Bill Maher Is One of Us! (And So Is WMTW President Dave Abel)

It’s almost bizarre how much Bill Maher hits every point we make here all the time (except I’ve never mentioned Japanese businessmen and squid). Let’s hope next he will endorse the May 9 “Take Our Children to the Park…and Let Them Walk Home by Themselves” Day.

And while we’re  at it, here’s the president of WMTW in Maine, below. I have to admit: It is really amazing — weird, even — to hear so many different people saying what we’ve been saying here since 2008, and even saying “Free-Range.” All along, we have been insisting that it is not nuts or negligent to give our kids an old-fashioned childhood. This entire movement is a rejection of the belief that our kids are in constant danger — a terrifying lie that has been shoved down our throats for the past 20 or 30 years. Everyone seems to be waking up from a fear-induced coma to realize this.

We believe in our kids. We believe in our communities. God help us, now we’re almost beginning to believe in the media.

Almost.

Anyway, this has been a great week for Free-Range Kids. – L.

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And here’s Bill again. Yay, Bill:

Remember when Free-Range parenting was just...parenting?

“Remember when Free-Range Parenting was just…parenting?”

23 Responses to Bill Maher Is One of Us! (And So Is WMTW President Dave Abel)

  1. JP Merzetti April 26, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    First respondant?
    Mercy!
    (I almost have stage fright.)

    Reclaiming childhood.
    (which always was adults in training)
    a long, lovely road to walk.

    When did childhood become “old-fashioned?”

    Will we one fine day wake up to a new revolution to reclaim Independence?
    Will there come a time of Civil Rights marches, demonstrations, speeches……(new dreams)
    for an old world.

    That would be something.
    The kids can’t do it without the help and support of adults. That’s for sure.
    Cry Freedom.
    It chokes me up.

  2. Warren April 26, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    Owner and general manager using his editorial time to support childhood like that? Kudos to him. Well spoken, well balanced editorial.

    As for Bill, him and Lenore should hook up. Between the two of them it would not only be informative, but extremely entertaining.

  3. Doug April 27, 2015 at 12:42 am #

    Not everything was rosy. There was a very disturbing discussion on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday today. The discussion was based entirely on parental fears and anxieties, without any reference to actual risks, etc, and the person (not Lenore) who ostensibly defended free range parenting did a very disappointing job.

    That said, in light of other current events, an issue occurred to me that don’t think I have seen discussed here. I don’t at all like making things any more political than they need to be because it makes people get angry with each other on issues where they might otherwise stand together, but I think it is an important issue that we need to talk about.

    One of the guests did not feel comfortable letting her FIFTEEN year old daughter go to the park by herself. As someone who considers himself a mostly free range parent, my first reaction was “what is she going to do when she is a legal adult in 3 years and she has no life experience away from her parents?”

    I later looked up her blog “My Brown Baby” and realized she is probably African-American. At that point it occurred to me that what might be safe for my kids might not be safe for her kids. I consider my neighborhood safe and my kids often walk home from the park by themselves. My kids are white and look more or less like other kids in the neighborhood, which is populated mostly by seemingly open-minded white and Asian families. But in light of recent events, I don’t think I would be terribly surprised to hear that someone called the police if they saw, say, an African-American 12 year old boy walking down the street from school on our street, even if he were minding his own business and just trying to get home. Nor would I be surprised if the police stopped him, not because they thought his parents were being negligent, but because someone thought he might be up to something nefarious, even though there is almost no crime in my neighborhood and crime in our city generally (San Diego) is the lowest it has been in 35 years. If some misguided or poorly trained police officers are asking African-American adults if they have a receipt on their person to prove ownership of the bicycles they are riding (something that has never even remotely happened to me in my 35 years of bike riding), who knows how one of them acting alone and having a bad day might treat a teenage African-American boy in a neighborhood where there aren’t very many of them. This is a complete hypothetical, and something I hope never happens where I live or anywhere for that matter, but I suspect it happens all the time, and in fact may be the norm rather than the exception.

