Such was the case for this Silver Spring, MD family who did allow their 10 and 6-year old that independence and are now caught up in the Child Protective Services system (you can read the Washington Post story).
Now for all of my own brand of protective parenting, there is one thing that I've always said about kids. My kids and others. We need to encourage them to go out on their own, get to know their neighborhood, and explore. Without me hovering over them.
And - side note - we don't really need the term "free range parenting." I mean, these are our kids, not cows and chickens that we are trying to keep organic. Why must everything have a label? Why isn't this just "go outside and play parenting" - but no label? Okay, back to what I was saying...
We are talking about two elementary age kids, walking a path, according to their parents, that they had traveled before. And up until the nosy neighbor called the police, were doing just fine. Now, there's a possibility of the parents losing their kids? Come on!
I've been to the playground and seen those moms who are probably wagging their fingers at these parents. They follow their kid through the climbing tunnels and stand guard at the swings. They quickly wipe away any spec of dirt or drop of sweat on their kid's brow. Unlike me, sitting on the bench, reading a book, and taking periodic head count. Can you remember, as a child, one good play day you had with your mother watching your every move? Yeah, me neither. In fact, my brother and I would leave after breakfast, maybe return for lunch, and then run back into the house as the streetlights came on. And before someone says, "oh but that was back in the day," and at the risk of CPS knocking on my door, I fully encourage my children to do the same. They could even pack a lunch, if they'd like.
At some points, kids do need to get out on their own. They do need to be street-smart, directionally aware. And despite what it may sound like, I'm not contradicting my previous post, because here's my point. What I choose for my child, may not be what you choose for yours. As a parent, part of our responsibility (and one of the benefits) is to make those choices for our little people, as long as they are safe, legal, moral and all that good stuff. I think we can all agree that a 2-year old shouldn't be left at the park alone, but 6 and 10? Hard call. It depends doesn't it on their own maturity? Just like I've got to decide whether to let my 15-year old ride the bus.
Besides, I'm sure there's kids out there who are really hurting and need CPS to intervene and help them out.
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