Free Range Parenting in a Helicopter World |

Free Range Parenting in a Helicopter World

admin June 24, 2014

Not long ago, I took my four kids to a local science museum.

Our usual haunt is the “Little Kidspace” there (although my oldest will age out in just a few months…already?!). It’s essentially sealed — they don’t let kids out the doors without their adult — and there’s lots and lots of stuff to explore and do for kids from infant through kindergarten.  There’s a small, enclosed, soft area for babies to lay or crawl, plus other soft spots with infant toys.  There’s a big toy barn with animals, “hay bales,” bells, and more.  There’s a farm area, with lots of wooden fruit and vegetables.  There’s a wooden house structure, with an elaborate toy kitchen, a deck, and working lights.  There’s a climbing wall.  There’s a bunch of tools and hard foam bricks and rocks.  There’s a water area.  There’s art.  There are books.  There are trains.  There are pretend trucks, airplanes, doctor’s offices, and more.

Anyway, it’s really cool and if I could recreate something that awesome in my house, I think I would.  Instead, we have a membership so we can go there as often as we like.

This last time we went, I was suddenly so aware of all the people hovering over their children.  Granted, most of the children are fairly small, between 1 and 4 years of age.  But it’s a safe space, that’s designed exactly for children.  There’s really nothing there that they can’t touch or that would be dangerous for them.  Even so, I saw many, many parents — I’d venture to say most — trailing a foot or two behind their children, sometimes encouraging them to play a certain way or move on to a different area (not because they were frustrated or “needed” to — it was just parent-directed play).

I’m not one to judge another parent’s style.  If they feel they need to stay that close to their kid, then cool.  It was just kind of weird that almost everyone was doing it.  How many were doing it because they personally wanted to…and how many were doing it because everyone else was doing it?  Because the latter is not so cool.

It really made me very aware of my own personal choices and goals in parenting, and how odd, and occasionally difficult, it is to raise free-range kids in a helicopter world.

Daniel at COSI

Giving Kids the Freedom to Try

Towards the end of the afternoon, I took the kids to the big climbing structure in the middle of the room and encouraged them to climb and run.  I sat on a stool about ten feet away, watching them.

For whatever reason, my 15-month-old thought a great game was to climb to the main level of the structure, then slide partway down the (soft) stairs, and then jump off.  He was maybe a foot off the ground when he jumped.  The first time I saw him do it, it looked like he had tripped and I waited, tense, to see what he would do.  But he laughed, and began to climb again.

I thought it was rather silly, but he was safe enough and seemed to be enjoying the activity.  He was jumping off something padded, onto something else padded.  It wouldn’t have been my choice, personally, but — I guess I’m not a one-year-old.

About the third time he was ready to jump (still looked like he was tripping) a mom who was next to him and her own child reached out to steady him.  She made eye contact with me.  I smiled and said, “For some reason he thinks it’s a game!”  I don’t blame her for reaching out — all she saw was a small child who looked like he was going to fall and no parent next to him.  But I wanted to gently let her know he was okay.

I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I’d seen a small child about to fall.  I very likely would have.  This is not about the other mom, who was only trying to help.  (And who left him alone once she realized I was watching.)  It’s about how, and why, we need to let kids have the freedom to try.

Nathan learned about his body and what he can handle by practicing that jump in a safe space.  He hadn’t been a very agile infant, at least compared to his older brothers, but that’s improved quite a bit in the last month, at least partially because we back off and let him try.  He can’t learn to navigate safely unless he explores what his own body can do.

Nathan at COSI

My Goals in a Safe Space VS. Helicoptering

As I sat and watched the other children play, and their parents follow them closely, I thought long and hard about what my goals for my children really were in this space.  It was a safe space, with no real danger (given that it was designed specifically for kids their age).  There was no worry about them bolting, or getting into something that may hurt them.  All I had to do was keep them from running into the bathroom without me (well — just the littlest — all the others are potty trained) and make sure they didn’t hurt others.

