Wednesday, September 08, 2010

parenting style scrutinized

i am not a hoverer. never have been, never will be. i feel no embarrassment in taking my kids to the park and plopping down on a bench and reading a book or chatting with a friend if we are meeting someone there. maybe it is because my kids are close in age (just days shy of being 2 yrs apart) or that they get along so well or what but when we go somewhere like a park i let them loose and don't give them a second thought unless someone is crying or needs help with something they can't do (get up on a rope, swing themselves, etc.) when we are here at the house i let them play outside and i am not RIGHT THERE the whole time. they know not to go in the street and they never would. i guess i just don't worry about them that much. i know they are intelligent, confident, capable, safe kids who are more than able-bodied enough to roam the small block where we live without falling into peril. no one would ever snatch my kids or hurt them - it never enters my mind! even when they were little toddlers i let them figure out their own abilities and limitations without a ton of guidance. typing it all out sounds a little cold (which obviously i am not towards them) but i just don't want to be a hand-holder/enabler/infantilizer sort of parent. NOT saying that every parent who sticks by their kid is infantilizing them! i give them a pretty long leash and that's just how we roll in our family.

sometimes our long-leash policies do make me feel out of place (though still not regretful of our style). every day all of the parents meet down at the bus stop and stand there waving at their kids as they pull away. it's sweet but not me. augustine gives me a kiss and hug and i walk home. sometimes i wave but a lot of times i don't, and i don't think he needs me too either. augustine walks a half block to our house from the bus stop. in NO way do i feel this is unreasonable and yet no other kids are not met by their parents at the corner bus stop but him. and yes, i am going to sound really antiquated here but when i was in kindergarten i walked over a mile with my brother jason who was in 2nd grade. it wasn't a big deal then and i don't think it's a big deal now and yet it FEELS like it is. we have sensible rules and they follow them: wear a seatbelt, don't leave a pre-determined boundary, ask permission to do anything questionable, wear a helmet when you're riding your bike/skateboard/scooter, etc.

they are fine, we are fine, everyone needs to just chill!

i believe in the marketplace of ideas/it takes a village type of mentality. 99.9% of situations and people would not warrant a freak-out so that's how i want to live my life as a parent (umm and anxiety sufferer). i am so so grateful that God has given me the grace to step outside of my own issues and parent NOT through the lens of fear. what i really want is my kids to learn their own limits. be curious and free to explore. get dirty (no seriously, get filthy), swing from a tree, wander away from where i can immediately see you but come running if i call your name, crash your bike, meet the neighbors - especially adult neighbors - and feel comfortable with them, develop independence and confidence. and so on and so on.

11 comments:

crystal ann said...

that's how my mom was with me and my brother and sisters and we all grew up not judging,learning,loving,exploring new things idea's... we were givin freedom with an extent to let us wonder. it was a great way to raise us!!

Anonymous said...

I think that's awesome and great that you can feel comfortable in doing so. Sadly we have 5 sex offenders of the worst kind within a 2 block radius of our house and the worst of them is one building down. I am assuming this is not an issue where you are?

robina said...

I am pretty similar actually, and I imagine even more so when the kids can play together. I wouldn't say I'm as confident as you are w/r/t letting Wren play out front, for example, but our street is a lot busier than your neighborhood from what I can tell. And I certainly would let her when she's older.

jenny mae. said...

no sex offenders are not a pressing issue in my neighborhood. that definitely would freak me out if it were! our neighborhood is also not terribly busy most of the time. there is a school nearby so the cross street nearby gets some traffic during after school time but again, nothing crazy.

Corin said...

Oh man, I wish I lived in an area as safe as yours! Ours is by far not an "un-safe" or even really busy area. We actually live in some pretty nice suburbs. But I do know that we have a hand-full of sex-offenders registered within a ten mile radius of our house. Not just that, but I guess I'm a "hoverer"!! I do give them space to explore and get dirty and be kids, but I'm ALWAYS watching! Hahaha...I'm also one of the moms that would be standing at the corner waving to the bus every morning!

But then again, my kids are younger, 2 and 4. So maybe I'll feel a little different when they are older.

jenny mae. said...

by and large there isn't one way that's right as far as how to handle this kind of stuff. my kids are 5 and 3 btw. it's a combination of who david and i are as people and who augustine and olive are too, added to the factors about our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I am glad we have the technology to look up "offenders" in our neighborhoods, but there are plenty of people that live secret lives that have not been convicted yet. Just because the county site says they're not in your area, does not mean they are not there, they just haven't been caught yet.

I approach this with different glasses on. Experience. My parents "knew" everybody in our neighborhood and "nobody would ever hurt me". It was the neighbor they least expected that molested me as a child. His deadly weapon was building trust with me, my parents, and the other neighbors. My guard is up because I know we live in such an imperfect World.

I guess by your definition, I am a hoverer.

Anonymous said...

i think either way children, mostly, will tend to grow up just fine. No one should judge. My neighborhood doesn't sound nearly as quaint and safe as I assume yours is so that makes a big difference. Plus, I like the hand-holding stuff, they will be old soon enough and will want to do things on their own without me. I guess, by your definition, I am a hoverer though, hehe. I liked it when my mom waved at me every morning at the bus stop, but not everyone likes or needs that. And I think every parent wants their children to climb trees, get dirty, be able to explore, if not that would be sad.

lauren. said...

"hovering" started as a way to protect our kids in an increasingly dangerous society, but it has fostered in this country an unrealistic expectation of a type of emotional support that many think that kids need. parents have lost the art of allowing their children to grow up independently & actually make important developmental decisions.

[my mom wanted to allow us independence, so my brother & i rode our bikes to school. we lived in a big city, though, & my mom actually followed us in the car without our knowing to make sure that we were safe - but didn't intervene in sibling rivalries or when we made unexpected stops.]

each situation is different, of course. the key is to know what is best for each child & situation, rather than hovering for the sake meeting certain social expectations or because of our own insecurities.

p.s. jenny mae, it sounds like you live in a fantastic neighborhood! i'm a wee bit jealous! :)

lauren. said...

for the record, by no means do i think that hand-holding & waving are hovering. i love the hand-holding stuff, too. :)

sara said...

I wish I were less over a hoverer. I was raised by a mom who hovered, always fearful about what would happen to us ... I couldn't go down the big slide until i was nearly in the 6th grade! SO, i swore i'd be different. Turns out, I'm really not. I think that it's just what I KNOW, so I do it. Who knows!?

but my kids are not independent at all. they refuse to even really TRY to do things on their own/for themselves. they don't pick out/put on/takeoff their own clothing. The oldest will often scream out from his bedroom if he can't find something (that I find as soon as I walk in - evidence that he didn't really look at all! I think knowing I'll do something for them takes the extra push they need away... so, as I said before, I wish I'd done things differently as they grew... I think it sounds like you're an amazing mom and you obviously know your children/their limitations very well. Nothing wrong with that!