Help Needed! Your “Kids Outside” Stories for Dr. Drew TONIGHT!

Hi Readers — I’m going to be on Dr. Drew tonight discussing the idea of letting kids play outside on their own, a topic inspired by Saturday’s  “Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There” Day.

If you have allowed your children to play outside, unsupervised, either on the holiday or on any other day, the Dr. Drew folks might want you to call in and talk about it on air. (Or they just might read aloud the story.) So they’d like you to do two things:

1 – Write your story here and indicate YEA or NAY if the producers can contact you. (I will forward them your email address if you say YEA.)

or

2 – Call or write to them directly.  1-855-DRDREW5 or 1-855-373-7395. Or write to them at: http://on.hln.tv/1SZ9PG

While we’re at it, if you have any great ways to open minds when parents worry, “But the risk is just not worth it!” and, “But predators will swarm the park if they know children are coming!” please pass ’em along. Always helpful! – L

80 Responses

  1. I effectively shot my helicopter down this past weekend when I let my 11yo and 6yo walk to the library ALL BY THEMSELVES. The library is at least a 1/4mile away and they had to cross one major intersection to get there. They had a cell phone and called when they arrived, called when they left. My 11yo has Aspergers (very high functioning) so this had an extra facet of letting go for me. But you know what, I decided that we live in a relatively safe community, my kids are smart and cautious enough and I have to teach them to use their intuition. I will say, my ex was NOT thrilled when she heard about it, but, oh well. We have a park about 1/4 mile in the other direction and I plan to let them walk there next time they’re here. They also started riding their bikes around the block. Sounds silly that it’s a big deal, I know. But they were thrilled! They got great exercise, they checked in every couple of loops around and had a blast. Again, how are they going to learn to be safe in their environment and community if I don’t let them BE in their environment and community. I don’t know about you, but for me knowledge is best attained through USING it, not just hearing it.

    I used to be a CPS worker and still hold a social work license. I know that anyone, doctor, lawyer, police officers, teachers, can be predators. But just because anyone CAN be a predator, doesn’t mean anyone IS a predator.

    Oh, and I’m a YEA, I only have my youngest this week and he should be asleep at 9 (parenting solo tonight).

  2. We sit on 5 acres. My children are 5.5 & 3. They will say ” we are going on an adventure mom!” and off they go. I check on them occasionally but I don’t hover. It’s one of the reasons we moved out here. They know now to eat or touch anything strange. They eat strawberries straight from the patch and dig up worms from the garden. And Yay- I’m happy to be contacted

  3. Awesome! I submitted a comment via the CNN form.

  4. My children (ages 8 and 10) walk, ride their bikes, ripstik, scooter by themselves all over town. My oldest is excited about going to the local swimming pool by himself this summer. I am happy to be a free range parent and taking those first steps to independence can be scary but they are so worth it. It gives the kids confidence to do things by themselves, parents the relief knowing that their child will be self sufficient and prevents diabetes. I’m actually more concerned about childhood diabetes than predators! YEA

  5. My goal as a parent is to raise compassionate, independent, critical thinkers. Kids NEED to have freedom to explore and be out from under the adult micro-management umbrella. “Go to the park!!” I’ve been saying that for years….

  6. Our two girls 4 & 2 years are allowed to play in the back alley on their own. They come and ask me and tell me they leave the back yard, so I know where they are. I can trust them and they won’t go further then our arrangement we made. Most of the time I can hear them anyway. And YEA for me too.

  7. I have a 5.5 year old and a 3 year old, too. We have an unfenced yard. I let my kids ride their bikes on the sidewalk on our street (they know not to go in the street), and they do things like look for bugs and worms in the yard and climb the dogwood tree in our front yard. I listen to them outside and check on them if they’re too quiet or if someone cries. They know not to go in the street.

  8. my son has been allowed to play outside by himself (in our yard) since he was almost 3. I put up a cheap fence to give him a visual boundary of our yard he could have walked beyond it any time he wanted but never did… he had his little pool and sand box out there and his slide etc. He was never far from us, but I did not make him wait til I was available to hover in order for him to enjoy the out doors. I had windows that I could see him through and allowed him to explore on his own… He would go out side and play and come in and check on me… and go back out again. NOW, he’s allowed to go look at toys or video games when we go to the store (He’s 9 almost 10) he hangs out there makeing out his wish list while I shop for the things I need and I meet up with him in the toy dept or electronics… I have to TAKE him to the park now because we live too far away to walk… BUT I sit and make my phone calls or read while he goes and makes friends and plays…
    He knows how to ask for help from someone with a store name tag on… he knows to not leave a store without me, no matter what anyone says… AND his in Karate so He knows how to defend himself if necessary…(ps Karate was HIS choice, not mine)

  9. and yes, your producers may contact me via email.

  10. My three year old plays in the back yard by himself all the time. He’s got a really nice sandbox and play set that we got him when he turned two.
    He occasionally takes a break from playing with his dinosaurs to climb the side fence so he can see into the alley and talk to people. I’d just gotten out of the shower the other day when Ben came running into the house to tell me, “I just meeted someone! She was a old lady. Her house is beside the church.”
    So yeah, I let my preschooler play unsupervised AND talk to strangers.

    (As much as I think that people should really stop taking Drew Pinsky seriously, I’m a YEA.)

