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Free-Range Parenting Couple Found Guilty of Child Neglect

The Short of It

A Maryland couple gained national attention after they allowed their young children to walk home alone from a park in December. Now a new decision has found them guilty of "unsubstantiated" child neglect charges.

The Lowdown

Remember the Meitivs? They are the parents of Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, who were investigated by Montgomery County Child Protective Services back in December. Why? For a parenting choice they made.

Police picked up the Meitiv kids after people called to report they were walking alone down a busy avenue.

At the time, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv defended their decision to let their children go to the park a mile from home by themselves, saying Rafi and Dvora do this often, and in fact, walk to other local stores and parks alone.

The shocked mom said this about the her reaction to the new decision: "I was kind of horrified. You try as a parent to do what's right. Parents try so hard. Even though I know they are wrong, it's a painful judgment."

She still doesn't think she made a bad parenting choice. In fact, the Meitivs have allowed their kids to play outside and walk home from parks in the area even since the police investigation and subsequent finding.

The Upshot

A finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means their case will remain open for five years. It's unclear what will happen to the family if they are reported again. Child Protective Services says they will have to investigate any activity that seems unsafe.

Meanwhile, the Meitivs' story has drawn mixed reactions from other parents. Some say this kind of "free-range parenting" helps kids develop good decision-making skills and fosters their independence. Other parents are more concerned by the potential danger of allowing children to be unsupervised.

My take? Parents have the right to make decisions for their own kids. Free-range parenting isn't my style, but then again, Rafi and Dvora aren't my children.

What's your take?

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