Dear Crabby, What’s the Deal with Free-Range Parenting?

Dear Crabby,

I was scrolling through the stories on my homepage recently and an article about free-range parenting caught my eye. Do states really need to pass laws for this sort of thing?

Love to know what you think.

Henrietta C.

Dear Henrietta C.,

You wouldn’t think we’d need to pass laws like this, but since common sense isn’t a flower that grows in everyone’s garden, here we are. For those of you living under a rock lately and think free-range actually has something to do with chickens, let me enlighten you with my expertise.

Let’s see. Way back in 2008, a young boy from New York wanted to take the subway. No big deal, right? That’s how lots of New Yorkers get around. What people got up in arms about is that this boy was nine and wanted to ride the subway by himself. Now, his mom didn’t just chuck him on the subway and wish him luck. Nope. They talked about the route he’d need to take and made sure he had the right amount of money to get there. But of course, people got their feathers ruffled and yelled she was the worst mom ever and so on. Well guess what? If that’s the yardstick for being a bad parent, then my folks and pretty much every other parent on my block growing up were just awful parents. Before there was a fancy name for it, my folks were pioneers of the free-range movement. Come summertime, my siblings and I were turned out of the house after breakfast and expected to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day. Sometimes that meant walking to the corner store or even riding the bus – all without an adult present. Shocking, right? Folks in our neighborhood knew each other, which meant they looked after each other. Now I know you’re gonna say, ‘Times have changed, Crabby. The world is a much different place. It’s more dangerous.’ And to some degree that’s true. But the alternative to letting kids think and act for themselves is to coddle the stuffing out of them to the point where they can’t function on their own. That kind of parenting is what’s known as a ‘helicopter parent.’ They’re constantly flying around their kids, cutting up their meat, doing their homework, etc. Oh, and also driving every educator in their child’s K – 12 career absolutely batty! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a child who can think for him or herself because they’ll probably grow into adults that actually contribute something to society! And isn’t that what people are complaining about with millennials? But sadly, we’re not there just yet as evidenced by the law Utah just passed. The law basically allows parents who want to let their child walk or bike to school alone, go to the store or playground by themselves, play outside and stay home alone, do so without fear of being charged with neglect. This is what it’s come to folks. Passing a law that lets parents you know, parent. Look. I get that every family, heck every kid within a family is different. Parenting is hard enough without being worried someone will tattle on you. So, I suggest we all plant a little common sense and see what grows, shall we?

Hope that helps!
Dear Crabby


About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Lyn Sieffert says

    It’s a minor miracle that we oldsters have lived long enuf to join OPC!!!

Speak Your Mind