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Helicopter Parenting – Are We Letting Our Kids Down?

girl-on-bikeThis summer, my 6-year-old learned to ride a two-wheeler.  Not 24 hours after that first wobbly solo ride, she asked me if she could ride around the block by herself.

“Sure,” I stammered, after a moment’s hesitation.  And then I sat on my porch and sat on my hands to prevent myself from following her.  It felt right, but it was hard letting go.

Later that night, my husband — the parent less likely to hover — said, “Oh, I would have never let her do that.”  I had to do a gut recheck:  Had I misjudged?

I don’t think I did (and after watching her, my husband agreed).  Teaching kids to be independent is part of parenting, one of the harder parts for most of us.  But her confidence grew each time she circled the block — how could we take that away from her to save ourselves a little anxiety?

A week later she fell half-way around.  Rather than cry and run to me for a band-aid — as she would have done had she fallen in front of me — she was forced to dust herself off, pick up her bike and walk it home.  I bit my lip when I saw the bruise the next day, but it didn’t slow her down.  Now she wants to ride to the park by herself.  Baby steps, my love.

PunditMom has an excellent post about the difficult job of letting our kids grow up.  And she asks the hard question:  In our efforts to keep our kids safe, are we ultimately letting them down?   Helicopter vs. free-range parenting may be the new mommy wars battleground, but I think it’s an honest question that I, at least, ask myself on a daily basis while I maneuver the line between safety and letting my kids grow up in their own way, in their own time.

In so many ways, our kids are more coddled than ever.  How do you feel as a parent:  Are the lucky to be kept safe and out of harm’s way, or are we doing them a disservice by not letting them take more risks?

Photo: Beach Cruiser, Flickr

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