As a Type-A, somewhat obsessive perfectionist, I never thought I would qualify as a free-range mom. Free-range parenting, to the uninitiated, means allowing your kids the freedom to explore their world independently and without a ton of intervention and hovering. In short, it's the opposite of helicopter parenting. It's also sometimes perceived by "the haters" as being lazy, permissive, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous. Out of necessity, I prepared a list of things all free-range moms should say to the haters when they come a-knockin'. Because, well, they probably will.
I find it mildly amusing how controlling I am when it comes to everything in my life except my children. I am the mom who feels so at ease at the local playground, she sometimes forgets she's supposed to be watching her 3-year-old son on that scary-ass slide that even the elementary school kids avoid. I am the mom who, when my kids were super tiny, almost always found time to shower because I was not afraid of leaving a toddler to crawl around a bit unsupervised (the doors were locked, we don't have a staircase, there were no toxic chemicals within arms reach). Sometimes I do the equivalent of suburban parents in the '70s and leave my apartment door open while my kids roam our hallway. "Come back before dinner!" I say, while keeping an ear out to make sure no one is screaming loud enough to cause a noise complaint.
The thing is, this is what works for me, but parenting styles are not one-size-fits-all. For example, one of my best mom friends is a helicopter parent, the exact opposite of the way I choose to raise my children, and we just laugh at our differences. She points out when she thinks I'm being way too laissez-fair,e and I do the same when I think she could consider a lighter hand. Her comments don't come from a place of hate or judgement, but rather, love for my kid. If you know me, and you're a true friend, then I think it is fine to add your two cents about my free-range parenting. However, if you're just hating from the sidelines, I've got a few things to say to you.