Gotta Vent

Sorry Readers — Vent I must. Just got off a long radio interview with Detroit’s “Mojo in the Morning” show, where, after being called a crazy, terrible mom who obviously doesn’t care about her kids, the final comment to me and the listeners was, “Watch ‘Law & Order,’ and you’ll know what New York is all about.”

No. Watch “Law & Order” and you will know what TV fhhzfzidfy
is all about. One man once wrote to this site a while back — I wish I could find his note — and said that he lives in a quiet, safe Brooklyn neighborhood where “Law & Order” often films. Of course it’s not a quiet, safe neighborhood when it’s the backdrop for that show. It’s a crime scene! And THAT is the difference between real life and TV: Life is, thank goodness, usually pretty dull. TV is filled with the stuff that keeps us glued to the screen: Murder! Rape! Innocents in peril!

It is really easy to scorn a mom would would put her child into that kind of mayhem and casually walk away.

That’s not what I did. That’s not what I advocate. I advocate preparing our children with skills like, “How to cross the street,” “How to ask for help,”  and then letting them out into the real world. The boring one you don’t see on TV.

And I won’t even get into the whole radio discussion about, “What if something terrible happens?!” which is a question meant to trump anyone who trusts their kid to do ANYTHING. Ever.

I’m glad I stir up controversy because that gets the issue — and me — out there. A lot. But sometimes, the tsunami of scorn, self-righteousness and media-generated terror gets me down.  Off to eat a cookie.  — Lenore

93 Responses to Gotta Vent

  1. morninglight mama May 12, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    Stay strong, Lenore!! (And enjoy your cookie- you deserve it.) The loudest voices are too often the least logical and thoughtful. Parents like me are thankful that you have the ability to share your opinion amidst the firestorm of insults and untruths thrown your way.

    You are not alone, hardly, and we appreciate your willingness to keep these ideas in the spotlight.

  2. Theresa G May 12, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    There are others who are Free ranging their kids right here in NYC. My son is only 5 months, but we work very hard at not letting the “What if” cult get into our heads.

    Do you follow NYCityMama on twitter? She not only let but insisted that her 12 year old go to the barber on his own. She lives in Washington Heights…

    You’re doing such a great thing! Don’t let the turds get you down!

  3. Craig May 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm #


    I live in the Detroit area and those guys are clowns. They ridicule anyone and everyone who comes on their program. If you want a serious discussion in this market, stick with Paul W. Smith on WJR.

  4. montessorimatters May 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Lenore, you’re a brave soul and these people are only hiding behind their ignorance and fear. Pity them and their children, for theirs is a world of evil-doers and stranger-danger. Stay strong – for your kids, and for the kids of countless other parents. You’re changing kids’ lives, just keep that in mind and don’t let idiots get you down.

  5. She Started It May 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    This is why your message is so important, Lenore. Thank you for what you do.

  6. Tom Accuosti May 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Don’t eat the cookie – grab some dumb bells and work out for a half hour. Then you can have the cookie with some milk.

  7. Uly May 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Watch Law and Order? Why? That stuff is fiction, for crying out loud!

    But they know better by watching fake things than you do by actually living here. *eyeroll*

  8. Lola May 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Keep up the good work, Lenore! And don’t worry; not that many people will buy that crap about “Law and Order”. Anyone who has tried to clear up the kitchen by clicking their fingers, like Mary Poppins, will know the difference between fiction and reality.

  9. Sarah May 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Lenore – you’re a trailblazer and a voice of reason in a bubble-wrapped world. Life is hard. Raising kids is hard. No one will deny that. But continuing to protect kids the way that is “normal” now will only mean parents will have to raise adults, too.

    Keep up the good work. Tell the nay-sayers to grow a pair. Ha!

  10. the Rebbetzin May 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    chazak chazak v’nitchazeik!!! strong, strong, we will be strong!!!! You have so many supporters all over the world (!) who are forging ahead with the goal of changing our culture of fear and fear-mongering.

    You rock. You are brave to be the public face and heart of Free-Ranging. We all thank you!!

  11. Maggie May 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Have TWO cookies!

    “Watch Law&Order”, my ass. Some people need to turn off the idiot box and go the hell outside.