  11. Yea! We have a fenced in backyard (chainlink not privacy) and on nice days I leave the patio door open and my 2 yo wanders in and out as he pleases…granted I do check in on him and will usually use this time to clean up the kitchen without his “help”. When he gets older he’ll get to play in the front yard and around the neighborhood as well by himself…who wants their mom following them around constantly? My little guy loves the freedom he gets and it’s teaching him responsibility and boundaries at a young age. We are an AP family so he gets the attachment he needs as well as the freedom he needs.

  12. My kids are 3 & 5 and play outdoors alone ALL the time. They have done so since they were 1½ and 3½. The area is fenced-in. In the early days I would only do so for 10 minutes or so before checking in on them, or I’d be outdoors doing other things anyway. Over time as I saw they did just fine, I started extending it–now,it’s no big deal for them to be outdoors for 2 hours straight unsupervised.

    Yes, producers can contact me–Lenore, you have my email, send it along.

    LRH

  13. I sent them this:

    Regarding Lenore Skenazy and the “Free Range Kids” movement: It is sad to me that allowing children to grow and develop in healthy, time-honoured ways now requires a “movement.” However, thanks to our culture’s unfounded, unbridled paranoia about “child safety,” generated by a couple of decades of the media’s rabid and shameless over-reporting of the few actual cases of “stranger abductions” and rare accidents, those of us who are unmoved by these mercenary tactics to scare the hell out of parents and “warn them of all possible dangers to their children” are in the minority.

    At best, we get derisive looks and clucking tongues when we allow our kids to get themselves to and from school a few blocks away or play in the neighbourhood park on their own. At worst, we are “turned in” by “well-meaning bystanders” to Child Protective Services. The consequences of bringing the authorities into families’ individual decision-making around their own kids’ capabilities to move about their town can be totally devastating. If someone means to support children by calling the cops when they see a couple of kids playing happily in a playground somewhere without their parents, it seems a mighty flawed strategy. What happened to the days when the authorities were called in because a child was malnourished or visibly beaten? Why do the authorities even entertain responding to a call about a child riding his bike to baseball practice? Have we, as a society, gone completely out of our minds? It would seem so.

    I am raising four children, ages 5, 7, 9 and 11. When the oldest was 7, I had him walk to school alone. He was delighted, but my ex-husband was not, and threatened to turn me in to CPS if I persisted in “putting him at risk.” I still feel sad about that time in our lives, how I had to rob a child who was so capable and proud of himself of this small step toward maturity. Now that he’s 11, his father has relented, and the boy goes everywhere on his bike, sometimes five or six miles away, across town, to run an errand at the pet store. He wants to do these things for himself, and well he ought to: he needs both the exercise and the experience of independent decision-making. These are essentials of healthy development, but we seem as a society to have lost touch with how essential these things actually are. Now, the entire focus is on something called “safety,” and there is nothing more ironic than a parent who fears for their child’s safety deciding to drive them to school on residential streets instead of allowing them to walk. Riding in a car, at any speed, is statistically exponentially more dangerous than walking, but you won’t find a parent anywhere who frets with worry about chauffering their kids to every activity.

    We live two houses away from a beautiful park that has a playground, a little league baseball diamond, great climbing trees, and a couple of grassy fields. Any one of our children is free to go to this park on their own; the five-year-old is required to come back home if she is not with an older sibling and there are no adults present at the playground, but otherwise, they all have free run. They come home when I whistle, and are full of stories about kids they ran into at the park, what games they played, and how they wish I hadn’t called them in. Now that’s childhood. Who wouldn’t want this for their kids? Who imagines that their job as a parent is simply to focus on surviving? What about thriving?

    I am overjoyed that Lenore Skenazy wrote her column about her son Izzy riding the subway alone at age 9, wrote her subsequent “Free Range Kids” book, rescues overwrought families on her “Bubble Wrap Kids” television show, and maintains her “Free Range Kids” blog to galvanize this worldwide community of parents who advocate for ALL of their children’s needs, not just their need for safety.

    If all we needed as human beings was safety, there would be nothing for the poets to write about….

  14. I have 14, 13, and 10 year girls. Yes, all girls. They LOVE to play outside and ride bikes and have been doing so alone for years. We have this fabulous park in our neighborhood that has a creek running through it and a hike and bike trail and playscape. When the creek floods, it is swift running and dangerous so is off limits, but 90% of the time, it is slow running and 2-4 feet deep. They explore the woods, catch tadpoles, frogs, and butterfly’s, take off their shoes and wade in the water (and sometimes “slip” down and get all wet). They generally come home dirty and happy. The only rule they have is to play in pairs or more and be home when the street lights start to come on. Worst thing that has happened? One of them fell in fully clothed and got her new shoes all wet! She was more upset than I was about it and quickly got over it! We’ve had a few skinned knees and elbows and torn pants. But, who cares, it doesn’t stop them! Yesterday I went outside in my front yard to water some plants and overheard my 10 year old and her friend talking. They were laying in the grass, pointing up at the clouds and talking about what each cloud looked like. I took the most precious picture from behind and they didn’t even notice. Sigh…oh, to be 10 again. That is seriously the life! In the Spring and Summer if you don’t come in with dirty feet and smelling like a wet puppy dog, you probably have missed out on some fabulous adventures!

    Oh, and one funny story. Last year sometime, I was worried because I could not find the then 12 year old. She was upset about some misfortune that had befallen her and my attempts at consoling her were just not working. After a while of looking I found her way, way up in the tree in our front yard writing in her journal. I pretended not to notice her and left her there. About an hour later, she comes down and is in much better spirits having come to some peace of mind about her problem. Had I been hovering, she would never had this chance to work it out.

