“Free-Range” Mom Speaks Out About Letting Children Do Things for Themselves

April 27, 2009 at 7:31 pm Leave a comment

Just a little over a year ago, Lenore Skenazy published an editorial in the New York Sun about how she let her 9-year-old son ride the New York subway by himself. Immediately she was blasted for being an unfit mother who placed her son at peril and should be charged with child abuse. Within a week of publishing the article she was on the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News, and a variety of talk-radio shows explaining her point of view and asking all parents to give their children some freedom.

Skenazy is a firm believer that children need to be safe, but they also need freedom in order to grow up and live their own lives outside the protective wings of their parents. “We become so bent out of shape over something as simple as letting your children out of sight on the playground,” she says in her original article, “that it starts seeming on par with letting them play on the railroad tracks at night. In the rain. In dark non-reflective coats.” She continues, “The problem with this everything-is-dangerous outlook is that over-protectiveness is a danger in and of itself. A child who thinks he can’t do anything on his own eventually can’t.”

Now, she has published a book on the subject, calling children with the freedom to go the corner store and buy a quart of milk “free-range kids,” and recently sat down with Times Argus of Vermont to talk about her ideas and the way that people are reacting to her ideas. In the interview she expands upon ideas from her original aritlce and adds some thought-provoking statistics. “The fact is that crime today is on par with the level in the early ’70s,” she says. “From the early ’70s till about 1993, crime was on the rise. But since 1993, it has plunged . . . . That means if you grew up anytime in the ’70s or ’80s, it’s actually safer today than when you were a kid.”

Are we becoming victims of shock media and fictional police television shows? Are we so afraid to let our children do things on their own that they can’t go to the mailbox without a cell phone, GPS, helmet, and protective pads? And how much freedom can we give our children, at what age?

These are questions that parents needs to answer for themselves according to where they live and based on the ability and age of their own children. But before you decide what your children can and can’t do on their own, it might be worth checking out the ideas of someone who has been at the eye of this particular debate.

The original New York Sun editorial
Times Argus Interview
Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids Website

Let me know your thoughts about Free-Range Kids in the comments section.

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