Confessions from a helicopter parent

As you may already know, I am pretty much a helicopter parent. There are a number of reasons for this, including that I had overprotective parents and that I am the parent of only one child. I am really trying to be less insane about my hovering, and reading the Free-Range Kids blog has helped. However, I have to comment, in true helicopter parenting style, on one of their/its recent blog posts.

The abridged version of this post is that a free-range mom (FRM) wanted her 9 year old kid to walk home alone from his friend's house two blocks away, something the kid wanted to do as well. The helicopter mom (HM), however, refused to let said boy do so, and had a woman who was visiting her home (a woman FRM knew) drive FRM's kid home. FRM wants to know what to do/say next time as HM disregarded her wishes.

Here are my thoughts, some of which I included in a comment on the FRK's site:

We are free to raise our kids as we wish. The FRM can tell HM that she wants her kid to walk home alone, but if HM does not feel comfortable, then the FRM should just let it go or end the friendship; I just don’t think she will change the HM’s mind (no one has changed my mind). I would, however, say something to the HM about my kid getting a in car with someone else without my prior knowledge, even if I knew that person (I want to know where my kid is and who she is with). If it is that important for HM not to let the kid walk home alone, then HM should walk or drive the kid herself (preferably walk since it is only two blocks). The onus should not fall on FR, though I don't think it did.

There had been some break-ins in that neighborhood, so I can understand HM's concern, even though those things happened at night. Right here in the Burgh we have had a rash of child luring attempts. Knowing that, I would be less likely to let a kid walk alone, perhaps even if I were a FRM. But, to be fair, no child has been kidnapped, so that probably makes me overly cautious.

Years ago, a boy who lived four houses away, then about 3, would bebop over to our house and ask to play with Jordan. His mom and I had never met, and I was, quite frankly, outraged that she just let her young kid hang out with a stranger. For all she knew, we could have been child abusers or worse. But Brian and I were 100 percent convinced if her kid had gotten hurt while he was at our house, his mom would have been on the phone to a lawyer before we could even explain what had happened. This is what our society has become, and maybe that is part of HM's thinking (I realize our situations are different, but many have a fear of being sued regardless). She may have had other good reasons, or maybe she is just really overprotective.

This weekend I let Jordan hang out at my cousin’s house with her kids, even though I knew my cousin would let them play outside unattended, which I never do. I went with this arrangement because, unfortunately, my mom has been in the hospital (I will save that blog post for another day, but let me tell you I am stressed out beyond belief about this, although I now weigh the least I have weighed since 1994, so there is that),

In the end, Jordan was fine, as I was pretty sure she would be. She was with four to six other kids, so she certainly was not going to be abducted, and if she had gotten hurt, surely one of them would get a parent right away. I may not be ready to let J play outside alone for more than a few minutes, but I am taking baby steps.

I know I can't hover over my kid every minute she is not at school, but I still say, I would rather be safe than sorry, and err on the side of being too cautious. Plus, as has been well-established on this blog, I am not about making waves. I tend to keep my mouth shut and let others do as they please (while often having to listen to others criticize the choices I make). Perhaps I need to change that too...

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