The free-range parenting fracas continues. According to an interview posted on free-range expert Lenore Skenazy’s website, two Florida parents are facing felony charges for…allowing their son to play in their yard while waiting for them to come home from work.
One afternoon this past April, a Florida mom and dad I’ll call Cindy and Fred could not get home in time to let their son, 11, into the house. The boy didn’t have a key so he played basketball in the yard. He was alone for 90 minutes. A neighbor called the cops, and when the parents arrived — having been delayed by traffic and rain — they were arrested for negligence. They were put in handcuffs, strip searched, fingerprinted and held overnight in jail.
It would be a month before their sons — the 11 year old and his 4-year-old brother — were allowed home again.
“Cindy” and “Fred” were charged with a felony, and their two sons were sent to live with a woman who is described as a “problematic relative,” who refused to bring the children to visit their parents. She eventually grew tired of caring for them, and sent them back into state custody, where they were fed cereal and not much else.
As the family and state’s lawyers argued back and forth about whether to put the kids into the foster care system, the older son asked the judge to please let him go back to his parents. The judge then ruled to release the children to their family…but on several conditions.
Cindy told Skenazy:
Our lawyer came to us and said that if we admitted that we didn’t know that it was wrong to [our son] stay in the backyard, but that we know now that it’s wrong and we will never let it happen again, and that we will explain this to our son, he would let the children come with us.”
And the fight isn’t over. While still fighting their charges in criminal court, the two parents are also attending parenting classes, putting the children in day care and summer camp, and enrolling them in “play therapy,” in order to comply with Child Protective Services’ recommendations.
All of this over an hour and a half of unsupervised yard time? Yeesh. What do you think?