“Can These Parents Be Saved?” asks TIME Magazine Cover Story

Hi Readers — Wow. This is my dream article, and (perhaps) not just because it is high on Free-Range Kids! Check it out! Yay, Time! And please allow me to quote a part I find particularly salient:

Obsessing about kids’ safety and success became the norm, a kind of orthodoxy took hold, and heaven help the heretics — the ones who were brave enough to let their kids venture outside without Secret Service protection. Just ask Lenore Skenazy, who to this day, when you Google “America’s Worst Mom,” fills the first few pages of results — all because one day last year she let her 9-year-old son ride the New York City subway alone. A newspaper column she wrote about it somehow ignited a global firestorm over what constitutes reasonable risk. She had reporters calling from China, Israel, Australia, Malta. (“Malta! An island!” she marvels. “Who’s stalking the kids there? Pirates?”) Skenazy decided to fight back, arguing that we have lost our ability to assess risk. By worrying about the wrong things, we do actual damage to our children, raising them to be anxious and unadventurous or, as she puts it, “hothouse, mama-tied, danger-hallucinating joy extinguishers.”

Skenazy, a Yale-educated mom who with her husband is raising two boys in New York City, had ingested all the same messages as the rest of us. Her sons’ school once held a pre-field-trip assembly explaining exactly how close to a hospital the children would be at all times. She confesses to being “at least part Sikorsky,” hiring a football coach for a son’s birthday and handing out mouth guards as party favors. But when the Today show had her on the air to discuss her subway decision, interviewer Ann Curry turned to the camera and asked, “Is she an enlightened mom or a really bad one?”

From that day and the food fight that followed, she launched her Free Range Kids blog, which eventually turned into her own Dangerous Book for Parents: Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry. There is no rational reason, she argues, that a generation of parents who grew up walking alone to school, riding mass transit, trick-or-treating, teeter-tottering and selling Girl Scout cookies door to door should be forbidding their kids to do the same. But somehow, she says, “10 is the new 2. We’re infantilizing our kids into incompetence.” She celebrates seat belts and car seats and bike helmets and all the rational advances in child safety. It’s the irrational responses that make her crazy, like when Dear Abby endorses the idea, as she did in August, that each morning before their kids leave the house, parents take a picture of them. That way, if they are kidnapped, the police will have a fresh photo showing what clothes they were wearing. Once the kids make it home safe and sound, you can delete the picture and take a new one the next morning.

That advice may seem perfectly sensible to parents bombarded by heartbreaking news stories about missing little girls and the predator next door. But too many parents, says Skenazy, have the math all wrong. Refusing to vaccinate your children, as millions now threaten to do in the case of the swine flu, is statistically reckless; on the other hand, there are no reports of a child ever being poisoned by a stranger handing out tainted Halloween candy, and the odds of being kidnapped and killed by a stranger are about 1 in 1.5 million. When parents confront you with “How can you let him go to the store alone?,” she suggests countering with “How can you let him visit your relatives?” (Some 80% of kids who are molested are victims of friends or relatives.) Or ride in the car with you? (More than 430,000 kids were injured in motor vehicles last year.) “I’m not saying that there is no danger in the world or that we shouldn’t be prepared,” she says. “But there is good and bad luck and fate and things beyond our ability to change. The way kids learn to be resourceful is by having to use their resources.” Besides, she says with a smile, “a 100%-safe world is not only impossible. It’s nowhere you’d want to be.”

Let’s say it again: Hooray for Time Magazine! The tide is turning! — Lenore

68 Responses

  1. Dear Abby said that? Seriously, the Dear Abby column has become ridiculous I’ve noticed. Her daughter is just riding on her mother’s coat tails with a bunch of politically correct propaganda, I’ve noticed. My 15 year old daughter reads the column with amusement and says that she (my daughter) could give better advise.

  2. P.S. Awesome that Lenore made Time Magazine and that they’re covering this subject. Maybe the tide is changing.

  3. Great article. What exact relevance does vaccination for swine flu have here? Is the point that parents won’t vaccinate, but will, on the other hand, overprotect their children? If so, I get the point, but there is no evidence that failure to vaccinate for swine flu is “statistically reckless”–see http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1 (“Does the flu shot matter?”). It might work great–on the other hand, it might not matter at all.

