As more states start to pass what we used to call “Free-Range Parenting” laws (and now call “Reasonable Childhood Independence” laws), some lawmakers are willing to go along, or even sponsor such legislation — with a caveat.
They want the laws to include an age limit, like, “A child of 9 or above can ride their bike, play outside, stay home alone for a while….”
These lawmakers are well-intentioned, but they miss a basic fact of parenting: Sometimes a 9-year-old is playing outside with his 4-year-old sister. Is that okay, or not? Under a law with age limits it isn’t — not if a child can’t be outside without adult supervision till age 9.
Or what if, suddenly, a mom has to leave her twin 6-year-olds at home because of a work or family emergency? A law stating, “Not until age 9” criminalizes this rational seat-of-the-pants decision that has nothing to do with neglect.
At Let Grow today, we spell out all the reasons age limits are a bad idea. (Click here.)
We know people may say, “But without an age limit, parents may think they can send their 2-year-old outside to play at 10 at night!” To which we reply: We are not nuts. That behavior concerns us, too, which is why the laws always state that parents are allowed to determine what age they think their kids are ready for some unsupervised time BUT they must not leave their kids in obvious danger.
A 2-year-old allowed to wander in traffic in the dark IS in obvious danger, so it is prohibited by our “Reasonable Independence” laws.
Hence the term,”Reasonable.”
The laws passed with Let Grow’s support in Utah, Oklahoma and Texas give parents back the right to make reasonable decisions, while allowing (expecting!) the authorities the right to follow up when they don’t.
Win/win and — for kids — WIN! – L.