I realized that my goals generally were:

  • Allow them the freedom to physically explore what their bodies could do (gross and fine motor skills)
  • Allow them to interact freely with the other children, and learn to problem solve on their own (barring people actually getting hurt)
  • Allow them to be creative with the materials available to them

It’s actually really, really important to me to allow them to explore freely in that safe space.  It isn’t that I feel lazy or want a parenting break.  I didn’t have my phone in hand and I wasn’t chatting with someone else.  I was watching them, closely and constantly.  But I was sitting back, and letting them go.  They needed to know that I was there — generally within 10 feet of them (at least the smaller ones) — and that they could come back to me for a hug or a chat at any time.  But they needed that freedom.

It might have looked to others like I was being lazy.  It might have even looked like no one was supervising this 1-year-old who was careening around the room with a lightweight bicycle, learning how to steer and redirect it on his own.  I was watching him, though, from my perch — ready to get involved if he should start heading straight for someone else (which he did a couple of times, and at which point I helped him safely redirect the bike).

I was ready to help negotiate, too, in case a situation didn’t go well and they needed help.

My almost 5-year-old ran into just such a situation when another little boy around his age came over to where he was playing and started taking the (foam) bricks he’d been using to build and throwing them at him.  That boy’s parents did not see this.  At first, my son said “Hey!  Quit that!”  This little boy did not stop, so my son said, “I’m gonna hit him!”

That’s the point where I stepped in.  Here’s what happened next:

  • Me: “No, you can’t hit him.  Use your words.”
  • Him: “Please stop throwing the bricks at me.”  (the boy continued)
  • Me: “Why don’t you ask him to help you build with the bricks instead?”
  • Him: “Hey, would you come over here and build with me?  Yeah, right here.”

The little boy immediately stopped throwing the bricks and they began to build together.  I didn’t intervene to stop the little boy from “hurting my precious snowflake” (please, all kids can be obnoxious sometimes).  I didn’t address the boy myself.  I didn’t try to find his parents.  I gave my son the words to use to navigate the situation in a respectful manner.

As soon as the situation was settled, I stepped back again, to observe them only.

It’s not that I don’t play with them.  If they come to me and invite me to play, I’ll play.  I let them initiate this.  A little girl I didn’t know actually showed me a pear she had and began to talk to me about it.  I asked her what she wanted to do with it.  She told me she wanted me to take it and told me where it should go.  I agreed and said I would put it in the right place for her.  And I did.  (Her mom came over to her a minute later and kind of gave me a weird look.  I’m sure she didn’t know what a stranger was doing talking to her child.  My kids talk to strangers all the time, though.  I encourage it, so long as I’m watching.)

Bekah at COSI

Confidence Needed

Sometimes, I feel the pressure to “conform.”  I feel like I should really be helicoptering, lest anyone accuse me of neglecting my children since I am not one foot behind them at all times.

I’m learning to ignore that, though.  I’m learning to trust my instincts on what my children need.  I’m learning to make decisions about when to intervene based on what feels truly right to me, in my gut.  And to ignore what the other parents are doing, or what they might be thinking.

If they see my child running around with no parent nearby, I might call to the child: “Are you having fun, Jacob?  What are you building?”  Or I might smile in their direction, or possibly even say “Look how silly little ones are sometimes!”  It lets them know, gently, that I’m watching.  But I don’t get up or interfere.  I still sit and watch.

We should all have the confidence to parent the way we believe we should, no matter what those around us are doing.  We should follow our instincts, and do what we know our children need.

I don’t feel comfortable letting my 1-year-old get much more than 20 feet away from me — and he must be in my sight at all times.  I need to be able to get to him quickly, should he get hurt, or should he interfere with another person.

In contrast, in a safe space, I let my 6-year-old pretty much go wherever.  I make sure she knows where I am so that she can find me if needed.  It doesn’t matter to me if I don’t see her for 15 or 20 minutes at a time.  Now, in a less-safe space, I prefer to check in with her every couple of minutes, at least visually.  It’s all about what I feel she can handle, based on how she’s doing that day and the space we’re in.

