“10 is Too Young to Supervise a 6 Year Old”

Thank you, commenter Havva, for dissecting the arguments being hurled at Danielle and Alexander Meitiv and Free-Rangers in general. Here’s what Havva wrote to “Just a Mom,” a woman who commented on yesterday’s post about the Maryland kids, 6 and 10, picked up for playing in a local park, unsupervised:

Dear “Just a Mom”

You write: “10 years old is too young to supervise a 6 year old”

When I was 6 my neighbors sent their 5 year old across the street (alone) to come fetch me so we could spend an hour or so rollerskating together.  Neither of us were supervising the other.  When my mom was 5 she walked [to school] with just one other kindergartener.  There is nothing about this age that is incapable of walking from point A to point B in reasonable safety.

“The parents aren’t even giving their children means to handle an emergency if one arises.”

Nonsense.  The kids know their way around.  They know their address and phone number. They have tools to handle an emergency.

“If they are going to let their children run Free-Range, why don’t they have a cell phone to be used for emergencies?”

I didn’t get a cell phone until I was an adult. If it is “for emergencies,” it is just another thing to lose or break that has little chance of getting used, and is easy enough to work around in the event of an emergency.

“Even adults should have a phone on them if they are out jogging, walking, or on their own.”

Carry one if you want.  They can be nice and handy.  I love to have one when I’m going unfamiliar places.  But I jog my neighborhood without one, I don’t need extra crap just because I’m going to be out of my husband’s sight for a bit.

“What if one of them did something as silly as break their ankle from landing wrong? …How would they contact their parents if they couldn’t walk home? Rely on strangers to borrow a cell phone?”

The chances of them both simultaneously breaking their ankles is astronomically small.  The uninjured kid fetches help, or helps the injured one home.  Same as my friends and I did in any number of accidents. And yes, they can ask someone to let them call home if needed.  That is the point of memorizing the parent’s phone number.  In the last 5 years I have let two kids borrow my cell phone because their parents were very late picking them up from school.

“Moreover, they were warned by CPS not to do this again. They’re putting their children’s welfare at risk to continue doing this. For what?”

The previous case was closed.  Kept on file, but closed.  Yes, CPS expressed extreme displeasure, but CPS couldn’t actually make a case of it.  The time before that was closed entirely, I believe.  So yes the Meitivs were being bold and tempting fate.  I don’t think I have the nerve to be as bold, because I agree with you that CPS is a danger to the welfare of children such as these.  But the family also had reason to believe that with their legal resources they could keep the trouble down to the annoyance level.  And they believe, as I do, that children have a right to grow up.  Part of growing up is having growing amounts of independence and the chance at self-reliance.  They are doing this because they are defending their children’s rights.  You can no more have an adult take the place of Devora (6) and Rafi Meitiv (10) in this fight, than you could replace Rosa Parks with a white man.  If our children are to have any rights at all, some time, somewhere, someone had to fight back. It is a worthy cause, if the kids are on board.

“Refusing to take a few hours out of your day to accompany your children to a park is not worth having them traumatized or taken away like this. … If your children are old enough to go to the park alone, they’re old enough to help cook dinner and do chores in the evening when you all get home.”

This isn’t about refusing something to the children.  It is about giving them freedom.  My mom taught me to do chores. But she also understood that children have an enormous need for exercise and exploration.  And at a certain point, they have to test their wings.

“You don’t have to be right on top of them while they’re there. You can sit under a tree and play on your phone, read a book. Just so you are there in case of an emergency.”

Being there “in case of an emergency” short circuits the child’s need to solve problems on their own and discover their inner strength.  It wasn’t fun when I catapulted from my bike and limped home with much of the right side of my body skinned and bleeding.  But it was an amazing, wondrous experience.  I learned that I could suppress panic, and that much of the pain was really from my fear.  I learned what it was like to come through the initial shock.  Oh, my parents and teachers had tried to tell me these things many times.  But it didn’t mean anything, until I discovered it on my own.  This and other accidents bestowed on me a firm faith that I can and will find a way through whatever life throws at me.  I wish everyone who considers helicoptering “harmless” could see: the confidence to handle an emergency is critical.  And playground-level injuries are excellent for building that confidence with minimal risk. Why would I intentionally deprive my child of something so critical to living well?

Lenore here: Good question! 

 

117 Responses to “10 is Too Young to Supervise a 6 Year Old”

  1. Jon April 14, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    The built-in assumptions in the original commenters ideas are staggering.
    not everyone has the wherewithal to be free and available to supervise whenever their kids are free, for as long as their kids are free.
    It boils down to “Only rich people should have kids.” or “If poor people have kids, the kids should always be locked inside a building unless an adult can be with them.”
    Also, my goodness, how did we raise children pre-cell phones?

    This is to say nothing of questioning what kid would want to *always* be within ear and eyesight of an adult.
    I strongly doubt the commenter was raised that way.

  2. Anna April 14, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    I agree that it’s no deprivation to go to the park without adults. Kids just don’t play the same way with adults around. I started noticing even during my son’s infancy that he played much better – i.e., with more imagination and more focus – without me than with me. When he was one, that meant working on something else at the other side of the room and pretending not to notice him, but at 6 and 10, it could absolutely mean going to the park without mommy tagging along. It’s so easy for kids to be dominated by adult expectations, and many forms of genuine play look silly or pointless to adults, even when the adults don’t mean to be imposing any expectations. It’s also very tempting to intervene to resolve trivial disputes, etc., when it would be much better not to.

    But even if that all weren’t true, who is this lady kidding? She thinks any adult has “a few hours” a day to spare for supervising at the park? Seriously? Do the folks at her house eat meals, dirty their laundry, or need any money to pay the bills? I suppose a full-time, paid nanny could spend “a few hours” daily at the park – although I think it might have the unfortunate effect of teaching kids that adults exist to serve their pleasure.

    The truth is, kids who can’t play outside without a security details are going to end up spending a small, rationed amount of scheduled time outdoors, not the many hours they should.

  3. Kelli April 14, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    When I was 10 yrs old I would be left to watch my 1 yr old sister while mom went grocery shopping. I would take her out in the backyard or in the front yard – ALONE with no one home! Like I hear so many others say, my parents didn’t have a clue where we were but we weren’t alone and we had a lot of fun! We’d know when to come home for dinner, when the street lights came on we all said good bye because that meant it was time to go home. This is NOT abuse! No one was out stealing or breaking into stores. We were playing games with the other neighborhood kids.

    Now I personally don’t believe in allow my kids to roam aimlessly around the streets – I think if they have too much time on their hands they’ll get into trouble BUT I did allow them to walk to the park TOGETHER, ride their bikes around the neighborhood. They had a watch and knew they had to check in every so often (I think it was every 30 minutes when they were younger and longer as they got older). I allowed them to walk to their friends house without my walking behind them. I didn’t want my kids sitting around playing video games. Government really needs to stay out of the parenting of our children.

  4. Edward Hafner April 14, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    I used to think Air-Conditioning was the worst technology ever invented. (Make the indoors so pleasant, you never want to go outdoors again – and all at the expense of the ecosystem you have completely shunned.)
    Cell Phones make A/C pale by comparison. How is it that human existence has become solely reliable, solely possible – only through the use of TOY TELEPHONES?!

    Been monitering comments on the Washington Post stories; lots of support for the FRK ideas mixed in with the D.C. area political rhetoric.

    I donated to the Meitiv’s cause the first time around on this issue. I hope the rest of you are doing so now.

  5. Paul C April 14, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    It’s not the government that’s teh issue, it’s the neighbourhood busybodies that think there’s danger around every corner “these days” and call the cops at the drop of a hat. Yes, the police dealt with the situation in the worst way possible, but there would be no incident without the phone call from the “concerned citizen”.

    Mind your own damn business people.

  6. Emily Morris April 14, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Of course there’s nothing wrong with going to the park with your kids. What’s finer than a nice family picnic and play date at the park? But we’re not talking about the rights and wrongs of family day at the park, we’re talking about the kids wanting to head down to the park for an hour or two without Mom and Dad. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, either!

    On another note of poor and rich kids, I teach at an urban school. Now my state of Utah seems to be satisfactorily free-range in many ways as far as I’ve noted and many of the students (2nd graders) seem free-range. But I also have exceptions. It being an urban school with its location, we have a lot of poverty, which means we do have the poor parents locking their kids in all day. I have a little girl, a very sweet, well-mannered, and bright little girl who has many friends and gets excellent grades. She is one of our kids in poverty, and despite all her charms and wonders she is clueless about the outside world because her working parents have her at school or inside the apartment all day. She doesn’t know about parks, the nature center up the road, hiking, many sports games, etc. It’s sad.

  7. Jen (P.) April 14, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    @Paul C – You can’t let the government off the hook here. Child protection agencies are vested with enormous power because of the seriousness of the issues under their jurisdiction. This particular agency is abusing that power, and it’s up to the citizens of Maryland to rein it back in.

  8. Abigail April 14, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    Why do so many people catastrophize a simple park visit and never once apply that same weird imaginitive thinking to the police “coercing” those children into their cruiser. If every situation holds threat which requires an adult, then I don’t want my kids with some cop (given the high profile shootings of late) who I don’t know. And yay to the comments about cell phones -just because we can be connected doesn’t mean we NEED to be.

  9. Kierstin April 14, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    When I was 10 we moved out to the country and I decided to roller blade up and down our hilly country road. I was about a mile from home (unknown to my mother) when I went too fast down a hill, fell, my glasses broke, and cut me above my eye. There were houses around and a passing car stopped and asked if I was ok but left when I said I was fine, so I walked that mile back home, barefooot, blood streaming down my face, with no adult help. My mother was irate, mostly that no one helped me, but she took me to the hospital where I got stitches and still allowed me to go to a camp out that night with my horseback riding group. By the way, this was 2000 near Cincinnati Ohio, not 1950 out in the boonies, so it’s not a much different time and place than most kids live today.
    I was not traumatized in the least by the experience. However, I absolutely know I would have been traumatized if my mom had used this as a reason to keep me limited indoors or to our yard. Wandering up and down those hills as a child still remain some of my best memories and I’m glad I wasn’t robbed of that “just in case of an emergency.”

