Free-range parenting: Why I Let my 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone

A parenting style not mentioned in your textbook is ‘free-range parenting,’ defined in the dictionary as ‘a style of parenting in which parents allow their children to move about without constant supervision, aimed at instilling independence and self-reliance.’ New York columnist Lenore Skenazy first coined the term in her 2008 article titled, ‘Why I Let my 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone.’  Her philosophy:  to raise independent kids who can make wise choices and develop problem-solving skills.  She assured readers her son was able to read the subway map and was given money in case he needed it. Nevertheless, Skenazy was harshly criticized and called ‘America’s worst mom!’  In 2015, two Maryland parents allowed their 10- and 6-year-old children to walk unattended a mile home from the park, when a concerned citizen saw them and called the police.  The parents were visited by the police, and child protective services threatened to remove their children from the home. Please view the following clip:

Perhaps in reaction to the over-bearing helicopter parents of the 1990s and beyond, some parents are now more open to ‘free-range parenting.’  In 2018 Utah became the first state to institute a law which stipulates that parents cannot be charged with neglect for allowing a child whose basic needs are met, and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm to engage in independent activities’ (e.g. allowing children to walk, run, or bike to and from school, or to recreational facilities, play outside, and remain at home unattended.  

Please respond to the information and video clip above.  In your opinion, what is ‘of sufficient age and maturity?’ What is your general opinion of the ‘free-range parenting’ philosophy (pros and cons).  What are potential negative outcomes of helicopter parenting?  

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