1. What is “Free-Range Kids”?
  2. You have been dubbed “America’s Worst Mom” by the media. How did you earn this title?
  3. Were you a Free Range kid? How can you tell if a kid IS “Free-Range”?
  4. What prompted you to found the Free Range Kids movement?
  5. What is a helicopter parent?
  6. Why were our parents different from today’s parents?
  7. Your new book has a section titled “The A-Z review of everything you might be worried about” in which you debunk many parental fears. Did you come across any particularly outrageous parental concerns?
  8. You’ve offered readers a number of “Free Range Commandments,” one of which is “Fail!” But we don’t want our kids to fail…do we?
  9. You are raising your kids in New York City, is it harder to be a Free Range parent in the city?
  10. You have experienced the media from all angles, as a newspaper columnist, a news consumer and most recently as the sensational subject of a media storm. Has your view of the media changed as a result of this?
  11. What should we do to liberate our kids without going crazy with worry?
What is “Free-Range Kids”?

Free-Range Kids is a commonsense approach to parenting in these overprotective times.

You have been dubbed “America’s Worst Mom” by the media. How did you earn this title?

About a year ago, I let my 9-year-old ride the subway by himself. He’d been asking us — my husband and me — to please take him someplace and let him find his way home by himself. So my husband and I discussed this. Our boy knows how to read a map, he speaks the language and we’re New Yorkers. We’re on the subway all the time.

That’s how it came to be that one sunny Sunday, after lunch at McDonald’s, I took him to Bloomingdales…and left him in the handbag department.

I didn’t leave him unprepared, of course! I gave him a map, a MetroCard, quarters for the phone and $20 for emergencies. Bloomingdale’s sits on top of a subway station on our local line, and it’s always crowded with shoppers. I believed he’d be safe. I believed he could figure out his way. And if he needed to ask someone for directions — which it turns out he did — I even believed the person would not think, “Gee, I was about to go home with my nice, new Bloomingdale’s shirt. But now I think I’ll abduct this adorable child instead.”

Long story short: He got home about 45 minutes later, ecstatic with independence. I wrote a little column about his adventure and two days later I was on the Today Show, NPR, MSNBC and Fox News defending myself as NOT “America’s Worst Mom.”

The notion was that I had deliberately put my son in harm’s way (possibly to “prove” something) and I was just incredibly lucky that he made it home. One NPR caller asked why I had given my son “one day of fun” even though he would probably end up dead by nightfall.

I launched my blog that weekend (www.freerangekids.com) to explain my parenting philosophy: I believe in safety. I LOVE safety — helmets, car seats, safety belts. I believe in teaching children how to cross the street and even wave their arms to be noticed. I’m a safety geek! But I also believe our kids do not need a security detail every time they leave the house. Our kids are safer than we think, and more competent, too. They deserve a chance to stretch and grow and do what we did — stay out till the street lights come on.

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Were you a Free Range kid? How can you tell if a kid IS “Free-Range”?

A Free-Range Kid is a kid who gets treated as a smart, young, capable individual, not an invalid who needs constant attention and help.
For instance, in the suburbs, many school PTAs have figured out a new way to raise money (God bless ’em): They auction off the prime drop-off spot right in front of the school — the shortest distance between car and door.

But at the mall, or movie theater or dentist’s office, that would be considered the handicapped parking spot — the one you need if you are really disabled. So somehow, in our understandable desire to do the very best for our kids, we have started treating them as if they’re handicapped! As if they couldn’t possibly walk a couple of blocks, or make their own lunch or climb a tree without hurting themselves, or struggling too much.

Free-Range Kids are sort of old-fashioned. They’re kids who are expected to WANT to grow up and do things on their own. And then, when they show us they’re ready, we allow ’em to.

I was a Free-Range Kid because we all were back when I was growing up, before cable TV started showing abductions 24/7 and finding the weirdest, saddest stories from around the world to make parents think that no child is safe doing anything on his own anymore. And it’s not just cable TV to blame: It’s most of the media we parents encounter. I read a four-page article in a parenting magazine the other day on “How to Have a Fun and Totally Safe Day in the Sun” — as if it is so hard to have a safe day outside with your kid that you need four pages of instructions! We are bombarded by warnings that make us feel our kids need constant supervision and help or they will die.

That’s true if your child is gravely ill, but otherwise it is not true — as the presence of all us former Free-Range Kids proves.

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What prompted you to found the Free Range Kids movement?

I think it was the cameramen and make-up ladies at The Today Show.

While everyone was bustling around preparing me and my son Izzy for our interview, they asked what we were there to talk about. I said, “I let him ride the subway.”

“I did that at his age!” said a couple of the cameramen. “It was fun!” The make-up ladies remembered walking to school. Everyone started reminiscing about their childhoods — the freedom, the joy, the simple fun of walking down the block to knock on a friend’s door to come out and play. And then they’d shake their heads and say, “But I would never let my kids do that today.”

Why not?

“Times have changed.”

They’re right of course — nothing stays the same. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, crime was on the rise. It went up and up until it peaked around 1990. The strange thing, though, is that since then, it’s been going back down. Dramatically. Today we are back to the crime level of 1970, according to Dept. of Justice statistics. So — unbelievable as it seems — if you were playing outside as a kid in the ’70s or ’80s, your kids are actually SAFER outside than you were!

It doesn’t feel that way (at ALL), because when our parents were raising us, there was no CSI. Law & Order was something you believed in, not something on the air 8 nights a week, made to look depressingly real. The other day I got a letter from a guy in an old Brooklyn neighborhood where they shoot a lot of Law & Order scenes. On TV, it’s always the backdrop for a rape or murder. In real life, he said, it’s a safe, quiet safe neighborhood — and therein lies the tale: There’s a big disconnect between the horrors on TV and the reality we live in — the safest time for children (in America, that is) in the history of this disease-plagued, famine-prone, war-wracked world.

I founded the Free-Range Kids movement in part to be one small voice saying, “Hey! I know we are all scared for our kids! But maybe we don’t have to be quite so terrified!” It’s an attempt to figure out how we got so much more worried for our kids in just one generation, and to separate the real dangers from the ones foisted upon us by the media, and by other folks with things to sell (like baby safety product manufacturers who have to scare us about a remote danger like “traumatic head injury from toddling” before we’ll buy their products, like the “ThudGuard” — a helmet for kids to wear all day when they’re learning to walk).

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What is a helicopter parent?

It’s a sort of disparaging term for parents who believe their child is so vulnerable — to injury, to teasing, to disease and disappointment — that they have to sort of hover (like a helicopter) over the child, ready to swoop in if anything remotely “bad” happens.

I’ve heard of helicopter parents who call their children’s college professors to complain about a grade their kid got on a paper. A paper they might have even helped the kid write.

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Why were our parents different from today’s parents?

Our parents were watching Dallas and Dynasty, where the biggest crime was big hair. Today’s parents are drowning in bad news that comes to us instantaneously from around the world. We hear about abductions in Portugal and Aruba. I can instantly name you five girls who met ghastly ends — Caylee, Maddie, Natalee, Jon Benet, Jaycee — but our parents could never do that.

When your brain is saturated with horrifying stories like those, it is hard to focus on the millions of children NOT murdered. We don’t know THEIR names. We know the ones who are GONE. So when we try to decide, “Gee, is it safe for my child to walk to school?” we flash on the stories we have heard. Also — one interesting brain fact: The most memorable stories come to mind first. And whatever comes to mind first we usually think of as the most common. That’s just human nature, but it’s also wrong.

Anyway, in addition to all these gruesome images, we also live in crazy lawsuit time. That means that we have gotten used to schools and park districts banning things with even the tiniest chance of causing an accident that might cause a parent to sue. So our playgrounds are stripped of merry-go-rounds and slides that are higher than a worm. And we get so used to all these “safety” precautions (which are actually lawsuit precautions) that we start thinking of everyday childhood as inherently unsafe.

If you buy the DVD “Sesame Street: Old School” you’ll see kids having the world’s best time. It’s a collection of Sesame Street highlights from its first years, 1969 — 1974, and it shows kids playing Follow the Leader through a vacant lot, climbing through a giant pipe, balancing on a piece of wood, laughing as they wind their way through some sheets on the line to dry. Of course they’re happy: This was public television trying to model ideal childhood for pre-schoolers. It was put on the air after countless psychologists and child specialists signed off on it. But at the very beginning of the DVD, before you see any of this, there’s a warning:

“For adult viewing only.”

In just one generation, what was considered a normal, happy, HEALTHY childhood has become considered WILDLY dangerous. Litigiously dangerous.

We’re swimming in fear soup — fear of lawsuits, fear of injury, fear of abductions, fear of blame. (People love to blame parents for not being “responsible” enough.) And Free-Range Kids is trying to paddle out.

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Your new book has a section titled “The A-Z review of everything you might be worried about” in which you debunk many parental fears. Did you come across any particularly outrageous parental concerns?

One very huge concern is baby formula. So many of my friends couldn’t breastfeed and were consumed with guilt for “making” their kids drink formula. But 80% of moms are using some formula by the time their children are 6 months old. That’s a lot of guilt about something very common and not harmful. A lot of parents today (including me) were raised on formula. It’s not rat poison.

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You’ve offered readers a number of “Free Range Commandments,” one of which is “Fail!” But we don’t want our kids to fail…do we?

We sure do!

It’s true, one of my Free-Range Commandments is, “Fail! It’s the New ‘Succeed!'”

We don’t want our kids to ONLY fail, of course. But if they don’t fail sometimes, they won’t learn that they can get back up and go on with their lives.

For instance, we don’t want our kids to fall off a bike. Who does? But we do want them to learn how to ride. So we have two choices: We can hold onto their handlebars…forever. That way they’ll never, ever fall. Or we can wish them luck and then — let go.

Chances are, if we do that, they will, at some point, fall. When they get up again, they’ll have two huge things going for them:

  1. They’ll know they can fall and get back up again. If that’s not a life lesson, what is?
  2. They’ll be learning how to actually ride a bike.

Most things in life take some tumbles before we get it right. As Thomas Edison said, when asked how it felt to fail 10,000 times before he figured out the light bulb, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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You are raising your kids in New York City, is it harder to be a Free Range parent in the city?

It’s not that hard anywhere. It just takes some time on the parents’ part. For us in the city, Free-Range means teaching our kids how to take public transportation. But in the ‘burbs it involves teaching them how to ride their bikes. And in either place, we also teach kids how to be safe in the very unlikely event they encounter someone creepy.

I interviewed Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. You know — the folks who put the kids’ pictures on the milk cartons (and failed to mention the vast majority were runaways or taken by the non-custodial parent in a divorce case. Oh well.)

Anyway, when I said that I think “stranger danger” is way overblown, Allen — to my great surprise — totally agreed! “Our message is exactly the one you’re trying to convey,” said he. “We have been trying to debunk they myth of ‘stranger danger.'”

What do we both suggest? Teach your kids TO talk to strangers. That way, if they’re ever creeped out by someone in the proverbial white van, they can run to the man across the street, raking his leaves, and say, “Help! I’m being followed!” Or they can run into a shop and say, “Call the police!” Or, “Can I please borrow your phone?”

Confident kids who feel at home in the world are SAFER than coddled kids who have been taught they are dainty prey without mom or dad by their side. When Allen interviewed children who had escaped potential abductions, here’s what they had in common: They stood up for themselves. They kicked, screamed, bit, and ran.

So teach your kids to do that. Same way you teach them to, “Stop, drop and roll” in the unlikely even they ever find themselves on fire. And then — send them out to build that muscle called confidence.

“Our message to parents is you don’t have to live in fear. You don’t have to feel you have to lock your children in a room.”

That’s not me talking. That’s the guy who put the pictures on the milk cartons.

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You have experienced the media from all angles, as a newspaper columnist, a news consumer and most recently as the sensational subject of a media storm. Has your view of the media changed as a result of this?

Wow! That’s a question I never got before. I guess I hadn’t quite realized how much the media loves parenting controversies. It loves to pit me against a “helicopter” parent, as if we are two different species. But the fact is, helicopter parents and Free-Rangers are not that different. We BOTH want our kids to be safe, and happy, and responsible. It’s just a question of what we see as dangerous. Helicopters see disappointment as dangerous. I see it as bracing (even though I do hate watching my kids when they can’t get what they want, or are really mad at themselves). Helicopter parents also see the outside world as unspeakably dangerous. I see it as a place children have always explored and messed around in. I was talking to a representative from Tide last week and he told me kids are not getting as dirty as they used to! That’s sad.

Anyway, back to the media: Someone wrote to my blog with this great analogy: If a Martian came to earth and wanted to understand what life is like down here, you could give him this choice. Does he want to know how 99.9 percent of people live their lives? Or does he want to know about the .1%?

Chances are, he’d want to hear about the 99.9%. But when we turn on the TV, we see the .1% — the horrible stories that make the news, the horrible plots that keep us glued to CSI. And then we turn off the TV and say, “What a crazy world we live in.”

That’s why one of the “How to Start Going Free-Range” tips I give in my book is so simple: Next time you are going to watch one of those crime shows, turn off the TV and take a walk outside instead — maybe with your kids. Talk to some neighbors, look around, get a feel for the place again. THIS is the world you’re living in, not the one on TV.

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What should we do to liberate our kids without going crazy with worry?

Besides read my book, you mean?

Well, I do give a lot of tips in it, and I’ll give a few of them here.

  1. Warn your family beforehand, then turn off your cell phone for a day. Better still, leave it on the nightstand so you won’t be tempted to press, “On.” Why? Mostly because one morning my 10-year-old called to ask me, “Mom? Can I have another piece of banana bread?” And I realized: Our kids are getting used to us making ALL their decisions. Even the banana bread ones. Time to stop treating them like toddlers. (At least, once they actually AREN’T toddlers.)
  2. When you’re standing around with a bunch of other parents all waiting for soccer to start, or school to open, or the bus to come pick them up, volunteer to watch all the kids yourself. Give the other parents a little break. This way you are creating community. It’s your way of saying we’re all in this together and we can help each other out. It’s also a way of saying, “Look, I don’t think anything so horrible is about to happen here at this bus stop that we need five adults to fight for the lives of five or six children.”

    If the other parents are too nervous to accept your kind offer, flip it around. Ask them to watch your kid! This creates a sense of shared responsibility, too. And gives you time to go to Starbucks.

  3. Get a little perspective on this strange, scared parenting era we are living in by visiting a baby superstore with your oldest living relative. (Yes, always best if they’re living.) Go around looking at all the things like baby knee pads and infra-red video baby monitors asking, “Which of these things did YOU need when you were raising us?” (Be prepared for a little scorn.)
  4. Visit my website! Freerangekids.com. You’ll find lts of stories of people gradually letting their kids go — and them coming back safe and sound.
    Good luck to all us parents — and kids!

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250 Responses

  1. Hi Lenore,
    I love your site and thought you might like to know that there are some places in the world where kids are encouraged to become free range. I live in Switzerland, just outside of Zurich. My just turned five-year old daughter goes to kindergarten and will very soon be expected to start walking to and fro by herself. At the end of a session the teacher simply lets the kids walk out the door, without a second thought as to how they will get home. And once kids are back home it is the norm for them to be seen on the streets, going to visit friends or to soccer or whatever, or – wait for it – playing in the streets (albeit the quiet ones).

    So how is this possible? Well, the kids receive lots of training when they first start school on how to cross the road safely, and much of what they do in class is geared towards building their confidence and independence. Even better, this level of independence is actively supported and expected by the whole community.

    And it all starts way before school age. In playgrounds it is common to see parents not jumping in to referee every exchange their child has with another child, or to watch their every step on the climbing frame. In fact, I’ve never seen such out there playground equipment as I have since coming here.

    As you can imagine, there is much outrage amongst the many parents from the UK, America and Australia at this high level of ‘neglect’, but it is also encouraging to see that some of these same expats start to change their minds as soon as they get to see the system working up close. By the way, this is also a system in which kids don’t start formal reading and writing until they are nearly seven-years old.

    It really makes my heart glad to see kids out walking by themselves and also making decisions for themselves. And my daughter can’t wait to wave mummy goodbye.

    Kate Paine (an Australian living in Switzerland)

  2. I remember that subway story. My wife and I were outraged at the outrage. We’re in for a whole world of incompetent future adults if these helicopter parents have their way.

  3. Hi Lenore
    I love the sight as many do, love the basic theology behind letting kids actually grow and learn independently!!

    I caught a brief glimpse of you on a documentary called Lost on the Playground, I only saw about 15 minutes of it , but would like to know more. I can’t find any information on it anywhere…google Lost on the Playground and I get something about being Lost in the Playboy Mansion ( not quite the same thing)….

    Do you have any information about what I am actually looking for?

  4. Hi Lenore,
    My name’s Kelsey. I am not a free range kid (well, teenager now). Growing up, I was never really allowed to wander much. My parents weren’t helicopter parents, they just didn’t let me explore. In fact, I only learned how to ride my bike to the library a few months ago. I have never in my life been given the liberty to explore around in the woods, even though I don’t think I want anything as much as that (I’m a nature freak). In fact, one of my favorite times during childhood was when I used to hang out with my cousin at the culd-de-sac in front of her house, because we were allowed to just run around. There was only one mom out at a time, and she was guarding the stop sign at the end of the street (the street let out into a major road). To this day, I miss running around there.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that even though I’ve never experience being a free-ranged kid, I think you’re right. And I fully intend to raise my kids up as free-range kids when I grow up.

  5. This is awesome! I don’t have any kids of my own but one of my favorite quotes is constantly being challenged by those living in fear. “Never trade the thrills of living for the security of existence” We have a daycare center at my worksite and it is in a constant state of fear, no matter what it is. Today the woodchips, that protect the KIDS from falls, is being questioned for mold because in the “Pacific Northwet” the chips stay damp under the surface and they are decomposing, turning black, so now we have a “mold” scare. I’m researching “other” resilient flooring for under the play equipment but I’m running into all sorts of “fear” about the different mediums. Rubber pellets, pea gravel, shredded tire mats they are all so “dangerous” (please) that I don’t know if a solution really exists that the parents will support.

    This search led me to your site! You deserve a huge THANK YOU, for what you are doing. My fear has been that our kids wont be able to function on their own, wont be able to make decisions or realize that the “bumps” we go through in life are actually our biggest lessons. again, THANK YOU

    ps. here’s one for the record books…. on our worksite we have a piece of equipment that detects wind shear for airplanes. It bounces a sound off of the atmosphere. It sounds off once an hour and when it was first installed the daycare personnel stated that the kids were scared of the noise because it reminded them of the old sci-fi film “Them” with the radioactive ants. The kids aren’t big enough to have ever seen the movie, it was the adults!

  6. I am thankful for this website. I was a free range kid. I have two children and have been scorned for letting them go outside by themselves.

    I know part of the problem with the “helicopterization” of parents is the lists of pedophiles and predators. I have done quick searches for comparisons and was unable to find any data–has anyone ever compared the child predator rate of then (when we were children) and now. By predators I mean true child sex offenders (not teenage lust) and kidnapping, etc. Are the numbers the same or are we more aware of it because of the numerous media outlets?