  10. Tiny Tim April 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    Driving kids around in cars is pretty much the most dangerous thing you can do, aside from throwing them off buildings perhaps.

  11. lxxxvc April 14, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    These people who think you can’t let children play in a park by themselves seem impervious to any empirical data or rational argument. They remind me of anti-vaxxers, or even of the people who were caught up in the “Satanic ritual abuse” scare years ago.

    Once someone decides to see things that way, for whatever reason, it is really hard to shake them out of it, and unfortunately such viewpoints can and do have damaging consequences in the real world.

  12. Warren April 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Some people really need to take some history classes.

    It was not really that long ago. Basing this solely on evolution, because humans have not significantly changed in that time.

    But not that long ago, 10 year olds were basically running the home, cooking, looking after siblings, as both parents were in the fields, or whatever. And not long after they were ten, as they were in their mid teens, they were getting married, having babies, and a home and farm of their own.

    Now here we are saying a 10 yr old playing in the park with his 6 yr old sister is irresponsible and neglect.

    So if history holds true, in another 50-125 yrs………30 yr olds will stil be considered children. Not able to drive, not able to vote, and so on. thank god I won’t live to see those days

  13. rebekah forster April 14, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    I think children can problem solve. They should be fine 2 blocks away in a nice neighborhood. Why are others trying to condemn what other parents do? Instead of worrying about others and criticizing, I’m sure there is something in their life, they could change for the better–one that comes to mind is minding their own business!

  14. Anna April 14, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    But what’s wrong with giving the kids a cell phone? “I didn’t have one growing up” doesn’t seem like a valid reason to me. If you go far enough back, people didn’t have car seats, seat belts, helmets, vaccines and many other things that make life better and safer. “And they survived” isn’t valid either — many didn’t. We live in a safer world today; why not take advantage of progress? If the Meitiv kids had a phone, they may have been able to call or text their parents to let them know what was going on when all this trouble started.

  15. Anna April 14, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Especially if you consider that the adults who call 911 are armed with cell phones, it makes sense for kids to have one just to even out the playing field. Just face it — cell phones are a part of today’s world, just like cars, computers, airplanes etc. We also don’t write with quills (something teachers used to tsk-tsk about when modern pens first made their appearance).

  16. Maggie in VA April 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    When I saw this in The Post this morning, my heart fell into my shoes. I would agree that 10yo is too young to “supervise” a 6yo for an extended period, but a 10yo escorting his 6yo sibling on a walk from the playground is just appropriate, routine activity for children. In the comments to the coverage of the Meitiv’s first run-in with CPS, many Post readers harped on how bad traffic is where the kids were walking. True, but as long as there are cross-walks and crossing signals that the 10yo knows how to navigate, how does the presence of an adult even change that equation? I think of all the times my peers and I were tramping through the woods in our area before cell phones even existed outside of the cars of super-rich executives, and I’m just astounded at the anxiety some people project on children enjoying even the modest mobility that urban life allows them.

  17. Tiny Tim April 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    my 11-year-old nephew was given a cell phone. he lost it on the first day.

    Nothing wrong with giving one to your kid, but there’s no guarantee they’ll have it with them at the moment of emergency which likely will never actually happen.

  18. George April 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    What continues to amaze me about this — and similar — cases is the underlying question of the State’s interest in the care of children. Not to start another argument, but I have no problem with requiring vaccinations. That affects society as a whole so, arguably, is a State interest. The state also has an interest in protecting children in cases where the parents are not doing their job: alcohol or drugs; dangers in the home itself (sanitation, guns accessible, needles) and, of course, verbal or physical abuse. It’s beyond a stretch to make a case for a state interest letting kids play unsupervised in a suburban park. Statistically, there is no danger beyond that of day to day risks we adults — and all children — assume in all our activities. No question that awful things can happen but awful things happen randomly and everywhere. My guess is there’s been more kids dead from school shootings than from kidnappings in parks, but we still send kids to school. We tend to give parents wide latitude in determining what risks they’re willing to take with their children. CPS in Maryland has to just accede that this is just one more acceptable risk and up to the parents to assume responsibility.

  19. MichaelF April 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    “I don’t want my kids with some cop (given the high profile shootings of late) who I don’t know”

    Interestingly many cops are men. Men who are alone with kids.

    OMG – let the fear mongering commence

  20. Cherilyn April 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    At age 11, my daughter was babysitting three children, all under the age of six, including a six month old baby. I trained her. We purchased The Babysitters Handbook and went over everything. She started out with one child, and then as she became more proficient, she took on more responsibility. She did the dishes and cleaned up the house before the parents returned home. And she only charged half as much as other kids her age. She was making very good money at that time, and was in great demand because – horrors – she was HOME SCHOOLED and available during regular school hours. So good was she, that the family of three decided she was trustworthy at age 12 to spend the night when the parents took their monthly overnight date night. Teaching children self-reliance and self-governance is the key. My own father raised his little brother when he was 11 years old after their father died and their mother had to work away from home as a nurse, sometimes two weeks at a time. Today’s parents simply need to teach their children to rise to the occasion and teach them to be courageous and expand their capabilities, otherwise their fortitude will atrophy and they will be a generation of weaklings.

  21. John April 14, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    When I was visiting West Malaysia, I went on a little jungle trek at one of the national parks. It involved staying in a lodge while going on different treks each day. Those lodges over there are usually a family run business and believe you me, Malaysians can have big families with lots of kids! While eating on the little dining terrace, the kids would be playing and wrestling with each other while mom and dad would be serving the patrons. Since mom and dad were always busy, the older siblings would watch and take care of the younger ones. So it was really heart warming to see an 11-year-old boy carry around his infant baby sister and show her off to all of the tourists. Many tourists were charmed by it but then you’d hear the occasional ignorant comment from Western tourists such as, “These kids’ parents ought to have their heads examined allowing a child that young to carry around an infant! Goodness, what if he drops her?” As if an 11-year-old boy is not strong enough to walk around with a 12 lb. baby in his arms.

    When I was trekking over in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas in the foothills of Nepal, The village kids would flock around us trekkers. They were very poor and would love it when we gave them pens! But it wasn’t unusual at all to see kids as young as 8- and 9-years-old come out to see us with their 2- and 3-year-old siblings in hand. No parents around whatsoever! Something like that would be completely unfathomable in the United States and I’m almost certain some “vigilante” would call CPS if they saw something like that. Young children supervising their younger siblings with no parent around and then walking up to strangers….eegads!

    But these kids learn responsibility at an early age and will be much better adults because of it AND none of them were abducted or molested by any of us trekkers!

  22. Kelly April 14, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I love your webpage. I get your updates and I quote them to my friends. I am curious how you handle siblings. I try to be free range, we live out in the country so at times it’s pretty easy. My problem is my two fight. Physically. A lot. My son is four and my daughter is two. I am concerned that he gets a little two violent. Such as when he put his arm around her neck (while riding a battery operated toy), threw her down, then accidentally ran her over. I happened to be gardening and she didn’t really get hurt but it makes me a little concerned. Plus, they are always yelling at each other and literally knock down drag out fighting. What is your take on this situation? I am very interested to hear. Please let me know what you would do in this situation. I am looking for another point of view from being a helicopter parent or the over spanky spanky parent. I just want to be happy and my kids to be happy.

  23. Dean Whinery April 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Has this family been wearing targets on their backs?

  24. Beth April 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    “But what’s wrong with giving the kids a cell phone?”

    There’s nothing wrong with it, if that’s what the parents want to do. But all parents should not be required to give their child a cell phone (loss? breakage?) to satisfy someone else’s opinion of what constitutes “good” parenting.

    I’m not going to call the police if I see something I don’t like about your parenting; please give me the same courtesy.

  25. Buffy April 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Get a grip people!! (not you lovely people, but people in general!) A 10-year-old is most likely in 5th grade. Think about that. Middle school next year, but not competent enough this year to walk a mile, play in a park, and supervise a first-grade sibling.

  26. Paul C April 14, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    Why SHOULD the parent’s buy cell phones for their kids? Just to appease the “what if” crowd? Why should a parent spend money to make others feel at ease. The monthly cost is no where near justified based on the extremely minute chance of something the kids can’t take care of themselves. That’s partially WHY they’re out by themselves, to learn life lessons without patrents hovering.

    Let the kids play, and if they aren’t actively being abducted (by strangers, INCLUDING police), leave them alone.

  27. JJ April 14, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Great job Havva.

    The saddest thing about the original commenter is that she’s all too willing to let the tail wag the dog. We shouldn’t let our kids play at the park because they are in danger of someone or some institution saying they shouldn’t play at the park? Not because they are actually unsafe doing so or because it is our own opinion. When did we become so willing to relinquish our rights or to let others tell us they know more about our families than we do?

    And the logic that you can simply swap playing at the playground out for doing chores. SMH.

  28. JJ April 14, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    Oh and one more thing. The suggestion that “you can sit and play on your phone!!” Tells me about everything I need to know about that commenter.

  29. Emily Morris April 14, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    When I was growing up in the 90s, 10 years seemed to be the standard age to start babysitting.

  30. SKL April 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    I managed to survive my entire free-range childhood being at the playground without my parents ever being there (or giving us a phone) “in case of emergency.” So did every other kid in the city. Amazing. We are all living on borrowed time. :/

  31. Havva April 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Per Kierstin’s comment: “I was not traumatized in the least by the experience [walking home bare foot and bloodied with broken glasses]. However, I absolutely know I would have been traumatized if my mom had used this as a reason to keep me limited indoors or to our yard.”

    I’ve actually seen that trauma of accidents,and minor struggles, being used as an excuse to keep kids ‘safe’ from engaging activities. When we were in middle school my helicoptered friend (just a year younger) ran out of babysitters in town who were older than her. Her parents turned to me. For my friend’s dignity, I refused to let them pay me or call me a babysitter, but I came because my friend didn’t want dragged everywhere.

