This Washington Post story is responsible for the rage headache I’m currently nursing. From this story:

It was a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. But what the parents saw as a moment of independence for their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they say authorities viewed much differently.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say they are being investigated for neglect for the Dec. 20 trek — in a case they say reflects a clash of ideas about how safe the world is and whether parents are free to make their own choices about raising their children.

That’s exactly right—it is "a clash of ideas," but it isn't about safety, it's about parenting. And when one camp calls the cops on another camp, that's when things turn from a difference in philosophy about child rearing to a parenting war with potentially serious consequences.

Let's look at these two camps. In one camp–the helicopters–parents believe you should never be more than an inch away from your kids. You should hover over them to protect them from every possible danger. In the other camp–the Free Rangers–you believe in knowing and understanding your own child's abilities and you make decisions based on that child’s development and abilities. Now, there's nothing wrong with there being different philosophies about how to raise kids. The problem is that the helicopter parents have started to feel it’s their duty to call the police on Free Range parents. It's become quite common these days as we see more and more examples of the police being called when children are seen at a playground minus a parent five feet away.

The reason for this is simple: Helicopter parents tend to be evangelical in their parenting style. In other words, they don't just look out for their own children, they feel it's their duty to look out for your children. So, if they disagree with the decision you’ve made for your kids ("go ahead and walk home from the park by yourself!"), it’s time to call the cops.

I have no doubt that the pearl clutcher who called the cops on the Meitiv family is currently patting himself or herself on the back. No doubt they felt great self-satisfaction from dialing 911 to report these wandering children but this person's do-gooder instincts have done a great disservice to this family and to the community. And how much do you want to bet that this same 911-dialer also likes to pick on people for feeding their kids too much snack food and letting them watch too much television? I mean, shouldn't we be telling our kids to get outside to get more exercise? That's precisely what Mrs. Meitiv did and she was still punished. 

I suggest Free Range parents start evangelizing a little too. It’s time to start pushing back on these nannies that think they know what’s best for our children.