    Should I be nervous. I am always in tears when I see anguished parents on TV. It is a pain that I would not care to remotely imagine. I think such images cause the rest of us to “helicopter.” Are our fears irrational or are there more sick people out there compared to previous decades?


  7. Hey Lenore: I am sure you saw this tidbit. I’m glad the CPSC is out there but I just know this is going to blow up.


  8. How soon does the chance trial expire?

  9. […] As for a specific strategy to get nervous parents started, Lenore suggests leaving your cell phone home for a day, giving your child the opportunity to problem-solve on his or her own. (More concrete free-range parenting ideas can be found in the FAQ section at Free-Range Kids.) […]

  10. This is just WOW I cant even describe what im feeling right now!!!!! I’m so excited to know there is someone else out there who has the same thoughts and thinking as I do. Thank you for sharing I hope to connect with you soon over a phone conversation.

    Two Words One Voice
    Got Play? use is fearlessly!

  11. So I am in the middle of reading your book when I receive this email from our local soccer club: “As a club we as volunteers have made a decision to reach out to your child or children and teach them the game of soccer among other things. However, as a club we also need to make it clear to the parents that dropping you child off for a game or practice will not be tolerated at the younger levels. If you make arrangments with the coach prior to leaving, would be the only exception. There should always be a parent or gaurdian at the location. This is for the safety of your child and all our volunteers. ”
    I’ve responded to the email asking just what they mean by “younger levels” (our club goes down to age 3) since I think my 9 year old is fully responsible enough to attend practices on her own.

    Living in rural Lancaster County Pennsylvania, I can’t help but contrast our modern society with the local plain society (Amish and Mennonite), whose kids still free range all over the place. No one sees it as a crime when a plain kid is allowed to operate a roadside stand by herself at age 9, but I can’t even drop my kid off at soccer practice by herself. Geez!

    Keep up the good fight, Lenore!

  12. Dear Lenore:

    I met you at the JCC of Rochester last night where you were phenomenal. (I was the chick in the black hat who made you sign a different page than the title page.) Anyway, I wanted to tell you my story that brought me to your book.

    From kindergarten through 3rd grade, my son attended an elementary school where the principal wouldn’t allow children to ride buses home to other kids’ houses for after school play-dates.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in the vaguely supervised play-date where kids hang out, have to figure out what they want to do, sometimes they even disagree and have to work through it all to come to some kind of consensus. I believe this is called interacting with other human beings. I never felt the need to intervene unless someone was screaming and/or holding something long and sharp in a threatening manner. But I digress.

    The only way the aforementioned principal would allow children to visit other kids’ houses was if a parent/guardian picked up BOTH children from the school after having BOTH parents sign elaborate permission slips and waivers.

    Now here’s my thing, I would have much preferred for my son to go home on a bus with another child than in another parent’s car. First of all, when the kids were young, there was the whole issue of child seats. As the parent of one child, I didn’t (initially) have an extra seat hanging around. I quickly learned if I ever wanted my only child to get “hang out time” with another child, I would have to buy another safety seat. So I did. Having said that, when my son went to other kids’ houses, I didn’t necessarily know the parents all that well (OMIGOSH! CAN YOU IMAGINE? I SENT MY SON TO A HOUSE WHERE I DIDN’T KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE PARENT?) so I never knew what they were doing about car seats. I didn’t even know if they were good drivers. Hell, I didn’t even know if they had drivers’ licenses – but I assumed they were like me, and that meant they would drive carefully and somewhere close to the speed limit. Still, I hated the idea that someone had to go out of his/her way to get into the car (potentially dragging along other children) to come to the school and wait in a long line of cars until that person’s child and his/her friend were escorted to the car. It just seemed awfully tiresome. I mean, whether my kid was on the bus or not, the bus was still going to stop at our house. It’s not like they were altering the route to conserve gas or something.

    Knowing that these trained, licensed bus drivers were paid by our tax dollars to deliver children to their homes after school, for the life of me, I could not figure out the problem with adding a few more kids to the mix.

    Well, we got into it – the principal and I. She said the school buses were not to be used for the convenience of children’s play-dates.
    Bottom line, she was uncomfortable breaking what she called “the chain of supervision.”

    “But if parents send in permission slips, then you have our approval. We understand the RISK we are taking by allowing our kids to go on a different bus than their usual one.”

    This is when I got an earful about how she did not allow any “walkers” – despite the fact that some children lived in a neighborhood immediately behind the school. She said the “logistics” involved with getting kids onto different buses was “too complicated” and an administrative nightmare. I asked her how it was that all the other elementary schools in the district managed to allow kids of go on each others’ buses. Finally, she screeched that she had seen it fail so many times; kids crying because the child they were supposed to go home with wouldn’t sit with them on the bus; kids missing their stops because they were talking and not paying attention. She had seen children go home sick during the day leaving the “visiting child” in a state of panic, wondering which bus to take home. It all ended in a lot of hurt feelings and anxiety, she asserted, and she simply wasn’t willing to do it TO THE CHILDREN.

    “What if I am willing to take that risk,” I continued. “What if I would like my child to have the experience of riding a bus home with another child; what if I would like for him to feel he could trust his friend, the other bus driver and the other parent. What if I’m okay with the whole kit-and-kaboddle? What if I sign documents?”

    At this point, the principal looked me dead in the eye and said, “These are my policies. If you don’t like them, maybe you should move.”

    So guess what? WE DID! We moved four miles away to a school within the same district that had a rational principal who allows parents to come and go (with ID of course), encourages kids to stay after school and socialize with each other in different types of activities. In this school, some children come early to act as safety patrol and they are allowed to open the doors for “strangers” like delivery guys and people they don’t even know. They are even taught to be polite to these people. And, the best part, this school has little yellow pads of pre-printed permission slips made specifically for the use of kids wanting to spend some time after school at each others houses – and you can check a box indicating your plan: that your child will be picked up, ride on the bus, or walk on foot or even bicycle! (CAN YOU IMAGINE?) I almost cried when I got that little yellow pad.

    My son will soon graduate from this school. He has developed so many wonderful skills, and I believe that his transition to middle school will be easier because he has been given some freedom – not just by me – but from the administrators in his own school who seem to agree, “We trust you, and we believe that we – along with your parents – are teaching you everything you need to know to be safe and successful in the world.” (And if you screw up, we’ll deal with the offenders on a case by case basis instead of creating broad sweeping policies that negatively impact everyone. Ahhhhhhhhhh!)

    I recently ran into the former principal who condescendingly asked me “if life was really so much better” at the new school.

    What was I supposed to do? Lie?

    “Yes, it is.” I said. “It really is.”

    The first principal created a school climate and culture that made me feel like I was the crazy one. Absolutely BONKERS! How dare I ask for some independence for our children. Thank you for writing your book, for being a mom who seems just like all the other moms with whom I hang,and for having precisely the right personality to CONVINCE the public that our kids will be okay. They really will.

  13. Wow.

    I recently listened to one of your interviews on CJOB and I was in awe.

    I am not a parent, but may be someday, and my biggest worry is that my (future) kids aren’t going to live in a world that allows people to grow up like I did – feeling independant and clever and useful. I discussed this with my hubby-to-be and we had a great time discussing “the way we were” (his parents dubbed him “Action Boy”, I would have been “The Opinionator”), and we talked about how tragic it is that there are zero kids visible in our area – even with a beautifully remodelled community center a block away!

    When I was young I was given a choice by my parents whenever I asked for something – do chores or start my own mini-business to make money (which I ALWAYS chose, they included bike wash, kool-ade stand, dog walker, paper route, arts and crafts salesperson). I walked home alone from my first day of grade one because our movers had arrived and my mom “fogot me”, I am alive to tell the tale.

    The proudest I have ever felt was the summer I was 18 and getting ready to move out and my mom turned to me and said “I will never need to worry about you (although I always will) because you have been from day one a smart, indepedant girl who makes good choices. I trust your judgement and I will miss you.”

    It depresses me that so many people only slightly older than myself will never know whether or not their children have the capacity to make good choices, because they’ve never given them the chance to try.

    Thank you for being a glimmer of sanity in a sea of cell phone toting 6-year-olds.

  14. would you be willing to donate a copy of your book so we can raffle it to a lucky member the month we choose your book to our book-club? As busy moms I think this would be a great choice especially with summer upon us.


  15. Brilliant! I just found your blog via a link on Offbeat Mama…and I’ve already added you to my favorites!

    I was raised by a hellicopter parent, but I sought street-smarts on my own, and longed for independence. I ultimately got my own place at age 18, but was always haunted by my mother: “Some day, when you’re a parent, you’ll understand”.

    But now that I have four children of my own, the oldest being 12, I still don’t get what the heck that crazy woman was (is) thinking, and all I really “understand” is that she was a control freak and a psycho! Anything that I had to learn to be a capable person, I learned on my own. And I’ve learned that open communication is what is keeping MY kids safe. I trust them, I educate them, they come to me with their fears and concerns, and I teach them how to be problem solvers and stick up for themselves. Because I’m not always going to be here.

    My own hellicopter mother is constantly criticizing my mothering skills. Why do I let my ‘tween walk to the bus stop (4 houses away)? Do I really let my 5-year-old out in our (fenced-in) yard unsupervised?
    And every. single. time. she comes over the house, she goes around locking my doors. Really lady? I can’t imagine living my life in constant fear or subjecting my kids to that!

  16. @ Jules: I sympathize! However, when I was little, my mother was anything BUT a helicopter parent. When I was 12 1/2 my brother was born (my only sibling). Somehow, my mother transformed into a helicopter parent overnight — quite a shock to a teenager already USED to freedom. She, too, questions my every free-range parenting decision. Hang in there.

    I DO have one question, if anyone (Lenore or anyone else) is willing to give an opinion. I have a 13 year old boy who wants to ride his bike along the bike trail in town with friends. Unfortunately, to get to the bike trail, he has to cross a busy, major road where drivers typically go WELL over the 45 mph speed limit. It’s also a curvy road, so there’s not necessarily enough visibility to safely *walk* across, especially if they are going over 45 mph (sometimes, there’s barely enough visibility to clear a speeding car even if you floor it when *driving* across). Would it be “helicopter parenting” to help him cross this highway and then let him go on alone with his friends from there? I’ve never been much of a hovering parent, but this scares me. It’s not him I don’t trust. It’s the crazy drivers!

  17. I absolutely love the idea of “free range” parenting. I have four children and for a long time I tortured myself that I was not enough for them. That because I could not have hours of one-on-one time with them, that they would grow up feeling unloved and unworthy. I spent so much time worrying how to make them happy that I never realized they already are! The day I finally just let go was a revelation. They were doing just fine on their own. My kids knew their mamma was there, and that’s all they needed to know.
    My 9 year-old daughter rides her bike or scooter without direct supervision, my 3 year-old twins can dress themselves and put away their toys just fine on their own, and my baby will be just ok in her crib for 5 more minutes so I can finish my coffee.
    By the way, the funniest “helicoptering” I’ve noticed is that in our private neighborhood (only one way in or out) of about 15 to 20 houses, there is a chain of cars every morning and every afternoon at the bus stop waiting on precious to get on or off. I get it if they are in kindergarten, I get it if its raining or snowing, but I absolutely cannot fathom why a healthy 8 year old can’t walk 5 houses down on a sunny day!?! Guess what, my kid does. In fact, I think she would die of embarassment for me to walk her to the bus stop…but I’m proud of that. It means she can do things on her own and she gets a sense of empowerment from that!

  18. Hey Lenore, have you read this article from Violent Acres?


  19. Thank you. I just came across the site and now I have a better understanding of what is going on. I am naturally a freerangeparent and have noticed a few things that I considered strange (until the site explained it to me.
    1) a lady in the mall this weekend saw my child about 10 feet from me and asked her where her mother was and marched her to me (I thought she was crazy, apparently she thought the same, LOL).
    2. Our church has quite a few weekday family functions, I let my childgo to the bathroom alone. People keep bring her back to me saying “I found her in the hallway”, poor child can’t even go to the potty. Once I got a phone call from the children’s ministry coordinator expressing concern for my child stating “You never know what will happen”. It really irritated me and I got a bit dismissive. Now that I understand,it is a problem with perspective, I am looking to be prepared. I want to find a kind and decent way of expressing my desire to raise my child to be independent.

  20. Dear Lenore,

    Will you please tell my husband that we can get a trampoline? I promise I’ll supervise the kids when they’re using it.

    Thank you,


  21. Seriously, I think I’m in love.

    Everything that you’re putting out there is everything I believe in, everything I want for my sons. I’ve been told I’m nuts, that I’m asking for something horrible to happen. Why? Because I let my almost 5 year old son, play outside, in our yard ALL BY HIMSELF (or with the neighbor kiddos). We live in the middle of nowhere, on a cul de sac, where everyone knows that there are small kids living and playing yet over and over I hear only the negative, that I’m neglectful simply for letting my kid be a kid!

    One of my like-minded girlfriends and I often take our kids to the park where we sit with the babies in the shade (it IS southern Georgia after all…and neither of us are southern gals) about 100 feet from the playground where our boys play. Usually we’re the only ones sitting at the pavilion…we’ve had other moms tell us things like “wah wah anything can happen…” yeah well they’re smart kids and they know where we are. Heck they can even SEE us. It’s absolutely nuts! Oh yeah, this park? On an Army base. With guards. Where you can’t get on base without a military id or a damn good reason for being there. Yes, I’m obviously the insane one for letting my kid play at a park there when I’m more than 10 feet away.

    Ok enough of the rambling…see that’s what happens when the baby sleeps and momma has 10 minutes of quiet and the computer haha.

    THANK YOU for being an amazing voice of reason!

  22. I read you book last month and really enjoyed it. I just read the following headline “Vets Say Playing Fetch With a Stick is Dangerous”
    I was wondering if you have considered a follow up book
    “Free Range Pets”

  23. As a parent, I really appreciate the message of this website. Kids are way too overprotected these days. As a result they’re not learning good social skills to deal with (first) playground dynamics and (ultimately) conflict resolution. Over-protected kids even show some speech patterns that you don’t see as often with kids who are allowed to roam free. As a middle-school English teacher, I see this quite often.

    The one thing I must disagree with you about, and it’s a side point, is your stand on homework. A “No Homework” philosophy is a little too simplistic. I completely agree that homework should be meaningful, valid and interesting, but a blanket statement of no homework won’t work. There’s a lot of (state mandated) curriculum to cover, and kids need to do reinforcing activities at home to assist in learning facts and skills. When I teach a novel, class time is mostly for discussing the novel. I do sometimes give time for in-class reading, but most books are just too long to complete in class. Should schools stop teaching lengthy novels because students have to read them at home?

    Again, that’s a side issue. I enjoy your philosophy a lot. I used to take the subway in New York when I was eleven along with my similarly-aged friend and nine year-old brother. We used to even walk across the Brooklyn Bridge alone, and have the time of our lives. When I was a little older, I would wander the swamps of Central Florida with my best friend. We’d get dirty, bruised, and tired, but had the time of our lives. We learned science, stalking skills, direction, forest sense, and independence. It was even more fun when we went out at night — no flashlights allowed! Yes, there were rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders and other nasty critters (some human), but we learned how to take care of ourselves in nature.

  24. Hi Lenore, Thought you might enjoy this article from today’s NY Times, which touches on how cell phone texting keeps kids constantly checking in with their parents. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/nyregion/27bigcity.html?src=me&ref=general The author made some of the same points I’ve seen made here on FRK.

  25. Hey Lenore,

    As a former Mainer I was entertained when a friend sent me this profile. All about protecting our children 😉


  26. Hi Lenore, thought you might be interested in this. Here in Australia they are promoting “Walk Safely to School” day this month in the interest of promoting exercise. However, on the commercial they are stating that children under the age of 10 are now allowed to cross the road without holding an adults hand!

    Now I am all for holding my 18mth old daughters hand when crossing the road and that goes for when she is 2 and 3 years old but my 4 year old is perfectly capable of walking at my side when crossing the road without running into traffic. And according to this rule, my 7 year old isn’t even allowed to cross our very quiet road to play with the neighbours kids without me as he can’t cross the road without my assistance. It’s a bit of a cramp on our free range style!

    The website: http://www.walk.com.au

    And the adverts about holding hands:

  27. Refreshing. We moved from Montclair, NJ (lifelong residents) to Richmond, VA three years ago when our 4th was due. The difference is amazing. We live on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood with a gazillion children. They run and play in packs of 2 to 12. It’s a throwback to my childhood growing up on a park in Montclair. We really miss Montclair and often talk about moving back, but I’d hate to give up the lifestyle that the kids have down here. I guess is you can do it in NYC, we should be able to do it back in Montclair. And to the mom who wrote about soccer practice above, they don’t allow you to stay at practice down here. You must drop them off and leave and we’re all fine with that!

  28. Hi Lenore,
    Thank you for your informative post about the mother who had to petition the school board to let her son bike to school. I remember walking or biking in elementary school and I remember enjoying it. The journey between home and school was a daily adventure.
    On a personal note I was recently presented with a similar issue. I live on the same street as my daughter’s elementary school. One afternoon I was eating lunch with my daughter and the school principal approached me. Right there in the lunch room I was called on to handle what I consider a big community issue. It appears the principal called the city about placing “no parking” signs in front of my house. The city refused because the school does not own the property. The principal asked if I would call the city and have a “no parking” sign placed in my front yard.
    Apparently, the parked cars block the flow of traffic when the kids are dropped off and picked up. The school wants to encourage the traffic to keep moving. While I agree we have a traffic issue, I disagree with the solution. For one brief moment, I admit the question “do you think it is a good idea to have kids jumping in and out of moving cars?” crossed my mind. Fortunately, I remembered not everyone appreciates my sense of humor and I didn’t want to undermine the principal so I bit my tongue.
    I don’t blame the school or the principal. In fact, I see the principal and the teachers as good people with tough jobs. I feel this as a community related problem. Why are we turning our communities into fast food restaurants? Do we really want drive thru schools? Our neighborhoods can be a great place for kids with the school at the center. I think we should encourage children to be outside the school. I think stopping traffic and getting to know one another is an excellent idea. Please take a moment to get to know your neighbors. I am just one house from the school, if you see me and my daughter in the yard come on over, we have plenty of parking and apple juice for everyone.
    I was thinking of sending a copy of this letter to the principal, what do you think?

  29. I really love your site, though I have to admit, I was sad when I found out there was a website focusing on Free Range Kids. I was sad because the situation for kids had gotten so restricted that your site was even necessary. It just seems so darned obvious to me, but then again, I’m one of a rare few parents in our Seattle neighborhood of extreme helicopter parents who thinks like you. Keep up the great work.

  30. I love your column (believe me, the restrictions on kids don’t stop once they hit the teen years – I’m all for freer and freer ranging as kids get older, but not all parents are!). In regards to your wonderful Salon.com post about playgrounds and kids, I’m working with Justin Roberts. He’s about to release a new CD called “Jungle Gym.” I’d love to send a copy to you….did you know that the Jungle gym was invented by a Chicago attorney in 1920?

