TIME MAGAZINE endorses “TAKE OUR CHILDREN TO THE PARK…AND LEAVE THEM THERE DAY”

Hi Readers! Get a load of this lovely piece by Time Magazine’s Bonnie Rochman! And don’t forget: The holiday is this Saturday! Take your kids (age 7 and up) the local park at around 10 in the morning and hopefully a lot of other kids will be gathering, too. Then leave! Details in that great Time Magazine piece.

Now if only they’d put a photo of me on the cover with a breast exposed…

Or maybe not. – L.

Letting your kids play by themselves at the park is not radical!

58 Responses

  1. “Take your kids (age 7 and up) the local park at around 10 in the morning and hopefully a lot of other kids will be gathering, too. Then leave!”

    You should probably add:

    “in states where that is not illegal”

  2. I do dislike the way they used the attachment parenting brou-ha-ha as a hook though. My parenting style is pretty darn attached – extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing until my back protested – but it meshes easily into letting my kids do all kinds of things independently – cut with a real knife, play with minimal supervision, etc.

    Really, what unites all of my parenting practices, both attachment and free-range, is that I try to listen to my kids, and take my cues from them and what they are capable of and ready for. I don’t want to rush them, and I don’t want to squash them. I want to meet them where they are, as who they are, and sometimes that means they need a bit more time snuggling at night so that they feel just that much more prepared to meet the world on their own feet the next morning.

  3. 7 & up? Really? Seems arbitrary to me. Isn’t the point of FRK that we know our kids’ abilities and readiness and work from there? You can’t put a number on that. My 6 year old can definitely handle a trip to the park by himself.

  4. Every day in Germany is go to the park or local playground without parents day. Younger kids ride their scooters and older ones their bikes. One child usually brings a soccer ball. If there are no soccer goals, the kids make their own. They also form their own teams and decide on the game/rules depending on how many kids there are. A good time is had by all.

    The next “holiday” should be “Let Your Child Use a Public Toilet By Him/Herself Day.”

  5. I agree with Kate: there is no contradiction in subscribing to BOTH “attachment parenting” and “free-range parenting.” My own baby-wearing, bed-sharing, toddler-nursing children are at the same time raising the most competent, independent kids I know. Would you let your three-year-old chop vegetables for dinner? Or help you fix an electrical outlet? Actually, the kids start on activities like these when they are even younger, and require much more supervision than the help they can give. But by the time they are four they are amazingly skilled and truly helpful. (Disclaimer: only when they want to be; they’re still kids, and sometimes their skills are more mature than their attitudes.)

  6. I just wanted to comment on the totally made-up idea that attachment parenting and free-range parenting are mutually exclusive — in fact, I see free range parenting as a natural extension if attachment parenting. The goal of attachment parenting is to foster attachment that will give rise to securely independent children! What could be more free range than that?!

  7. Thank you, Mandy, I was thinking the same thing.

  8. It’s sad that attachment parenting is described as the antithesis of free range. I nursed my son for 4 years, and currently nurse my 3 year-old daughter and they are as free-range as they can be. My son is perfectly able to take the school bus by himself, cook or play in the back yard alone or with his sister. Same goes for co-sleeping, when they are ready they move out of our bed and never look back.

    Kids who are securely attached are independent and social. It’s not an “either / or” type of thing.

    Kudos to you Lenore for not taking the bait of all the other media and bash that poor mother on Time magazine cover. I don’t know if her choice of going public was right or not, but you said it better than anyone: “Let’s not judge”!

  9. I’m another AP/Free-Range mother. Attachment prepares a child for independence and confidence. I think it’s all part of the “continuum concept”, yeah?

  10. Personally I’m surprised anyone is reading Time magazine after that little stunt. No offense to the FRK movement, of course.

  11. Sadly, I have to take the kids camping this weekend and STAY with them. I’ll be sure and ignore there whereabouts for a good amount of time though 🙂

  12. My mom’s not free range but she lets me go to RadioShack while she shops at the grocery store. Also, I get to go to the park by myself (even though it isn’t that fun because all the people there are babies.) Sometimes after school she lets me walk to Jack in the Box with my sister.

  13. I’ve never considered myself an AP parent, but I do a lot of AP things because they’re just common sense. Why would I purchase and prepare formula, wash bottles, and carry around a lot of extra equipment when my body is already producing free, healthy food specifically designed for my baby? Why would I interrupt my sleep over and over every night when I can just bring the baby to bed with me? (Five biological children, and I never once got up to feed a baby in the middle of the night. Whenever my babies were hungry, they’d just grab a breast and feed themselves.)

