Hi Readers — Today is my birthday, so I’m taking the opportunity to tell you a little bit about what I do besides blogging. (Or you can just watch this video.)
I’m a newspaper gal by training. For 14 years I was on staff at The New York Daily News, first as a features writer, then as an opinions columnist. My weekly column is still syndicated. When the News job ended, I landed at The New York Sun, which I loved. That paper is famous for its 1897 column, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus,” and also perhaps for its 2008 column, “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone.” By me.
Two days after that piece was published, I found myself on The Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News and (for contrast) NPR defending myself as NOT “America’s Worst Mom.” I even got a phone call at home: “Your kids should be taken away!” I started this blog to explain: I LOVE safety. I love car seats, seat belts, mouth guards — I just don’t believe our kids need a security detail every time they leave the home.
It turns out that a lot of people feel the same. Like me, they wondered:
How did we get to this point?
How has society managed to convince a slew of us that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby-snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape?
That’s the topic I researched for my book, “Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children Without Going Nuts with Worry.” It’s also one of the topics I give lectures on: “How Come We’re So Much More Afraid Than Our Parents Were?”
Other speech topics include, “Relax! Not Every Little Thing You Do Has THAT Much Impact on Your Child’s Development” — all about the pressure, from pregnancy on, to create a “perfect” kid. (As if!) And then there’s a new “Lean In” lecture I’m giving to corporate America: “Busy Parents, Happy Kids.” (Feel free to come up with a better title.) That one is to help parents, especially moms, realize that when they “lean in” to their careers — or other interests — they’re not short-changing their kids. Leaning out of their lives a little may even help them. Richard Branson attributes his “Virgin” success to a mom who suddenly stopped the car and made him walk home a couple miles when he was 4. (Something I do not insist all attendees go home and do. But…it’s something to think about.)
The speeches are funny. (Okay, they’re hysterical. For some reason, this post is coming out somber, but at my speeches, mascara runs. People’s stomachs hurt from laughing so hard.) But the talks are life-changing, too. As one attendee (not a relative!) wrote:
“I saw Lenore Skenazy in Rochester. She spoke before a sold out crowd and generously stayed to sign every last book sold. No-one wanted her to go, and many of us wished we could have taken her out for coffee to continue the conversation — because she is just like us! Lenore is, simply put, hilarious and brilliant. Her statements are well researched, and her humor brings levity to topics which seem to create a lot of controversy. For those of us who remember roaming free during our childhoods and long for the same kind of freedom for our children, Lenore reminds us not to believe the hype, and allows us to believe that we are not crazy for leaving our children outside, unsupervised, for — at least — a few minutes!”
Lecturing is how I make my living now. I’ve spoken everywhere from Microsoft to Yale to the Sydney Opera House. So if you work at or know of a corporation, community group, school or university looking for a speaker, please have them visit my Speaking Engagements page, or drop a line to my agent, Judy Safern, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s it. Thanks. And Happy Thanksgiving. – L