There is no surprise that in society, today, people have come up with terms to describe different types of moms in relation to how protective or unprotective of their children they are. What is surprising is how extreme these terms are and even more surprising is how extreme these moms truly are. Of course, it is essential to protect children, but at what expense do mothers go to? There should be a middle ground and a more balanced approach to protecting children.
The first extreme is a Helicopter Mother. This is a mother that ‘hovers’ over her children continually. She not only makes sure her children are safe at all times, but she does not give them room to breathe let alone let them learn how to function for themselves. She does everything for them. Sally finishes eating her sandwich and mom takes her to the bathroom, helps her wash her hands (because there is no way Sally can do a satisfactory job washing her hands at 5 years old) and finishes it off by wiping Sally’s little mouth. Now Sally is 10 years old and Mom is still helping her get dressed, bathe and doing her homework. How will Sally ever learn to do things on her own?
Next there is the Lawnmower Mother. Many times the Helicopter Mother turns into a Lawnmower Mother. By definition, a Lawnmower Mother is a mom who attempts to mow down all obstacles on behalf of her child. When her child is young, she tries to control the child’s friendships, choices and activities. As the child grows, she regularly makes stops at her child’s school to correct the child’s teachers in their erroneous ways. When the child goes off to college, mom is there to tell her what classes to take and to make sure things go smoothly. Many times these mothers interfere with their children’s places of work even after they have graduated and moved out on their own. The Lawnmower Mother does not let her children experience things for themselves, nor does she let them handle life’s experiences. One of two things ends up happening; either the child gets to a place where she has had enough and puts her mother in her place (which many times does not end well), or the child becomes extremely socially inept and is in constant need of mommy’s help.
Lastly is a newer mothering style. This is the Free Range Mom. Free Range Mom was a term started when a mother in New York City was ridiculed for allowing her 9 year old son to ride the subway alone. In this case, I have decided not to judge this woman. Honestly I cannot fairly establish an objective opinion on this situation. I am not from New York City. I do not ride the subway daily and I have not experienced raising children in this environment. If I lived in that environment, I may think that my mature son would be capable of doing that too. I also may feel like it was safe and not a problem. However, I live in a smaller area and honestly the thought of my children, even at the oldest age of 11, riding a subway alone seems a little much.
The goal of a Free Range Mom is to raise safe, self-reliant children without fear. Treat children as intelligent young people and train them to be able to handle things themselves. As they show that they are responsible, let them go out on their own and prove it. Now some of the ideas and suggestions are a little much for me, but that is all a matter of opinion. I do however, feel like out of these three mothering types, I am a Free Range Mom. Although I set boundaries and I do not let my 7 year old go ride the public bus alone, I do allow my children (all four of them or combinations of two or more) to walk up to our neighborhood park alone and play. I give them time restrictions and I keep close tabs on them. In fact, the first few times that we allowed them to “go to the park alone,” my husband followed behind them without them knowing. He watched them the whole time waiting to see how they handled everything. They did not talk to strangers. They all stayed together. Most importantly, the children followed our instructions and were timely in checking in. All of this builds trust. It has built trust for us in that our children are responsible and it has built confidence in the kids.
Whether you are a Helicopter, a Lawnmower or a Free Ranger, there is a balance that needs to be found. Figure out what type of mom you are. Once you have figured that out then find a way to better yourself in order to better your children.
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