Stop Asking My 6 Year Old Why She Is Outside On Her Own!

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Dear bbazffstrt
Free-Range Kids: I have been reading your blog and it is like a breath of fresh air in today’s world! My daughter is now 6 and I try to encourage her to walk on her own in our neighborhood, to the park, to the store, and EVERY time she is stopped by a well-meaning adult saying she should not be by herself, and one guy calling me (she knows my cell phone number) and then threatening to call 911! So now she is afraid to walk alone because of these well meaning adults, not because of fear of getting lost, or someone kidnapping her etc. Grrr. — Free-Range Mom

Dear Grrr/Free-Range Mom: This is distressing all around. How I wish that the people stopping your child would recognize what they’re doing: THEY ARE LOOKING OUT FOR HER!

They are not the exception. They are the rule! That means that when your daughter is out and about, the adults nearby are taking heed and keeping her safe. And, as those adults might also notice, she IS safe. She isn’t darting into traffic, she isn’t far from home, she isn’t running away.

Why do people keep believing that anytime a child is unsupervised that child is in danger? Why would anyone threaten to sic the authorities on a Free-Range parent, as if having a mom threatened or thrown in jail, or a child removed to foster care, makes that family SAFER?

In about a week I am addressing a national convention of state lawmakers convening in Arizona, and I am making this plea: We must take not criminalize parents who trust their kids! And we must not criminalize kids out in public without their parents. This is a civil rights issue! Our kids have the RIGHT to be in public, just like every other citizen. And in fact, once we DO get our kids walking, biking, skipping, hopping and playing outside again, the whole COUNTRY benefits, as we will be raising confident, healthy, problem-solving individuals. These are individuals ready to deal with surprises and setbacks because they will have faced them already, as kids.

One of the country’s concerns of late has been the college students convinced they will be “unsafe” even if they have to share their campus with a speaker who does not agree with their perception of the world. I worry that having told from infancy onward that everyone and everything is out to get them is what has made young people so excessively fearful.

The antidote to fear is knowing that you are resourceful and resilient. You can’t know this until you’ve had a chance to see it for yourself. And you can’t see — or develop — any of this power if someone older and “wiser” is always there to intervene to keep you “safe,” even on a simple, exhilarating walk in your own neighborhood.

So, dear frustrated Free-Range Mom, just shorten this idea to a sentence or two and tell that to the well-meaning folks who are intent on stunting your child and filling her with fear. And don’t forget to arm her with a “Free-Range Kids” membership card, too. (It’s free!)

Good luck! – L.

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Just what we need -- emptier sidewalks!

Just what we need — emptier sidewalks!

 

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55 Responses to Stop Asking My 6 Year Old Why She Is Outside On Her Own!

  1. theresa hall November 22, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    if someone calls tell them myb. mind your own beeswax. if you think kid can handle going somewhere without you and there is no dumb law to say keep the kid with you. p.s have a lawyer on stand by just in case they do call the cop which leads cps which leads to more fuss which leads to you being force to play their way if you want your kids.
    I promise it seems crazy and really dumb but those with power will make up rules if they feel like it.

  2. Emily November 22, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Yes, get this girl a Free-Range Kids membership card, and maybe a bracelet as well. (Side note: The green bracelets were actually my idea, because green is a unisex colour, and I also wanted to symbolize “green light means go,” and I think it’s so cool that Lenore had them made). Anyway, that’s a good point about the fact that the girl is safe, because there are adults in the community looking out for her. Their motives are good, but I agree that they should stop short of involving the authorities. If they ask the girl if she’s safe, and she replies in the affirmative, that should be good enough. The other thing is, I think it’s ultimately safer to give kids small amounts of freedom when they’re young, and then give them gradually more freedom as they grow and mature, than it is to keep them sheltered and hovered over until you drop them off at college or university, or they move out of home. The “constant supervision until the age of majority” approach just results in young adults who can’t do their own laundry, cook a meal for themselves (I remember in university, a guy in the apartment-style rez made himself sick because he didn’t realize that chicken wasn’t supposed to be pink in the middle), make it to class on time (because their parents always woke them up for school before), or really do anything without an adult holding their hand…..and by this time, they’re adults too. I mean, okay, “adulthood” exists on a continuum too, and you can’t expect eighteen-year-olds to know everything (I’m much older than that, and I still don’t know everything), but washing clothes, keeping commitments, and cooking a meal that won’t cause salmonella, seem pretty basic.

