Helicopter parenting is a well-known term for a certain style of raising children. It gained prominence in the early 2000s with baby boomers and their rearing of millennial offspring. Their style of “hovering” ranged from calling kids to wake them up every morning to taking the side of their students when the dreaded call home from teachers occurred.
That approach to parenting became so commonplace that a lack of hyper-protection became cause for alarm, if not a call to law enforcement.Helicopter parenting has met its antithesis. Free-range parenting.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbertt signed a bill into a law that takes effect on May 8. The measure represents the first effort by a state to legalize self-sufficiency of children, a concept that has gone by the wayside. Parents that allow their kids to travel to school, play in a playground or remain in a car alone are no longer considered automatically neglectful.
The genesis of Utah’s new law started with legislators identifying states where parents were investigated or had their children temporarily taken away. The reason behind the inquiries? Children were reported alone in their yards or walking to and from school or the park.Some stories received high profile media coverage.
The goal of the new law is to teach children independence, a trait that legislators and supporters believe will help them in the future. The legislation leaves vague the specific age where children are mature enough to do things on their own. Having it remain open-ended will allow law enforcement to handle cases individually.
Free-range/non-helicopter parenting is already trending beyond social media circles and into the federal realm. In a 2015 education bill, U.S. Senator Mike Lee tacked on an amendment that supported the self-sufficiency of children without parents facing charges for allowing something that, in a more idyllic era, was commonplace.