Radical Parenting Styles

Helicopter parenting vs. Free-Range parenting

“Stop it!” “Do not do that.”

These statements are commonplace at playgrounds. As an adult, your responsibility is to ensure your child’s safety until they know to avoid danger themselves. However, such utterances can significantly damage your child’s self-confidence, especially when you question their every decision.

Keeping this in mind, you may be wondering what parenting style is best to instill positiveness and trust in your child. Reading along, you will discover two contrasting parenting styles – Helicopter parenting and Free-range parenting- and how each contributes to your children’s development.

Photo by Yan Krukov

Helicopter Parenting

The statements above are signs of helicopter parenting. According to Dr. Ann Dunnewold, a licensed psychologist, helicopter parenting involves you taking control of all aspects of your child’s life, leaving no room for them to practice free will. Additionally, the below characteristics are typical among helicopter parents:

  • You constantly worry about their safety, such as making them wear a mouth guard when running.
  • You are more anxious than they are regarding their success and failures. For example, you feel that they are not ready for the final exams despite having a history of good grades.
  • You have a comprehensive restrictions book for each of their activities. As such, they lack similar independence as their peers.

Free-Range Parenting

Free-range parenting refers to a style where you are comfortable letting your child explore life in its entirety. Below are some of the characteristics that define free-range parenting.

  • You reward your child for every achievement. For example, your kid can spend an extra hour with his friends on a school night if they complete their chores on time.
  • You have a less rigid structure in their routine. Such as allowing your kid to skip soccer practice for a walk in the mall. However, offer this independence within limits lest you find yourself in trouble with the law.
  • You do not pass judgment on their choices even though they do not conform to your interests.

How does each parenting method affect children?

Regardless of the parenting style, there are merits and demerits for each method. Keeping this in mind, below is what you can expect from either.

Parenting StyleProsCons
Helicopter ParentingYour kids feel appreciated and loved in equal measure There are more opportunities for growth in their professional life thanks to your network.
Your child may lack the necessary social skills to thrive because of the limited number of friends. Anxiety and fear may become an issue since you are constantly clearing the path for them. Self-entitlement is also a concern because they grow up thinking that they deserve only the best.
Free-Range ParentingKids grow up self-sufficient and confident. They are socially adept as they have a wider social circle. The variation in activities allows for a broader scope of thinking
Too much independence may lead to unruly behavior. Your child may feel a sense of neglect as you show less interest in their development. The difference in parenting styles within your community may lead to a lack of accountability from other parents.


It is clear why both parenting styles are essential to your child’s development. However, you get better results by incorporating both as your child grows. Therefore, it is vital to consider how each will affect your child at present and in the future.

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