Hey -- The Letters to the Editor about the New York Times' piece on "relentless parenting" were all lovely -- and that's not just because ours was one of them! One letter, by psychologist Bennett Pologe, noted that:
...Helicopter parents focus on their children’s success in societal terms, on beating the Joneses; free-rangers want their children to be strong, self-determined, at peace, what we used to call self-actualized...
Very true, although Free-Rangers have nothing against traditional success or doing well! It's just not the only, or even primary goal.
Another letter, by Georgianna T. Roberts in Cleveland, said that:
As grandmothers and early-childhood professionals, my colleagues and I have observed the changes taking place in our society's approach to child-rearing over the last 30 years.
Though times may have changed, little children have not. They need what they have always needed.
That is: loving parents and a chance to play.
A letter by a pediatrician named W.L. Lupatkin castigated the American Academy of Pediatrics for making recommendations based less on evidence than on current cultural practices, "often to the detriment of children (think delayed introduction of peanuts and peanut allergy)."
In my own pediatric practice, when asked about questions of child-rearing philosophy, I always told people the opinion of the academy, explaining that it was only an opinion; gave my own opinion; and then said they should really ask their grandmother.
A wise doctor. And then there's our letter, too:
To the Editor:
Your article about how much time parents think that they must spend schlepping, coaching, reading to, playing with and supervising their children is a great summation of why both generations are so anxious these days.
Parents are stalked by the twin fears that their children will be unsafe — or not get into Harvard. That’s obviously anxiety-producing. As a result, their children have no unsupervised time — and that is anxiety-producing, too. When all your time is directed by others, you have no evidence that you can handle challenges or make things happen, and you feel unprepared for a world you’ve been told is filled with pitfalls and danger.
Giving children back some unstructured, unsupervised time, though, is hard for parents to do on their own. But when schools encourage all parents to do so; when communities pledge to support children’s being out and about on their own; and when states pass bills like Utah’s free-range parenting law — that’s when we can start to turn the tide on a standard of over-involvement that is driving both parents and children nuts.
Lenore Skenazy, Peter Gray
Jackson Heights, Queens
Ms. Skenazy is president of Let Grow, a nonprofit promoting childhood independence and resilience, and the author of “Free-Range Kids.” Dr. Gray, a psychologist, is a co-founder of Let Grow and the author of “Free to Learn.”