  3. Powers November 22, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    “college students convinced they will be ‘unsafe’ even if they have to share their campus with a speaker who does not agree with their perception of the world.”

    It’s not about “sharing the campus”; it’s about the message the speaker sends and how it will affect their peers. Someone who’s coming onto campus to talk about how LBGTQ people are getting “special privileges” will serve only to incite hatred against LBGTQ people, and that can lead to violence (both emotional and physical).

  4. Carrie November 22, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    I leave my kids at the park while I walk the dog on the loop around the park. It’s only a .3 mile loop, so I’m always close enough to hear a scream. I’ve twice had parents say something about them being left alone. My response is that my #1 job as a mom is to raise competent adults. And if at 8 years old, my kid is not competent enough to be in a park while I am in ear shot, I have completely utterly failed as a parent.

  5. Beth November 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    Yeah, I get that these adults allegedly looking out for her (although the cynic in me says they’re just trying to get another parent in trouble to prove what a great parent *they* are), but how ridiculous must it be for that little girl to be interrupted and have to explain herself so frequently?

  6. Wendy W November 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    For you little girl’s fear due to these stops, can you teach her a response along the lines of “I’m fine, and I have my mom’s permission to walk to xxx by myself. If you want to talk to her, the phone number is…. Thank you for helping keep our neighborhood safe!” Having an answer well-practiced and ready should help give her some self-confidence when she is stopped. And a confident well-spoken child will help alleviate some concerns. I expect that there is a limit to the number of people that will actually stop her, and the other regulars along her route should become familiar with her pretty quickly.

  7. Backroads November 22, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    I second a well-practiced response. It makes the girl look all the more confident and legitimate.

  8. Peter November 22, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    I gotta admit, I had a mean/entertaining thought…

    So someone calls you and says that your daughter is out alone. Turn it back around.

    “So you seem to be taking an inordinate interest in my 6 year-old daughter. You’re watching her every move. Seems like you might have some issues. Maybe I should call the cops on you…”

  9. K2 November 22, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    There are a lot of reasons why not allowing children some unsupervised playtime is a bad idea. Obesity and the increase in childhood diabetes, the increase in mental health drugs, the increase in college students not being able to solve their own problems, the general lack of creative play. Gov’t is slow to admit anything they have done should be repealed. I try, but my kids get home a little after 4, just when I should be cooking dinner and they should be outside. As it is, I try to be outside with them, visible to the busybodies, but I pay attention to my dogs, clean the car, etc.. I try to be visible, but not in the kids face every minute. Kids get less playtime than I would like and dinner is later than I would like. We have had a few good deed doers question kids even with me outside.

  10. Emily November 22, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

    @K2–I know this doesn’t solve the entire problem, but do you have a barbecue? If you did, you could cook dinner and supervise your kids playing outside at the same time.

  11. Haidee November 22, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    Someone called the cops on my husband yesterday because it was a chilly day and my son was playing at the park but refused to wear a jacket or shoes! Makes me so mad! My husband was right there with a backpack full of warm clothes and shoes that my child was offered and could request when he wanted.

  12. James Pollock November 23, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    Peter, being confrontational rarely resolves anything, and should be resolved for cases where no other approach works. It’s not behavior that should be modeled for small children.

    Rather, the child should be instructed to give a polite, but firm, brushoff. “My parents know where I am and what I am doing” is brief, to the point, and covers nearly every situation while leaving very little for an adult to question (or complain about).

  13. Kay November 23, 2015 at 1:29 am #

    If you think a 6 year old is sage walking to the store by herself, you’re fucking nuts. Older, sure. But a 6 year old… No.

  14. Amber November 23, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    Its great that you want your children to live fear free in this world and raise responsible adults, but unfortunately this world is sick/unsafe and children are just that, children! It’s also your job to take care of them. Why not drop them at their own apartment when they turn 2 and say here’s your keys. You got this, champ! Sure, it may not be a sex offender, maybe you just want to make sure they can dodge a car driving 40mph with a drunk driver or teen texting and driving. You don’t have to smother them, but you do need common freaking sense! To allow a six year old to walk to a store alone is stupidity. And to sell yourself as the worlds worst mom as a way to stir up publicity is disturbing to say the least. By all means get her a gender neutral bracelet, because I’m sure the perv that pics her up will kindly drop her off at your house when he sees that and she will appreciate not being stereotyped as a girl who wears only pink. I think it’s awesome that you have found a way to promote negligence. Please avoid epidurals, deodorant, and cancer causing air.