    Here are the links to the NPR report, for those who haven’t heard it, and the blog of the counterpoint interviewee.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/04/26/402226053/what-kind-of-parent-are-you-the-debate-over-free-range-parenting
    http://mybrownbaby.com/

  4. Wow... April 27, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    @Doug: Yeah. But here’s the thing: the problem is the police. Your community needs to do something about that. By all means, be understanding. The problem will never go away though so long as the ‘receipt police’ exist. And the answer isn’t to keep black kids closer (that’s a short-term solution for a long-term problem).

    If it isn’t safe for a typically-developing 14 y/o to walk home from school, there’s something wrong with your community. Doesn’t matter what colour they are – that’s still true. The only thing that changes is how the problem is solved.

  5. Ann April 27, 2015 at 7:15 am #

    Hey Lenore… Bill Maher has an e in his last name. You may want to correct the spelling. Loved the video!!

  6. Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook April 27, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    I especially love that last bit of Maher’s! Yes, absolutely, there are things online that are just as harmful as and far far far easier to access than what parents fear will happen at the local park.

    I have a 10-year-old son and an almost 1-year-old daughter. We live in a city where we encounter a wide variety of parenting approaches. I’m baffled by the parents who have never let their middle-schoolers get more than 20 feet away from them in a public place yet give the kids smartphones with unlimited Internet access and TVs in their bedrooms.

    Here’s an article I wrote when my son was 8, explaining how we were teaching him to be safe gradually farther away from home. At that point, I was newly pregnant and planning to have him ready to go to the supermarket or pharmacy for me while I was home with a newborn…success! Now he has two friends who also are allowed to roam within the neighborhood business district, so they often walk around together, window-shopping, getting fresh air and exercise, and occasionally spending some allowance. It’s great.

  7. gladys April 27, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Wow!!! that was an eye opener… never would have thought of this… yes if I was a parent of this child I am sure I would think long and hard about letting my children out on their own… sad… very sad… Living ing Canada, we do have complicated issues… but this in not one of them…

  8. John April 27, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Not a lot I agree with Bill Maher on but SOMETIMES, in all of his obnoxiousness and jihad against religion, the guy actually makes sense. Even the ever so conservative Sean Hannity gave Bill Maher some kudos on certain points he made in the past. I’m sure Maher wouldn’t agree with the “God help us” statement above, but he sure hit a homerun right out of the stadium with the little talking points above!

    My question is, with fairly high profile media figures ventilating their views about children needing more freedom with less supervision in light of the Meitiv case, will this have any influence on Maryland Child Protective Services? Do these people understand that they’re now being denigrated in the media for what they did to the Meitivs and their children? Or will they stubbornly stand by their tactics? Will CPS and applicable authorities in other states take heed with what is being said and espoused in the media about allowing children more freedom outside with less supervision?

    Those are the million dollar questions and I think the answer to those questions will be the determining factor on whether or not the free range concept with kids will ever get off the ground. That and, of course, changing the mindset of most parents.

  9. Maggie in VA April 27, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    Urgh, if only Maher weren’t also a notorious anti-vaxxer.

  10. Aimee April 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    What on earth does him being anti-vax have anything to do with this?? Parenting is all about making choices that are right for you and your family. It is perfectly okay to respect someone while disagreeing on his or her stance on a different issue. You can be pro-vax AND free-range the same way you can be anti-vax AND helicopter. This page is about free-range issues, and in this case, he is RIGHT ON, whether he would vaccinate his kids or not (which he doesn’t even have, I don’t think).

  11. Kenny Felder April 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    This is *so* going on my Facebook right away.

  12. JP Merzetti April 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    The man is childless.
    (which might lead some to conclude that he has no business speaking out on the subject.)
    A good rational argument is what it is….

    Just as……I have a few friends of that stripe, who love doing comedy routines about how much they hate kids.
    Both male and female.
    I always rejoin with my own comedy routine, about how glad I am they are not responsible for propagating the species (Imagine if they’d been the ones stuck on Noah’s Ark? Mercy!)

