EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers)

Hey Folks — Here’s a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, “Mum”) assumed the girl was with daddy. In fact, she was in the bathroom and emerged to find her family gone.

While the Associated Press reports the parents were “distraught” when they realized she wasn’t with either, they called the pub and learned she was fine. She’d been separated from the fam for about 15 minutes. So why is any of this worthy of anything more than an amused smile that we’re all in this together?


In Tennessee, a woman who couldn’t find her kids for a short while was thrown in JAIL after she called 911 for help locating them. By the time the cops arrived at her house, so had her kids. Point is: These temporary blips are not evidence of BAD parenting, they are evidence of PARENTING, PERIOD.

We’ve all had those heart-stopping moments of wondering, “Oh my god, where did ________ go?” It’s no fun to live through them, but it’s not proof that we did anything wrong. LIFE IS NOT PERFECT. Parents are not perfect. Even Prime Ministers are not perfect (and no getting into politics here!).

When we criminalize everyday parenting foibles, we are ALL CRIMINALS.

Okay. Enough with the CAPITALS. Have a great week! And we shall talk soon about my FREE-RANGE KIDS PICNIC COMING UP THAT YOU ARE ALL INVITED TO ON SATURDAY, JUNE 23. (Okay NOW no more capitals.) – L

Prime Minister David Cameron will be charged with abuse and neglect for losing track of his child for 15 minutes. Oh wait…no he won’t. That’s the story UNDER THIS ONE.

When A Kid Doesn’t Come Home When He’s Expected…

Hi Readers! Here’s a little note from a mom of three named Nina:

Dear Free-Range Kids: First of all, thank you.  I have been increasingly Free Range over the past 4-5 years but I didn’t have a name for it until I found this website.  I am glad to know that  I am not the only mother left on the planet with common sense.

So, to my story.  We moved into a new house about six months ago.  I was explaining to my new neighbor one summer night, while the kids were playing together at the park, all about the idea of raising children Free Range.  I told her a movement had begun.  She listened but didn’t have much to say about it.  Months passed.

Then, one night, my son did not come home at the prescribed time (when the street lights come on).  I waited…and waited…then I went to his friends’ house where he was supposed to be. His friend said he had already left quite  a while ago.  I figured he’d gone to a park, so I started making the rounds.  My other two children were with the aforementioned neighbor.  I started to get somewhat nervous since my son was now about two hours late and not in  any of his usual places.  I figured his stomach would have told him it was dinner time by now, lol.   It was at this point that my neighbor commented, “So I guess this is Free Range, huh.”

Right about then I see my boy coming down the dark street on his bike, deer-in-the headlight eyes, because he knew he was late and he was terrified.  He was not lost, kidnapped, locked up by a sick lunatic, or lying injured on the road. He’d just lost track of time at a the home of a friend that he hadn’t let  me know he was playing with.  He was grounded for not telling me where he was going and not coming home when the street lights came on.

I did the same thing as him when I was a kid, but I only did it once.  I lost my freedom for a while and then I learned to follow the rules or lose the freedom.  He, apparently, has learned the same lesson because he has been showing up promptly when the street lights come on, without fail, ever since the grounding was lifted.  My neighbor, on the other hand, now feels justified in keeping her kids locked up where she can see them at all times.

Sometimes I feel that the whole world has gone mad. Then I see an update here and realize that just most of the world has gone mad.

I”m hanging on to my sanity by giving my children the freedom to explore. Thank you,


Kid Slipped Away From You? Share Your Story!

After yesterday’s story about a 5-year-old who slipped away from his mom and rode the subway alone — emerging just fine — here’s a great idea that came from a comment below:

Let’s share our stories of when WE lost our kids for a short time. So much is made of any time a child goes missing – including those statistics you hear about hundreds of kids disappearing each day – that it is good to remember that 99.999% of the time they pop right back up. (And that perfectly fine parents lose track of their kids from time to time.)

Here’s my story: A couple years ago our family of four was on 34th Street – yes, the street with the miracle, but about a block from Macy’s.  We’d been looking for backpacks at K-Mart and, finding nothing great, had emerged onto the sidewalk and were trying to decide where to look next. I took our older son, then 10, to a shop across the street and thought my husband was hanging onto the younger one, who was 8. My husband thought I took both. So when we met back up and there were only three of us, I became (yes, Free-Range me) hysterical.


We looked and looked and I shouted his name at the top of my shaky lungs. Believe me, it is no fun having strangers stare at you as if you’ve lost your mind…or kid. Several horrible, harrowing minutes later, he came walking down the street, asking us, “Where were you?”

We asked him the same thing. Upon somehow separating from us all he’d gone back to K-Mart to look for us. He’d searched all three floors, including the bathrooms.

I told him he was the only human to EVER find the bathrooms at K-Mart.

Then we went back to backpack shopping and that was that.

Now let’s hear your story, to remind ourselves that even one of parenting’s biggest fears – being separated in a public place from your child – usually ends up with a big sigh of relief. And, when possible, ice cream.  – Lenore