Divorced Dad Asks: Can Ex-Wife Force Me to Overprotect My Child?

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Here’s one of the occasional letters I get from divorced parents who see their child’s safety differently:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I hope you can help me or provide me with some recommendations. I have a court date on October 6th in which it will be discussed whether I can let my 9-year-old daughter (4th grade) ride her bike to and from school alone.
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I am a divorced father. I share 50/50 custody with my ex wife. When my daughter is at my house, I allow her to ride her bike to school alone (distance= 0.9miles, time: 4-6 mins in a very safe area).
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We were going to court to just discuss a change in our current schedule. We went to a mediation meeting (mandatory) and after an hour I left, as was planned. My ex stayed and continued to address issues with the court mediator in private (which, by the way, is totally illegal since in mediation both parents MUST be present to address any issue).  During this time she brought up the bike ride issue, as she is not ok with me letting our kid ride her bike.
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A week later I was shocked when I received the court papers and saw that the mediator had include this issue among his recommendations to the judge. He states that my daughter “shall not ride her bike to and from school without adult supervision.
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If the Judge does not rule against this recommendation, it will most likely become mandatory for me. Court hearings are so fast that it’s very common that all recommendations become judicial orders.
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I would like to know how I can address this and defend my right to allow my kid to ride her bike. I respect the justice system, but I don’t think a judge or court mediator should rule on this issue.
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Is any documentation or law that I can use as reference during the court hearing? I do not have a lawyer because at this point the custody is already resolved, and we were only supposed to be addressing a change in the schedule.
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Any help will be greatly appreciated. I live in California. — Free-Range Dad
I wrote back suggesting he bring to court the education bill amendment recently proposed by Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee and passed by the U.S. Senate that states the government shall not interfere with parents’ decisions regarding how their kids to get to school:

SEC. 9116. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION REGARDING TRAVEL TO AND FROM SCHOOL…

‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Subject to subsection (b), nothing in this Act shall authorize the Secretary to, or shall be construed to (1) prohibit a child from traveling to and from school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission; or (2) expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate….

I also alerted him to the law review article: “Criminal Child Neglect and the ‘Free Range Kid’: Is Overprotective Parenting the New Standard of Care?” in which Prof. David Pimentel argues that when a society is convinced that all children are at risk the second they are unsupervised, “overprotective parenting becomes the de facto legal standard of care…to the detriment of society, families, and the children themselves.

It is GOOD for kids to get exercise, fresh air and a taste of independence. Ruling that the dad cannot give these gifts to his child would mean ruling that the possibility of rare and random danger outweighs all other benefits. If that’s the case, then the judge would ALSO have to rule against the mom driving her daughter anywhere, because they could get into a fatal car crash — another rare and random danger.

 Nothing is 100% safe. Acting as if the mom has the moral and safety high ground is at odds with reality. — L.

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Why am I ruling about a bike ride???

Why am I ruling about a bike ride???

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47 Responses to Divorced Dad Asks: Can Ex-Wife Force Me to Overprotect My Child?

  1. Doug September 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Since it is illegal to address issues without both parents present, I would hope the author’s lawyer would hammer that point home as well.

  2. Joanne September 11, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I agree with Doug but if you re-read you will see Dad discloses that e no longer has attorney representation as the only item on mediation agenda was intended to be discussion & resolution of scheduling change

    How can dad have 50% custody without 50% of decision-making authority? From what I understand, dad isn’t pressuring mom to stop being overprotective, he’s just exercising his right to parent as he sees fit when his child is in his care/oversight

    It’s absurd – parenting is so stressful a constantly having to second-guess even the simplest of choices – way to much government interference in parenting – Due Process Clause of 14th Amendment provides for parents’ rights in raising their children and is constantly being egregiously violated – Dad should bring that to court to argue his case – Best of Luck to him

  3. Dave Colter September 11, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    The mediator should have known better than to violate such a basic rule. It makes we wonder how impartial she or he is. The dad’s attorney should ask the judge to reject any suggestions made during the ex parte discussions and reprimand the mediator.

