When police and social workers were called in to essentially check on the fitness of parents in a Washington, D.C. suburb because they had let their kids walk to and from a park alone, it set off a national discussion on the concept of “free-range parenting.”
For anyone who grew up in the previous century, it was just called parenting at that time. But now, in some areas, there are limits being imposed — by society and sometimes by the law — on how much freedom parents can give their children.
Noting that the activities of the children, who safely made the approximately one-mile trek between their home and the park, were originally noted and phoned into government authorities by a neighbor, Cherylyn asked:
Is this really appropriate for a neighbor to call Child Protective Services?
Let me tell you, Rick. There are… serious reasons why Child Protective Services should be called: neglect, abuse — all these things that teachers, people dealing with children are trained to look for signs. These children were walking to the park and home. The parents knew where they were…
Who’s the nosey neighbor that did this? And — in my opinion — has no right [to call the authorities]. These children were not abused in any way. They don’t have bruises. They’re not hungry. There are no other signs of neglect. And this is how Montgomery County is going to spend their time?
Citing discussions that she has read on-line and been involved in herself, Cherylyn added that the seemingly dominant trend of “helicopter parenting” — in which parents are hyper-involved in their affairs of their children — can possibly lead to problems for these children later in life when they must act on their own. She said:
Children in this day and age are shielded, and they’re not able to make decisions. And they’re micromanaged — every aspect of their life is micromanaged up to the point of when they turn 18 and go off to college or start working or whatever the case may be.
And then, Rick, they’re unable to make decisions because heretofore they weren’t allowed to make their own decision.
I think this is really just parenting gone… overboard. And it’s also, I think, just government overreach.