Utah recently became the first state to legalize “free-range parenting” — or parenting, as it used to be called.
A new bill, signed by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on March 15, redefines “neglect” to protect parents from being charged for allowing their children to do things alone, like walking to school, going to the park, or waiting in a car while their parent runs an errand. It will take effect in May.
“Kids need to wonder about the world, explore and play in it, and by doing so learn the skills of self-reliance and problem-solving they’ll need as adults,” Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R-UT), a sponsor of the bill, told ABC News in a statement. “As a society, we’ve become too hyper about ‘protecting’ kids and then end up sheltering them from the experiences that we took for granted as we were kids. I sponsored SB65 so that parents wouldn’t be punished for letting their kids experience childhood.”
“There’s no right way to parent,” Lenore Skenazy, author of “Free Range Kids” and president of letgrow.org, told ABC, capturing the heart of the bill. “You have to give the parent leeway because they know best, and they love them the most.”
Sen. Fillmore was inspired by Skenazy’s parenting philosophy, which has been the norm for most of human history up until very recently.
For those who might be wary of the concept, consider that the nature of the bill is not to impose a new parenting method but rather to proclaim the God-given rights of parents to care for their children. It doesn’t confer these rights so much as it confirms what should already be a given.
A bill like SB65 presents a possible antidote to problems like helicopter parenting, and kid-snatching CPS officials.
Helicopter parenting and an overbearing nanny state go hand-in-hand; both imply that the individual — be he a child or a taxpaying adult — is a danger to himself and others when given a certain degree of freedom and independence. The Gradgrinds in Washington aren’t interested in cultivating creative individuals, but rather safe, predictable cogs to aid a progressive government machine.
We see the harmful effects of this particular brand of government overreach in young adults today. While it’s easy to laugh at how pitiful it is to see 22-year-olds bragging about “adulting” because they’ve finally learned how to fold their own shirts, cook their own meals, etc., we often overlook the fact that their overly cautious parents may have never let them near the iron or the stove. These individuals were likely never encouraged to be independent and figure things out on their own because the world, they were told, is a scary place and the risks were too great.
But parents aren’t fully to blame for their adult children’s incompetence. In a modern society where children are taken away from their families on arbitrary and unfounded suspicions of neglect, parents can never be too protective. I’m sure these parents from Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina wish that they had been more cautious.
Of course, some kids require more supervision, and some areas are safer for children to roam freely than others. The point is that it’s the job of a parent, and not the State, to discern these matters. SB65 allows Utah parents to exercise their rightful dominion over their own little kingdoms.
It’s crazy to think that this is some novel idea, to let parents be parents. But Utah legislators correctly perceived that such freedom is under attack in this country, and took prudent measures to protect it.