Remember the “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” that used to run in Mad?
That’s what we need here at Free Range Kids. As a recent email from “Skyscraper” put it: “This site needs a seperate idea page for what to say when others question the €˜free-range’ parenting approach.”
So true. What do you say when someone thinks you’re nuts for letting your 8-year-old jump rope by herself on your driveway, or for letting your pre-teen walk to school?
I’ve been doing a lot of radio interviews and I turn into a self-righteous bore when the host inevitably asks, “How could you let your son take the subway alone?”
I quote crime stats that show a child is 40 times more likely to die in a car accident than by being abducted. I appeal to common sense. I remind people that a couple of generations back, a 9-year-old probably would have had a part-time job. And then I ask the interviewer, “Didn’t you get to run around and do things by yourself when you were a kid?”
“Sure!” comes the answer, but “times have changed.” Once they get that out of the way, they go in for the kill: “How would you have felt if something DID happen to your son?”
So much for my years of media training.
What I really want to say is: “Terrible! Earth-shaken! I’d be cursing God — and especially the radio hosts who asked Him to zap my son just to teach me a lesson! But, Mr. Fulminator, sir, don’t you see there’s something sick about immediately and endlessly envisioning the very worst? Isn’t that the very definition of paranoia? And isn’t it wrong to teach kids that they are incapable of taking care of themselves, that they can’t trust their community, and that it is better for them to live a virtual life inside, where life is programmed, than a real life, outside, where they can glory in the wonders of the world? Are you ever going to let your kid GROW UP?”
That’s what I’d like to be able to get out, but it sounds a little hysterial and it’s not exactly pithy. So if you have any amazing zingers that really seem to open people’s eyes (or shut their mouths), we are all eager to hear them.
And even more eager to start using them.