I recently read an opinion column entitled “Free-range children vs. close-minded parenting” by Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press that made me question if I was a free-range or close-minded parent. It appears free-range parents believe their children should be able to walk home alone from a park and close-minded parents believe children should be supervised at all times. In the article, Mitch Albom reflects on what it was like when he was growing up and, for many of us growing up, playing outside all summer and sledding all day in the winter was quite normal and our parents were happy we were outside having fun. I remember that while growing up our pets experienced this same freedom. I seem to remember that our dogs were able to go outside unsupervised, take care of their business and know how to come inside throughout the day for food, water and a nap. Also, I don’t recall them trying to jump in the car every time we left or going shopping with us. It appears that back in the old days, children and pets were raised with a sense of freedom and security.
Well, I can tell you right now that times have changed and sometime in the 1980s or 1990s helicopter parenting took over and you are reading the blog of a close-minded helicopter Yorkie parent. My wonderful Yorkie, Gabby, never leaves the house without three pieces of ID or without a leash. Nor does Gabby go to the dog park to roam around alone or doggie day care due to separation anxiety issues (we are not confessing as to who has the anxiety). Not only does Gabby expect a Jeep ride every day, but she has a whole guilt routine that plays out if she believes she is not going (yes, I fall for it every single time). In the article, Mitch Albom mentions the low crime in middle- and upper-class suburbs and that many of our fears outweigh the actual dangers. Well, all it took for me was to hear one report of a dog being stolen from a car or yard to never leave Gabby unsupervised. We also have visitors that stroll through our yard, so Gabby is never left alone outside to play with strangers.
Well, after some deep soul-searching, I realize I may have some parenting issues concerning my Yorkie and, so maybe like the saying, I could try to teach an old dog a new trick. I recently heard of a dad who used a drone to follow his daughter who wanted to walk to school alone, so maybe that would be a good place to start.