Another day, another set of parents investigated for letting their kids walk home from a nearby park. And this time, letting your 10-year-old walk home with his six-year-old sister has an official name: Free-range parenting.
Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of Washington D.C., who have admitted to letting their children walk to a nearby store and a library less than a mile away are now being investigated for an incident in December in which they allowed their children to walk home without supervision. They call it "independence" but the police and CPS (yes, CPS was immediately involved and threatened to remove the children from the home) see it as dangerous and lectured Alexander on the "dangers of the world" when they returned his children on the December 20th.
From The Washington Post:
The Meitivs say they believe in "free-range" parenting, a movement that has been a counterpoint to the hyper-vigilance of "helicopter" parenting, with the idea that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to progressively test limits, make choices and venture out in the world.
"The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood," she said. "I think it's absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency."
According to the parents, the children knew the area well and the only problem they could see is that the kids forgot their laminated safety cards. Still, the couple believes that both CPS and the police have violated their privacy, showing up and interviewing the kids at school when they weren't let into the home during a follow-up visit. Parenting, the couple says, is letting their kids take some small risks.
"Parenthood is an exercise in risk management," she said. "Every day, we decide: Are we going to let our kids play football? Are we going to let them do a sleepover? Are we going to let them climb a tree? We're not saying parents should abandon all caution. We're saying parents should pay attention to risks that are dangerous and likely to happen."
She added: "Abductions are extremely rare. Car accidents are not. The number one cause of death for children of their age is a car accident."
To be fair, my parents sent me to the store when I was a kid (back in Moldova, my grandpa sent me to the store down the street and just told me not to talk to any teens or I'd end up dead in the nearby water tower) (RIP, grandpa) and nothing happened to me. And if the movies are to be believed, even the tiniest tots can run around large metropolitan areas without coming to harm, so is it really so dangerous to let kids walk home alone? And at what age do you start letting your kids take on a walk to play at the park?
The Washington Post reports that CPS is using the local laws for appropriate supervision, which state that any child under eight must be left in the care of someone thirteen or older. The family will meet with CPS next week, but had this to say about the entire thing.
"I think what CPS considered neglect, we felt was an essential part of growing up and maturing," Alexander said. "We feel we're being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with."
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