  4. EricS September 11, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Hell no! Don’t give into other fears brother. Yours or others’. I’m sure you love your child, and will do what is best for THEM, regardless of how you feel or anyone else. If she can bike to school on her own, wants to bike to school on her own, and you’re okay with that, then by all means.

    Just make sure to teach your kid plenty of street smarts. Hone their observational skills, and spacial awareness. Teach her, about “strangers” she doesn’t have to be afraid of, and “strangers” she should be wary of. And what to do in certain situations she may come across. This is being a good parent. Sheltering children is not being a good parent. It’s more detrimental to them in the long run. And with children, it’s about the long run.

    Good luck!

  5. Ronda September 11, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    I wonder if the kids school has a policy in place that would address this that could be taken to court. My kids school district has a policy that states 3rd grade and up can ride bike to school alone. Our individual elem school only states that parents are comfortable and kids follow basic safety rules they can walk to school alone, it doesn’t reinstate the districts 3rd grade rule.

  6. Michelle September 11, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    Get a lawyer!!! It doesn’t matter how right you are, how logical your case is. In court, all that matters is playing the game the right way. You need someone who knows how to navigate the rules, the right way to object to what your wife and the mediator have done. Bringing in articles and citing a proposed law are not going to cut it.

    Get a lawyer NOW, before it’s too late!

  7. Doug September 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    Yeah, I missed that second to last sentence.

    Get a lawyer, because a member of the legal profession (the mediator) violated the rules, and you’ll want another member of that profession to address the question.

    Make darn sure you tell the judge the mediator discussed points with you ex while you weren’t present, and therefore you never had a chance to discuss that issue, as required by law.

  8. Emily Morris September 11, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    Yep, get a lawyer at this point. Your ex and her lawyer changed the rules of the game. Barring a local law or school policy, you have plenty of jurisdiction in how your daughter gets to school.

  9. MomOf8 September 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Lenore, will you please keep us posted as to the outcome? Also, I say get a lawyer and let the ex and the mediator know they won’t get away with this, or you’ll likely face similar situations in the future. What a couple of underhanded turds. That’s a bigger issue than the bike riding.

  10. lollipoplover September 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    Like others, I advise getting a lawyer. Contacting an organization like California Safe Routes to School or even getting your daughter certified in one of their bike safety programs is something I would also pursue.

    http://www.casaferoutestoschool.org/safe-routes-to-school-basics/preparation/educate-children-and-parents/

    Why don’t we listen to our kids???
    If your daughter wants to bike to school, why can’t the adults here stop the infighting and allow this 9 year-old to commute in the manner she chooses? Does this really have to be that hard?

    I also have a 9 year-old who bikes to school every day, happily. She’s been doing it since kindergarten and bikes the 6 year-old up the street as well as a few younger kids on her route. Honestly, she’s the flightiest of all my children and this responsibility has been so very good for her- it’s part of her identity as a “biker”. I refuse to put my fears and irrational thoughts upon this child because it’s selfish and useless.

  11. FreedomForKids September 11, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    I hope he lets us know what happens.

  12. Havva September 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    Dad get your prior lawyer (or any lawyer) back on the case before the court date! If the mediator acted illegally, there must be some remedy. But we aren’t going to know California court procedures well enough to find it.

    Barring better recommendations from your lawyer, can you submit your own recommendation eliminating any and all items discussed without your presence? For the opening explanation to the judge, I would keep it fairly simple that the purpose of your counter recommendation is to eliminate items flowing from the ex parte communications of your ex-wife and the mediator. Pointing out that these are items for which no mediation was attempted,and (several? of) which were beyond the purpose announced for the mediation. I might also consider saying that I would prefer the whole thing be sent back to mediation with a mediator who will work with both of you, not just one of you.

    Using that as a starting point, gives the judge a reason to quickly rule in your favor regardless of how he feels about 9 year olds riding bikes to school. And if the judge has a habit of basically transition the recommendations into orders because it is easy… well providing a counter recommendation that doesn’t dispute the discussed items would make it equally easy to rule in your favor.