Ultimately, though, if I want to be a good parent, I can’t bend to the will of others.  My goal is to raise my children to be confident adults.  In doing so, I need to give them more and more freedom to explore the world — at age and maturity appropriate levels.  They need new challenges, new activities, new places to explore.  They need to do so when I’m sitting 10 or 50 or 100 feet away, ready to save them if something goes wrong.  I want them to know I’m there — but I’m not too close.  I’m not preventing exploration, but I will prevent them from hurting themselves or others.

I just about lost it when my daughter rode our big wheel to the edge of our cul-de-sac and sat there on it for a minute.  Not because any part of this activity would normally be dangerous, but because in this particular case, there was a car parked on the side of the cul-de-sac, right next to where she sat.  And our cul-de-sac is right after a sharp curve, so cars can fly around there and turn into the cul-de-sac quickly.  I was expecting my husband home soon and I was fairly certain he, or any other driver, would not see her on that low-riding big wheel beyond the parked car.  That was real danger, and I made sure she knew not to sit on the bike there again.  She decided to ride on the sidewalk instead, which was perfectly fine.

That’s why I’m there.  I’m there to know when the danger is real and to stop them.  I’m there in case an experiment that should have been okay goes wrong.  I’m there in case they want to talk.  I’m there to reign them in when they must be reigned in.  I’m there to make the world a safe place for them to explore.  I’m not there to prevent them from growing.

Jacob at COSI

Free Range Parenting

I don’t think that true “free range” parenting is for everyone.  After all, not all children are ready to handle a lot of freedom.  Every child has a different maturity level, different strengths, and weaknesses.  Only that child’s parents know for sure what s/he can handle.

I wish that we all respected and understood better what “free range” parenting is really about, though.  It’s not about ignoring your kids or being lazy.  It’s about careful, calculated risks.  It’s about teaching them, in the context of a loving home and relationship, how to navigate the world around them. It’s about practicing those skills that they will someday need when they are grown.

If I can let my kids know I always love them (and so does Jesus), and I can help them feel confident in themselves when they reach adulthood, and I do nothing else, I will have done my job.

Free Range Parenting in a Helicopter World

Do you free-range parent in a helicopter world?  Or do you feel the pressure of the “parenting competition” in another way?


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  1. Thanks for a good parenting reminder. This is also my goal but living in a big city with small children and lots of other people, I often get off track. With my 3 year old I am most attentive to watch interactions with other kids. There is a lot of hitting and biting in our neighborhood and I like to be close by to step in when needed. On the other hand I like for her to be able to run and jump and climb all she can (within reason) and push her own limits as her capabilities grow.
    Thanks again for the reminder.


  2. I find the hardest thing is not stepping in when I hear other kids saying rude or snotty or unkind things. I want her to know that it is not how we speak to friends. How do you handle this type of situation. She is only 3 and is trying out many of the things she sees or hears.


    • Hi Susannah,

      We talk a lot about “others make different choices than we do.” It might be in what they say, how they dress, the freedoms they do/don’t have, what they eat, etc. We talk about how they have the right to make their own choices, but that *we* do (or do not) do those things because we believe differently.


      • I agree with that approach, Katie. Sometimes when another child is unkind, I remind my daughter that sometimes she makes poor choices too and that it’s best to just choose to play elsewhere until the other child is ready to make better choices or find someone else to play with. Kids seem to grasp the concept of “choice” pretty well.


      • Hi Katie,

        I really like your wording on how you talk to your children about how others make different choices. We say similar things to our children also and they understand.

        I want to say that I enjoy your articles and find them both encouraging and helpful.