  4. This is a great interview, Lenore.

  5. Congrats on making Time Magazine.

    Sandy

  6. Congratulations! Keep up the good work.

  7. Wow, what great exposure Lenore! Although TIME is arguably not the most well written periodical, the exposure that the publication enjoys at supermarket checkout lines all over North America will only serve to grow the knowledge of the Free Range Movement. Serious, serious kudos to you and all your hard work.

  8. Nice! Congrats, Lenore.🙂

  9. This article is great.BTW I Googled “America’s Worst Mom” and the first few pages were you, but they were all positive articles mentioning that you had been labeled that. Way to take it back, as they say.

  10. CONGRATULATIONS! Can’t wait to read the full article. People are so unable to properly evaluate statistical probabilities. Was having a discussion last night with someone who will no longer fly, prefers to drive over a thousand miles because he thinks it’s safer!??!

    And, you are right on about the vaccine thing. I’ve been having this discussion with several friends and there are real reasons to be well-informed and sometimes choose not to vaccinate. But, the safe thing to do, based on real science and the most likely scenarios, is to vaccinate.

    I’ll bet all these people play the lottery too, huh?

  11. I, and several others that I have seen, are linking to this article on Facebook today- spreading the Free-Range train of thought! Way to go- amazing how logically, rationally, and calmly this idea can be explained when there aren’t 20 second sound byte limits and foaming-at-the-mouth detractors trying to throw off the realistic points of the discussion. 🙂 (Ahem… not pointing any fingers, Sly Forest Creature and Pals…)

  12. :grumbles: wish we could subscribe without having to comment cuz I forgot on my last one…

  13. What a great article, and how wonderful it is to be in such mainstream media! Yay! I’m really glad to see this change in parenting ideals take hold.

  14. Thanks Lenore. I feature you on my website often. And yes, I am a preschool but I try very hard to foster that independence, free play, imagination, along with the scholastic learning. I like to hope that the kids who come to my school are getting away from TV at home and playing with others and not being coddled by mom to do everything for them. Anyway, thanks for all the great info and articles!

  15. Wow! I am so happy to find you. My husband grew up in a huge city (Belgrade) that he successfully navigated as a child on a daily basis. He turned out pretty darn good. We don’t live in a big city and my kids don’t get out as much as I’d like. But others think I am absolutely radical because I talk openly and honestly with my kids about sex. My thirteen year old daughter has lots of questions and I tell her the truth. How radical! Conservatives and media manipulation has turned us into an extremely fearful society. I don’t think it’s an accident. Especially for women, the fear campaign has put us back at home behind locked doors, where we belong. Right?

  16. PS- I just bought your book. Can’t wait to read it!

  17. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for your quote on vaccinations, also great article!

  18. I was so excited when I saw this this morning. It’s a wonderful, timely cover story. The more parents who get the message that over- “protecting” our kids is doing them more harm than good, the better. Congrats on your great quotes!! You are right on, as always. — Suz Lipman, founder, Slow Family Online.

  19. Very cool, Lenore! Maybe this generation of kids will get to have real lives after all.🙂

  20. This is becoming a movement Lenore. We’ve been hiding in the closet all this time. Maybe we can get the ACLU on our side. People have a right to make reasonable choices in childrearing and not have those choices dictated by OCD afflicted bureaucrats!

  21. This article is *awesome*!!!! It made my WEEK!! Congrats, Lenore, and let’s keep the ball rolling!!🙂

  22. Wow, wow, wow! Congrats Lenore.

  23. “Refusing to vaccinate your children, as millions now threaten to do in the case of the swine flu, is statistically reckless”

    Are they REFUSING to do it, or do they just not want to pull their kids out of school and take off a day of work so they can wait in a 3-hour-long line at the poorly managed, government-run healthcare clinic with their young, active kids? Because that’s why I’m thinking about not bothering to get my kids the second dose (unless my private pediatrician finally gets the vaccine, and I can actually make an appointment). I cringe at the thought of re-living that government-organized healthcare debacle.

    When are you going to do an article on the popular, exaggerated modern fears about “mercury in vaccines”?

  24. Oh God, the vaccine thing drives me nuts.

    I get it, some people have allergies, can’t do it. Got a history of bad reactions to such things? Sure, I would pass too. But the people who are all crazy and paranoid about “Not putting toxins in my baaaaaabyyyyy” drive me nuts. There are probably more toxins on your perfectly maintained pesticide laden lawn, or spewed out by your ginormous SUV. But they don’t cancel the lawn service or walk everywhere.

