Sunday, March 8, 2015

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.

gma.yahoo.com/free-range-parents

huffingtonpost/free range

Always stress free xo.

19 comments:

  1. I have really strong feelings about this. So first I think that instead of those neighbors calling the police, they might consider reaching out to the family first. Personally I feel that if you really care or are concerned, that would come first.
    Second, society and a lot of parents tend to coddle their children until that magic age of 18 you mentioned and then are upset when they go out into the world TOTALLY unprepared and make poor decisions. But what can you expect when a child is taught little to nothing throughout their young life?

    Personally I think that kid's should learn basic life skills as soon as they are old enough to understand the concepts. Like safety and rules when staying home or walking to a friend's house alone. And big enough to reach the tools they need, like washing clothes and cooking. If you teach and they try but aren't ready that's fine (that's life - it happens to adults all the time too), continue teaching and trying, not coddling.

    My 2 cents - sorry to rant again.... :-(

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  2. Nikki, rant away lol nothing but love over here xo. I agree that more often than not parents today are doing way to much in the field of over protection. They don't want their kids to even play in the park for fear they might fall. Hello, life is full of bumps pick them up, clean the wound, give them a kiss and keep it moving. Now that is my mini rant lol. Thanks for visit and comment, chat soon.

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  3. We need to stand up for our parental rights. So much of this discussion I have seen gets so caught up in whether or not the parents are 'right'. The point is, it doesn't matter if the parents are right, it matters that they have rights! #mommymeetupmondays

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    1. Crystal, thanks for visit and comment. I agree with that point, many rights are violated because of right or wrong for sure. Violation of anyone's rights is unacceptable if we are to grow as communities.

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  4. I have strong opinions about this, but instead of voicing them here I will just say this. As soon as no child is raped or sexually abuse and no one grows up in a house with violence then, and only then can you start worrying about how people raise their children. #ManicMondays

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  5. Mariet thank you for visit and sharing your brief comment. This is for sure a huge topic of discussion that is not just either or. Hope to see you here again :)

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  6. I saw that story! Crazy! I let my toddler run up and down the beach while I follow. I always feel like I'm close but people still freak out when they see him not right next to me. I think it's important for him to learn independence and boundaries instead of me always leading him.

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  7. Hannah, thank you for visit and comment. I can only imagine lol, but it is sweet to know you that you have started with a great place like the beach!

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  8. Great post. Found it through the Mommy A to Z blog hop. We had Lenore Skenazy, dubbed "World's Worst Mom" on our show the other week. There is a lot of buzz currently about this subject and it's important to keep the conversation going!

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  9. Mari, this picture made me laugh! I couldn't agree more! The amount of media that we and our kids have at their finger tips allows them to hear and see much more! Thank you so much for coming over to Making Memories Mondays, so glad that you were there! :-)
    Cathy

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    1. Cathy, welcome and thanks for visit and comments. Media is a slippery slope we have to navigate with caution and balance for sure. Love your Making Memories hope to make some new friends and add some great new blogs to my mix :)

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  10. I struggle with the fact that it so "alternative" to let a nearly middle-school-aged child walk home that we have to give it a name like "free-range." Children... just like chickens! So, I am on the "this is OK," side of the debate -- it depends on the time of day, the child in question, the length of the trip, etc., in my opinion, but I don't know some of those details because I'm not the parent. For the most part, I think "we" (parents) have gone to far in the direction of not allowing a child to be independent and learn how to function in society without someone holding their hand. And I also want to mention that crime stats, overall, over the last few decades are down. I'm not going to pretend we live in a world without scary crimes and people who would do horrible things to children, but we can't live in fear and we can't teach our children to live in fear. Also, while I know anything possible, most children are hurt by people who the parents and child thought they could trust.

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    1. Lou thanks for stopping by and commenting. Great points made indeed. So true about the cases where close people are the ones doing the hurting. I love the conversation this post has started!!! Hope to see you here again soon :)

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  11. MomCave thanks for visit! Yes let's keep the conversation going for sure, the more we talk the more we learn and grow I believe. Hope to see you here again soon :)

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  12. There are so many things wrong with this story, I don't even know where to begin. I understand that some government regulation is necessary, but this is too far. I fail to understand how allowing children to walk home from school is a crime. They need to learn independence in safe, age-appropriate ways or they will be lost when they turn 18 and don't know how to take care of themselves! We really need to give more control to the parents and to trust one-another---adults and children alike--a lot more!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

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    1. Brandyn, thanks for visit and comments. It's definitely a story that requires more conversation for sure.

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  13. Oh my…great article! I always get so excited to see what you have brought to the party! Pinned and tweeted. Thank you for being part of our party. I hope to see you on tonight at 7. Lou Lou Girls

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  14. I walked to school alone or with other kids everyday from the time I was in Kindergarten. Now way I can do that with my first grader. We are two blocks from school. One intersection has a crossing guard, the other is a scene from Death Race 2000 some mornings. He is high functioning Autistic, but still oblivious to the world around him at times. For now I walk with him every day. When he starts showing me he can handle it, I will start by walking him across the first intersection and let him go the rest of the way. Eventually working up to letting him get himself to school by himself.

    saw this on Lou Lou Girls Link Up

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    1. Audrey thanks for stopping by and commenting, I think you have a great approach. At least you are open to trying it out safely and not totally against allowing him to spread his wings as best he can. As parents that is all we can aspire to, which is to give our kids the chance and build from there. Chat again soon I hope :)

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