What Should We Add to This Site?

Hi Readers!

In the next few weeks, we hope to expand the Free-Range Kids site to provide more.

More what? Well, that’s what we’d like to know.

For sure we want to come up with a way for Free-Range parents to find each other, so we’re working on that. We also want to provide some helpful lists you can consult and add to: Lists of great Free-Range-themed books, movies and games.

But — what else? What else would you like to see on this site that isn’t here yet? Do you want to be able to upload home videos of Free-Ranging kids? Or photos? Do you want to have some kind of question and answer forum?

Naturally, we won’t be able to implement anything and everything.  But we’ll start mulling whatever you start suggesting. So thanks in advance for your input and ideas! — Lenore

75 Responses

  1. Lisa Belkin’s Leave The Kid Alone

  2. I think a facebook fan site would be great.

  3. How about a discussion forum? It could contain places for free ranging ideas for kids, success stories, free range question and answers, etc

  4. My suggestion would be a wiki. This gives more options than a forum, as it is possible to publish whole articles with photos and possibly videos without the need for the web master to be involved. I would certainly restrict the contributors more than Wikipedia does, maybe even to the extent that the site admin has to approve them.
    If you need help, I am very willing to pitch in, as I have run some wiki for the parents of a school successfully for some years. I am already blogging about the FreeRange kids at http://www.merlinsilk.com/2009/06/30/summer-camp-or-wasting-time/ so it’s just a little bit more 😉

    Freerange parents unite! And I am definitely one.

  5. A facebook fansite would certainly be fantastic… pun intended!

    Of course a forum would be great, where you can post pics and such.

  6. I’d love a Flickr pool or other venue to post pictures and / or videos of Free Range Kids!

  7. The facebook fan page is here:


    (Anyone know why it’s so darn hard to find a fan page on there?)

    I think Yahoo Groups work well for getting to know local parents. I’m on there for Freecycle, and they have the parent organization page and then sub-groups for each state.

  8. I used to use Meetup, and found that better than Yahoo Groups. Another option is just to set up discussion forums in a way that has a separate board for each state… people can get to know each other through discussion and then plan to actually meet if they want.

  9. Here’s something I am doing for myself on my blog, but would LOVE to see represented on a larger international scale. I am giving my daughter my camera to use on a free range day. If I am there taking the pictures, it suddenly isn’t free range anymore. She knows its not a “spy” op, just to show me the fun they had on their adventures. I can’t wait until it stops raining here and they can play outside where they belong!

  10. My suggestion would be to get rid of those popups that display a preview of the links. I find them VERY annoying.

  11. Considering the article of ‘mom arrested for letting kids go to the mall:; it would be interesting to know some of the “rules” in different locations. I believe that in Alberta, Canada, there are no specific age guidelines. If a 10 or 12 year old is responsible enough, they can be left to their own, but if a 13 or 14 year old is not responsible; the parents could be charged if he/she were left alone. Very iffy; but at least it seems the decision rests in the parents hands.

  12. Forums would be great, as would more extensive links to other free-range families websites and blog and a meetup feature to help us network in real life. Basically anything that lets the parents using this site find and communicate more with each other.

  13. @Bryan, if you have Firefox, add *snap.com* to your adblock list and all the snap previews will be gone (from everywhere). I hate them too.

  14. A forum is a great idea, as it would give people a place to discuss, upload and share videos and photos, as well as connect by state, country and province! A list of the laws somewhere would be great too, as they vary wildly from place to place. An informed Free Range Parent will have a much easier time standing up for themselves!

  15. Amber alerts?

    Just kidding 😉

  16. Oh! and forgot to say what I was going to say, of course. I’d like a forum, better than a facebook page (I’m not on facebook, and not about join only for this). Also, it should ideally be international rather than US-centric, perhaps even more than it already is.

