Free Range Parents Are Free From Charges — For Now

The free range parents in Maryland who landed in the national spotlight for their parenting style, have been cleared of child neglect charges that stemmed from a December, 2014 incident, but are still waiting to hear their fate related to another incident that occurred this year.

Last December, the couple allowed their children — ages 6 and 10 — to walk home from a playground that is a mile from their house. While on their walk, the children were stopped by police and asked if they were lost or in trouble. The kids responded stating they were fine and their parents allowed them to walk that route on their own. The police were not satisfied with that and drove the children home. Just a few hours later, an agent from Child Protective Services arrived at the family’s home and told the parents they needed to sign a pledge declaring they would not let their children be unsupervised. If they didn’t consent, the children would be taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

The parents have publicly stated that they’re responsible parents who are teaching their children autonomy and personal responsibility, in accordance with free range parenting. Free range parents — unlike helicopter parents who hover over their kids — allow their children to have appropriate levels of freedom and responsibility for their age while still keeping them safe. They don’t feel the need to “hover” over them, monitoring their every move.

Although the couple is off the hook for the December incident, they are still under investigation for a similar episode that occurred in April, 2015. This time, while walking home from the park, the children were picked up by authorities and detained for several hours — first by police officers and then by Child Protective Services.

The April incident is still under review with the Child Protective Services of Montgomery County. The agency has 60 days to conclude its investigation and issue a written decision.

In the interim, the Maryland couple plans to move forward with a lawsuit against Montgomery County Police and Child Protective Services.