  12. kntruong74 May 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    Hi Lenore —

    I’ve been following your blog for a while, but never post. But, I live in the Detroit area and feel I have to apologize! Mojo in the Morning is the worst of the worst. Mojo and his crew make their living by being as inflammatory as possible. I CAN’T listen to them. Please do not take that crap as representative of our area!

    For some reason, our area seems to tolerate a lot of crap — just look at our recent politicians, and read the comments on! It’s sad, but there are TONS of good people here, too. I SWEAR!

  13. tattooedelf May 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    Keep on keepin’ on, Lenore. You do good work.

  14. Steve C. May 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    You are an inspiration to people who aren’t reactionary fools.

  15. Cynthia May 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    Morninglight mama said exactly what I was going to say. I hope it was a really good cookie, and I really appreciate what you’re doing. I know it benefits all of our kids.

  16. deanne May 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    A cookie??!! Don’t you know the dangers of refined sugar and all those additives? And don’t get me started on the milk: dairy is poison you know!! :o)
    Seriously though, I think the best move I’ve ever made for my own peace of mind was to cancel the cable.

  17. Laura May 12, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    Yeah, I’ve said on here before: I lived that life. That trying to be a perfect mom, and it doesn’t work. It makes us so emotionally unhealthy and unstable that we become more likely to harm our kids than anyone else! So maybe a slight exaggeration for most of us, but it isn’t healthy for the moms OR the kids to worry over every.little.thing. It’s easy to blast moms when you’re the dad who gets to go to work every day, or moms when you get to drop your child off in the care of (gasp!) strangers or even relatives. But when you are a stay at home mom /dad or a work at home mom/dad, you NEED a break for your own sanity. And you can’t get a break if you are busy micromanaging their life. And really, what kind of message does that send to kids anyways? That they are the center of the world and are entitled to every drop of mom’s attention. The last thing we need are more narcissistic, self-entitled young adults running around! And studies do show that helicopter parenting does produce that.

  18. Laura May 12, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    PS Law and Order is loosely based on real cases that happen OVER TIME around the ENTIRE COUNTRY. So, no, not representative of any one city at all!

  19. Meagan May 12, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    You shouldn’t be frustrated by te “what if something happens?” question. It’s a fantastic question. What if something happens? If something happens, don’t YOU want to know you’ve done everything in your power to protect them? Don’t you want to be confident, whether your child is 8 or 18, that he or she is able to COPE with a potentially dangerous situation? A child doesn’t turn 18 and magically learn all the things he/she needs to know in life.

    We can’t stop everything bad that might happen to our kids. There is a reason, beyond Law & Order, that parents are more frightened of kidnapping than car accidents. There is a perception that one is preventable, within a parent’s control, while the other is a freak event that can’t be stopped. If a child dies in a car accident, it is tragic and unforseeable. If a child is kidnapped, the parent wasn’t paying enough attention, or some other guilty offense.

    Except, if you believe a parent is more responsible for a kidnapping than a car accident, you should be even more of a free ranger than the rest of us. Kidnapping happens rarely, but when it does happen, a child has the best chance of surviving if they scream, fight, and look for every oppertunity to escape. They have a better chance of surviving if they kno. To be aware of their surroundings and listen to their instincts.

    Even virtues learned in free ranging might not be enough to keep a kid 100% safe. But when children can be stollen from their home at night, from a hotel room, from right in front of their father’s eyes, how is helecoptering the best way to keep them safe?

    I remember a story from a few years ago of a nine year old kidnapped and kept in a basement. She wriggled out of the duct tape that bound her (injuring an eye), climbed out the basement window and ran until she found an adult (a stranger mind you) to call the police. Does anyone honestly think her parents were the hovering type? Here’s a WHAT IF question: what if that girl hadn’t been free range?

  20. Hannah May 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    I am at work, so I intend to go back and explore your sight – but I must say that the reason I am aware of it is I live in Detroit, heard Mojo and must say they really screwed you on that interview. I agree with alot of what you say and look forward to reading more. But that show – they – were idiots.

  21. Meagan May 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Sorry for weird sentence breaks. Typing on iPhone causes weird auto formatting and typos sometimes.