  3. I had some friends who “free-range” parent. I say had because we had to cut off ties with them. Sure, all kids can be obnoxious, but kids whose parents are ten feet away or not checking in with their six year olds for 15 to 20 minutes miss plenty of their kids’ obnoxious moments (probably most of their obnoxious moments as kids act out when not being watched – think about the halls, bathrooms, and lunchroom in Jr. High). It’s tough to hear what you child is saying to others when you don’t see him or her for 15 or 20 minutes. The environment may be generally safe from accidents or predators, but kids can bully other kids or annoy adults when parents aren’t fully attentive. Your kids may be really nice and wouldn’t bully or be annoying, but my friend thought her kids were great too. Her kids took toys and threw them, took my son’s shoes and threw them (and laughed), etc. Her free-range parenting style enabled their poor behavior. Unfortunately, other moms who weren’t on their “perch” were put in the uncomfortable position of either telling her that the kids were being obnoxious or dealing with our children’s hurt feelings. I felt really bad for her kids because they kept losing friends – no one wanted to hang out with the family because of the kids’ behavior. They cycled through friendships every three or four months. I guess I am wondering how you balance not hovering vs. being aware and not raising obnoxious kids? I also wonder about your philosophy of encouraging your kids to talk with strangers. Why do you encourage it? What do you do about strangers who would rather not talk with your kids, especially if you don’t see to whom your kids are talking for 15-20 minutes? It’s great that you are making a conscious decision to parent permissively and you’re cool with people thinking differently than you. I don’t think hovering is the answer (although closely following around a 15 month old seems correct- not hovering- to me, and having the six year old in my sight at all times does as well), but knowing when my kids are obnoxious is my job as a parent. They can’t grow to be confident adults able to navigate the world if I don’t help them navigate it when they are little. That’s my job as a parent. I feel sitting on a perch and letting them make mistakes with other people’s feelings (kids and adults alike) is slacking on my job. What are your thoughts?


    • Hi Elena,

      I think that this really comes down to knowing your kid, as well as the difference between “free-range/positive parenting” and “permissive parenting” (sounds like your friends were the latter).

      With positive parenting, and my version of free-range, the kids are only allowed to have the freedom that they can handle. They are watched and taught how not to interfere with other people or their property, and they are corrected if they do. No excuses are made for their bad behavior and it isn’t ignored, either. It’s addressed quickly and natural consequences, if needed, are applied. Permissive parenting, in contrast, is more like “Eh, they’ll work it out” and just letting the kids do whatever they want. No attempt at teaching boundaries.

      As far as knowing my kids, I know that my 6 YO can handle wandering and playing on her own. I know that she’s unlikely to actually engage with others when she’s playing because she prefers to do her own thing. It hasn’t happened even once that I’ve found her fighting with another kid (who was not her sibling) or had her brought to me because she was upsetting others. She typically ignores adults too when she’s not right with me, unless she needs help. I know this about her, so I feel comfortable letting her roam in a safe space.

      In contrast, my almost 5 YO is usually sweet but can get overwhelmed and could hurt someone, especially if they were in his space. I know this, too, so I tend to keep a much closer eye on him. He has less freedom than his older sister did at his age, but he’s a different kid. It’s my job to know what they can handle and what they can’t, and give them an appropriate amount of freedom.

      Mostly, it sounds like your friend was missing the mark. She wasn’t aware of how her kids’ behavior was affecting those around them (she might not even be aware of how her OWN behavior was affecting others!) and therefore wasn’t addressing it or allowing only appropriate freedoms. I obviously don’t know her or her kids, but if she’s really losing friends often because her kids are hurting others, then…there’s a problem. (This has never happened to us. Even when my oldest son was going through a very rough phase around age 3, I knew it, and I was keeping a close eye on him, ready to stop him at any minute or even leave if needed. Since I was watching and addressing it, nobody seemed upset and nobody stopped hanging out with us.)

