I panicked when I saw my 14-year-old grandson heading for the door with a backpack.
After all, there are stories almost daily in the news about a black teen getting killed.
My daughter thought I was being paranoid, and my grandson rolled his eyes — an unmistakeable sign that he didn’t want me to give him a ride.
In fact, my daughter is insistent that her children have a degree of independence that includes knowing how to take a bus and a train.
Still, compared to a lot of other children his age, my grandson has been sheltered.
Because he has attended schools located quite a distance from where he lived, he never had friends in the neighborhood to hang out with, and didn’t grow up playing outside unsupervised.
Heck, he wasn’t even able to ride his bicycle to the corner store.
That day, I repeatedly asked my daughter to text my grandson to make sure he was OK. She assured me he would be fine.
I’ll admit it. My parenting style has changed dramatically over the years, primarily because so many black males have been killed.
But the question of how much supervision is enough is something parents also wrestle with in safer areas.
Last week, a Maryland couple found themselves at odds with child welfare authorities when they let their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter walk about a mile from a park to their home.
Danielle and Alexander Meitiv said they believe in letting their children have “free-range” — a parenting style that gives children a degree of independence that is virtually unheard of today.
“The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood,” Danielle told The Washington Post.
Police picked up the children halfway home after someone reported seeing them walking alone.
Usually, the children carried a card with parent contact information that says: “I am not lost. I am a free-range kid,” according to The Washington Post.
The Montgomery County Child Protective Services is now investigating the incident, apparently because under state law, children under 8 must be left with a person who is at least 13 years old.
It should sound ridiculous that it could be considered neglect to let a normal 10-year-old walk to the park with a younger sibling.
But I get it.
Still, every so often something occurs that illustrates how capable a child can be.
Recently, the world witnessed a miracle when 7-year-old Sailor Gutzler survived a plane crash in Kentucky that killed her parents, a sister, and a cousin.
It is incredible that the 7-year-old walked a mile — barefoot and injured — through dense woods to safety with only the distant light from a house guiding her.
According to relatives, Sailor’s dad had already taught her survival skills.
Most children that age would likely not have survived in the woods after such a traumatic experience.
Unfortunately, many of us have good reason for being fearful when our children are out of sight.
The school massacres, senseless street shootings and child abductions, have made a lot more helicopter parents.
We’ve also treated the loss of freedom like a necessary evil.
So, it’s actually a good thing that “free-range” parents are taking a stand.
Additionally, the fact that a police officer took the Meitivs’ children home is an indication that the children were not in any danger.
Hopefully, this movement will not stop at fighting to preserve the best elements of childhood but inspire others to do more to make the world a safer place today for all children.