swing baby

Yep, this is how we used to play and no one said ‘stop’

In late December, six police cars pulled up to the Maryland home of Danielle and Alexander Meitiv. Later, someone from Child Protective Services showed up to open an official investigation. What crime did these two middle class parents commit? The answer is shocking, at least to me. They allowed their children, 10 and 6 years old, to take a one-mile walk to and from a neighborhood park by themselves!

[insert ‘gasp’ here]

What I find shocking is the official reaction to the freedom these parents allowed their children.

Talk about a waste of time and resources! In a world where we bend over backwards to reunite low-income children with their drug-addicted, stressed out, and violent parents (see several horrible cases of child deaths in NYC over the past few years), why are we wasting our time on responsible parents who know their kids and believe in teaching them a little responsibility?

The Maryland mother, by the way, is a climate-science consultant, and the father a physicist at the National Institutes of Health. She told The Washington Post

“The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.”

They sure sound like criminals to me. 

The issue of course is free-range parents embraced by some brave souls, the idea some parents have that they will allow their kids to be kids. The Meitivs told The Post this is the way they were raised in New York in the 1970s. I grew up in the 1960s but it was much the same then.

On summer vacations and when school was out, my parents — and the parents of all my friends — often had no idea where we were. What did we do with that freedom? We played touch football, softball, hardball, handball, basketball, went fishing, shot real arrows, and ran around my Bronx housing project like wild banshees. Did kids get hurt? Yes, a few times but nothing horrible happened. A broken arm or leg was the worse and that was rare. No one was murdered, no one was snatched away. And if you believe there were no pedophiles back in them there days, you’re sorely mistaken.

Of course, we had no cell phones and the very thought of calling in from a pay phone was an alien concept. I don’t believe I or any of my peers ever did. We showed up for dinner, period.

When we were not playing games, we explored The Bronx, ranging far and wide with very little money in our pockets. I once took an eight mile bike ride over the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey without telling my parents where I was going (I think I was 13 or 14 years old then).

Sometimes, we snuck into the Bronx zoo without paying; other times, we used our school bus passes to go to Queens and broke into buildings that were left over from the 1964 World’s Fair. We did crazy shit but we learned the ways of the world and never got into serious trouble. We all looked out for each other. We had our own backs. Our parents were at home, doing whatever parents did. We didn’t even think about that.

The coddling of kids today is not going to make them stronger or more independent. It’s just going to instill fear and anxiety where none should exist. Lighten up all you new parents. You don’t want your kids to have to wear a helmet every time they step outside the house, do you? Or do you?

  1. Cheryl says:

    Yep, it’s absurd, with all the cases of real neglect and abuse issues. I ran the roads, with the only restriction of “be home when the street lights are on”. The thing is, I bet walking to the park or library with your sister isn’t listed as a neglect offense in the State law.

  2. Pam says:

    ARBITRARY CPS interference: A controverting paradigm is that children under 13 years of age walk ‘unattended’ (quite a distance in some cases) to schools all over the United States and very likely in Maryland, too! In many school districts, if a child’s home is under a mile from their school they have no access to school bus transportation back and forth unless they have a disability in some manner. These millions of American children are outside, unattended, walking often up to two miles a day, under the authority of compulsory, state-legislated education laws.
    The State of Maryland’s CPS agency will be hard pressed to legally-support the quid pro quo threats (to seize these two children) upon any statutory basis. However, as federal civil rights lawsuits are costly to litigate (for the victims), I hope the Court of Public Opinion pushes very hard on this civil rights’ travesty against the state agency. Maryland parents and grandparents should demand a clear legislative remedy, and perhaps some heads should be rolling within CPS for failure to train these CPS workers on proper application of child protective statutes in Maryland.
    The Maryland law in this case (mentioned by the Washington Post) is the only statute which Maryland CPS is administratively claiming empowers the agency to interfere with these parents decision-making authority as to their children being outside walking; in that, the statute appears to be by plain language limited to very specific situations of children left in buildings while unattended by someone 13 or older.
    Common sense indicates the statutory intent of the Maryland legislature was directed at protecting young children from being trapped in a burning building without having someone (physically larger and more mature) being present so as to assist their escape a fire. No wonder the public is outraged at this “Nanny-state” interference with this family’s right to privacy.

  3. Paul says:

    I hear that!

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