Maryland parents who left their two children unsupervised in park have pushed the issue of parental rights into the national spotlight and sparked a firestorm of a debate over the degree to which the government should intervene in child-rearing practices.
Practitioners of the “free range” philosophy of parenting, which emphasizes teaching children independence, Alexander and Danielle Meitiv felt they were well within their rights to allow their 6- and 10-year-old children to play alone in a neighborhood park on Sunday not far from their Silver Spring home. Police picked up the children and turned them over to Child Protective Services for a short time.
The Meitivs, who in the days since have been the subject of both praise and criticism for their decision, are filing suit to fight the “unlawful seizure of their children” and to stand up for the belief that they, not the state, knows what is best for their children.
But more often than not, parents who find themselves in similar situations — sometimes after leaving a child in a car while they run into a store or allowing a child to supervise younger siblings — buckle under the threat of losing custody of their children even for a short time and plead to neglect or other charges.