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Utah Just Became the First State to Make Free-Range Parenting Practices Legal

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not represent the views of Babble.

Look no further than a parent if you want a raw, unadulterated version of guilt on steroids. We seem almost destined to fail (or feel as if we’re failing) because of one primary assumption made of us — that we must participate constantly in our children’s lives. That’s the expectation.

Yet, in the time of “helicopter parenting,” one state has decided it’s time to take a step back and foster a more self-sufficient approach to raising our kids — and they’re putting it into law.

Utah has legalized a hotly debated child-rearing method called “free-range parenting,” a concept that encourages kids to function more independently by offering less parental supervision.

The “free-range kids” bill was signed into law after passing the House and Senate unanimously by Republican Governor Gary Herbert, and is the first of its kind in the United States. The bill will go into effect on May 8.

Essentially, the bill states that it’s not a crime for parents to allow kids who display maturity and good judgment to do things like walking to and from school or after school activities, playing outside, or sitting in a car unattended, provided safe conditions. No age limit was given, and according to the bill’s sponsor, was “purposely open-ended so police and prosecutors can work on a case-by-case basis” if neglect is suspected.

free-range parenting
Image source: Thinkstock

A motivating factor of this law is the fact that parents are getting arrested or investigated for doing things like letting their kids walk home from school or play in a park by themselves — something most of us as kids did every day growing up.

In a way, the abundance of online programs that allow us to monitor our child’s grades, daily class attendance, missed assignments, late assignments, tests, social media footprint, and even what they ate for lunch, makes it feel like we should be monitoring them at all times. After all, the feeling is, if we take our eye off the ball for even a minute, just think what could happen — especially in today’s world.

And while there are a myriad of reasons why this monitoring is beneficial and necessary at times, what does relentless surveillance do to us and to our kids?

Sen. Lincoln Filmore, the bill’s chief sponsor, told Yahoo Lifestyle that he introduced the legislation because he felt, though parents have good intentions, it’s not helping our kids.

“I feel strongly about the issue because we have become so over-the-top when ‘protecting’ children that we are refusing to let them learn the lessons of self-reliance and problem-solving that they will need to be successful as adults.”

h/t: Huffington Post

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