    My friend had a new big backyard trampoline. It was the only thing that relieved the physical stifling restlessness of being cooped up in that house/yard. One day I was jumping on the trampoline, and I landed on the edge. The pad happened to be shifted, and I fell through the springs. The springs rubbed hard and fast against both sides of my thighs, closed a bit on the skin and gave me a solid thwack to the crotch. I was in such enormous pain initially that it took my breath. And I couldn’t speak clearly for a few minutes.

    The external signs of injury were limited, but the pain wasn’t subsiding the way I had learned to expect. I wasn’t sure what to do on my own. But I wasn’t worried. I had handled the initial aftermath of enough accidents on my own to be confident I would be alright, once I got some help. I just needed to call my mom for advice. But my friend, my poor friend, broke down in terror at the suggestion. She told me that her parents would certainly take the trampoline away if they knew there had been any accident at all. She was certain there was no way to keep the info safe if we placed that call. She pleaded that the trampoline was the only thing she couldn’t bare to loose. I was hurt, scared of being cut off from help, and mad, and I told her what she was asking of me was wrong.

    By the time the pain subsided enough for me to walk to the phone, I had given thought to how my friend normally accepted restriction stoically. I also thought about how I could hardly take 2 hours in her house without the trampoline. So I determined the it would be worse for my friend to loose her only reliable physical outlet, than for me to be in untreated pain for a few days. I was barely able to hide the accident from my parents or hers. But I covered with lies and didn’t tell until after my friend, as an adult, escaped from her parents and cut off contact with them.

  32. Rachael April 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    I just asked a group of high school freshmen at what age they started walking to school or taking the public bus to school, most said 5th grade. A couple said 2nd grade. Most started walking to their neighborhood park at about the same age. Very few felt that 10 and 6 were too young to be doing these activities. They all agreed that it would depend on the area the kids lived in (we live in a very urban area with a large gang population).

  33. Eric S April 14, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Couldn’t have better rebutted those questions myself.

    You can plainly see, from those questions, the fear and insecurity of the adult who asked them. The very same fear and insecurity they are passing on to their children. Whether they realize it or not. And whether they realize it or not, that only hampers children from learning very important lessons in life. Lessons that previous generations learned from a very young age.

  34. Reziac April 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    @Jon: But if the kids are safely locked inside a building — what if the building burns down? /sarc

    There’s no sane endpoint in the quest for perfect safety, because anything can be unsafe.

    Cripes, when my sister and I were 10 and 5, we were home all day by ourselves all summer, made our own beds and lunches, biked up to the park (across several busy streets) or walked up to the swimming pool (across the busiest street in our state) and no one said a word. In fact most people would have considered it odd if mommy had followed us around as we behaved like kids.

  35. lollipoplover April 14, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    So 10 is the new 5?
    Sorry, not my kid.

    Next year, my youngest will be 9. She has commuted on foot or bike to school, parks, swim clubs, and friends since she was 5.
    That’s 4 years of real life experience.
    I put my money on her ‘street smarts’ over that of “Just a Mom” any day. She will be the oldest out of her bike line next year and trusted with kids 6-7 to role model proper behavior. Why can’t she be trusted to assume this responsibility?

    If you never trust your child to do anything, you’re raising a child not trustworthy.
    Good luck with that!

  36. Karen Virtue April 14, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    areas of note:(from the USA today article)

    1) “Under Maryland law, if an officer believes there’s circumstances or some indication that involves child abuse or neglect, we are mandated as police officers in Maryland to contact Child Protective Services,” said Capt. Paul Starks with Montgomery County police.” SOLUTION: COPS need better education on dealing with independent children to better assess a situation..

    2) “Maryland law prohibits children younger than age 8 from being unattended in a dwelling or car but makes no reference to outdoors. A person must be at least 13 years old to supervise a child younger than 8.” The law does not apply in this case. SOLUTION: The law needs to be clarified (hopefully with a free-range perspective 🙂

  37. Maresi April 14, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Beautifully done, Havva. Thank you!

  38. Dhewco April 14, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    If someone else said this, I missed it. The cops probably would have confiscated a cell phone before they could use it. “Give us your cell phone, we’ll talk to your parents.” Or “That’s a cool phone, can I see it? Sorry, I’ll let your parents give it back when we talk to them.” Then, they would have been put in a room with an aide and left to wait it out. I have no doubt that those kids probably asked to talk to their parents and were put off by the CPS workers. As time worn on, the kids would have gotten tired and the workers would have put up distractions to keep the kids occupied.

  39. Leila Goldmark April 14, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    Well, I was going to comment about the socioeconomic presumptions that “Just a Mom” makes, but Jon beat me to it! Thank you, Jon 🙂

    And do cell phones make us safer? Yes, one with GPS is handy, and as public pay phones become harder to find, a cell phone is convenient. But consider – I got a few bumps and bruises, and even a set of stitches on a playground as a kid, but a cell phone broke my ankle as an adult (dialing while traversing a hotel lobby, and trying to call my kid the first time I ever went away for the weekend and left her with dad). Ha ha. Mobile joke’s on me.

  40. Dhewco April 14, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Just read the Meitiv’s statement….oh for an edit button. So, they sat in the police car for 3 hours? And were then sent to CPS? Wow, why didn’t they at least bring them into the police station? Were the higher ups debating that long about what to actually do? Why use 3 police cars for two little kids? Did they think the Meitiv’s were hiding in the bushes with automatic rifles just daring the police to intervene?

    So many questions about that statement. Another question: Were the police called by a busybody who saw the kids walking again, or did a cruiser drive by a see them? Was it the same officer who was involved in the earlier case?

    Just some things I thought about from that statement in the later thread.

    David

  41. gap.runner April 14, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    When I was 10, I was watching my younger brother (age 1 at the time) while my mother went out for short periods to run errands. I was babysitting for pay at 11.

    Where I live in Germany it is very common to see 9 to 10-year-old kids walking to primary school with their younger siblings. They even cross a busy street with a traffic light by themselves in the afternoons when they get out of school, though there is a crossing guard in the mornings. If the police picked up every kid in Germany for walking or riding a bicycle to school or a local park alone, the jails would be full of children!

    When I was 6 I was at a friend’s house. While running in the backyard with my friend I stepped on a board with a nail that was sticking up out of it. My friend’s older brother, who was 10 or 11 at the time, carried me into the house, where his mother pulled the nail out. Then the older brother carried me home half a block a way. My mother thanked the boy for bringing me home, then washed my foot and bandaged it. My cut foot was treated as the accident that it was. There were no lawsuits or threats of going to CPS for letting a 10-11 year old boy keep an eye on two 6-year-old girls. My friend’s mother obviously felt that her son was old and responsible enough to carry a crying 6-year-old girl home. This was back in 1965 and times were different–because kids were treated as capable human beings back then.

  42. Nicola April 14, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    I just read Maryland is trying to ban smoking in cars with children under 8 !!! I wonder whats your take on this?

  43. Cherilyn April 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    A good argument could also be made for the state’s interest in the health risk of sending a child to a public school. Vaccinated or not, kids get sick. And they get more sick in a public setting. My kids got the normal childhood diseases even when we home schooled some of them and vaccinated them.

    But the home schooled children were FAR more healthy than their counterparts in public schools. If a parent wants to vaccinate a child, that is a parents’ choice. Those that are vaccinated are most protected from the most deadly diseases.

    But to require vaccination of all children for diseases such as chicken pox or even to assume they will grow up to be a drug user so they need the Hep B vaccine at birth, really does not rise to the level of other killer childhood diseases such as polio. However, we obliterated polio years ago…until recently. Why?

    Frankly, California is facing a greater health risk from illegal aliens crossing the border with some of these diseases we conquered decades ago. That’s also another discussion.

  44. anonymous mom April 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    I have a ten year old. And, frankly, he is not by any means the most mature or self-controlled 10 year old in the world. I know plenty of kids his age who are more mature and responsible than he is.

    And yet, he is perfectly capable of providing appropriate supervision for younger children playing outside. No question. That we can’t even trust a 10 year old to supervise a 6 year old (who would also be capable of playing safely on a playground–a 6 year old without special needs is capable of staying away from the street, not wandering off, not going off with strangers, and other basic safety precautions) for a couple of hours at a park shows how far our expectations of children have fallen.

    The cell phone thing is so interesting. Just a decade ago, many people did not have cell phones. They were not incapable of handling emergencies. In fact, knowing that nearly everybody has a cell phone makes me feel better about sending my oldest out without one, because I know that if there was a genuine emergency, it would be very easy for somebody to call for help. (My husband witnessed a man having a seizure in the middle of the road the other day. About half a dozen other walkers and drivers, including my husband, stopped to help, my husband called 911, and somebody else called the campus police. In a genuine emergency, there are going to be people willing and able to help.) The idea that parents are somehow negligent to let a child alone outside without a cell phone is ridiculous.

    But I think this shows how we become more reliant on technology. People give their kids a cell phone thinking it will make their already-safe child safer, and then very quickly it becomes that children are fundamentally unsafe if they are outside without a cell phone.

  45. Kelly April 14, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    Really, people….what did we do before cellphones? 20-40 years ago? When free-range parenting wasn’t a movement but the normal way of life and kids were running free and the only rules were “Be home before dark”?

  46. Warren April 14, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    On the cellphone topic.
    On the way home Sunday we came across an elderly couple halfway through their turn, and their right front wheel was almost completely off. Tie rod snapped. We stopped, and sure enough they had no cellphone, on them. Like a lot of elderly.

    Not all of us are attatched at the hip to a phone. I always have out of it being required for work.

    Anyways I called one of my contacts with a twotruck, that does CAA, and he towed them.

    While we waited with them, not less than 20 cars stopped to offer help. Relying on the kindness of strangers is alive and well, and there is nothing wrong with it.

