Let’s Hear it for Some Positive Press!

A very positive piece! Running to do more media and hope to write more soon! — L

19 Responses

  1. Bad link.

  2. Thanks for the correct link. Great news Lenore. All the best. Roll on Saturday!

  3. Never link and run 🙂

  4. I just read a column of yours on the Christian Science Monitor, “Why you should leave your kids at the park on Saturday — without supervision.”

    When I was a kid, in the 50s, I lived in a suburb of New York City. There were acres of undeveloped woods near my house and during the summer the neighborhood gang spent a lot of time in those woods. I have often thought about the fact that, if we had wanted to disappear, our parents wouldn’t have had any idea where in those woods we were hiding out! One day, while we were playing around an old barn in the woods, I stepped on a rusty nail. It went into the heel of my foot and it hurt. My friends helped me get home, which wasn’t just a few feet away, where my mother either took me to get a tetanus shot or didn’t, I can’t remember. I didn’t develop tetanus and I wasn’t forbidden to go back into the woods.

    On a related topic, I raised my kids in the 80s and never thought it made sense to tell them never to talk to strangers–doesn’t that just produce fearful, unfriendly kids?

    Keep talking about this and maybe today’s fearful parents will think again and loosen the leash!

  5. In my local paper was a story about a grandmother stopping at a bus stop to offer a fourth grade girl a ride to school, and how this triggered a county wide police mobilization and search for a presumed child molester.

    This is my letter to the editor.

    It is my reading of the quote from our local Police Chief that the take-away lesson here is that a Good Samaritan stopping to offer help to a minor should “first call the police to make the contact.” (Yes, he really said that – call the police if you want to offer a ride to a child!) Isn’t this the same as making it against the law to offer such help on your own? Does it not make you a presumed kidnapper or child molester should you talk to a child or offer help?

    For me this story brought up other questions:
    • We seem to be moving towards a world where every interaction between people is based on a military or police model where you assume the worst case scenario. Is this what we really want?
    • Does giving our kids “zero tolerance” rules about never talking to strangers keep them safer, or does it end up making them fearful and unable to exercise and trust their own judgment?

    I don’t have answers to these questions. I just know the world has changed radically since my own childhood in 1950’s Seattle. For much of the year all the kids in a three block area played outside together until dinner or dark called us home. We played in the streets and ran in and out of each other’s yards with no adult supervision. Of course, when I go back to my old neighborhood now, there are no children playing outside.

    What about crazy people who might want to hurt a child? They certainly existed in the 1950’s. Molestation and kidnapping were very rare (as they are now) but it did happen. All the kids I knew were pretty good at judging character – kids aren’t easily fooled when parents teach them to understand and trust their own judgment. We knew to stay away from weird adults just like we stayed away from bullies and other “crazy” kids.

    This was an era before air bags or even seat belts in cars. There was no Consumer Protection Agency looking out for us. Yet it felt far safer than the world we live in now. I’m glad I got a chance to grow up in that world rather than this one.

    For an interesting discussion on the corrosive effects of “too much law” see a TED Talk by lawyer Philip K. Howard – http://tinyurl.com/y8guvvw. The title is “Four ways to fix a broken legal system.”

    Overview idea from the TED Talk:
    Laws are meant to define the parameters of what you cannot do and what you must do. You must pay your taxes and you can’t kill your boss. But the whole process of law making is to define a “dry ground of freedom” within which you are able to make your own choices. That expression of free choice is critical for a healthy society – yet our “dry ground of freedom” has been shrinking for many decades.

  6. It’s a great article, but one of the commenters does make a good point:

    ‘I still maintain that it is not “empowering” to drive your kids to a park and strand them there for an hour or so. What if they want to or need to go home? They’ll be powerless to change their circumstances. It’s much different from the good old days when kids would leave their houses to walk to an area to play. They were at least in control of leaving if they needed to. ‘

    We are fortunate in that there is a playground right under our windows, but if this Saturday it is empty as it is on too many Saturdays, I will probably drive my daughter to a park a couple of miles away. I won’t feel as good about leaving her there as I would at our own playground. And if we go and she makes new friends, I would still have to make arrangements with their parents every time she wants to see them as they are not likely to be living within walking distance.