  31. Dear Lenore,

    My daughter is six and a half, we just moved from a tiny Illinois farm town where everyone knew everyone to Houston, Texas. We live in a apartment complex filled with people I don’t know. I am 7 months pregnant and unable to chase anyone around outside. I used to get nervous letting my daughter run around the grounds with the few other kids who are allowed outside.

    I bought her a set of walkie talkies at Christmas and it is helping me let go. Whenever I get nervous about what she’s doing, I radio her and ask where they’re playing, she radios back with their location and I exhale. She likes the walkie talkies and the other kids beg her to call me on them, they think their neat. I know this is a little step, but I am trying. Your blog helps.

    Reading every day reminds me how good it is for both of us to have our own space and experiences and how important is it for me to trust her. As the days go by, I radio her less and less and she always radios me to tell me where they’re playing. She always makes it home from the shared play space just next to our building in one piece. She’s made friends fast and often goes to knock on a door to see if so and so can come outside to play.

    Best of all I am happy to have one tired, hungry and often muddy kid come in for dinner and a bath at 6:00 every night. Thank you for encouraging both of us to have our independence.

    One Recovering Helicopter Parent in the City

  32. I’ve read a little bit about your style of parenting, and it just makes me continue to analyze even more– my style of parenting and what I want as my kids become adults. I’m probably a “helicopter” parent, however, I try to keep the noise down. I hover periodically, for my sanity.

    I’m not a total “free range” parent, nor will I strive to be, because that is not right for our situation. Our life, location, job, training, etc call for a bit of hovering, but not necessarily interjection. I’m often telling the kids, while they’re outside playing in the cul-d-sac or our “forest” to “work it out” (whatever argument got loud enough for me to hear while I’ve been busy inside). What I remind myself at this time in my children’s lives is “Common Sense” must rule. Yeah, they’re going to get hurt no matter how ‘careful’ and “hawk-ish” we are (I’ve got the scars to prove it!).

    But even in our (husband’s & mine) protectiveness of our children, we are also very much for their freedom for non-directed play. They’re not part of any sports’ teams or organized play. Most particularly during the summer, my refrain is “Go outside and play!” Yet, I periodically look out the windows to ensure there’s no massive bleeding, protruding bones, and that they’re not lighting any fires (literally, because like, we live in the woods– my son has already tried this one with a neighbor kid). I also want to ensure there are no unscrupulous characters around (aside from the ones who live in the area, but mostly keep to themselves)– there are many of those in this area.

    My state has the highest rate of pedophiles, unfortunately, and many of them are repeat offenders who are released into our society. I remind myself, however, there are risks in life. Life is terminal, in fact. I also remind myself I have trained my children since they were small of how to defend themselves and to get away if someone tries to hurt them or take them away– not just a “one discussion over dinner” but repeatedly so it gets stuck in their heads.

    That comes of being parents who are military, I guess. In my view, if someone attempts to hurt my child, he/she deserves whatever my child dishes out (including death). This past year, I was aware that this training has paid off! Some boys my son’s age (11/12-ish) were harassing my younger daughter (9 y/0) while they were out in “The Forest,” asking her if she knew what a “dick” was and if she wanted to see one– she picked up a nearby fallen tree (sapling, I suppose) and chased them off! As she ran by, her brother and his friend handed her a smaller but longer stick because it would be easier for her to carry as she chased off would-be molesters.

    So what is my point in all this? I think people need to use Common Sense. Be aware of potential dangers in your area, communicate with your children about those dangers (and if possible, teach them defenses– the easiest one being “Make a Scene”; screaming and yelling traditionally ‘offensive’ words), and then let them have fun and learn and grow. Keep it age-appropriate for the child (not all “9-year-old”‘s are mentally 9-years-old).

    Somehow, my husband managed to survive childhood (which included playing ‘barbarians’ with large chains, shovel handles and trash can lids), and I survived mine, so I figure my kids will do all right, too.


  33. I live in a very safe neighborhood, nice sidewalks, low crime, it is actually wonderful. Nice bike trails, parks, tennis courts, we have it all. We are belssed, BUT, I am paralized by fear to let my kids play outdoors to enjoy all we have to offer in our small town. Afraid of what? The neighborhood pond, the overflowing creek in the woods behind the house, the tall trees they climb, the hunters in the woods behind our neighborhood, kidnappers, cars driving too fast, pedofiles, wackos, snakes in the creek, bike accidents , trampolines, the neighbors deep swimming pools, the list goes on and on…. (kids ages 6, 9, 12) Dont get me wrong, I DO let them play outside, I just dread every moment they are out of sight!! I purchased your book and hope that it can help me to get over MY fears and let my children have a nice NORMAL childhood! Every time I hear of some freak childhood accident or a kidnapping I go back to “lock down” and make the kids stay in the yard! I would love to move to a “free range ” approach.

    I heard you on Laura Ingram show and cant wait to get your book! Thanks for approaching this topic. I know you are right, it is just a hard pill to swallow!

    Wish me luck! 🙂

  34. I just found your blog last week after seeing a blurb in the Readers’ Digest. I love it! I have not stopped thinking about all the information you have posted and I have forwarded it to several people I know, both those who I think will agree and those that won’t. What you have written is very thought provoking. My dh and I already practice most of what you preach. We live on 13 very wooded acres with a creek. My dh can come home from work and ask “where are the kids?” and I’m proud to say “I’m not sure but they are around here somewhere.” We have 11y twin boys and a 8y girl. They have pocket knives, and can start a camp fire with a magnifying glass or matches. They ride little motorcycles after being taught proper safety rules and they climb the apple trees. After finding your blog last week I decided that they needed to learn how to cook so I set up Fridays as kids cook dinner night. My dd was the first one up last night and she did great. We had a great meal, she cut up all the food and turned on and off the oven. No blood, no burns, no trauma of any kind – except for the dramatics of the brothers who were required to clean the kitchen since they didn’t cook. I love this site and keep up the great work. Don’t let the media get to you or stop what you are trying to say. You have a supporter in me!

  35. Thank you for a voice of reason. I hate that creeping culture of constant fear – it makes us prisoner of our minds and jailers of our children. Where are the days when hitchhiking around the country was considered cool way to spend your summer holidays? Or when (as a child) I could fall twist an ankle after falling off a tree and the only consequence would be bandaged leg and perfunctory admonishment to be ‘a little more careful’ ? Even now, as an adult, I get warnings from some friends that “it is not safe” just because sometimes I like to walk around the city in the middle of the night to cool off.

  36. […] Free Range Kids FAQ makes excellent reading, and discusses how many of today’s parents grew up enjoying this kind […]

  37. As someone with responsibility for employing fresh-out-of-school 18 year olds, I’d like to add my voice to yours. I don’t have kids of my own, so my first serious encounter with them is when they come in for interview, and I’ve got to work out if I can trust them with a job or not.

    You can tell the kids who’ve been brought up “free range”; they’re not smarter, better looking, or less nervous. They’re just more competent at the basic skills you expect of any employee.

    One of my current questions to inflict on kids is to ask them “you’re beginning to feel queasy; you’re not sure whether you’re ill, or just feeling a bit faint. What do you do?” The free range kids tend to give an answer like “I’d get myself a glass of water. Maybe I’d eat something. If I still felt queasy, I’d speak to my supervisor, and ask to leave.” The more “protected” kids come up with all sorts of answers based on phoning relatives, doctors, or (in milder cases) speaking to their supervisor first; these are the employees I don’t want, because if they’re not able to handle feeling a bit under the weather for themselves, how can I trust them to cope without help when they make a mistake at work?

    Remember that I don’t want employees who have to go running to mommy every time there’s a problem. I want people who’ll do the job, who’ll learn to cope with the sorts of problems that come up every day, and who can be taught (over a few years) to handle the rare problems too.

    Free range kids seem to have that ability by 18 – I’ll employ them, and when they’re ready, I’ll push them forwards for training to get them to the top of this business.

    Overprotected kids don’t – I’m not going to take them on, and I object to any attempt to force me to take on a kid who’s not yet ready to grow up and cope on their own.

  38. I just found your sight, and I wanted to say Yay! I don’t feel quite so alone now. This summer I started letting my 4-year-old play in our backyard by herself. She’s a normal, healthy, fairly responsible kid for her age, and our yard is fenced. The first day when I told my husband about it his first reaction was “Are you sure that’s safe?” and he’s the one who’s always getting after me for being overprotective. My mother’s reaction was pretty much the same. She actually told me that she would have been too worried, when I remember being able to play in our yard by myself (or with just my brothers) at the same age. When I responded that I don’t figure too much is going to happen in our fenced yard they both said they were worried about people grabbing her from the other side of the fence. I admit that our neighborhood is not the safest (we’ve been robbed several times) but I don’t let it stop me from walking my dogs during the day or letting my daughter play in her own yard.

  39. I just heard you on ABC (that’s the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

    My first comment is that when I lived in Sydney I would catch the train to work and during rush hour in between all the adult commuters there would be a lot of kids, all in high school uniform. Kids get to ride to and from school free in Sydney on regular public transport.

    And one observer pointed out that if people use public transport as children they are more likley to use it as adults.

  40. If the subject of what I’m feeding my baby comes up, I am so going to use “It’s not rat poison.”

  41. We were free range kids (my brother and I, now 33 and 28, respectively) and we were fine…sure, my brother fell off of his bike and broke his nose once. I scraped my knees, got poison ivy, and stuck my finger to a frozen metal slide (duh). We also grew up in “the country” and the ONE place we were NEVER allowed to be by ourselves was on the subway in New York City. (To be fair to my parents, we’d been to NYC all of two times by the time we were 12, so that was a wise decision.)

    But…whatever my parents did left both of us pretty competent adults…he spent his sophomore year in China, I travel all over the Third World with a relative degree of confidence. I now lead study abroad trips and I am amazed at the degree of “helicopter-ing.” It’s fun, though, to watch my students interact with local students of the same age…they have a good time together, and the Americans definitely loosen up.

    On the other hand…how do you know a group of Americans has just left an African village? The scent of hand sanitizer lingers in the air…

  42. […] are articles everywhere on parenting skills getting totally screwed over by Internet addiction. Kids who never go outside. Text speak being allowed in the classroom–on final exams, no less. Social habits we have […]

  43. […] Skenazy writes that the shift may be because adults think, “Times have changed.” And she goes on to say… “They’re right of course — nothing stays the same. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, crime was on the rise. It went up and up until it peaked around 1990. The strange thing, though, is that since then, it’s been going back down. Dramatically. Today we are back to the crime level of 1970, according to Dept. of Justice statistics. So — unbelievable as it seems — if you were playing outside as a kid in the ’70s or ’80s, your kids are actually SAFER outside than you were! […]

  44. I just read an article you wrote about the whole ‘scenario’ you had to go through and I completely agree with you.
    It’s disturbing how people expect so much out of their children yet give them no room to grow.
    I would like to add that I think this ridiculous parenting that abounds today is creating spoiled brats who think that mommy and daddy will get them out of any trouble they could ever get into, which I believe you said without adding the spoiled brats part, but I really believe that kids have gotten far brattier and feel entitled to things now because of this batshit insanity when it comes to parenting.

  45. […] ran out onto the street? What about when she’s older? I doubt, somehow, that I’d be comfortable allowing her ride the New York subway at nine years old—even if we were natives. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think that these parents […]

  46. I had never heard of “Free Range Kids” but having recently turned 50 (ugh!) I got to thinking about the lack of freedom todays kids experience compared with my own childhood.
    After about age 8 here in suburban New Jersey we regularly walked or rode our bikes to school, visited friends across town and stayed out well after dark trick or treating. We were allowed to play with whomever we pleased and although we were strongly urged to do well in school, grades were not an obsession and we weren’t loaded down with 4 hours of homework every night.
    We were given the usual lectures about not talking to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, stay away from certain parts of town, yada yada, otherwise we were given the time and freedom to explore our world without fear.
    I feel so bad for todays kids and their sheltered, playdate, get into the Ivy League, regimented lifestyles. I’m not sure of any single cause for this radical change, perhaps we do live in a more sinister, competitive world with danger lurking around every corner.
    I feel fortunate to have been able to enjoy being a kid.

  47. Crime may be down, but litigation, it seems at least, is up. How do you deal with that?

    I belong to a particular (and very LARGE) history club that runs a two week camping event in western Pennsylvannia every August. We just found out that no one under the age of 18 would be allowed to attend any of the “Arts & Science” classes at the event this year without an attendent parent or legal guardian.

    That seems both excessive and impractical to me. Yet I’m told it is to protect the club’s Board of Directors from liability.

    Time have indeed changed. America, Land of the Lawsuit. Gotta love it (or not).

  48. We have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade now. On a recent trip to South Africa I told my three children (12, 8, 6) to go outside and play. The following day I got a call at my father-in-law’s where we were staying.

    The woman on the phone said that her children had met my children and they were wondering if my kids wanted to go with their family to watch cricket (a sport similar to baseball). I did not know this woman, or her husband, or her kids but I was delighted with the offer and said yes. Yes to my children experiencing something completely new (a night time cricket game) and yes to making friends with strangers. They picked the kids up at 6 pm and had them back at 11:30. My children were giddy with the thrill of it all – being away from us, making new friends, the feeling of trusting someone and that trust being rewarded by feelings of “the world is a good place.”

    Here’s another story. Once I took my kids to a nearby zoo. While sitting at a picnic table close to the bathrooms a woman came by with two kids – a three year old and a baby in a stroller. She saw me and asked me if I’d mind keeping an eye on her baby while she took the three year old to the restroom. Of course I said yes but thought to myself that she must not be from here. When she came back I found out that she was from Sweden.

    My kids adore visiting South Africa where they can ride on the back of pick up trucks and where kids run around barefoot all the time – in shopping centers, to school, to friends’ birthday parties. It always warms my heart when I see the kids in their school uniforms and their feet dirty with dust.

    When my daughter was learning to crawl and walk, she loved to get onto the coffee table. People acted aghast whenever they saw it but I just let her be. I feel that allowing her to experiment with height and balance has helped her be very secure physically and not scared at all.

    Sometimes I act like a helicopter parent when I let fear get the better of me. Every day presents so many opportunities to either guarantee their safety or let them learn to figure it out themselves. I am taking baby steps. After hearing about free range kids again on NPR today I allowed my oldest daughter to go to town with a friend and I showed my 9 year old how to cook her own spaghetti and I just told her that she can use the exacto knife by herself to cut the strips of cardboard she needs for her paper dolls.

  49. Lenore, just had to write to say THANK YOU. I am a first time mom-to-be and was becoming overwhelmed with all of the books, advice, and products that you “have” to buy to guarantee your baby’s safety. I loved my childhood, which I realized is the very definition of a free range upbringing. I want that for my child.

    Finding your articles first via Parent Dish, then on this blog, was like experiencing a gust of fresh, sane air. I literally wanted to jump for joy after reading each entry and pump my fists in the air. Finally, parenting advice that seems like common sense! Finally, a point of view that does not admonish parents for not doing everything perfectly! What a relief.

    I guess I should have known on my own, and never allowed myself to feel guilty for not agreeing with the over-protective, over-smothering parenting views. Thanks for the nudge of confidence I needed to say I am going to be a free-range parent!

  50. I recently was given a copy of an article titled “Shred Your Sex Offender Map,” which you apparently wrote. As one who has been ministering to sex offenders both in and out of prison for over 10 years, I appreciated your comments. I agree; it is the news media that has created the hysteria resulting in all the poor legislation governing where sex offenders can live, work and play.

    Bless you for caring enough to speak out.

  51. Yesterday my older cousin asked me not to hitchhike again – for safety. I didn’t answer him. Climate change is a problem and if people are going to drive at least they need to share. (I’m 62.)

    I don’t think I was a free-range kid – highly structured and oppressive childhood, I’d say. But at 8 I could ride my bike anywhere without crossing a street; at 10-11 I rode 5 miles to a new park (not worth it!), and throughout my childhood I was at the local beach/park for hours, often at 6 am. (Once the police picked up my bike; when I came out of the woods they were there with a ride to get it back.) I rode a city bus to high school (one transfer, COLD in winter), and the last couple years went downtown every night to the public library and whatever else I wanted, catching the last bus home. Supper was waiting. I didn’t phone to tell them. There were some creepy characters on the bus, but i was on the bus! (a girl with long blond hair, if you were wondering) There were no cell phone or Internet – it was the early 1960’s. In college, when I moved into an apartment in Little Italy, I had to phone daily so they knew I was alive. Always was.

    My kids were little in the early 1970’s. When J was 3 she and a friend got lost in the woods behind our house. That was scary. When they turned up she was crying and had a lost sandal. We moved to the city and I figured I had to watch her every minute. At 6 I sent her to the corner store for milk. Half a block. Later I learned that store was a drug dealer. Nothing happened. Of course she walked to school. She was a climber, and at 3 or so my rule was that she could climb anything (with me right below to catch her) but I wouldn’t lift her – wanted her able to get herself down. Did the same with her little sister, later.
    I can think of just two scares. The first, when J at 6 got into a gymnastics class (they neglected the age limit) and came home to do an aerial somersault on the bed. Landed safely too fast to worry. (She hadn’t done it in class!) The big one – at 14 she was out all night to 5 am. And totally surprised when I was waiting up when she came home. I guess that doesn’t happen any more…cell phones. It was over a year before she was a minute late again: she knew it mattered. She knew I cared. That, to me, is worth a night of worry.

    I’m spending the next 2 weeks running “camp” for my 2 granddaughters. We’re going to have fun! Outdoors! We’re going to ride the bus. Rip up poison ivy from the backyard. Play. Make supper. I have to get parental permission to turn the 9-year-old into the family knife sharpener. I’d taught her, but she isn’t allowed to handle knives. Because of your book, this may change.

    Also: Did you hear that American kids are now less creative? Newsweek July 19, 2010. We all know why.

    I do have to disagree about vaccines. Surely a case of measles and mumps is less of an issue than the rise of autism, likely caused by mercury-based vaccines. Let’s just stick with playing in the dirt and developing our immune systems. (Polio, okay. not measles, mumps, and every flu that comes along.) Organic food is better, and chemicals should not be innocent until proven guilty – though I read the BPA article with interest.

    None of this is spectacular – but it’s one step at a time.

    Thanks for starting this.

  52. Here’s a picture of my daughter taken last year when she was starting elementary school in Japan. She walks almost 2 km to school and back every day. Kids walk in groups to and from school and have a ball. Parents are actively discouraged from letting their kids get to school any other way. It’s as perfectly safe as life allows. And as you can see from the picture, safety measures are taken to make the kids more visible to drivers. Later in school these things are not used. It’s mostly for first graders.

    I approve. When I was a kid, I walked almost three miles to school and back every day and those walks are some of my fondest memories. I hate it that in the states kids don’t walk to school much anymore. It’s very sad.

