Utah, home of the insane 3.2 beer laws and massive Mormon families, has the best law I have heard about this decade. “Free-range children.”
That’s right. In the Beehive State, you can let your kids walk home from school or go outside and play without you.
The rest of the country is a hodge-podge of fucked-up horror stories of parents being prosecuted for letting a kid sit in a car while they were in the store, or God-forbid, let them go to the park by themselves. Most places don’t have laws that say it’s illegal but it falls under “neglect.”
Shit, the best thing my parents ever did was “neglect” to watch us play outside with our friends, or run the neighborhood in packs, or ride my god damn bike as far away from that fucking house as possible. No matter how healthy your home life, it’s good for the soul to get the fuck out once in a while.
In my day (that’s right, I’m that fucking old and white, that I proudly type “in my day”) every kid past the first grade was free to run the neighborhood after school or all summer.
After I finished my 20-hour a week job mowing that fucking acre of grass, we would do things on our own like:
- pee on the classroom windows at the local public school (what the fuck did we care, mom insisted we go to St. Vincent)
- Or we would smash up the scraps left at construction sites
- or play football over the flat markers in the cemetery.
“That big marble monument is out of bounds. Jerry got a concussion running in to that thing yesterday.”
Yes, sometimes it was “dangerous,” and we all have some scars to prove it. But we don’t think twice about strapping kids on top of internal combustion engine or flying 500 miles-per-hour in a tin can powered by explosions of jet fuel.
A little Darwinism is not a bad thing. You get hurt or you hear about someone else getting hurt, and even a kid will think twice before taking a nap on the train tracks.
Why Utah. It’s math. When you have 6 or 8 or a dozen kids, you can’t possibly watch them all. Sure, the older ones get drafted into supervising the little shits, but after the third child is born, the parents have to switch from man-to-man to playing a zone.
After the 4th kid, it’s Lord of the Flies.
After the 6th kid, only the strong survive – welcome to the jungle.
Parenting is Bullshit
And by the way New York Times and other keepers of the mother tongue – it’s “Free-range Children” not free-range parenting.
Parent is not a fucking verb. The people who are trying to make it one should be forced to wear a Scarlet “P”, so the rest of us know we are in the presence of a douchebag.
Turning parent into a verb is the worst fucking thing my generation has done.
We raise children or we have children. We can guide and direct them, but they need to learn how to make decisions and how to behave on their own.
Who knew that Utah would be the first to encode that concept into law.