3 Moms Weigh In on Utah's Controversial Free-Range Parenting Law

Updated 09/28/19
An illustration of an adult holding hands with a child.
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

In 2018, the state of Utah passed the United States' first-ever free-range parenting law, which essentially states that it's not a crime for parents to allow their young kids to do certain day-to-day things, like walk to school or play outside, without parental supervision. As HuffPost reports, the controversial child-rearing tactic "encourages the fostering of self-sufficiency in children from a young age." What's more, the age limit was purposely left open-ended, so that "police and prosecutors can work on a case-by-case basis if abuse or neglect is suspected." Considering the controversy raised by free-range parenting and the nature of the law, we reached out to our community of moms for their perspectives on this legislation. Here, three mothers' enlightening thoughts.

It Teaches Kids Independence

"Kids need to learn independence and responsibility. Think of the baby boomers, and "latchkey" kids, who had to let themselves into their homes because both parents were out working. We are now coddling the newer generation, which discourages healthy competition and tamps down the drive for excellence. Now, everything must be politically correct and fair. No one gave me anything. No one coddled me, and I've built what I have on my own." — Corey Ann of @whatcoreycovets

It Helps Us Raise Self-Aware Children

"I think this is a much-needed change, and I applaud the move. It compels us as a community to watch out for our kids and create an environment where they feel safe and supported. As a child, I loved my independence. I was trusted to go to the store on my own to buy milk and bread and to ride to school by myself. This law helps to raise self-aware children who can think for themselves, learn skillsets to navigate life without hand-holding, and progress into adulthood with fearless can-do attitudes." — Sacha Strebe, editorial director of MyDomaine  

It Allows Parents to Impart Life Lessons

"It's a positive change. Terribly bad things do happen, but we can't live our lives in fear. As parents, we have the responsibility to give our kids guidelines and expectations, and I would hope this law would allow parents to put those guidelines in place while their kids are still under their roof. Once kids leave the house they need to have life lessons under their belts to know how to make good decisions, even though they'll probably make a few mistakes. This law leaves room for the parents to decide when their children are responsible enough to be on their own. I like how its lack of age constraints gives room for discretion since every circumstance is different." — Angela Willett, Facebook user and member of MyDomaine Moms 

A European View

"In Slovenia, I see kids walking to school and playing outside without supervision once they're 10-plus years old. Not all children, of course, but I see it around my neighborhood. I realize that the United States may be different, though." — Alice K. of @sugarsalted, who specified that she is not yet a parent 

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