  22. Taylor May 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    If Detroit were a little safer they might have considered filming Law & Order there. 😉

  23. pentamom May 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I think you need to avoid the media venues that are primarily entertainment venues. At least, get an idea of what they’re about before you go on. A lot of shows aren’t about letting a person with an idea speak their piece — a lot of them are about what happened to you. Something in what the interviewee says is played for sensationalism, regardless of whether it’s a fair reflection of the person’s position or not. It generates ratings, phone calls, emotion, and maybe laughs, so it’s served its purpose. The reasonableness of either your position or their reaction to it HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Don’t let yourself be used, and your message tarnished, by people in that game.

  24. Teri May 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    I used to listen to morning radio all the time to listen to the music and some news. Then Howard Stern got popular and all the morning shows became Howard Stern wannabees. I stopped listening. The whole purpose of those morning talk shows is to be inflammatory and insulting to those who call in or are interviewed.

  25. Andy in Germany May 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    A lot of what you describe as ‘free range’ is considered ‘normal’ here (if it’s even considered and not simply taken for granted). I wonder if any of these so well informed people realise they are in a very small majority worldwide?

    Hang in there, being different hurts sometimes, even if the truth is on your side.

  26. Olya May 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    A person from Texas told you, a New Yorker, to go see what New York is like from Law and Order videos?! You got worked up over that?! I’m sorry, Lenore, that person is just obviously an idiot. You can’t let the idiots get to you, or every day will be ruined!

    You are right. What you are doing is right. What they are doing, hiding in their suburbs, afraid of daylight, building movie theaters in their basements and keeping their kids from knowing their neighbors is really not normal. They live in their paranoid heads, and are teaching their kids to do the same. You live in New York city, and so do your kids, with all of its wonder, opportunity, excitement and yes, sometimes danger. Much like life.

    You are doing great. Keep it up. Don’t listen to the crazy people. Eat the cookie. 🙂

  27. sylvia_rachel May 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    I’m trying a new gingersnap recipe this weekend. Want to come over? 🙂

    That sounds like a truly unpleasant experience, and I’m sorry it was like that. But try not to be discouraged! You are making a difference! Just last weekend I was talking to a friend — in her 20s, engaged, planning to have kids in a few years — who told me she’s rethought a lot of her assumptions about kids and childrearing as a result of my blogging about FRK-ish issues and linking to your posts and related articles. So, okay, that’s just one person. But if each of us on here, under your influence, could influence one or two more people, and each of them could convince another one or two …

  28. Toadette May 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    It was on TV so it must be true.

  29. Susan May 12, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    I don’t know how many times I have been on a “What age should you let your kids stay home alone (or go in the neighborhood alone or whatever)?” thread on a moms’ board and a lot of the opposing posts say something like, “I’ve watched CSI too many times to every let my child outside by themselves.”

    OMG! Are people really basing their parenting decisions and their children’s freedom on TV shows!!!

  30. Stacy McKenna Seip May 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    I’ve been having a discussion over on my blog about the issue of whether or not schools should automatically provide a kid a hot lunch if they leave theirs at home. In the course of the discussion, a friend said “ultimately, the responsibility for taking care of a child rests on the parent, not the child, not the school, not anyone else”. There was also discussion of CPS being called in if kids’ parents didn’t zoom over with the forgotten lunch or authorize distribution of a school lunch they’d then have to pay for.

    Well, the part about it not being the child’s responsibility is really what I think Free Ranging is all about – when does that stipulation magically go away? They have their 18th birthday and suddenly know how to cook, clean, manage finances, and navigate social situations? Poppycock.

    My response, which made me think of you, included:

    “It is my job as a parent to teach my child to become a responsible, functional adult. … Just because something is “legal” or “the law” doesn’t mean it helps facilitate that first job of teaching responsibility. And yes, in a progressive manner it IS the child’s responsibility to take care of the child. You’re still not dressing or wiping your eldest’s derriere when he potties, are you? The whole point of parenting is to teach them how to take care of themselves, one step at a time. I’m not going to expect them to earn money/garden enough to acquire their own food, make their own lunch, AND remember to take it to school by age 8, but I certainly think that last step is a reasonable expectation.”

    Thank you for providing a place where we can discuss ways to help our children become functional adults.

