Mother Faces Jail Time for Letting 4-Year-Old Play Outside Alone

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playgroundIt’s really hard to parent in the modern world. I’m sure it’s always been difficult to parent, but right now there’s such a tenuous tightrope between proper supervision and oversupervision, it can be hard for a parent to know what they are doing. We don’t want to smother our kids and stunt their independence and emotional development, but we also do not want our kids to be carried off by bald eagles and eaten because we let them run free in an eagle sanctuary. And of course, while we are trying to figure out those decisions for ourselves, we are second-guessed at every turn by friends, family, neighbors, and strangers who are all watching to see what we do and if we do it right.

According to Yahoo Parenting, one self-described “free range” mother is now facing actual jail time for letting her 4-year-old child play outside on a playground by himself. The playground was reportedly part of the gated apartment complex in which the 4-year-old lived, and his mother says it was only 120 feet from her front door.

Sonya Hendren says she felt her 4-year-old son, Tomahawk, showed signs of being ready for unsupervised play time outdoors, so she allowed him to play at the complex within their gated community. She says that he would go play, then come back and tell her when he was finished and that he was home OK.

Tomahawk was reportedly playing alone outside for 15 to 20 minutes when some neighbors from another apartment–Sonja Horrell and her daughter, Brandi–saw him and told him to go home. Tomahawk told them he was not finished playing, and then the neighbors went home and called the police on Hendren. Now there is a CPS case against her.

“I just thought she would get a warning, and then she wouldn’t let him be out alone again,” Sonja Horrell said to Fox News.

“I’m not mad she has to do things now to teach her, because what if someone did take him?” Brandi Horrell said.

“How would she feel if he was on an AMBER Alert? Then what would she be feeling?” Sonja Horrell said.

Hendren was she was initially arrested for felony child endangerment and neglect, but those were dropped to misdemeanor charges. She was offered a reduced sentence of 30 days in jail and six months probation, but she rejected the offer. If she loses her case, she faces six months in prison and three years of probation.

(Photo: gregobagel/IstockPhoto/Getty Images)