The parent always correct. That is the basis of free-range parenting. The idea that a parent should be allowed to do whatever they want, including nothing, with their children.
I grew up in rural northwestern Colorado. The idea of ‘free-range’ is common in farming communities where it refers to animals. It means the rancher allows his animals to roam on open land, usually federal land and expends minimal personal resources on the care and maintenance of his or her livestock until it’s time to round them up for sale. The expectation is that some of the animals will be lost to predators, but the money saved by not feeding and watering them is worth the risk.
In parenting, ‘free-range’ is applied to the children of the mother and father. The concept is that children of almost any age will mature faster as unsupervised survivalists than under the care and monitoring of an adult. It is as stupid as it sounds.
This idea gained national awareness when Rafi, a ten-year-old boy, and Dvora his six-year-old sister were picked up by law enforcement when they were reported to be unsupervised about a mile from home. They are children of Danielle and Alexander Meitiv who believe that their children should be allowed to roam free on streets and in parks in order to learn the lessons that life offers. The parents have been charged with child neglect.
The real issue with free-range parenting is not one of parenting style. Parenting style requires that you actually take the responsibility to be a parent, which free-range parents don’t. Free-range parenting can be compared to having something of infinite value entrusted to someone, for which they go to the back door and throw it as far away has possible.
The critical issue with free-range parenting is assuming that children are born with an automatic sense of right and wrong. They are not. Children learn good behavior and they learn it from the human examples around them. Left on their own, many children experiment with cruelty and seek to satisfy baser desires, especially when one child is older and/or stronger than another child.
Parents have to constantly guide children to understand the concepts of boundaries, respect, kindness, responsibility, and humility. Often children battle against parents when told that certain behaviors and/or actions are not acceptable, but as a child matures they begin to understand that parents are acting out of love in teaching proper social behavior. They understand this, often because they see other people around them who lacked proper parental supervision and who are social failures as an adult.
A free-range parent is also setting themselves up for failure. The child will soon discover that the more they stay away from the parents, the less hassle they will experience, so the detach themselves emotionally from the parent. Once a child has found the parent to be irrelevant the opportunity for the parent to offer advice and guidance is lost forever.