    Helicopter parenting and general over-anxiety seems to be less rampant in Europe than in the US. When our 13-year-old went from the Netherlands to Belgium by herself for a weekend with a friend, nobody batted an eyelid– some people said that their kids weren’t up to it, but nobody called us crazy or irresponsible or was about to report us to the police. (She did have some train troubles, but could solve them on her own; and she texted to our landline, causing a very puzzled electronic voice to try to pronounce ‘Roeselare’.)

  17. I agree with Irina about making everything international (in my case, Canadian) as much as possible. The internet really is global! 🙂 I’d love to meet more Free Range parents in my area!

    A wiki would be a great resource. I’d like a list of snappy comebacks, while I’m daydreaming, for all those occasions when someone suggests FreeRange’ing is inappropriate/dangerous/etc.

  18. I agree that a forum would be awesome, and that it should probably have some geographic subfolders to let us get to know other local free-rangers, sort of like the ‘find your tribe’ forums at Mothering.com.

  19. I like the forum idea – like others have said, could be organized geographically to facilitate meetups and discussion of local issues/ideas, have an advice section, and have a place for listing local laws. (You wouldn’t believe how hard I had to dig to find out whether my soon-to-be fourth grader could stay home alone after school without someone siccing Child Protective Services on me.) I don’t know anything about hosting a forum so can’t speak to how time consuming or onerous it would be.

    Would LOVE to somehow find other Free-Range parents in my local area. My daughter’s friends’ moms think I’m flat out crazy. 🙂

  20. Periodic posts of positive free-range stories/anticdotes. Sometimes it feels like there are a lot of discouraging stories of parents having trouble going free-range but there are so many positive ones lurking in the comments and such.

    Photos of free-range kids in their natural habitats sounds good too.

  21. I would love a Facebook Fansite. I already post links in Facebook to share with my friends, and have made a few of them less paranoid!

  22. “Know thy enemy.”
    Invite law makers and enforcement officers to present and explain these insane laws they use to intimidate us with and then have qualified people to tell us exactly how to get these laws removed from the books or at least changed to represent real world situations.
    Don’t be afraid to challenge these public servants.
    (I am employed by a small municipality, not in law enforcement, but still seem to understand my responsibilities to the community I serve better than others.)
    That word “enemy” sounds harsh but after reading Outrage of the Week I can’t think of any other.

  23. I would love if this blog was available for Kindle…..just discovered it and would love to add it to my Kindle list of blogs/mags/newspapers I track. Thanks!

  24. I’d like a series of surveys about different scenarios. I’d be interested to know if 89% of free range parents would leave their 11 year old home alone for a few hours, etc.

  25. A proper forum would be a great idea, maybe subdivided into categories – free-range stories, news articles, questions and advice, and (everybody ultimately ends up with one, might as well start one now) general chat.

  26. @Steph +1 (and I would, and indeed did, leave 11-year-olds home alone for a few hours; they’re 15 and two instances of 13 now and can stay home alone for a whole evening, though we wouldn’t like a weekend yet)

  27. I love the idea about surveys…and I’d also love if there was a general comment page so that comment sections that are meant to be about a specific article stay that way and people can still share their thoughts on random things. I love FRK:-)

  28. Like others have said, I’d love to see a big forum with divisions for various topics. One of the topics I’d really like to see discussed is the legal aspect: what ARE the rules/laws in various places, and how do we go about getting affordable legal help for parents like the mom in Bozeman?

  29. I could use some help from Free-Range parents on dealing with adolescents. So far, so good, but my 14-year-old wants more freedom (roaming around the neighborhood after dark, hanging out with friends whose parents I don’t know…). Thanks!

  30. I think when I was fourteen I was allowed to stay out till 9-10pm but my parents had to know where I was, and if I changed spots I had to call and let them know. They knew they could trust me and my choices. When our kids become older there will be a lot of friends of theirs that we don’t know the parents and it’s just something we have to accept.

  31. a forum would be awesome! I heart FRK!

