The New York Times & “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day”

Hey Readers! Great to see this post about “Take Our Children to The Park…And Leave Them There Day” on Lisa Belkin’s New York Times blog, Motherlode. The ball starts rolling! Get set for May 22! Spread the word! — L.

Well, don't leave us here for 68 years. But you get the idea.

13 Responses

  1. To sell and spread this idea beyond those of us that agree with the idea, we may need to think like (not believe like) the people that may not be brave enough to try it because they hear from the helicopter parents, the news and pandering politicians. It is unlikely the helicopter parents are going to listen to anything reasonable.
    To help ease the unfounded fears of the belief of some people to think of the worst, does anyone here have any thoughts on a shorter name? I prefer Self Reliant Kid Day.

  2. Lots of nice sane responses to the article so far as well.

  3. I love this idea. My mother commented recently that she never remembers taking me and my twin sister to the park growing up. I reminded her that from the time we were seven, we lived across the street from the park, and we went ourselves. My parents encourage a free-range approach to our kids, but my in-laws are another story.

    But our older daughter is only 2.5, a little young to be left at the park. What should the appropriate activity be for the little ones? Play in the backyard while Mummy works in the kitchen or reads the newspaper on the deck? Ideas sought!

  4. I always went to the park by myself as a kid too. Wandered the neighborhood by myself too.

  5. My daughter is too young to participate this year (only 18 months), but I would love some suggestions for my cousin, who has two boys 4 and 6 and lives across the street from a playground in NYC. She can see the playground from their window, and thinks they’re capable of playing there alone for a short period. But she’s scared of what the neighbors will say, or getting reported, etc. Any suggestions? Should she let them anyway on that day, get some neighbors to let their kids do it too? I’d love to encourage her but I know the pressure not to do this (especially in NYC) can be intense.

  6. I think more people are afraid of being turned into DCSF or having a “good Samaritan” chew them out than they are of kids being kidnapped or assaulted.

  7. Sometimes those Samaritans are right.

    Today I was letting my nieces play in the backyard while I was up on the third floor, in the kitchen cooking. As always, they had left the yard to play in the back alley, a private access road behind our house.

    All of a sudden a guy appears and calls to me in the kitchen. I poked my head out warily, prepared to defend myself with either “Free Range Rocks!” or “I can see them better from up here”.

    “You shouldn’t let them play in the puddle over there!”
    “Why not?”
    “The sewer pipe broke and it’s leaking up”
    “The sew… oh. OH! OH I HAD NO IDEA! EW!”

    Sometimes, not always, but sometimes they really have your best interests at heart. My beloved nieces really shouldn’t be playing in that puddle. Ew.

  8. The kids needed to go to the park and to play and enjoy themselves while at the same time discovering new things.

  9. I can’t take my kid to the park and leave her on the 22nd, because she’s helping me lead an all-girl 25-mile national-forest backpacking trip that weekend.

    I can’t just take her to the woods and leave her there, because it’s likely she’ll be one of the more capable and experienced backpackers on the trip. It’s likely that, at age twelve, she’ll be helping the adult women hang bearbags and operate their stoves and filter their water and set up their tents.

    Confidence looks good on our kids, doesn’t it? Good for us, all of us, for helping them grow into confident, creative little people. I’ll think of all of you and your independent kids on the 22nd. Enjoy TYKTHPALTT Day!

  10. Egads, I commented on the blog.

    *** Me: #23

    I don’t think Skenazy is suggesting we drive our pre-schoolers to parks 10 miles from home and leave them there. It’s take your KIDS to the park and leave them there day.

    I grew up in the 80s, when crime was at an all-time high. We lived in Orange County in a relatively high-crime area. We went to the park together and with other kids. The alternative was not considered an option: to keep us inside all day. Ridiculous!

    I will certainly let my kids do the same when they are old enough, say, school age.

    And no, I don’t follow my one-year-old around the park. I just make sure she doesn’t sit at the end of the slides where the “big kids” are rolling off with their skateboards.