    Yes, feel free to contact me anytime!

  15. My 4 year old twins play outside in our yard and on the sidewalk all the time. They know how far they are allowed to go down the sidewalk without an adult, and I know that they will follow the rules.They get to play outside WAY more than if I had to be with them all the time, and I don’t have to listen to all the “capture the dinosaur!” adventures that are only adorable the first 3 or 4 times.
    I trust that my neighbors help me keep an eye on them, just as I do for their children. Personally, I think a 12 year old who has never had the opportunity to solve his/her own problems is in more danger than a four year old on a tricycle three doors down.
    You/they can contact me.

  16. OT, but here is an interesting post (the vivid descriptions of what “could happen” are really striking): http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2012/05/if-worrying-about-safety-is-new.html

  17. mollie Your post is outstanding. Nothing more to say.

    LRH

  18. I have a 10 year old son, and he is allowed to play at the park across the street, and I gave him his own phone to let me know if he leaves the park at any time. I don’t “hover” over him, how is he gonna learn to be independent if I am always there doing things for him, and these parents who “helicopter” their kids are asking for issues later on.

  19. Right now I’m happily imagining this massive onslaught of child predators fighting each other over the kids at the park. What do you when there are too many predators and not enough victims?

  20. My daughter has been playing outside in our backyard since we build the swingset when she was two years old – At first, she’d be outside for maybe 10 minutes before one of us joined her, but the time has been gradually getting longer as she gets more comfortable. Meanwhile, we have gotten comfortable with leaving the kitchen (which has the big window facing the backyard) for longer and longer periods of time. She’s now 4-1/2 years old and thinks nothing of announcing “I’m going to go play outside – would you please help me with the door?” – and we could not be more proud of her!

    I worry, though, about the day when I get a knock on my door because someone called the cops on me for letting her play – how crazy is that??!!

    YES – I’d be happy to call in

  21. I have allowed my 4 children (now 9, 8, 6 and 4) to play unsupervised outside since they were old enough to understand how to watch for cars and stay within boundaries – probably age three. Last year, we had a frightening experience with our son, then five. He was buckled in the car with his siblings as we were about to leave for my Mom’s house. I ran back into the house to get something I’d forgotten, and in that time, unbeknownst to me, he unbuckled and ran to the backyard. I pulled out of the driveway and started our trip assuming he was still buckled in the back of our minivan. it wasn’t until I glanced in my rear view mirror that I realized he wasn’t there. It was rush hour, and the mile-long trip back home took at least 5-10 minutes. In that time, every conceivable horror entered my brain. I arrived home, calling wildly for him, until I heard his small voice. He was sitting at the kitchen table of our elderly neighbor, having a cookie–totally unshaken. When I stated crying, he looked at me and said “It’s okay, Mommy – I knew you’d be back”. He knew just what to do without me ever telling him. He found a trusted adult and told her what happened, then waited for me to return. I’m grateful for the fact that the culture of fear, which seems to pervade modern day parenting, did not keep us from allowing our children from exploring their world. I am convinced that free-range parenting produces more confident, healthy, happy children!! YEA!

  22. My daughters, ages 8 & 10, walk to their piano teacher’s house every week. It is in our neighborhood but about a 1/4 mile away.

    All three kids (girls plus their 7 yo brother) play outside, ride bikes and go blocks away to their friends’ houses unattended all the time. They are out there right now, in the street!

    What free ranging my kids has done is created some of the most independent kids you’ve ever seen. On the weekends, they will get up before me and make pancakes, from scratch. As a bonus, they wanted to learn to make coffee for me. They are proud and I get to sleep in (sometimes!)

    I find the opposition to free range baffling. I wrote an article about your book for a local paper and received hate mail telling me what an awful, lazy parent I am. Personally, I am going to stick with what is working for my family and making my kids happy, strong and proud of themselves.

    [They can contact me if they want.]

  23. The other day, my 13 year old daughter came home from school and asked to use the computer. I said no. She said “But I’m so BORED.” I didn’t comment. Then she said “Can I go outside?” And off she ran. Other neighbor kids were outside, and she spent an hour outside with kids of a variety of ages. She came back happier, and ready to do her homework.

    Yea.

  24. We moved to an underserved portion of Los Angeles, on a dead end street with an easement that leads to two alleys. At first, we were leery of the alleys back there, and had discussions about the best way to close off that easement.

    Then my son started playing with the kids on the block. Hide and seek, with kids ranging from 5 to 14.

    Now these kids have parents in a very different socio-economic position than us, so this may have something to do with why they get to be free range (I don’t pretend to know why) but there are at least seven of them out at any given time. They play in the alleys, the easements, the street and the yards. They climb fences and tromp through my garden (which makes me crazy).

    But my son, who is 8, comes home with scrapes and bruises and unlike the kid of two months ago, doesn’t go into a crying fit when I disinfect. He just wants me to do it fast so he can go back out.

    It may also be a coincidence that in the past weeks, he doesn’t need to be supervised when he bathes, he actually comes out clean on his own. He gets his teeth brushed without trouble, ties his own shoes and is so wiped out when he puts his head on the pillow a bomb couldn’t wake him.

    Practicing piano, well that hasn’t gotten any easier.