  32. Casey (and Lenore): One way to provide for general comments on a blog is to periodically post open threads: just make a post that says “everyone feel free to talk about anything loosely related to this blog’s theme.” On bigger sites like DailyKos it’s done automatically, but here it could be done by hand without having to change any software.

  33. I like Edward’s idea about making it interactive with decision makers.

    State links for 1) finding other FR parents in your area and 2) for listing the laws of that state and any prosecutions

  34. I´m all for making this international (we are starting all this protect-children-from-everything paranoia down here in Spain, too). Perhaps we could add sections according to our children´s ages? You know, veteran parents could give us novices some advice, I think… Also, free-ranging at four is not the same as eight, or whatever.

  35. User blogs would be cool, and should at least be considered as an alternative to a forum. Like a forum, people can post questions, comments and ideas that others can answer and comment on, but giving users a blog-style view of their own posts builds a sense of ownership and (in my community blog management experience) brings users back.

    User blogs can also be a source of posts for when you want fresh content and don’t have the time to write (i.e., you could “promote” user posts to appear on the front page). Community bloggers are also sort of a farm team from which you can draw if you decide to bring on someone else to shoulder some of the front page duties.

  36. I don’t know about you other 40+ year olds, but I have yet to take the Facebook plunge,… it just feels like I am too old for it, but maybe that why I should jump in… not sure.

    That said I would really like a way to connect with other local (Western Canada) Dads who share the same Free Range outlook for raising their kids. So I’d suggest an expansion of the already excellent blog to include some geographic connectivity?

  37. I really like Lance’s idea for user blogs as it does create a sense of ownership and encourages people to keep participating. I would also like to see links to free-range style programs out there like The Tinkering School and the camps the Trackers NW does. That way parents can know of other options besides the safety-paranoid camps and classes to send there kids to (running around free-range is great but there is a thrill that comes with going to camp).

  38. I vote for a forum where we could exchange stories, tips, etc.

  39. Forums would be wonderful. Threaded posts would make conversations much easier to follow and allow for a lot more back and forth.

    Specifically you could create separate forums for different types of FRK content. Perhaps one for news articles another for personal anecdotes, another for interactions with law enforcement / CPS, etc.

    Judging from the number and quality of comments in your blog a nice threaded forum system could be a big hit.

  40. As others have suggested, I think that the polls / surveys would be a nice addition. After an article such as the recent one about the professor who dropped her kids off at the mall, there could be a poll as to whether others among us would have felt comfortable doing that (perhaps dividing the results into parents who consider themselves Free Rangers and those who don’t). Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the majority thinks from the comments, since often it’s the same people who tend to comment, or there are hundreds of responses and it’s hard to wade through.

  41. I love that you are thinking of expanding the site – that means the movement is growing, no? I had dinner with my parents the other night, and even they had heard of you, Lenore! These are people who don’t own a computer (or even a microwave for that matter!), and they don’t have little kids, and they knew all about your story and your movement. That’s awesome! I can’t think of anything to add to the site that hasn’t been mentioned already – love the ideas about having region-specific forums and using surveys: sometimes pioneers (as many of us are in our neighborhoods) need to check in with other pioneers to be sure their pioneering is logical and intrepid but not quite mad-scientist…

  42. I think that it would be nice to have a “take this quiz” about the perceived/actual risks of childhood, so that people could easily link to it and/or pass it around Facebook to promote the free-range thing.

    I’d also love a repository of brief testimonials of successful times, when people have held their breath and pretended to be brave in order to allow their children to grow–and then the kids have found success/freedom/joy as a result. This is a specific reaction to one of the parenting magazines that has a short “It happened to me” episode recounted in each issue, each a bizarre, random, unlikely-but-dangerous accident–as if they just want to add it to our list of things to freak out about.

    Finally, I’m very interested in the notion of building community. I think a lot of our free range attitude depends on feeling familiar with and safe in our own communities–so any techniques, links, etc., on that topic would “advance the cause” as well, I think.