  15. BL November 23, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    @Amber
    ” you just want to make sure they can dodge a car driving 40mph with a drunk driver or teen texting and driving.”

    Like all adults can?

  16. Jens W. November 23, 2015 at 6:57 am #

    @Amber
    I walked to school on my own when i was six years old (after a few practice walks with my parents), and took the bus to the school in a neighboring town when i was ten, including changing buses at a bus terminal. it was no problem at all. Everyone did it back then, and there were neither accidents nor abductions.

    Besides, in terms of abductions, it’s more likely to be hit by lightning than to be abducted by a stranger. Very most cases of molestations and abuse happens by people who are legitimately tasked with supervising the child.

  17. Katie November 23, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    I third the idea of a practiced response!

  18. andy November 23, 2015 at 7:33 am #

    “Peter, being confrontational rarely resolves anything, and should be resolved for cases where no other approach works.”

    I will be devils advocate here. Being confrontational often solves the problem, especially if the problem is “people are bothering me when I do not want to”. Being confrontational makes people go away. The reason it is better not to use it all the time is that it is unpleasant to them and overkill for most situations, not that it does not work.

    “It’s not behavior that should be modeled for small children.”

    If you need two sets of behaviors for problems solving, one when kid is there and other when the kid is not there, then something is wrong. It is either that you are teaching kid to be less effective and capable then you are, or that you are being unnecessary jerky when the kid is not around. Either way, something is wrong.

  19. Tiny Tim November 23, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Amber probably isn’t a troll, sadly. I walked to school, alone, when I was 6. After school I walked to my tutor’s apartment for a class. When I was 4 and my brother was 6 we wandered around the neighborhood together. I imagine the distance was not as great as I remember but we were certainly a few properties away from the our house. There was a creek. We caught amphibians and brought them home to our mothers’ delight. When I was 8 I mostly took the bus to school, but there was a bus strike and at that time no one questioned whether kids my age could walk the mile or so to school by themselves because after school we wandered the neighborhood by ourselves because that’s what kids did. I honestly don’t remember a time in my life when being out without parental supervision was forbidden. I’m sure some of that was illusion – my mom kept watch on me even if I didn’t realize it – but I wasn’t under her immediate hand and gaze.

  20. Emily November 23, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    >>Besides, in terms of abductions, it’s more likely to be hit by lightning than to be abducted by a stranger. Very most cases of molestations and abuse happens by people who are legitimately tasked with supervising the child.<<

    The problem with that little revelation is, our society didn't respond by backing off on the fear of "stranger abduction," but rather, by background-checking everyone who wants to work with kids within an inch of their lives. Sometimes, people who just want to work/volunteer in the VICINITY of kids get the same treatment–there was an article on here about that happening at the YMCA over the summer. Police checks every six months, hazardous materials training, harassment training, multiple references……..the collective response here was something like, "it's a wonder anyone even works there anymore."

  21. Vicki Bradley November 23, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Kay and Amber: It’s obvious from your comments that you’re both new to this website and know little to nothing about the free-range kids movement. Before spouting off about something you know nothing about and/or don’t seem to understand, do some research first, then get back to us.

  22. lollipoplover November 23, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    It is completely crazy that the basic childhood freedom to play is so wildly different in areas of this country. I live in the Northeast and my children have biked to school since the age of 5 and actively play outdoors during non-school hours most nice days without any issue. It’s called living in a GOOD neighborhood. The sight of children on bikes, skates, and running is a happy one, not an anxiety-induced 911 call. Having lots of other children the same age playing outdoors helps and having the majority of parents, many who moved here from the city so their kids could play outside, on the same page helps make our children’s outdoor play amazing.

    There will always be the GET OFF MY LAWN adults. If someone is asking your kid for a cell number and threatening 911 calls, the initial response is anger and disbelief.,How dare they infringe upon a child playing happily and attempt to dangerize it. She is a child, not a feral unleashed dog or a walking abduction target.
    Perhaps they really are concerned about your child. More likely they are binge watching CSI and SVU and on the highest dose of anxiety medication. You have to work with them, not against them.

