Extreme Helicopter Rides with Free Range Tigers
Parenting, Helicopter Parenting, Free Range Parenting, Slow Parenting, Attachment Parenting... Hot damn. That is one hell of a lot of parenting methodologies to choose from - and it's a handful soley comprised of the techniques I'm familiar with! I'd be willing to bet there are eleventeen more that are as ubiquitous, though perhaps not so much parenting methods as they are styles. And with unfortunate nomenclature, to boot (such as Neurotic Parenting, Oblivious Parenting, Overwhelmed Parenting, Lethargic Parenting, and such...) I have yet to locate those on Wikipedia, but I'm hearing that the online dictionary editors are a bit backed up these days, what with the new Jersey Shore lingo popping up every week. (Can I get a fist pump?)
An apology in advance: This post is a bit... boring, I'll admit. But it covers a topic that's received press recently and that I find interesting. So... OK, I think we're done there. You've received fair warning. (Aren't I great at marketing myself?)
Here are abridged definitions of these parenting methods, in no particular order...
e x t r e m e p a r e n t i n g
"You know you're an extreme parent when you convince yourself that what your child achieves or fails to achieve is solely the result of what you've done or failed to do," says Ayelet Waldman, author of parenting memoir "Bad Mother" and critic of fellow author Amy Chua's extreme parenting style written about in "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Chua's recently published book is an observation, of sorts, of the differences between Eastern ("extreme") and Western (more lax, as per Chua) parenting styles.
h e l i c o p t e r p a r e n t i n g
h e l i c o p t e r p a r e n t i n g
Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. (Wikipedia)
f r e e r a n g e p a r e n t i n g
|If Lila's 3-year-old self is any hint as to what's to come in her late teen years, she'll be flying her own helicopter to a liberal attire school to study Sand Castle Architecture, with a possible minor in Fairy Wrangling.|
Free-range parenting is the backlash to helicopter parenting. Free-range parents believe that children learn best when they are allowed to make mistakes, spend time alone, and have fewer social commitments. Its most famous "member" is Lenore Skenazy (and author of "Free Range Kids"), who made headlines when she sent her 9-year-old son off alone on the New York subway.
s l o w p a r e n t i n g
|The four seconds it took me to snap this out-of-focus picture while worrying the monkeys would get swept away by a killer wave perhaps proves that I am a Free Range Chicken.|
Slow parenting is a parenting style in which few activities are organized for children. Instead, they are allowed to explore the world at their own pace. It is a response to concerted cultivation and the widespread trend for parents to schedule activities and classes after school; to solve problems on behalf of the children, and to buy services from commercial suppliers rather than letting nature take its course. The philosophy, part of the Slow Movement, makes recommendations in play, toys, access to nature, watching television, and scheduled activities. The opposing view is that such children are disadvantaged because their parents do not provide as many learning opportunities. (Wikipedia)Here's a parenting philosophy based on the concept of allowing the child to 'separate' from the parent at its own pace. The term was coined by Dr Sears to cover what is, in effect, an age-old way of gently raising children.
a t t a c h m e n t p a r e n t i n g
|I do dig time away from schedules...|
|"Sometimes I like time to my own self. So I can think, and read, and dream." ~ Lila, 1/24/11|
I've got a ways to go before I have to encounter some of these scenarios, such as that of "Practice makes perfect" and "The dog ate my homework." And I know that the age of free range children taking long, solitary walks along the frothy shoreline cannot be only three years. (Can it?) But regardless, though they're only preschoolers now, I do think about not just how I've spent the past three years parenting my monkeys, but how I imagine I will guide them in the years to come... It's exciting just as much as it is confusing and frightening.
If my initial dive into the waters of parenting can give me any clue as to what parenting technique I will adhere to, I choose to go the granola route and coin Organic Parenting (unless that's already been taken). We're letting things happen as they come... Like many other families I know, we're figuring out what's best for our family and for Lila and AJ (both individually, and as a team) one day at a time. That said, I'm actually inspired by little snippets of each of the aforementioned methods, so maybe I prefer something more along the lines of Buffet Parenting. Because I do agree that practice makes perfect and that being strict definitely has its place, but I also believe that children need freedom to grow into their own cool, individual selves. I think studying and grades are important, just as much as unscheduled weekends and last-minute trips to the beach. I will never, ever refuse my kids a hug or a snuggle, and recently I've let the snuggles of one particular little boy last from his 1am pitter-patter into our bedroom all the way through sunrise. But I agree with Lila, too. Alone time is great for dreaming...
While I am not, myself, a firm believer in all facets of Eastern "extreme" parenting like Chua, neither am I convinced there are only benefits to being a free range parent, like Ms. Skenazy. But it doesn't matter what I believe. Or at least it shouldn't matter to anyone but my own family. At the risk of sounding like Granola Organic Buffet Parent, why not embrace the myriad tactics that may work for our own families, and let everyone else do the same for theirs? I've seen so much criticism out there of others' styles of parenting, it's simply poor form. Maybe, as parents, we all need a little alone time to practice making sand castles and to perfect our skills of beating up the beat...
And on that Jersey Shore note, here are just a few more pics from a recent sandy day:
The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard ~ Sloan Wilson