The free-range parenting method is not a new idea – in fact, this is what our parents or grandparents used with their kids (for the most part). It just didn’t have the fancy name attached, and it certainly didn’t have as much controversy associated with it back then.
The principle behind free-range parenting is simple: kids can do things on their own, without parental supervision. This, in turn, gives them independence, and teaches them about responsibility, safe practices, to rely on themselves, etc.
When our parents sent us to the store at the end of the street or allowed us to ride our bikes to our friend’s house three blocks over, they were essentially practicing this method.
Controversy: Free-Range Parenting Is Mostly Illegal
Yes, you read that right. This parenting method is, for the most part, illegal. The big controversy comes with a modern world of technology which sensationalizes every small wrong done while only briefly touching on the good. Turn on the news and you will hear reports of kidnapping, murder, terrorism, suicide, burglary, and anything else which can cause mass hysteria.
Does this mean the world has become worse than when we were kids?
Or, are we simply bombarding with negativity with the spreading of technology, and it only seems worse?
The jury is still out on that one, but most experts agree that the rates of things like kidnapping haven’t increased by any significant amount when compared to the larger population of 2018 versus, say, 1990 or 1980.
Yet if you leave your children in the car to run inside the store for less than five minutes, you’re breaking the law. It’s considered child abuse to leave your child home alone prior to a certain (rather high) age or allow them to take their bikes outside your range of view.
While we can all agree it’d be preposterous to leave your infant alone or a two year old get outside of view, these laws can range anywhere from the age of ten up to fourteen. Legally, a mature nine-year-old child who has lived in the same neighborhood their whole lives cannot be alone in most states.
Ridiculous, right? Or maybe you don’t think so, and that’s totally okay. There is a wide range of parenting methods for a reason. But for some, this method not only works but is a necessity. For example, a person working traveling nurse jobs in New Orleans or a single mom with three jobs in New York may need their children to be fairly self-sufficient so they can adequately support them financially.
Pushing for Altered Legal Status
Many parents supporting this method have been pushing for the legal status to be changed. They say allowing children freedom is not abuse, but a natural way for those kids to learn about the world. Besides, in today’s world, parents are only a phone call away.
Utah was the first state to legalize the practice, earlier this year, while New York is now pushing for the same. All officials, whether in support of or against the practice, agree it is vital to have talks with your children about how to stay safe when on their own.