    Free Range is the same thing; it’s common sense. Why should I stand over my kids 24/7, doing everything for them, sheltering them from every imagined danger, when there is so much they are capable of doing, and so much that they can learn and enjoy in the world? Especially considering that they are going to have to go out in it one day, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to throw them in the deep end with no warning or preparation at 18.

  14. PS, I am disappointed to realize that I can’t take my kids to the park this Saturday. My husband and I won a FREE three day vacation to the beach for this weekend! 🙂 Guess I’ll have to ask Grandma to take the kids to the park and leave them there.

  15. Nice article! Let’s hope this attracts a lot more people to Free Range Parenting – and your book and TV show!

  16. Even though “free-range” is typically a parenting style of school age and older kids, and “attachment parenting” typically has to do with babies/preschoolers, so while both parenting styles could overlap at different ages could – I think the reason why they often seem to be antitheses of each other is because the core practices of each style are so completely opposite.

    AP believes in keeping your child as close to you as possible (i.e. bed-sharing, baby wearing, extended BFing) whereas free-range believes in giving kids freedom and NOT always keeping them as close to you as possible.

    I think the different mindsets are not just about raising kids, but also about how to keep your sanity as a parent. And THAT’s where AP and free-range can seem to be similar. Both parenting styles seek to make things easier on the parents while at the same time raising well-rounded kids. However, while some parents feel it is easier on them (and their kids) to babywear, bedshare and BF – other families get better sleep being in separate rooms, feel chained by extended breastfeeding, and/or like letting their babies explore on the floor/crib or in a stroller.

    My DD is only 8 months old, but personally, I do see AP and free-range quite different things at this age. While many who practice AP at the early ages go on to practice free-range in the slightly later years – I also think it’s possible to be more “free-range” in infancy/toddlerhood (or maybe it’d be called it more ‘mainstream’ at that age?) without necessitating yourself to AP either.

    AP (bedsharing, babywearing, extended BFing) doesn’t really work for me or my family – but I am DEFINITELY all about raising a free-range child as my daughter grows.

  17. Michelle, I may be reading you wrong but let’s not start Mommy Wars here. For some, common sense might be having a child sleep in his/her own bed. For some, common sense might be not breastfeeding due to a mastectomy. How you choose to parent your child is up to you, but referring to it as “common sense” is your opinion only, and seems a little judgemental to those who might make different choices.

  18. @SaraLu, I agree. I will admit that I have always struggled with the concept of AP and was not at all one myself. BUT, really who am I to judge? Isn’t that part of the Free-Range mantra? Live and let live and don’t give in to all the pressure from peers and the media on how to raise your kids. So please, while I understand your desire to point out that AP and free-range are not mutually exclusive, trying to prove a direct link between the two may be quite off-putting to the non-AP parents. We are all here with our gorgeous, secure, independent free-range kids and it doesn’t really matter how we got to that point, imo.

  19. Ian,
    Your post above really stood out from the rest to me. Simply because, apparently, you are a kid who is aware of this blog.
    I don’t want to know anything else about you but I was wondering if you could somehow indicate to the rest of us how many other kids you know who are also aware of FRK and might be allowed to comment on these topics.
    One thing I’ve always thought was lacking here was regular input from kids
    Thanks

  20. My husband and I never really defined any method of parenting, we just try to make rational choices and give our kids the same freedoms we enjoyed.
    Lenore’s blog here is a breath of fresh air in this paranoid parenting world. I honestly don’t care how anyone raises their kids, as long as they are not abusive or neglectful. Who cares if you bottle feed or co-sleep. Just bring your kids to the park on Saturday and let them have some freedom!

  21. I also agree that there is a lot of natural overlap between the philosophies of attachment parenting and free-range kids. Both are about fostering confident, secure, and independent children.

    Glad to see so many other people here who don’t feel the two things are mutually exclusive.

  22. @Katie Aaberg -I think that maybe there was an editing error or simple forgetfulness. In the original article it was stated that TOCTTPALTTD was recommended for ages 7 (or so ) and up. Of course if your 6 year old is ready for trips to the park solo then she should do it. I have sent my 5 year old with her 7 year old brother but she is yet to have a solo park adventure on her own because she hasn’t demonstrated that she is ready for it (she left to go to park without teling an adult). Hope your 6 year old has a great day!

  23. I think it is fine to leave your kids at the park – if THEY are ok with it. But we mustn’t push them into it. If they want to go, then leave them with a phone, and let them play, sure. Stay close by the first time, and just make absolutely sure they are ready and happy to go without you. My 10 year old, for example, hates to be apart from me – even at night. My 11 year old, however, is happy to go all sorts of places without me. She has a phone and she knows I will come for her anytime if she needs me.

