So in England a woman named Susie Dent publishes a book, “Words of the Year,” every, well, year. The latest edition just came out and in addition to winners like “boytox” (Botox for men) and “momnesia,” defined as “a mother’s forgetfulness in the first year after a child’s birth,” (which isn’t nearly long enough), you will find “free range kid.”

Here’s the definition:

free range kid – a child given lots of free time during the day to do whatever she or he chooses, rather than having a rigid schedule of tennis lessons, extra maths etc. The term was coined by US journalist Lenore Skenazy who has a blog subtitled ‘Let’s give our children the freedom we had’. A free range kid certainly doesn’t have a

helicopter mom – one who is always hovering round her children, afraid that they’ll hurt themselves or get abducted

That about sums it up, right? Now let’s just hope “Free Range” becomes as commonplace as “metrosexual.” But, of course, not the same thing.

(For more linguistic fun from England, check out http://virtuallinguist.typepad.com/the_virtual_linguist/2008/10/words-of-the-year.html)

15 Responses to WORD OF THE YEAR!

  1. Betty October 21, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    I am so glad I am not the only one that uses the phrase “free range kids”! I’ve said for atleast a decade now & always thought I was the “only” one. Glad to see that others are jumping out of the cage with me. I actually make my kids pay for stuff themselves – or beg grandma to pay for it. I give them only the basics – just like my parents did with me!

  2. Brooke October 21, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    Wow! Congrats on the book mention. Now if only Websters would pick it up . . . :-)

  3. Cynthia October 21, 2008 at 11:44 pm #

    How neat, congrats on the mention!

  4. BuffaloNickel October 22, 2008 at 12:32 am #

    That’s cool…congrats.

  5. oldmanneill October 22, 2008 at 12:48 am #

    congrats on the mention. helicopter mom is a new one to me…gonna start using/abusing that word immediately!

  6. Karen October 22, 2008 at 1:05 am #

    Good for you, we are proud of our free-range kids and have used your term since first reading your blog this summer. Thanks for coining it!

  7. Jennifer October 22, 2008 at 1:15 am #

    haha, “free range” sounds more PC than “supervised neglect”, which is the term I always used for my parenting style. That, or “hands-off”. But I like free range the best! :)

  8. Virtual Linguist October 22, 2008 at 2:16 am #

    Here is part of the ‘free range’ page in Susie Dent’s book, reproduced verbatim (I sneaked, or as you all say ‘snuck’, into a bookshop and copied them down!):
    “In a piece for the New York Sun, columnist Lenore Skenazy raised some controversy by admitting she allows her nine-year-old son to use the New York subway. As a result of the ensuing debate, in which Skenazy was both applauded and condemned, the columnist set up a blog entitled Free Range Kids, which emphasizes the value of giving children the same freedoms that today’s adults themselves enjoyed in their childhood. In other words, the aim is to buck the trend of the helicopter mom – who hovers over her child incessantly.
    Intensive farming versus free-range rearing: the choice for many may be much harder to make when it comes to children than to food.”
    That’s two mentions, Lenore!

  9. Joe Kavanagh October 22, 2008 at 11:10 am #

    Congratulations on being included in the book. Though her definition seems more general then the one on this blog in my opinion. Also I am not too sure what she means by “lots of free time”. How much constitutes alot? I would assume that is up to the parent and I couldn’t agree more with that. As I always say on this site, parents know their kids best and hopefully they act appropriately. I think the vast majority of parents do. Congratulations again and thanks for this informative blog.

  10. Jamie | WiredParentPad October 22, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    That’s awesome, congratulations!

    I’ve used the term “Free Range Kid” several times over the past few months, referring to both this blog and the concept.

    I’ll continue to use the term Free Range Kid in hopes of continuing to spread the word so more parents out there can spend less time in Helicopter Mode and more time allowing their children to learn some of the challenges in life on their own (gasp!).

  11. Kukka-Maria October 22, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    My heart swells with pride-by-proxy! My (nay…OUR) collective hope is that people read this and her book, remember their own free-range childhood, and empower their children to own their fun (AND responsibility). You’re helping society develop responsible world-citizens; It’s exciting to see the ripple effects! CONGRATS!

  12. Casey October 22, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    Awesome, Lenore!

    May I add that I’ve long referred to my homeschooled free-range kids as “free-range learners” because it describes their freedom to explore and learn rather than being stuck in the house doing worksheets.


  13. KevDog October 24, 2008 at 2:11 am #

    You’ve really got to stop making the post titles in ALL CAPS. THEY SHOW UP IN MY RSS FEED LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING AT ME.

  14. Start Wall October 24, 2008 at 8:44 pm #

    i’ve never heard the term helicopter mom, made me laugh


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