      As for talking to strangers, when I’m around, I do encourage them to. I don’t want them to fear strangers. Most people are very nice and sometimes can even help them (i.e. if we got separated in a crowd, they should know how to find a safe adult to ask for help). Although strangers *could* be bad, I think that’s a tiny percentage. Most of the time, we need to know how to politely address strangers, either professionally (grocery store, bank, etc.) or to make new friends. If the person they are talking to seems uncomfortable I will direct them away. They have started to pick up on the cues though — like if the person says ‘hi’ back and then asks a follow-up question, they probably want to talk (or at least are okay with it). If they kind of say ‘hi’ and turn away then that’s usually the end of the interaction. The vast majority of the time they talk to strangers is when we are grocery shopping, so I’m right there with them, able to guide them if needed.

      I don’t think we are that different, honestly. I might be a bit more hands-off but I’m cautious about situations and I know what my children can handle and I let that guide what I allow or don’t allow. I’m guessing you’re the same, even if what you ultimately choose is different.


      • Thanks Kate!

        I am processing your thoughts. My thought is too always err on the side of being conscious of others’ needs ( in public) before my kids’ or my needs. I want to raise good and conscious citizens who are aware of the multiple perspectives in the world.

        I also want to always err on the side of caution in relation to safety. I only get one chance with each of my children to be the best mom I can be and keep them safe. If being the best I can be and keeping them safe means I actively parent (helicopter in your vernacular) 24/7 then so be it! I chose to be a mom (of many) and am perfectly willing to devote all my time, if that is what is best for them, to playing, watching, following, etc. Such a small price to pay ( is it really a price or a pay -off?) for the safety of the children I wanted so much! Your “free-range” perspective is interesting!


    • Following a 15 month around everywhere in a relatively safe zone IS hovering….thats what shes trying to say, they should be able to roam around in one area designed for kids without you following 2-3 steps behind. If your kid throws things or hurts someone else then you can intervene but too many people now are helicopter parents and dont even realize it. My 7 year old walks to school on his own…some parents here think thats atrocious, some let their kids walk to school at that age too and think its good…not saying either parenting style is wrong…and i try to never judge another parent but i know kids gain alot more confidence when they are not hovered over all the time.


  4. I struggle with this because when my children were very young I had DHS involvement do to an addiction. I worked hard to get DHS out of my life but apparently their policy is no tolerance if you’ve had past involvement. So instead of getting the benefit of the doubt that other parents supposedly get, if someone calls DHS on me, I’m automatically guilty. I apparently have some PTSD over DHS because I have a near panic attack if nicely dressed strangers show up at my door. I have 7 years clean now and I’m not doing anything wrong, but I’m scared everytime I leave my perfectly capable 11 yo home alone to finish a chore he neglected while I run to the library (2 minutes away) to pick up holds. Even though I verified with the local PD that he is LEGALLY old enough to be home alone. It is very frustrating to live in constant fear like that. I am spending a lot of time in prayer over this and trying to trust God that if I do what I know is right he will protect my kids, but it’s incredibly hard. I’m reading Free Range Kids right now!


    • Emilie I want to say congratulations for how long you have been cleaned as you call it. l can understand where you are coming from. I also had DHS called on me because one morning when I got off work, I came home to my then two and a half year old very lethargic. We rushed her to the e.r. and she was kept in the hospital for monitoring. DHS was called because of some chemicals in her blood work. Come to find out, while my fiance (her father) had her at his cousins house, she was left unsupervised with children just a bit older than she was. She went into his cousins suitcase and found medication that had spilled out. Come to find out, while this person was traveling for work, his blood pressure medicine spilled out of his bottle (Not sure how that happened) and he did not check to make sure all of it was found. This suitcase was not properly put away and any child, including his own, could have taken the meds. We did not find this out until weeks afterwards when I was watching their children and my child went back into the same room and found the meds AGAIN in the same bag. I thank God every day that I am an alert parent. I don’t helicopter, I encourage free play, but my eyes are ALWAYS on my child and she is very seldom more than five to ten feet away from me. If she moves, I move. Sadly, at that point in time while I was working my fiance believed that as long as she was in a “safe” home then he had nothing to worry about. Now, if we are in a home that I don’t know or that a parent’s parenting style is different then mine, she has to be in the same room with me. Some parents are just too “careless” for my taste.


