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February 16, 2019

When is a child old enough to do things on his own?

Kids at beachI transitioned from helicopter parent to free-range parent.

And my kids are OK.

At least I think they are.

I started out as one of those over-protective, over-controlling and over-perfecting parents who hovered around my kids and swooped in whenever they faced trouble or difficulty. Mama Bear would handle it all.

Not long ago, I realized Mama Bear handled too much. My cubs weren’t learning responsibility because I was doing every physical, mental and spiritual life task for them. My cubs were blissfully ignorant, but I was stressed out and exhausted by trying to shield them from life’s unpleasantness.

So I backed off. I let the boy ride his bike around town with his buddies.  I told the girl to get a part-time job to support the lifestyle she desired. I let both of them experience the consequences of slacking off with school work.

Dang, it felt good!

Free-range parents believe that allowing their kids more independence will teach them self-sufficiency. I’m completely on board with it. My kids are doing more on their own, contributing to the family and taking responsibility for their actions.  It’s not a perfect system, but we make revisions as we go. I don’t ever want to go back to being a helicopter parent, but I’m not afraid to become an F-15 parental enforcer if needed.

What’s the right age to give your child a little independence?

A new survey done by Life360 shows that parents base their child’s independence on three factors – maturity, past behavior and age.  Our daughter gained more freedoms at a younger age because she had the maturity to handle it, while our son isn’t reaping the rewards at the same pace as his sister.

Overall, parents identified the “age of independence” as being around 10 to 12-years-old for staying home alone while a parent runs errands and 14-years-old for staying home alone when a parent is out for an evening. The survey also revealed technology tools such as cell phones have made parents more comfortable with their child’s independence.

Check out the infographic to learn more:

Age of independence










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