  31. neener May 12, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

    I’m sending you twelve virtual boxes of Girl Scout cookies, whatever flavor is your favorite! *nom nom nom*

    I have personally made a few converts to the FRK concept (I’m pretty zealous!), and ALL our daughters’ lives improved because of it. EVERYTHING you are doing matters immensely, Lenore, and the impact can be seen every day throughout my neighborhood. You take a lot of heat, but so do all proponents of necessary shifts in society’s thinking. Our kids will live lives full of confidence and experience; theirs will still be living at home at 30 out of fear of the Big, Bad World.

    Just go with Einstein on this one:
    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

  32. Rich Wilson May 12, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    May it have lots of big chunks of chocolate.
    p.s. ad homenim attacks are the domain of those who have nothing else.

  33. Emily May 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    You’re a strong person to put yourself out there, especially to be so criticized over something as personal as your mothering. I would sit and cry on the air, which is exactly why I’m not the one doing this, you are. 🙂 I’m sure that even through their insults, people who wanted to hear your message did hear it–like the above commenter who heard you and then came to your site. It’s a shame they were rude, though, which is what it is. Maybe NPR is the ticket, not people whose job it is to insult everyone around them (another terrible comment on how we raise children, incidentally). Either way, I know it’s tough to recover from that, but try to remember the encouragement you’re giving people. It seems like free range is easily misinterpreted, but you’re getting the message out to people who are willing to listen.

  34. KateNonymous May 12, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    Lenore, given this post, I thought I’d let you know about a conversation I had a couple of months ago. I had my first child four weeks ago. Several weeks before she was born, a family friend (she has an 18-month-old) recommended two books that she said were really valuable to her as a new parent. I don’t remember the first one, but the second one was yours!

  35. LJCohen May 13, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    The whole idea of *fiction* is that it compresses all the possible drama of a life into a small package. No one wants to read or watch ‘and nothing out of the ordinary happened.’ As an aspiring novelist, I can tell you, fiction starts ‘in media res’ that is, in the thick of events, and creates one dramatic moment after another until the plot resolves.

    Life, on the other hand, is more often full of boring, mundane moments interspersed with brief instances of heightened emotional experiences. No one reports about the child who walks to and from school without incident, or the one who plays in the park and then comes home, or the one who rides his bike to the local store and back again. Yet that’s the day in and day out reality.

    Do awful things happen? Yes. But they are not caused by parents giving their children appropriate freedoms and responsibilities.

    I’m a week away from knowing if my 16 yo son will be traveling abroad for the summer as part of a language immersion program. The program only allows 1 phone call a month and 1 email a week. My mother heart quails at the pain of separation, but it will not stop me from letting him go if he’s chosen. He is an amazingly responsible, self-reliant young man and this will be an opportunity of his lifetime.

    Will I worry? Of course. Just as I worried the first day of kindergarten, when we took the training wheels of his bike, when he started crossing streets on his own, when he took the T into Boston with friends, etc.

    Don’t let stupid sh*t get you down, Lenore. There are a lot of us older moms who were doing the free range thing before it had a name, and just as many parents keeping their kids in a padded room. It’s not a scientific study, and we’re talking a sample size of 2, but both my teens are amazingly polite, self reliant, responsible, and confident kids.

  36. HSmom May 13, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    A cookie? You should be eating a whole roll of RAW COOKIE DOUGH! 😉 Okay, maybe not the whole roll.

  37. Nicola May 13, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    Ahhh, watch TV to learn about life. That’s as sensible as watching soap operas to learn how to have a successful marriage.

    Obvious idiots that either don’t have kids or have the kids that are going to grow up stunted in their social skills, living with their parents for years, and not understanding why at 35 they are still alone and can’t find a mate that wants to live in the basement with them.

    To hell with them, Lenore. If they’re only smart enough to believe the fiction on TV, they aren’t worth your time or worry.

  38. Lloydie May 13, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    People from Detroit talking about how dangerous Brooklyn/New York is? Seriously?!???

  39. Lisa May 13, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    What they ^ said (except for the dissing of Detroit parts).

    You are awesome! Thanks for being the public voice of all Free Range Kids parents!

  40. mvb May 13, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    meanwhile, has everyone heard about the 14 year old climbing Everest? don’t his parents know that’s *dangerous* ?!!!