  24. In many places, FRK is at an early stage.Meaning that it isn’t a “children’s user’s manual”, but more of a community-gathering philosophy, trying to rid parents of unfounded fears for their kids’ safety.
    In places such as these, I guess it’s okay to sort of roam around the parks, getting to know other parents and telling them it would be okay to continue the chit-chat at a nearby, more confortable coffee shop, while our free-range children look after theirs.

  25. @linvo, I don’t even think I used the words “attachment parenting”. My point was that for Michelle, kids sleeping in her bed was “common sense”, and breast feeding was “common sense”. I was pointing out that common sense can mean different things to different people, and we should be accepting of those that make decisions based on their own definition, as opposed to assuming that there is only one “common sense”.

  26. “So Saturday’s holiday is a way to get all the neighborhood kids, age 7 or so and up, outside, at the park, at the same time: 10 a.m.”

    Isn’t that what we call a “play date”?

  27. AP and FR are both about letting go of control. Control of where and how your child sleeps, when to wean (child-led weaning), control of their every step when they are older (FR).

    I don’t see them as opposite at all.

  28. I have high hopes for this Saturday. As one of the Moms who will be staying at the park (mine are 3 & 4), I will be very interested to see how it goes.

  29. I can’t leave my kids at the park(2 yr old and 1 yr old) but we did go yesterday and I watched my 2 yr old playing all over the jungle gym with the 5-8 yr olds who were there. My husband got all nervous when she started climbing up a piece of equipment that got pretty steep at the top. I sat back and watched. She did fine and climbed it several more times. She did fall once and hurt her knee but no mark or anything, she’s fine. I know the kiddos had a blast 🙂 Oh and most of the kids there had no parents around most of the time, til it was time to go(the kids had just had a soccer game and the parents were over at the field a ways away talking and sent the kids to go play for a bit). My area has many Free Range Parents I have noticed, it’s the norm here to give kids freedom.

    As for attachment parenting, I do a lot of things put into that category (co sleeping, cloth diapers, baby wearing, etc) but I also do a lot that’s not (move them to their crib by at least a year old, have on occasion done CIO, use formula(never had the supply for BFing), use disposables for night time and outings, etc) But honestly if not for this blog, regardless of my parenting choices while they are little, I think i would have been a much more fearful paranoid mama. I’m more relaxed now knowing others don’t buy into all the hype. The only common sense I know for sure is to do the best I can and raise my kids to know I am always here for them when they need but also not be afraid to go off on their own and try things by themselves. I hope my girls will grow up to be confident, happy, and healthy. As parents, that’s all we can truly ask for.

  30. While my daughter is not old enough to be left alone at the park…hopefully she will find other kids at the park to play with and I can step back and let her play.

  31. I can’t do this during my divorce. My wife and family court will crucify me, sadly.

  32. As a child psychologist and a mom, one of the things that is so misleading about attachment parenting is the name. It is only called attachment parenting because of the theory it was based upon. It is not called this because it is the only form of parenting which allows parents to develop a secure attachment relationship with their children. There are numerous ways to develop a secure attachment relationship with our kids. I explore more of this myth here for anyone who is interested:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/04/15/what-does-the-mommy-psychologist-have-to-say-about-attachment-parenting/

  33. I think attachment parenting and free range parenting are two completely separate things that can’t be compared. Attachment parenting is about the parent/child relationship. Free range parenting is largely about how you view and relate to the outside world. It is perfectly possible to be an attachment parent and believe the world is full of pedophiles so you can’t let your children out of your sight. I know a few. It is also perfectly possible to be the antithesis of attachment parenting and still understand that the world is generally a safe place.

  34. I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow as is predicted in the weather. But I’m taking it a step further (if the weather holds) and letting my 9 and 7-year-olds ride their bikes to the park two blocks down by themselves, having the 9-year-old set his watch alarm as to when they need to leave. We’ll see how it goes, if the weather allows.

  35. I think attachment parenting can be confusing. I have seen many AP followers use it to overly protect their kids and follow a strict mantra (sometimes kids LIKE being in their cots, and want to walk!). Likewise, Free Range followers can sometimes give their kids more freedom than they want and scare the bejeezus out of them. What I advocate is following a child’s cues and responding according. I call this progressive parenting and, for those interested, you can find out more about it at http://www.asktheshepherdess.com.

  36. I’m not taking my kids to the park. They can get their on their own – it’s not that far. And – I do this all the time. They’re 9 and 11 – they’d better be able to get to a park a few blocks away on their own!

