Nice Parenting Troll, NBC ;)

Illustration for article titled Nice Parenting Troll, NBC ;)
Image: Getty

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.

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo



So, a couple of thoughts....

1) Let’s be real. When we’re talking about “helicopter parents” vs. “free-range parents” we’re really talking about mothers. Because any and all negative outcomes will always be assigned to the mother.

2) As acknowledged in the article, this supposed issue between two styles of parenting is deeply rooted in privilege. Some of us are just struggling and praying that our kids survive til adulthood.

My best friend’s son was shot and killed four years ago shortly before his 14th birthday. You know what he was doing? Walking with three friends to the store half a block away from his best friend’s house where he was going to spend the night. To buy candy. It was still light out.

Long story short, drive by shooting. Wrong place, wrong time. He bled out while his friend ran home to get help. Not what I would call “free range” parenting, nor should it be risky. But being a young black man in Oakland just IS risky, regardless of whatever brand of parenting you subscribe to.

Sorry, that ended up being way angrier than I intended. It’s been a day.