“Take Our Kids to the Park & Leave Them There Day” Lunatic Idea? Invitation to Predators?

Hi Readers — Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but when a blog called The Neighborhood Crime Map did what seemed like a very even-handed little post about May 22’s “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day,” the reaction was swift and hysterical:

“Is there not a culture of drug use, meanness, and violence even among kids themselves, trained by TV, movies and school cultures? This should at very least be negligence per se. To announce it publicly for benefit of predators is criminal,” said one.

“What about food, water, and restrooms. What happens when a fight breaks out. What happens when an accident takes place,” said another (who, apparently, has yet to learn the function of question marks).

And finally — there were only three comments — there’s this one:

Are you kidding? This is the most stupid idea I have ever heard of reguarding our children! I would no more leave my grandchildren alone at a park than I would my dog! And I mean any of my grandchildren! 17 to be exact! And neither would any of their parents, “Thank You LORD!” I’m sorry but this is a totally different day and age than when I grew up in the middle of a vegetable field. My grandchildren have all been informed on what to do if approached by a stranger, but what do you tell them to do if someone is bigger than they are? They can be overcome so easily and no one would be the wiser for it until they didn’t show up for dinner (hrs. from when they were grabbed!). This type of lunitic mentality just infuriates me to no end! I can’t afford to spare even one of the 17, could you? — Marsha the Protective Grammy

What most people don’t know, I guess, is the fact we are currently enjoying a record THIRTY YEAR DROP IN CRIME.  But the media is so overwhelming, so sensational and so wedded to the, “Well what if something DID go wrong?” mentality, that it almost seems sensible to treat our kids as if we’re living in a war zone.

Except we’re not. And the price we pay for our inflated fear is kids who are inside, bored, scared, screen-addicted and toddler-like in their dependency.

It really is hard to believe we have an  uphill battle trying to sell the world on an idea as wholesome as kids playing together in the park. But we do. Spread the word.  — Lenore

ADDENDUM: AS I READ THE NOTES BELOW, I REALIZE I HAVE FORGOTTEN TO ADD MY USUAL CAVEAT: THE DROP IN CRIME IS NOT BECAUSE KIDS ARE ALL INDOORS NOW. IT IS A DROP IN CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST ADULTS, TOO — IT’S AN ACROSS-THE-BOARD CHANGE FOR THE BETTER.  FOR MORE INFO ON THIS TOPIC, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

63 Responses

  1. What really disturbs me is the lady who has so little faith in her children that she thinks they can’t find a bathroom on their own…

  2. It’s very discouraging. In about ten to fifteen years when these kids are adults, we’re going to see adults who don’t know how to drive, fill out a job app or do anything beyond the simplest tasks.

  3. There are more comments now! Here’s the one I left:

    My mother and I were just talking the other day about what a bad mom she was. She didn’t breastfeed me, she left me in the care of relatives while she worked and she never, ever went to the park with us. Ever. And yet, she always knew where we were and how we were doing. My siblings and I kept each other company and played at several playgrounds nearby. When I was about 10, my brother 9 and my sisters 5 and 4, she started letting us go to the neighborhood pool by ourselves. That would be me, the 10-year-old, in charge of the 5 and 4-year olds.

    And yet, we turned out okay. All four of us. We were never kidnapped or lured into a stranger’s car or “preyed upon by sex offenders.” We took care of each other, we learned how to explore on our own, we learned responsibility and were always home when told to be, and we even met a lot of neighbors and people on our street who knew who we were and where we belonged, It was like having a neighborhood of people watching out for you instead of a neighborhood of people out to get you. Everyone in the neighborhood knew my parents and they all marveled at how the four of us could get along so well, while their own kids couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, let alone play with each other.

    (Side note: the only people I know who where were “preyed upon” were done so by their own family members.)

  4. Those kids will pee behind the tree and move on! Then settle their own arguments. Funny how adults want *infants* to be “independent” and cry-it-out, but a similar idea for a child who is actually emotionally and physically capable of some degree of independence is seen as lunacy.