    If you get the chance to discuss the appropriateness of your 9 year old riding a bike to school *preferably with your lawyer*. I’d advise you have on hand the questions posed by the California Department of Education as indicators of if a child is ready to be home alone (with your own answers and supporting evidence). http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/caqhomealone.asp Showing some consideration for the opinions of the state on when a kid can be left alone may play a bit better than parental instinct.

  13. VZ September 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    In almost all joint custody agreements both parents have the duty to “care, control, protection and reasonable discipline of the child”
    Typical a judge will hold that to mean that you don’t have to be following the same parenting style, and one parent can’t force the other to follow the same parenting style.
    And I can tell you, with co fisence and from experience, that even if the parents follow dramatically different parenting styles, the kids will adjust, though it can be confusing and a bit difficult.

    Lenore’s suggestions are good,but the bigger point is truly for you to state that there are things in the mediation that were discussed after you left. Judges will not typically let this these become rulings, that is NOT how mediation works.

  14. BL September 11, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    Sounds like Divorced Dad needs to get a stop-at-nothing, no-holds-barred, pit bull of a lawyer.

  15. Peachy September 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    I am guessing that the school has a policy for walking/riding children for your area. What is that age? In our local school its 3rd graders on up can leave school alone to walk/ride home and younger siblings can walk home with the older one with permission.

    Call the school and find out what their minimum age is… sounds like if she started doing it already, the school is okay with it. Also find out if there is an ordinance/curfew for children in your area to be outside alone. Again, in our state/city, there is no law for being outside alone but there is a curfew. All hopefully good ammo for a battle like this.

    In a similar situation with the ex. We let the stepchildren 9 & 7 ride around our not busy block (!) together but unsupervised and she had 10 kinds of cows when she found out.

  16. Christopher Byrne September 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    He should demand a return to mediation since what his ex wife did was inappropriate. If the judge rules against him because the issue was not discussed fairly in mediation, he has grounds to appeal.

  17. matthew September 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    1. Get a lawyer
    2. See #1

  18. Michael Rork September 11, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    I would love to see a follow up to this if you get one!

  19. Vicky September 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    I sure hope not!

  20. Buffy September 11, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    “But we aren’t going to know California court procedures well enough to find it.”

    James will.

  21. Chuck September 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Having been through the California Family Law Court, I can tell you first hand that the law and reality have absolutely nothing to do with what goes on in the courtroom. The system is completely corrupt. Decisions are made based solely on whatever mood the judge is in that day. The first judge in my case went to prison for selling verdicts to mothers in exchange for sex. The judge that replaced him went to prison for selling verdicts to mothers in exchange for sex. The court made decisions in hearings that I wasn’t even notified about.

    Good luck to the dad. Maybe his county is slightly less corrupt.

  22. Melinda September 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    Just like everyone else I recommend the lawyer because from what little I’ve seen, it seems easier to stop something before it happens than to undo something that has already been done in court.

  23. Havva September 11, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    Yeah, Buffy, that should have come with a notation specifically that our resident poltergeist didn’t study law in California, has never practiced any branch of law anywhere, and either subscribes to the principle that “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS” or really doesn’t know the limits of his knowledge (I say this as an engineer who knows he uses all the right terms but still gets thermodynamics wrong).

    Donna on the other hand who does practice law, but not family law in California, I’m 99.9% sure will say that in the same position she would get a lawyer. She might also point out complications on the legality of ex parte discussions.

  24. shdd September 11, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Twenty years from now if your daughter is asked about her childhood I bet one of the greatest memories will be riding her bike to and from school. She will remember that her Father encouraged and supported her.

  25. George September 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    This advice to get a lawyer is useless. The California family court is a mickey mouse court where mediators and judges violate rules all the time.

    You could come into court with a mountain of evidence that riding to school is safe and beneficial, and some dopey official would say, “but what if an accident happened to you child?” Or maybe, “you have a point, but the issue is causing mom distress, and the dad needs to do a better job of working with her needs.”

    Legal arguments (from lawyers) do not help much.

  26. julie5050 September 11, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Did you not have to sign the agreement after it was completed before it was submitted?

  27. Dan September 11, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    My elementary school had 3rd grade as the minimum to ride your bike to school.
    But just a year or two behind me, it was raised to 4th grade.

