GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - As part of Parenting Week, we gathered a group of parents to talk about how they raise their children in West Michigan.
13 ON YOUR SIDE's Jennifer Pascua sat down with Monica Valentine, Rachel Lee, Erin Wiseman Parkin, Bo Torres and Matt Haviland for a roundtable talk at Grand Rapids Public Library.
Today's topic: Do you consider yourself to be a "helicopter parent" or a "free-range parent" or possibly both?
Erin Wiseman Parkin, mother to 2- and 4-year-old boys told Jen:
I’m definitely more of a free-range mom but also with role modeling as well because I’m an educator. The love and logic, getting on their level
That’s what I do. That’s what my husband and I do with our boys. We talk, we engage we let them do their thing. We let them learn. We call it “science-ing” And my kids are amazing scientists and they “science” everything and its so fun to see
Children, when you let them go, they know their boundaries and you can jump in and kind of guide them. When you let them go and let them experience that they can learn a lot of great lessons from that.
Monica Valentine, a single parent to 13-year-old girl said:
I would say I’m a little bit of both because with the whole parenting thing, everything is new to me. I only have one. I don’t have anyone showing me it’s right or wrong or a certain way. Some things I let her fall on and learn on her own because I want her to be independent.
I’m real protective so if she’s doing something wrong I’m quick to catch her and correct her.
Rachel Lee, a single parent to 7 and 9-year-old boys, had this to say:
I’m free range in the sense that throughout the years relationships Ive build with our businesses and neighbors they see us walking by with the boys. The boys know them. So when it come time for them to ask to go to the park by themselves I was comfortable in doing that because of the relationships Ive built. We route plan and I know which routes they are going.
They also know if there any concerns they can walk into any one of those businesses and anyone is there to help them. That makes me feel more comfortable. Now people would say I’m more helicopter because I’m active in their school. I’m there in the morning. I don’t just drop off. I go in. A lot of people think I work at the school. I don’t, I’m a volunteer.
Matt Haviland, non-custodial parent to 12-year-old daughter said:
I didn’t have a father in the home for me growing up and my mom did as best as she could with me and my brother.
When you become a parent, it’s a whole new ballgame and to not have a strong parental foundation and learn along the way. I think I may have helicoptered a little bit at the beginning but at the same time recognizing the importance of that independence…and of course look out for their safety.
Pascua then asked, "Do you notice that being a single parent to boys, the way that you would communicate with them is different than being a single parent to a girl?"
Valentine said, "I would say yes, I have a girl. Growing up I watched my cousin raising boys and it seemed like the boys listened more. They're easier to get a long with. Their moods don't swing as much."
Lee agreed, "As they're getting older, the differences between us are becoming larger obviously that they used to go along with me now they have opinions on."
Adnoris "Bo" Torres, does not have children. But he is around many as the fatherhood coordinator of the "Padres Fuertes" initiative at Strong Beginnings- Healthy Start.
He says he sees how parenting styles impacts children on a daily basis, "Coming from the classroom and being a role model and working with the little ones now -- being an example."
"I never raise my voice with kids. Being able to have a conversation, getting down to their level those are the things that have worked for me."
Torres says a summer program at MSU where the kids stay for 4-6 weeks allows him to see how kids adapt and engage when they are left to "free-range" styles. "Parents who are hanging around and don’t leave, come every weekend -- it takes time for the kids to be engaged and form new relationships."
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.