  5. @ DahliaGirl, If a kid pees behind a tree would they be put on the registry because they are obviously a danger to the other kids?

    Renaming this as Self-Reliant kids day would be easier to promote to those that worry about the unlikely. That name is also shorter and thus easier to remember.

  6. I’m waiting for the response that crime rates have dropped BECAUSE of the current, popular parenting style of constant protection.

    What’s the best response to that?

    (And yes, we resolved our our fights and peed behind bushes as kids.)

  7. 3 cheers for this perspective. It’s completely absurd. We have less crime and more fear. It’s the news. Ban the news and you feel safe again.

  8. I used to live in a city with a park always within walking distance and parents sent their kids to the park all the time. Now I live in a city where I have to drive to the park. It sucks but at least the kids are allowed some freedom to roam the neighborhood. I miss walking distance parks, but this idea of the park being dangerous is completely foreign to me.

  9. I wonder what Granny would do if someone walked up and grabbed one of the kids in front of her. Karate chop them?

    The fact is, if you are worried about big strong people grabbing kids, you’ll have to keep your kids locked in the safe room.

    Or keep in mind the ‘hikers and the bear story’. You don’t have to be able to outrun a bear, you just have to be able to outrun the slowest hiker. So when my kid is old enough to go to the park alone, Granny can thank me for providing fodder for the kiddie snatchers, so they won’t grab her grandkids from under her nose.

  10. @Aaron Klenke:

    A good response is to inform them that ALL crime has gone down, not just crimes against children.

  11. There are no bushes at our local park because of that very suggestion. It sucks because sometimes I’d like to take a toddler to pee behind a tree. Those comments are pitiful. I mean the ones *in* the post, not the comments on the post.

  12. The same mentality that works on parents believing their child will be abducted is the same one that keeps the lottery in business.

    Go lotto!🙂

  13. Here’s what I object to ON BOTH SIDES: The assumption that someone knows better than I do what is appropriate for my kids.

    If i take my kids to the park and leave them I’m negligent? Bull. If I take my kids to the park and leave them, it’s because i think they’re capable of handling whatever situations might come up, including negotiating with peers, finding a bathroom, calling me if there’s a serious injury, etc. (I’m not seriously worried about ‘predators.’ Period.)

    But if I DON’T take my kids to the park and leave them I’m an hysterical helicopter parent who believes in the boogie man and predators behind every bush? Bull times two. If I don’t take my kids to the park and leave them, it’s because I don’t think they’re capable of handling whatever situations might come up; they might melt down and become hysterical during an altercation with a peer, they aren’t capable of asking someone for directions to a bathroom, they don’t know how to use a phone and can’t be relied on to remember their phone number.

    How about everyone just give me my options (“Hey, there’s a great program we’re trying out! If you think your kid would enjoy it, join us…”) and let ME, the PARENT, decide what works for my family?

    (And for the record? I have one of each. One child I’d happily leave alone in the park with friends, one who–by virtue of his special needs–may never be ready to be left without an adult who can be summoned by a loud yell when he’s in a jam. I’m doing everything in my power to change that latter situation, but there it is. Don’t judge me based on it. Neither side here knows what’s best for him, but I do.)

  14. “What really disturbs me is the lady who has so little faith in her children that she thinks they can’t find a bathroom on their own…”

    AND lacks the reasoning ability to figure out that she could, if concerned about this, say to the kids before she left the park, “Look, the bathroom is over there.”

  15. What about food and water? Well, send a water bottle if it’s hot weather. Or, they can be hungry and thirsty. Assuming the kids have had three meals a day on a regular basis up until now, a two-hour trip to the park without food and water WILL NOT KILL THEM. I won’t even HURT them.