    This summer, one of my resolutions is to reach out to parents in my immediate neighborhood and hopefully persuade them that it is ok for our children to knock on each others’ doors and go play. Hopefully the neighborhood pool will provide some opportunities for this, because currently the only time we see our elementary-school-aged neighbors is at the bus-stop in the morning and I have a feeling that the parents who resolutely walk them there by the hand every single day are precisely the parents who won’t be very open to free-range ideas.

  7. Krolik — The person responding to that comment has a point, too, most parks are only a mile or two from the residential area they serve (two miles really isn’t that far), so it would not be unrealistic to expect them to know the route between the park and their house, and if it is, for whatever reason, not feasible for the kids to walk home, we live in a society now where nearly all kids have a cell phone by the age of 10. At the very least, they should know how to use one and can borrow one of the parents’, or a friend’s cell phone, or carry money for a pay phone.

  8. Dragonwolf,

    You have a point about cell phones. A park that is within walking distance is still better if the goal is to encourage children to walk outside on their own and meet up with their new friends in the future, but any park is better than sitting in front of the TV!

  9. Dragonwolf also has a point about distance. A one mile walk isn’t even half an hour.

    Lenore, have you seen this? Some kid is trying to climb Everest.


  10. Oh, the irony! Had to laugh!! The Huffington Post story was followed by not one, but THREE ads for Amber alert apps for your cell phone!!

  11. @Judy: ****On a related topic, I raised my kids in the 80s and never thought it made sense to tell them never to talk to strangers–doesn’t that just produce fearful, unfriendly kids?****

    Part of what makes my neighborhood and the city a lot of fun is that people do talk to each other, and that occasionally chat with people you don’t even know. It’s part of what makes every day life fun and worthwile.

    So, I don’t tell my kids that, either. Just don’t go with anyone.

    So long,

  12. I thought you’d find this story interesting. Prisoners on probation here in the UK often do community work: cleaning up beaches and things like that.

    But in Brighton, when they were asked to clean up a chalk hill carving, the probation officers decided that it was too likely one of them would have an accident on the hill, and sue. So a local group of volunteers did the work. Most of the volunteers seem to have been children.


  13. Good article, esp. in light of most of the media making this into a ‘tempest in a teapot’ type of situation. Lenore, no doubt you must have some good asbestos undergarments on these days — the flamers are out in full force!

    Would love to do this with my 6 1/2 y.o. tomorrow, but we are busy all day (various social commitments) and I wouldn’t send her to the park unless she was with another kid, preferably one a bit older. I still believe in ‘safety in numbers’ at her age.

    I would immediately ‘recruit’ my neighbor across the street: her daughters are 91/2 and 6 1/2, but she still walks her kids to the school, which is right around the corner, so I’m not sure if she is even amenable to the ‘freerange’ thing at this point. Might be a good topic to introduce at some point…

    Also agree on having to drive vs. having your kids walk to the park — we use the playground at our elementary school, only a crosswalk and short block away from our house. The only ‘x factor’ is traffic, but we are learning firsthand how to handle this. Since the advent of spring, my DD and I go walking or bicycling around our community at least 2x weekly. (DD is still learning to master a 2 wheeler with training wheels, which should hopefully be off by end of summer) A lot of people are surprised that we do this — while we have an active community, folks are more likely to drive even for a short errand, including school dropoff pickup.

    Oh, and when I do take my daughter to a park, I do the ‘indifferent mom’ bit and read/play SuDoku while my daughter clambers about the playground. (I’ll join in if asked, but she’s pretty social and will find other kids to play with on most occasions.)

  14. WAY TO GO SISTER! I think everyone needs to get out off their couches and into the great outdoors. Meet your neighbors and OF course help out with others children. Do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you!

    It DOES take a Village to raise a child and a park is a great place to start. You don’t have to totally leave them alone but sit on a bench and chat with other parents! Redevelop your common sense!

    I live in France and everything is fenced it but everyone does go to parcs and let their kids go, discipline other kids if they need and of course help out while chatting with other moms, dads, siblings, nannies, etc.

    Also start riding bikes to school again if you can.

    Hope your Saturday at the park is great! I know mine will be!

