Are you a helicopter parent, hovering over your child 24/7? Or maybe you’re a snow plow parent—clearing the path ahead of every possible obstacle. A Tiger Mom? A Free-Range Dad?

If I choose to bring up bébé in the French style, can I justify having a glass of wine every single night?

These titles and philosophies offer endless fodder for online arguments. They also sell books. But is it helpful in any way to categorize ourselves and stick to a single philosophy (and therefore play into an “us” vs. “them” for every other parenting style)? I think not.

Instead, I’ve been collecting little gems of wisdom from a whole host of sources. Because I strongly suspect there’s a little bit of truth in the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother AND some nuggets of wisdom in the free-range parenting movement.

I’m happy to share the bits and pieces I come across, as I find them. Like this blog post and video, "Are You a Helicopter Parent?", from Dr. Deborah Gilboa, aka Dr. G:

Your kid’s happiness? NOT your problem. Their safety, sure. So teach them to cross the street alone. Then let them do it. As a matter of fact, anything you’re worried about them doing alone, follow that recipe:

  1. Name the obstacle.
  2. Teach them to overcome it.
  3. Let them try.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Truth.

I especially like the "rinse and repeat" bit. Because if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that no matter what philosophy you ascribe to, parenting is a marathon not a sprint.

And it's refreshing to be told that I'm not directly responsible for my children's happiness. I'm not sure I can let myself off the hook for that entirely—but it definitely feels like something to work toward. Imagine being able to one day be an objective observer of your own child. Achieving that might make it possible to actually determine whether you need to be more strict (or less) and less involved (or more). To adjust your parenting style to the needs and personality of your individual child.

And that's a goal worth running a marathon for.