Free-range vs helicopter parenting

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In mid April 2015 Danielle and Alexander Meitiv’s two children, who are 10 and 6-years-old, were picked up by police and put into custody because they were playing at a park near their family’s home without adult supervision. According to the The Guardian the Maryland couple subscribe to the free-range kids movement which “believes that children have to take calculated risks in order to learn to be self-reliant.”

This is not the first the Meitiv’s have had a brush with the law because of their free-range parenting. In December 2014 their children were picked up by the police as they walked home alone. Child Welfare Services required that the couple sign a “safety plan,” promising not to let the children go unsupervised. The parents were told that their children would be taken away if they did not sign.

Alexander was not happy with the way Child Protection Services had interviewed his children: “They were asking my son Rafi what he would do if he was grabbed by a stranger,” He said. “Telling them, you know, that there are creeps out there that are just waiting to grab children if they’re walking by themselves.”

Danielle Meitiv told the Washington Post. “I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.” She added: “Abductions are extremely rare. Car accidents are not. The number one cause of death for children of their age is a car accident.”

The experience of this couple has sparked debates online between helicopter parenting enthusiasts, who believe that a child should be supervised at most times and free-range parenting proponents.

Critics of free-range parenting argue that the practice is unsafe and dangerous for the child while helicopter parents are often accused of stifling their children’s development by over parenting. 

Helicopter parents on the other hand don't let their kids out of their sight and generally do tasks for them that they should be capable of doing themselves. In other words, a helicopter parent wouldn't allow their child to play in the park alone let alone walk home alone. The term often applies to parents of school-going and university-aged kids, but it can manifest at any age.

Are either of these parenting styles wrong? 

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