    Societal pressures – be it policing, schooling, politicking, religion-ing, neighborhood standards (or that strange, strange thing that I sometimes encounter in the company of women I don’t know well….) That curiously brutal bias and judgment – the weapons they use against each other – as mothers.
    I don’t recall dads ever doing that. We got pissed off when a clumsy kid broke our window, or left the garden hose running, or littered the driveway……all those dumb-bum things kids do…..but we didn’t throw a hate on whoever their dad was. We’d just tend to get a little more instructional with the kid about life situations, consequences, and accountability. (I suppose this was part of that “village raising a child” thing going on – though we never really consciously thought of it that way.)

    So what’s up with that?
    My missus’ explanation always seemed to leave me thinking that the female side of the coin was more hands on and proactive, while the male side was a little too laid back and mellow. Probably true, but we managed, anyhow.
    Yet when I think back and remember the good old neighborhood days when the kids were small, it was the mothers who were organized, co-operative, supportive…..and all those other good things that make a neighborhood safe, sound, and extremely kid-friendly.
    So what have we lost, how did we lose it…..and why?

    (which is perhaps a topic for a whole new thread)

  13. SanityAnyone? April 27, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    I support this movement and especially the decriminalization of reasonable parenting decisions. However, I understand the fear to which any parent is prone from the first steps to the first bike ride alone around the block. This week I was scared when my 12 year old son didn’t come home from school after a track meet. I barely noticed at 4:45 pm, thinking the late bus usually arrives now but I don’t know how these meets work so give it time. At 5:30 I asked my husband to buzz by school on his way home to see if signals were crossed and he was waiting for us. No kids were visible outside. Got a teeny bit nervous but figured there was an explanation. Called two of his friends near the bus stop to see if he was playing and had forgotten to call, which is unlike him. He wasn’t. At 6pm, called the school twice and emailed the principal an “urgent” message that my son hadn’t come home but got no reply. (Still haven’t!) I was poised to call the police at 6:20 pm when my son came strolling down the street. He used the moment to needle me for the thousandth time for a cell phone. I used it to cry a few tears of relief and then reminded him to use ANY ubiquitous phone to call me now that he sees what it looks like when Mom gets worried. (The activity bus simply arrived extra late and he was waiting inside.) Would I change anything or pull him closer? No. I updated his training and expectations. Our kids are so precious, it’s often hard to stand by and let them “breathe”, but I think it’s an indispensable part of the gradual maturation process.

  14. BL April 27, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    @JP Merzetti
    “The man is childless.
    (which might lead some to conclude that he has no business speaking out on the subject.)”

    Of course, if you have these views and DO have children, you get called things like World’s Worst Mom.

    (Reminds me of the schoolteachers who disdain school critics for not having taught in schools themselves, but then REALLY blow their gasket at John Taylor Gatto, who taught in NYC public schools for 30 years…)

  15. John April 28, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Well, neither do I have kids and as a big proponent of the free range kids concept, I’ve been told by helicopter people that if I had kids I’d be singing a different tune. Perhaps there MAY be some truth in that but I tell those people that they’re using a “red herring” argument (I think that’s the correct term). Just because I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on how kids should be raised and neither does it mean that I am incorrect in saying that too many parents and American society in general OVERprotect their kids. Facts are facts.

  16. Warren April 28, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    John,
    I sometimes hear the same logic, based on my kids being 16,16 and 24. “It is not the same as when they grew up, and if you had small kids you would think differently.”. Is what I have heard.

    Yet these same people are just fine with teachers, and other school staff making parental calls for their kids. And I guarantee that not all of them have kids. That is a fact I can prove. My oldest is a teacher, and she hasn’t made me a grandpa yet.

  17. dancing on thin ice April 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t have children.
    One FRK issue is childless people being looked at with suspicion if anywhere near minors.

  18. Havva April 28, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    @John… Part of being a parent involves learning how wrong you are on so many topics related to kids. You touted a philosophy and then you couldn’t actually live up to it. Another huge part is learning to brush off the opinions of large numbers of people. Becuause of the first listed part the easiest, the easiest people to brush off are non-parents. And the parenting magazines make sure you will even brush off your own parents and other elders (they put you to bed on your stomach…your lucky you survived.)