  41. Eric May 13, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    Vent! Vent! There will always be those that let fear and paranoia rule their lives. I’ve learned a long time ago, that only they can change that about them. Some come around, while others don’t. And are in constant stress, to the point that it affects their children. I’ve seen some mothers scold, and physically get rough (grabbing arm and pulling them) when the child goes down the aisle to look at some toys. Instead of educating them as to why they shouldn’t have run off, they yell and intimidate the child. I’ve even heard one mother saying “do you want to get kidnapped or killed?” What are THESE parents, the “what if” parents, teaching their children? It’s like we’ve said before, this time and a time 20, 30, 40 years ago is not much different. Except for technology. TV, radio, and internet has made it more easy to acquire information (confirmed or rumored). Such information can be taken in a negative light – letting it cause you fear and controlling you – or in a positive light – using the info to educate your child as well as themselves in how to empower yourselves to overcome what has always been.

    People just don’t understand the power of fear. It can make you do, say and think crazy things. So no Lenore, your not the crazy one. Just keep remembering that when the real “crazy” ones become frustrating to deal with. Remember, your in a far better place (mentally and emotionally) and will always be, compared to them. And that’s absolutely beneficial to you and and especially your children.

  42. Jenne May 13, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    I think the response for that might be “I dunno– I prefer to get my ideas about what NYC is like from the Batman movies. Or maybe Godzilla.”

  43. Helynna Brooke May 13, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    Lenore, One of your fans applauding you for being out there in front of the fire of scorn and prejudice. In the US we are particularly a nation with lots of people who like to ignore reality and instead focus on what they think they can control. Worldwide, 250,000 children are killed yearly and over one million injured in car accidents. In the US 700 kids a day are injured in car accidents (WHO figures), yet the modern solution seems to be to drive kids more places, thereby increasing the odds that they will injured or killed in a car. Just like we won’t accept that the amount we drive our cars is contributing significantly to global warming. Sadly, we are creating a world that may be very difficult to survive in and raising children who won’t have a clue about how to survive.

  44. Eric May 13, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    Replying to mvb…thanks for sharing that. One of the things that made me glad to read that article is this quote, “I told my dad about it and he didn’t say no. He just explained the difficulties and what I’d have to do…” It’s all about positive reinforcement, and education. If my son wanted to rock climb, ride a motorcycle, go skydiving, etc… I wouldn’t stop him, but I would let him know all the risks he would be taking, and let him make up his own mind. Whatever he decides, I would support it. But I would definitely make sure he had quality and proper training.

  45. Party Piper May 13, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    I look at the “what if something happens” as a form of semantic slanting meant to “trump” the other person. It’s like when you argue with someone from an opposing viewpoint politically, and they call you a liberal elistist or mindless conservatism? What ever happened to being able to have friendly disagreements? Why is it we have lost the ability to talk to people who have views that may be very different from our own, and discuss them amicably and enjoy each other’s company?

    I posted earlier and said that children who don’t know what to do in crisis situations, like stranger danger, fires, natural disasters, ect are probably MORE likely to get hurt, or God forbid, die in these circumstances. It’s why kids in the midwest have been doing tornado drills, why schools have regular fire drills, and why the fire department comes to visit most kid’s schools. When kids know what to do, and they’ve been made aware of the dangers, they usually act admirably. My friend’s child has NOT been prepared to do that, and she got stuck on a bumper boat at a water park. What was a mild annoyance almost turned into a crisis because she PANICKED, wouldn’t let the lifeguard, her mother or me talk her through it, and then her mother panicked (guess where she got it from.)

    And Law & Order for reality? Ummm… no. Look, I love me some SVU, but I’m also educated enough to know that it’s FICTION. And I’m educated enough to know that when they spout off all that nonsense about rape statistics, recidivism amongst sex offenders, ect, it’s crap. It’s a make believe world. That’d be like reading Harry Potter and thinking your kid could get accepted to Hogwarts.

  46. Michelle May 13, 2010 at 1:09 am #

    Thank you for what you are doing! I just got done with your book and it was so enlightening. Several of my friends are planning to read it as well. My kids have just lit up since we took you advice and started giving them more freedom (and responsibility!). What you’re doing is a gift to kids and parents everywhere.

  47. Jen May 13, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    I live in Detroit and I am so grateful I heard you this morning. All Mojo & friends care about is ratings. I hope May 22nd gets lots of notice. Thank you for putting up with them, you handled the ridiculing gracefully. It was worth it, at least now you have one more person (me) reading your blog and I will probably buy your book.