    I’m tempted to allow myself to be triggered once again on the “kids can’t go an hour without food” mentality that seems so common, but we’ve been over all that before and it doesn’t really accomplish much to rant about it here. Suffice it to say that my parents never took anything along on any outing or even a car trip to eat or drink unless we were likely to miss a regular meal time, or it was quite hot and we’d need something to drink. I’m a little more inclined to take snacks on longer outings, but “what will the poor darlings do at the park without food” is not a question that would ever occur to me. They are there to play. Presumably, they will be home before they’re in danger of hunger pangs setting in.

  16. Parks around my house don’t have bathrooms but my kids have always just come home to pee and then run back out to the park. Funny thing is I never gave them actual instructions they just figured it out all by themselves.

  17. Why is it that the people who disagree with me (on whatever issue) so often lack the ability to spell?

    I have some dozen-odd dictionaries in the house right now. (Tragically, I actually need a new one because the old ones all predate 1989, but that’s another issue.) I was going to toss them out, but maybe I should set up a charity. Dictionaries for the internet twits.

  18. I love Granny’s typo: “reguarding”.

    A group of us parents in our neighbourhood are participating and are not worried in the least. In our case we’ll drop the kids at the park (a spray park actually) and then retire to one of the parent’s houses a few blocks away for some grown-up time. The kids get to have fun and if there are big problems then they come to house and get someone. Besides, there are likely going to be other neighbourhood grown-ups around that the kids can talk to if necessary. It’s all part of that ‘it takes a village’ thing. If you’re all locked in your houses you aren’t a village or a community anymore.

  19. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize there was a specific day for this. Mine’s been going on her own since we moved to the new neighborhood. (The other had no park within bike-riding distance)

    I don’t take her there, though. She rides her bike. I do have to hunt her down every other day. Kid has no sense of time. “Streetlights are on? Oh, I forgot to look up…”

    She will be glad to know there is an official day for it. She’ll probably try to use it as an excuse to skip out on lunch…

  20. What if this, what if that. Really, “what if’s” can happen anywhere, anytime, anyhow. It can happen in a park, it can happen in your car, it can happen when your child is sleeping in their own beds with you in the next room (yes…it has happened). What? Are you going to live in paranoia the rest of your child’s youth years? Are you going to ingrain in them the same fear that controls you? Most parents don’t realize this, but they are doing more harm than good to their children when they have this mentality. It’s simple psychology. Statistically, all problem kids have one thing in common, problems at home. Be it neglect, abuse, improper parental structuring. They’ve learned to be that way for a reason, and what’s more close to them than home.

    And your NOT leaving your kids in the park by themselves, your bring them there and letting them have fun with other children. Doesn’t mean you drop them off and leave (all though there’s nothing wrong with that either), but your also not hovering over them. Parents should enjoy the time to chat with each other too. Without the worry that you have to constantly keep an eye out for their kids.

    For the person that posted about “educating” their child on what to do if someone tries to do something to them. But fear of what happens when someone bigger than them tries something. Well, it’s this simple, their in a public place, they should already be smart enough not to talk to strangers, so they should be smart enough to stay away as well. Kids can scream…LOUD…so if someone tries to grab them or harm them, they yell “FIRE!!”, and run to nearest group of people, or the parent(s) if they are close by. This not only empowers them with confidence that they can do that, but also gives them a sense of well being that they knew what to do, and did the right thing. These little life lessons go a long way in how your child ultimately grows up. Do you really want to deprive your child of that, just because YOUR fearful? That’s truly selfish of parents like this. You can tell yourself all you want that your doing it for your kids, but you know as well as we all do, that you do it for yourself and peace of mind from your own insecurities and fears. You shouldn’t condemn your child to YOUR life.

    To TC…I agree with you. If your one child isn’t as ready as your other child to be on their own, your right not to force them, and it’s good that you are working on him/her in getting to the same level as your other child. I think most people who don’t agree with helicopter parents isn’t the fact that they don’t want to leave their kids at a park, it’s the fact that they don’t want to leave their kids at the park because they are fearful…period. You at least recognize that your child isn’t quite ready yet, but are working to prepare him/her so that he/she is at some point. Helicopter parents don’t do that, they just remove their child from situations without ever educating them.