  5. What a great article! Kids need some space to explore and learn about the world on their own. I think this especially important for disabled kids like your youngest; as long as they are in a safe space, they should be able to interact with others in a non-structured way. Keep doing the “free-range” thing!


  6. I prefer to let my son have the freedom to explore on his own, however he is known for attacking ( grabbing and trying to wrestle) just about anyone, adults and kids alike. I have trouble being any distance from him when other kids are around. Any ideas? He is two, and we have been trying to work on it with him. He doesn’t bite anymore, and likes to play nicely, until he gets excited and jumps.


    • Hi Shana,

      Honestly, not much you can do but wait it out and redirect him to more appropriate ways of being excited. For example, clapping, jumping, or other physical expressions that don’t involve other people. You might talk to him about hugging vs. wrestling and how to know if the person wants a hug or not (i.e. if they’re crying or pushing him away they don’t). A lot of kids can pick up on this pretty quickly. In six months or so he’ll likely be a lot better about this.


  7. I loved this! Thanks for sharing! I grew up with a mom that gave me freedom yet was always there when I needed her. This is what I want for my daughter. I live in a city and sometimes it’s challenging to let her explore as much as she would like to. My husband is more laid back than I am so I think it’s good for her.
    Your post made me realize that the freedom she gets changes as she gets older and I love that. I believe exploring and learning how to interact on this world on your own (with parents close by) is very very important and something we should all encourage!


  8. I’m so glad I read this post today. I sometimes struggle with how much freedom I “should” be giving Baby Boy, versus how much is “acceptable”. Yes, that’s the issue. Then again, I do try to remind myself that it’s ok to do things as we are doing them and not so much worry about how/what others’ think is “acceptable”. After all, we are still only 14 months into this parenting gig and we’re getting our own style while also learning the nuances of how/what works for us that lines up with our desires.

    I do think sometimes, I self-consciously or subconsciously hover a bit. Then again, we haven’t yet been to a ‘safe place’ for full exploratory play….


  9. I go to a local kids museum with a similar set up. We have been enjoying the littles area since my daughter was a little over a year old. The problem I have with the free ranging bit is that there were constantly kids knocking my daughter over, hitting her and bullying. She is a big kid- 99 percentile for height, but she is still not ready for kids to do this to her. She really didn’t get upset,but I did direct her away from these kids regularly. Now that she is older and still taller than kids a year or 2 older she is the bully. Taking stuff from little kids and bowling them over. As much as I would like to let her learn from a distance, these kind of situations require me to be a little closer. I do try to talk her through it, but I really don’t want her to be THAT kid. She gets pretty much free range at home so it isn’t like she doesn’t get that experience. But in a confined space with strangers, I really just helicopter more.
    It really is about knowing your kid and their limits…


  10. We do a mix of free range and other methods. Mainly free range works well for us. I keep an eye on the kids, any adult with me keeps an eye on the kids, and usually we can address any issue quickly without stepping on toes. However, we have set limits with the children. We have stepped in and gently told other people’s children that they cannot treat our children in that way. We’ve gently taken children home who weren’t following the rules in our yard. We do not accept any incident which allows another child into any other child’s bubble, no matter if it’s our child or not. I think we’ve found a good middle ground and the children seem to thrive. But, I found your point on all those parents hovering over their children in the “child safe” zone to be very good. I’ve noticed the same behavior and flashed back to my own childhood where it wouldn’t have been thought of to hover over ones child instead of allowing them to play while stepping back and watching. I feel sorry for those kids whose parents do this because I always feel as if they’re doing such a disservice to their children. Set guidelines, give rules, then step back and enjoy the ride. You’ll be amazed what you’re children are capable of!!


  11. I love COSI! We have a membership. Great place for the kids 🙂


  12. “I’m there to make the world a safe place for them to explore. I’m not there to prevent them from growing.”