  53. You might want to check this out. The comments are downright vicious!


  54. My son was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was two years old, and was thus put into the public school system at the age of three. When my husband and I went to the school to meet with his teacher the day before his first day, I asked if I could see the playground and what the outerwear guidelines for recess were (it was January in NH, and I didn’t know if he needed a snowsuit and boots every day or not). The teacher looked aghast at me and said, “We don’t take the children to the playground for recess because they could get hurt.” I was flabbergasted. Of course they could get hurt! How else are they going to learn their limitations?!? I don’t think I could possibly count the number of times I fell off the swing set when I was a child, but that was the only way I could learn that I couldn’t jump off the swing when it was six feet in the air. And I still wouldn’t trade that feeling of soaring through the air for guaranteed safety from a boo-boo. I WANT my son to get hurt, and often (oh, don’t gasp, I don’t want him to get hurt badly), because that would mean that he’s out there being a kid and living his life. Right now he’s got bruises all over his arms and legs, and they’re all from playing. He loves to run around as fast as he can, and that means that he falls down sometimes. He giggles like a madman and gets back up to run some more. He never giggles while he’s sitting on the couch playing quietly with some “necessary developmental toy” in his hands. He likes to get dirty and be a stereotypical boy. I don’t Purell the daylights out of him because I want him to catch colds while he’s young enough to get over them in just a few days. When I catch a cold at my age, it takes well over a week to feel better. My mother takes about twice as long at 60 years of age. I wish I had caught every cold in existence as a young child, so I didn’t get so many now. I want him to build up a natural immunity because it’s the best kind of immunity. I immunize him for the life-threatening diseases, and then just nurse him through the merely unpleasant ones. He doesn’t get antibiotics for every single ear infection because he can fight them off without building up a tolerance. I will not smother him, much as I would like to keep him safe from everything ever, because one day, about fourteen-and-a-half years from now, he’s going to be a legal adult and will want to strike out on his own. He needs to have the skills and the ability to do that. He needs to be able to think critically about decisions and make the one that will benefit him the most.

  55. I was chastised last week for leaving my boys on their own for a total of 5 minutes. They are 4 and 8, they were in my car, left with the windows open, they stayed seat-belted. My daughter and I ran into the post office. A man seeing this decided to wait for me to return to my car to YELL AT ME! He asked if I thought it was appropriate to leave my boys. I said YES! I know my boys, I trust them. I wouldn’t have left my 4 year old alone, but his older brother was with him. I knew I would be quick. Oh, and I was on a very secure Air Force base. Apparently I am not allowed to leave my kids alone until they are 12. Yes, it’s true. The gov’t has stepped in and told me how to raise my kids. I already deal with the playground moms who do not like that I let my kids climb the hill, or go behind said hill, or ride their scooters without me running behind them, or sit under the trees while I read and let them play out of my line of vision. Really, how are those other kids going to learn how to do anything on their own? I’ve seen the moms who are still pushing their kids on swings at age 8 because they haven’t figured it out yet. My 4 year old knows how because I made him learn how to do things on his own. And my 8 and 9 year olds as well. I think they will be better for it. No, I KNOW they will be better for it.

  56. […] it’s not rat poison. Posted on August 13, 2010 by Anne A good friend recommended the book Free Range Kids to me and a little googling led me to the author’s blog. […]

  57. You are doing great work – I was a free range kid and so are all my four children and my three grandchildren! Visit indigohousehistory.com to read my idea re getting kids and adults in schools to move together! Enjoy!

  58. Hi Lenore. In case you didn’t get around to reading the NYTimes yesterday – here’s a story about parents and children parting ways on the first day of college.

  59. […] Her blog’s FAQ explains her philosophy in a convenient nutshell, and is worth a read — especially her answers to the questions “What prompted you to found the Free Range Kids movement?” and, especially, “Why were our parents different from today’s parents?” […]

  60. I need some paraphanalia t o show that my friends and I are “free range kid” moms. Got any signs or anything?

  61. This frightens me more than anything else about copter parents.


  62. Interesting !

    The reason I have come across your website is that I was researching the very opposite !! School Board Transportation Policies systematically and effectively exclude kids from qualifying for school busing that poses a safety concern for children and parents. I am against this systematic exclusion and am battling for inclusion not exclusion!

    Children under 10 are legally not allowed to be left alone in Canada. So that fact that a 9 year old was left on his own to make his way back is absolutely irresponsible and astounding to me, no matter what your arguments are for doing so!

    All children attain independence evenutally and it all works out. They become functioning and capable adults who effectively contribute to our society.

  63. Vincenza, you are mistaken.

    The Criminal Code of Canada states that anyone “who unlawfully abandons or exposes a child who is under the age of 10 years, so that its life is or is likely to be endangered, or its health is or is likely to be permanently injured is guilty of an offence that carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than two years.”

    Child abandonment is VERY different from letting a child walk home from school alone! There is certainly no expectation, for instance, that a child’s health is going to be permanetly endangered by walking home from school – unless, of course, you consider all those pollutants s/he is forced to inhale from the idling cars of helicopter parents.

    Furthermore, the “Child and Family Services Act” does NOT identify an age when a child can be left alone, or an age at which a child can supervise or babysit other children. The Act recognizes that age alone is not a sufficient safeguard for the supervision of children. (Source: http://www.oacas.org/childwelfare/faqs.htm#alone)

    I walked to school alone (or in the company of other children, like my siblings) from the time I was six. I rode the bus from the time I was eight. I lived in Toronto, Ontario. I currently live in Waterloo.

  64. Thank you so much for being the voice of reason in a culture that seems to have forgotten how to raise children!

    I have always been looked at strangely for the way I raise my kids, but the results speak for themselves. Kids who are left alone–unscheduled and given space–and who are given responsibilities and expectations are happier and healthier than their peers. Kids need to be kids, and it is great to read your thoughts about this.

    I am starting my own blog: http://csheer.blogspot.com, and I hope that I can put the word out as well as you do that our culture has taken a wrong turn in the way we parent, but that there is still a way to get back to the old fashioned commonsense way of doing things.

  65. This is about your ‘Group Pride’ remark in the October issue of Reader’s Digest.

    The “Make it Stop” article was quite amusing, but less amusing is your thinking that it’s okay to insult a religious/spiritual rite of passage ceremony called Croning by implying it is a “fad” that should go. Would you suggest that Bar Mitzvahs are a fad and need to go?

    When Pagan/Wiccan/tribal women celebrate their entrance into cronehood it is a very special transition in their spiritual lives. (This ancient rite of passage is more recently being celebrated by non-Pagan/Wiccan/tribal women as well.) It is not a matter of being “proud of who they are,” it’s a matter of celebrating those whose wisdom and experience have earned our respect and recognition.

    It seems to have become quite acceptable to display a lack of respect for the senior members of our society. I’m sure when you reach your crone years there will still be people more than willing to push you aside and forget you, but there are those of us who will continue to celebrate life’s milestones and fight the sort of ageism you exhibit.

  66. […] ran out onto the street? What about when she’s older? I doubt, somehow, that I’d be comfortable allowing her ride the New York subway at nine years old—even if we were natives. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think that these parents […]

  67. Great site! I agree with the ‘free range’ concept totally. When I was a kid, I was expected to be playing outside, and other than giving Mom a general idea of where I might be, the only other rule was to be home in time for supper. The other kids in the neighborhood had a similar directive.

    Guess what? We had a blast! We would organize our own football, baseball, basketball, capture-the-flag, hockey and whatever other sports competitions. We refereed ourselves. Resolved problems between ourselves. Helped coach each other in skills to be effective in the sports. No need for parents. We went fishing. Built our own soap-box derby type vehicles. Constructed trails for our bikes.

    The end result, not only were we outside getting exercise, we were learning many valuable skills that we all use to this day. We learned about winning. We learned about losing. We learned conflict resolution. And much, much more.

    As a Dad of a 10 year old, I’m doing my best to not be a helicopter.

  68. I absolutely agree with the idea of free range kids.

    I speak as a child (now teenager, almost adult) who had parents so overprotective they wouldn’t let me go to school on my own, at the age of 12, when my school was less than 100 metres down the street and in full view of the house.

    My parents ideas on “being safe” means that at the age of 18 I have extraordinary difficulty navigating myself around the city I live in. I have never experienced anything other than an innocent children’s birthday party and missed out on incredible music and educational opportunities, because they were “too far away” – even though there would be parents present and my parents would have been more than welcome to come along!

    My point is, on the cusp of being an adult, I am almost incapable of functioning as one in the wider world and it is not even my fault.

    Parents out there, you have to be more trusting and realise, as I am slowly now, that the world is just as full of kindness as it is other things.

  69. What a huge sigh of relief. A couple of months ago, I was completely ignorant of the term ‘helicopter parent’ and of ‘free range’ too. One of my friends told me her husband was a helicopter, and after getting the explanation, I responded with, “I must be a F-111 parent. I do the ‘Dump and Burn’ (dump ’em and burn off.) ” I’m relieved to find that you exist and I’m not the only one out there!!!!

  70. My parents let me travel by commuter train from Philly to NYC to visit my grandmother at 123rd and Amsterdam Ave by myself when I was 13 (in 1979). Needless to say, I survived to tell the tale — even though I disembarked from the subway at 125th St. after dark on a Friday evening.

    Thanks for the blog. I sent my husband the link and I hope he gets on board with the program!

    I especially appreciate the bit about teaching your kids TO talk to strangers. It hadn’t even occured to me, but it makes complete sense.

  71. Hi Lenore, how do I contact you with a question?

  72. I laughed about the mums hanging out until school started. That’s what I do, but I love socialising with the other mums. We usually end up having a chat and then our children are at the gate or at the school crossing impatiently waiting for us. Just had a quick read through the website and I think I’m a helicopter parent!! My poor oldest girl – I can already see the effects its having one my girl…she asked me today “Can I have another Mango mum” and I said “Of course why do you always have to ask!!” Now I get it.
    GO Freeranging!!!

  73. Saw this today. Whether or not one agrees with the politics of labor unions the use of the fear of pedophiles against parents at Disneyland to further their labor negotiations is horrid!!!


  74. I just found this site recently, and was struck by a few things.

    One is that the particular variety of paranoid, hovering parenting described here is a product of affluence. The neighbourhoods described are pleasant, suburban areas, with sidewalks, parks, organized children’s sports, schools that have the time and money to monitor individual pickups, and the implicit assumption that the family has at least two cars and one parent always available to drive the kid to wherever they go and stay there to watch them.

    Let’s face it – the bare idea that it should or could be possible to monitor your child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from birth until college, implies a lot of available time and money. It also implies that you can worry about the bizarrely improbably because you don’t have the common and very real to worry about – bad schools, genuinely high crime rates, lack of health insurance, losing your job and ending up on the street.

    Another thought is that children *need* survivable failures and disappointments to learn how to deal with the big things in life. I took piano lessons for years as kid, and that included competing in the local music festival. One of the most valuable things I learned doing that was the survivability of failure. There were times I screwed up – stopped dead in the middle of a piece. It was horribly embarrassing, particularly in front of an audience, but I survived just fine, and went on to play better the next time. As parents, our job is not to prevent our kids from experiencing any failure or disappointment, it’s to help them cope with the normal ones, and do our best to keep the screw-ups from being too serious. Falling over when you’re learning to walk is a normal part of development. Drinking the Drano isn’t. So you put the Drano where the kid can’t reach it, but you don’t hold their hands and walk them so they never actually fall down (I’ve actually seen this).

    Finally, I was thinking about the GPS/kid-alarm dealies as a way of preventing kidnapping, and realized that not only is this fear inducing and not very useful, it’s actually counterproductive. If I were planning on kidnapping a child, I would go through their bag, look for a cell phone, and plant it on a vehicle going in the opposite direction. So if the kid is ever by remotest chance kidnapped, the GPS system will not only be useless, it will send the police in the wrong direction. And yes, I do amuse myself in airports by figuring out hypothetical ways of circumventing the security screening.

  75. Lenore, I don’t know how I missed your writing before, but your article in the Wall Street Journal today regarding Halloween hysteria is the best thing I have read in years. I have been in private practice of Pediatrics for 35 years and I have been working hard to fight back against this absurd culture of fear being generated by overzealous parents and media. Congratulations and let me know how I can help.


  76. I absolutely love this site, and love the philosophy of free range. I recently moved back to the country, and one of the reasons is so that I can send my daughter outside to play without having everyone and their nosy neighbor threaten to call the cops.

    Kids need to be kids. They LEARN by being kids, and by playing with other kids. One of the biggest benefits of this move has been the new day care center she’s in. They have kids aged 2-6, and they play. All day. No cramming letters and numbers down their throats, no sitting in little school chairs. Just a HUGE outdoor playground (with slides! and swings! and a rope to climb up and fall down!) and lots of non-battery operated toys inside. Kids set their own schedules. They decide who to play with. My dd started here after being in a traditional preschool. I cannot tell you how much happier she is here. She is more relaxed. She sleeps better at night. She’s more pleasant to be around. Because I found a place where they let kids be kids, while still meeting all the official requirements of daycare.

    Same goes for the weekends, when her cousins are over and the parents tell them to go outside and play and don’t come in till it gets dark. The kids come in, absolutely exultant when they’ve discovered a new bug, or figured out some new trick on the monkey bars. Yes, they get skinned knees. But so worth it for the looks on their faces when they learn new things and gain their independence.

  77. Lenore, I don’t know if you caught this one or not, but I think it’s brilliant, and I think it also shows how damaging the overprotective bent is to our children at the end of the day. Our kids pick up many things from us, not all of them wonderful and complimentary.


    I thought it was interesting how the writer pointed out that bullying wrapped up as “concern” is still bullying.

  78. This is an interesting site. I really don’t know how I feel about it yet, however, because I’ll be honest, when I read that you let your child take the subway by himself, I was surprised, and not in a good way. Personally, I think that you really have to find a balance between helicopter parenting and free-range. The statistics really don’t mean anything until your child is the one taken.

    I do understand letting them climb a tree or go over to a friends house when you don’t know the parents down to their blood type, but to leave them open to being abducted or raped or something like that isn’t for me. Then again, I’m not raising your child so it doesn’t matter. I guess for now I just think that there is a happy, responsible medium between the two extremes I’ve seen presented on your site.

    Very interesting regardless of what my parenting opinions are though. Keep it up!


  79. marlowesnymph, New York City is actually the safest city in the US.

    I encourage you to read her book and peruse the site’s archives. I’m sure you’ll find enough info to allay your fears and bring them into perspective.

  80. I love your site. I know it’s a shot in the dark but I read the following and thought of you – apparently you can no longer leave your child in the car to run into the house (it may be illegal) or to return a grocery cart. it’s much better to drag them through a parking lot. moms are being arrested for stepping away from the car – I find thsi was crazy. Here’s the link -http://www.dcurbanmom.com/jforum/posts/list/43682.page

  81. Hi Lenore,

    I’m a new mom in Mexico, and when i found out i was pregnant i started a blog, i learned that there is so many “expert moms” online trying to teach us how to raise our kids you know “dont give formula to the baby” use clothe diapers”,” dont vaccinate them” etc, and also with my in-laws, they seem to be a little bit to much worried about leting the kids just to experiment things, my baby is 11 month old, and when we are visiting she is not allow to sit on te floor, touch de dogs, taste any thing that has not been desinfected first, etc… and to be honest, i am really tired of this, so maybe the universe put your blog in fornt of me today, i just found out it and i’m loving it!!! this is just the way i want to raise my baby, my kid, my smart, independent baby!!!

    Since my family and friends only read in spanish I’m going to translate some of your work here if you allow me (always quoting you of course) although my english is not perfect i’ll try to make the best of it, maybe someday they will at least leave me alone, it’ll be perfect if they adopt the same way of raising kids, they have 8 grandchildren!!!!

    Anyways, thanks a lot for starting this movement, I’m totally for it! anything i can do to promote this you just get in touch.

    Angelica Bermejo

  82. Hi Lenore, I love your site, your book, and the whole philosophy! I have a question for all those likeminded people out there…What I’m looking for is a site where parents (and kids even) can rate their neighborhoods according to how ‘free range friendly’ they are, say on a number scale or star scale or something like that. Know of anything like that?

  83. Thank you! Lenore, Did you know that you are changing the world? I was recently talking with my brother (single, no kids, 40 years old) about how your story with your son and the subway helped me loosen my grip on his nephews. I shared with him how my kids 17 and 12 do things now like ride their bikes to the convenience store to buy candy and even talk to strangers while on these adventures. I told him that now there are many stories in the media about letting the kids be kids. My brother said,”I’ve noticed more kids just walking on the side of the road recently than in years past.”
    Thank you for saving us from ourselves!!!
    Reformed Helicopter Parent, Simona Vaughn

  84. cable tvs these days are rapidly being converted into a digital service which offers more value added services -“.

  85. Today, on a beautiful West Australian morning, I allowed my 7yr old to ride her scooter to school by herself for the first time. 5 mins after she left the house I followed with her 4 yr old sister (also off to school) on her bike. I checked in on MIss 7 yr old’s class before school to be met with a little girl who was bursting with pride and 10 foot tall. The teacher had been told by my daughter of her feat and was greatly supportive. I was so proud of her and myself for having the experience.

    Thanks for giving me the confidence to let go and therefore allowing the personal growth to flow through to Miss 7. She can’t wait to do it again and neither can I!

  86. Lenore, do you take guest posts on your blog?

  87. Another Free Range Triumph to share:

    This morning, my son’s school bus was late. It’s 4th grade through 8th, so the school has finally stopped requiring parents to stand out there, and those of us who were home were in our nice warm houses, thinking they’d left. The kids waited about about 15 minutes, decided something was probably wrong, and an older student called the bus driver on her cell phone to find out.

    Then my son came back in, explained the situation, and asked if I would drive him and another boy. It seems they’d, on their own, divided themselves up among the parents available, and solved their problem.

    As I was getting my shoes on, the replacement bus came, so they all ran back outside, and were off as usual, if a few minutes late. But I was so proud of them for their independence and common sense!

  88. […] it’s a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Lenore Skenazy.  She is the poster-girl for Free Range Parenting.  I often get a kick out of the crazy are-you-kidding-me stuff she finds, and in general I agree […]

  89. One of the reasons kids are failing in school is that they are not allowed to to be children and be free. They are told what to do, how to do and when to do. They never learn critical thinking skills that are often gained from dreaming, freedom to explore and playing to learn.

  90. Hi Lenore,

    I’m on my maternity leave with my two month old son and am nursing a LOT of the time. Consequently, I’ve been burning through the Netflix On Demand like crazy. I came across a movie I’d totally forgotten called The Boy Who Could Fly. There’s a lot wrong with this movie (chiefly it’s use of the “people with disabilities are magical” theme), the subplot really made me stop and think.

    In it, Fred Savage moves to a new neighborhood and wants to ride his Big Wheel around the block. But there’s a gang of mean older kids who have a vicious dog and beat up kids and break their bicycles. Eventually, he gets around the block using several methods of defending himself including tripping the bullies with marbles, throwing raw meat to distract the dog, and using a squirt gun filled with pee. He gets home triumphant and runs in the house to tell his mom (who hasn’t been involved in any of this) that he did it.