  37. “I can’t do this during my divorce. My wife and family court will crucify me, sadly.”

    Jason, how about if you just hang out but stay out of their way? Then you can honestly say you were at the park, and the kids were fine.

  38. @SaraLu, the ‘common’ in common sense is the opposite of individual. It indicates that it is the only sensible option. And if you read those first posts there is definitely an insinuation in there that AP is the best or maybe even the only way to allow kids to form a sound attachment with their parents.

  39. […] Want to read more on this? Check out Time’s article as well as Lenore’s blog. […]

  40. I don’t have kids, but I still think this is a great holiday, and I fully intend on celebrating it if and when I have a child. In the meantime, my dog is eight years old (which is 56 in human years), but I’m pretty sure that Take Your Children To The Park And Leave Them There Day only applies to two-legged children. Still, it’s a beautiful day here in Barrie, Ontario, and earlier today, when I was jogging along the path by the waterfront, I saw a little girl, about four or five years old, riding a bike with training wheels, and her parents/caregivers weren’t in view. They were probably walking inconspicuously behind her, about 20 or 30 feet (I couldn’t tell if they belonged to her, because they didn’t interact with the child), but I could tell that she was enjoying having the freedom to ride her bike “by herself” in public.

  41. As a semi-AP parent, this is my take: Both AP and Free Range are about reading your kids’ cues for readiness for independence and not forcing those developments prematurely nor hampering them later. So very very compatible in my mind and my own parenting. It seems like everyone wants their kids to get to a certain level of independence right away, and then keep them right there (no further developed) until they leave home…if even then.

  42. I don’t see what’s “independent” about being kept in a cage.

    (My kids slept in cribs, but that had nothing to do with the free-range philosophy.)

    I personally think AP is a term invented to make certain moms feel superior to other moms. Kinda like “helicopter moms” is made up to do the opposite. Because that’s what we women need – more excuses to be bitchy toward each other.

    I am certain that no well-intended definition of AP includes exploitation of breastfeeding toddlers on sensationalized magazine covers.

    I don’t mean this comment to pick on anyone here. I think we’re relatively down-to-earth here, and most of us are OK with most of the range of choices moms make, even if we didn’t decide that was best for our particular child.

    But just for the fun of it, I’ll point out that my kids and I were in separate countries for most of their first year of life, and yet they don’t have any deficiencies of the sort “AP” is designed to prevent. Excessive emphasis on “AP” or any other parenting style gives the false impression that parents can control how their kids turn out by tweaking a few things here and there while the kids are too young to have a vote. That’s just not the way humans were designed.

  43. “I think we’re relatively down-to-earth here, and most of us are OK with most of the range of choices moms make, even if we didn’t decide that was best for our particular child.”

    I think most moms in society would be if those choices were not constantly being presented as “you must do X or your child will [whatever awful thing can possibly result].”

    As I said in another thread, I think there is some level of insecurity in parenting in even the most secure parent. Somewhere lurking in the back of your mind is the fear that you are going to make the wrong choices and your child will have a bad outcome in life. This insecurity will just get worst as parents are blamed in the media and courts for everything that happens to their children or that their children do, even as adults.

    That is the place that I think most busy-bodies come from – insecurity. They afraid to let their children walk a mile to school so your child’s walking must be wrong or otherwise they’re wrong so they must convince themselves that they are making the right decisions by harassing you for yours and getting everyone else to join in.

    Most of these parenting philosophies are about cashing in on this insecurity. They are presented as things you must do or your child will not be properly attached or properly independent or safe or whatever the catch line is.

    There is simply no silver bullet for raising happy, successful, healthy, well-adjusted adults. You simply need to do what works for your particular family and what makes everyone the happiest. And forget about things that really don’t matter because, honestly, no child’s outcome has ever been determined by their parents choice of diapers or use of aluminum foil. One of the reasons I think free range works is that it accepts that kids are different and have different needs at different times. It isn’t a philosophy that says “all kids must walk to school at 8,” but instead says “the world is not a dangerous place and kids who are mentally and physically ready CAN walk to school without fearing a predator lurking behind every bush.”

  44. P.S., Can Take Your Kids To The Park And Leave Them There Day also be Send Your Kids To The Park By Themselves Day?

  45. I was browsing through and realized today was Park day. I lamented to my hubby that we neglected to do that! He reminded me that we actually DID take the kids to the park and leave them. Twice. Once we sent three of them to the park across the street from grandpa’s house so the grown ups could visit and later in the evening at a school concert we sent those same three out to the playground when they started getting antsy! Here’s for free ranging without even realizing it!

