21 Things Free-Range Parents Wouldn't Understand

If you're a helicopter parent, the idea of a totally laissez-faire parenting style boggles your mind, as this is the type of thing you would say to a free-range parent:

What do you mean you let your child walk three blocks to school by himself? He's only 14!

OK, so that's a bit extreme, but there is definitely a divide between parents who consider themselves more free-range, and those who hover that extra little bit to constantly be there for their child, whether they're needed or not. Neither parenting method is right or wrong, as it's all about what works best for your family, but this definitely means that there are things that parents in both camps just can't understand about the other.

Read through for 21 things that free-range parents totally wouldn't understand.

  1. Sitting on the playground all day to watch your 10-year-old son play with his friends. Even though he's totally of an age to go by himself for a bit.
  2. That pain you get in your back after spotting your child on the jungle gym for hours. The jungle gym that is three feet from the ground. The squishy, foamy ground.
  3. The pang in your heart that follows after an "I can do it!" But — don't you need me?!
  4. The consistent clamminess of your hands. Little kid hands — and big kid hands — sure do sweat a lot when they hold yours (all day).
  5. The twitch in your eye that develops when you allow your kids to freely craft or cook something. You want to see your children have fun, but all you can focus on is the potential mess.
  6. Fighting every single morning with your child about what they're going to wear to school. The kids can dress themselves when they're in college.
  7. The anxiety, even when your child is a newborn, of thinking about them going off to college. What the hell are they going to do without you there?
  8. The sheer panic that occurs when you turn away from your child for a second and look back to find them gone. They're likely still right in front of you, just not exactly where you left them
  9. The voice in the back of your head that constantly tells you to reel it in and let everybody live a little. Who does that voice belong to, and why won't they shut up?
  10. What it's like to search for "human-size" bubble wrap on Amazon. Because you've done it. More than once.
  11. The dropping feeling that happens in your stomach when you get a phone call from your child's school. You can't help immediately thinking the worst — is someone hurt?
  12. How it feels to get in the middle of a toddler argument over a single Lego brick. You know your kid needs to work on their communication skills, but hey, he'll learn by listening to you, right?
  13. Googling a solution to getting that speck of permanent marker off the bottom of a chair from a rogue craft session. You know that no one will see the speck, but you know it's there.
  14. The sound your voice makes when you parrot the same command over and over. "Please put your shoes on." "Please put your shoes on." "Shoes. Please. On." "SHOES."
  15. The gravitational pull you feel to your child as you maneuver them from the car to the ground in a parking lot. Must. Not. Lose. Physical. Contact. With. Child.
  16. The way your child's gorgeous name slowly turns into a bark with every inch away from you they move. They've barely moved, but their name is threatening to be yelled if they take one more step.
  17. The rage you feel for your child's teacher when they get sent back with a piece of their sandwich still uneaten. What do you mean your teacher said you could be done?
  18. The slow, building ache in your hand from labeling each of your child's belongings. If you so much as lose one dirty sock, it can be returned to us.
  19. The sticky feeling that's left on your hands for hours after every 90-minute reapplication of sunscreen. OK, so it's raining today, but hey, the sun might peek out later!
  20. The brief moment of vertigo that comes from trying to squint hard enough to read every word on the back of medication. Yes, your pediatrician said it's safe for your child, but Dr. Mom needs to triple-check.
  21. That feeling when your child asks you to help them with something. Because no matter how old they are, feeling needed and justified in your hovering is the best gift they can give you.