    Am I scared something will happen to him? Sure. Cars scare me most. His boundaries are wide, but do not include a street with traffic besides our dead-end block. However, he can, and will disobey me at some point and when that happens I hope he looks both ways.

    Bullying is next on the list, but he now has friends to protect him, and he is a member of the neighborhood, not some stranger. He’s not afraid of his neighborhood, so he won’t be such a big target.

    If a predator of some sort went after him, I’m pretty sure someone will see it, and because he is making so many friends here, they will put a stop to it. I understand that there are more than enough cases where this system has failed, but it is so unbelievably rare I can’t worry about it or I’ll never let him grow up.

    Am I happy he plays outside? YEA. Do I want to tell the world this is the right thing? YEA.🙂

  25. I have 4 kids (ages 14, 12, 10 and 8) and they have been raised Free Range forever.

    My 8 year is the only one on his baseball team who bikes to practice. It is almost a mile and he can do it in less than 10 minutes. The great thing is that at first the other parents were alarmed and surprised by it, but after he did it for weeks and never came to any harm, more and more of them started accepting it and asking me about how to teach their children to bike safely.

    I find that by letting my children have more freedom, it makes other parents see that this is normal, healthy behavior. It makes a lot more sense to teach kids to be safe on their own than to try to prevent them from ever being alone.

    The producers are welcome to contact me.

    Amy

  26. First, Lenore, I am totally jealous that you get to sit with the Silver Fox tonight! You go!

    Second, I let my kids play at the park alone. All the time. They played this weekend, though my youngest (5) had a birthday party and she really wanted to go to it. The older two (11 and 9) went to the park and were met by friends who also dropped off. It was a beautiful spring day here in the Northeast. The sun was hot so they headed for the woods. The boys are great readers and loved the Hunger Games, so they acted out some of the scenes and played it out with Nerf Guns. When they got back to the playground, they met up with another friend and his dad who invited them to their pool! I got a call to request permission, which I happily granted. They swam the rest of the day away and came back tired and a bit sunburn but blissfully content. The 5 yo spent most of the party playing indoors with Barbies and was totally jealous of her siblings.

    There’s a whole world out there for our kids to live in and I don’t wish them to live it via computers and Facebook trapped indoors. They need to play OUTSIDE and they need to become independent thinkers. My children have earned my trust. They understand consequences. I am not raising children. I am raising them to become adults.

  27. My three sons, ages 9, 7, and 3 play by themselves in our yard all of the time. Sometimes, this leads to playing ball with neighborhood kids ranging to 14 years old. The older two, in 3rd and 1st grade even walk to and from school every day. My husband is usually there to greet them, but if he’s late getting home from work, they have a key. Once he’s home, the boys are allowed to walk back to the school playground. And no, they don’t have a cell phone. The oldest has a watch which he programs to ring when it’s time to go home. They know if there’s a problem and they can’t run home, that they can ask an adult for help. We moved to this urban neighborhood, 5 miles to downtown Boston precisely because we could let our kids play outside, walk to school, and go to the park. My sons are more independent and responsible because of the freedom we give them. YEA!

  28. Good luck with Dr Drew and whatever you do, don’t let him interrupt you, he is notoriously bad about cutting people off mid-sentence. I hate him.

  29. It’s probably too late, but today my 4yo and 2yo ate popsicles in the front yard while I did the dishes, and later, while I helped the 2yo with some art, my 4yo entertained herself with the hose in the backyard.

  30. We live in on a rural property in Australia, having moved here from Sydney at the beginning of the year. Our kids are very free range – they tell us if they are going out the house yard, and know not to go near the dam. They get up to all sorts of adventures and usually come back from where ever they have been covered in dirt and excited. Before we moved to our farm, we lived in suburbia, and were already training our small kids to be free range. We were one of only 2 families who walked our kids to school (aged 6 and 4) so that they would learn how to do it themselves in a year or two. The vast majority of parents drove their kids the 2km to school – crazy. Had we stayed, our plan was to let them start walking by themselves this year. I believe that you teach your kids how to do something, then let them go do it. Of course they might make mistakes, and possibly could get hurt, but what kind of life do kids have if they aren’t allowed to do anything that might possibly harm them? We are so risk adverse that we stifle their development.

  31. My girls are 11 and 9, and they LOVE being free-range kids! I moved here to the US as an adult, and I really thought that the helicopter parenting was simply how people over here raised their children. I also thought that was how things had always been. So I followed along, trying to do things the “American” way, but always wishing I could let my kids have more freedom…..

    Thank goodness I found Lenore’s site! Now my girls roam the neighborhood daily (many neighbors have swings out front, but none of them allow their kids to visit other houses), go to the park for hours on end as often as possible, and buy the occasional ice-cream, candy or milkshake at the local shops. They also both walk to school, the younger one a whole 19 blocks.

    The worst that has happened so far is that they have the occasional spat and return home alone instead of together. And the benefits are tremendous: my girls are mature, self-sufficient, assertive, and think the world is a wonderful place (it is!). And, they are healthy and strong and watch very little TV any more. This is how I remember my childhood being, and I love allowing my children the same freedoms that I thrived on while growing up in Africa.

    YEA!