    Blake, Franco American mom to three little girls aged 6 and under from Le Vesinet, France

  15. Good press for a change. Could the tide be turning? We can only hope.

  16. Oh, Janis, Amber Alerts…

    You know, what really GETS me about those is that they were intended for a very, very limited number of situations: Where the child was KNOWN to have been abducted, where the kidnapper and/or car could be identified, and where the child’s life was KNOWN to be at risk.

    And in those very limited situations, Amber Alerts could do a lot of good. If you’re signed up for them in your state you’d probably get no more than two a year.

    The problem is when the system is watered down to include all missing children, including those who might not really be “missing” but just, you know, late getting home or Dad has the kid and Mom doesn’t realize (but it’s not an abduction because Dad intends to bring the kid home at what he thinks is when he’s supposed to…) and likewise.

    Not only does this ultimately help feed into the culture of fear (OMG, six dozen amber alerts! Pedophiles must be everywhere!) but it also means that people are less likely to take them seriously when there IS something wrong, and therefore the alerts won’t do as much good.

  17. Wish I could join in this, but my oldest is 6. Not quite ready yet…though, I have to say, the 4-7-year-olds play out along the block and in each other’s yards and on the sidewalks together often in this neighbourhood, riding skateboards and bikes and drawing with chalk and generally just hanging out.

  18. I hope that the “Take your kids to the park…” day was a success in your area, as well as everywhere else. The park in my area was teeming with children, from Toddlers who where in their strollers next to the parents, to 4-10 year olds. For the most part, the kids were left alone, while the parents gabbed on the benches on the outskirts. There were about 3 or 4 helicopter parents. One was noticeably so paranoid, that she looked like she was ready to cry, that it didn’t take that much time to retrieve her daughter (who looked to be about 6 or 7) and put her in her stroller. Yes…stroller. A 7 year old in a stroller.

    I’m actually writing to you in response to a video clip I saw of Lisa Oz commenting on that day. In which she said she’s all for empowering children, letting the explore and learn. But that she would never leave her children in a park, even though she admitted she did those things herself when she was that young (as most of us did). Although she has no psychology or medical credentials (other than being married to a doctor), she is a mother. I thought being of “sound mind” she wouldn’t be so easily dismissal towards your idea. But she turns out to be just like all those other helicopter parents, like that petrified mother I mentioned above. It’s like I’ve said, fear does get the best of us…when we allow it to. It doesn’t matter whether your a mother, father, doctor, lawyer, police officer, even military personel. When you let fear control you, it makes you do things out of the ordinary, even crazy things. The most unnerving thing tough, is that most of these people do not even realize they are reacting. Instead, they justify it within themselves that they are protecting their child. In a sense they sort of are, but in common sense, they are doing more harm than good.

    We’ve said this many times before, with facts and statistics. There is no difference between 20, 30, 40 years ago than it is today. In fact statistically, crime is lower now than it was then. But fear is up, waaay up. Not just for our children, but in general. People are so fearful these days, they avoid most social contacts. They don’t even bother to help others out. It’s a sad state we live in, when people like Lisa Oz, whom I’m sure a lot of people look up to, are enforcing these fears in by making those comments towards you. This is how fear spreads and maintained. I don’t have psychology degree, but it doesn’t take a genius to learn and understand how people think. I’ve been observing people in general since I was 6. It was part of my free-range thinking as a child, and it’s served me well into my adulthood. Of course we all get apprehensive from time to time. I’ll even admit there are times when I feel myself being a little over protective of my 4 year old nephew. But reason kicks in, and I don’t let the “fear” get to me. Then I return to my old self, allowing my nephew to enjoy his day freely. It gives me piece of mind that along with my sister and brother-in-law, we continue to educate him in being self sufficient. He does more things than most 7 year olds I know, he comes across more mature than kids 2 – 3 years older than him, I’ve even observed him watching over younger and older kids when they play. He’s becoming more and more aware of everything around him. He also knows certain things that can be potentially harmful, and will either be extra careful or avoid it all together. To me, that is the mindset of a free-range kid. My sister is so much more relaxed ever since she stopped being a worrier a couple of years ago. She’s had more time to do extra things, her husband is happier that she’s happier. It baffles me that parents cannot comprehend the benefits of being less paranoid.

    This is my vent of the day. May the free-range movement continue to make progress.

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