Folks — This letter has me down, but not nearly as down as the writer. When the authorities start to believe the world is worse than it is and hence that kids are less safe than they really are, naturally they see independence as dangerous. Free-Range Kids exists to spread the word that our kids are NOT in constant danger, and parents who believe in their kids are NOT endangering them. They are empowering them. Or at the very least, giving them a childhood. Any advice on how to change the zeitgeist FASTER is appreciated! – L
Dear Free-Range Kids: I found your site today while searching for the law. Today the police visited my home after one of my neighbors called in about my children being outside alone…in our yard with a home on two sides and six foot fence on the other two sides. The officer said, “Don’t have me called back out.” So now, do I have to go outside with my children every time they go out? I have a chronic illness and sitting outside all day sucks for me. They love being outside. They come in for bathroom breaks, they come in to tattle, they come in to say “I Love You”… they are in and out every 5-10 minutes. I check on them anytime I pass the door, and I lay or sit next to an open window. If I call for them, they come to the door/window and answer as a “check in.” They will literally stay outside from wake up to 9 pm, when I force them to come in, with breaks for the above and for food. They were perfectly safe. I don’t know what to do. 🙁 Do I punish my children and make them stay inside? Or torture myself, putting me in great amounts of pain to sit outside with them all day, every day? I plan to call CPS tomorrow to see if they can shed any light on the situation.
Lenore here: I suggested the mom not call CPS, lest she alert them to behavior they don’t condone. Call me paranoid, I just keep getting letters from folks who’ve had run-ins with the authorities. So the mom wrote me another letter:
I believe a neighbor was standing on their porch and saw the boys outside. They have been playing outside together for more than a year now. They are not directly supervised as in me sitting outside with them, but I am not sleeping or GONE. I can’t believe the officer told me he better not have to come back out! I’m incredibly nervous and haven’t allowed them outside to play at all since then. Today my back hurts so bad I can barely go to the bathroom, much less outside to sit with them. I am at a loss on what to do.
I have also had a different police officer tell me that my kids going to the bathroom alone is dangerous. I tried to explain Free-Range parenting and he said he still takes his 11-year-old daughter into the men’s room with him! It’s depressing here 🙁