  32. I don’t really know who Dr. Drew is (yeah, we’re that unplugged – we’re more like NPR groupies). I cannot understand, since it makes so much sense to me, why people don’t grasp the bottom line: once a child is capable of understanding (and acting on) how NOT to be “snatched”, they are relatively safe from that. I started pointing out news stories of children who kept some perv from snatching them to my daughter when she was about 7, explaining that those people don’t want trouble. Tell your child what they need to do in the event this happens (kick, scream, bite, yell that it’s not their mom or dad, etc.). This does seem to be people’s big bogeyman fear, but I believe that children can and should be empowered. Daughter and son have been playing in the chain link fenced backyard alone since they were 2, with me checking on them periodically (at 3, I sometimes locked them outside, because otherwise it was a revolving door!). We found this year that we’d been remiss with our 10 year old in sending her to cross quiet subdivision streets to get to the park or elementary school (not hers) 3 blocks away. We can only plead exhaustion from the younger ADHD/outgoing Asperger’s sibling, who requires much monitoring (trying to explain the concept of strangers to him is interesting. He just turned 6, and figures if he’s asked someone their name – which is everyone – he knows them. How to explain “shades of acqaintanceship?!), Daughter is a timid type that way, but it only took a couple of weeks – now she’s always running to the park (letting us know, of course, but I haven’t made her take a cell phone with her after the first few times). This summer I am going to have her go on rides at the local carnival (3 blocks away) with a friend while I stay on the grounds in the kiddie-ride area with little brother. It’s quiet early in the week, lots of police officers around, seems like a great place to practice. We’ll meet up for a hot dog and rootbeer supper (I’m okay with that, even though we eat organic the rest of the time).

  33. I have a very well fenced in, private back yard with a toddler play structure and very little else not locked in sheds. I let my toddler play out there while I work on the couch in front of the french doors. I can see him almost the entire time, but I love watching his sense of independence grow as he explores his environment unencumbered by adults.

  34. Wow…you got ganged up on and shut out! Loved the 45 seconds he gave you to wrap up after the mother whose daughter was murdered.

  35. Hi, I haven’t read your book yet, nor have I had a chance to explore your website, but I did catch the Dr. Drew show. I just wanted to let you know my husband and I were very impressed with your composure and logic throughout the show. Thank you for presenting a voice of reason. Your point about the risks of driving in a car was particularly poignant… Sadly, it seems like most parents believe there is a pedophile or kidnapper lurking around every tree, just waiting to snatch an unattended child. Yes, it does happen, and yes, it’s incredibly tragic. But the chances are so low it is crazy to let that fear dictate your actions.

  36. You were awesome!

  37. I agree Stephanie, Lenore was ganged up on big time. Some of those women were so literal minded.

    Did one of them really believe that Lenore was insisting people leave their children in the park for the entire range of 10AM to 7PM? I wanted to shout, hey Lady, it’s just a range of time where you’ll hopefully see a lot of other kids in the park.

    I generally avoid Dr. Drew because he irritates the hell out of me; but I did watch a little of his interview with Sarah Palin’s daughter several months ago. (I was engaging in the bad habit of channel flipping.)

    When Dr. Drew asked her to explain the circumstances of her unplanned pregnancy, she matter-of-factly stated that she and Levi(?) got drunk and had sex. Dr. Drew then proceeded to try to convince her that she had been raped because she couldn’t “consent.”

    I gave the girl a lot of credit for standing up to him and explaining that she wasn’t raped and that she shared the responsibility for the pregnancy.

  38. I am so angry!! I was called by the producers to be on the show, was put on hold for 30 minutes for NOTHING! The show could have been more balanced and less hysterical. Basically I learned from that show that LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE AT YOUR PERIL. So disappointing. And I was really looking forward to speaking with Lenore!

  39. He TOTALLY cut me off mid sentence. Meh. No one I know watches his show anyway. Besides, Lenore’s was on at the same time…

  40. For the past year or more I have been letting my now 5.5 yr old play out in front of our house unsupervised. My son loves to bug hunt, look for snail, slugs & worms. I didn’t mind hanging out there for a little bit, but he can play out there for hours. I think it started when I was pregnant & way too tired to hang out outside. I started to gradually let him play outside while I sat within shouting / hearing distance in the living room with the front door opened or cracked. My hubby slowly warmed to the idea, he was a bit more worried at first. I usually leave the front door cracked so I can hear if he called for help, but I don’t sit in the living room anymore & I don’t check on him as often. In the last few months he started to play with the older neighborhood boys which adds a level of comfort & worry at the same time. The funny thing is when we were his age or younger my hubby & I were allowed to roam the neighborhood. I try to fight my worry wart side with my common sense side all the time. It sounds like I missed the show, but if not it’s OK to contact me.

  41. Not to get off topic, but Dr.Drew has changed a lot (not for the better) since his Love Line days.
    You did a great job, Lenore. Tough crowd. You can’t win when they bring out grieving mom of murdered child. Where is the reasonable Erin Runnion and her Joyful Child Foundation?

  42. Didn’t see the show, but I’m sure you were great.

    My 3- and 5-year-old are free-range largely because our neighborhood vibe is that way. In good weather, there are 10-15 neighborhood kids out in yards, sidewalks and the park across the street. Age range is 3-12. Not to say there is no parental supervision, but it’s pretty minimal, particularly for the 5 and over crowd.

    We live in an old neighborhood where houses are close together, there are front porches and sidewalks. It was meant to be free-range when it was built, and somehow still is. It’s routine to hear parents yell their kids’ name from the front door when it’s time to eat. And if the kids don’t hear, the kids who do will yell to the kid who’s being called to go home.

