The Limit to Free-Range Parenting: Other People's OpinionsMadeline Holler
April Peveteaux over at The Stir has the perfect example of why parents are damned if they do, damned if they don’t when it comes to raising kids. On the one hand, we read everyday how we’re coddling our kids, flying over them like Black Hawk helicopters, giving them so much that they’ll wind up in therapy only with nothing really to complain about.
The other hand? If you try to step back and let the kid go for it, you get in trouble — either with other parents, the police or the public at large.
April’s story is about letting her five-year-old daughter use the bathroom at a Hollywood Denny’s all by herself. Here’s what ensued:
No less than THREE Denny’s employees stepped up to supervise my daughter. Our waitress went so far to come over to me and tell me she was going to go inside the restroom with her, leaving her post, and I’m assuming some unfilled coffee cups in her wake. This lady helped my daughter wash her hands and accompanied her back to my table. Yes, it was totally nice. And of course I left her a big tip. But was it necessary?
What’s a free-range mom to do?
I’ll answer my own question: she needs to do it more.
I think if her daughter is totally fine with going to the restroom all by herself, she should. If she wants help washign her hands from the waitstaff, the only the Mom should do is reminder her to say “thank you.” If her daughter doesn’t want the help, Mom should remind her she can say “no, thank you, I can do this myself.”
I’m getting tired of being in the parent safety trap, this thing where we’re all so far up out kids’ butts that they, themselves, don’t feel safe crossing the street alone or playing in the park unsupervised or, in the case of the mom who warned us about the empty therapy sessions, walking the few steps from the car to the school doors and down the hallway to a classroom.
Have you ever tried to cut the apron strings, only to have your child’s independence undermined by fearful grown-ups?
Photo: CareyTildon via flickr