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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Family

Mama Bear Moxie: Parenting styles can come with their own risks

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

I am in no way a parenting expert. There are plenty of other scholars who have studied and researched parenting. I am just a mom who likes to write who shares her ideas. I only speak from my own experience and the light research that I do for some columns.

I have witnessed several other parenting styles. Some of them I identify with while others I do not. You never really know what kind of parent you are going to be until you are faced with the daily issues of caring for a child. Even when you have little ones, you still are trying to figure out what kind of parent you will become.

There are classic types of parenting styles, like attachment or positive parenting, but I wanted examine the dangers of modern types of parenting. You may see yourself in one of these styles or you may not. I encourage you to reflect on your own parenting style. Here is my take on the dangers of four modern parenting styles today:

Helicopter parents

This term was first seen in the late ’60s but didn’t become popular until the early 2000s. A helicopter parent pays very close attention to every aspect of their child’s life. This may be great when the kid is young, but helicopter parents have a hard time letting their children learn independence. These parents will constantly remind their offspring about obligations and responsibilities in order to keep their children from failing. Helicopter parents are easy to spot in the college setting, constantly contacting their kids and calling administration offices.

The danger of helicopter parenting is your child will have a hard time learning independence. They will become accustomed to having a safety net. Sometimes children learn the best when they are allowed to fail. Resist the urge to check up on them and allow them to spread their wings.

Lawnmower parents

This is a fairly new term that went viral this past year. Lawnmower parents are upgraded former helicopter parents. The name came because they choose to mow down all of possible challenges or struggles that a child can face. Lawnmower parents are most commonly seen with teenage children who are trying to learn the delicate balance of responsibility.

The danger of lawnmower parenting is your child will think the world is catered them. They will not know how to face adversity. Walk your child through a challenge instead of removing it.

Free-range parents

In complete contrast to the previously mentioned parents, free-range parents allow their kids an extreme amount of freedom. They believe children should function independently and children will learn about the world on their own time. Free-range parents often allow their children to use public transportation alone at a young age or choose their own home-school curriculum. Some states have passed laws limiting the freedoms these parents can allow their child in order to combat neglect.

The danger of Free-Range Parenting is your child may lackguidance. Children may not know how to respond to a situation. Those with special needs or who crave some of rigidity may struggle.

Old school parents

You’ll know that you are an old-school parent if you refuse to take your kid’s lunch to school when he or she forgets it or refuse to bring their homework if they forgot it at home. Old-school parents refer back to older generations who were raised with a heavy dose of tough love and strict standards. Old-school parents use lots of chores, strict rules and demands for respect.

The danger of old-school parenting is finding a balance with new technology. I am an old-school parent, and I struggle to find the line between teaching my kids how to understand technology but limit their screen time. My parenting also leaves me in control much of the time when I could be showing more grace in certain situations.

You can probably identify with one of these parenting styles or identify other parents who exhibit one of these behaviors. Learning what your children, each one individually, needs from you as a parent will help shape them into great adults.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at

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