    Maybe an irony in all this is that most of the parents in our two block area probably don’t consider themselves free-range or even know what that refers to. It’s just normal living and the occasional parents who do track their child’s every move are anomalies.

  43. From the title of the episode of the show, it was clear to me the whole TYCTPLTT concept would be played for hysteria; that Lenore was being set up to take some serious bashing for daring to suggest that children might be left “unattended” and exposed to any risk at all. Blah. I am glad they didn’t contact me. Keep up your sacred work, Lenore. I am so grateful to you for putting yourself and this message out there, even if it isn’t always received with respect.

  44. Today is the 22nd, why do all the post say 23rd?

  45. They called at 4:15. I said I’d be home at 5:30 and call my cell if they wanted me before then. No listening skills.

    Imagine…..

  46. The Internet really is amazing – I actually got to see that clip. Not impressed with Dr Drew – does he even have kids? Couldn’t see the link to his biography or anything, but then I wasn’t looking hard…..

    And who was Dragon Lady?

  47. Why did he invite you at all? He wasn’t even willing to really listen to you!

  48. I don’t have TV service so I didn’t see it, but sorry it sounds like you were set up to get attacked like that! the world is a crazy place….and all the busy body overly paranoid people scare me more than the pedos and child murderers…cause there are way more crazy fearful paranoid people hell bent on ruining our kids than anything else!

  49. OK, Lenore i take back my admiration of Dr. Drew. I never watched his show (nor any of the sensationalized “news” shows) and now I know why! He’s become the male version of Nancy Grace! He sets up the show to maximize the paranoia “Kids left alone at park followed by Flesh-eating bacteria” and the “safety expert” he brought to counter you who was saying that pedophiles see this as opening day of hunting season when kids just want to play in a park.
    What a warped world these folks live in.

    I’ll take my beautiful park day reality and skinned knees over the media portrait of perverts on every corner, thank you very much.

  50. I have always liked Dr. Drew too but this, to be blunt, sucked. How would anyone on this earth know, for a fact, that pedophiles see this as opening day of hunting season? I’m sure the expert did not interview very many pedophiles…….nor could he prove that anything bad happened to anyone on Saturday.

  51. And for those wondering, Dr. Drew does have 3 kids – triplets.

  52. If luring pedophiles would be as easy as just announcing that you are leaving your kids at the park, surely the cops could use this knowledge to easily set up a sting to catch them? :p

  53. Wow. Watching the DVR’d show now. I actually want to throw things at the television. Like everyone else I could tell from the “today on Dr. Drew” part that you were in for an ambush, but the “experts” blatantly left so much information and context out of the stats they attempted to quote that a 7 year old could see they were fear mongering. Did anyone else pick up that the final advice from the expert and mother actually fits with free range ideals? Teach your kids about safety, empower them to fight back, etc. Those are fundamental steps to allowing independence. Maybe the problem is those waiting until kids are well over the age of 7 to teach them.

    Not to be crude, but Lenore you’ve got balls for sitting in the lions’ den with everyone pouncing like that. Thank you for putting yourself out there for sake of the rest of us.

  54. Crud, I just got to the part where Dr. Drew is complaining about how the press over plays the scariness of necrotizing fasciitis. DOH!

  55. My children (ages 10, 8 and 5) have all been allowed to play outside by them selves since they were 2 or 3. When they were that small they had to stay in the backyard, they have been allowed to play in the front yard since they were 4 or 5. They know their boundaries and we have never had any problems with them staying within them. They are also allowed to go to the playground by themselves. This summer the older two will be allowed to ride their bikes to the library about a mile away. I would allow them to go more places on their bikes if our city had sidewalks on the main streets and crosswalks at intersections. I am not afraid of them being kidnapped but I am afraid they could get hit by a car because there is no sidewalk for them to ride their bikes on. There are sidewalks leading to the library because it’s through a neighborhood association. I am really glad that I am able to give my kids this freedom and that they are responsible to not need constant supervision. They also walk to school.

    I’m sad that I didn’t see this post until today, I would have really liked to have seen the show😦

  56. ^Krista, I just read those statistics, and it seems like diabetes (especially Type 2 from childhood obesity) is a much bigger risk than child abductions, especially the “traditional kidnapping” type that so many parents seem so worried about. Maybe the paranoia is so skewed towards “kidnapping,” because we know we can prevent that–I mean, no dead-bolt, surveillance camera, video baby monitor (basically the same thing), or helicopter parenting regime can lock out diabetes, but hey, if parents can monitor their kids at all times, they know they won’t get taken.

  57. Emily, this is what I mean when I talk about “thriving” versus “surviving” when it comes to raising kids. Even if you held their hand all day every day, they still might not survive, no one can control for every malady or freak accident or rare assault. But what kind of life is it to even try to control for all of that? Why not just live, and accept that all we really have control over is our own response to what happens around us?

    Kids were meant to acquire independent decision-making skills. Isn’t that how we determine maturity? Do folks imagine this set of skills just “erupts” like primary teeth or acne? There are environmental parts of growth and development, and innate ones. Learning how to navigate your world is one of those environmental parts… we must allow kids to do things independently sometimes, or these skills just don’t develop.

    There’s a risk in everything, even eating food or drinking water. Would we suggest avoiding those? I shake my head that so many people have signed on for a life of constant fear. The last straw of living in the US for me was when the Dept of Homeland Security came on television and told Americans that they had to have “safe rooms” in their homes and to create them with duct tape and plastic sheeting, because “anywhere, at any time, there could be a biological or chemical weapons attack.” Why was I able to see through this and feel no fear of attack at all? Why was I fully conscious of how transparent this manipulation really was? Why was I in the minority?

