Hi Readers — Kwasi Enin, a Long Island, NY, high school senior who got into all the Ivies credits his “helicopter parents” for pushing him to excel. So does this mean that helicopter = success and, possibly, Free-Range = failure? Of course I don’t think so. Here’s why.
1 - First is the fact that success can be defined many, many ways, of which “Ivy League acceptance” is just one. But you knew that.
2 – We have no idea where the Free-Range kids are going to college. And even if they all got into Ivies, see #1.
3 – Free-Rangers DO believe in helping our kids to succeed. The way we do it is by loving them (as I’m sure Kwasi’s parents do) and letting them know that we believe in them. (Ditto.) It’s just that we believe in them — and basic human nature — so much that we believe they can do many things safely and successfully on their own.
We are still happy to help, and often do, but we don’t think our kids need us to schedule every second, handle every issue, or make every moment “teachable.” We believe in our kids to the point where even when it looks like “all” they’re doing is playing outside, walking to school, or pursuing some hobby that we didn’t choose for them, they are still learning. Note: This may or may not result in higher grades.
We have nothing against helicopter parents, and most likely we are all some mixture of both. I know I am — in part because “Free-Range” isn’t a parenting philosophy so much as a world view: We do not believe our kids are in constant danger, so there’s no need to act as if they are. (Or make laws as if they are.)
All of us want the best for our kids and all believe they can do great things. Free-Rangers may stand back a little more than Kwasi’s parents. But we share the belief that our kids should be grateful, engaged, and kind. And that they’ve all got the goods to be “successful” — however you define it. - L