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Collin County criminal defense attorney child neglect

You may think that there is a clear line between child neglect and a more laissez-faire approach to parenting. When you imagine parents being charged with neglect and abandonment, you picture a child at home alone for days, struggling to care for himself or herself. The parents that you might picture in your head are risking their child’s safety to sustain their substance addiction. While this is, unfortunately, a common reality for those facing child neglect charges in Texas, others may be facing such charges based on their hands-off approach to caring for their child. Also known as “free-range parenting,” there is debate about whether or not this relaxed parenting style makes children more independent or places kids in harm’s way.

Free-Range Parenting Explained

In 2018, Utah passed a law that addressed different parenting styles and set a line for what is considered free-range parenting and what is considered neglect and abandonment. In the age of smartphones, parents have constant contact with their children, either through text message updates or actually tracking their child’s location. Many argue that this is a blessing and allows parents to fully protect their children in a way that was unavailable to previous generations. Others, however, believe that this constant contact and watchfulness can stunt kids’ individuality and ability to navigate the world on their own. Advocate Lenore Skenazy started the movement almost a decade ago after she allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subway by himself. Since then, Utah passed the country’s first law to legalize this form of parenting to give children the freedom to do things on their own, with their parents’ permission. This includes activities such as exploring a playground, riding a bike to school, or allowing your child to remain home alone at a young age without a parent’s supervision. Some view this type of parenting as a nod to “the olden days” while others see it as the failure to protect your child. Texas does not have such a law in place, leaving some of these more radically viewed parental decisions up to the court’s discretion.

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Collin County child neglect defense lawyer

Every parent has their own unique parenting style, and rightfully so. Some parents get the nickname “helicopter parent” since they tend to be overprotective, while others are much more laid back, sometimes so much so that they are labeled a bad parent. Despite the preference of each parent, there are four common parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Authoritarian parents use punishments more than discipline, teaching their child obedience. Authoritative parents enforce the rules but in a more positive fashion. Permissive parents use the theory “kids will be kids,” allowing their kids to make their own rules. Uninvolved parents do not provide much guidance or attention and are fairly detached from their kids. One particular type of parenting has gained attention in recent years for its “laissez-faire” outlook on parenting, with some declaring that this style constitutes child neglect.

What Is "Free-Range Parenting?"

Free-range parenting gives kids a lot of freedom with less supervision. According to a clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, “free-range parenting emphasizes the child’s functioning independently with judicious parental supervision.” This form of parenting does not mean there are no rules, but it allows kids to do many things on their own. The idea is to allow kids to make their own mistakes and learn from them without having their parents constantly by their side. The term was coined by Lenore Skenazy after she released an article about letting her 9-year-old son navigate the New York City subway alone. This story and this form of parenting have been under fire ever since. 

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