    This is such an important distinction to make. I try really hard to both keep my kids safe while not letting dirty looks from those around me keep me from letting my kiddos explore their limits.


  13. What a great article! I love the balance between giving our kids the freedom they need to develop appropriately vs. making sure they’re safe/acting in a safe manner towards other kids. I’m sure you’ve read the recent Atlantic article about the “Overprotected Child” – I felt like that article didn’t offer many practical ideas for dealing with the whole “free-range in helicopter world” issues and I’m grateful for the practical ideas contained in this.


  14. Hi there,
    thank you so much for your thoughts! I am trying to raise my 18-month-old daughter this way (only now learned the term “free-range” for it, I’m from Germany :)), and I am really struggling to remain calm in public spaces, where others are watching me and my kid. Additionally to the “free-range” way, I believe that conflicts should be solved by the persons involved in it, and not by others – namely the parents (as far as they don’t go off hand, that is, of course!)
    For example, when we are at the playground, and Hannah blocks the slide, I would wait for the other kid to call to her to make space, instead of removing her myself. I think Hannah needs to experience, that the other kid has an interest and has the right to defend it. If I took her away, I don’t think she would make the logical connection, that I removed her, BECAUSE the other kid wanted to slide down. I would “rob” her of the experience that someone else has needs, and is apt to claim them. If however the other kids asks her to move, or shoves her aside or just slides down and hits her, she has learned the lesson that blocking the slide on the playground is no good! Who said that learning goes along without crying or being hurt? (Again: I am watching that she doesn’t get seriously injured and I am there to comfort her!)
    The problem is that basically no kid, no matter how old, would tell Hannah to make way. The reason is this: Parents just one step behind, calling “Wait for the little girl”, “Paul, would you watch the baby, you cannot slide down, what are you thinking!”, and so on. Those kids on the playground, that don’t dare to use the slide, even if it is their right to do so, are essentially de-motivated to take care of their own business, because their parents would never let them! It would not bother me a bit, but the result is, that now I must react, and I will carry Hannah out of the way, doing precisely what I wanted to avoid. How can Hannah learn to integrate in a social group normally, when all the group work is done by the adults? How can I remain out of the way, when other parents are making it THEIR conflict? The helicopter parents of the other kids are robbing MY child of the experience (let alone theirs)!
    This is my dilemma in a helicopter world, and I have not yet found a way to deal with it.
    I am happy for answers, best regards from Germany 🙂


  15. What is it about children’s museums that brings out this behavior in parents? Our museum is a lot like yours, and I’ve always wondered how the majority of the parents and kids could be having any fun at all.

    I think because it’s a special experience to go to the museum for most people, parents feel their kids need to get the most out of it. I always see adults rushing kids from room to room or activity to activity, breaking up creative, engaged play. I also see a ton of parent-directed play–the adult telling the child exactly how to work the machine, the adult dominating the play in the pretend market by doing all the talking (with older kids).

    I think as a society we are so scheduled, always doing, and needing to have a goal for our kids in every minute that we forget how to spend time together and just be.


  16. This is hard. There are so many areas. I’m good in some. I’m obnoxiously hovering in others. I’ve really struggled to find balance. I grew up in a complicated family. My step mom thinks I homeschool bc I grew up feeling unloved with a bad self concept bc I didn’t have a mom that paid attention or played with me, protected me. So i go overboard. (She isn’t a fan of homeschooling)That’s not my reasons for homeschooling but it does influence my parenting. In my head, I’d love to let my boys be boys, climb trees, have space, make decisions in the safety of me deciding which situations need interference. If they are safe why intervene? But as soon as other Kids are involved my stresslevel goes up. I feel like I need to control what the boys say, do, play to protect the other kids feelings if their mom is barking orders or not allowing them to climb. I definitely let my control freak out when other patents are judging me or my kids. Im hoping to get to the point where I don’t care. Also i think it’s the culture. I never saw the parenting drama in Hawaii that I see in California.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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