    My parents actually arranged my younger sister to ride to a friend’s house in 2nd grade (age 7), and then walk the last block to school.

    This was the 1960s and the school was 1 mile away.

  28. ChicagoDad September 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    To Free Range Dad,
    You and your ex can either have the kind of relationship where you talk honestly about raising your daughter, or you can sneak around behind each other’s backs.

    You want to give your daughter age-appropriate independence. You will probably seek out ways to give her some independence even if your ex would not approve if she found out. Your ex doesn’t think your daughter is ready, and rather than talk with you about it, she complained to the mediator behind your back to force her way. This isn’t sustainable. What is going to happen when your daughter wants to go to camping with friends, start dating, get a part time job, buy a used car, etc?

    It sounds like you both have a hard time working with each other, that’s understandable. But how hard is it going to be to have shared custody if you both keep this up? Wouldn’t it be better to be on the same page with her? If your ex drops her objection to her daughter biking to school, this becomes a non-issue, right? Either, the mandate will get dropped, or it won’t get enforced.

    This is important to you, and it will get more important as the stakes get higher. Maybe it’s time to extend an olive branch? Your pride will take a severe beating, no doubt, and there’s no guarantee it will work, but it might be worth the risk.

  29. Scott McIsaac September 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    This is only one side of the story of course, but it sounds outrageous if it is true. Seems to me he should call the mediator’s illegal behavior to the judge’s attention in the hearing, object to the entire recommendation on the grounds that it was produced illegally, and ask that the case be assigned to a new mediator for a new hearing. He should also ask for disciplinary action against the mediator.

  30. Beth September 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    @Dan, I was in elementary school in the 60’s too (get off my lawn!!), and my schools did not care one tiny little bit how kids got there. We even went home for lunch. I thought all these transportation rules were a more recent phenomena.

  31. Rook September 11, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

    If it was my kid and we lived a mile away, my only concern would be if the kid was riding on the street or on the sidewalk. Drivers here locally are really dangerous and will turn you into roadkill without batting an eye and I’d prefer my kid in a vehicle if there weren’t sidewalks or a nice place away from the road for them to ride their bike to school.

    Regardless, she should not have pressured the mediator without the father being present. I don’t care about law, that’s just plain ol’ dirty and underhanded. I echo that it might be prudent to get a proper lawyer to help him out since it seems this may be turning nasty.

  32. Michelle September 11, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    @George:
    “This advice to get a lawyer is useless. The California family court is a mickey mouse court where mediators and judges violate rules all the time.

    You could come into court with a mountain of evidence that riding to school is safe and beneficial, and some dopey official would say, “but what if an accident happened to you child?” Or maybe, “you have a point, but the issue is causing mom distress, and the dad needs to do a better job of working with her needs.”

    Legal arguments (from lawyers) do not help much.”

    Non-legal arguments from non-lawyers aren’t going to do any better. At the very least, lawyers know which papers to file and when, and which words to use and when, so that they can properly object to whatever nonsense the mediator is up to.

    The legal system is a game. In some places it may be a game rigged against fathers, but having someone who at least knows how to play is better than throwing your hands up in despair and quitting.

  33. Beth September 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    @Rook, don’t you think this father has already assessed the possible dangers? Sheesh. Give him a little credit.

  34. Steve September 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    If she doesn’t ride, how is she supposed to get to school? Where I live, busing is not provided for a 9 year old living that close to school.

  35. Dilton September 11, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    This is why I remain in an unhappy marriage – to protect my children from my extremely overprotective wife.

  36. sigh September 11, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Oh, I’m definitely sighing now, as I have been involved in a lopsided dichotomy of “what is in the children’s best interests” with a 50-50 co-parent for the last 10 years.

    It started with the divorce, where he threatened to sue for full custody based on my being a “negligent parent” because I allowed a fellow parent in the little league stands to keep an eye on my toddler while I went to the concession stand 12 feet away to get our lunch.

    He threatened to call CPS because I allowed our son to walk a mile to school by himself when he was 7. I backed down, but said, “I know we both care about safety. My version is that our son is always a little bit at the edge of his capabilities so he can develop the wisdom that comes from independent decision-making. If we start now, by the time he’s a young teen and has to be out on his own, he will be too mature to resort to self destruction or destruction of property to prove he’s grown up.”