    It may go against the every fiber of your being, but try to befriend the GET OFF MY LAWN neighbors. Not be friend-friends with them, but introduce yourself and your family. Better yet, bring warm homemade cookies. Trust me, it’s hard to call 911 on families who bring you homemade cookies. We can be good neighbors for each other but it’s much easier when we get to know the people we are dealing with, their expectations of how their neighborhood should be and how you envisioned your community and work out a compromise.

  23. James Pollock November 23, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    “I will be devils advocate here. Being confrontational often solves the problem, especially if the problem is “people are bothering me when I do not want to”. Being confrontational makes people go away.”

    No, it doesn’t. It makes them stand there and argue with you. It makes them call the cops the next time your kids are walking around unsupervised.
    Neither of which is a solution to “people are bothering me when I do not want to”.

    “If you need two sets of behaviors for problems solving, one when kid is there and other when the kid is not there, then something is wrong. It is either that you are teaching kid to be less effective and capable then you are”

    taking the time to teach children to do something is usually going to be less effective than just doing it. I suppose you’re against that, too.

  24. ChicagoDad November 23, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    @Kay. I have to give you credit for vocabulary, I haven’t heard “sage” used as an adjective in many years! Love it.

    Other than that, you are crazy. There are places where kids shouldn’t walk around unsupervised, like the barren wastelands of suburban Phoenix, Silver Springs MD (apparently), and the Village of Orland Park IL–thank God I don’t live in any of these terrible places. I am proud to call the south side of Chicago home. Sure, a couple times of year, I may have the opportunity to teach my kids how to tell the difference between the sounds of small-arms fire and fireworks, but we know our neighbors, kids regularly walk to school, kids play outside and trick-or-treat without a security detail. You even see 4th graders shopping at the store by themselves after school (gasp!).

    There are plenty of kids who shouldn’t be out on their own because their parents were unwilling or unable to raise them properly. But, geez, how embarrassing that a healthy, otherwise competent 6 year old can’t manage to walk a couple of blocks on her own! If you live in a neighborhood as safe or safer than my Southside ‘hood, and your kid is otherwise capable but can’t walk a couple of block on his own then you are doing it wrong . Please don’t intentionally delay your child’s mastery of important developmental milestones because the moms on your local facebook group said, “you can’t be too safe”. Here’s a pro tip, if your fears are getting in the way of normal life, if they cause you to delay milestones like “unsupervised walking” or ban sleepovers or prohibit your family from posting photos of your kids on facebook, then you aren’t being “too safe”, you’re being paranoid.

    Have a great day! And I love your vocabulary! Next time I send my kids out for a walk, I’ll remind them to act “sagely”.

  25. CrazyCatLady November 23, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    At least several hundred kids ages 5 and 6 walk to and from school every day in my school district. Mostly without adult supervision and only at some schools do they actually have crossing guards. The biggest hazard that they face is all of the adults like Kay and Amber who drive their kids to and from school and feel they have a privilege of driving fast so they can get back home or whatever it is they do.

  26. Stacey November 23, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    After the first day of kindergarten at age 5 no one’s parents brought them to school. We all walked.

  27. En Passant November 23, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    Peter November 22, 2015 at 9:00 pm wrote:

    So someone calls you and says that your daughter is out alone. Turn it back around.

    “So you seem to be taking an inordinate interest in my 6 year-old daughter. You’re watching her every move. Seems like you might have some issues. Maybe I should call the cops on you…”

    This. Exactly.

    Anybody who calls you and threatens to call police merely because your child is playing outside without your direct supervision is not acting because of his beneficent concern for your child’s wellbeing. He is just bullying you to satisfy his own pathological craving to control you or your child.

    The polite term for people who compulsively attend to other people’s business is “busybody”. The impolite term is a seven letter word beginning with an “a” and ending with an “e”.

    Someone who calls you and threatens to call the police has duly earned the impolite sobriquet.

  28. Doug November 23, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    As we continue to push back against a society that demands we infantilize our children and ourselves, we must be wise enough to realize that some people require that we treat them (not our children) like infants, while others will require a more forceful and confrontational response. Most will accept something in the middle.