  46. Yesterday I had a bit of a FRK fail. My kids, friends and I were at a restaurant we go to often, and as usual, I let my kids go outside after they were finished and play on the sidewalk. My friend (who has seen me do this before) started questioning it – she must have been reading some crap about snatchings recently – but I held my ground. After 5 or 10 minutes, another “concerned” mom came in to inform me that my kids were playing outside and going all the way to the end of the sidewalk (which they are allowed to do). At that point I was beginning to be a spectacle, so I went outside to appease the crazies. I also decided that it will be a long time before I let my kids go out much before I do at that restaurant. I just don’t have the appetite for that kind of drama. I would note that this is an Indian restaurant and everyone who has given me a hard time has been of Indian origin, so I am pretty sure it’s a cultural thing. It could also be that at least one of my kids looks younger than she is.

  47. […] Hi Readers! Get a load of this lovely piece by Time Magazines Bonnie Rochman! And dont forget: The holiday is this Saturday! Take your kids (age 7 and up) the local park at around 10 in the morning and hopefully a lot of other kids will be gathering, too. Then leave! Details in that great … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  48. […] Hi Readers! Get a load of this lovely piece by Time Magazines Bonnie Rochman! And dont forget: The holiday is this Saturday! Take your kids (age 7 and up) the local park at around 10 in the morning and hopefully a lot of other kids will be gathering, too. Then leave! Details in that great … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  49. […] Hi Readers! Get a load of this lovely piece by Time Magazines Bonnie Rochman! And dont forget: The holiday is this Saturday! Take your kids (age 7 and up) the local park at around 10 in the morning and hopefully a lot of other kids will be gathering, too. Then leave! Details in that great … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  50. I’m sorry, Lenore, I haven’t “taken” my kids to the part in sooo long. They want to go to the park? They go. It’s out our back gate in our new place and through the water conservation walkway. That’s it. They are within shouting distance if they or I screech and a 1 minute walk if I need to check in on them for some reason. It’s close enough I can send the toddler with them and it’s perfectly safe enough. The water conservation isn’t just regularly fenced in, it’s got chickenwire so I’m quite relaxed about the toddler going crazy and running around there. I’m going batty these last couple of days because it’s pouring out and I can’t send them out.

  51. I am a regular reader and a huge fan and I totally agree about free-range “ness” but I’m afraid to leave my kid at the park Saturday. Why? Because of dirty looks, comments, and possible calls to police or CPS. I don’t know anyone else who reads this blog or thinks like I do. Honestly I don’t think my son (age 9) would want to be at the park with out another kid he knows, and I don’t know any mom who would go along with it. I know if I bring him and there is a kid there that he knows, said kid will be with a parent, who would feel obligated to watch my kid when I left and would surely be bitter. It’s just such a shame, because I have no fear at all for my son and really would like to do this.

  52. Lisa said: ” I don’t know anyone else who reads this blog or thinks like I do.”

    Lisa, you need to spread the word instead of assuming others will find the information on their own.

    For a start, make some little business card sized advertisements on your computer for FREE RANGE KIDS – The blog – book and TV show — and hand them out to friends and strangers you meet in the park.

    All you have to do is suggest they might want to check out Lenore’s blog and some of her youtube videos and see what they think. And suggest they read a lot of the blog visitors comments. Next, buy a couple copies of Free Range Kids, the book, and start loaning them out.

  53. Good ideas, Steve!

  54. I really wish I could have participated in this. I live in an apartment building with no green space around it or parks within walking distance. We are getting a new one a couple blocks away, but it’s accross from the new transition housing for ex cons, recovering drug addicts and prostitutes. So far there have been no problems, but neither is open yet so only time will tell.

    I do bring my kids to a park next to a friends house and they play there by themselves all the time. I am hoping that the next time we move I will get to live in a place close to a park.

  55. No matter how mature and capable your child is at 7 yrs old, the fact is that his or her brain is not fully developed to make unsupervised decisions that could result in unsafe consequences. The key is let your child make decisions within established limits.
    (Freedom is the perfection of constraints).

  56. The human brain is not fully developed until age 23. Are you really suggesting that we not allow our “children” outside our supervision until they are 23?

  57. I’m curious if anyone did the Take Your Child to the Park And Leave Them There event…If you did and would like to share your experience, I’d love to hear it:

    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/05/25/would-you-take-your-child-to-the-park-and-leave-them-there/

  58. I guess the pedos can have a corresponding “Go to the park and take your pick day”, too.

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