  47. Anna April 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Anna (I’m a different one): Sure the parents could give them a cellphone. But besides the other reasons (loss, breakage) others have given, I don’t want to give my son a cellphone one minute before I absolutely have to because I don’t want him to start substituting texting, social media, etc. for real live communication. So unless a stripped-down, emergency-calls only cellphone is available, I won’t want to give him one.

  48. Donna April 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Mine 9.5 year old does have a cell phone (we don’t have a house phone so I got it for when she is home alone). She rarely gets to take it out of the house. This is a kid who left an entire backpack on a city bus in New Zealand. I trust her to get herself to and from the park in one piece, but the odds of that cellphone joining her both ways are not great.

  49. Caroline April 14, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    @Anna re: What’s wrong with giving kids a cell phone?

    I can’t speak for other parents, but the reason my kids won’t have one is that they can get into a lot more trouble with one than it’s worth in the unlikely event that a phone in the hands of a kid would actually make a difference in an emergency. Beyond their misusing it, I don’t want it to become another crutch that hampers their development. Just like math teachers expect students to be able to do the problem without the calculator, I expect my kids to get out of minor scrapes without calling me, to be able to entertain themselves without the help of a device, or to suffer boredom with equanimity if they can’t.

  50. mkd April 14, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    When I was 9 my friends and I road our bikes to a nearby park all the time. I broke my arm that summer, landing wrong after jumping off a swing.With no adults around, one friend raced home on her bike to get my parents and the other friends walked with me with towards home. My mom picked me up in the car and my friends brought my bike home. One friend might have been 10 and her sister was 7 or 8. They knew what to do and took care of me as I was crying in pain. Never underestimate what kids are capable of doing in an emergency.

    I’m happy to live in a like minded neighborhood now with my own kids. They only play in each others yards because the neighbors have a nice wooded area, live in a curl de sac , and one has a great rainbow play system. My daughter at 10 is the oldest and helps look after all the other kids. The youngest is 4 and is watched by his big 7 yr old sister and 9 yr old brother along with all the other kids who happen to be out. My son accidently elbowed his friend and gave him a bloody nose. He immediately ran to get his friends dad. We never specifically taught him to go get an adult, but at 7 at the time, he knew what to do. 

  51. anonymous mom April 14, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    @Anna: “If you go far enough back, people didn’t have car seats, seat belts, helmets, vaccines and many other things that make life better and safer. ‘And they survived’ isn’t valid either — many didn’t.”

    Perhaps I am simply older than many here, but “back before cell phones” wasn’t that long ago, and I can assure you that the idea that “many didn’t survive” is untrue. There were not lots of deaths twenty years ago that would have been prevented had people had cell phones.

  52. Donna April 14, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    Warren – Similarly, my car got totaled by an impaired driver on the way to the Y a few years ago. Since we were just traveling a mile or so from the house and both planning on swimming, I didn’t bring my cellphone (or license but the cop let me slide on that). Several people stopped. Two entertained my daughter while I talked to the police and dealt with everything. One drove us home and even insisted that my daughter take one of her children’s toys that she had latched onto. You will find people willing to go out of their way to help others far more often than you will find people wanting to hurt others.

  53. Thomas Arbs April 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    When I was a kid between the two ages specified, I was a single child and did not even have a sibling to rely on when I went into the forest. A forest! With a river running in it! A forest in a city, mind you, there would still be paths and people walking them to address in case of trouble. Because not only did I obviously not have a mobile at that time, in the forest there weren’t even phone booths. But the one time I did get into trouble was when I climbed the highest tree and didn’t dare climb down again and there were no people up there to ask. So I sat there for a few hours contemplating and eventually before nightfall did climb down because the embarrassment of really shouting for help was stronger than fear.

  54. Cherilyn April 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    One more comment: When my daughter was 11, I also taught her to ride the MetroNorth train and to transfer to the Manhattan subway system to Times Square and then to walk to the Paramount building to Circle in the Square Theatre, which she did by herself on a few occasions. Shocking, right?

    Kids in NYC ride the subways routinely every day to and from school. It was probably much safer than driving her in a car from our home in Connecticut to the City. And she had no fear because we taught her what to do if anything unusual happened.

    She was also the tour guide for all the adults that came to the workshops from around the world. They were completely lost, but she knew exactly how to get them from point A to point B.

    Overall, parents (and the Nanny State) should look to history, albeit some abuses, which are always highlighted and which bury the other side of the equation. Young people around age were taking responsibility for incomes in their teens. They were more highly educated. Among them were the founders of this nation. John Adams. Thomas Jefferson, among them.

    We might ask whether the parents of a 12 year old who sent him alone on an 11 hour train ride to be responsible for the sale of the family’s entire flock of sheep that year, turn of the century, were just abusive parents or all-wise.

    That young man grew up and built one of the largest corporations in America. His name was J. Willard Marriott.

    Are parents babying their children and adolescents by not expecting more of them? Do we really believe the lies that “kids need a childhood” in their adolescent years? Frankly, it is my belief that we have an adolescent delinquency problem precisely because they are not allowed to get jobs by age 12 and to start working for their living and saving up for lessons, their athletics and dance and college or whatever. They have come to expect their parents to cover it all for them. It is not the school’s role to control the workforce and provide the apprenticeships. That’s the role of the parents and the workplace. Not government. It is the parents’ job to help their children become self-reliant. But the more they rely on and expect government schools to do it, they can hardly complain that they have lost their parental rights. Today “young” people in their mid to late 20s still living at home or getting subsidies from their parents! Unbelievably tragic.

  55. Becky April 14, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    What is with the assumption that its necessary to carry a cell phone in case emergencies arise?! Heck, cell phones didn’t even exist until I was a high schooler. How on earth did we ever deal with emergencies before then?!

    If you’re so worried about child abductions and the like, maybe you SHOULDN’T give a cell phone to your pre-teen. How else to you expect their potential nefarious abductors to be contacting them, if not via social media and/or text?

  56. anonymous mom April 14, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    @Becky: Ha! I was thinking the same thing. If your child does not have a cell phone, when one of the many adults out looking for a child to nab or molest off the street comes after them, they won’t be able to call for help! But, if they do have a cell phone, the many adults using the internet to find or lure innocent and unsuspecting children into their evil clutches will be able to find them. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  57. Kathy Fowler April 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    I wish the busybodies who insist that parents can spend a few hours of their time watching the kids play at the park would just turn it around: If you’re so worried about kids out on their own and have time to mind other peoples’ business, you can spend a few hours of your own time watching the kids. That would be far less traumatic to the kids than you siccing CPS on them. And you’d be handy to call 911 if someone got hurt, or to ward off the thousands of kidnappers or child molesters you’ve presumed are lurking in the bushes.

    “Wait!” you say. “Those aren’t my kids. They aren’t my responsibility!”

    Damned right. They are the responsibility of the parents who love them, trust them, and know what they’re capable of.

  58. hineata April 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    @Kelly – wish I had an answer for you regarding the sibling thing. I was blessed with the ultimate Asian responsible big brother in my son – he ‘took to’ both babies immediately and was never jealous, helped me out, yada, yada. Could have been an age thing (3 years and 4.5 years respectively between him and the girls ). He still looks out for them now they’re all teens. Personality rather than training, so no help to you.

    On thing you could try is having an area that is the boy’s alone. I did block off an area of the lounge with sofas that he could climb over so he could play with his trains undisturbed by his destructive toddler sister. Worked on both of them, actually, as sister spent many happy hours trying to work out how to get into the ‘enclosure’. Being physically delayed, she never made it until she was actually old enough to play properly with the set anyway, so all was well.

  59. Warren April 14, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    Becky,
    When I was in high school “car phones” were the size of small briefcases.

  60. Anna April 14, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    In the days before cell phones there were pay phones everywhere and kids usually had enough change for a phone call. They were often expected to call their parents if they were at a friend’s house, too. Phones give more flexibility and can make the kids safer. It’s always possible to buy a relatively cheap one, and learning to take good care of it and not lose it is a good lesson in responsibility. No, that doesn’t mean every parent should be required to get one for their child, but it’s still a wise move, I think.

  61. Abigail April 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    I’m fear mongering again – David made the excellent point that THREE police cruisers were needed to handle two children and then the kids were kept in the back of a cruiser for three hours! Ridiculous!! It seems to me that the park in question exists within an area that has man-power to spare, just not to use their brain-power judiciously. If you can commit resources to handle a call such as this in the manner it was handled, then perhaps the community would benefit from a cop spending time assessing the safety of the children before holding them. That responding officer could have spent an hour observing them and it would have saved those taxpayers in response time and payroll.

  62. Anna April 14, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Just because a technology is new and only recently people survived just fine without it, doesn’t mean we should eschew it until it becomes less new.

  63. Havva April 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    @Anna,

    I do agree that there is no need to reject cell phones. Hell I’ve heard nasty comments for letting my toddler use one (as a camera). My kid my choice. My purpose was merely to defend the right of parents to decide it isn’t for their kids. Or that it isn’t for themselves.

  64. anonymous mom April 14, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    @Anna, no, we shouldn’t eschew it. But neither do we need to use it. It’s a parental choice. And children are perfectly safe without them.

    On a side note, is it just me or is “free-range parenting” being defined down quite a bit? Like, I would not consider myself a “free-range parent.” I try not to be paranoid, but I don’t let my 10 year old freely roam the neighborhood or my 5 year old to play in the field across the street unsupervised. To me, those would be “free range” choices. Instead, I let my 10 year old go certain places within a few blocks on his own, my 5 year old to play in front of the house (but not across the street) if other kids are out, and my 10 year old to supervise his younger siblings in the front yard and field. To me, that is NOT “free range.” That’s actually being a kind of an overprotective parent.

    And yet increasingly people seem to define “free range” as “ever letting a child under 13 or 14 be outside without direct adult supervision.” That’s an insane and incorrect definition. To me, these parents allowing a 10 year old to take a 6 year old to a nearby neighborhood park is not “free range.” That’s just average, relatively protective parenting. And it’s just crazy it’s seen as otherwise.