    It’s unfortunate that my “fight or flight” response to stress is “fight.”

  29. Buffy November 23, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    “If you think a 6 year old is sage walking to the store by herself, you’re fucking nuts. Older, sure. But a 6 year old… No.”

    @Kay, you don’t know this child, right? Or her parents? So you have no idea of her maturity level, the makeup of her neighborhood, or how many times her parents have walked her to the store before allowing her to do alone…yet you feel confident in deciding that you care about this child more than her parents do, and use an obscenity toward those of us who think that the parents are the best ones to make these decisions.

    Who made you the boss?

  30. Elizabeth November 23, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    The one thing that concerns me about this is that there are multiple adults concerned about this child walking on her own. It sounds like there is only a matter of time before police are called. If police and CPS get involved there could be a real risk of her loosing her child to foster care. Not that you should have to, but I wonder if checking with the local police first and explaining what has been happening and get a feel for their stance might be a good idea? If she knows they are good with it, then she could use that in defense of busy bodies. But if they aren’t, then maybe letting her roam free should wait a couple of years. I just don”t know if it is worth the risk of loosing your child and having them put in foster care. It’s tough, but these are things that have to considered. 🙁

  31. Jenny November 23, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Lenore, are you seriously speaking at an ALEC conference? Do you know what that organization is? It is made up of and funded by corporations, which writes model legislation to benefit corporations, which t then presents to conservative Republican state legislators to push into law. I love your work and am going to be so sad if you allow yourself to become a shill for right-wing forces. I am not sure why they would be interested in Free-Range Parenting unless they think that bills purporting to be pro-Free Range Parents could be used to help undermine public schools or vaccination requirements.

    A little more detail on ALEC: A study in 2013 found that the top 5 bills they were pushing at that time were about:

    1. Criminalizing undocumented immigrants’ very existence by creating a crime of “trespassing” without immigration status
    2. Making it easier for companies engaged in hydraulic fracking to not disclose what fluids they use in that process
    3. Stand Your Ground laws like the one that let Trayvon Martin’s killer walk free (certainly not something that is good for kids, like Free-Range parenting is!)
    4. Making it easier for states to withdraw from regional climate change initiatives, and
    5. Prohibiting local jurisdictions from gun-control laws.

    Source: http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2013/12/06-american-legislative-exchange-council-jackman

    They also push voter ID laws. All of these things are designed to help corporate profits and to suppress individuals’ rights to participate in democracy–they are not consistent with the values of Free Range Paernting! Please do your due diligence and don’t allow yourself to be used for nefarious purposes.

  32. Jeff_Birt November 23, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    Powers said : ‘
    “college students convinced they will be ‘unsafe’ even if they have to share their campus with a speaker who does not agree with their perception of the world.”

    It’s not about “sharing the campus”; it’s about the message the speaker sends and how it will affect their peers. Someone who’s coming onto campus to talk about how LBGTQ people are getting “special privileges” will serve only to incite hatred against LBGTQ people, and that can lead to violence (both emotional and physical). ‘

    The above certainly explains part of the problem on college campuses today; the idea that anyone who disagrees with you makes you unsafe; what a load a new age drivel. Being confronted with ideas that make you uncomfortable DOES NOT put you in physical danger! To think that it does sounds like a paranoid delusion, one that has been foisted on young people.

    I work on a college campus and have found that international students are typically eager to learn about America, they want to learn about our customs and culture. They are not afraid that hearing new ideas will make them feel unsafe and warrant running to a ‘safe space to decompress’. I have had many good conversations with these students about our respective cultures and we all learned a lot in the process. American students are the ones who are typically all caught up in this ‘new age drivel’.

    The lesson we should be teaching our kids is that good people can disagree and still be decent to each other. Not everyone you encounter in life will agree with you, or even be civil to you, that is the way it has always been and always will be.

  33. Doug November 23, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Jenny, you may want to get off the high-horse about ALEC.

    Who should write legislation regarding complex technology and products if not the experts?

