The Denver Post recently published a freelance piece by a Fort Collins mother, Chryss Cada, who lets her eleven-year-old daughter hike ahead, alone; until she received a call from park services. Is this too much freedom for a pre-teen?


Let me preface this by saying, I am in no way taking a stance. I don't have kids, and so I don't know what it's like to be a parent; I don't know what's 'right' and what's 'wrong.' They always say 'kids don't come with a handbook,' which is why I find stories like these interesting. Some day, I could be just like Chryss Cada, the mother who penned the piece, 'What happened when a Colorado mom let her 11-year-old hike ahead by herself.'

Growing up so close to the Boulder flatirons, hiking was something my family and I did pretty frequently. Despite that, I don't think my mom would have ever let me venture out of her site -- and she is, in no way a 'helicopter' mom. She raised me to value the importance of being independent and self-sufficient, but to this day, she'll tell me over the phone, 'DO NOT WALK THERE ALONE, SHELBY!' Because, let's be real, bad things happen to young girls and grown women who are alone all the time.

Despite my current stance, my parenting has always been more helicopter than free-range. It was only this school year that I began letting my third-grader ride her bike home from school part of the way with her friends instead of having me by her side the whole way...I'm still not ready to let them out of my sight by rushing water — or in the Target parking lot, for that matter... They may be just ahead of me on the path at a local natural area today, but in a couple years they will be miles ahead of me on a mountainous bike trail, in five years they can drive to different states solo. And in less than 10 years, they will be riding the Metro in Paris with me a continent away. -Chryss Cada for the Denver Post

In this excerpt, she sounds a lot like my mom, actually. But, when her daughter, Chloe, was seen hiking alone outside of Fort Collins, she got a call from a park ranger. She mentions that the family was close to their home, so is this really any different than a kid wandering the suburbs? I actually agree with Cada's reasoning, and the values she is instilling in her daughters. In the world we live in though, is that safe? (Not to mention, mountain lions...)

Would you let your middle schooler hike unsupervised? Tell us what you think; good parenting, or bad situation waiting to happen?