THANK YOU, JANE BRODY AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

From today’s Personal Health column in the New York Times by Jane Brody:

Lenore Skenazy, a New York City mother of two, earned the sobriquet “America’s Worst Mom” after reporting in a newspaper column that she had allowed her younger son, then 9, to ride the subway alone.

The damning criticism she endured, including a threat of arrest for child endangerment, intensified her desire to encourage anxious parents to give their children the freedom they need to develop the self-confidence and resilience to cope effectively with life’s many challenges.

One result was the publication in 2009 of her book “Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry).” A second result is the Free Range Kids Project and a 13-part series, starting Thursday on Discovery Life Channel, called “World’s Worst Mom.” In it, Ms. Skenazy intervenes to rescue bubble-wrapped kids from their overprotective parents by guiding the children safely through a sequence of once-forbidden activities and showing their anxious parents how well the children perform and how proud they are of what they accomplished.

The term “helicopter parents” applies to far more than those who hover relentlessly over their children’s academic and musical development. As depicted in the first episode of the series, it applies to 10-year-old Sam’s very loving mother who wouldn’t let him ride a bike (“she’s afraid I’ll fall and get hurt”), cut up his own meat (“Mom thinks I’ll cut my fingers off”), or play “rough sports” like skating. The plea from a stressed-out, thwarted Sam: “I just want to do things by myself.”

In an interview, Ms. Skenazy said, “Having been brainwashed by all the stories we hear, there’s a prevailing fear that any time you’re not directly supervising your child, you’re putting the child in danger.” The widespread publicity now given to crimes has created an exaggerated fear of the dangers children face if left to navigate and play on their own.

Yet, according to Peter Gray, —

Read the rest here!

The Gray Lady and The Free-Range Mom together at last!

The Gray Lady and The Free-Range Mom together at last!

15 Responses to THANK YOU, JANE BRODY AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

  1. Havva January 20, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    The parts quoting Dr. Gray were especially good. It added professional backing to what ‘free-range’ is all about. And also makes it very clear what is at stake.

    “Dr. Gray links the astronomical rise in childhood depression and anxiety disorders, which are five to eight times more common than they were in the 1950s, to the decline in free play among young children.”

    So many people think that it is completely harmless to restrict kids. Thus they believe any risk associated with free play, no matter how rare, is not worth taking. I think the more it becomes clear that restraining a child does substantial harm, the more parents will be willing let go.

  2. Edward January 20, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    92 comments at NYT when I just checked, only one jokingly derogatory. Some seem surprised that this problem exists but support FRK views about it. Not every one reads this blog. These local stories are important.
    More important than I thought. All the regular commentors here need to watch and contribute to these local stories to be sure the message stays on track and doesn’t degrade into some nonsensical political rant as I’ve seen happen to other topics.
    FRK means kid freedom AND kid responsibility!
    FRK means law abiding NOT law dictatorship!
    FRK means good parenting AND good legislating!
    Everyone, please, help add to this list and use them in your local publications.

  3. ARM January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Wow – the comments seem overwhelmingly positive. I wonder if we can hope to see a reversal of some of the disturbing trends in the law and law enforcement on these issues soon, if so many people agree with Lenore on this stuff?

  4. librarian January 20, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    Getting our position articulated (and well articulated, I must say) in the NY Times is a major step forward. Lenore, you are my hero!

  5. lollipoplover January 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    “I think the more it becomes clear that restraining a child does substantial harm, the more parents will be willing let go.”

    I’ve seen so many girls (11-12)recently develop anxiety issues all of a sudden at being left alone. Anywhere.
    What some parents automatically assumed would be a *mature* age to leave them alone for periods of time now causes extreme anxiety because they have no experience to cope.

    It is seriously the saddest thing to watch a previously confident child go through anxiety but I know 3 girls going through it now. The parents are beside themselves with what to do. (My oldest daughter has taken her friend to the guidance counselor several times a week to help her get through panic attacks.)I respect other parenting styles because everyone has different children but fostering independence and confidence at young ages is critical to good mental health.

  6. Donna January 20, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    lollipoplover – I wonder how much of that anxiety thing is simply temperament. My free range, but always rather cautious, kid has started to become more anxious lately. While she is fine home alone, she sometimes objects to being left other places alone. She has also gotten increasingly shy. While I think some of it is a result of her helicoptered friends filling her head with their parents’ fears, I do think it is a result of being old enough now to identify some potential dangers and yet not having enough experience to evaluate the real risk. I hope it is a stage.

  7. Kenny Felder January 20, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Everybody complains about the problems of the modern world. But you, Lenore, actually do something about them. You’re a sign of hope for the rest of us.

  8. lollipoplover January 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    @Donna- You’re probably right.
    Maybe some kids are more prone to anxiety. And I certainly hope it’s a short stage. Just witnessing it in other children and how debilitating it can be is hard enough.
    My son is more shy by nature but never went through anything like this. It seems more of a *girl* thing. Why?

  9. Donna January 20, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    lollipolover – Luckily mine doesn’t have actual panic attacks. I just get oddball requests like to wait right outside the bathroom because she’s afraid that she won’t be able to find me in the grocery store (does she imagine that I am so forgetful that I would forget she came with me and just leave her there?). But right now she is at the park doing homework with a friend so it is very hit or miss as to what she worries about. It seems to be more about not being able to find me someplace we are together than being places by herself.

  10. Papilio January 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

    Can’t see the rest, they want me to log in 🙁

    @Donna: Maybe she should put some tracking device on you 😛

  11. kh January 20, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    Try deleting your cookies or using another browser– you can read a certain # of articles free and then they want money…

  12. no rest for the weary January 21, 2015 at 1:35 am #

    What’s better than this TV show of yours getting broadcast in the US (finally!!!!)?

    MORE PRESS.

    BIG PRESS.

    Wow!!! This is really something to celebrate. As others have said, you are a hero to growth-oreinted parents and children who suffer in this delusional, over-controlling society.

  13. Papilio January 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    @kh: Tried, didn’t work. Thanks for trying to help though.

  14. Puzzled January 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    Papilio, did you try incognito mode on Chrome?

  15. Papilio January 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    Completely forgot to answer, but in case you’re still reading: Yes Puzzled, I tried that too after your suggestion, but NYT still wouldn’t let me in. (Was it something I said? 😛 )