  48. dietplaid May 13, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    Rock on! It is all about ratings alot of the time, and you’re right, the “what ifs” and the shockers are what bring them in.

  49. Kelly May 13, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    Lenore, I respect you so much for keeping this up and doing the interviews even when you know you won’t get a fair shake. You do know you are making a difference – and such a positive one. It’s so important and I commend you for having the ovaries to do it.

    Re: “real world” vs. TV. I don’t have television but we occasionally rent TV shows. My girlfriend and I watched a lot of CSI. I remember one episode wherein a small girl got kidnapped from a version of a Chucky Cheese restaurant. The kidnapper panicked and murdered the little girl and left her in the bathroom. Cue the investigators looking around in their hip shades and clothes, pursing their lips and shaking their heads. “These places are like an all-you-can eat buffet to these kind of creeps,” the lead investigator says. Thereby implying that of course, just TONS of creeps are out there trolling these places and it’s a fairly regular thing. This was before my kids were old enough to venture out and before I’d read your book. And I just thought, Oh, right, this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME. I believed TV.

    So I’m glad to have people like you who give us the statistics, sure – but who also speak to a deeper truth, that their is a cost to our fear-based parenting. Thank you so much for doing it. You’re up against a pretty gross and massive media machine. But you’re holding up beautifully!

  50. River Greenway May 13, 2010 at 2:28 am #

    Lenore said:

    “I advocate preparing our children with skills like, “How to cross the street,” “How to ask for help,” and then letting them out into the real world.”

    It would be interesting to ask readers to post how young they were when they began crossing streets by themselves. I did it in 1st grade in a large city.

    But more importantly, if children cross at intersections, how many drivers would ignore them? The more I’ve thought about this the more I think we’re all VERY aware and concerned about the safety of kids, especially very young children.

    Our streets might actually be SAFER if we had loads of small children crossing streets all the time.

    Have you ever seen how cars stop for geese, ducks, or dogs crossing a street? And THEY don’t cross at intersections.

  51. bananacat May 13, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    I absolutely hate it when people base their view of reality on fiction. Yes, sometimes made-up stories are good for imparting a lesson or moral. Just as often though, the lesson is actually wrong. I once argued with a woman who insisted that it is necessary to spank children often because otherwise they’ll just be completely out of control. I think that kids deserve more credit than we give them and that they will often practice fairness, empathy, and kindness if just given the chance. This woman told me to read Lord of the Flies (which I have already read), as an example of what children will do without constant, overbearing control from adults. I tried to explain to her that that was fiction and there’s no reason to believe that actual kids in the real world would act that way, but she just couldn’t understand that one author’s perceptions of children might not accurately reflect reality.

  52. DirtyHooker May 13, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    Lenore, I want to add my voice to what others have said: What you’re doing is important. We’re raising a generation of kids who can’t take care of themselves. The whole point of parenthood is to make ourselves unnecessary, eventually, which is what free-range parents do, a little at a time, as it’s appropriate.

    Thanks for being willing to deal with douchebags on kids’ and parents’ behalf.

  53. DairyStateMom May 13, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    Lenore — Non illegitimi carborundum. Including that self-righteous buzzkiller who told you to work out before you ate the cookie. 😉 He’s clearly never seen you.

    In all seriousness, you rock, and keep it up!

  54. lakeline May 13, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    Seriously, Lenore, I don’t know how you do it. I just had a facebook debate with a good friend about leaving kids in cars to run an errand and felt like banging my head against the wall. It went from “but a stranger could lure them out of the car with a puppy” to “why are you so focused on these kidnapping rarity statistics” in the space of a few posts (with a little “you’re just lazy” implication in the interim). And I find there’s no middle ground. Either people totally GET the FRK concept or they HATE it with a passion. The people who hate it just make me despair for humanity sometimes.

  55. Mo May 13, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    As a Detroiter, it really saddens me that you had that kind of reception. But, as previous posters have said, that morning show can hardly be taken seriously. In any case, here’s one Detroiter who thinks you’re great.

