“5 Minutes for Books” Reviews Free-Range…And Is Shocked!

Two moms,  “5 Minutes for Books” managing editor Jennifer Donovan and her colleague Dawn, reviewed my book arezairddh
in tandem — then did a half-hour podcast with me. Both are available here.  From their review:

Jennifer: The more I read, the more surprised (and disheartened) I was at how much our parenting culture has changed in the last ten or twenty years. Yes, sunscreen and helmets are a good change that our children have adopted without even thinking about it. But the ever-present nature of parents — from driving or walking tweens and teens to school or to friends’ houses, to being in constant contact with cell-phones — that part honestly has been a shock.


“Did anything surprise or shock you from this book?”

Dawn: Absolutely the statistics! The fear of a stranger abducting one’s child is so palpable in our society, so it was incredibly surprising to see just how rarely this happens.


Dawn: I’m pushing hard for my husband to read this book as well, and I think that there are a few areas where we may be able to give our son a little more freedom.

Thanks, mom-readers!

11 Responses to “5 Minutes for Books” Reviews Free-Range…And Is Shocked!

  1. Uly July 1, 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    My niece, Ana, who is brave and fearless and who can climb taller than ANYbody (no joke) is also convinced that children get kidnapped by strangers.


    I blame her teachers, really. Not that it’s their fault, but now I have to spend the summer explaining that it’s simply Not Gonna Happen.

    Luckily, she hasn’t thought this belief through. At six years old she still walks confidently to the corner store alone, she still heads half of the way home from school by herself (I have to pick her up), she plays outside with the older girls by herself, she climbs on EVERYTHING… and if a grown-up offers help she “doesn’t say anything because they’re strangers”. (I’m working on the concept that nobody is gonna snatch you if all you say is “no thanks”.)

  2. Jamie In Vancouver July 1, 2009 at 11:36 pm #

    It’s hard. Really hard. I was a free range kid but I always had my siblings with me in my roaming. Now I have a 9 year old daughter who’s an only child in a neighborhood where there are very few children her age near by (within a couple blocks).

    The ‘electronic leash’ as I call her cell phone, helps put my mind to ease and let her roam a bit further then I would probably let her go without it but I find it’s more often that we parents are crippled by fear then our children.

    That said I try and keep in mind that that’s /my/ problem, it shouldn’t be hers.

  3. Elizabeth July 1, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    When I was a kid I grew up in an area where my friends from school lived anywhere from 5-25 miles away and there just wasn’t any public transportation (still isn’t). I was totally dependent on my mother for driving me to all of my activities, school, and friends’ houses. I couldn’t stand it! Even though I cried when I left for summer camp until the age of 12 and was a Mama’s-girl in many ways I HATED feeling dependent. When I left for college I went to a city and afterward moved to another city. It’s not just about giving the kids freedom it’s about letting them feel (and become) independent and capable.

  4. highlyirritable July 2, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    I’ve been pretty successful in shutting down many an argument by spouting the real statistics, and then asking opposers to Free Range to quote me theirs. Truth is, they just can’t.

    It needs to be said that kids must be given age appropriate responsibilites and freedoms. I am a fulltime (mature) student at University and was SHOCKED to hear from some Profs that some kids have a parent accompany them to classes on the first day. Can you imagine? I’d be MORTIFIED (as both a student, or a parent…)

  5. Virginia July 2, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    My kids, ages 10 and 12, are in day camps this week. These are both wonderful camps that encourage kids to explore, invent, and experiment with their minds and hands. The counselors are bright, enthusiastic, and well-trained, and they get to know the kids and the parents within a day or two.

    And I have to show my photo ID *every single day* when I pick them up.

    I was snarking about it to my son’s counselor yesterday, and he said, “Yeah. It’s to prevent all those identical twin abductions.”

  6. Forced2BCopterMom July 2, 2009 at 6:41 am #

    A friend of mine summed up the Helicopter Parent mentality phenomenon pretty well: We parents are not solely to blame for not letting our children roam free. Many school districts REQUIRE someone to accompany a child to school – even if it’s only a block away. When I left my 6 year-old in the children’s section of our library to go 50 ft. away to the non-fiction, two parents asked him if he was “alone” and if he “had an adult friend” with him (I could actually see him across the stacks the whole time). Child services have been called in our town when “unaccompanied minors” are “roaming” the neighborhoods (in one case, two sisters were walking home from the local park at dusk). Parents of our children’s friends won’t let them be unaccompanied.

    I’m glad I’m not (a) alone in my frustration at being forced to be a helicopter mom and (b) not crazy in thinking that all this supervision is probably not really good for my kids in the long run.

    My great-grandmother always said a parent’s job is to put themselves out of business in 18 years. I don’t see how I’ll achieve that in my Hover Craft.

  7. Sandra July 2, 2009 at 8:16 am #

    Awesome as usual!

  8. Kelly July 2, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    “I’m glad I’m not (a) alone in my frustration at being forced to be a helicopter mom and (b) not crazy in thinking that all this supervision is probably not really good for my kids in the long run.”

    I am still pushing the non-supervised kids envelope. I do occasionally get comments and the very rare lecture from some employee at the YMCA or whatever. I am glad to see I am not alone in thinking some of these rules and concepts are over the top.

    I won’t be buying my kids a cell phone. My family gets along famously without one.

    One thing that’s awesome about raising Free Range Kids is their adept and social natures. My kids will look a grownup right in the eye and say, “Nice to meet you.”

    I look forward to reading your book!

  9. jerrywaxler July 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    Thanks for giving voice to this rather bizarre social phenomenon. The whole time I was in high school, Friday evening I took the subway down to my dad’s drugstore in North Philadelphia and many times took public transportation into downtown Philadelphia. I was a loner and loved to walk to the main Library. A high school assignment required research and I spent many evenings and weekends by myself at the University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philadelphia. I was not once bullied EVER.

    How can culture have changed so much, and can anyone turn back the dial and reclaim some of that freedom? I don’t know if there’s an answer but I’m a big believer in raising the questions, and trying to make a public discussion out of something that so many people observe and are confused by in silence.

    Jerry Waxler

  10. Rena July 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    I was a free range kid growing up, military style. My mother knew about we the three of her children were, but not exactly. We came home for lunch and dinner during the summers. These days, at least where I live, that kind of freedom is a luxury. I bemoan the fact that children in my area of Virginia have been snatched off the porch and raped, when they were ringing the doorbell to see if a friend could play. Others have been assaulted at sleep overs. Unfortunately it is not a rare occurrence, but something that happens quite regularly, seems like every two weeks or so. That said, I let my nine year old ride her bike around the neighborhood, with friends. She is not allowed to ring doorbells or go inside anyone’s home.This part of the state has the highest concentration of pedophiles/child molesters ever. Probably because of the transient nature of the area. I am in discussions with my hubby to move to another area that seems less hostile to the free range ways.

  11. Dave July 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    As the pastor of a church in Manhattan I am starting to give the book out to new mothers. Maybe together we can all turn this trend around.