    Can you imagine that flying today? How many things can you count that people would flip right out about? Aside from the obvious “kid riding his bike around the block alone?” It’s crazy.

    But I never questioned it when I saw this movie as a kid (right about the same age as Little Fred was at the time) or since when I’ve caught it running on AMC.

    How did we go so far so fast?

  91. I have just been watching you on Dr Phil. I had not heard of free range kids before and I love it. This is the way we raised our son, who turns 24 this month. As a matter of fact, we were discussing this the other day. He said to me that he really thought we raised him the right way(!). He says many of his friends don’t know how to do anything on their own (like take a bus) and he feels sorry for them. He says they don’t know how to handle themselves in the real world. Denver doesn’t have subways but if it did he would have ridden them. He did ride the bus alone from an early age. He rode his bike all over inc. Little League, the library, the grocery store, etc. etc. We are older than today’s parents (59 & 62) but this is the way my husband and I were raised in the cities of New york and Philadelphia.
    Parents need to trust their kids to grow up.

  92. Hi Lenore,
    Please consider following my blog. I love what you have to say and appreciate your “sanity” in these troubling times. I have written a book called A Motion for Innocence that tells just how easy it is to be rail-roaded in this era. I would suggest my Second Edition, which is an updated and better edited version. It can be found on my blog, and Amazon, among others.

  93. Hi,

    My name is Juliette Leavey and I am a Public Relations intern at T.J. Sacks & Associates and we are currently representing a new product I think you and your readers would be very interested in. I’m sending you this email to make sure this your ideal form of communication for future information and also to find out any other means of contact you prefer.

    Thanks so much, I look forward to working with your blog!

    Juliette Leavey

  94. My brother and I walked to the school bus stop by ourselves. It was a quarter mile away. My grandpa had a 10 acre property, and we were given the run of it. “Don’t cross the creek, that’s trespassing and against the law.” It was wide and open and we were largely unsupervised. We could go over to a friend’s house after school, but only with several days’ notice and at least one phone call between parents. My mom was considered overprotective.

    At my dad’s house on the weekends, we practically went feral. We knew our neighbors and played with their kids; the oldest was our age (8 or 9 when we first started playing together), but she had four younger siblings, the youngest of which needed to be carried, and we all played together all over. We played in the road, in the creek. He lived in a forest near a river, and we explored everywhere we could access, fence or no. We rode our bikes to the market or up the hill to a playground with one of those old tall metal slides they don’t have anymore.

  95. Dear Lenore
    I know you’re probably not a great fan of plugging stuff but I wonder if you might be interested in a chat with my client, the very energetic creator and star of the TV series LazyTown, Magnus Scheving? We recently launched a range of LazyTown Go! vitamins in the States and Magnus is keen to promote them, as well as talk about the work we’re doing with Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to motivate kids to be more active.

    Magnus lives in Iceland but I can set up email or phone chats if you are keen. And, as the father of three kids, he has plenty to say about parenting.

    I hope to hear from you soon and, in the meantime, here’s the link to info about the vitamins:

    Kind regards
    Suzanne Noble

  96. Here’s an interesting article about school policies in different parts of the country for deciding when it’s too cold to go outside for recess:


    Here in Minnesota, many school districts will only keep the kids inside if temperatures are well below zero (Fahrenheit) – but in some places on the East Coast, they’ll keep them inside if it’s below freezing, or if there’s snow on the ground!

  97. Hi Lenore,
    I stumbled on your blog after being given a ticket for “improper parking” after a ‘good samaritan’ called the cops because my 8-year-old was left alone in my locked, parked car near the entrance of a busy store.
    Apparently, he was crying because he felt I’d left him for too long (about a half-hour. He may also have been a bit more emotional than usual because he was coming down with a cold).
    This had never happened before. My son had asked to stay in the car because he was tired. I’ve left the kids in the locked, parked car on occasion either together or alone (I have a 6-year-old daughter too) while running errands (though never as babies or toddlers).
    It was about 40-degrees out in the middle of the day and he was bundled up. I took his sister in with me.
    Next thing I know I’m being berated at the entrance of the store in front of the kids by a very belligerent cop and a cop trainee. The cop took my license to his car; the trainee proceeded to whip out a little dime-store notebook and ask for my phone number, which I gave, and my social security number, which I declined because it was not official paperwork, and the other cop was getting it from my driver’s license anyway. The trainee also asked if I had any tattoos or scars, which I declined to answer because I thought it was invasive and I was not under arrest.
    The trainee couldn’t tell me what law I’d broken or what the potential penalty was (and apparently, in my state of NJ, the law is vague and penalties are completely the discretion of the authorities).
    Apparently, I was not sufficiently contrite, because the officer gave me a ticket for “improper parking” and checked off the box that says “court appearance required”–unusual for a parking ticket. So I’ve had to hire a lawyer in hopes of avoiding a referral to DYFS and, with legal fees, I’m paying $500+ for what is usually a $54 ticket.
    This all makes me think. I am a married upper middle class white woman with advanced degrees and a solid community reputation; a good mother without any hint in my past of any neglect or abuse. I can only imagine how a woman of color or a poor woman would have been treated under the same circumstances.
    And what if the cop had berated and belittled a parent who actually was inclined to neglect or abuse his or her kids? What would happen to the kid(s) when the parent got home?
    This incident has also led me to reflect on the relative risks of various activities–my kid has a far greater chance of breaking his leg when I take him skiing, for example, than of getting hurt while waiting in my parked, locked car. Personally, I think parents who let their kids sit in front of the TV or video games for hours, and allow them to grow obese from junk food and inactivity, should be charged with abuse and neglect. Those children have a far greater likelihood of rotting their brains and developing diseases than my son does of getting abducted from my car.
    I can totally understand the concern about babies and toddlers left too long in hot cars. I probably would have taken some kind of action if I had happened on an 8-year-old who was alone and crying in a parked car.
    But now I am left with the feeling that I have to second guess many of my parenting decisions (and parenting is hard enough without feeling like Big Brother is watching). I am starting to understand just how much control the state has over our parenting decisions, and just how unclear is the law that deals with those decisions. It has also become evident to me that, whatever the First Amendment says, I can be persecuted for expressing my opinion about the relative risks involved or voicing my misgivings about the legitimacy of this zero tolerance policy.
    I am very uncomfortable with that reality. Now I understand where you are coming from.

  98. have a great photo to share, but not sure how to get it to you.

    executive director
    wesselman nature society

  99. The following, with few changes, was a reply by me to a comment on another blog (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201101/how-advise-and-help-your-kids-without-driving-them-or-yourself-crazy/comments).

    I’m fairly young (17), and I remember wanting to know things I couldn’t… but my mom would not often let me be with any other kids (and it’s gotten worse over time… I recently attended my second social event of the last nine months). Being homeschooled and raised by a totalitarial roflcopter who never let me out of the house on my own, my only social experiences (outside of trivial-duration things like swimming lessons) were a weekly church service and a less-than-weekly homeschool group, both of which met for less than two hours at a time (she wouldn’t even let me on a Little League baseball team when that was the one thing I wanted to do… and I was willing to pay everything [around $500] and give up our trip to Disney World). As far as indoor stuff, everything was strictly G-rated until I was 11, then PG was the norm (though she does let me see an occasional PG-13 now, like I’ve seen the Pirates of the Caribbean series). When I did something wrong, the punishments were pretty extreme (like one time I hit a worker who picked me up [just as my mom had told me to do many years earlier… it had stayed in my subconscious], and she took away my favorite computer game for 3 1/2 years). My mom was one of those wackos who derided Pokémon for “Satanic influences”… the bad relationship with her began when I was 6 and I asked a fairly innocent question: “Can I have a Pokémon game for Christmas?” My dad was gone most of the time (not divorced though), and he sided with my mom on all these issues. Basically my life has been the antithesis of the Skenazy movement (though not quite a Chua since I never was forced to make straight-A’s… I just made them). Hopefully my kids can have the life I never did.

    KyohakuKeisanki, Forever Anonymous (my mom would [not literally] kill me if she knew I wrote this)

  100. Hi Lenore – Our family just returned from a week-long ski trip to Vail, CO. It occurred to me that snow skiing is an exercise in Free Range parenting. I trusted the (not necessarily American) ski instructors to not only teach my children to ski, but also to keep them safe on the chair lifts as well as the slopes knowing full well that it is impossible to keep your eyes on each and every student in the class at every single moment of the day. Then, when our children were back under our supervision (I like to think of it as ‘family time’), I had to concentrate more on my own skiing and well-being before I could focus on theirs. (Truth be told, they’re better skiers so they were in front of me where I COULD have seen them had I not been concentrating so hard on keeping myself upright!) Anyway, it just occurred to me that I have some friends who would totally freak out being on the slopes with their kids.

    Have a great day!

  101. Hi Leonore,
    Thank you, thank you for some sanity in these ridiculous times. I have just recently caught up with your blog after seeing your story on TV. Coincidentally, I just recently saw a docmentary (I can’t recal the title, unfortunately) about how (if our children’s brains are anything like rats’ brains anyway) we are damaging our children’s brains by denying them independent, unsupervised play. I had a hunch we were stunting their resilience and coping skills, but we are actually altering their brain architecture!
    I have never been a helicopter parent, but now, for the sake of my kids’ brains, I have decided to join the free-range kids movement.
    It’s a sad indictment of our community though that my first attempt to loosen the apron strings has met with judgement and condemnation. I have two girls, seven and four, and we live in a quiet, bushy, satellite town about an hour from Sydney (Australia). It’s an ordinary suburban block surrounded by ordninary suburban streets, and we know a fair few of the neighbours. It’s not exactly the mean streets of South Central LA. I should also say that I work with child protective services, and am not naive about the risks of poor supervision. Yesterday, after much begging, I decided to let my very responsible seven year old ride her bike two blocks up the road to the park, on the condition that she just ride there and back. I told her that I’d come up after her if she wasn’t back in ten minutes. She duly arrived ten minutes later with a handful of plums from the trees just below the park. She was excited about going up for some more, but told me that, according to the elderly lady in one of the houses near the park, “her mother” would need to accompany her if she wanted to come back for more, as she is only seven and should not be out alone. Jesus! She was two blocks and five minutes away, and I had my eye on the clock!
    However, not to be discouraged, I sent her off on her bike today to a friend’s house, two blocks in the other direction, with the full support of the friend’s mother. Who knows! When school goes back next week, the other mother and I might even be brave enough to let our girls walk the few blocks to school together.

  102. I am writing this as a “thank you” to the anonymous lady behind me in line at Target.

    When my daughter was around 14 months old she was small enough to ride in the main compartment of shopping carts. She was more comfortable sitting/standing in there and I could actually get something accomplished while in the store. I wasn’t racing anyone, and my child isn’t the type to throw herself out of a moving vehicle. She has always been very reserved.

    As I was checking out the cashier (who couldn’t have been more than 17) told me not to let her ride like that because she might fall out and land on her head. He then went on about it for a bit…how easy it would be to fall, how bad it would be, etc. I didn’t hear everything because I was so embarrassed my brain kind of shut off. I felt for sure all the other people in line were thinking what a horrible mother I must be for recklessly pushing my child through Target . I quickly put my daughter in the designated seating area and grabbed my bags. As I was moving away I heard the older mother behind me say to the cashier “Well, She looked perfectly safe to me. My kid’s rode that way all the time when they were little.“ She had a smile plastered on her face, and her voice seemed to say “If anyone is going to end up on their head in here it is you”.

    So, here’s to mother’s standing up for other mothers instead of looking for ways to freak them out or tear them down.

  103. I’m a big fan of Lenore’s overall philosophy. But I have been a Pediatrician for 35 years. I can tell you that by far the most common cause of a skull fracture in a young child or baby is falling out of a shopping cart at a store or market. When you are not looking, a toddler may try to get out of the cart–typically their legs get tangled and they land head first. The floor is very hard. Don’t throw caution to the wind. This philosophy still requires balance.

  104. Taking pictures of your kids will get them kidnapped. Or something.

    Have you seen this warning going around?

    “I attended a presentation last week on protecting children. One very interesting piece of information provided by a district attorney: if you take a photo with a smart phone (like an iPhone), it automatically embeds a GPS location in the metadata of the photo. If you then post that photo online, it is possible for anyone who knows what they are doing to pull up the location of where the photo was taken. So, if you are posting pictures of you or your kids on Facebook or any other social networking site, it is possible for a predator to figure out where you and your kids are, even if you *think* you have removed all of your identifying information. This is apparently how these guys are now starting to track down potential targets.

    “Other possible problems with posting cell phone photos (or photos taken with a camera that also has a GPS device) are described below.

    “Please pass along this information to anyone who you think could use it. ”


    It seems to me that if you’re taking pictures of your kids you would pretty much have to be *with* your kids, no?

  105. @Hippie Mama: I googled it, and apparently it is indeed true. But you can disable the “geotagging” if you want.
    Here’s the article I found:

    I think their take is that someone will know you have kids and where you and your kids live, frequent, etc.

    But, yes… it’s just one more thing to add to the list of reasons parents should be paranoid.

  106. I consider myself to be a “good” mom. I let my kids play outside while I grab a few silent moments indoors or even the rare nap. I pay my 7yr old son to shovel snow from our very long, very steep driveway. My 3yr old often prefers to play alone with her dolls and kitchen toys.
    What I fear the most is being “reported” to the authorities for neglecting my children.
    How do I know when it is ok to leave the kids in the locked car (which I do) while I run into the store for cold medicine…. as opposed to allowing the 3yr to sneeze and cough and slime her germy way through the store. I am afraid to even threaten a spanking within earshot of someone else. I don’t want or need CPS to get involved in my parenting.
    Do I allow this fear to turn me into a helicopter mom? NO WAY!
    This evening at my son’s wrestling practice, my daughter was restless and kept venturing closer and closer to the wrestlers. I told her twice to stay off the mat and she defiantly stepped up and looked at me with a challenge. The dad next to me said “if she gets knocked down, she could get really hurt”. My response was “yes, but she will heal, and perhaps will also learn that obedience is important”. The look of shock on his face was astounding. My daughter heard my response, and decided on her own to get off the mat. Mind you, she is 3.
    I homeschool my son. Not because I want to shelter him from the world, but because I want him to learn HOW to think not just WHAT to think.
    I choose curriculums that allow for the most self-direction on his part, because I want him to learn to be responsible for his own education (after all he is the one who will rely on it in the future).
    So, if you would, help me to know how to raise Free Range Kids without living in fear of the “well meaning” CPS?

  107. @Maggie: We have nothing to fear…but the judgement of other parents.

  108. @Jules: I wish that were the case. I can handle judgement of other parents. I am a confident, independent person. However, my BFF is in the midst of a cps nightmare right now because a “well-meaning” neighbor took issue with the children being allowed to play in the front yard. My friend is a great mom who believes in equipping her children with experience and skills that will serve them in life. Unfortunately the STATE has a different view.

  109. I guess what I meant was that those judgmental parents are the ones that sic CPS on people.

  110. @Jules: OH! ok, so we are saying the same thing with different words.
    You are right on. It is those parents whom I fear.

  111. @ Cyn. Yes, it seems that photos do carry some kind of record of where they were taken. But the point is, what kind of person would look at your pictures online, use their tech skills to determine where they were taken, and then…well, what? Say, “Aha! Someone with kids went to Lake Erie. I must hide myself away there in the hopes that they’ll return again next year!”?

    I can’t imagine even the most warped predator going through all that to find out where your kids were at some point in time. Just more scare tactics, IMHO.

  112. I’m not sure the ages of your child(ren). I think you will have a whole new ball game on your hands when they are teen-agers. Please read about brain development of teens. They lose 40% of their pre-frontal cortex (the area with good judgment, commonsense, etc.) in what is called “pruning.” Then over the next 10 years the PFC completely re-develops into a more much more complex “machine” in a process called “blossoming.” However, this takes 10 years. I encourage you to read Laura Kastner or go to her website. I’m so tired of being told to read “Free Range Kids” by my 16-year old. I am not being overprotective to ask her where she is going and with whom, but she thinks it is and constantly quotes you. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding? When you put a 16-year old into a deadly weapon such as a car, the parent has a right to know where there children are. You post such extreme examples such as a 14-year old being arrested for watching a younger sibling for 30 minutes. While I’m sure this occurred, I’m sure it is rare. I always hate to scare the parents of younger kids, but it really gets hard during the teen years and I don’t know if your philosophy will hold up then, but it’s a catchy title.

  113. Dear Leonore,

    Neighborliness is not entirely dead! Recently my husband and I noticed an ambulance outside our neighbor’s house. She has a young daughter of maybe 3 or 4 years old, and her husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan. Immediately I ran next door to see if I could be of help and she asked me to watch her daughter. When they took her to the hospital, we took her daughter over to our house (right next door) until her grandmother could come and pick her up. Mind you, know our neighbor only enough to say hello and exchange pleasantries.
    It certainly felt good to be able to lend a hand and not have anyone worry that we were creeps!

  114. Hi Leanore,

    My name is Annie Brennan and I work for the United Nations Foundation on Girl Up, a ‘for girls, by girls’ campaign that empowers American teens to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs that help adolescent girls in developing countries get access to education, health care, and safety from violence. We often have events all over the United States that we think you and your readers would find interesting. What would be the best email address to send this information too? Thanks and we look forward to working with you!


    Annie Brennan
    United Nations Foundation

  115. If there is any doubt our kids can handle an emregency, check out this inspiring story from WFAA TV in Dallas:


  116. Hi Lenora

    I love your website and I don’t even have children of my own!

    What got me interested was a conversation I had at church just over a week ago. I’m my church’s Health and Safety Officer but we also have a Child Protection Officer who is also Churchwarden. She approached me just before the service and asked my opinion on what age a child should be allowed to go to the toilet unaccompanied. I should explain the toilet is in a room adjoining the church which connects with the school and has a door opening onto the school yard. This is left open so the Sunday School can go into the school hall and return to the church later. She seemed to be worried that a stranger might climb over the fence into the yard and attack a child using the toilet.

    She was called away by someone and the service started a minute later so I didn’t get a chance to reply but the question lingered with me. Talking to her later I suggested a cutoff age of 12. I actually thought younger would be fine but felt that would probably cause outrage, knowing how paranoid people can be about child safety. To my absolute astonishment she said others had convinced her it should be 14 as this was the legal age children could be left on their own in the UK- I have since found out that is untrue; there is no proscribed legal age its up to the judgment of the parents.

    I didn’t press the issue then but I have been researching it and that’s what led me to your website. I must say it’s one of the most heartening things I’ve ever come across. I work in a secondary school as a science technician and I’ve often felt sad at how restricted children are compared to when I was growing up.

    Back to the church issue, I’m sure she’ll bring it up at the next PCC (Church Council) meeting but I intend to fight a cutoff age of 14. Just what sort of society are we creating if a young person of 12 or 13 can’t be allowed the dignity of going to the loo on their own in broad daylight?

