NBC has run a terrifying/innovative feature on a trend trendy parents are calling: “free-range parenting.” The meaning is stop helicoptering and, I dunno, let them fall out of a tree. It’s extremely controversial.
The brouhaha began in 2008 when a woman who infamously left her child, age 9, in New York City’s Bloomingdale’s with a map and a Metro Card and told him to find his way home (he did; she is the “worst”). Utah passed a law in March in favor of free-range parenting, making it legal for children to play and walk home from school alone.
Whether you know it or not, you are now a free-range parent or a helicopter parent, and the debate has been raging (all the way up to the Times op-ed section) for years:
“Confessions of a Free-Range Parent,” “Confessions of a secret helicopter parent,”“The Free-Range Parenting Quandary,” “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” “As Parents Stand on Principle, Are ‘Free-Range’ Children Put at Risk?” “The Case for Free-Range Parenting,” “Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting: Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children?”
NBC’s piece takes place at a Governor’s Island playground The Yard, running with an image of small children rummaging around plywood with rusty saws. If you see this image and think “TETANUS HOTBED,” then you are a helicopter parent. If you thought, “what a sensible way to teach organic real-world lessons, where can I sign up for a membership subscription?” then you are a free-range parent.
If you are nearly one in four other New Yorkers, then they made a graf for you:
This doesn’t apply to children facing actual hazards. Growing up in a poor neighborhood can reduce the chances children will graduate from high school, research has found. And true harm — abuse, neglect or other trauma — causes significant lasting effects, research shows.
Here are some good trees.