  65. Matt April 14, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    @Nicola

    As someone with lung impairment that doctors believe is related to working around cigarette smoke for 7 years, people smoking with kids in the car are completely irresponsible. That said, making it illegal requires punishment, which becomes problematic, as its a challenge to punish the poor without making things worse.

    So probably no law, but in this case, shaming the parent is warranted. There’s hard evidence of a high probability of irreparable harm. I could possibly be talked into a law if the requirement was a treatment program.

  66. Jim April 14, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    I, too, walked to kindergarten when I was a child (almost a mile). I assure you, I wasn’t the only kid doing it, either. I walked to school all through grade school (over a mile). I didn’t know it until I was much older, but it made me very independent. God, I love my parents for making me who I am. Giving me freedom. Making me responsible for my actions. This mother did what was common place when I grew up. Just be home for dinner, mom would say as I ventured out to the nearby woods and lose all track of time exploring; running into a few other kids doing the same. In the summer, my brother and I would ride our bikes everywhere, by ourselves. Sometimes to the pool to swim, sometimes to the park 10 miles away from home. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks Mom and Dad, love and miss you both!

  67. Liz April 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

    At 10 years old, I was part of my 5th grade “Safety Patrol.” Our school district could not afford crossing guards for all but the busiest of streets, so we had the oldest kids in elementary school do it (the 5th graders). Yes, at 10 I was crossing first graders across the street. Most kids walked to and from school (many well over a mile) by themselves or with a friend. PLEASE don’t tell me that a responsible 10-year old can’t supervise a 6-year old. The only reason people are saying they can’t is because WE ARE TRAINING THEM TO BE BABIES!!!! And no one had cell phones. This was 1975 people. And please don’t tell me that “times are different.” There were documented cases of child predators, even in my small town. We all looked out for each other, and people who did not work during the day had “helping hand” stickers in their windows should a young one need to reach out for help. We are raising a nation of losers.

  68. Yocheved April 14, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    When I was 5 I wanted to wander the neighborhood alone, but my mother forced me to let my 3yo sister tag along. I remember being SO annoyed! Never once did I fear for my safety or hers, I just remember wanting to be free.

    Please don’t tell me it was a “different world” back then. Lenore has already busted that myth a thousand times.

    These days, all the moms in my neighborhood think of me as “that mother” who dares to let her almost 12yo girl cross a quiet residential street on her own. Oh, the horror! My kid is the most well adjusted child in the community, by far.

  69. Lihtox April 15, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    When my daughter was 6, she knew how to behave herself in public, and was probably more cautious than I am: I was ready to let her roam around the neighborhood but she only wanted to go around the block. What she lacked was experience, and that’s what a 10 year old cn do: not stop her from doing things, but give her information she lacks, or help her do things she can’t do herself.

    Not all 6-year-olds are like that; some can be very impulsive. That’s why we should leave this sort of thing up to the parent to decide.

  70. Deborah April 15, 2015 at 12:13 am #

    Good Golly Miss Molly. I so feel for the children of today. When I was eleven, I cared for four children aged 1, 2, 3, and 4 from 7:00 in the morning until between 11:30 and 4:00 am while their parents partook in EXPO 67 activities. It was one of the most empowering jobs I ever had. I took good care of those four children. I fed them, played with them and put them to bed. The five of us played for hours at the park 4 blocks from home. From years of free-range play, I was responsible, handled a couple of difficult situations and earned $10.00 for the five days.

    I am so thankful that I was able to live without the fear that plagues so many today.

  71. Jill April 15, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    With all due respect to those who advocate for “free-range” parenting, adult supervision and the furtherance of childhood freedom and independence can occur simultaneously. The Meitiv family, for example, could change their approach and still implement their core values around ‘free-range parenting’. Doing so could model a host of valuable skills to children: adaptation, creativity, collaboration with different systems, etc.

  72. The other Mandy April 15, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    The Idea that kids want their parents around all the time is absurd. Today my 2-1/2 year old told me he was going out to play, and “Mommy stay here”. He was very upset when I wouldn’t allow it.

    Regarding capability, when we had a new babysitter back in the Fall (so kid was maybe 2 and 3 months at most), she didn’t know how to get to our neighborhood park about 1/2 mile away. I gave directions but told her to just ask the kid. She reported later that he gave better directions than I did. She was stunned; I wasn’t. Kids aren’t dumb.

    As far as “back in the day” goes, when I was a kid my dad told us stories of his childhood, including roaming the neighborhood at 4 or so. I remember thinking, as a kid, that his mom sounded a bit neglectful– but I walked home from school at 7 alone. And there was rarely a parent to be found at the park. Maybe on a weekend.

  73. Melli April 15, 2015 at 12:33 am #

    The biggest problem I have about free range parenting is that someone is usually serving as a defacto unofficial parent/supervisor. These are the people who loan cell phones to kids (not many pay phones around these days), administer on the spot first aid, or are expected to ask if the child is okay if it looks like they are in trouble, and intervene when they are seriously misbehaving Many people do not feel comfortable serving this role for children they do not know and attempt to avoid it at all costs because they don’t know the family. Most men I know would avoid any interaction with someone else’s child if parents were not around because strange men talking to children risk a call to 911 on them.

    This wasn’t as much of a problem when children lived in neighborhoods filled with homemakers and roamed as a part of a larger gang of children. Now families have one or two children instead of four or five, and houses in the neighborhood are often empty until someone returns to work. If an adult sees a child he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t know the parents, he is likely to call 911 if the child looks troubled, anxious or in need of assistance. Expecting someone to act otherwise is inconsiderate of people who may not want the conflict or the risk of being accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor.

    My cousin broke a leg when she fell from a swing-set at age 6, back in the late sixties. Fortunately her parents were present when it happened and were able to get her medical care without delay. My brother broke his arm in the early seventies; it happened under the supervison of teachers so he was also able to get medical care without delay.

    If the free range movement is going to be sustainable, eventually it will have to address the issues beside safety, about whether or not it is fair to place strangers in the uncomfortable position of being the adult at the park, at the crosswalk, or along the sidewalk, when they have no parental obligation to the child. It will have to address the issue of children behaving differently, and not always for the best, when their parents aren’t around.

    As for myself, I won’t go jogging without a cellphone. When a loose dog was snapping and growling at me, and wouldn’t let me move more than a few steps in any direction, I had to call the police to get assistance, but only after my shouts for assistance from neighbors when unanswered.

    For what it is worth, I was a free range child of the seventies, and I had no desire for my child to have the same experience. He was allowed to have plenty of unstructured time, spend a lot of time outside with the children in our apartment complex, and was subjected to a parenting style at a midpoint in the spectrum between free range and helicopter. He was a pleasant, intelligent, curious, self-reliant child who is now an amazing young adult, independent and making good things happen for him.

  74. Jawaid Bazyar April 15, 2015 at 2:42 am #

    At age 10 I had a job (paper route). I routinely got on my bike and wheeled all over town, and occupied myself.

    This was in the 1970s. There were no cell phones.

    The difference between the 1970s and today isn’t society. It isn’t the cities. It isn’t the children.

    The difference is ninny, worry-wart parents like “Just a mom”.

    “Free-range”? How can that even be a *thing*? That’s how I, and virtually everyone I know, got to be growing up.

  75. Jawaid Bazyar April 15, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    If anyone has wondered why there are so many young people who are still living in their parent’s basements, LOOK NO FURTHER. So many grown adults are completely infantilized in the US today. It’s really sad.

  76. Jawaid Bazyar April 15, 2015 at 2:53 am #

    Here’s another crazy idea. Meet your neighbors. Have neighborhood parties. Get everyone together. Get to know each other, and each other’s children.

    No, that is crazy. It’s better just to call the cops and cause everyone a lot of pain and suffering.

  77. sexhysteria April 15, 2015 at 5:01 am #

    The worst bike accident I’ve ever seen was when the child’s mother and teacher were right there watching! If anything, the excess “protection” gave the child a false sense of safety that led to the fall.

  78. tymmathi April 15, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    I was an only child.
    I went to the park, I went shopping on my bike, I walked to school, I got to ride my bike anywhere after I did cycle training with school.
    I baby sat for 6 year old across the street while her baby brother was small enough for her to carry because it scared her mom to leave them together. I was told where the phone was & the first aid kit I could barely reach. I would be pouring tea for her while she parked her car in the drive. I knew that if she was gone too long I had to find my mother or another neighbour to find out what was wrong. I was to stay with her daughter until her husband came home, I was trusted to keep her little ones worry free if she had a car crash.
    She felt it was safer to leaver her little ones with an 11 year old than to put them in the car (not to mention much quicker to shop without them)
    I never had to deal with an emergency as a child but I was taught how, maybe I didn’t see them as emergencies. That scar on my hand was just embarrassing (i got dizzy and needed help dressing the wound), that time my friend broke her wrist at school and no one else knew to get a teacher from the staff room (there wern’t any adults who could hear her screaming), that grazed knee with blood in my shoe was just a reason to patch my trousers quick before mother saw (and break out my very own first aid kit).
    The first time I knew it was an emergency was getting home after i’d missed the bus and hadn’t been able to call home; it had happened before but this time no one had offered me a lift and 8 miles later i was really late home. The police said that at 14 i couldn’t be reported missing until I was 4 hours late home; I got through the door while my mother was ‘talking’ to them.

  79. anonymous mom April 15, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    @Melli, people may balk at the idea of “having” to supervise other people’s children if they happen to be outside doing gardening while the neighbors’ kids are playing on the sidewalk. However, a generation of young people who lack basic competence in nearly all tasks because they have never been given any meaningful independence is going to be far worse.

