Kids and parents — rejoice! Both Texas and Oklahoma passed laws yesterday that ensure parents that giving their kids the freedom to do things like play outside, walk to school, and wait at home will NOT BE MISTAKEN FOR NEGLECT!
If you’re a Free-Range fan, you may recall when Utah passed its first-in-the-country Free-Range Parenting law in 2018. Having two states follow suit is culture-changing news. Even better: A similar bill has already passed the state senate in Nevada and now looks likely to pass in the assembly, too.
Let Grow, the non-profit that grew out of Free-Range Kids, is supporting these bills. We believe that independence is a key part of childhood, and that as kids get less and less chance to do things like climb a tree or run an errand, their mental health takes a hit. Mother Nature intended kids to get up and out — solve problems, take small risks — from almost the get-go. Now a new study in Britain found the average age that parents start letting their kids play outside, unsupervised, is 11! That’s up two years in just one generation — today’s parents got to play outside at age 9.
But even waiting till 9 would be strange in almost any other era. That’s why these new laws are so crucial. As our culture loses sight of what kids are capable of, it becomes less and less normal — and then sometimes legally dicey — to let kids do things they are biologically and developmentally quite capable of doing by 5 or 6 or 7, like riding their bike, or walking the dog. You’ve all heard stories — especially on this blog! we may have invented the genre! — of parents investigated or even arrested for letting their kids do something as simple as playing at the park, or walking home from it, on their own. These new laws in Texas and Oklahoma narrow the definition of neglect, reassuring parents that they can give their kids some old-fashioned independence.
Read all about the bills here.
And for information on getting a Reasonable Childhood Independence bill underway in your state, please see Let Grow’s Legislative Advocacy Page. There’s also a form you can fill out to reach us.
Parents should not have to second-guess themselves when they think their kids are ready to go outside and play. Let’s hear it for the states recognizing that it is crazy to keep kids from blossoming!