    All that said… I find I get a lot of much needed support from non parents, and old grandpas. They haven’t stewed in all the “latest and greatest” parenting advice (i.e. fear mongering). As a result the not currently parenting people, seem to be the ones who can just accept childish weirdness and needs on their own terms. They aren’t the ones acting like lab technicians handling a science project in need of precision management to ensure a perfect outcome.

    When I realized what I had been stewing in, it was my not currently parenting friends who pulled me back to a calm view of life. They did it without any grand proclamations, just little reminders of what they do know…the same things I knew before I got caught up in doing parenting by the book (of fear).

  19. Sara Heard April 28, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    I really feel like the tide is turning, both in public opinion and in the media.

    The morning after that four-year-old Philadelphia girl snuck out and got on the bus at 3 a.m. to get an icey there was a wonderful support of Free Rangedom on Fox News of all places. There were three talking heads on, and two were idiots (it is Fox, after all), but the third emphasized that the moral of the story was: People are good, everyone rallied to help this girl, everything was fine, bravery in children is a good thing, the girl was admirably capable, etc. I’ll try to dig up a link to it — I was so surprised and pleased to hear it.

    And please don’t judge me for watching Fox. I was out of town in a hotel with unfamiliar channel numbers, so it was simpler to just leave the TV on the first one. Of course it makes me wonder what kind of person was staying in my room before me. I do hope they cleaned the bedding thoroughly.

  20. Havva April 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    @Sara Heard,
    I think the tide is turning as well. There were close to a dozen unattended elementary kids waiting at the bus stop near my daughter’s daycare today. In about a half hour I’ll probably see a dozen kids disgorge from the school bus near my office, with not one parent meeting them. These are all new sights for my area.

    Second thing, I have to say. This is a cultural problem. Since most states just have CPS guidelines, but not actual laws, the cultural solution is critical. I am immensely grateful that this has stayed a movement without a political allegiance. Seems having one will make about 40% of the people have a knee jerk reaction against the idea. And the other 60% would be no guarantee of support. If we are to have any hope of CPS guidelines being sensible, we need this to be a culture wide call. You, or I, or anyone picked off the street, might instinctively distrust someone on the list of: Fox News, ABC, the Washington Post, Parents Magazines, Bill Marher, or Glenn Beck. But when all of them start saying ‘kids need some independence,’ the idea isn’t so easily dismissed. When people normally at odds all ask “Remember when Free-Range Parenting was just ….Parenting?” there is hope.

  21. JulieC April 28, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Well said, Havva. I live in a fairly liberal town, politically speaking, and we’re are about as free-range as they come. And I, gasp, am a Republican.. I’ve even been known to watch, gasp, Fox News!

    I know people across the political spectrum who are incredible helicopter parents. And those who, like me, have allowed our children to have increasing responsibilities and freedoms to roam and explore.

  22. JJ April 29, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    I finally got around to watching these videos and it made my day. Congratulations Lenore and everyone else who is fighting the fight. Common sense is starting to prevail. And as others have said, I have seen in my life (and here on the blog) that there doesn’t seem to be any particular political correlation with whether someone is or isn’t FRK. In fact it was the one issue that I could agree on with a co-worker of mine who had wildly differently political affiliations than me. Maybe this is the issue that will finally make us break down our nation’s partisan barriers! (Ok, maybe not…)

  23. Papilio April 30, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    Okay, that Maher guy was funny 🙂 You seem to become more mainstream, maybe, finally…

    I’ve seen people assume Lenore is liberal and I’ve seen them assume she’s conservative, and I never understood what political view had to do with how you raise your children. (What’s next? ‘Oh you vote Republican, you must like broccoli’?)

    @Warren: “As for Bill, him and Lenore should hook up.” Would you please consider those poor bastards among us with a dirty mind and a vivid imagination? Thank you.