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Policing our Parenting Methods, when does it cross the line?

Happy Sunday, I got so caught up in this NYC 50 degree weather that I've been out for most of the day and lost track of time. I hope everyone had an awesome weekend.

News stories...When I first heard this story as I do with most Parenting stories I said out loud "judgment at work again". Then I thought about the show Little House on the Prairie and about being in elementary school and taking the bus by myself. Then I thought about my own daughter staying at home alone and taking the bus alone as well.

First I will be clear, parenting choices are individual and are about what is best for each family. What works for one does not work for another. But they are choices non the less and the government sometimes just does a bit too much.

In this case a Maryland couple is under investigation for allowing their 10 and 6 year old children to walk home alone. In Silver Springs, Maryland that is considered neglect up until the age of 18 years old. Can this be, up until age 18? Does that sound logical to most of us?

I can understand and agree that maturity plays a huge roll in what could or even should fall under "free range". I believe that as parents it is our duty to teach and prepare our kids and if all parties involved demonstrate responsibility then a 10 year old should without a doubt be ok to walk home alone.
Neglect is sheltering our kids too much. Keeping them confined and in denial that they live in a big world and have a responsibility in it. Neglect is lack of preparation.

There is a misconception that we are "living" in worse times than when we were younger. No we are not. We just hear, see and know about it more because of access to media. When I was growing up kids still got abducted, there still was rape, bullying and so forth but since we were kids ourselves we didn't pay attention to the news. Our parents just told us to look out for strangers, look both ways when we crossed the street, get home before dark and keep it moving.

I made reference to the show Little House on the Prairie in the beginning of my post. I wasn't trying to be funny. One I love/loved that program and two the girls walked from their farm all the way into town alone. Three girls, how old do you think they were? No cellphones, no close neighbors, lights, stores, cars...nothing. Was that child endangerment? Different time but same premise. Age.
Was it neglect when my mom dropped me off at the bus and when I got on I either sat or stood next to the bus driver till I got to my stop when I was around 8 or 9?
Was it neglect when parents allowed their kids to play outside alone from sunrise to sunset? Ride their bikes to their friends houses a few blocks away or to the park?

These are all true stories. These things happened whether past or present and will continue to happen in the future. Why, well because parents will continue to decide what is best for their family and hopefully continue to provide their kids with the best tools.
Most of us have our own stories and we are still here to share them. Most of us grew up without cellphones to contact our parents and we did just fine. If anything today should be safer because of all the options.

illustration by littlepurplebarn.com

Instead of investigating parents who are teaching their kids independence perhaps the effort and time would best serve creating more programs and other options for child care if the issue is kids being alone. Perhaps restructure our social services program so they can investigate and keep better track of real neglect and endangerment cases.

You don't want a 10 year old boy to walk with his sister home alone. You find fault with his parents wanting to instill in him responsibility and independence at an early age yet by the time he reaches the age of 18 you are fine with him carrying a gun and serving his country, or driving, or voting. If you don't prepare them early why is 18 such a magic number?

What are your thoughts on "free range" parenting? Is teaching our kids independence early no matter what the label a good thing or are we hurting our kids by letting go so soon? Who sets up the guidelines in your home? Is the "law" correct in this case?
Please share your thoughts and experiences, let's start a conversation.


huffingtonpost/free range

Always stress free xo.

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