  56. pentamom May 13, 2010 at 3:30 am #

    Just to clarify, I didn’t at all mean to suggest Lenore should avoid the media (or even a significant percentage of media outlets) because she might not get a fair shake from hosts with an agenda. I only meant that *some* particular media outlets are simply not geared to promoting anything useful at all, because they’re essentially a joke (and exist to make a joke out of whatever they interact with) and so that engaging with *those particular* outlets is counter-productive. What I have in mind probably applies mostly to radio shock-jocks and a relatively small number of discreditable television personalities.

  57. Julie Colwell May 13, 2010 at 4:15 am #

    We should all send you cookies! My friend and I have bought up all the locally available paperback versions of FreeRange Kids and are giving them to everyone we know. I think it should be required reading for anyone about to have a baby.

    Maybe if people could stop watching TV and go outside, they’d see what New York really is all about. Most people around the world think US is what they see on TV, so it’s sad, but not surprising.

  58. Cyn May 13, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    Why are helicopter paretns so insecure in the job they’ve done as parents? If you think your child is ill-equipped to handle the “real world” then you just need to step it up as a parent. A parent’s job is to raise a child to ADULTHOOD. Just a reminder: an ADULT is someone who can take responsibility for his/her own actions AND take care of all his/her own needs. If you want something that needs your care and protection for its entire life, get a pet.

  59. Mamarox May 13, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    Be strong, we love you!

  60. beckys May 13, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    All those fear-crazed parents remind me of a great line from the British series, Life on Mars, where the main character says, “You’re a loser, because you live in fear. And that’s not really living at all. Now, me, I don’t live in fear. I’m alive.” Amen, Sam Tyler.

  61. melissa May 13, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    Chin up! You’ve done a good thing and there are many of us who appreciate the fact that you’ve put yourself out there on behalf of us and our families. Hugs!!!

  62. BMS May 13, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    I’ve just been drowning various sorrows in a few hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. Apparently, I should never go to California, since this fine documentary series perfectly describes all the demons, monsters, and vampires that live there. Anyone who lets their kid out of their sight in CA is clearly negligent.

    Thank God I have TV to tell me how life really is.

  63. Linda Lou May 13, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Keep up the good work. Those guys are morons.

  64. Dot Khan May 13, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Don’t worry about those that call you crazy. Yesterday I showed the Time magazine article that featured you to a Ph.D. and he agreed with me that your message Is a sane way of looking at things. He should know what is crazy.
    I can’t be nuts, the insane critics think I’m crazy.

  65. Stephanie - Home with the Kids May 13, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Sorry the show was such a bad experience. Too many of those shows will say anything if they think it will help ratings. I hope you enjoyed that cookie!

  66. Uly May 13, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    BMS, I don’t know. Trying to raise your kids in Sunnydale probably IS some form of abusive behavior.

  67. J. May 13, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Aww, Lenore. Stay strong, keep up the good fight. Don’t stop singing your song. Keep the message alive. We need to keep hearing it.

    You go, woman! You’re doing a great job. DON’T go away. And now, go enjoy that cookie and to hell with the calories.

  68. Molly Santa Croce May 13, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    I hear you Lenore! Sometimes you start to think you ARE the crazy one…

    Like when I’m inside letting my kids play in our big private backyard and my neighbors are standing out in the yard watching and gossiping. I will STAND STRONG! I REFUSE to go out there! Thats why I bought a house with a big yard! So I will make a cup of tea and have my cookie and call my kids in when its dinnertime!

    Thanks for all you do… The night I discovered your website truly changed my life! I didnt go to bed until 3am. I was so happy to discover there was actually a name for my parenting style and that I wasn’t alone!

    Hang in there! Tomorrow’s hump day!

  69. pw May 13, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Three deep breaths and count to ten mate. And maybe a couple of extra cookies would be in order.
    Without their disingenuous, contrived hysteria of fantacy fear these people would whither and die of the irrelivance syndrome they surely deserve to be in.
    For sollace on these sorts of matters, try the sufi teaching stories about the mythical Mulla Nasrudin (Idres Shah is a good place to start).

  70. Molly Santa Croce May 13, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    OOPS Actually today is hump day. Tomorrow is post-hump day??

  71. bmj2k May 13, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Hysterical that the guys who made the New York comment live in Detroit, a great example of a dying city, urban neglect, and much less safe than New York.

  72. bmj2k May 13, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    And hey- I thought if you wanted to know what New York was about you watched Seinfeld and Friends.

