When Does Allowing Your Kids Their Independence Cross Over Into Neglect? (Pt 2)

November 6, 2019 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
A silhouette of a teen girl jumping off a pile of rocks in front of a sunset sky
As our children grow older, we want them to learn to be responsible and independent. But how to let them learn those lessons without CPS interfering?

Welcome back and thanks for joining us again for this discussion on when promoting being independent in your kids can lead to accusations of neglect. It’s a fine line, and one that we know is very hard to navigate, especially in this time when the state seems to be overly involved in every aspect of parenthood. As we mentioned in the previous article, leaving kids alone at home and allowing kids to be out and about unsupervised are two instances where age and circumstance play a role in that decision. But what else could be a well-intentioned parenting choice, misunderstood as neglectful parenting?

Allowing children to make their own clothing choices

This may seem like a strange one to include, because how could your child’s clothing choices get you into trouble with the state? Well, crazy as it sounds, they can! Obviously, when your kids are little they want to do everything for themselves, and as the parent who knows better, you sometimes have to override their choices (“No honey, you can’t wear summer pajamas to school on a freezing winter day, no matter how pretty they are!”). 

But as your kids get older, they need to start taking responsibility for their own choices. Being independent is a good thing, unless you’re not making good choices! So is it neglectful to allow a kid to walk to the bus without a coat? Some may say yes, but if you told that child it was cold and they should take a coat and they refused because their coat wasn’t “cool” enough, are you being neglectful? Or are you allowing circumstances to be their teacher so they can make better choices in future? You and CPS may not agree on that one.

Allowing kids to make their own food choices

This may also seem like a strange subject, but it has come up several times in cases we’ve handled, where parents were accused of neglect because their children “looked undernourished” or “seemed thin” and didn’t eat much. Some kids are skinny. Some kids are chunky. Some kids have huge appetites, and some kids are incredibly picky eaters who don’t consume much. So are you a neglectful parent if you allow a picky eater to decide what and how much they’ll eat?

For some parents, it has more to do with avoiding the battle – a fight at every dinner can be exhausting and they just don’t have the energy for it. For others, a child’s decision to refuse food at dinner should be followed up with “well then you’ll go to bed hungry” as a way to learn the consequences of their independent choices. In either case, it’s a decision that should be made by a parent who cares about their child’s health and wellbeing, not the state.

Don’t let CPS strip you of your parenting rights!

You have a Constitutional right to parent your children the way you see fit. Obviously, there are laws that protect kids from abuse, but on the whole, it’s your place to decide how your children should be raised. So don’t let CPS strip you of that right, or try to interfere with your parenting choices. If CPS has accused you of being neglectful, or allegations have been made against you for “neglecting” your kids by allowing them too much freedom, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled child abuse and neglect defense attorneys are standing by 24/7 to help you defend your rights and keep your family together!