    I too wouldn’t wait in line without knowing whether I could get a vaccine or not. But our doctor’s office had clinics with specific times, so we had no issues with either the H1N1 or the seasonal flu vaccines. I think I had to pull each of them out of school for maybe 30 minutes tops. I’m sure they’re probably dead now from the thiomersal, let me check…. Nope. They’re playing legos. Not sure how they survived…

  25. Huzzah!

    I love this, and I’m really glad it came out in mass media. *smile*

  26. I’m about to be a first-time parent and I read this article in TIME You are speakin’ my language! I loved every word of it and agree whole-heartedly. Less is more and parents need to stop it with all the nonsense! Looking forward to reading more of what you have here…

  27. Wow, an article about Lenore and Free Range Parenting in a mainstream magazine that doesn’t think it’s all nuts. This is progress!

  28. It’s good to see so many people here are pro-vaccine! I’ve had whole debates before with a “vaccines-cause-autism!” type which basically consisted of “here is the extensive proof that this is untrue” and “but I don’t believe that because vaccines cause autism!” for what felt like a few hundred years.

    It’s great to see more and more people supporting this. I’m only 20 and don’t plan on having kids for a long time yet (if ever), but I’m secretly hoping current free-rangers will do all the hard work for me in the intervening years and nobody will even blink when I let my future children walk to school alone. Thanks for that!

  29. go, you.

  30. Fantastic article!

  31. Yay! Awesome. This morning on Morning Joe {MSNBC} there was a conversation about helicopter moms and the idea of raising “free-range kids” was applauded by Joe, Mika {sp?} and all the guest, even the man who said he is a self-proclaimed helicopter dad said it! You are making a positive difference in the world by bringing awareness back into the lives of parents.

  32. this is one parenting style that I hope catches on and becomes a huge fad.
    Perhaps one good thing that might come out of this bad economy.
    Adults will be forced to get lives of their own and quit mucking about in their children’s !!!
    Back away from the children…

  33. Yahoo! This is so great, Lenore! Wow! A much better grocery store topic than that of People this week! Congratulations!

  34. Lenore, you’re amazing!! Congratulations are most definitely in order!

  35. Congratulations Lenore! What a great article.

  36. Horray Horray Horray!!! I am so happy about this! Can’t wait to get mine in the mail tomorrow!! Now I have some journalistic validation of all my free range posts on facebook!

  37. I think it’s AWESOME that you are in TIME magazine! I mention your blog to many people in conversation.

    You opened a powder keg with the vaccine comment. Very controversial. Flu shots have never worked. They are always designed on a guess as to what the flu strain will be 8 months later. As to the swine flu vaccine, I don’t trust it. I don’t think they have tested it. I never get the flu anyway, so I hardly ever think about it. Do you ever notice that when there are measles, mumps or whooping cough outbreaks, it is always the vaccinated kids that got sick? Unlike other drugs, pharmaceutical companies cannot be sued for mistakes they make on vaccines. They CAN be sued for mistakes they make with prescription drugs. I think this makes them do better testing on those. How come there is always a list of people who shouldn’t take a certain drug, but vaccines are recommended for just about everyone? I think it’s because they don’t do large enough trials to find out who would be affected by a particular vaccine. Well… how do you test for that anyway? How do you prove a vaccine works or not? I don’t think there is enough objectivity when it comes to this topic….

    (There were enough pro-vaccine comments, so I had to throw my hat into the ring!)

  38. Congratulations, Lenore! It’s about time all of us “crazy” parents are finally getting some validation!!

  39. Really well written article.
    Helicopter parenting caput! Long live common sense!

    Lenore, is it you on the photograph?🙂

  40. Do you ever notice that when there are measles, mumps or whooping cough outbreaks, it is always the vaccinated kids that got sick?

    No, I don’t notice that… although if I did, I would probably check first to see what proportion of vaccinated vs unvaccinated kids in the area had whatever disease it was. No medication or vaccine has a 100% success rate. If 99% of the kids in an area are vaccinated, and the vaccine has a 95% success rate, I’d expect more vaccinated kids than unvaccinated kids to get sick if the mumps passes through, sure – but I’d also expect that most of the unvaccinated kids would get sick while only up to 5% of the vaccinated kids would.

    Could you cite this, please? I’d love to read more about it.

