Hands Off / Free Range Parenting Style: My choice for raising healthy, happy kids

Hands Off / Free Range Parenting Style: My choice for raising healthy, happy kids

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After a looong discussion yesterday (on Easter Sunday, after we went out for brunch) it has come to my attention that my kids amusingly think they raised themselves. I was a homeschooler and I am a special needs mom. (My daughter, Kayla who is 22 is on the autism spectrum)  I’m also a sports mom and a free spirit, and an entrepreneur. I always wanted that crazy house where all the kids’ friends were playing, with pets running around, a sprinkler going in the front yard, the screen door slamming as they chased each other out of the house while playing. That was my dream for my life with kids…

I was NOT a helicopter mom! 

 “Helicopter Parenting means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting. They typically take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures. I grew up with a helicopter mom and it was AWFUL, lol… I decided very early on in my parenting journey that I’d be nearly the polar opposite of a helicopter mom.  My mom hovered and was paranoid about anything and everything, it invoked a lot of fear in me as a child. She’d literally put two inches of water in my bath because she was terrified I’d drown. Anytime we were near a pool, she’d make me wear a marine life jacket. She’d cut my food into teeny tiny pieces because she was nervous I’d choke. 

I grew up knowing intrinsically I could handle myself, but I wasn’t ever allowed to prove it to anyone. We moved in with my Grandparents when I was young, and my Grandpa allowed me to be free and explore and be a child when my mom wasn’t around , it was very liberating and empowering. He taught me to believe I was capable of anything at all, I could do anything i put my mind to. 

 

CRUNCHY mom

“In layman’s terms, a crunchy mom is a mom who practices natural living. She is an advocate of natural birth, non or selective circumcision, not vaccinating, babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, attachment parenting, homeschooling, organic and green living, etc.”
I’m not really a crunchy mom although I did homeschool, breastfeed and use cloth diapers and mama pads.  I let them eat artificial colors, have candy sometimes (within reason), and I was always there just in case something happened, but I hung back to empower them and help them make the right decisions and choices that they felt good with.
I vaccinated each of them but we did the whole co-sleeping thing mainly because they just wanted to be by us and it was easier than having them unhappy and screaming all night. 

Free Range / Hands Off Parenting is totally my vibe…

I feel I was more a free range or hands off parent, looking back. It didn’t have a name back then but it does now lol. If they argued with each other, I let them figure out their battles between themselves, if it got particularly heated, I might jump in. But I have told them since day one… “Love your brother” or “love your sister” and let love be their guide… it is said the longest relationships you will have in life will be with your siblings, not your parents… so I have nurtured their relationships with each other so they will be lifelong friends.
I tried to find the right balance that felt good for all of us. Maybe I was a little laid back, but that’s the free-spirit inside of me. I wanted to empower, challenge and encourage them to find themselves~ to develop and hone their life skills. I opted for a more hands-off parenting style for the most part because I believed that naturally, left to discover the world around them and the dynamics of their place in the family and the world that the strongest traits would emerge. I feel people are basically good, I guided gently and they turned out GREAT. Not one of the three (true, one is still in middle school) has EVER gotten a letter home from school for bad behavior, or bad grades. The two older ones (kayla 22 and matthew 18) have never once even sipped alcohol ~ except for the occassional oops in the communion line where they got wine instead of grape juice. They’re not sexually active before marriage either.
 
I think I have won as a mom if they think they raised themselves, but as almost grown adults they can laugh about that with each other. That shows me that I mastered the balance of just the right amount of involvement as a parent, and they’re so close with me and each other that they sit around and talk about stuff like this… with me!
 I’m ok with them joking that they raised themselves, that was my whole point of everything I ever did with them…
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