  21. I lived in Indonesia for awhile, and I don’t believe there was anything but free-range kids. I have never seen children that enjoyed life more, making up their own games. Japan is the same, with children riding the subway home alone (usually in small groups) in Tokyo until late in the evening. In China I remember the roar outside my window in the evening after dinner, when all the children in the apartment complex would play around on their own until sunset. Thank goodness there are places in the world where children can still make up their own games and be given responsibility, without hovering over them all the time.

  22. Well when we live in a nation where our paternalized government feels the need to hold our hands through everything, it’s naturally going to bleed over into our children.

  23. Re: the grandmother’s post: “reguarding our children”? Pardon me, madam, your Freudian slip is showing!

  24. Tell me about it. Kids need more freedom and less worry.

    I live in a neighborhood where the violent crime rate is a small decimal. It’s a safe, cushy suburban neighborhood. The last violent crime happened because someone was mentally disturbed, a few years ago.

    My friend’s mom wouldn’t let her go on a walk around cushy suburbia at 8pm on a Saturday with a group of 4 friends (several of which were trained in martial arts, mind you) because she was afraid her daughter would get hurt. She watched over her daugher via iPhone, texting her nonstop– the invisible leash, or so it seems.

    Similarly, when my mom doesn’t want me to go out because she’s worried about me, she always pulls the weirdest defense. Last time, she said, after I got upset at her not letting me leave the house (I love to wander), “Well hey, just be grateful you’re not someone’s sex slave.”

    W-whh-what?! I can’t leave my house because I might become someone’s sex slave? What, do we never get in our car because we assume every time we drive we will get in to a massive collision? Do we never leave the house because there are axe murderers on every corner of suburbia?

    I was so disgusted when my mother said this to me, it made me really angry and violated, actually. Simply, she watches way too much Law and Order Special Victims Unit– a tv universe of rape fables and sexual violence that distorts our reality. Every episode is another rape. It follows the lives of detectives who have to deal with prosecuting/investigating rape every day that we enter their world through the tv screen. Every episode has to be entertaining, so anything possible can happen in the episodes– the more extreme the better. Some days it’s a normal rape, sometimes it’s a serial rapist, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to come across an episode where the rapist tortures his sex slaves. Exciting, isn’t it? We forget that we live in the safest possible neighborhood on the planet, that we moved in to for the very purpose of giving children freedom and safety to play on their own. Absurd.

  25. What if my kid needs to pee? Um, I’m her parent, don’t you think I might have thought of that? Seriously?

    Comments like this make me wonder how I survived childhood. “Things are different now.” Like, bladders are smaller, or what? Apparently they haven’t noticed that most parks nowadays have bathrooms and water fountains – unlike when I was a kid.

  26. “But the media is so overwhelming, so sensational and so wedded to the, “Well what if something DID go wrong?” mentality, that it almost seems sensible to treat our kids as if we’re living in a war zone.”

    Ironically, Lenore, I would argue that there are children who *do* live in an actual war zone that are more independent than most children in America.

  27. ****Ironically, Lenore, I would argue that there are children who *do* live in an actual war zone that are more independent than most children in America.****

    Now that’s a “killer argument” right there.

    In case I had to chose one of those destinies for my kids I’d rather have the one in the overly protected environment than in a war zone (*eyesroll*)… Sorry, but while I agree that free range children will be more independent and safer — the comparison to children in war zones isjust way out of bound.

    So long,
    Corinna

  28. The idea of a “leave the kids at the park day” rubs me the wrong way too, even though I would let my kids go to the park alone.

  29. I watch this all and remind myself that often, the loudest voices are the minority.

    And grin at the neighbor 6-year-old who brought his brother, the 3-year-old, down to the local park one evening this week while I and the kid were there . . . they didn’t even “get left” there, they walked there. They did walk back with us, but that was because my little one was racing the other little one home.

