Every day after school, I try to get my kids to burn some energy and play outside. Because my kids range in age from eight down to two, I'm right there with them. But without a doubt, they're always joined by the three neighbor kids whose free range parents let them roam our subdivision unattended.
And as much as I love the idea of free range parenting, I'm getting pretty annoyed that I'm basically in charge of these kids while they're out playing. And I have to wonder who will be responsible for these kids when they get hurt.
Personally, I think they're still too young (10, 5, and 3) to be left to their own devices, perhaps because they generally ride their bikes around in the middle of the street or the older kids come careening down the hill on roller skates holding the toddler. And as someone who cares about the welfare of all kids, not just my own, I feel that I do need to tell them to get out of street or perhaps not come down an extremely steep hill while holding a baby, not just for their own safety but because they're setting a bad example for my kids who are not allowed to cross the street without permission.
However, I've got enough to worry about chasing my own children around, so I decided that I just can't be responsible for them as well. But now I'm worried about what will happen if they injure themselves while they're outside with my kids. It's not like we had a playdate set up or formal arrangement with their parents. Even if I'm not legally responsible, I think I'd still feel a bit guilty if I just let them do whatever they wanted without saying anything.
This isn't just a problem in my subdivision; try playgrounds when parents just let their older kids run wild. Am I supposed to keep an eye on them when they're harrassing my kids, trampling over my toddlers, or worse, doing stupid stuff that's going to get them hurt?
Sure, kids will be kids, but who are they going to blame when they fall flat on their face right in front of me?
I'm all for giving kids more freedom and independence, but not when it's an inconvenience for or a burden on another parent. It's too bad not everyone seems to feel the same way.
What do you do when parents just let their kids run wild?
photo via Flickr/chefranden