Free Range Parenting Under Fire
Two parents are facing some potentially serious consequences for participating in what’s called, “Free Range Parenting”. This style of parenting has become something of a national movement sparked by Lenore Skenazy’s story of allowing her 9 year old to ride the subway alone. Her book “Free-Range Kids; How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)” is centered in teaching children independence and responsibility and allowing them the freedom to discover the world around them as “Free Range Kids”.
The Meitiv’s two children, 10 and 6, are among these “Free Range” kids, and this morning the news broke that they were both picked up in Maryland by police at a park nearby their home. This is the second time the Meitiv’s have been spoken to for allowing their two kids to walk by themselves to the park about a mile from home, with the initial charge being “Unsubstantiated Child Neglect”. This morning as Mike and I talked about this subject it became apparent that this was an incredibly polarizing topic. Many parent’s called in and commented on Facebook both voicing support for this concept and also expressing concern and opposition to the idea of young children being allowed to roam unsupervised.
For my part as a parent I agree that the thought of letting my daughter roam the neighborhood is terrifying, but I also recall having the freedom to play outside and walk to school or the convenience store at least a mile or so from our house. As we chatted with the callers and read the posts you all shared online one thing seemed to be clear; we as a society are afraid of one another. With the media outlets sharing so many atrocities that are happening closer and close to home, we collective seem to be more aware of the potential for danger and less aware of who our neighbors actually are. I remember a time when the standard welcome to a new neighborhood consisted of face to face introductions, plates of cookies and invites to dinner. Now as we hide behind our social media outlets, cell phones and online profiles we have become disconnected from the people around us. And if history has proven anything, I think it’s that we fear what we don’t know. So the question I ask is this; is it the times that have changed, or is it simply that we have changed?
Looking at this story I think it’s safe to say that I will probably parent differently than the Meitiv’s, but what is terrifying to me is the idea that these two seemingly loving, good parents are now being watched by child protective services and could be in danger of losing their children. That perhaps is an entirely other question in and of itself, but I think this is definitely a discussion worth having. I for one will be following this story to see what outcome occurs.