    It fell on deaf ears.

    My son got brainwashed by his dad. It didn’t matter what a judge said, or what rulings there were (we never went to court or mediated any of this anyway). The true battlefield is the child’s consciousness, and paranoid parents are hell-bent on getting the kid on board with their version of “reality.”

    My boy was obsessed for years with the idea that he would be “kidnapped.” It wasn’t until he outweighed me that he finally let that one go.

    I have wept bitter tears for what I perceive as the tragic loss of development and opportunities for my children because their father, a lawyer, uses all of his forensic argument skills to instil paranoia and doubt, especially doubt in my care for them and the overall general safety of the world, instead of truly nurturing and empowering them.

    I have cultivated compassion for this man, while calmly and lovingly explaining to my kids, over and over again, that their father’s fears are not grounded in actual statistics or facts, they are simply phantom fears, and they need not take them on. Nor do they have to stop loving their dad if they disagree with his fantasies.

    It is maddening, I know, to have a co-parent “mess” with your kids in this way. I have come through many struggles, the latest being a hard-won consent from Dad to allow our son to attend a school 400 miles away (something my son desperately wanted, and Dad refused and traumatized the boy with “legalese” and threats while I supported him to find his way through it all). The way I achieved my victory was not through the courts, but by loving and supporting my son, his awareness and embracing of reality, and his sense of entitlement to his birthright to have some agency in his own life, especially as a teen.

    My heart goes out to this father, yes, but especially to the girl. It is truly tragic when there is a parent determined to “win” by bringing a child along on the “tragical thinking” ride.

  37. James Pollock September 11, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    “I do not have a lawyer because at this point the custody is already resolved, and we were only supposed to be addressing a change in the schedule.”

    You need a lawyer, if you care enough about this issue to pay for one.

    You should also fire your mediator.

  38. James Pollock September 11, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    “‘But we aren’t going to know California court procedures well enough to find it.’

    James will.”

    Your comment got cut off. It should say

    “James will advise you to hire a skilled professional licensed in your jurisdiction.”

    I was pro se in my own divorce. (I have a lot of self-confidence). I don’t recommend it for anyone if any aspect of the divorce is contested.

  39. Alex R. September 11, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    Definitely get a lawyer.

    IMHO, the judge will ask why you walked away while your wife was still talking to the mediator. You should be able to give the judge a good answer. Did you have an appointment? With whom? Was it impossible to reschedule your appointment? Etc.

    AND GET A LAWYER.

    You should also crush the mediator, drive his cattle before you, and listen to the lamentations of his women.

    AND GET. A. LAWYER.

  40. PG September 12, 2015 at 2:18 am #

    If all else fails, and the judge orders “shall not ride her bike to and from school without adult supervision”, I’d get creative. Find a safe place to park the bike near the school and then walk to school. Technically, she would be riding the bike, unsupervised, to a safe place near the school but to the school itself. If a judge told me that my daughter couldn’t walk to school, I’d tell my daughter to skip to school. Yeah, I wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger.

  41. sexhysteria September 12, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    The government is out of control. Sue the court mediator for disregarding proper procedures.

  42. Emily September 12, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    Not much to add here, but I really hope the judge listens to the father, and that this doesn’t just become another case of “mother always wins,” or “more strict/protective parent always wins.” I also hope all the adults involved reinforce to the girl that this isn’t her fault, because, I can see the “kid logic” here: “Mom and Dad are fighting because I want to keep riding my bike to school, so this must be my fault.” Another thing– I have to wonder, how much active parenting is the mother doing, beyond her “no biking to school” edict? That rule seems very knee-jerk, and very short-sighted, thinking of “safety” in the here and now, rather than long-term. It sounds like the father has a plan to give his daughter age-appropriate freedoms, and adjust them as needed as she grows, and only take them away (temporarily) if the daughter breaks his trust (for example, by not being home when she said she would). The mother’s approach of simply never trusting her daughter, is only going to create a stunted, timid child who doesn’t believe in herself, which is much more dangerous than a simple bike ride now. So, it sounds as if the mother, the judge, and the opposung counsel, all need a visit from The Spirit of Safety Future…..which is really Lenore.