  30. Frau: You missed the point. Obviously nobody would rather their kids grow up dodging bullets. I’m simply saying that in those cultures, where danger is real, the parents still don’t smother their children as much as Americans.

  31. Ban the news and you feel safe again.

    This is true. Ignoring the news lifts a big stress burden.

  32. Lenore, I completely agree with you! I do have a question, though! I am sure you probably addressed it somewhere on your site, but I’m new. I notice you talk a lot about the recent drop in crime. Do you think that has anything to do with the precautions people are taking? In which case, would it go back up if everyone was FR? What do you think? Not an argumentative question; as I said, I completely agree with your philosophy and have really enjoyed reading your site lately!

  33. I think it’s a wonderful idea, although I think my three-year-old is a little too young for praxis. I shared the original post about it on my Facebook page, though… I have a friend who thought it was intriguing, and out of curiosity called his local Child Protective Services to inquire about how long and how far his six-year-old is officially allowed to be away from him. The verdict? If his six-year-old was OUT OF HIS SIGHT it would be cause for investigation… examples given like “over the hill at the park” or “bicycling a block ahead”.

  34. “If his six-year-old was OUT OF HIS SIGHT it would be cause for investigation… examples given like ‘over the hill at the park’ or ‘bicycling a block ahead’.”

    And there we hit my biggest fear. I have no fear that my child will be snatched by a predator because she’s free-range. I worry that my child will be snatched by CHILD SERVICES because she’s free-range.

  35. What happens if a fight breaks out? Well, chief, looks like ol’ junior’s gonna have to sort that his ownself, don’t it? And I assume they’re being fed regularly, so if they happen to get the munchies on the playground, they probably are just going to have to deal with it. Or they can bring their own bottles of water.

    I also like the “when left unattended our children turn into gremlins.” Okay, that probably happens, and yes, kids CAN be horribly mean to one another, but I think this goes back to “sort it out yourselves.”

    And frankly, most parks are public places. Unless you’re sending your dear ones out to play at bar time, there are probably going to be other parents there even, and people in the neighborhood.

    *snort* What if a fight breaks out.

  36. According to the grandmother of 17, ” I’m sorry but this is a totally different day and age than when I grew up in the middle of a vegetable field.”

    It really seems as if she is still living in the vegetable field of her own mind.

    She also says ” My grandchildren have all been informed on what to do if approached by a stranger, but what do you tell them to do if someone is bigger than they are?”

    Are her grandchildren only prepared against small strangers? Thin strangers? Strangers their children can take in a fight?

    I wonder at what age “Marsha the Protective Grammy” took off her children’s leashes, helmets, and swim wings. 38?

  37. About bullying/fight idea

    I was the victim of a bully that grew up to do what he threatened and land in Huntsville prison.

    Recess could be hell – but he actually beat me black and blue in class more often.

    The park was never an issue. If he and/or his minions showed up – I cold leave and go to another park. More often than not they either left me alone outside of school – or took off completely.

    (I frustrated my family because I’m a rule follower and wouldn’t defend myself at school. Outside of school – I flattened a few brats on my street and no-one messed with me, little sis, or the other girls from our street outside of school)

  38. I was talking to a local mom recently… she won’t let her 5 year old walk down the street to the mail box n a very safe cookie cutter subdivision near tiny town. I mentioned your point about riding in a car being FAR more dangerous than the odds of being snatched by a stranger… And her point was that if her kid were in a car accident, at least she would know what happened to him. Being snatched by a stranger would result in her not knowing and that was what freaked her out the most. Not entirely sure how to get past that, but in talking to other moms, it seems to be a common theme.

  39. It is so sad that this is what parenting has become. My children don’t need to be taken and dropped off because they take themselves to the park all the time.

  40. @genie: That’s exactly the issue with most helicopter parents – it’s not actually about the kids, its about how crappy they’d feel if something happened to their kids on their “watch.”