  117. Regarding changing your free-range policies for your teenage kids, this article is very interesting and I thought you might enjoy it.


  118. […] her blog, Skenazy describes such a free-range child as one “who gets treated as a smart, young, capable individual, not an invalid who needs […]

  119. Here is what the Chilean article says:

    “Leave your child alone!” This is what an American author, tired of all the toys geared especially to stimulate children, asks us. She explains that all they need to develop their abilities is a cardboard box or a leaf.

    A ball? Marbles? A tricycle? An egg carton that, with imagination, can become a typewriter? If you want to keep the approval of other parents, forget about these toys, because they are part of the past, and no one will forgive you for failing to give your kids the things that most stimulate their creativity, coordination or memory. There are many reasons. Among them, that the world has become so competitive, that the young years are now not for “wasting time” playing but instead for utilizing all means possible to make kids become “more intelligent”, “more creative,” and “more empathetic.’ And to this goal, everything must contribute: from games that help them learn numbers and colors, to animated programs that help them learn about the world, because nowadays it’s well-known that only screens can entertain them.

    Against all these tendencies of parents being excessively concerned with their children’s development stands American columnist Lenore Skenazy, author of the book Free-Range Kids, the same woman who at one time was considered “the worst mother in America” for saying on several TV programs that she permitted her nine-year-old son to ride the subway alone and who, a short time later through her blog, fired off a provocative new idea: parents have left all the entertaining of their children to the toys.

    From the U.S., the author explains to La Tercera her theory, which she calls “Will This Toy Help My Child Get into Harvard?” only to conclude that it won’t. She goes farther to explain that, while it is of course important for children to be stimulated, there isn’t any reason for us to worry so much on the subject. Skenazy assures us that “kids are programmed to learn from the moment they are born. When we buy them a mountain of toys, computer programs, videos, and classes that are supposed to promote ‘stimulation’ of our kids, we forget this fact. But, you know what? Being alive stimulates our kids. Everything is educational if they touch it, listen to it, or can play with things.”

    (That’s all I have time for now, but it ends the part that refers to you directly!)

  120. I’m struck by how much Izzy looks like my younger son. Have you come across a book called “One False Move” by Mayer Hillman, John Adams and John Whitelegg? It discusses very much the same issues, and was a big influence on me. We’ve encouraged our children to be independent and responsible. I honestly think this makes them less vulnerable, not more: they have experienced making their own decisions out in the world, and I think they are much less likely to go off the rails once they leave home.

  121. I just found your site, while I was searching for inspiration for a new ad campaign to help kids lead a more healthy lifestyle (addressing our state’s proud (not) ranking as having the 2nd highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation. Anyway, I wrote a blog post in your honor a while back, and thought I’d send you the link: http://rhondageraci.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html

  122. *sigh* I read all this but still have mixed feelings for my personal situation.

    We live in an old townhome complex and three doors down from us live 2 level three sex offenders. One of them was convicted twice of molesting five year old girls, and of course I am a mother to a five year old girl.

    When we got the little flyers in the mail it was like a punch in the gut. The other guy was convicted of “raping” a 14 year old boy, a sad situation I am sure of grooming and manipulating a child, an older, thinking child albeit confused and hurting.

    Sorry to get all CSI on you, but this is reality for me. What the hell am I asupposed to do? DO I not let my kids run through the sprinkler out front in their swim suits (something I highly encouraged last year)?

    To say I am unnerved by the thought of THEIR thoughts seeing my sweet babes… it is an understatement. I know that part is out of my control and always will be. It just sucks.

  123. My son (8th grader) broke his foot at PE in school a couple of weeks ago. Am I suing the school district? NO. It was a freak accident that could’ve (and knowing my son, probably would’ve) happened anywhere. He rolled his foot just right and fractured one of the bones in his foot.

    And guess what… he’s not traumatized. He’s not afraid of going back to PE. He HAS found that he can do a LOT more than he ever dreamed he could while in a cast and on crutches. He figured out how to go up and down stairs. He figured out how to balance on the crutches with his backpack on. He even figured out how to carry a cup of water without spilling!

    I bring this up because a child in a nearby school district got hurt on the playground and the parents ARE suing. Sad.

  124. Hi Lenore,

    As Free Ranger believe in safety for kids, I think you may be interested in our new online service that helps keep kids safe from faulty and recalled products.

    SafetyBook.org is the first-of-its-kind online registry providing a home inventory tracker and product recall monitor.
    • Register your belongings in one convenient place and monitor them for safety recalls
    • Covers baby/child products, automobiles, and home appliances
    • An easy, cost-effective way to get purchasing peace of mind
    More than 65 million products were recalled in 2010, including 47 million that were a direct threat to children. Additionally, 20 million vehicles were recalled in 2010. SafetyBook provides peace of mind by helping consumers protect themselves, their children and loved one from the dangers of recalled products by notifying them directly whenever a registered product is recalled with instructions about how to have it repaired or replaced.

    With less than 20% of people sending in registration cards, manufacturers rely on public recalls because they are liable and don’t know how to reach their customers directly. They also cannot track customers who have moved or items that have been sold or given away. SafetyBook makes it easy to update a new address and transfer product registration to someone else.

    SafetyBook offers free signup for up to 3 products and a lifetime membership for unlimited products for $18.


    Irene O’Connor

  125. A good video showing what kids need. Funny–and true: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=g7v3O746w4E

  126. love your site! have you covered zero-tolerance rules at all? here’s a good one… http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/17/virginia-middle-school-students-suspended-for-oregano-possession/?test=latestnews

  127. We’re having a tween meet-up at a local coffee shop in San Francisco as a first step towards some free ranging in our ‘hood. Because of the weird San Francisco public school assignment system, most of the kids in the neighborhood do not go to school together, and do not know each other. Parents on our neighborhood parenting list have been discussing how our kids can be more independent in the city, and we’re working to make it happen! My daughter is already allowed to go around the neighborhood herself, and we’re looking forward to her having some local friends who have similar freedoms.

  128. I’m a 20-year-old babysitter, and I absolutely HATE watching kids who have helicopter parents. You can always tell which ones they are too.

    I nanny for a family who has two kids, six and four, and they’re the whiniest, brattiest, most spoiled kids on the planet. Disappointment is the end of the world for them. If it starts raining on park day, they throw fits. They can’t play nicely with one another, I constantly have to referee. Their grandmother flips her lid if I leave the front door unlocked (even though I’m right inside with the kids, and they live in a really nice neighborhood, far from main streets). They can’t handle basic decisions, can’t play on their own, have no imagination, and are terrified of the world at large. I’m terrified of what they’ll be like as adults.

  129. Apparantly, this school does not think parents are capable of deciding what their children eat for lunch – nor are the children capable of making a choice because they just took away the ability to choose.


  130. One of the most uplifting stories I’ve seen in a long time, and a firm argument in favor of free-range kids: Tweenbots http://www.tweenbots.com/
    “Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.”

    “… the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. ”

    Do people really think strangers are less likely to help a human child than a 10″ cardboard robot?

  131. Wow, this is great. I’m glad to see I am not the only parent who thinks kids need to learn their independence a bit at a time. I think many of these kids who have been hovered over must have a very difficult adjustment to college.

    My kids do have cell phones and they do have to check in with me after school (I’m at work), but then I had to check in with my mom every day in my free-range childhood. But in exchange, they get to ride or walk to school when they want and they are allowed outside to play when I’m not home. Their cousin has a helicopter mom and I see such a difference in their level of independence and confidence. And I’ll take my free-range, confident kids 8 days a week over her crying, clinging child.

    At age 12 my older child went on a 10 day scout trip several states away and people I knew couldn’t believe I would allow it. I said the chances of him going and getting hurt are tiny, the chances of him going and having a fantastic time are huge. Who knows…he could have stayed home and been in a bus accident at our local camp. He went and loved it!

  132. I’m an instinctive free range mom, and I’m glad to hear from others via ‘Free Range Kids.

    I’ve beenr eading for a while and I think it’s great.

    However, I am moved to leave a reply to challenge all of the fans of bicycle helmets.

    I know that it seems to makes sense that kids should wear bicycle helmets, right?

    Maybe not. It makes sense that if someone should fall off his/her bike it might be more comfortable to have a helmet on, and there are some falls for which a helmet offers protection. But there are also lots of reasons that helmets may not help:
    -helmets increase some types of injuries; the most notable are spinal injuries and rotational injuries to the brain
    -helmets make bicycling seem a dangerous activity and may put people off riding (there is a correlation between helmet promotion and drops in numbers bicycling)
    -many people, especially children, where helmets that do not fit well enough to provide the protection for which they are tested
    -bicyclists who wear helmets are involved in more accidents
    -helmet weares and the drivers of motorized take more risks, believing that helmets protect the wearer to some degree (this is a well-known phenomenon called risk compensation)
    -many children do not take their helmets off for other activities, this has led to few cases of strangulation
    -the only study which showed a substantial reduction of head injuries for helmetted bicyclists (often quoted by charities as 85% reduction in injury) has been discredited
    -while there are studies that show benefits for helmet weares, and studies that show overall negative effects, there is nothing conclusive that should lead in a ‘belief’ in helmets

    For anyone who is interested, more information and references for the above are available from

    http://www.cyclehelmets.org/0.html (questions the need for helmets)

    http://www.helmets.org/index.htm (pro-helmet)

    Please read these before you buy another helmet for a child.

  133. Grrr. Sorry for the typos….
    beenr eading = (obvious) been reading
    driver of motorized = drivers of motorized vehicles
    Where = wear (silly mistake!)
    led to few cases = led to a few cases

    Next time, I’ll write it in Word and copy it over…

  134. I think you’re really doing yourself a disservice by plainly stating that the term “helicopter parent” is disparaging, and then you continue to use it. You also make fun of those parents and incite negative reactions toward them from your readers. As a parent who is probably pretty much middle of the road, I really dislike your blog for that reason.

  135. Hi Lenore,

    I just returned from hearing you speak at Barnard and wanted to thank you for the laughs and the wisdom. I started reading your book on the bus ride home and I’m loving it. I’ll be sending a copy of it to my daughter who is about to have her first child.

    I also wanted to remind you to come visit The Manhattan Free School, a “free range school” at 115 East 106th Street.

    looking forward to talking more,


  136. […] Have you heard of Lenore Skenazy, and the movement she has created called Free-Range Kids? Ms. Skenazy became a bit of a media sensation when one day, she let her 9-year old son ride the subway home alone, from Bloomingdale’s in NYC. After writing a short column about his experience, she suddenly found herself branded The World’s Worst Mom, and was on all the major news programs defending her decision (you can read the details of that experience, and learn more about the Free-Range Kids movement, on Ms. Skenzay’s blog). […]

  137. Lenore,

    Thank you for setting up this website and encouraging parents to let their kids run around and learn about life themselves.

    I want you to know that I started driving my daughter partway to school, then I let her out of the car and she walks the rest of the way by herself. You see, we live just too far away from school for her to walk the entire way. But she really wants to walk herself to school. So we compromised – and we both love the outcome!

    Thank you again,

  138. Just saw a story on my local news about a wheelchair bound student who has been practicing walking for the past three years just so he could walk across the stage at graduation. He would use a walker and assistance. The school has refused his dream to walk across the stage as a “safety issue”. Such a shame!


  139. This blog is fantastic. I thought you might appreciate this comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?db=comics&id=1948#comic

  140. http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/genetic-crossroads/201103/gene-tests-toddlers-pediatricians-warn-about-testing-kids-athletic-ab

    Dear god. Helicopter parents now pigeonholing… this takes “stage mom syndrome” to a whole new level…

  141. This is bring passes around via email through local PTA
    “If you have children or grandchildren, you NEED to watch this. I had no idea this could happen from taking pictures on the blackberry or cell phone.

    IT is amazing to me tht folks are worried?!?!?

  142. […] Uhm, no.  Hell no.  As a matter of fact, there is an entirely “new” mode of parenting which says that kids become stronger and smarter with far less parental supervision, and that strangers are usually 99.9999999% well-intentioned.  It’s called the “Free Range” movement, and was basically started by Lenore Skenazy when she let her 9 year old ride the New York City subway home on his own. […]

  143. Thank you Lenore, I’ve just discover you and a lot of new argouments to ideas we share!
    Here in Italian cities the situation is really similar to USA, to much CSI and terrifying news.
    Keep fighting, for them.

  144. Me and my brother were free range kids out of nessecity growing up Mum had to work once we were school aged and the only day care opened 2 days a week so from 8 I walked my 6 year old brother home 6 or so blocks in a country town until 2 years later we moved to the city suburbs then we walked 2 blocks in a strange area and me a 10 year old I was in charge of (sometimes up to 3) 7/8 year olds until about 6 at night (our Dad was mean’t to be but never showed till just before our Mum and if we got told to go to day care we would run away from them). Sure there were some incidents like when I locked the boys in the spare room all afternoon so I could do my homework or we accedently broke a door (I think someone got thrown into it in a fight). But I am now 16 and my brother is 14 and it gave as the skills and resiliance to chase our dreams (me to overcome my severe dyslexia so I become an engineer and my brother has been selected to board at a performing arts school) and our parents divorce we know life won’t always go our way and actions have consequences in real life too.

  145. […] probability.  In reality, in nearly every way, our kids are much safer than they’ve ever been.  Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, writes, “Researchers have found that the number of kids getting […]

  146. I need to share an experience I had last week that I’m almost afraid to mention to friends. I was visiting my parents on the East coast (I live in the Midwest) with my 9 month old son. It was the day after we arrived, and my son had been pretty upset by the flight (his first) and had refused to nap all day long.

    Because of crossed wires between my parents, I offered to go pick up dinner at a local restaurant or we would otherwise have been eating dinner at 9 pm that night. My son fell asleep in the car seat on my way to the carry out. I had already placed the order and anticipated that I would be in and out in less than a minute. When I got out of the car, it was clear that my son was out for the count. Since we were traveling with just the car seat and not the seat base, it would definitely wake him to unbuckle the seat from the car. So after deliberating, I decided to roll down the windows (it was warm) and leave my son for the minute or two that it would take me to pay for the food.

    Unfortunately, I got stuck behind someone who hadn’t ordered ahead and didn’t know what she wanted. I was gone from the car more like 5 or 6 minutes. I came out to find an enraged man standing by my car. He told me that he stood by my car to watch my kid and that he’d taken pictures of the license plates and would probably be calling the cops. I didn’t say much of anything–that my kid was sleeping and I was only gone for 5 minutes–but I was really shaken.

    What made it worse was that when I told my parents about the incident, they were sympathetic but basically told me that I was too used to small town living in the midwest. I replied that logically it was completely unreasonable to think that someone was waiting around that (suburban) restaurant to snatch my kid.

    I’m still a little shaken by the incident because I was uncomfortable with leaving my son by himself, but I have made the decision not to live my life in fear. I can’t believe that angry man would assume that I was guilty of criminal negligence rather than assume that I was naive. It was just tough being judged as an irresponsible parent when I am committed to being the best mom I can be to my son.

  147. Lenore –

    Your website is wonderful. As a 19-year-old college student whose mother called her last week to ensure that she wouldn’t ride her bicycle in the street, I wish my parents could have read this blog ten years ago.

    It comforts me to know that other families have found ways to balance safety with effective parenting, and I fully intend to adopt your mindset when I have a child one day. Thanks for spreading the good sense!

  148. Great website Lenore. We are a family with a great Family Travel blog at http://www.smart-travelers.com . We hope you will visit us.

  149. Hi Lenore,
    I saw you when you were at the Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington. I had an experience that I wanted to share.

    My 5 yr old daughter is very bright and independent.. I took her and her 3 yr old brother to the small local movie theatre. She had to go to the bathroom. As I’m getting up to take her, I see a group of 3 girls-aged 7-13 going to the bathroom. I ask if my daughter can go with them, so my 3 yr old would not scream when we left mid way through.

    Their mother leans over and says “that is just weird”, so I got up and took both kids.

    I told my mother who reprimanded me and said she would have never done that. Really? This is a safe town. More importantly, my daughter wants to be independent! She wants to do these things by herself. I am confident that nothing bad would have happened.


  150. Come and live in New Zealand … we grow the ‘best free-range kids’ here!

  151. I heard a prerecorded message on the PA while shopping at Home Depot yesterday. It struck me as one of the most blatantly absurd and untrue statements posing as THE TRUTH. Basically, to paraphrase, Home Depot explains that they want all their customers to be safe while in the store and that includes kids riding in carts. They should be buckled in the seat because buckling your child into the cart is JUST AS important as buckling them into their car seat. Bulls*it!

  152. I think the reason there is a knee-jerk reaction to allowing young kids to roam freely in NYC is that most of us remember Etan Patz – the 6-year old who walked downtown and was abducted in the ’70’s.

    Unfortunately, the conclusion “my kid survived, so whatever we let him/her do is fine” is turned on its head once something as devastating, horrific and final as abduction or worse or god forbid death occurs.

    Most kids horseplay near a pool and are fine. A few become paralyzed or drown.

    Most kids walk to and from school every day with no incident. A few are abducted, molested or worse.

    Most kids explore their environments and push limits. Others choke, suffer terrible accidents, etc.

    Most kids answer the door or chat with strangers. Some are burned by acid or are poisoned.

    Most kids trust their families. Some are abused emotionally or physically.

    I’ve known victims of all of the above. As a parent, it makes you crazy with worry and then we get labeled neurotic. It’s a no-win.

  153. I think the reason there is a knee-jerk reaction to allowing young kids to roam freely in NYC is that most of us remember Etan Patz – the 6-year old who walked downtown and was abducted in the ’70′s.

    There’s a knee-jerk reaction because ONE kid (younger than Lenore’s kid when she started this site!) had a bad incident forty years ago?

    That’s insane. That actually is crazy. One abduction in your head from 40 years ago, when the NYC crime rate was the highest it has ever been should NOT be affecting how you treat your kids NOW (especially if they’re older than six) when the crime rate is lower than it’s been in decades.

  154. Lauren, is your mother aware that the law is that grown-ups are SUPPOSED to ride in the street? Does she want you to drive on the sidewalk too? Sheesh.

  155. Lenore,

    I realise I am somewhat behind the curve on this one but I recently read your infamous article and it reminded me of a journal article I read a little while back which, if you haven’t already I thoroughly recommend you read.

    It is called “Equasy – An overlooked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms”, it was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Volume 23, 2009.

    Although the article itself deals with the true effects of drugs, the premise behind the writing is that media is to blame for the fear mongering so evident in today’s society. Through selective publication (in the article the comparison is between deaths from, say, heroin compared to paracetemol where nearly all heroin-related deaths are reported but paracetemol are not, and statistically speaking could be classed as more dangerous!) the media cause fear in society of things which really have no need to be feared!