  43. Warren September 12, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Lawyer up, but please get someone with a better knowledge of family law, than James.

  44. Nicole R. September 13, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    I agree with concentrating on the mediator breaking the rules! The judge has to throw out anything that was obtained illegally, right?

    If they do even allow it to be discussed, does your 50/50 custody agreement say that all parenting decisions are to be made together? (in which case I would ask for a new mediator and separate recommendation on that issue) or that each of you has full custody 50% of the time? (in which case, you are perfectly within the rights the original custody agreement granted you)

    As for what to bring, the first place I’d go is the school handbook. If that says it’s all right for your daughter to ride to school, I think it will count for a lot.

  45. Steve S September 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Get a lawyer and don’t do it yourself. Even lawyers that do family law hire lawyers if they are getting a divorce. That old saying about a person that represents themselves is true.

    The problem here is that the mother has decided that she doesn’t want the kid riding to school. As unreasoning as that is, she is one of the parents and is certainly within her rights to say she doesn’t want want them riding. Because you disagree, you have forced the court to make a decision for you.

  46. Steve September 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    sigh said:

    “I have cultivated compassion for this man, while calmly and lovingly explaining to my kids, over and over again, that their father’s fears are not grounded in actual statistics or facts, they are simply phantom fears, and they need not take them on.”

    ——–

    It’s time to put Lenore’s book, Free Range Kids, in your ex-husband’s hands.

    (In fact, give it to YOUR KIDS to read if they’re old enough. Or maybe read it to them, a few pages every day.)

    In a nice way…tell your ex, “Why don’t you read this book and learn about a different viewpoint.” If he doesn’t want to read it, then challenge him. Ask if he’s “AFRAID” to learn something different from what he already believes.

    Is he afraid? Or just LAZY.

    ———————————

    Frankly, I am puzzled by how many people email Lenore asking for help when her book, Free Range Kids, is available in libraries, bookstores, and on Amazon. There’s something authoritative about a book, any book. And if you put a book in someone’s hands, their only argument might be “I don’t have time to read another book,” which is of course telling you they aren’t interested in learning anything new. If they say they don’t have time, suggest they take it home anyway.

    At the very least, you could send your ex-husband links to your favorite videos of Lenore. If you haven’t seen any, go watch some. THEN, send a bunch of links.

    Last but not least, challenge any fearmonger, no matter who it is, to visit this blog and spend serious time reading.

    Anyone who comes in contact with Fearmongers should have a couple copies of Free Range Kids to loan or give to people who challenge YOUR Free Range beliefs. Then you can spare yourself a heated argument.

    Just say, “This book explains better than I can why I believe what I believe.”

    Give a copy to a Judge or lawyer. Give a copy to the principal of your child’s school.

    I’m mentioned this before. I’ve printed business cards with “Free Range Kids – The Book and Blog”
    on them to hand out. You could do this too. Print them on your home printer.

  47. Emily September 15, 2015 at 8:08 am #

    Steve, lots of people who’ve read Lenore’s book still write to her, because the book doesn’t cover every situation. It’s primarily a parenting book, and doesn’t cover things like, “I signed up to volunteer at the YMCA/Scouts or Guides/my kid’s school, and got tangled in miles of red tape.” It obviously can’t keep up with every news story, because, unlike a blog, a book is a static piece of writing. I read the book, and I don’t remember it saying much about sepatated/divorced parents either. So, I think this is a legitimate question, because it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. Imagine being nine years old, and one parent thinks you’re competent to get yourself to and from school, and/or play outside alone, use the stove, et cetera, and the other doesn’t. What do you believe then? I can’t imagine that biking to school is the only freedom that the father thinks the daughter is ready for, but not the mother. Now, of course, there are variables, like,.if one house is further from the school than the other, or has more traffic and/or fewer sidewalks/paved shoulders along the way, then it’s understandable (and can be easily explained to the child), but the article doesn’t mention that.