  41. I am following you on twitter because your outlook is refreshing and may help me lighten up. It doesn’t mean I will stop being paranoid, or fight my need to be overprotective. We live in a town where there has never been a child abuction, but there are too many real stories too fresh in my mind, and a friend of my cousin was murdered at only 14.

    Today I find myself the only parent waiting at the bus stop for my five year old. I even started walking his little classmate half a block to his gate when I saw him walking alone.

    I can’t stop being protective, but I remember how much freedom we had. I wandered country lanes and explored beaches, woods and pottery making shops by myself at 6. At 5 I had hidden from the school bus in a snowbank and crossed town to see if my friend, could come out and play. An even smaller little kid who I didn’t know started tagging behind me on this epic adventure. ( I can’t remember if the police found us or were just notified.)

    But how can we go back? When an online search will show a sea of sex offenders in any given area? When a little girl was taken from her school and killed in a small town this very summer? A short while later a boy was also killed. Both had been taken by women.

    I would like to be less protective, but I don’t think i can. There have to be ways to give children a sense of freedom to explore without putting them in harms way? Or at least I hope to find a way.

  42. Great article!

    And FYI….. we still sell Girl Scout cookies door-to-door😉

  43. I loved your article! Finally something I can identify with thank you for that. I cannot wait to read your book.

  44. The vaccine thing can go both ways.

    What concerns me, is that people seem to be trying to avoid their kids ever getting sick. Take chicken pox, for example. When I was a kid, my mom would SEND us to play with kids that had it, so we could catch it and get it over with. For most kids, chicken pox is not dangerous. And getting it as a kid is a great way to build up your immune system, so you will be able to fight it off the rest of your life.

    Now, the vaccine is required. However, there are increased instances of kids getting shingles (my daughter had it), which is worse. And the immunity from the vaccine isn’t guaranteed to last a lifetime.

    If a healthy child gets swine flu, it is highly unlikely that they will get seriously sick. However, they will build immunity that will last a lifetime. So, my conclusion is, if you have a child (or adult) that has other health problems that make getting swine flu risky, by all means, get the flu shot. But for most kids, they don’t need a vaccine.

    Have you ever known someone who did have a serious reaction to a vaccine? I know someone, and it took her years to get back to almost normal. She is a Nurse Practitioner, and a doctor actually rolled his eyes at her when she said her symptoms were due to a vaccine.

    It’s not at all a black and white issue, and I think it is appropriate for each individual to be able to make their own decision with a vaccine. Understand your situation, understand the risks, and do what you think is right. And don’t judge others when their decision is different than yours.

  45. I was hoping not to get sucked into the vaccine debate, but Meg and RadiantLux, you need to evaluate the risks versus the benefits. No one has ever claimed that vaccines are 100% safe, but, compared to the risks of preventable diseases, getting your child vaccinated is a small risk to take. Also, many parents have a hard time distinguishing between correlation and causation — just because a child gets sick or develops autism after getting a shot does not mean the shot caused the illness.
    You may feel as though you are getting pushed or bullied into getting your children vaccinated, wondering why anyone else feels it is their business; the reason it is important to other people is that, if enough parents forgo vaccinations, herd immunity is compromised, leaving a breeding ground for illness, especially in those who are at high risk. Before you blithely dismiss vaccines as unnecessary, I urge you to do more research.

  46. Have I ever known someone who had a bad reaction to a vaccine? No.
    I have, however, had whooping cough, and was sick for 3 months.
    I have known of infants with whooping cough who had cerebral haemorrhages and broken ribs from coughing.
    My father almost died of diptheria as a child.
    My grandfather’s friend did die, of tetanus.
    My cousin was crippled by polio.
    Irresponsible people whose children are too precious to be immunised are responsible for the spread of rubella, which causes deafness and other disabilities in unborn babies.
    Thousands of children in third world countries die of complications from the measles every year.
    Of course kids who get the vaccine risk getting shingles. Everyone who’s exposed to the varicella virus risks getting shingles – that’s the only way you get it! And it’s true that there’s a tiny risk the vaccine may not work – but it’s also true that some people catch chickenpox or measles twice.
    If everybody was vaccinated, these diseases would cease to exist.
    My GP took the ‘it’s only a childhood illness’ tack when the chickenpox vaccine first came out. Yes, I said, and you have a stay-at-home wife who can look after your kids if they get it.

  47. han is exactly correct. DO the research. THINK with your brain. Do not let yourself be ruled by fear. Do not put your children at risk because of a stupid celebrity’s campaign.

