Friday August 07, 2015

Free range kids just the latest parenting trend

Is "free range parenting" negligent... or does it give children some well-deserved freedom?

Is "free range parenting" negligent... or does it give children some well-deserved freedom? (Getty)

Listen 24:31

In reaction to our overprotective society, some parents are adopting a hands-off approach called "free range parenting" — but this makes a lot of people uneasy because what some see as giving their kids independence appears to others as parental neglect.

Earlier this year, a Maryland couple decided to let their kids — aged 10 and 6 — walk home alone from the park in their neighbourhood. The children ended up being picked up by police for being unattended, and the couple were subsequently put under investigation for neglect. (Both cases against them were dropped in May and June.)

Lenore Skenazy coined the term "free range" when it comes to kids and parenting. She's the author of Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children Without Going Nuts With Worry. We reached her in New York.

For more perspective, we convened a parenting panel:

  • Jen Pinarski, a blogger with Today's Parent Magazine; her kids are 4 and 8 years old
  • Rebecca Cuneo Keenan, creator of PlaygroundConfidential.com; her three kids are 8, 6 and 3 years old
  • Julie Freedman Smith, co-founder of Calgary-based parent education company Parenting Power; her kids are 11 and 15

What do you think? Are you more of a helicopter parent or a free-range parent? Would you let your children walk home from the park alone? Send us your thoughts on Twitter @TheCurrentCBC, Facebook, or email.

This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli.