Free-Range vs. Helicopters: Summer Vacation Tips For Any Parenting Style

Free-Range vs. Helicopters: Summer Vacation Tips For Any Parenting Style

Chloe Seaman
June 27, 2017

As a parent, you want the best for your kids.

For some, that means allowing your children to do as they please. Free-range. For others, that means being involving in all aspects of their child’s lives. Helicopter.

And yet for others, somewhere in between the two parenting styles is best.

We look at some of the pros and cons of both letting your children spend their summer unstructured and keeping them on an itinerary of activities. Plus, tips for a fun and safe summer for every parent.

A Free-Range Summer

Should you let your kids decide how they want to spend their summer vacation? Here are some of the pros and cons:

The Pros

  • Instills a sense of independence and self-resilience in children.

  • Helps alleviate some of the stress built up from the school year. According to Dr. Gail Gross, a child psychologist and author, “an over-stressed child is more emotional, and therefore biologically involved in a fight-or-flight system. Thus cortisol is over-produced, which then floods your child’s brain and alters its’ capacity to remember, learn, and think critically.”

  • Children learn to judge their own decisions.

  • Promotes problem-solving and responsibility.

The Cons

  • While you trust your kids, you don’t trust others. Leaving your kids to “run free” could increase the chances of them coming across a dangerous person or situation.

  • It’s sometimes easier said than done. All children get board at times and will come to you to provide some stimulation to keep them interested and engaged.

  • You could possibly get in trouble for child neglect, depending on the situation or where you live.

A Scheduled Summer

Is deciding what your child does this summer the best approach? These are some of the pros and cons:

The Pros

  • Children benefit from being exposed to new activities and challenges. Fostering those opportunities can help with your child’s development.

  • Knowing where your child is and what he or she is doing provides a certain safety net.

  • Keeping up with a structured schoolwork schedule can help prevent your child from forgetting what he or she learned throughout the school year.

The Cons

  • Helicopter parenting often comes with anxiety; a feeling that can easily infiltrate into your child’s psychology.

  • Making your kids dependent on you for a fun summer can lead to a continuation of dependence.

  • Having a lot of control over your child’s time interferes with developing a healthy parent-child relationship.

Whatever Your Parenting Style, Here Are Some Tips For A Good (And Safe) Summer

  • Do a lot of listening and ask questions. Understand things from your child’s point of view regardless of whether he or she is free to roam or will be sticking to your schedule. Get to know what interests your child.

  • Let your child know that you are always there for him or her… for anything.

  • Know who the adults are that will be around your child this summer. Is your child going to summer camp? A new friend’s house? Playing in the neighborhood alone? You can potentially get a better idea of who those adults are by conducting background checks with BeenVerified.

  • Use your intuition. Not only will intuition help you in deciding who your child is around this summer, but also what summer vacation approach is best for your child, and you.

Free or structured – here’s to a happy, safe summer vacation.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.