    As to your points:
    1) Illegal aliens are breaking the law. By definition.
    2) Are legislators experts in the oil and gas industry? Should we base our laws simply on environmental groups’ input only? Stupid First Amendment . . . it keeps getting in the way of a good witch-burning.
    3) Stand Your Ground laws had no impact on George Zimmerman’s trial. He pleaded self-defense, and based on eye-witness testimony and a jury, that defense was accepted.
    4) Climate change is a whole other subject, but you may want to ask the “environment experts” why satellite data shows no warming over the past 18 years, and why Antarctic ice is growing instead of shrinking.
    5) Get over your fear about firearms. Your fear is the same as the fear about child predators.

    The furor over ALEC is overblown, and is fueled by the same types of people who want to continue infantilizing our children.

  34. Gina November 23, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Lenore..where in Arizona will you be? Is it open to the public??????

  35. Michael November 23, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    There’s nothing quite as amusing as to see a shill for left-wing causes using a supposedly left leaning institution’s report on another, supposedly right wing, institution to warn someone about being a “shill for right-wing forces” on a non-political blog about parenting. I doubt Jenny even sees the irony in what she is posting. She’s probably too busy patting herself on the back for the brave act warning some ignoramus who obviously does not have the capacity to do her own research before speaking somewhere.

  36. Warren November 23, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    Jenny,

    Even if your bias is completely true, would it not mean that Lenore is braving a skeptical or hostile audience to try and present information? If one was to only lecture to those that already support one’s ideals, how would the message go any further?

    James,
    If being confrontational doesn’t work for you, then you are doing it wrong. Anytime a busybody attempts to push their way of thinking into another’s life, a confrontational and aggressive response always shuts them down. I have never run into a busybody that has the confidence or courage to actually stand there and be taken down a peg or two.

  37. K2 November 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Jenny –
    Republicans are more likely to support this particular issue than democrats. Even if the opposite were true, to get a law passed it helps to have some support from both sides.

  38. James Pollock November 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    “I work on a college campus and have found that international students are typically eager to learn about America, they want to learn about our customs and culture. They are not afraid that hearing new ideas will make them feel unsafe and warrant running to a ‘safe space to decompress’”

    International students tend to be segregated into the same campus dorm (along with American students who want to be there) for practical reasons… they tend to stay on campus for holiday breaks, and it ‘s easier to keep one dorm open over breaks than parts of several.

    Even though it’s rare to call it a “safe space to decompress”, they do, in fact, tend to have one. (and if they live off-campus, then the same things that make anyone else’s home a “safe space” apply.)

    The real thing, though, is that it’s self-selecting proposition… of course the students who chose to leave home and study in the US are interested in learning about the US. The ones who aren’t stayed home.

  39. Elsbeth November 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    25 years ago, I was 3 years old and walking alone (through neighborhood) to various friends’ and family members’ houses in a 3-mile range. The rules were to look both ways before crossing the street, not to go in the lake without a supervising adult, and to call home when I went into someone’s house. That last bit was more restrictive than my friends because I was legally blind and my folks wanted to be sure I hadn’t fallen into the lake or something if I didn’t come home for lunch.

    I, as a legally blind child who spent most of my time alone and outdoors with a lake in one direction and a highway in the other, only sustained major injuries (broken bones, concussions, stitches) at school and was never kidnapped or otherwise harmed. My friends from that age can all tell similar stories.

    Unless your 6yo is driving to the store or carrying home 50 lbs of groceries, do your thing.

  40. James Pollock November 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    “As to your points:
    1) Illegal aliens are breaking the law. By definition.”
    So are people who drive faster than the posted speed limit. But I don’t favor prison time.

    “2) Are legislators experts in the oil and gas industry?”
    Some of them might be. Possibly some lobbyists. I don’t see any reason to assume that petroleum-products expertise would be more or less represented within either class.
    But the complaint wasn’t about whether or not lobbyists should be allowed to work for the oil and gas industry. The complaint was about lobbying to keep things secret.

    “3) Stand Your Ground laws had no impact on George Zimmerman’s trial.”
    Incorrect. One of the elements of “stand your ground” is the removal of the duty to retreat before using deadly force. Without that change, Zimmerman doesn’t have a self-defense defense to plead.

    “4) Climate change is a whole other subject, but you may want to ask the “environment experts” why satellite data shows no warming over the past 18 years, and why Antarctic ice is growing instead of shrinking.”
    Climate change is complicated. And, um, if Antarctic ice is growing, the climate is changing, no?

