Until Danielle and Alexander Mietiv from suburban Maryland became embroiled in a child protection investigation for allowing their children, ten and six, to walk a mile home together from the park, unsupervised by an older child or adult, I had never heard of “free-range” kids. But I get it…they’re like free-range chickens: fresh air, sunshine and open space.
How dangerous could that be? Not at all, say proponents of the movement, who hearken back to the kinder, gentler world they grew up in, and want the same for their offspring.
The children’s mother Danielle says:
“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.”
Ms. Meitiv is obviously a fan of the original free-range mom, Lenore Skenazy, who let her 9-year-old son ride the New York subway alone a few years ago, leading to her tabloid designation as “America’s Worst Mom.”
Not a problem, she said, and now stars in Discovery Life Channel’s “World’s Worst Mom” and is the author of “Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry)”, published in 2009. A year after her book came out she declared the first “Take Your Kids to the Park Day and Leave Them There Alone”.
But for those who can’t understand why a parent would ignore the real world…including traffic accidents, pedophilia, and “stranger danger”, free range kids are not in the cards for them. They say that children need boundaries and even with them, can become independent, self-reliant, and confident children.
The world of “Mayberry” and “Barney Fife” ended decades ago and for me, a child is too precious to take a risk.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang