Is it Time for a Free Range Parenting Bill in Michigan?

Utah recently became the first state in the country to pass a law legalizing “free-range parenting.” The bill amends the definition of neglect to say that it is not considered neglect for a parent to allow their child to walk to or from school, play at a playground, or sit in a car unattended. According the New York Times, the bill doesn’t specify an age but states that ‘permitting 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’ such as going to and from school by walking, running or bicycling, going to nearby stores or recreational facilities and playing outside.”

The bill’s sponsor, Utah State Representative Brad Daw explains, “The law says that you can’t just call authorities if you see a child playing alone in the park. It frees up authorities from investigating these nuisance calls while allowing them to focus on children who are actually being neglected.”

The free-range parenting movement has been around for a while. It was coined free-range parenting by Lenore Skenazy, who made headlines when she allowed her 9-year-old to ride the New York subway alone. Parents in Maryland were also investigated after allowing their children to play at a park and walk home alone. Cases of CPS overreach have made the news time and time again.

People no longer understand what neglect means. By spelling it out in law, parents and authorities can be free from unnecessary investigations. A parent knows their own children and should be able to decide when they are able to do things unsupervised. Cases like the ones in New York and Maryland have prompted parents and lawmakers in Utah to say enough is enough. It’s time we add Michigan to the list of states that puts parental rights first.

While Michigan laws are better than some other states, there is gray area on what is neglect and what isn’t. Furthermore, society has shifted to a mindset that it is better to be over-cautious and investigate a family, even when they have done nothing wrong. This mindset needs to change. A family should be free to parent their children the way they see best. Lawmakers can create this change in culture by making laws that support parents’ rights.

One of my campaign goals, is to improve and reform Child Protective Services in Michigan. Too often people are investigated for trivial reasons, while children who are being abused get ignored. Reducing the number of homes visited over unwarranted reports would free up resources for true cases of abuse or neglect. In addition, it would create awareness. It would let people know that CPS is not meant to be a tattle-tale system for parenting differences. It is not government’s role to tell parents how to raise their children. Unless there is a substantiated reason to be concerned, a parent should be able to let their child play!

If you support a Free-Range Parenting Bill in Michigan, we want to hear from you. Please come out to our event Michigan Moms for Malowney.