    “5) Get over your fear about firearms.”
    I don’t have any fear of firearms… I was trained in the proper care and feeding of the GAU-8 and M61A1 by the USAF… and I think that localities should be allowed to create restrictions to meet the needs of the people who live there. People who don’t like the restrictions can vote, and vote with their feet if the election doesn’t go their way.

  41. Jenny November 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    To those who responded to my comment about ALEC:

    Warren: You are right that there is value in presenting information to a wide variety of audiences. I may have let my initial shock that Lenore was speaking at ALEC get the better of me on this. I applaud her for trying to spread her message broadly. I am just asking her to be careful about the purposes for which others might try to use her work, as I am sure she will.

    K2: It would be surprising to me if Republicans rather than Democrats were more likely to support certain parts of Lenore’s agenda, like attacking out of control sex offender registries. On the more general parental freedom points, though, you may be right, and I am all for Republicans passing bills that I agree with!

    Michael: Do you think the Brookings Institution report about ALEC’s bills is inaccurate? Based on what? Since ALEC itself doesn’t publicly announce all of its bills, and the article explains the search procedure they used to identify ALEC bills, this seems like an accurate source of information to me.

    Doug: Wow. James Pollock’s responses are very good. I will not engage you about your climate change denialism, etc., but since this blog is about parenting I will say that you are statistically very wrong to compare guns to predators. Compared to predators, which as Lenore has made us aware are very rare, homicides and suicides by firearm and accidental shootings are among the top 10 causes of death for children as young as 1-4 as well as all other age groups. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_injury_deaths_highlighting_unintentional_injury_2011-a.pdf

  42. Jason November 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    @Powers – The correct response to that situation is for others to speak up about how either LGBTQ students are not getting special privileges or how the special privileges they are getting are minor, necessary, and do not negatively impact the rest of the campus community. Then let everyone make up their own minds.

    If a speaker is actually inciting violence, then that is not free speech, and if someone acts violently after hearing any speech, then they have broken the law.

    It’s not right to forbid someone from presenting his or her opinion because someone in the audience might react with hatred or violence. You have to challenge opinions you think are wrong, not just silence them by force or by law.

  43. Doug November 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    Jenny,
    The climate has been changing for millions of years. I seem to recall that during the time of the dinosaurs, the climate was supposed to be warmer than it is today. During the last ice age, it was colder than it was today (even as the Midwest is under a blanket of cold air). Your chicken-littlesque cry of “OMG the climate is changing” doesn’t mean much without actual data. And the data right now says different things, none of it linked to a conclusive factors. As I said, if the data is so solid, point to one set of predictions that uses data from the past to accurately predict the climate we’ve seen the past 18 years.

    And your hysteria is still unfounded regarding firearms. You seem to imagine that firearms are everywhere and children are dying by the thousands. But your own data indicates otherwise. Childrens’ death by firearm is rare. Despite the tragedy that childrens’ deaths invoke, still rare. Not as rare as kidnappings, but rare nonetheless. And in case you weren’t aware, several cities do go above and beyond what their states require, such as Chicago. That wonderful metropolis that has had 2705 shootings this year alone, but has some of the strictest laws in the nation.

  44. Sukiemom November 23, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    I would (and did) allow my daughters, when 6, to walk around the neighborhood accompanied by a friend. Or I would let them walk around block walking our dog.

    But never alone…and we live in a safe neighborhood.

    As walking to a nearby store involves crossing a very busy street, didn’t let them do that until they were in 6th grade.

    I guess that makes me a partially-free range parent.

  45. Beth November 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    ALEC, in concert with Scott Walker, has basically destroyed Wisconsin. I have a hard time giving them any benefit of the doubt.

  46. Catherine Caldwell-Harris November 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Really happy you are doing this: “Our kids have the RIGHT to be in public, just like every other citizen. And in fact, once we DO get our kids walking, biking, skipping, hopping and playing outside again, the whole COUNTRY benefits, as we will be raising confident, healthy, problem-solving individuals. These are individuals ready to deal with surprises and setbacks because they will have faced them already, as kids.”

    Keep it up.

  47. McKenzie November 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    I wanted to ask everyone’s advice on this matter from a slightly different angle. I often see children playing in my neighborhood or near my office (there’s a lovely park about half a block away). When I’m out and about–walking my dog, for instance–and I pass such kids on the sidewalk, I say hello and ask them what they’re up to (in a conversational way).