  43. Well, like a HELP/Emergency questions and answers: like my 13 years daughter is now a teenaget. For the last 13 years ahe has been polite, etc.

    Now, I can’t get near her, don’t touch me, don’t touch my her, don’t and don’t and it always finishes with ” I can do it” well she now most of the times leavec the house with her hait NOT combed, has done nothing that I asked for AND I keep washing and washing the same clothe over and over again as she puts her clean clothe with the dirty. Sometimes I feel like jumping off the balcony. HELP

  44. A wiki where people can upload photos of stupid anti-free range laws/school rules/products with a voting system.

    A fightback success page – where people can write stories of winning the war against anti-free range with local authorities & schools (with tips to succeed).

    Lists of free range books/movies/youtubes/whatever (can I suggest ‘The Idle Parent’ by Tom Hodgkinson!)

    Links to the other great modern movements – Slow life & slow food/local food! Surely the anti-paranoia anti-consumerism folk should all support each other!

  45. Liti, give her a quarter every week and have her do her clothes at the laundromat. That’ll teach her not to overload the washer real fast.

  46. That Facebook quiz idea by KSB is a really good one.

    One with questions like: Who is the most likely to kidnap your child? A) Internet stalker B) Local sex convict or C) parent or grandparent
    How many children are kidnapped per year
    1 in 1000
    1 in 10000
    1 in 100000
    and then tell the truth (whatever it is 1 in several million or higher)

    Rock on.

  47. Bumper stickers!

  48. Yes, I agree with NJMom – bumber stickers or some other kind of badge that we can wear would be cool. Might get people asking about what FRK is and may also act as a friendly beacon to others who are already FR. Either way, getting people talking more about the movement is a major plus!

  49. I’d love to have a section where people can ask questions about specific situations, and get feedback. Something like “I’m thinking about letting my daughter do this, but not sure if it’s a good idea. Would you allow it at this age? What factors should I consider that I may not have thought of yet?” I

  50. How about safety products for kids that are a good idea?

    A facebook app would be cool…

  51. I think a forum or discussion board is a wonderful idea. Too often the comments section on your posts get hijacked by other ideas that are great and should be discussed and shared, but aren’t related to your post. A place where people can post ideas and experiences would be a great addition to the site.

  52. I think we should be able to upload pictures and videos. Like that one miss. Who gave her kids a camera and let them take pictures. If she woudn’t mind I would love to see the pictures of all her kids adventures they probaly went on so many.

  53. I know some folks mentioned Facebook fansite. But if no one already mentioned it, the capability to upload/share specific posts on my Facebook profile. I don’t know what it’s called but some websites have a share option with Facebook and other icons that you just click on and it will post to your Facebook page.

  54. I would like to see reviews of parenting books that reflect the values of free-range parenting. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee is one that leaps to mind, but surely there are some others as well.

  55. I like the idea of discussion forums. It would be a nice way for some of us to encourage each other in the journey especially if we are nervous free-rangers. Some of us are parents of kids with disabilities but we don’t want to disable them more by over doing it.

  56. Put the entire post in the RSS feed so you can properly read this in a blog aggregator, rather than seeing a segment of the post and having to click through to the site each time.

  57. Oh, no, Yazan – I’d hate to have the ENTIRE POST clogging up my Friends page at LJ, they get to be rather long.

  58. This wonderful article:
    My imaginary adventures by Jon Carroll
    Thursday, July 9, 2009

  59. I would suggest having a box somewhere on the site where the most recent outrage of the weeks are found…pull it out to highlight all the inexplicable stuff?

  60. It needs a “flag this comment as inappropriate” link, it seems.

  61. I really like MJ’s idea about safety products that really are valuable. But, PLEASE, no bumper stickers! That seems so anti-free range to me. Free range is about connecting and discussion. Bumper stickers are the antithesis of that, IMO.