    If I were to give you any advice, I’d say start throwing out studies that show how overparenting results in mentally stunted adults. Articles on kids, “tea-cup kids,” who can’t go to college and thrive because a bad grade means they have to call up mom to argue with the prof.

    *sigh* The lack of logic when it comes to parenting is amazing. I’m not going to tell anyone how to be a parent – I don’t think anyone knows 100% what to do, no matter how much they may act it – but I certainly hate when the definition of being a parent includes mandatory paranoia and cloistering of children. No matter who you are, this should scream ‘bad idea.’

  41. ****, where danger is real, the parents still don’t smother their children as much as Americans.****

    That would be because they don’t even the choice. Kids who grow up in actual war zones are deeply hurt and traumatized. To even think about them in connection to free range is absurd and cynical.

    So long,
    Corinna

  42. Lenore, I love your blog, but when I leave comments here, I always feel like I’m preaching to the small, outnumbered choir. So I relish opportunities to post to more relevant places. I posted to the one you linked to here. If anyone spots other such opportunities, please give Lenore the heads-up, so we can make our voices heard! (And we’ll designate Uly as the Offishul Frie-Rang Spellur sew wii dont embaras ourselvs!)

  43. Although, I can see the headline now: “Skenazy Sued by Parents of Child that had [blank] Happen to Him on ‘Park’ Day.” Yeah, and it would probably be that weather bubble thingy kid’s parents.

  44. All I can say is that we would probably have more addepts if we called it “Get your kids off your back for a while day”. “Kick your kids out of your beautifully furnished house day” sounds good, too.

  45. “Is there not a culture of drug use, meanness, and violence even among kids themselves, trained by TV, movies and school cultures?”

    If they use a rethorical question, they should at least make sure the claim in it is true…

  46. @MMar: I won’t comment on your personal situation; it’s not my place or that of any other parent to try and second-guess your mom or your to think we know better. Every family’s situation is unique and every parent and child has his or her own needs.

    But I did want to quickly compliment you on an articulate, well-written post. I hope your mom has a chance to read it; you’ve made your point well.

  47. Okay, on the bullying thing — are we assuming that the kids will be dragged kicking and screaming to the park, even if they don’t want to go there?

    What if your child says, “I don’t want to go alone. The kids pick on me.”

    There are then options: you can teach your child how to deal if that’s possible in the situation, you can supervise, you can let your kid stay home.

    Just because someone suggests doing something does not mean it has to be done in all worst case scenarios, with no alternatives and no preparation. GOOD GRIEF!!!

  48. I don’t need a special day for this, because I do it all the time. It’s called “Get on your bikes and go ride somewhere” day. Happens at least 3-5 times a week. Also known as “Quit fighting over the damn legos and get some exercise” day and “If you have this much energy to argue with each other either burn that energy off outside or I will give you extra chores” day.

    I love those days.

  49. I have a question..at what age are most kids able to handle going to the park by themselves, etc?

  50. If Grandma is so afraid of preditors who will protect her? Why is she so sure she can keep her grandchildren safe? There is no clear reasoning here.

  51. I’m not worried so much about them getting kidnapped or approached by strangers as much as I am worried about one of them falling off of the monkey bars and cracking their head open. Skinned knees, elbows, ok, no big deal. But I’d just worry that someone would get hurt and not know what to do, if there was a serious injury.

  52. @BMS, I have those days too! Isn’t it nice (especially on extra chores day).🙂

  53. @ Micah, My kids started at about age 9 and 6 and they would go together.

  54. Everyone seems so judgemental here. I’m not a free range mom and I’m not a helicopter mom…somewhere in-between. Do what is best for your own kids and stop listening to the rest of the world.

  55. I would be glad to stop listening to the rest of the world, if the rest of the world would stop threatening to call CPS every time my kids go around the block without me glued to their backs.

