Somewhere Between Helicopter Parenting and Free Range Parenting Is a Good Place To Land

I often find myself telling my kids to “be careful” in the most mundane circumstances. Be careful- pouring the milk. Be careful- climbing on the slide. Be careful- when you get into the tub. And then I pause to ask myself why I do it. It’s like a gut reaction that I can’t stop. Why do they need to be careful?
There is a bumper sticker that I really love. “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” Does a similar sentiment apply to kids? Careful children don’t learn as much as the ones who take chances-I wonder.
According to the Webster’s dictionary, one definition for careful is “marked by wary caution or prudence.” One of the joys of childhood is jumping in with both feet. Kids instinctively explore and act impulsively. And I think in most situations, they learn a lot in the process. Sure, accidents can happen, but most of all there is a whole lot of discovery.
Recently my daughter decided to climb a rock wall. She has done so many times with her grandmother at the YMCA. And she does it with confidence and enthusiasm. But this rock wall was outside (and very, very high.) She donned a helmet and the harness. She climbed up like a spider monkey. It was all good until she reached the top. At the top, fear set in and tears began to fall. I felt helpless as I watched her crying out to me. But as we cheered her on and offered reassurance, I knew she would ultimately gain strength. I was so glad she had the opportunity to try.

I am learning to let go and give my children more and more responsibilities. I hope that they value their mistakes and remember that risks are worth taking. I want them to climb to the top of the jungle gym. I want them to approach a new situation with confidence. I want them to fail so they learn to persevere.
The next time you tell your children to be careful, ask yourself if you should. (And for the record, my daughter made it down safely and smiled once her feet were on the ground.)

Published by

Joyeux Parenting

I am the proud mother of two beautiful children and have lived in Boston for most of my life. I have over twenty years of experience as a Child Development Specialist working with new families, pediatricians at Mass General Hospital, and Early Intervention. I have a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding the challenges related to breastfeeding, behavior management, picky eaters, discipline, sleep, and development. I love being a wife and mother and sharing my experiences-the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am constantly learning about new evidence based information as it relates to parenting. Most importantly, I think it is crucial to recognize that we all make mistakes and learn from them. I am a firm believer that humor is essential as you navigate the world. Parenting should be full of joy and that is why I started my business Joyeux Parenting. Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you.

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