    I wonder if we’d feel such horror at taking responsibility for others if we were talking about adults and not kids? Certainly if you were out and you saw an adult have an emergency, you would help them. You wouldn’t think, “Damn grown-up. Why don’t they have somebody else with them to deal with things like this?” I certainly have helped adults who needed help on occasion. Once a woman had a seizure on the sidewalk in front of my house, and of course I went to help her. Another time I saw an elderly woman in a parking garage who could not find her car, and I drove her around until she found it. I have called 911 and brought water to a person who fainted while out walking, and have certainly given adults directions many, many times. Never did it occur to me to begrudge these people the minimal help I offered, because they were somebody else’s responsibility.

    I don’t see children any different. If I’m out, and somebody needs help, I will help them, whether they are an adult or a child. Now, can people abuse this? Sure. I’m complained before about people who think “free range” really does mean not caring whether your children are basically expecting other people to “helicopter” them all day, as long as they are not bothering you. That’s not cool. Teach your children that begging the neighbors for food and attention all day is not okay, and if they need something to eat they can head home. But, I see nothing wrong with helping anybody–adult or child–who genuinely needs assistance if I am out and see it. As long as we feel that we have absolutely no level of responsibility to any child who is not our own–not even the same level of responsibility we’d feel toward the well-being of our adult neighbors–then, yes, “free-range” will be unworkable. But I don’t see how that doesn’t make a healthy, functioning society unworkable, as well.

  80. Jen April 15, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    In reading comments on this site and others, i see more and more people referring to the “free range movement.” Even my husband will occasionally tell someone i subscribe to the free range parenting philosophy. I’m not sure why but this bothers me a little. I love this website and many of the commenters who I would love to meet in person some day. However, i don’t see myself subscribing to any particular philosophy — i see myself as a parent raising a child and doing my best to allow her opportunities to learn and grow and be independent in a society that for some reason doesn’t seem to value this and often actively works against this.

    I guess what i find unsettling is that i don’t like labeling people – or somehow assuming that we are all alike, just because we believe in allowing our children appropriate and increasing independence–which in practice could be wildly different based on circumstances. And yet, somehow, we have become “Free-rangers,” an often misunderstood group that is somehow different and possibly opposed to keeping our children safe. Now, if we all must wear a label in order to create the visibility and voice for our children to take back the streets, and cul-de-sacs, and forests and empty lots and patches of woods, and parks–and their childhood and their right to be independent, free from unnecessary intervention–then so be it. I will pick up the label and join the cause. I could not think of a better cause or group of people.

    Oh. . .and to @Kelly. Welcome. From your example, it seems like you are doing great. You see that at 2 & 4, your children are not quite ready to be left to their own devices — THAT’S OK! Because you are aware of these dynamics, you will know when it will be appropriate to let them have some time on their own. Continue to set expectations for them, when they meet them, allow them more opportunity. And give them lots of opportunities to work together and succeed and build their confidence. They may not be ready to play unsupervised, but they may be ready to set the table together while you get dinner. Or cooperate to collect their books and get ready for a trip to the library.

  81. LisaBE April 15, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    1.) It bothers me about how the police coerced and tricked the kids to getting into the car to take them home, a lie.
    2.) I remember when I was about 8 or 9 years old, a couple of friends and I were playing in the woods near my house. One friend stepped on a huge thick 3 or 4 inch thorn. Went through the bottom of her shoe and was stuck in her foot. We couldn’t break it or remove her shoe. Thankfully she was small for her age, and I was somewhat tall and strong and I carried her home and my mom removed the thorn. We survived. Now we have a great story to tell.

  82. Diana Green April 15, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Is this about Racism? Or Classism?

    If the kids’ walk home was through a white, gated community, would the police have behaved differently?

    When my son was ten he was as smart as a fifth grader. Most ten-year-olds are!
    We lived in a suburban community bounded on one side by an urban neighborhood (socially, economically and racially mixed) a third of a mile NW. An apartment complex (also mixed) is a third of a mile SW. A third of a mile N there’s a former sand and gravel quarry now grown into “the wild woods”. A third of a mile E was an ultra-privileged neighborhood. A third of a mile S was a swamp.
    His friends loved to come to our house! There were all these places to explore! On their own. Without adult supervision. (They all knew their phone numbers.)

    Did the local suburban Police Force stop them and give them a hard time for being out there without a grown up. Yes, indeed they did.
    And the kids handled it.
    Did some parents take us off their kids’ play date lists? Yes, of course.
    That was 1981 or so.
    Some things never change.
    My son and I have been discussing the Maryland case.
    He has thanked me many times over the years for being “the worst parent on the planet” during his “free range childhood”.
    He grew up to be curious, resilient, a “trouble-shooter” and problem-solver par excellence. He is accepting of all people, no exceptions, and has a great sense of humor.

  83. Julie April 15, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    I’m 33 and still don’t own a cell phone. There are times I have thought it would come in handy but the expense simply doesn’t seem worthwhile for the few times I might use it. I don’t see any reason for me to carry a cell phone 24/7 for the astronomically low odds that I might be injured while I’m out. I live in a fairly populated area and should I have any sort of accident it is unlikely that more than a minute would pass without another human being happening by. I know if I came upon an individual in need of assistance I wouldn’t hesitate to offer what I could. I’m sure for the most part my neighbours would be willing to do the same (actually there have ben a couple of times that I have experienced this) so I don’t feel a need to pay for an item that I don’t need and would most likely distract me from my real objectives anyway. There is nothing wrong with cell phones (my husband has one and it’s very convenient) and I have nothing against people who choose to own them but it’s not something I need or want and I’m not sure why that fact should seem so unbelievable to the average person. I’m sure there are many people out there who would be surprised at how easily they actually could live without their phones if it came down to it.

  84. baby-paramedic April 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    I am pretty rubbish at carrying a phone with me, often don’t check it for days at a time etc.
    There has been ONCE in my private life I have wanted one on me right away and was left in a pickle because I didn’t have one (needed an ambulance, and somehow all three adults present did not have a phone. We made do and I drove to the hospital instead, but I would have rather had an ambulance doing that particular trip).
    People are thinking creatures, and we can problem solve. Children don’t learn to magically problem solve when they turn 18, they have to be taught how to problem solve! And given the opportunity to practice!

  85. Donna April 15, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Melli – So you consider yourself a de facto parent/supervisor of all the adults out in public? Would you not help one of them who needed your help? So you run from people who ask for directions? If someone looked lost, would you not ask if you could help? If someone fell off a bike and injured himself, would you not render aid? If someone needed a cell phone for some emergency, would you not let her borrow yours? Do you wander through life ignoring all the other people around you?

    I don’t view my child as being any different out in society than any other human being. I don’t expect anyone to supervise her or give her any more aid than they would give an adult facing the same difficulty. In fact, I directly oppose them doing so.

  86. Warren April 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    Donna,
    Thanks. I am tired of these parents accusing people of making them babysitters or caretakers when we allow our kids out on their own.

    We do not ask them, nor do we want them to babysit our kids. If we wanted them supervised, we would be there ourselves.

    Those complaining parents take on those roles of themselves, because they feel all kids must be watched at all times. The way I see it, since we neither asked nor want your intrusion, and you are doing it to satisfy some need of your own……………these parents should just shut the hell up.

  87. hineata April 15, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    It would be unusual for 10 year olds here NOT to be expected to take their younger siblings to the park/school /wherever ordinary place at least occasionally, I would have thought, unless they really, really didn’t get on. Certainly I see siblings walking to school together so often that you don’t think about it until comments like justamom’s appear. And those sibling combinations are often much younger than 10.

    Melli- if a kid hurts themselves outside my house/at the park /wherever, I have and will continue to offer to help them if needed. The same as I would an adult. It’s part of living in a community.

  88. JustaMom April 15, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Aw, Lenore. People will think we’re in love. 😉

    I still stand by what I said earlier.

    The kids were faced with an emergency and showed they had no clue what to do and no way of contacting the parents. That is not indicative of self sufficient children or responsible parents.

  89. Terrie April 15, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    The comment about a parent “playing on their cell phone” while watching their children at the park is contradictory. If they are on their cell phone playing games, texting, or chatting then they are NOT watching their kids. Do you realize how many kids are injured or worse with the parents right there “supervising?” What about the toddler that fell in the pool and drowned with three adults right there “supervising” her? Accidents happen with and without adults present; sometimes, more often with adults around.

    The point is that accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and we are more likely to get in a car wreck with our children in the vehicle, than our children are to be abducted or seriously injured while at the local park unsupervised.

    Not to mention, the three officers who detained the two young girls were males who did not have permission to be alone with the young girls; nor a valid, justifiable, or legal reason to detain them.

    Moreover, they certainly did not have the right to coerce the girls into the police car by assuring them they would be taken home. Talk about luring children into a dangerous situation. Those police officers are no better than a pedifile or kidnapper luring a child into their vehicle with candy! Someone should report them to CPS because any number of things could have happened in the six hours they were held without being able to contact their parents.

    Talk about OVERSTEPPING! How many ACTUAL crimes were committed and not addressed by those officers because they were instead illegally detaining two young girls in the back of their patrol car for hours? Where are the questions about that conduct?

  90. Donna April 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    Justamom – I deal with ADULTS every single day who don’t always know exactly what to do when faced with a police officer demanding they do something. In fact, most police officers rely on the fact that people will give in to their show of authority. It is taught in training. Even people who know their rights, sometimes lose the ability to enforce them when faced with an intimidating police officer. And most of the people here would likely fall for police officer lies. If being able to stand up to a police officer and forcibly demand your rights is a requirement to being outside alone, the vast majority of the population requires an escort.

  91. JustaMom April 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    -“The comment about a parent “playing on their cell phone” while watching their children at the park is contradictory. If they are on their cell phone playing games, texting, or chatting then they are NOT watching their kids. Do you realize how many kids are injured or worse with the parents right there “supervising?” What about the toddler that fell in the pool and drowned with three adults right there “supervising” her? Accidents happen with and without adults present; sometimes, more often with adults around.”-

    Right, accidents happen with or without adults. You are absolutely right. But with an adult there, you can quickly assess the situation and see if you need to whisk your child off the emergency room. I don’t stop my child from testing her limits. I’m there as a safety net. If she gets hurt, I’m there. If she doesn’t, I’m still there.