  62. 1. bumper stickers, tshirts etc. a “Free Range” shop!
    2. would definitely like to see a place to meetup with other free-range parents in my area.
    3. the previous idea of surveys, polls etc. would be fun.
    4. lastly, but most important, it would be great to see a way (not sure what the vehicle for this would be or even how or where to begin) to communicate/get on board with our educators about this topic! The schools are so desperately in need of learning more about the vital importance of the necessity to incorporate free range into the school day. Unfortunately, it is more and more common to hear about schools removing recess or punishing children for not doing their homework by not letting them outdoors! This mentality is so sad!!! There is way too much emphasis on standardized testing, homework and other time draining tasks that provide no benefits to young children.
    5. (Check out the PBS documentary, ‘Where do the Children Play?” it is fantastic!)

  63. I’ve been wishing for a forum, something divided into subject areas as a couple of other people suggested. I would love to be able to discuss specifics with other free-rangers. e.g. How to teach a particular skill to my kids, what to say to interfering busybodies, etc. I don’t think it’s necessary to provide regional areas. In my experience, people naturally keep track of who comes from where, and we’ll be able to organize regionally based on that.

  64. I’d love a quick link to share you articles on Facebook and Google Reader and other sites, or even to mail them to others. I’m forever cutting and pasting your links!

  65. After thinking about it some more, I would love it if the main page focused on matters of practicality: How to be a Free Range parent today. The “outrage” of the week/day/year stories could have their own section, where we can let our emotional frustration without letting it cloud a more practical discussion.

  66. Hi Lenore,

    How about a regular column on your site or in a newspaper showcasing parent’s stories of how their child got “lost” (scaring the parents to death) but in the end learning there was nothing to be scared about. In other words, the parents scared themselves to death.

    This happened years ago when one of our young sons “disappeared” one afternoon- and also another time when our nextdoor neighbor’s daughter “disappeared.” Needless to say, neither had really disappeared at all. But the stories in detail are priceless. (if you’re interested I could write it up for you.)

    As a result of those 2 incidents – I couldn’t help wondering how often this happens all over the country.
    …people “thinking” their kids were gone when they weren’t. America today is a Culture of Fear.

    Interestingly, our son, raised to fend for himself, traveled all over Italy “by himself” the summer after his freshman year in college. He had a great time, said he met people from every country in Europe.

  67. This is likely a too-difficult request, but I’d love local statistics on the scary stuff. If approached by neighbors or police who don’t think I should be letting my kid wander for fear of them being abducted, it would be wonderful to be able to say, “The last 6-year-old abducted by a stranger in this city was 8 years ago.” Or something of the like.

    Local statistics which feel much more meaningful than national ones. If there was a system on the site for such a thing, then we might be able to figure out how readers could research their local stats for themselves (spend a while looking over records and talking to the police?)

  68. Steve: “Culture of Fear” is actually the title of two books, one by Barry Glassner describing the situation in the US and one by Frank Furedi describing the situation in the UK. Both are recommended. Glassner in particular emphasizes the theme that we worry ourselves to death about negligible risks while letting huge risks slip by.

  69. A button! I want a button to share on my blog! 🙂 Shoot give me the graphic and I’ll make it for you!


  70. I would like to see more articles discussing the triumphs of our free range kids. So we can do the Church Lady’s “I’m Superior” dance in front of all the Helicopter parents.

  71. Hey Lenore,
    I know you posted this awhile ago, and also my comment is comment #71 meaning someone has probably already suggested this and you may not even read it, but could you label your posts?
    That way, when I come in (like today) looking to quote you on “Stranger Danger,” for instance, all I’d have to do would be to look in your ‘Label’ section and click on the relevant labels. It would make your already awesome web site that much better!
    Thanks –

  72. I keep looking for a “Share” link so I can easily post the link to the blog entry to FB or LJ or Twitter myself. A social stripe, like the ones shown at the end of articles here that start with “Share this blog entry:” http://www.caring.com/blogs/caring-currents/save-money-and-strengthen-family-ties-with-mult-generation-vacations

    I would love to have that to more easily post a link!

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