Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, April 16, 2018

Free-Range Parenting

From the Atlantic:

Every few decades, a new idea emerges about the “right” way to raise children. The 1990s saw the rise of the helicopter parent, those anxious middle- and upper-middle-class mothers and fathers who hover, imagining the worst-case scenario. Their fears led many states to pass laws aimed at keeping kids safe, including statutes that punish parents who leave their children at home alone or unattended in cars.

Today, new child-rearing norms are on the rise, with parents taking a more laissez-faire approach. “Free-range” parenting, a reaction to the overbearing style of the previous generation, has become fashionable, even expected, among many of today’s parents.

In a corresponding shift, state laws are starting to catch up. Utah recently became the first state to explicitly legalize free-range parenting, with a new law stipulating that parents cannot be charged with neglect for allowing “a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities.” Essentially, parents can now legally let their children “walk, run or bike to and from school, travel to commercial or recreational facilities, play outside and remain at home unattended”—things that may previously have attracted the attention of child-welfare authorities.

Read more here.

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