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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Free-range is for the birds

Just because you buy your children free-range chicken from your local, overpriced organic grocery store doesn’t mean that you should model your parenting style after the food label.

That’s right: Some people are actually embracing the idea of “free-range parenting.”

This concept went viral after Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old son ride the New York subway alone and then published a story in the New York Sun about his experience. She was criticized and even called the “Worst Mom Ever,” but maybe there is some beauty in learning to let go.

Is it better to “helicopter” children or to let them walk around town unsupervised. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.
Growing up, I was not allowed to play in the front yard without someone watching me, and I definitely wasn’t allowed to ride my bike on the street. When we got a little older, I was always jealous of my friends whose “cool” parents let them drive a golf cart across the street to the golf course. They had so much freedom! I wasn’t allowed to have a Facebook account.

However, I don’t blame my parents for wanting to watch over me. They just wanted to make sure that I didn’t get hurt or make mistakes.

And I’m thankful that they gave me enough room to breathe and didn’t make me sleep in a crib until I was 12. (I’m always looking on the bright side of things.) 

Skenazy now has a television show on the Discovery Life channel, appropriately called “World’s Worst Mom,” in which she travels to the homes of families who cannot seem to let go of their children — like one mother who still spoon-feeds her 10-year-old.

Where do they even find these people? We’ve all become so accustomed to seeing kids on leashes at the zoo that the normal reaction is no longer “Where is Child Protective Services?” but “Oh, look, another kid on a leash.”

Parents would probably assume that I wouldn’t know anything about parenting, and I don’t because I’m not a parent. But, I’m a child, and I know that I love my parents and, sometimes, I hated them.

Our obsession with “types” of parenting in this country, instead of just focusing on parenting, is unhealthy. Whether a small child or a 20-year-old, we’re all our own people. Our parents can influence everything from our food choices to our political parties, but instead of pushing ideas like “free-range” or “helicopter” parenting on us, you should just teach us that it’s OK to be ourselves.

You can force your kid to take piano lessons; just don’t install cameras inside your house to make sure they practice when you aren’t home. But, for the love of God, don’t let them find their own way to their piano teacher’s house across town.

After all, while America is the land of the free, that doesn’t mean being free from parenting your kid at all.

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Trey Ross is a journalism sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.

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