    Good luck with your campaign,


  156. Hi Lenore,
    I am a long time reader of your blog and wanted to share with you my (not even very) free-range experience from yesterday: http://virtuehouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/what-is-wrong-with-the-world
    I can’t find any place to email you directly!
    Kori in NJ

  157. Hi Lenore, great blog! I’ve been reading for awhile now, and think you’re fantastic. Just wanted to share this off-off-mainstream article. The first couple of paragraphs made me sick. I’m sure you’ll think so too.


  158. I thought this was right up your alley. Luckily, some sanity appeared.


  159. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44039875/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

    Thought you’d find this interesting…now the good ol’ brown bag lunch (you know, the one we survived as children) is under scrutiny.

  160. Hi Lenore – HELP!
    You took up my cause about my neighborhood school’s plan to reconfigure and jeopardize walking to school–and I heard from dozens of like-minded people offering help. Now I want to alert you to another situation which hopefully you have already featured, though I couldn’t find it on your site. This is a horrible case of vicitm-blaming, poor planning, and treating pedestrians as second class citizens.

    Here’s the story (excerpted from Transp For America):
    “Raquel Nelson was convicted of vehicular manslaughter when her son was killed while crossing the street with her. She was doing what almost any pedestrian would do: using the closest reasonable path across a street. Cobb County Transit (Georgia) placed a bus stop directly across from her apartment complex on Austell Road, and other residents of the complex regularly cross the street from the stop to their homes rather than walk more than a half mile out of their way to the nearest marked crosswalk.

    Raquel Nelson’s son is dead and she shouldn’t be punished anymore. Help clear her of all charges and proclaim her innocence, and help decriminalize the simple act of walking. Sign the petition: (http://action.smartgrowthamerica.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7762)”

    Last day for petitions (I believe) is tomorrow.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Kevin Murphy

  161. Hey, thought you might like this excellent collection of photos of kids enjoying that old summer tradition, the fire hydrant cooldown! Yay for good pix of kids without any accompanying story of the photographer being arrested.


  162. Hello,

    I am interested at publishing a quality, unique article (guest post) on topic of educational wooden 3d puzzles on your blog.

    I will be happy to contribute to your site if you allow me to have author box with 1 or 2 links to my website.

    Please let me know how to get in touch if you are interested.


  163. i recently encountered a problem letting my 8 yr old play outside. we live in a 30 mile-an-hour typical suburban haven for kids in texas. i had walked him down to his friends house ( about 8 houses down) a few times a week for years. however with him starting 3rd grade he asked if he could walk himself. i let him, and this went fine for a few weeks. until about a week ago. he began not going to his friends but instead walked about 6 blocks to a local store. (without permission or my knowledge). he came home at the same time he always had before, so i was unaware. apparently the manager at the store didnt approve, and instead of calling me he called the police. they in turn called me, and i rushed up there to get him and to make sure he was not only safe, but to punish him (grounding) for not being honest, and not listening. well i was threatened by the police that if they saw him again outside unattended i would be arrested for child endangerment, and i fear they have called child protective services. (though the officer did not say he was, he simply said he could) so, now while all the other kids are out playing i have to sequester my children indoors for fear of being persecuted. they are miserable, and i feel like a bad parent either way. im terrible for keeping them in, away from their friends they have loved for years, and id be terrible to allow myself to be arrested, or worse.. to have cps take them away. i dont know what to do, and im both heartbroken and afraid.

  164. […] You have been dubbed “America’s Worst Mom” by the media. How did you earn this title? […]

  165. I let my 10-yr-old take public transportation (we live in a big city) by himself and get all sorts of remarks from well-meaning relatives about his safety and so on.
    Yesterday, I was in the bus without him and a little girl got on — on her own. The bus driver seemed a bit concerned — asked her if her mom really let her take the bus alone, and did she know what stop she had to get off? But he didn’t refuse to let her ride the bus or anything. She explained she was used to taking the bus unsupervised, and gave him the name of her bus stop.
    As she passed me, I told her to thank her parents for me, because I was happy to see my son wasn’t the only kid riding alone.
    “How old is your son?,” she asked.
    “Well, you know, I’m much older than he is… I’m 10 and a half, you see”.
    I loved that. It showed that a kid can be trusted to go about her business, get on the right bus, stop at the right stop, feel confident about what they’re doing… and still be a kid!

  166. More dumb things to buy to keep kids safe, thought you would be interested. This is a $12 car magnet, plus shipping, that your child is supposed to keep their hand on to stay safe in a parking lot.


  167. @yogamom, I have been doing this for years! For FREE! I would tell my now 13-year-old, when he was a toddler “Hands on the car!” and he would stand there while I got what I needed out of the car. Personally, I think that a kid who isn’t going to listen to their parent isn’t going to be any more likely to obey if the parent spends $12 on a stupid sticker.

  168. I do the same thing as Jules with my niece and nephew. When it hits 100+ and the metal of the car is HOT – they stand on the line. They need a good boundary, because they still think if they see the car then the driver must see them. I figure parking lots are an area where you have a good number of distracted drivers looking for a place, thinking about what they are going to buy, putting up things as they drive.

  169. Scared, the best thing to do is to be proactive. Call up child services (from somebody else’s phone if you like) and ask if there’s any chance of a legal issue with a healthy child playing outside with other children during the day while the parents are inside and glancing out occasionally.

    Find out what the actual law is, and then you have a better idea of what actions to take – raising awareness? Ignoring that cop or reporting him to his supervisor? Lots of options, but you have to know what the real situation is FIRST.

  170. Finally some sense in FL:

  171. Just saw this article about a father being questioned by security guards and police for taking a photo of his daughter eating in a shopping centre, eating an ice-cream:

  172. http://www.howtobearetronaut.com/2011/05/american-child-labour-c-1900-1937/

    I cant believe how young these kids were and working. Could you imagine the back lash if I let my 8 year old actually work with his father in construction?

  173. Wounder would you evr let your kids go swimming fully clothed with shoes & socks on.
    I remember when I was 15 going swimming fully clothed in a local prak pond .
    I was on my own and on my way home from school did not have any change of clothes I swam in what I was dressed.
    What do you thinl would you let you kids swim fully clothed?

  174. I love this blog…I was wondering if any of these helicopter parents would let their kids joins Boy Scouts or Girl Guides? Probably not, who knows all the dangers involved, starting with adventuring outside, bears, rabid squirrels, random tree roots shooting up from the ground to trip their kids, or maybe the doing work to earn a badge. Too much stress for their little ones. Sheessh. Our son just got back from his weekend Scouts/Cub camp, he was gone all weekend, sleeping in a log cabin and it wasn’t warm this weekend (here in Canada). When we dropped him off we had about a 100 meter walk from the parking lot to the cabin, in the dark. Luckily we had a flashlight, but ooohhh the dangers. again, random roots, bears or maybe even a coyote. Once we got there, they were told to put down their packs, it was a scavanger hunt, this was at 8pm. We left him to it My biggest worry all weekend, would he be warm enough, nothing else. When we picked him up on Sunday, he was tired and dirty but very happy. He learned the proper way to shoot a bow and arrow, made a leather strap for his bow and told all sorts of stories of his super fantastic, oh my god mom, the best ever, super fun, we did….weekend! Free Range, yay!

  175. I couldn’t find a contact email, but thought you could address the idea of hoodie drawstrings disappearing! I ordered a hoodie from Lands End for my 6 1/2 yr old and thought the missing drawstring was a mistake. Let the company know and they said, no, there is not supposed to be a string, the rivets are just “decorative”, and if I looked closer at the picture, there is no string. I said ok, then if it’s decorative, why is it a real rivet with a real “channel” for a string to go through? It doesn’t look “decorative”, it just looks like someone pulled out the string! They said strings are a safety/choking hazard. BWAHAHAHA! I’ll give them a little grace for like, little baby sizes (which they don’t have), but these are their “big kid” sizes which go up to size FOURTEEN! FOURTEEN! So, apparently school-age kids and even some TEENS can’t be trusted with a hoodie string. I’m obviously going to add my own to it, b/c the whole point of a hoodie is that you can cinch the hood so it actually stays up and keeps their head warm. With no string the hood is practically useless.

  176. I love reading past articles that you have written. I live the fact that I am raising my children in a real traditional way. Hubby first care for the freerange term he says is sounds to hippie. He said that its raising the kids in a long ago traditional manor. Kids helped around the house and farm. You learned to figure things out.
    I love it it’s the way I was raised also. One of our daughters has a friend who has a very protective helicopter parent. Our kids were in another town for a band and vocal clinic well at the college there in town a former student made a threat with a shot gun. So the local HS put the school on lock down ( I have no prblem with that) I knew my kids were safe. Well helicopter mom wanted to rush over to that town and get her child. It was a reall lock down. This girl has nervous breakdowns if she sees a car or someone she doesn’t know will run wildly down the street towards home. Then her mom will call the sheriffs dept! I had this child in swim team also and during practice she swallowed a small bug. She about lost it. I just said ‘hey its extra protein’ and continued practice. They are paranoid about everything.
    I am so happy to raise my children this way. Thrilled that this daughter wants to be a Marine!
    Oh and by the way. We have a trampoline and have never had an accident nor has anyone else we know with one! The kids and myself will be getting air rifles for christmas!

  177. Thought you might find this amusing… Bring back the days of Pox parties!


  178. free dateing sites…

    Read was interesting, stay in touch………

  179. This appears to be the first mention of free-range kids I can find (1995):


    “For many parents, outside equals anxiety, even in suburbs created in a quest for more closet space and free-range children.

    Oh, and the Discovery Zone brand is one of the most interesting I have seen… it rose very quickly then failed. Most say it was due to overexpansion; however, after digging a little deeper I have found a much more nefarious reason for its demise. It seems like the fast food industry, namely McDonald’s may have planted an economic “suicide bomb” into the company… that is, created a competitor (Leaps and Bounds) and placed locations next to their locations such that both companies would operate at a loss… this enticed them to buy the competitor out, which they did (on loaned money I might add; they were already in debt from rapid expansion and had very little choice but to buy out the competitor)… then they had to quickly sell the previously competing buildings at lower-than-market value since most of the cities could only economically handle one indoor play center… it was McDonald’s, not Chuck E Cheese, who broke the back of Discovery Zone’s camel. This is besides the near-clichéd overexpansion and “fad factor” [i.e., novelty] arguments given by financial experts. No wonder the bankruptcy occurred, causing the indoor play sector to be labeled the “cursed industry” by some on the Internet.

  180. Hi, Lorene! I just found your wonderful blog! This year, my daughter will hit the outlets with me on Black Friday. I am giving her some cash and a time limit to purchase gifts for her parents. She is thrilled to do it! The only reason I haven’t done something like this sooner is her, not me. She tends to get scared and cry when she gets freaked out. She shuts down sometimes and won’t talk. But she knows these outlets well and it’s time for her to head out on her own once in a while. In spring, we will take a trip to Alaska together and then I will fly her home from Juneau (pull her out of school for a couple of weeks – a whole OTHER issue) by herself. Whlie she is looking forward to the trip, she is also concerned about flying alone because the Seattle airport, her one and only transfer, is huge.While the airlines will provide an escort, from time to time, they screw up. And if she gets freaked out, she will clam up and won’t ask for help. That’s my ONLY issue with the process – make sure her airport escort meets her in Seattle, not in her flying by herself. And of course, due to airport security, we can’t do a practice run in our own airport – go find gate C25, tell us the flight number and destination, and come back. I am also working on her map-reading skills and she will have a map from her arrival to her departure gate to follow, too. But I am giving her opportunities to free-range (love that term) between now and spring to boost her confidence in her own way-finding skills. She’s a great kid – just needs some encouragement in her own abilities.

    We can’t coddle them – they will not know how to deal with the adversities in life if we do. Protect and coddle are two different notions entirely. I give her a bike helmet for protection but I know she will fall off her bike from time to time. She already has and knocked out a tooth. We just called our dentist, on a Sunday evening no less, and he helped us out. She was fine, if a bit scrapped up and a little scared. But she got back on the bike two days later. I tell her that we cannot be afraid of what might happen. We have to love someone even if our heart might be broken, we have to walk on the top of the fence post even if we might fall, we have take that challenge even if we might fail. Thanks!

  181. Hi Lenore,
    With apologies for contacting you during the holiday season (though I notice you posted today), I’m hoping you may be available for a brief phone interview sometime between now and January 1.

    I write the “Great Kids, Great Outdoors” blog for the Appalachian Mountain Club, as well as monthly articles about kids and families in the outdoors. The February article will be about “free-range children.” I’d like to ask you a couple of questions if I may. My email is kristenlaine@earthlink.net.

    all best,

    Kristen Laine

  182. Just a note to say I think your WSJ article on Boozy Babies was fabulous… Not only was the topic spot on (single serving juice? Please….), but I love your writing style (perfect visual of the baby saying Hi to the walls….)…. As a fan of Hunter S Thompson’s Gonzo writing, its refreshing to read smart content peppered with humor and candor… so Thank you! PS. I’m a single mom and proud to be raising a free-range kid.

  183. Is there any way of contacting you other than through this FAQ page? I tried to post a comment on your facebook wall and the comment was immediately deleted. I am just trying to make you aware of an article in Pediatrics this month that I think the community would find interesting. Why is it so hard to figure out how to get in touch with you?

  184. I just finished reading your book and thought it was absolutely wonderful. Thank you for being a voice of sanity in a world of crazy fear-mongering.

    Sadly, my son’s elementary school principal just sent out an email saying, among other things, that primary level pupils (ie up to Grade 3) should not walk to school unaccompanied because it is not safe. This despite the fact that in our very safe urban neighbourhood many kids live within one or two blocks, AND there are crossing guards by the school.

    I asked my father when I started walking to school by myself (a much longer distance and with no crossing guards) and he said, “from the first week of kindergarten”. He was, at the time and until he retired, an elementary school principal.

  185. I’ve been trying to find an email address to send you an article. Just wanted to know your take on it? It’s from my hometown, a small college town with a religious university. There are literally churchhouses just about every 3 blocks.



    BY MICHAEL ALISON CHANDLER – The Washington Post

    For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates – but few, if any, academic gains.

    Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise.

    Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments.

    Consider teacher Shar Hellie’s new approach in Montgomery County, Md.
    To get students through the shaky first steps of Spanish grammar, Hellie spent many years trying to boost their confidence. If someone couldn’t answer a question easily, she would coach him, whisper the first few words, then follow up with a booming “Muy bien!”

    But on a January morning at Rocky Hill Middle School, she gave nothing away. One seventh-grade boy returned to the overhead projector three times to rewrite a sentence, hesitating each time, while his classmates squirmed in silence.

    “You like that?” Hellie asked when he settled on an answer.

    He nodded.

    Finally, she beamed and praised the progress he was making – in his cerebral cortex.

    “You have a whole different set of neurons popping up there!” she told him.

    A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities.

    As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” – each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

    ‘You’re clever!’ backfires

    “We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. “That has backfired.”

    Dweck’s studies, embraced in Montgomery schools and elsewhere, have found that praising children for intelligence – “You’re so clever!” – also backfires.

    In study after study, children rewarded for being smart become more likely to shy away from hard assignments that might tarnish their star reputations.

    Instead, children praised for trying hard or taking risks tend to enjoy challenges and find greater success. Children also perform better in the long term when they believe that their intellect is not a birthright but something that grows and develops as they learn new things.

    Brain imaging shows how this is true, how connections between nerve cells in the cortex multiply and grow stronger as people learn and practice new skills. This bit of science has proved to be motivating to struggling students because it gives them a sense of control over their success.

    Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/01/16/1781454/in-schools-boosting-self-esteem.html#storylink=cpy

  187. http://www.shopnorthlake.com/asp
    Have you heard about Adult Supervision policies in malls across the county? Basically, anyone under 18 cannot be at the mall alone after a certain period of time, say 5pm, “For the safety of our customers and retailers”. Who knew once you turn 18 that you are no longer a threat to others after 5pm… or perhaps is it only that kids under 18 become threats after 5pm?


  189. Hey would you mind letting me know which web host you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a honest price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  190. WHICH book should I read or purchase?

    “Free-Range Kids, Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry” OR…

    “Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)”

  191. Any free-range playgroups for toddlers? Where parents aren’t freaking out every minute. I am in CT.

  192. I couldn’t find a way to email you, so I’ll leave this comment here. How do you get more comfortable about letting your only child be more Free Range? I WANT her to be more independent and self-reliant. So many of the awesome stories on here involve siblings. What ideas are there for onlies?

  193. Didn’t know how to email you but wanted to share this with you, in case you hadn’t already seen it:

  194. My 6 year old granddaughter plays basketball at the Y. My son is her coach. There are, at any given time, 8 to 11 kids playing on her team. Most parents sit on the sidelines and cheer (and, truth be told, laugh – because they’re funny). But then there are the others – Moms mostly – who walk up and down the court – and Go On To The Court during the game to check their child’s welfare or high five them or somehow make them feel like a genius because they walked four steps in the right direction…Dear God. Leave them alone. They are Not You. They do not need your presence At All Times. Being overly involved is as bad for children as neglect.

  195. Hello, Lenore. I was a free-range kid, and you know what? I turned out okay. Some people even think I turned into a really impressive adult.

    Anyway, I wanted to ask for your help. In true free-range-kid-style I decided to be the change that I wanted to see in the world, and I have started a project to help schools that are on the verge of eliminating their arts programs due to funding cuts. It is called the ArtSkool Project, and you can learn more about it at http://www.artskoolproject.com. The Project’s model allows schools to pool whatever funds they do have to share the cost of a teacher and supplies. If that amount does not fully cover expenses, then we are fiscally sponsored by a non-profit organization, which allows us to compete for grants and solicit donations to bridge the gaps. In our first year, we saved three arts programs. We would like to expand so that we can reach out to more schools. We would also like to be able to work with children in disaster relief and domestic violence shelters. To make this growth possible, we have launched a kickstarter campaign to raise much needed funds. We are trying to raise $20,000 by March 9. If we meet or exceed this goal, all money will be given to the project as a grant, and those who donate will receive some really fun, handmade gifts in return–we have everything from whimsical refrigerator magnets to one of a kind sculptural glass mobiles. However, if we do not meet that $20,000 goal, the project gets nothing and all money is refunded to those who donated. The money will be used to fund the purchase of art supplies and cover other program related costs, such as transportation and storage.

    In order to reach our fundraising goal, we are reaching out to those in the blogging community and asking for their help in getting the word out about the ArtSkool Project and it’s kickstarter campaign. So, what do you say? Will you help us help some really great kids?

    Your support is deeply appreciated.

    Andrea McLester
    ArtSkool Project

  196. […] by how far I wanted to walk. A few years ago I read Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. Skenazy made national news when she let her nine year-old take the New York City subway home  by himself. People were […]

  197. Hey Lenore!

    Can I just say, I love you? 🙂

    After catching an episode of ‘Bubble Wrap Kids’ I was really intrigued and had to look up this woman who was showing parents that their children aren’t going to be abducted every time they walk down the street, or contract a parasite from undercooked food, or catch some kind of virus if they don’t continuously scrub down with hand sanitizer. Over the past few years I’ve been getting really conscious of these types of parents and being raised, as you put it, “free-range” I couldn’t understand the big issue. My parents were never really worried too much over letting me or my siblings walk down the street to the grocery store, or the library or wherever when we were kids, so to see these overprotective parents not even let their appropriately aged kids walk across the street baffled me completely.