    And yes, I know what crime is- I know two people who were threatened by sex offenders in their youths. In fact, I know so many people who have met such people, and even sadly been abused, and SURVIVED, and who let their kids walk to the park alone, that I know it’s going to be okay.

    We keep our kids inside and the bad guys win.

    *** Quote and reply to some other commenter:

    “To #23 who said she doesn’t follow her one-year-old around the park….uhm…please DO. This is the appropriate age to be following your kid around. And other parents of preschoolers/toddlers. Otherwise, parents like me who ARE watching their OWN kids get stuck watching yours, too, while you gab on the phone with your friends or whatever. What’s worse is I have to hold a CONVERSATION with your child since you’re not paying attention to them and they seem to need it.”

    First- I watch from afar so she doesn’t eat cigarette butts. I didn’t say I don’t supervise at all. I don’t have a cell phone at the park so don’t worry about me gabbing. I just don’t follow her around.

    Second- I didn’t know it was such a burden for other adults to talk to my child. I enjoy having conversations with other kids at the park, and I thought kids liked talking to other parents. I thought we were all in this together.

    Third- Please, don’t feel compelled to hover over other kids like you hover over your own. Perhaps your child needs it. My own three-year-old has been swinging on the swings and going down the slide herself for well over a year.

    I think that you may be confusing letting a child explore on her own with neglect. There is nothing sillier to me than seeing two adults follow a toddler around the park. If my child looks for me, I’m there. If she cries for me, I’m there. If she’s doing something by herself… I’m in the background, and I’m okay with not being needed for that time.

    My children have generally structured lives with free time to imagine and explore.

    “If I let her out of my sight while she’s playing, on the other hand, there might be only a 1% chance that some lurking creep will grab her and take her away. But the consequences of that are devastatingly unimaginable, so I NEVER let her out of my sight. And if you told me that the chance had actually lowered and is in fact only .001% that wouldn’t change my mind at all.”

    It’s actually even less than that, if she’s just out of your sight and you’re talking about the risk of being abducted by a stranger. Way, way less. Like being struck by lightning, actually.

    Would it change your mind about driving in a car to know that your child is thousands of times more likely to die driving in a car (even with a seat belt and safe car and good driver) than by being abducted?

    Are you still getting in the car? Why? Presumably because you need to.

    Well, I know kids that need to play outside for five hours a day just to make life bearable, and their parents can’t sit and watch them.

    ***

    It is age appropriate to waddle behind a toddler and blab “GOOD JOB! GOOD JOB!” as she navigates a small playset, attempts to eat dandelions, and tries desperately to join the big kids in games of tag? Really?

    Of course… I should have known. I see people doing it all the time. Their children may be different. My children, however, are well within the range of normal and they just don’t need me to do that. They LOVE running around without me following them.

    This woman’s child is THREE and she’s just beginning to slide down the slide by herself.* Egads!

    *No judgment reserved for those shy, hesitant, or special needs kids that simply request hovering. Parenting is responding to each individual child’s needs. However, it seems that this woman believes that all children require this and that cannot be true. Surely the three-year-olds that need help going down the slides are in the minority, just like the two-year-olds who can reliably swing on the big kid swings?

  11. Oh, and sorry to spam your blog, but did you see how many people were all, “My kid is two! I can’t leave him at the park, is she crazy?” or “A three-year-old can’t be left alone at the park!”

    I am sorry to say that only one word suffices: DUH.

  12. The reply by Jamie C. was fairly heartbreaking. 😦

  13. I have found a compromise to leaving my 3 year old alone at the park. I am, instead , watching from a distance.

    This means I don’t hover, negotiate her playing interactions or choose her activities. This means I have faith that if she can climb up, she has reached an age where it is safe for her to be there and she can get herself back down. This means, I watch from a distance as she finds where she would like to play. I intervene when she requests it, but mostly I hang back. If her actions or interactions become unsafe, I am there.

    All this takes place in a fenced playground in suburbia with rubber ground and clean lines of sight, specifically designed for preschool and elementary aged kids. The good ole metal one is across the parking lot. She can play there when she’s 5.

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