Long Leash Parenting

November’s PAIL monthly theme is about parenting styles. I had a hard time writing a post about this topic, despite having a lot to say on the matter. I think my brain is pretty much mush at this point and if I’m not talking about thrush–which is taking up all my mental space–I have a hard time putting together cohesive thoughts. Still, I wanted to participate so I did the best I could answering the questions.

Does your ALI background make you feel like you need to spend more time being exclusively focused on your child?

I thought a lot about this question. While I do think that my IF/loss experience makes me more grateful for the children I have, I don’t think it has changed the way I parent. I think the way I parent is absolutely a product of who I am at my very core. I would find it very difficult to change the way I parent because it doesn’t seem to be the result of my conscious choices so much as a reflection of who I am. And I don’t think even my IF/loss experience was jarring enough to change that.

Are you more “hands off” as a parent than you thought you’d be? More of a “helicopter parent?” Are you happy with the type of parent you’ve turned out to be?

I suppose I’m not surprised by the kind of parent that I am, because I’m the kind of parent that I’ve always admired. I don’t say that to be smug, in fact I assume that I admired those parents in the first place because they showed me the kind of parenting that I instinctually knew I would gravitate toward myself. Again, I think my parenting style is deeply embedded in who I am, so it makes sense to me that I would admire that kind if parenting when I saw it in others.

Interestingly, people close to me *are* surprised by the kind of parent I have become. Many family and friends assumed that I would be an anxious “helicopter” parent because of my anxiety during pregnancy. They thought that my generalized anxiety about something unexpected going tragically wrong with my pregnancy would transfer to a general anxiety that something tragic would happen to my kids. But I’m not like that at all. I don’t what it is about pregnancy that makes me so anxious, but I don’t have those same worries about parenting in general.

Does your child do well with independent play? If so, did you have to consciously encourage this or did it just happen?

My child does play well independently but I don’t think I had anything to do with that, at least not in conscious choices that I made. I may have fostered that ability by being who I am: someone who is easily distracted and therefore scattered in her attention. My child might have learned to play well by herself because I was not always right there with her due to my ADD/general inability to stay present both mentally and physically.

Now that I have a second child I’m very thankful that my older child can spend some time alone. Splitting my efforts between two kids means both have to learn to get on by themselves for certain amounts of time. I’m sure my son will be even better at entertaining himself than my daughter is. He’s already learned to sooth himself to sleep out of sheer necessity. He’s barely one month old.

If your child doesn’t do much independent play, do you simply focus more on group learning and activities?

I am an on-the-go parent. I like to do things. Four hours of unstructured time at home terrifies me. When I’m with my daughter I like to go places or create projects to keep us occupied at home. So yes, I focus on these things, but it’s more out of my own personal necessity than for the good of my daughter.

Does the length of your “leash” change depending upon if you’re at home or in public (e.g. at the park)?

My leash is VERY long. Some might consider it neglectful. Even when I’m out in public, I give my daughter a lot of leeway, letting her explore places that are even out of my direct line of sight. We live in a big city and we spend a lot of time in public places; I give my daughter free reign to do what she wants in these spaces as long as she’s respectful to others and her environment. We talk much more about being respectful of those around her than we do about safety issues. I suppose I’m lucky that I don’t have a child who puts herself in dangerous situations very frequently. She doesn’t dart into the street or climb very high. But she is very comfortable being out in large spaces with lots of people. She doesn’t feel the need to be tethered to me and I let her go where she wants, within reason.

I suppose if I had to label my parenting I would use the term “free range.” I assume that will continue as my kids get older. I grew up in a big city and I was taking the bus and subway by myself in fifth and sixth grade. My partner was as well. Part of why we choose to raise our family here is so our kids will have the freedom to explore without us chauffeuring them around. I hope my kids will free comfortable being out and about without us when they are old enough. I am fostering that independence now by showing my daughter I trust her when we’re home and when we’re out in the world.

How about you? How would you describe your style of parenting?

5 responses

  1. That’s interesting about independent play. Miss E is not good at it, and I was recently talking to a co-worker who has one kid who is good at it and one who isn’t so I wonder how much is personality-based.

    I didn’t participate in this month’s prompt since I didn’t have enough to even think about it, let alone write thoughtfully, but your perspective is really interesting!

  2. In brief…I agree with your parenting style, though the independent play is definitely more nature than nurture to me since my older was better at it than my younger at the same age. I also am inspired by your ability to give your daughter such a long leash in the city—but like you said, she doesn’t run into the street (like mine like to do).
    But my favorite part is this: “I’m the kind of parent that I’ve always admired”. Its so easy to see the negatives in ourselves (for me: yelling, losing patience, not wanting to play on Legos/play doh/whatever”) & easier still to miss that underneath all those tiny day to day mistakes, we are indeed doing a good job raising healthy, happy (ish), independent kids.

  3. Interesting. I am the exact opposite. I’m helicopter to the bone. And I always have been. Interestingly enough my losses has allowed me to accept it without berating myself. I am just this way.

  4. Pingback: november 2013 – monthly theme post listing – how long is your leash? – PAIL Bloggers

  5. Free- Range parenting – I love the term!
    I too have a very long leash with my boy – to the point that it often makes others feel nervous. Sometimes the judgement of others really gets to me, but I really think that it is important for kids to have their space and room to explore the world on their own terms.

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