    -“The point is that accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and we are more likely to get in a car wreck with our children in the vehicle, than our children are to be abducted or seriously injured while at the local park unsupervised.”-

    Agreed. Where children and adults differ, is that hopefully an adult will have a level head to be able to handle and cope with an emergency. A child may not, and should not be expected to.

    It’s all well and good to do fire drills, but more often than not children panic during a real emergency. Yes, there’s cases where some didn’t. But a lot of firemen can tell you how they had to search for the kids because they were hiding in fear. You don’t know how your child will react to an emergency until their is one. They might be great with first aid classes and then panic and blank out when seeing a real bone sticking out of a friend’s leg. You as an adult don’t even know how you’ll react to an emergency. Adults can freeze up or shut down, I certainly worry about what a child would do.

    -“Not to mention, the three officers who detained the two young girls were males who did not have permission to be alone with the young girls; nor a valid, justifiable, or legal reason to detain them.”-

    Correct. However, it shows that these girls are not equipped with the skills or tools necessary to be out alone without an adult. What if it wasn’t a police officer that insisted they were in charge? Like it or not, children are very easy to manipulate. It’s why they cannot give informed consent until age 18.

    -“Moreover, they certainly did not have the right to coerce the girls into the police car by assuring them they would be taken home. Talk about luring children into a dangerous situation. Those police officers are no better than a pedifile or kidnapper luring a child into their vehicle with candy! Someone should report them to CPS because any number of things could have happened in the six hours they were held without being able to contact their parents.”-

    The CPS were the ones instructing the cop. However, that said, police are allowed to lie. They’re allowed to lie to get inside your home, they’re allowed to lie to get a confession. It’s just reality, cruddy as it is.

    These parents would not be wondering where their children were if they had a cell phone to keep on hand for such things. If this was the 1970’s, if an emergency happened, parents would be in the dark for hours too. It’s 2015, we have the technology to prevent that sort of problem. For parents that keep saying their children would lose or break them, if they can’t even keep track of a simple phone, how are they responsible enough to be out on their own? You can’t say a child has sound judgement and is responsible enough to be alone while making statements that contradict that fact.

    Everyone keeps saying how the kids could just ask someone else for a phone in an emergency. Well, an emergency happened. I did not see those kids asking anyone for a cell phone before getting in the police car.

    -“Talk about OVERSTEPPING! How many ACTUAL crimes were committed and not addressed by those officers because they were instead illegally detaining two young girls in the back of their patrol car for hours? Where are the questions about that conduct?”-

    If you truly believe that so many crimes were NOT being stopped because a single police officer was following protocol from the CPS, the crime rate in the area is too high for them to be unsupervised anyway.

    I will agree what the CPS did was wrong, and they were flexing their muscles.

    However:
    – The neighbor who called the cops should have done so, as should anyone if they feel a child is unsafe.
    – The cop was correct in listening to the CPS, because if this was a true case of neglect it would be beneficial.
    – The CPS was NOT justified in their actions by taking forever to get to the officer, and then refusing to contact parents for hours on end. They do need to be pulled up on this and have an internal investigation regard protocol.

  92. BL April 15, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    @Donna
    “I deal with ADULTS every single day who don’t always know exactly what to do when faced with a police officer demanding they do something.”

    A sane system of schooling would teach this. But the schools and the cops are on the same side, so it isn’t.

  93. JustaMom April 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    “Justamom – I deal with ADULTS every single day who don’t always know exactly what to do when faced with a police officer demanding they do something. In fact, most police officers rely on the fact that people will give in to their show of authority. It is taught in training. Even people who know their rights, sometimes lose the ability to enforce them when faced with an intimidating police officer. And most of the people here would likely fall for police officer lies. If being able to stand up to a police officer and forcibly demand your rights is a requirement to being outside alone, the vast majority of the population requires an escort.”

    Yep, I worked at a theme park, and I told children what to do (as in behave or come with me while I contact their parents) and they listened. I could have been leading them off to god knows where, but the thought of being in trouble paralyzed them to follow. (and I’m not going to get into what everyone’s little cherubs do when they’re not around)

    Anyone that claims to be an authority figure can get a child to do what they want. That’s why it’s important to be nearby.

    The difference between an adult and a child is an adult can give informed consent. A child can be easily manipulated into it from someone that’s not even a police officer. An adult allowing an officer to violate their rights is an idiot, a child cannot be expected to stand up for themselves while their parents are always telling them to listen to adults. As an adult, you are at least expected to be an equal.

    This whole “free range” movement is reliant on adults not doing shitty things, not children having sound judgement.

    Until around 11-12, a child simply doesn’t have the judgement or wherewithal necessary to be without a safety net of some kind.

  94. Donna April 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    JustaMom – Apparently points just fly right over your head, don’t they? Anyone who claims to be an authority figure can get most ADULTS to do whatever they want. Children are not unique in this respect. The vast majority of ADULTS will concede to just about anything a police officer asks them to do, even if they KNOW agreeing will result in their arrest.

    If we are holding children to the standard that they must know their rights and be able to assert them properly and successfully every single time, then adults should be held to the same standard and that means that pretty much everyone requires an escort at all times.

  95. JustaMom April 15, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    -“Apparently points just fly right over your head, don’t they? Anyone who claims to be an authority figure can get most ADULTS to do whatever they want. Children are not unique in this respect. The vast majority of ADULTS will concede to just about anything a police officer asks them to do, even if they KNOW agreeing will result in their arrest.”-

    Nothing has flown over my head. Once again, an adult can give informed consent. An adult agreeing is giving informed consent to do so, and they are old enough to understand that they are willingly forfeiting their rights. A could let a police officer in my home on his say so, and in doing so I know the consequences and ramifications of doing so. If you KNOW agreeing will result in your arrest, then it only shows that you are fully aware of the consequences enough to once again, give informed consent.

    A child does not have such an ability. Physical brain development alone prevents this. They lack impulse control, the ability to think ahead, and the ability to understand the gravity of certain situations.

    -“If we are holding children to the standard that they must know their rights and be able to assert them properly and successfully every single time, then adults should be held to the same standard and that means that pretty much everyone requires an escort at all times.”-

    The children did not know their rights, and do not have the capability to consent to forfeiting them as an adult would. Just because an adult doesn’t exercise their rights, doesn’t mean they are unable to give informed consent. Moreover, these children are at an age where parents are telling them to respect and listen to other adults. This is counter productive to using their own best judgement while an adult is telling them what to do.

    As an adult if a police officer is doing something wrong, I have the presence of mind to record it, or take a note. I know that if they botch something I can go through the proper channels to resolve it. I know that I can take it to court and challenge the officers. Children do not have the power or even the know how to do this.

  96. Warren April 15, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    Justamom,

    “This whole “free range” movement is reliant on adults not doing shitty things, not children having sound judgement. ”

    Your words. Here is the thing. The vast majority of adults are not going to harm a child. Very very few in fact will ever harm anyone, let alone a child.

    As for children having sound judgement, well as parents we strive to give our kids the tools they need to make good calls.

    So I take it your idea of parenting is to keep your children scared and never teach them to think for themselves.

    I really feel sorry for people like you. It can not be easy to live in fear, and to never trust anyone.

  97. pentamom April 15, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    “For parents that keep saying their children would lose or break them, if they can’t even keep track of a simple phone, how are they responsible enough to be out on their own? You can’t say a child has sound judgement and is responsible enough to be alone while making statements that contradict that fact. ”

    That’s a false parallel. Being able to keep track of where you’re supposed to be, and what to do if a problem arises, is a different skill set from not losing or damaging a small, inconvenient, relatively fragile piece of equipment, with very little overlap. Kids don’t leave their arms lying on a park bench because carrying their arms around is inconvenient while they’re playing, nor do they drop their brains out of their pockets and watch them smash on the concrete because they were roughhousing and forgot to make sure they didn’t drop their brains. Responsibility isn’t a single thing that you either have sufficiently for any purpose, or not enough for any. Kids have known how to get themselves safely to and from local places and how to go for help when needed, since there have been kids. Kids have also lost and broken objects that their parents valued more then they did, since there have been kids.

  98. hineata April 15, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    It does bother me somewhat that anyone would teach their kids NOT to do what a police officer says. Why would you expect kids to ‘know their rights’ when dealing with police? And why would that be in any way a reason not to send them out alone?

    Unless you are African American. I wonder that that particular group goes outside at all, adults or kids, given the propensity of people to randomly kill them.

  99. Warren April 15, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    pentamom,

    I guess I need adult supervision. Over the years I have lost and/or broken at least 8 cellphones. Nature of the job.

  100. Donna April 15, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    Justamom- I sorry that your children are slow. Mine exhibits pretty sound judgment most of the time. She can’t solve all of life’s problems, but she can certainly handle anything likely to arise during an hour or so at the park.

    I don’t think that she has to be able to solve EVERY one-in-a million chance problem to gain some independence. In fact, I don’t know anyone who could meet that standard. My child doesn’t need to know how to handle the court system, but neither do you. There are lawyers for that.

    I absolutely have never taught my child that she needs to obey and respect random adults. Me, the rest of her family, her teachers while in school, the parents of her friends while in their home? Absolutely. Some random person in the park? Absolutely not!!!!!!

    And don’t we all count on the fact that most people are not out to hurt us? I can’t stop a man hellbent on hurting me. Most women can’t. Should women stay home unless accompanied by a man? Should everyone stay home because we can’t beat a gun?

  101. BPFH April 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

    “10 is too young to supervise a 6-year-old”?

    Wow. They’d have been blown away by me babysitting my siblings. I was born in April 1973. My brother was born in December 1981, and my sister in April 1983 (she’s just 8 days shy of being exactly 10 years younger than I am). So yes, this means that when I was 10, I was babysitting my (literally) baby sister, and my less than 2-year-old brother. AT THE SAME TIME!