    I’ve noticed that if the children are unsupervised, I typically receive ready smiles and fun replies, such as, “We’re pirates and we’re trying to steal the gold from that town over there!” If a parent is around, however, the children often look at me like I’m some sort of alien, then immediately look with uncertainty at their parents to see if it’s all right to speak to me. Best case scenario, the parents sort of nod encouragingly and then the kids answer. Occasionally, however, even the parents look at me like a potential threat. I’m a 31-year-old blonde woman of slight build. Not exactly every parent’s nightmare idea of what a kidnapper or child molester looks like, right? (Not that my appearance should matter in an ideal world, but I know it makes a difference to many people in practice.)

    I was raised to believe that it’s proper to greet the people you encounter and exchange pleasantries. When I was young, my parents never put much stock in the “Stranger Danger” mentality. I played outside with friends, unsupervised much of the time, safe in the knowledge that I knew all of our neighbors and could go to any of them for help (or a snack, haha) at any time. I was encouraged to speak to adults, and I don’t recall ever feeling threatened if someone said hello to me in the supermarket aisle or what have you.

    I taught elementary school for several years, so for me, talking to kids is just what you do! I view children essentially as smaller, slightly more carefree people, but PEOPLE nonetheless. They’re just like me, or you, or any adult, when you get down to it. I guess my biggest concern is those strange, awkward looks that I get from some of the supervised children. I am concerned that I may be breaking some sort of unspoken rule by talking to them, especially when I factor in the way some of their parents look at me. I want to be part of the solution, and once I have children of my own, I want them to know that there are people like me out there, who are kind and friendly, and that it’s ok to talk to them.

  48. Rivka333 November 23, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    It’s not surprising that she’s stopped by so many adults…When you consider how rare “free ranging” is, of course it’s anyone’s default assumption that she must be lost, or something.

  49. ChicagoDad November 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    @McKenzie, what ever you do, don’t take a photo of the supervised kids with your smart phone, the moms will rough you up! 😛

    Seriously though, when you get the awkward looks just wave at the moms and smile like you know them or something. Maybe they’ll think you know them and maybe they’ll come over to (re)introduce themselves!

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  50. Doug November 23, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    McKenzie,

    Keep being friendly and saying ‘hi.’ A quick conspiratorial wink and nod toward the parent may be appropriate. If they’re the same children as before, throw in “Did you manage to find that gold you were looking for yesterday?”

  51. Sarah November 23, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

    I don’t know about this one… I have to wonder why the child is stopped so much. Has the mom considered that the kid might not be behaving as safely and reasonably as she might hope she is? Six is pretty young. I know I’ve seen kids around this age (that the parents evidently trust to walk alone) do some pretty questionable things, like stick their hand out as if crossing at a crosswalk and then dart out into a street mid block between two parked cars. I would definitely want to talk to these people to get a sense as to what made them concerned, rather than just assuming they are trying to be jerks.

  52. sexhysteria November 24, 2015 at 4:16 am #

    There are a lot of retarded adults out there, so children need to be informed that they may be asked crazy or stupid questions. Be polite and have sympathy.

  53. Tommy Udo November 25, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    In the late ’50s and ’60s when I was growing up all kids played outside alone all day, roamed the neighborhood going to each others houses, and walked to school, the park, the library, etc. by themselves. We even went out on Halloween night without our parents! What a wimpy, dumb world this has become.

  54. Jenni November 25, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    I often let my 10yr old son and 6yr old daughter walk to the store (right next to our house) together all the time. They also walk to and from the bus stop for school. Although, I am all about letting your kids learn how to be productive members of society and I don’t feel they can do this by being shamed for it, I would not let my 6yr old go by herself. She is only allowed to go with her brother and if for some reason he is sick or doesn’t go to school, I accompany her to the bus stop. Sexist? Maybe.. but I know her limits. Now if this little girl feels confident enough to go out on her own and she’s in a safe environment, by all means, proceed. But it’s the caring adults who are making the environment safe for her to travel in.

  55. Barry Lederman November 28, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    Dear Grrr/Free-Range Mom: I don’t know if this makes you feel any better but I have gone through the same and similar things with my kids. All I can say is Grrr.