I'm too paranoid to let my kids walk anywhere by themselves, but I still think it's crazy that South Carolina mom Candace Amber Cole is in jail for letting her 5- and 6-year-old children walk a mile to the store. Plenty of kids in my neighborhood walk to and from school alone or with a sibling and their parents aren't behind bars. It's terrifying that the law can't tell the difference between true child neglect and laissez-faire parenting.
Besides, there's an entire movement happening based on the idea that what our kids need from us is less supervision, not more.
I give a lot of credit to Lenore Skenazy, the mom who founded the Free-Range Kids movement, for publicly criticizing how overprotective we've become as parents. Skenazy has been called "the world's worst mom" because she let her 9-year-old ride the subway by himself! Free-Rangers aren't anti-safety -- they're pro-bike helmets and car seats and all the other common sense precautions -- they just don't think kids need security guards every second of every day.
I couldn't agree more. Like I said, I tend to be a bit paranoid about things (kidnappers), so I'm probably not a true Free-Range parent, but I do think we're doing our kids a disservice by treating them as if they're completely incapable of taking care of themselves. In previous generations, not to mention right now in other parts of the world, there was no such thing as helicopter parenting, and I think kids turned out more confident and self-reliant than they do nowadays. (Perhaps with a few more scars from jumping off of things unattended, but still.)
Are you a free-range parent? Do you think this mom deserved jail time?
Image via Elizabeth/Table4Five/Flickr