    And somehow, both of my siblings are STILL ALIVE! Go figure. 🙂

  102. Amy April 16, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    I would love to ask everyone who thinks this is so wrong

    How many people do you know personally that have been abducted (especially by a stranger)?

    How many people do you know personally that have been sexually abused (by a person they do not know)?

  103. Roger the Shrubber April 16, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    ‘With all due respect to those who advocate for “free-range” parenting, adult supervision and the furtherance of childhood freedom and independence can occur simultaneously. The Meitiv family, for example, could change their approach and still implement their core values around ‘free-range parenting’. Doing so could model a host of valuable skills to children: adaptation, creativity, collaboration with different systems, etc.’

    Jill – Are you going to be writing the CYS guidelines to be enforced by threats of losing one’s children to foster care?

    Really Jill, why do you equate ‘free-range’ as the abandonment of adult supervision? You must agree that at some point is a child’s life, there will be a time when they will be without direct supervision of an parent or other responsible adult. Do you propose to mandate by law an age where this is permitted? Would you concede that any age that you would propose would be completely arbitrary given the unique developmental progress to individual children?

    I really don’t know what you are trying to say other than you don’t like how the Meitivs’ are raising their children and that you are in support of the actions that have been taken against them. All while not knowing anything about their particular situation and the capabilities of their children. Why do you think they should ‘change their approach?’ If your only response is that they should to avoid the very situation that they now find themselves in, that says more about the actions the the police and CYS in this case than anything about the Meitiv’s parenting. style.

  104. Puzzled April 16, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    >As for myself, I won’t go jogging without a cellphone. When a loose dog was snapping and growling at me, and >wouldn’t let me move more than a few steps in any direction, I had to call the police to get assistance, but only >after my shouts for assistance from neighbors when unanswered.

    Supposing you had managed to get assistance from a neighbor, would you have expected that neighbor to then complain, with an exasperated air, that it really wasn’t fair for you to go jogging all by yourself and make them your de facto guardian? Would you tolerate them saying that you should have had a husband with you in case of dog problems?

  105. Puzzled April 16, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    >It does bother me somewhat that anyone would teach their kids NOT to do what a police officer says. Why would >you expect kids to ‘know their rights’ when dealing with police? And why would that be in any way a reason not to >send them out alone?

    I agree that not having yet learned this skill doesn’t mean a child can’t go outside alone, but of course I’d teach my kids not to blindly follow authority and to know their rights. I’m floored by the insinuation that there’s something wrong with this. Rights that aren’t known or practiced don’t exist. This applies to young people and to old people.

  106. Erika April 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    these responses should get to the local publically appointed officials in this case. The distrct attorney, police chief and director of cps

  107. JustaMom April 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    “So I take it your idea of parenting is to keep your children scared and never teach them to think for themselves.

    I really feel sorry for people like you. It can not be easy to live in fear, and to never trust anyone.”

    Ah yes. The black and white fallacy.

    If I’m not letting my children run everywhere unsupervised, I must be a paranoid helicopter parent telling them how everyone is a pedophile waiting to jump them in the bushes.

    There’s this wonderful thing called a middle ground.

    People are never in extreme boxes like you like to think. I won’t let my child run off unsupervised until she’s about 12, and she needs to be with a friend and with a cell phone just in case. That’s a reasonable age.

    That doesn’t mean I’m not going to let her explore her limit, or always swoop in to her rescue. You can supervise your child without being a helicopter parent.

    I know you REALLY want to demonize the opposition to justify your own parenting style, but unfortunately for you, I do have sound and logical points. The fact you have to do mental gymnastics to put me in an extreme box instead of having the intelligence to debate my speaking points only proves that you feel threatened by what I say. This is not an us vs them. You’re not fighting some holy war by letting your children out alone. You are making a parenting choice, and I am allowed to disagree with it.

  108. Warren April 16, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    JustaMom
    “I know you REALLY want to demonize the opposition to justify your own parenting style, but unfortunately for you, I do have sound and logical points. ”

    So you are allowed to demonize our parenting ways, but god forbid I do it to you?

    You points may be sound and logical to you, and that is fine. 12, with the conditions you put out may be reasonable to you, and that is fine.

    Now here it is, neither you or any other person out there has the right to tell me or anyone else that we have to parent their way. It is that simple. But it is arrogant assholes like you that believe you have the right to call the cops and make our lives hell, because you do not like what we do.

    I guarantee you that during the course of a day, you do many thinks other people do not like. Does that mean they should call the authorities on you?

    Now, I know you are going to say that if you feel that my child’s safety is at risk, you have some moral obligation to be a 911 speed dialer. No you do not. Unless it is imminent, obvious danger, keep your phone in your purse, and mind your own business. Again, what I or others consider safe, is our responsibility, not yours.

    To make it real easy for you. NO BLOOD, NO BONES, NO TEARS, NO IMMEDIATE RISK OF DEATH OR HARM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stay out of other peoples business.

  109. Donna April 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    “You are making a parenting choice, and I am allowed to disagree with it.”

    You are absolutely 100% allowed to disagree with my parenting choices. I am allowed, and do, totally disagree with yours. The difference is that I am not trying to force you to adapt to my parenting choices. I am never going to send your child to the park while barricading you in the house. Despite the fact that I believe that your lack of confidence in your child, as detailed in numerous comments, is very damaging to your children, I am not calling the police on you. Frankly, I don’t actually give a flying fig how you parent your children. You want to supervise until 25, then supervise until 25.

    We are asking for no more than the respect to be allowed to make parenting choices without you, and people like you, interfering in them. You don’t want to give us the respect of doing that. You insist on making our parenting decisions for us. And THAT is what makes this a “holy war.” It is absolutely a holy war when you are trying to stop my ability to parent my child how I feel is in her best interest. I don’t care what you think about it. I don’t care if you tell all your gossipy friends how outraged you are over my choices. Your opinion means less than nothing to me. I do care when you interfere with my parenting choices and try to make me conform to your way of doing things.

  110. Wow... April 16, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    @JustAMom:

    Most adults aren’t capable of giving informed consent in cases like police officers. It’s called ‘being under duress’. What was the difference between an adult and a child again?

  111. Paul April 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    “Ah yes. The black and white fallacy.

    If I’m not letting my children run everywhere unsupervised”

    So you object to one strawman, then create one of your own.

    “The fact you have to do mental gymnastics to put me in an extreme box instead of having the intelligence to debate my speaking points only proves that you feel threatened by what I say.”

    What does the fact that you’ve put us in an extreme box say about you, pray tell?

    “You are making a parenting choice, and I am allowed to disagree with it.”

    Only one side in this debate is seeking to enlist the aid of the state to enforce our parenting choices.

  112. Tara April 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Broken ankles, wrong turns, hungry children aside…you have not mentioned the really bad things. The things that children are NOT equipped to handle because they are simply too small (in size and strength) to handle it. You are not mentioning dangerous people. People who wish the children harm. This is not the day and age to allow small children to roam around outside alone. Those days are gone in our cities and likely elsewhere as well. While “free range” has some great benefits, many things about what these parents and others like them are doing is irresponsible and dangerous. Yes kids should be allowed to be kids, but not at their own lives peril.

  113. Wow... April 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    @Tara; Probably because the only difference is that we hear more about depraved people now?

  114. Donna April 16, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Tara – I am too small in size and strength to stop a man (and even some women) who means to do me harm. Should I never be allowed out without a male family member? What if my male family members are also small and weak? Do they also need escorts? We’d be a regular parade going to the grocery store. There are no more people looking to harm children than to harm women and yet nobody thinks it absurd that women are allowed to walk a mile without an escort. In fact, we directly attack those countries which require such a thing.

  115. Warren April 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Tara,

    I cannot count the number of times I have heard that same lame ass excuse, of not being able to ward of someone wishing to do them harm.

    By your standard then, aprox. 90% of the population should never be unsupervised. That actually may be a little low, but we will go with 90%.

    You see I am six foot two, just about 235 lbs, and very strong due to my job, and lifestyle. Now should I be the type to attack people, and do them harm, there are very few adults that would be able to defend against me.
    And I know you are going to say that kids are easier prey. Wrong. They are quick, loud and unpredictible. Adults on the other hand, they are slow, and predictible.

    Kids also have a better flight or fight response, because they don`t over think, they just react.

  116. Sue Jorgensen April 17, 2015 at 1:55 am #

    Wonderful site, and good topic little did I know I raised free range kids, now 20 & 23 . This movement was already starting back then with doctors asking if they used helmets and safety belts and I got yelled at for letting one of them use the riding lawn mower. I let them ride bikes without helmets, horses without helmets unless we were jumping drive the truck early on dirt roads and ride the bus to friends houses in the next town (14 ish if I remember right). Fortunately in High School we moved to a real country town and it was back to the 1970’s come home when the street lights come on, kids were going hunting and fishing before school it was fantastic. Power tools, chain saws you name it. They turned out just fine hard working good people, with confidence and a lot of useful skills.
    I actually came on this news story while researching some things to do with my nephews this summer on my 40 ac farm. I have been giving this a lot of thought because my sisters kid is basically never left unsupervised I want to stretch his world with out breaking him. It is more dangerous to throw kids into this environment than if they are raised with the skills and freedoms and common sense accumulated by experience. I can’t wait to have them up and build memories,and this is why my sister sends them to me. The older kids got to do this all the time, this last kid has a different raising so much more protected he even speaks younger than his years.
    We have to fight the change of our kids socialization it is ruining our culture and is doing our kids a disservice

  117. lollipoplover April 17, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    “The things that children are NOT equipped to handle because they are simply too small (in size and strength) to handle it.”

    My children are not small.
    They are the tallest in their class and I would argue the strongest.
    The girls got “street skills” from learning wrestling moves taught to them by their older brother. Personally, I pity the idiot who would try and physically threaten them as they can do a one-leg take down faster than you can say “they’re simply too small”.

    Stop perpetuating stereotypes of children as weak and helpless.
    They are not.

    At least *I* am not raising my kids to be weak and helpless. Real life skills go a long way to keep our children safe. Try it.