    I look at parenting these days and feel that same sense of loneliness. Except when I come to this blog. Thank you all for being here, and to Lenore for facilitating.

  58. […] Hi Readers Im going to be on Dr. Drew tonight discussing the idea of letting kids play outside on their own, a topic inspired by Saturdays  Take Our Children to the Parkand Leave Them There Day. If you have allowed your children to play outside, unsupervised, either on the holiday or on any other … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  59. […] Hi Readers Im going to be on Dr. Drew tonight discussing the idea of letting kids play outside on their own, a topic inspired by Saturdays  Take Our Children to the Parkand Leave Them There Day. If you have allowed your children to play outside, unsupervised, either on the holiday or on any other … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  60. […] Hi Readers Im going to be on Dr. Drew tonight discussing the idea of letting kids play outside on their own, a topic inspired by Saturdays  Take Our Children to the Parkand Leave Them There Day. If you have allowed your children to play outside, unsupervised, either on the holiday or on any other … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  61. It’s the evening of the 23rd where I live. 🙂 The time is probably set on the server where the website is hosted, it’s not your local time.

    You go Lenore, hopefully you managed to get through to some people even though the circumstances were less than ideal.

  62. Totally great! We do family park night most friday nights. The parents sit at the very edge of a dark urban park and the kids roam free over the rest of the area. They are in the creek, in the trees and all over the place as a pack – unsupervised by adults. One time we tried sitting on the other side of the park where we could see more and it was a disaster. They kept coming to us to get our input, asking us to solve their battles, asking us to tie this up or decide this. All these things they do on their own when we are out of sight and out of touch. THye need this freedom – without us and without our input! And when they can’t see us and we can’t see them, they work together. When we are visible, we become in charge and they don’t look to each other for anything.

  63. @Emily- your logic is flawed. You said “If parents can monitor their kids at all times, then they know they won’t get taken.”
    The link for missing kids states the threat lies in your home- on your computer. “4% of 10-17 year olds ONLINE receive an aggressive sexual solicitation.” Kids who are given no freedom find other ways to take risks. They meet strangers online to escape stalker parents who won’t let them out of their sight.

    @mollie-well said, as always.

  64. I also have to admit a blonde moment (and mean no offense to blondes)… I mixed up Dr. Drew with Anderson Cooper. Wrong silver fox! Dr. Drew should be ashamed of being a total A#@hole. He made it sound like Lenore was putting kids on “Survivor: Predator Island” by suggesting they play in the park without *gasp* parents.

    What scared me most is that he believe that the our beloved community parks have these boogiemen creeping around the bushes, waiting to pounce. I had flashes of the scene in the movie “A Christmas Story” where Peter saves his family with his Red Rider BB gun from the bandits in black and white stripes decending from the trees and over his fence, but change it to sexual predators at my family’s favorite park. Uggh.
    What a paranoid parenting world this is becoming.

  65. This may be too late but still a good story.

    For the past year a friend and I have been letting our kids play completely unsupervised at a park beside her townhouse complex. Her kitchen window overlooks the playground and the kids only need to cross a footpath to get there. They have been told to check in regularly and run in and out to use the bathroom all day. The only reason our kids are now completely unsupervised is because MY youngest was only 3yrs old when they started hanging out and we felt that was too much responsibility for the other kids. So we stayed outside unless the little one wanted to come in, then we let the remaining three stay outside.

    Now the kids are aged 9, 7, 7 and 4 and there have been some incidents, scrapes and minor cuts, a head bump, some fighting over what games to play and once my 7 yr old got stuck in a tree and had to be rescued.

    Last week a much larger incident happened. We were told by the two 7 yr old girls that there was a 14 yr old boy paying a lot of attention to my older child. She may be 7 but she’s about the size of a tall 5 yr old. We were told that he likes to pinch her cheeks and tell her she’s cute. This made me uncomfortable and I was about to ask her if it was appropriate when we were then told he had pulled down his pants, not his underwear, in front of her.

    This was some cause for concern as my worry is he will perhaps up the ante at some point. We were also told by my friends 9 yr old son that this boy smokes pot. We talked about how that was not ok behaviour and how it made the girls feel. Then they asked to go back outside to play. We made some new rules. They are not to speak to this boy or go near him if he is in the playground. If he tries to talk to or touch them they run inside and tell us. If he is touching another kid, they come and tell us. It was hard to let my daugher out again 30 minutes after being told this, but she needs to learn how to deal with these things.

    Yes I am watching out the window a little more often, and yes I’m a bit nervous, but I have to trust that I am arming my daughters with the skills they will need to survive this world

  66. i would love for them to contact me, me and my two sibilings were raised free-ranged and you know where the predator was that molested my sister? In our very own home, my dad’s friend did it. I will raise my three kids free range and have for almost 10years now. My step-daughter was molested when she was 8 and you know where/who her predator was? Her mother’s boyfriend in their home! and the sad part is her mother refuses to believe it happened. We have custody of her now because of other reasons and the abuse was reported only 1 month after living with us, only because she trusted us!!!! After it came out her mother still refuses to believe any of it but when she our daughter was 3yrs old her mother SCREAMED at us for putting her picture on a social site (family picture) because there are so many predators out there!!!! PLEASE CALL ME!!!

