grass. Throwing rocks looks like fun and guess whose kids wanted to join in?  MINE.  I'm sorry, but we are not throwing rocks around at the park.  It's not appropriate behavior for one and two, mine will drop a rock on their foot and then we'll have a new problem.  I had a hell of a time convincing my kids to not follow along in the rock throwing behavior.  We actually ended up leaving shortly after this incident because Evan got pissed he couldn't join in the rock throwing and threw a fit.  You throw a fit, won't listen to mom and act crazy at the park and we leave. I have a low tolerance for acting crazy in public...

I'm sure you have also seen the ladies who are terrified of everything their kids do. They are constantly saying 'be careful, watch your fingers, look where you are going, take your time, you're too little for that, let me help you etc.'  They drive me crazy too.  I think kids need to learn, play and explore.  They may fall down and get hurt, but isn't that how they learn?  When we spend time with my in-laws this is my number one complaint.  They are constantly worried about what the kids are doing that may hurt them.  Meanwhile, I'm watching them and have zero concern over their behavior.  Kids play rough.  They fall.  They get scratches.  To me, that's part of being a kid.

I like to play and interact with my kids when we are out.  Even if I am with someone, I cannot shut out what my kids are doing and focus on having an adult conversation.  My kids are wild and need my attention.  Evan is in a weird bullying state where he will run and play with older kids, but any younger kids he will try to block from climbing equipment.  I'm not going to just sit back and let our kids do whatever they want.  There are rules to follow and a certain standard of behavior I want them to learn to follow.  I don't want to be too involved though.  I want them to run and play independently.  I want them to explore the world without me hovering over them constantly.

When we are out I tend to try to stick close to them, but then I tell myself not to hover.  However, I can't get too far from them because they are 2 and need me to watch them.  I guess we lean more toward the free range parenting idea, but I am not about to let them walk to the grocery store by themselves so I have a little helicopter in me.  Does anyone else find this a struggle?

This has been on my mind as we are spending a lot of time at parks lately.  Last week they played with a 3.5 year old for almost 45 minutes at the park.  The three of them ran around and played games together.  It was a beautiful thing.  I did something I have never done before at the park, I sat on a bench! I sat next to the little boy's mom and we chatted while the kids ran and played.  It felt incredibly wrong to just sit there, but incredibly liberating at the same time.  I guess I am struggling with where my parental involvement should be at this age.  They obviously need me, but they are growing more independent and want to run and play on their own.  I guess I'll keep flip flopping between the two extremes for the time being.


S said...

Like you, I try to strike a balance between allowing my sons too much freedom/too little supervision and hovering over them to the point of stifling them. I agree with you that they need *some* freedom to explore their world in order to learn and grow.

It can be a fine line at times. And two is a difficult age. I have found this balance easier to navigate the older my sons have gotten (they turned 3 in January).

Jen said...

Totally agree with everything here! I don't have much to nailed it. I must say though, I really don't love the park. Maybe b/c watching 3 of them is a lot...I dunno. Not my favorite thing. At least it's warm enough we can go there most days though :)

Anonymous said...

I guess don't worry too much about labeling yourself and reading blog posts about parenting styles ;) It sounds like you have common sense! I want the kids to *FEEL* independent while I am still watching and protecting them. It means I try to maintain an image of being calm while watching them climb rocks and do stupid things, but my hands are never holding anything else so they are always ready and I am always judging my distance by how dangerous their activity is and I rely on my mommy-reflexes to catch them in time when it's really dangerous (which actually works though it hasn't happened very often, they are very capable). With two, I have a hard time carrying on a real conversation at the playground, for example. But one day I'll be able to take more of a step back.