  56. My kids regularly “run the neighborhood”, including the park. My youngest is only 5 so the rule is that if he leaves his usual boundaries he must be with at least one of his sisters. My rule for the park is groups of three (or more, since a friend is almost always with them too). My reasoning is in case of an accident; there is one person to stay with the injured party and one person to run for help. Last summer they even put it to good use when a bike chain came off a ways from home – 2 stayed together and my oldest ran home for me to help get the chain back on.

  57. @Lori. This is important for people to know that parents of “free-range” children have rules! Nice suggestions for new parents who are thinking about what rules would be appropriate. Thanks for your comment.

  58. “Laurie, on April 22, 2010 at 7:51 am Said:

    I notice you talk a lot about the recent drop in crime. Do you think that has anything to do with the precautions people are taking? In which case, would it go back up if everyone was FR?”

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m sure it would be the same everywhere else. Drop in crime rate in my city is due to more people being more educated. In this I mean, communities are starting to understand WHY certain people commit certain crimes. A lot of crimes are committed by adolescence who have not structure in their life, at home or at school. More and more, communities are working to provide extra-curricular activities after school, and out reach programs. Nothing worse than a teenager, with nothing to do, who isn’t sure about themselves. As well as the community taking more interest in the safety of everyone. Unlike in the past where people were afraid to report a crime, more and more, people are taking their safety into their own hands and fighting back by voicing out. A criminal is less likely to commit a crime in an area where he knows people are watching and will do something about it. A community of several singles isn’t as strong as a community of many as one. Safety in numbers.

    Drop in crime has nothing to do with paranoid parents keeping their children off the street. If anything, IMO, they contribute to the problem. A child who doesn’t know his own self worth, no confidence, no idea about what the world is really like (not through the eyes of their helicopter parents), isn’t prepared as an adolescent. They become rebellious, and look to peers as their pillar. Good or bad, they follow. Now if the parents allowed their child at a young age to explore the community, educated them in the ways of the street, they learn quickly at a young age what is right and wrong, and how to deal with situations. These positive experiences stay with them as they get older. You may never get the perfect child, but you’ll have one that will always have those experiences in the back of their minds to fall back on, whether the parents are there or not. That’s how you prepare your child for their future. Like the old proverb says, “You give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for the day. You teach a man to fish, and he’ll never go hungry.”

  59. Regarding what age kids can go to the park… I think my best friend and I used to go to the park together at about 8 years old. We had to walk for 5-10 minutes and cross two roads, if I recall correctly. I’d hope to allow my daughter to do the same when old enough.

  60. In a conversation I had with a parent recently, I likened stunting children’s psychological growth to stunting their physical growth. What happens if we wrap up their feet and hands and arms and legs so tight that they can’t grow? They become deformed, and they stay child-size forever.

    This is happening to children mentally now when parents won’t let them take on age-appropriate responsibilities and freedoms. These children may stay safe and protected throughout their childhood, but eventually they will be expected to get jobs and find partners and pay bills and navigate public transportation and deal with unpleasant strangers. These skills don’t appear magically at age 18. Even if helicopter parents really are keeping their kids safer (and I’m certain they aren’t), they are throwing their adult children to the wolves.

  61. […] you can imagine the reactions were swift from all directions. Motherlode in the NYT accumulated a nice collection of commentaries too. They range from all out […]

  62. I have read your book and like a lot of the ideas. I had a lot of freedom as a kid to an extent. However my parents never just left us at a playground alone. The littler kids had bigger siblings (age 13 or up) to keep an eye on us, or when we were about 10 we could roam with our peers. The difference is we had over 15 kids within a two block radius, all with stay at home moms who were available when needed. Just dropping a 7 year old off alone at a park is not the same and I would never do it. My kids are still in preschool so it’s not even a question at this point.

    Sending small children alone to a park, you are assuming the rest of the community will step in for you if someone is injured, or bullied etc. I don’t think you can just assume that if you haven’t done the work of building a community of parents before hand.

  63. Excellent piece of work… That’s a Great topis.. I really appreciate it..you have a great mind of thought.thanks for sharing all this details …

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