  67. I just saw a snip-it of your interview with Dr. Drew on the CNN website. I have been researching your blog and I am in agreement with your views. You were extremely articulate and good with your points.

    It is amazing how views on parenting have changed over the years. When I was a child I played all over the neighborhood from the age of 6 or so. And yeah, we got hurt and we met strangers, but we were taught and understood what to do to handle ourselves in those situations. Kids can also get hurt in their own back yards, but they need to know how to not panic and seek help. Will the day come when parents are afraid to allow kids into their own yards without supervision? Parents are afraid to parent now. They are afraid to do their jobs as parents. I am posting a cheer for you on my blog along with the link to the video if you are interested. Thank you and I appreciate your willingness to stand strong in your beliefs.

    http://justshyofperfection.com/how-parenting-changes-over-time/

  68. @dallassteph- “Will the day come when parents are afraid to all kids into their own yards without supervision?” Sadly, the day has already come. People who won’t let their school aged kids play in fenced back yards in nice neighbourhoods. It’s happening all over.

  69. @Sherri, It’s so crazy. The trend today is to “over-parent” and we are doing our kids such a dis-justice! Hence the big trend we have of “Failure to Launch” grown kids who can’t function in the workforce. Sigh. And the parents who want to teach their kids to be independent are made the villains.

  70. Not sure why, but that link in your blog was only part of the video. I found the full one here: http://www.hlntv.com/video/2012/05/22/take-our-children-parkand-leave-them-there-day-controversy

  71. We missed Take Yor Kids to the Park day. The following day, though was a major 5k run in our city. My nine year old and one of his buddies started the race with us, and were told “Meet us at the finish line. ” They happily took off without us. My son is a pro at this; this is how he and I do races together, because I am much slower than he is. He gets to the end, goes off and gets his water and banana, checks out the activities, and comes back to the finish line to meet me. Seems simple, right? but I can’t believe how many people are shocked at this. So many people think he could be abducted, and have told me I’m crazy for doing this. In front of 10,000 other runners? This is a kid that could have navigated public transportation to and from the event by himself. This is a kid who has walked to the grocery store a few blocks away, and then come home and made dinner for his siblings when his father and I were too sick to get out of bed. This is a kid who alerted me when he was contacted by someone on a kids’ social website, because he thought the email was suspicious and couldn’t have been written by a kid. I am very proud of my smart, independent son.
    His six year old brother was annoyed that he didn’t get to go off with the big boys. He isn’t as good a runner, and I can keep up with him. But, with all those people there is always a chance we could be separated. So, he too was told ” meet us at the finish line”. He didn’t lose me this time, but when he does, I think he’ll know what to do.

  72. At some point kids do need to learn, explore, and experience life on their own…and yes (gasp), that means sometimes they will fail, fall, or scrape their knees. Sometimes the difference between a brace and a crutch lies solely in the way that we use it.

  73. @Krista Dietterich Andress, I am the mother of 2 diabetics. They are Type 1s who developed this autoimmune disease. It is a disease in which the body fights off and infection, then instead of stopping, it attacks the islet cells which produce insulin, eventually causing the the individual to need injected insulin just to stay alive.

    I realize that your statistics are from the ADA website, but it appears that these are for Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 is more prevalent in children and is not caused by lifestyle habits. It is an unfortunate situation, but is not anyone’s fault.

    Please be aware that being more free-range will not protect a child from Type 1. My children are the most free-range on out street, and yet they still have it.

    For more information on Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes, please visit JDRF. (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). Education is very valuable.

  74. I’m curious if anyone did the Take Your Child to the Park And Leave Them 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/

  75. Have any of you read the comments on the HLN website about this story? Well, the sky is falling and we need to protect the children!!!! Some have tried to inject sanity into the discussion, but others just cannot be swayed from their belief that child snatchings and murders happen every day (which we would know if we “got a clue” and watched the news….).

  76. HLN comments on this story have been down/broken since yesterday, grrr. Interested to read them.

  77. The world we live in right now is no longer safe compare to when I was growing up. Letting my 8yo son play alone at the playground is not something a mother would do. His safety super seed all I ever believe in. Keeping an eye on him from our apartment window while making dinner can be a hassle but need to be done as there’s no place call ‘safe’. Too many bad people out there. Even going to school they can be taken against their will. Sometimes I wish I can just keep my son at home under my nose but is it fair to him.

  78. @Juliane: Please do some research on crime statistics. Your home and your friends and family are far more dangerous to your child than anything out there. Seeing more crime one the news every day doesn’t mean there is more crime; it might mean you have access to more information, or it might mean the media is trying to get more viewers.

    It takes a lot to free-range kids. We have to set boundaries, just like you do, but ours are just a little wider. We know we have to have really good relationships so that our children trust us enough to tell us when something is wrong. We often have to have uncomfortable discussions, because our kids know they can ask us anything. We have to be patient, because letting kids do it themselves takes far more time than doing it yourself. We worry too, but we can’t let them see it, or they will lose faith in their abilities. We have to be confident enough to take on the world ourselves, because our children learn from our example. We can’t prepare them for every single situation that could possible ever happen to them, so we teach them to think on their feet and make decisions on their own. We know they’ll make mistakes, and sometimes those will be painful, but those lessons will teach them more than any lectures will.

    We are raising our children to be self-sufficient, independent adults who aren’t afraid to go out in the world and be successful on their own.

  79. how do we get thing we need by your help
    for school

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