  48. This is EXCELLENT!! Congrats Lenore!!!!!!!!!!! It is wonderful to see the mainstream media covering this-wahoo!

    I can only hope that our society can revert to the more carefree days but the future does not look so bright, case in point:

    I did family daycare out of my home for 4 years. TWICE I got dinged by the state when they did their surprise visits and I answered the door without children in tow. I got penalized for leaving the children downstairs alone (horrors, I know!) while I walked up the steps to answer the door. Mind you, the youngest child in my care on BOTH occasions was 4 years old. Squeaky clean record minus the 2 dings.

    Needless to say, that is no longer my career.

    We’ve got a long way to go……………

  49. As much as I agree with much of the same thought, it kills me to think that as a parent I will have to let my children make mistakes and fail as teens and young adults. I have several years to prepare myself.

  50. Beth,

    That Atlantic piece is very misleading. Take the time to listen to this podcast for a much better explanation of vaccinations.

    http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/podcastinfo.aspx?mid=1&pid=10001

  51. Go Lenore!😀 I’m Facebooking the TIME article, too, just to get the word out there …

    Great to see (hometown boy) Carl Honoré getting mainstream press, too. It was actually Under Pressure that led me, somewhat circuitously, to FRK …

  52. Sigh. RadiantLux, I am just imagining the fact that the year before we started getting the flu shot we all got the flu really bad (and my oldest son, who is asthmatic, ended up in the ER). Since then, we have all gotten the flu shot every year (8 years in a row now) and NO ONE has gotten the flu in our house. Colds, yes, strep throat a few times, and 1 case of pneumonia. But no flu. Not a single case among the 4 of us, even though both my husband and I work at colleges, and both our kids went to preschool and now public school.

    Go ahead and believe flu shots don’t work. More for us. With an asthmatic kid who can end up in the ER with a cold, I’ll take any protection we can to stay healthy.

  53. Caniadianmom — Spend some time around here and you might learn how you can change your tune.

    In regards to the sex offender registry — that discussion has come up a few times around here. I think there’s one specifically regarding it at the end of September or beginning of October. It sparked an interesting discussion I think you might be interested in. The biggest thing to keep in mind with the registry, though, is that “sex offender” does not equate to “child molester,” and the registries only give enough information to do more harm than good. With some of the real sex offenders (we’re not talking about those who are on the list because they slept with their 16yo significant other when they were 19 or the public urinaters or nudists caught in their homes, which are a pretty fair share of the people on those lists), YOU are the one at more risk than your children, because you’re closer to their target group. Even so, though, the risk of being victimized from a random sex offender from down the street is far less than a) the risk of being victimized by a relative or close friend, or b) far more likely to happen: getting in a car accident. However, neither of these risks stop you from getting in your car and driving to your friends’ or relatives’ houses, do they?

    As for the recent events, such as the little girl who was found murdered (which there are also a couple discussions on here regarding that), did you ever stop for a second and consider WHY you heard about it, if you didn’t live in that area of Florida? It’s because it’s extremely rare. So rare, in fact, that it got picked up by international news. Why don’t you hear about all the kids who walk to school by themselves and make it safely to school every day? You’d think, with all the news that goes around about child abductions, that these kids were beating the odds every day. Yet, they never even make the local news…why is that? Because the abductions and murders are a far more rare occurrence.

    And then there’s the fact that if you do happen to win The World’s Shittiest Lottery, it is pretty much just as likely to happen in your own home or when you’re within arm’s reach of your child, as it is to happen when they’re not in arm’s reach. Remember, Polly Klaas was kidnapped from her home during a slumber party (and looking through Wikipedia’s list of kidnapped children, I found at least three [of five or six that I looked at] that had been abducted from their homes).

    The fact of the matter is, your kids are in harm’s way from the second you conceived them (miscarriage rate is roughly 20%, infant mortality rate in the US is 6.8 per 1000 live births, and 5.08 per 1000 live births in Canada). The point of FRK and philosophies like it is to educate people on real vs perceived dangers and the real statistical odds of something happening.

    Or, to make it a little easier to relate to, consider the following:

    Do you personally know anyone who has been abducted or murdered, or have any friends or relatives who personally knew someone who was abducted or murdered? How many people does that total that were victims?

    Do you know anyone (even yourself) that has been in a car accident, or have a friend/relative who personally knew someone involved in a car accident? What’s that number?

