How Does A Free-Range Parent Deal with an Ex Who Isn’t?

Hi Free-Rangers: Do we have some advice for this fellow? If so, let’s share it! — L

Dear FRK: I have embraced Free Range parenting.  Unfortunately my ex-wife and mother of our four children is afraid to let our 8-year-old out of her sight, and plays the “What if?” game: “What if he is attacked by space aliens who want to steal his bike and bully him on the way home from school in our upper-middleclass neighborhood where there is hardly any crime, let alone violent crime, but it COULD happen?”

It’d be great if there was a “tools to use when your ex-spouse is a helicopter parent” resource.

Unlike a two-parent household, where neither would seriously consider involving the courts, my ex-spouse thinks nothing of getting a judge to decree that an act of Free-Range parenting puts our children in imminent danger.  My ex-wife believes an impersonal judicial system knows how to parent our children better than we do!  She actually argued in court that we shouldn’t let our 13-year-old daughter walk to junior high school because it was “too dangerous.”  The walk is less than one mile and the only busy road has a traffic light with crosswalk and crossing guard.  How is that dangerous for a teenager?!?

My current issue is that our son, the 8-year-old,  wants to ride his bike to school from my house, which is about .8 miles (per Google Maps) away.   He already knows how to get there and back — we’ve been practicing, and he leads the way.  She is convinced bad things will happen.  I think his desire to do this is a sign of maturity and independence, and the ride would be a source of daily exercise.

How do others deal with an ex-spouse who is anti-Free Range? — Anon.

Readers — I do get this question a lot. I haven’t dealt with divorce court and have zero expertise. Any insights, either on the legal side or on the coming-to-a-compromise side, would be welcome! — L.