I read this Washington Post article about a Silver Spring couple who practices "free range" parenting, essentially allowing their kids to "learn self-reliance by being allowed to progressively test limits, make choices and venture out in the world". One December day, they allowed their two children, ages 10 and 6, to walk approximately one mile to a nearby park, a route they knew well through downtown Silver Spring. Apparently someone spotted them and alerted the police. The parents are now in the middle of a Montgomery county Child Protective Services investigation.
Like most of my generation, I have vivid memories of playing outside all day and only going home when it turned dark. No cell phones, no internet, no frequent check ins....old school. From 2nd through 12th grade, I walked 1/2 mile everyday from my bus stop to my house, *gasp* ALONE. I recalled days where I would let myself into the house using my house key and stay home *gasp* ALONE until my parents came home around 6pm. In the summer months, I'd ride my bike or walk to friend's houses, ride the ride-on bus/metro...again, ALONE. To take it even further, I remember my parents sending me (age 11) and my younger brother (age 4) on airplanes by ourselves!
I believe that I have developed into a fairly independent individual, much to the credit of my parents! If I could, I would raise my own kids the same way that I was raised. My kids are only 3 years old and 4 months old but I'm already questioning if that's even possible or if CPS will investigate me for teaching my kids a little independence. The fact is, the risk your child is in a car accident is much greater than your child being abducted. As a parent, we weigh the risks in everything our kids do. My 3 year old daughter has now busted up some part of her face by 1) hitting her forehead on a table edge while watching ipad, 2) falling out of the SUV while getting in, and 3) plain old walking in the parking lot. Does that mean I'm going to carry her everywhere and not let her walk because she's just plain clumsy? No. We have a playground in our own fenced backyard. We live in a cul de sac where there is virtually no one around. Do I let my 3 year old play on it by herself? When she's older, will I let her bike around the neighborhood by herself? Not if MoCo CPS can help it!