    How about women around you who miscarried or lost a child to SIDS?

    Chances are, unless you or someone close to you, were involved in a terrorist event (Columbine, 9/11, the Oklahoma City Bombing, etc) or were a soldier actively fighting in a war, your answer to the first question will be less than two or three and will quite likely be 0. The answer to the car accident question will likely be at least half a dozen, if not in the double-digits, and will pretty likely include yourself in that number. The third question will depend in part on how many women you know and whether or not that fact is something they’re willing to share (in some cases, a woman will have lost more than one child), and will probably be about the same as the low end of the car accident number.

    I could go on, but if you stick around, you’ll start seeing what I’m talking about.

  54. Did you *seriously* say that not vaccinating our kids for the swine flu is statistically *reckless*. SERIOUSLY???? This is the first time I’ve read something here and gone straight to comment w/o reading the comments first. I am stunned. I hope that was more Time Magazine/mainstream media hysteria and not a true quote from Free Range Kids.

    Do you have any idea how many Free Range Parents I know who have chosen not to get the swine flu vaccine for our families for educated, informed reasons? And now we are “statistically reckless”. I see.

    I have to say, if this vaccine example (swine flu or otherwise) is going to become a mantra of the Free Range movement, I will stop reading and stop recommending, which is a sad sad day given how much I think us Free Rangers benefit from your usual wisdom and wit.

  55. Unfortunately, KW’s confrontational tone is all too typical of those who oppose vaccines. She admits that she didn’t bother to read earlier comments before chiming in, and threatens to stop listening to anything Lenore has to say because of this one area of disagreement. I’m also curious about the “informed, educated” reasons she alludes to but doesn’t elaborate on. There’s a lot of misinformation to be found on the web, and those with ulterior motives are often the most prolific.

  56. KW- What “information?” What “evidence?” Not only are you full of shit, you are just plain wrong. Do some research – check out the SCIENCE, that is, not what’s on Entertainment Tonight. I work in an ICU. I’ve seen many people (young and old) die of swine flu. It’s not pretty. If you have the chance to get vaccinated (as an adult) and don’t, you’re stupid. If you have the chance to get your kids vaccinated and don’t, you’re negligent, there is just no other way to say it.

  57. KW — I highly recommend taking a step back and breathing before commenting. If you had, you would have noticed that yes, it is TIME that said that, not FRK. It just happened to be in the quote, which was a short line in a long quote that covered other things.

    Is it entirely accurate? Perhaps not (if for no other reason than the vaccine isn’t readily available in all areas, yet, so vaccination coverage can still be spotty). However, I went over what I think the reason for the line was in my first (long, sorry) comment, just above yours. If you go back and read through the comments, you’ll find that several have had problems with the line itself.

    Also, not everyone agrees with everything posted here, either by Lenore or by other commenters, and that’s okay. If everyone agreed about everything all the time, this would be a very boring blog.

  58. @ Lenore

    So TAKE THAT, Fox News! Humph.

    (I, too, have posted the link on to my circle of 17 highly intelligent Facebook friends, some of whom are parents of pre-school to elementary age kids because, of course, I want them “to be saved.” 😉

  59. […] Time magazine has a cover story on child overprotectiveness [Free-Range Kids] […]

  60. I was so pleased to see these issues brought to a larger audience. As a rabbi in a congregational setting, we see the overprotective approach and its long-term negative effects as young adults are unable to negotiate basic situations without a lot of hand-holding.

  61. I agree with the whole idea about free range children. I grew up in a small rural town outside of Pittsburgh and spent a lot of the time roaming around. It allowed me to gain a sense of being comfortable alone as well as taught me the dangers that one can encounter. However, the issue with the swine flu vaccination is a little more problematic and complex than this site suggests.

    I chose not to have my child vaccinated against the swine flu, not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because the vaccine was pushed through in 7 months. That isn’t enough time to reveal all of the potential side effects. I have a sister who is a clinical research nurse that chose not to have her kids vaccinated either.

    So for people who refuse to vaccinate their children all together, maybe you can call them reckless, but for people like me who chose against vaccinating their children with an inadequately tested vaccine, perhaps you should find a different adjective.

