By David Williams
I’ve often been hypercritical about our region on certain issues. I don’t mean to be that way.
When I’m researching and viewing things from a moral, historical or even political perspective, however, I sometimes can’t help myself.
There are times when we lag behind in change or advancement. Call it tradition or just plain stubbornness, but we can be slow on the uptake. For once, though, I believe we aren’t bringing up the rear. As a matter of fact, when historians look back on this movement, I fear that we might be ground zero.
I’m speaking of free-range parenting, which just became a law in Utah. This movement started when a mother allowed her 9-year old son to ride the New York City subway on his own. The child was provided a map and phone money. He was trusted to find the proper stranger if he got lost, and the proper stranger was entrusted to do the right thing. Apparently, this mother never heard of Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy. Perhaps there are no theaters in her community and she has never seen the movie “Taken” and its two subsequent sequels. Maybe in the versions of Disney movies she saw as a youth there were no wicked witches, big bad wolves or poison apples.
Correct me if I’m wrong; are we talking about chickens or children? I’ve heard of free-range chickens – and I believe I could get behind such a movement – but I don’t know about free-range children. What I do know is that mom’s actions ignited a movement that is gaining momentum.
Is this really what we have become? Believe it or not, there are some areas in our state where the No. 1 problem with youth is referred to as “C.H.I.N.S.” That stands for Children In Need of Supervision. Children identified as such are viewed as abused or neglected. The reason these children need supervision is because without proper supervision they have been known to skip school, do drugs, shoplift, etc.
I don’t recall reading that children are supposed to rear themselves. It is, in fact, quite the opposite. We are told in scripture, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” It is understood that children need adults for this purpose. We are also told what to do when children struggle with foolishness. Many of you from my generation know all too well how our anti-free-range parents handled that. Heck, by the time my parents finished dealing with me, I found myself wishing for open range and a place where my peers couldn’t hear my cries.
As I matured, I better understood the life lesson taught to me by my parents, lessons such as not touching a hot stove, not talking to strangers, looking both ways before crossing the street and respecting my elders. Parents of our generation used street lights to teach curfew. They taught us about starving children in Africa during dinner. They taught us about never following that little boy who was always jumping off a bridge. Had our parents adopted this “free-range” attitude, there would be far less of us around since we would not have survived our childhood.
Once again, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. We have gone from “It takes a village” to free-range parenting. Shouldn’t we be concerned with in-dividuals out there with evil intent? Do we want everyone play along with us as our children go through these various life lessons?
I’m convinced that children need parents in order to receive encouragement, limits, high-fives, guidance, spankings, love and prayer. Children need parents who earnestly seek the wisdom to know when and how to strategically implement the right medicine. Our children’s ability to fulfill their purpose is directly connected to our faithfully completing our purpose.
If raised in a proper fashion, our children will not depart from the faith. If left to free-range, they may never find it.
Contact David Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.