    I myself don’t have any kids right now, and not for a few years–I’m only twenty years old after all. Even though I’m young, and not a parent, I still have my opinions and agree wholeheartedly with this ‘free-range’ movement you’ve got going. Really, I’m so happy to have found this website and see that there are some people who aren’t in constant fear or worry over their kids. Someday, when I do become a parent I want to raise my kids this way, as I’ve been raised. A little dirt never hurt anyone, and neither did a little independence.

    My boyfriend and I -do- talk about having kids one day and he agrees with their being raised ‘free-range’ even though he wasn’t. His mother was definitely one of those ‘helicopter’ type parents and she still is. She calls everyday and is always concerned over what he’s eating and if he’s eating alright and it drives us both insane. She gets upset when he can’t drop everything and come home for the weekend because he has a job or other commitments. We live together and plan on getting married just as soon as our student loans aren’t so monstrous! The trouble is, I’m worried about if his mom’s behavior is going to continue or if she’s going to ease off. Or if she’s going to have some really “strong opinions” about how we raise our kids one day.

    I’m just so inspired by what you wrote and how you faced the controversy over it! Despite all the media hype over abducted kids and shows like Criminal Minds, Law and Order, CSI, etc, it’s awesome to find out that there are parents who know that the shows are just that: television shows, and that the stories we hear are just those rare cases. I mean, when you walk out of the door you could get eaten by a bear, when you take a swim in the ocean you could get attacked by a shark, but does that stop people? No it doesn’t, because that’s life. Kids need to experience life to the fullest and not be afraid of it, and they need to carve their own little niches in the world and how can they do that if we, as overbearing parents, smother them and keep them in our mind’s eye as newborns. Kids need the chance to grow up and to feel good about themselves and giving them their independence is an excellent way to do that.

    Thank-you SO much for sharing your views and ideas and just being the voice of reason in a world that has so many different and conflicting ideas about the “right” way to raise kids. =] I hope to have a free-range bunch of kids of my own in the years to come. Will definitely be following your blog from now on!


  198. Hi, Lenore. I thought you might find this article interesting:


  199. Dear Lenore:

    I’m enjoying reading your book.
    What does waxing crunchy mean?

  200. Lenore and followers,
    I am definitely pro-free range and have an 8 year old. I came across the internet splash about the teacher in California who moved in with an 18 year old student. The mother has a huge campaign against him. I am interested in what people on this site think. I was a teacher, college level and in public schools. I think the age of consent is 16. Right? Yet, there is the question of the teacher/student relationship. Yes, it would have been so much better had they waited until she graduated from school to even start communicating. His unethical behavior is not excused, but I don’t see how that makes him a pervert or criminal. I always enjoy how Lenore picks apart the media hype. Am interested in hearing what you think on this topic.

  201. This cartoon says it all really:

  202. Hello Lenore,

    I’m a woman that grew up Free Range. I remember as a child riding on the handlebars of my elder sister’s bike and riding through the neighborhood to a little store where would we buy candy or ice cream treats with some allowance.

    And one thing that I remember distinctly about my childhood is that I was always allowed to ask questions. About anything. If my mother though that it was a subject I was too young to know, she would say “when you’re older” and when I was older it WAS addressed. And most importantly if my mother didn’t know the answer herself she would admit it! She rarely, if ever, put things down to find the answer, but hey she was a woman with three kids and a house to clean. She was busy.

    And recently, this happened: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/116075-One-Million-Moms-Want-Same-Sex-Archie-Comic-Out-of-Toys-R-Us

    The quick version is that the group Million Moms is protesting Toys-R-Us stocking copies of Life With Archie #16 which features a homosexual soldier and his marriage to another man . I don’t know if this will necessarily fit the Free Range spirit, but to me I think this is a major part of helicopter parenting. Instead of talking to our children about important subjects and allowing them the ability to explore not only the world but the people in it, we just try force out anything about the world that we don’t like about it.

    I think this is highly unfair and I hope that Toys-R-Us doesn’t buckle under pressure. I don’t believe that we should keep things from our children just because it’s not a way of life we agree with. I mean Jewish people have to deal with their children seeing christianity all around and trying to explain that to their children, so why shouldn’t heterosexual parents have to deal with trying to explain homosexual couples and parents?

  203. Mimi: For what it’s worth, the comic in question has now sold out.

    Unfortunately, the squeamishness about talking to kids long predates the helicopter parenting trend. It’s really a fear of embarrassment more than anything else, along with a belief that little kids have truly dirty minds: “How am I going to answer my six-year-old’s questions about what Kevin (the Archie character in the comic) and his husband do in bed?” Um, kind of the same way you answer your six-year-old’s questions about what all the male-female couples he’s aware of do in bed. Wait a minute, you say, he hasn’t been asking those questions so you haven’t had to answer them? Ponder on that for a while, and you’ll have your answer.

  204. I appreciate the concept here overall, I really do. I grew up free-range, too, but I didn’t risk death every time I crossed Atlantic Avenue as my two 7-year olds do, here in Brooklyn. I want my kids to be more “free range”, but one is on the very low spectrum of Asperger’s Syndrome. She’s brilliant, but less focused and independent than her twin sister; less able to cross a street without waxing poetic about a budding tree she saw moments earlier, or the birds flying south overhead. Her degree of Asperger’s is so low that it goes unnoticed by most people, and pretty much by everyone who has no knowledge of autism-spectrum differences at all (except that they think she’s too intense or a little odd, at times.) My quandary is, I worry constantly about her safety, but I know that I “helicopter parent” her too much. On the one hand, she’s intellectually savvy about safety with strangers (she’s hip to the do’s and dont’s), but on the other hand, she’s so dreamy and seemingly fragile at times (in her own world), that I can’t entirely figure out where to draw the line – though I do try – every day, like you can’t imagine. Since I saw no posts like this at all, I wanted to share another perspective, as the term “helicopter parent” does hurt, but not all of us are so fortunate to feel in our gut that our child will remember to look for that huge gap between the subway car and the platform. I have twins, and I know that one will look, and the other won’t. We “helicopter parents” may have reasons that aren’t obvious to others for being so vigilant, and some of us, like me, struggle daily with balancing the need to protect my child and the very real fear that she’ll never be particularly safe on her own.

  205. NYer; Lenore does not represent reckless indifference to children’s’ safety. She is trying to move a pendulum that has been stuck at the severe neurotic end of its motion for years. Ultimately each parent will have to balance safety with the need for children to be more independent. Your daughter is perhaps not quite as safe as others. On the other hand it is very easy for the parent of a borderline Asperger’s child to justify endless elaborate hovering to keep them safe. It is about balance for you. I saw a father I know riding his bike to school this morning with his son, perhaps 9-10 years of age. I know this family. I am sure the father has convinced himself that this little exercise is “bonding” for him and his son. Perhaps so, but I also know he is afraid to let his son ride to school in our very safe neighborhood. I think Lenore’s ideas address him squarely.

  206. Dr. Dave,

    I never suggested that Lenore “represents reckless indifference to children’s safety.” Your response is defensive, and callous, to boot. I respect what Lenore is doing; I applaud her, actually. I was simply surprised that I hadn’t seen one post from a parent who had reasons that wouldn’t necessarily be apparent for “hovering” over their child, and wanted to submit another perspective – not undermine her cause. Yes, it IS easy for me to justify my “endless elaborate hovering” (how caustic of you, what a delightful person you must be), and what I speak of is a much larger issue of the balance one in my position faces daily.

  207. I am actually a delightful person. Sorry you took offense. Lenore is courageous and takes a beating at times on the web and I am a a big fan of hers. By your own admission your obsess about danger–that’s really the topic here, isn’t it. It was just as dangerous to cross that street when you grew up as it is now, perhaps more so. Child Pedestrian death rates have fallen for the past two decades. No one has died from Halloween candy poisoning that I have ever been able to document. Yet we obsess endlessly about danger. Lenore is trying to promote courage and common sense.

  208. No, that’s not really the topic I made reference to at all, frankly. You’ve twice missed my point; that I merely wanted to present a differing perspective (one that I heartily wish I didn’t have, but do have for more than justifiable reasons. You neglected to mention my daughter’s spectrum issue in the last post entirely.) You surely do paint a pat, simplistic and uninformed picture…how on earth would you know if I think Halloween candy is dangerous (I’ve let my kids trick-or-treat since they could walk.) Lenore is certainly courageous but frankly, so am I. Do try to remember that it’s irresponsible and unprofessional of you to pigeonhole people.

  209. […] alone at the park to teach them independence and instill self-confidence.  She authored the book Free Range Kids, published a few years ago.  She allowed her nine year-old son to ride the New York City subway […]

  210. I was a free range kid too, street smart, etc. To cut it short, the harm was done. My nieces were free range kids because their mom allowed it (because their mom wasn’t harmed when she was a free range kid), there were almost harm done to them on few different times but avoided because I was a helicopter parent to them. I kept it a secret from them, only told them when they were in college. When it didn’t happen to you, it’s either because your time hasn’t come / it just won’t happen to you, but it doesn’t mean it’s not happening to others. It either go unreported, or you can see the many news nowadays.

  211. “Does America Hate Children?” and overparenting as a form of abuse… interesting stuff…


  212. As a nanny, I feel your frustration, yet I can’t do anything about it. I watch, on a daily basis, 4 children who depend on adults for their every need and for every decision that needs to be made. The 12 year old is not allowed to cross busy streets. The 9 year old isn’t allowed to walk to the park. The 6 year old isn’t allowed to play in the yard by herself. And God forbid I let the toddler play alone in his room. These kids do no chores, or anything for themselves including making their lunch, pouring their own milk, helping with the dishes, etc. If Mom hears me tell them to “Get your own snack,” she swoops in to get it for them. And walking to the bus stop alone? Forget it. I appreciate you trying to spread the word that children are a lot smarter and more self sufficient than we give them credit for. And that the world is not out to get them!

  213. […] can read a great description of what being “Free Range” means here, by Lenore Skenazy, who has been a strong advocate of this type of parenting.  And as time goes […]

  214. New York Times agrees… just let the kid go down the slide herself and she’s less likely to end up with a broken leg! http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/a-surprising-risk-for-toddlers-at-playground-slides/

  215. […] Skenazy describes Free Range Kids as “a commonsense approach to parenting in these overprotective times” with the ultimate goal […]

  216. Re: ‘the stranger” who offered kids donuts… one of the most awesome memories I have is being taken into a dark room by a “stranger” – wait for it – he was a science teacher who was traveling across the southwest during his summer break collecting mineral samples, as an amateur geologist. He wanted to show me and my sister and brother how different minerals fluoresce under ultra-violet light, but in the treeless campsite in Texas where our family encountered him it couldn’t be done outdoors. He gave us a variety of inpromptu geology lessons in the heat of a very boring location that we were passing thru on a trip to visit relatives. He also gave us each crystals.
    This sparked a temporary geologomania in me – in the 1960s when girls were not encouraged to participate in science. I collected minerals for several years after the incident.
    I did not end up majoring in geology in college, but I do work in science these days.
    Sorry I cannot remember your name Mr. Stranger, but I do still have the crystal.

  217. npr Talk of the Nation discusses “Why Johnny can’t ride?” David Darlington article in Bicycling magazine, Free Range and Lenora are referenced. Janette (Adam’s mom)


  218. I love your book and your website. I took my 4 year old to an historic farm last weekend to watch sheep shearing. She was splashing in a puddle when a slightly older child approached to also splash in the puddle. Her mother shrieked for her to get away from the mud. When the daughter protested that my girl was splashing, the mother scolded, “Well, I can see that, and I don’t know WHERE her mother is but….” From right behind her (where I was enjoying seeing my child’s happiness and freedom), I simply called, “C, you’re fine, just be mindful of others please.” Ooh, that mom looked just SHOCKED that I was allowing mud splashing at a farm (of all places!).

  219. I love the idea of letting kids try things on their own and learn how to be independent and problem solve. I don’t believe that children need constant supervision. And I think it’s amazing how many people do think that in today’s world. They just assume you are a bad parent and understand nothing of freedom of choice. They are YOUR children, and YOU should decide how to raise them, aside from abuse and actual neglect (aren’t feeding them, etc.).
    I recently moved to a city just outside of Phoenix and the people here are so paranoid, it’s driving me crazy. Is there somewhere you can live where other people don’t tell you how to raise your kids? Seriously, any suggestions will be considered. I want to move where I am freer.

  220. […] Take our children to the park and leave them there is the brain child of Lenore Skenazy, founder of the free-range parenting movement and the website and book Free Range Kids. […]

  221. […] cue that they’re comfortable without my assistance. I was talking with a friend today about free-range parenting (maybe you’ve heard of this movement?) and I follow this parenting philosophy to a great […]

  222. My old primary school (elementary school if you’re American) has in recent years really outdone itself with over-protective features. Aside from all the extra handrails and safety locks, half the school has been painted a fluorescent yellow to ward against danger. There are mental poles that hold up awnings on the edges of buildings, the middle section of which have been painted yellow, so that the children playing will see them and not bump into them. The children eat lunch outside and do so sitting on metal benches. The edges of the benches have also been painted… just in case a 10-year-old didn’t know how to use a seat properly and fell off the edge.

  223. Hi! I have a question that’s been bugging me about free range kids in children’s programming but I don’t know how to email you. How do I contact you, I would really like your opinion. Thanks!

  224. Lenore, I am posting this short note because I have selected you for my blogroll. I just wanted to let you know I really enjoy reading your blog. If for some reason you prefer not to be listed on my blogroll, just send me a note and I will remove your link (or if you want me to add a comment or more information about your blog that is fine as well). You may view it at:
    I very much appreciate you your point of view. Thanks!

  225. […] to start off by introducing myself and the conversation being had on other blogs about “free-range” parenting.  The term was coined by Lenore Skenazy and refers to a more child-led, […]

  226. Superb website…

    […]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[…]……

  227. Saw these ads on TV and thought they were the embodiment of free range (esp. the inner tube one!). So glad I live in this state!


  228. JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — A local mom spends the night in jail after police say she let her kids play outside unsupervised. The Johnson City mother is facing felony child abuse and neglect charges.

    Thursday night April Lawson let her children, 5 and 8 years old, play at the Mountainview Elementary park without an adult and that seems to be the root of the problem.

    With hands folded, it’s a tough lesson learned for Lawson simply standing in front of a judge. Now she’s facing felony child abuse and neglect charges. In court Friday the judge explained why. “If the abused child is eight years of age or less the penalty is a class D felony,” said judge Robert Lincoln.

    News 5 caught up with Lawson right outside that same park. She says they live just a block and a half away, close enough to see the kids playing and here’s how she describes what happened Thursday evening, “So I walked them across the street, watched them walk up the block to the park and went back inside. When the kids didn’t come home I sent somebody up here to bring them home,” she explained.

    Johnson City Police say when Lawson realized the kids weren’t there, she called 911. According to a court document News 5 picked up neighbors let Lawson’s friend know the children were at a nearby home. “I had no idea that I could get in this much trouble for just walking them up to a playground and play,” said Lawson.

    The Department of Children’s Services took the children from the home and Lawson spent the night in jail. Friends say while it was a big mistake, they hope the community doesn’t judge Lawson too. “We have all made mistakes, take a step back, evaluate your own life,” said Tammy Bailer.

    Lawson also tells News 5 she hopes her story serves as a word of warning to other parents.

    She’s scheduled to be in front of a judge again on June 14.

  229. […] Saturday, June 23, supporters of Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids philosophy are organizing a series of Free Range Picnics. The idea is to meet other families in […]

  230. I’m sure a million people will send you this… but an excellent article!! http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/a-lost-child-rescues-himself/?src=rechp

  231. Tricky people are the new strangers – worth a read lenore. Thanks for your (sanity) blog! http://www.checklistmommy.com/2012/02/09/tricky-people-are-the-new-strangers/

  232. Hi, I’m the drummer with Arlo Guthrie. When I’m not on the road I travel around singing for kids and trying to encourage them to be active and spend a little less time at the video screens.

    Here’s my thoughts about kids relying too much on technology. If you agree please share!

  233. cute video and song. i’ll tweet! say hi to arlo for me! i’m leaning libertarian these days, too! L. Lenore Skenazy Author of the bookand blog, Free-Range Kids Host of Discovery/TLC International’s “World’s Worst Mom” (the title is ironic!). Here’s a 2-minutesample. Busy twittering atFreeRangeKids And while we’re at it, also author of the trivia book that puts the fun in short term memory loss:”Who’s The Blonde that Married What’s-His-Name?” 646 734 8426(cell)


  234. I think it’s sad to bash other moms for their parenting choices and I don’t want to be one of them but I have to comment…. You said so many moms today feel bad about having to give their kids formula and that it’s not “rat poison”. No it’s not poison but it’s also not the BEST thing for your baby either. Its over 60% sugars. Yes if you have EDUCATED yourself about what is normal and not normal when nursing (engorgement, growth spurts, etc) and you have tried, tried tried again to nurse and can’t by all means DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT HAVING TO USE FORMULA! Thats what its for!
    but if you are a mom who just doesn’t care and says “Hey other people kids turned out fine on formula. and I don’t feel like taking the time to nurse etc.” Then SHAME ON YOU..

    I think moms and the govt (since people obviously want the govt to get involved so they can get FREE formula on wic that WE pay for) can do a better job about encouraging moms to nurse without berating them. Saying just because YOU were fed formula and you turned out fine is some strange logic.
    That’s like saying “I did drugs and i turned out FINE”. We should all be trying to promote whats best for our kids and leave OUR feelings and opinions behind. No one should be made to feel bad about their parenting choices if they are doing the best they can…promoting formula because YOU possibly feel guilty is not cool in my book though.

  235. No, the strange logic would be comparing drug use and formula use. That is really some strange thinking. You seem to be doing most of the bashing here.

  236. no please re-read what I wrote! what I SAID was -that seems to be the same LOGIC that people who have used drugs before and turn out ok use to promote the notion that drugs are ok…or anything else for instance
    1: “my mom let me watch tv 24 hours a day 7 days a wk and I turned out ok” or
    2:”my kids received all their immunizations and are fine”
    just because lots of people turn out fine doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

    What I meant was just because babies can (and do!) turn out fine on formula they are not getting everything they could get in terms of nutrients, antibodies, vitamins. People use that kind of warped reasoning to defend what THEY as a parent did or DIDN’T do+. We should be putting babies needs and health AHEAD of moms feelings (whether that be our own or others.) hospitals put advertising money ahead of babies health by promoting formula so do parenting magazines…it’s sad. obviously YOU formula fed lol

  237. Ha, I wish my parents had read this way back when! They still worry now. I don’t know what else to do to prove I’m self reliant!

  238. i am a girl who cannot handle my parent and i am ten years old so help

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