    -Dad

  62. Dad- I have to tell you that there is nothing particularly “new” about the H1N1 vaccine. The structure of the vaccine is the *same* as many of the tried and true vaccines that we’ve used for years. The only difference is the virus that it protects against. It’s sort of like making an omelet and sometimes adding mushrooms and other times adding scallions. The vaccine is (by all scientific and practical accounts) safe. H1N1, on the other hand, can be deadly. Even when it is not deadly, there are many cases of serious neurological disorders that have developed in infected children. No need to make your decision based on what others say, a little time spent doing research on the internet (assuming you can tell the difference between a credible and non-credible source) will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. We all want to do what is best for our children. The least we can do is make an informed decision.

  63. Catherine,

    Thanks for the reply, but the Swine Flu vaccination by all scientific, and for that, practical accounts, was pushed through without testing that would otherwise keep such vaccinations off the market. Furthermore, while I am aware that a vaccination of any type works much the same way, the H1N1 vaccination utilizes only one strain of the flu virus (H1N1). Whereas the seasonal flu shot incorporates 3 different strains (but I’m sure you knew that – mushrooms and scallions right?).

    Anyway, perhaps you need not assume that my decisions are ill informed simply because I differ with you. I certainly made my choice against the vaccination with help from my child’s pediatrician, my wife, my sister, and a plethora of research. Moreover, I really don’t appreciate the snide tone of your reply. You know nothing of my education, nor my ability to research.

    In fact, the assumptions you made about me came from a short 3 paragraph post on a website discussing parenting issues. And while I would love to sit here and make assumptions about you, I have a job (one that includes massive amounts of research). So good day to you and I hope your life leaves you a little less bitter toward those with differing opinions.

  64. I generally agree with the “Free Range Kids” author, but would like to point out several things:

    1) Risk from Child Abductions vs. Auto accidents vs. Flue Deaths:

    Statistically, the chance of being fatally abducted is low, but the chance of being abducted in general is quite high. A 2002 FBI survey (NISMART-2) estimates there are about 58,000 child abductions by non-family members each year. About 40% of those are by strangers, so somewhere around 23,000. Most result in the child returned alive. There are only about 115 of the most serious “stereotypical kidnappings” which are the most dangerous. Kidnappings by family are much more common, but much less likely to result in injury/death.

    By comparison, there are around 38,000 auto accident deaths (of all ages) each year in the US. By comparison, there are about 36,000 flue deaths each year in the US.
    So the risks stranger abductions, auto accident deaths, and flue deaths are along the same order of magnitude. The risk of stranger abductions leading to death is likely much lower, as shown in the NISMART-2 study.

    In both cases, overall statistics may be less relevant than a person’s actual situation. Some of the most notorious kidnappings involved children who were in much riskier situations. Polly Klaas, a 12 year old murder victime mentioned above, lived within sight of a park frequented by transients. Her kidnapper had been spotted there numerous times in the previous month casing the area. Elizabeth Smart’s parents employed many transients for odd jobs at their home as a means of helping these individuals. So both of these girls likely faced a much higher than typical risk of kidnapping due to their proximity to transients, some of whom were dangerous. Many other kidnappings in the news involve children living in trailer parks or low-income housing, again people much more likely to be exposed to harm.

    It may be rationale for some parents may have reason be be more worried about kidnappings than auto accidents, especially if they live in a bad area, but don’t drive much.

    2) Vaccines: Statistics for vaccines usually only look for the most serious consequences. For many individuals, themerosal, the mercury additive in some vaccines, may produce adverse reactions and hurt the neurological system (e.g. diminished IQ), but may not result in immediate apparent injury. Parents can avoid this risk in many instances by obtaining a different form of the vaccine that does not use a neurotoxic preservative.

  65. wheb i was not even five, my mom took me to my gymnastic session in my hometown in Germany on the other end of town, thereafter id did it alone: walk to the tram, changeto another tram, walk again to the session. return after the session was finished.
    when i was around 12, i took a train by myself from Kassel (north Germany) to Bavaria (south Germany). This took several hours. i thought this was perfectly ok.
    this independence served me well. when i went to NYC at age 18 by myself, i walked around Manhattan by myself the first day i got there, found a job within a few days, found a rent-controlled apartment.also, which was not easy. I travelled other big cities by myself (London, Paris, Lisbon, Malta/Gozo.) Sometimes i encountered difficulties, but i knew how to get myself out of them.

  66. This article is great.BTW I Googled “America’s Worst Mom” and the first few pages were you, but they were all positive articles mentioning that you had been labeled that. Way to take it back, as they say.

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