  73. Dawn May 13, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Scary….seriously, he needs to turn off the tv. Keep at it, Lemore! I admire you and we need your voiced of sanity in the crazy wilderness that is modern US parenting right now.

  74. Wonder in the Woods May 13, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Yes stay strong Lenore!! I’m beating the same drum by posting your articles on my FB page and blogging about it. A few of my friends have read your book and articles and are re-thinking their paranoia. But my SIL thinks I’m nuts and has much to say about how stupid all this is… Her children are locked up good and tight and have the pale skin and dark circles to prove it. Seriously. I figure I’ll keep beating this drum because so far CPS has not showed up on my front doorstep demanding to know if I let the kids play outdoors without me.

  75. danan May 13, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    One of my favorite quotes on safety:
    “Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.”
    Edward Gorey

  76. Kenny Felder May 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    A lot of us believe what you believe, Lenore. But you have achieved something the rest of us have not: you’ve gotten yourself a very public forum. That means you’re going to be the focus of a lot of irrational hatred. But if we’re right, and if “Free Range” is the simple common-sense right answer, then a lot of people will hear and respond to the message, and a lot of children’s lives will be better for it.

  77. Erin May 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Every time I start getting freaked out about how scary the world is (I’m looking at you, China) or get panicky about the latest local fear mongering (sometimes I can’t help it), I sit down and think about all of the people I know who have survived into adulthood without any major catastrophes, and how many people I know who have children that have not been abducted or killed or otherwise brutalized. Then I take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine and swear off tv for a while.

    It helps me keep a little perspective.

  78. Edward May 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I read this site every day. Thank you, Lenore, for everything you do.

  79. Amber B May 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    @BMS back in the 1980’s my grandmother had fears of ever setting foot in Los Angeles because she thought it was some decrepit wasteland like she had seen on tv and in the movies. When I was a kid she would take me on a Sunday drive after church, and she would stop and turn when we got to the county boarder. She would say when I begged that we go into Los Angeles “Honey, I will not set foot in Los Angeles! Its like New York in that movie where Kurt Russell saves the US president with all those crazy people running around!”

    Now that I have watched Escape From New York ( and it’s sequel which is consequently about LA) several times I just have to laugh as I go to a university in Los Angeles right now, and haven’t encountered any cannibal zombies, rampaging albino punk rockers, or mutant gang members. xD

  80. Leah May 13, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Watch “Law and Order,” my left foot.

    Ignore the inflammatory nonsense. The world wants mothers perfect, frightened and Joan Cleaver in pearls. When we refuse to live our lives that way, they will say anything to put us ‘back in our place.’

    Recognize the idiots who make their livings off of fear mongering for what they are, have some chocolate (refined sugar – gasp!) and breathe.

    You have inspired so many of us to be the parents we always wanted to be. Ignore the noise.

  81. pentamom May 13, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    June Cleaver was a lot more Free Range than modern parents, FWIW. I’m sure the Beav went to the park alone regularly.

  82. pentamom May 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    “BMS, I don’t know. Trying to raise your kids in Sunnydale probably IS some form of abusive behavior.”

    And don’t even THINK about Smallville. Everyone in that town between the ages of 14 and 30 is either a freak or a victim.

  83. NJMom May 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    Don’t let this get you down, Lenore! That show sounds pretty juvenile; the media equivalent of highschool kids ragging on somebody for “whatever” and “just because they can”. Your message is important and IS making a difference. Have a cocktail with that cookie while your at it!

  84. MFA Grad May 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    I’d advise taking 2 cookies and using them to make an ice cream sandwich – you deserve it after going through all that! Hell, go ahead and coat it in chocolate first if you like. 🙂

    So these guys honestly think that protecting kids from every possible risky scenario is the best way to raise them into self-sufficient adults? How, then, do they propose that these kids learn the skills necessary to succeed on their own, away from their parents, if they are never given a reason to learn? People don’t just wake up one day with those skills & knowledge spontaneously acquired as if by magic. “What if something happens?!?” should be all the more reason to teach kids how to be self-sufficient and independent by giving them the opportunities to be self-sufficient and independent, rather than an excuse to keep them under constant surveillance and fostering dependence.

    The self-confidence and self-assurance that comes from knowing that you can do for yourself and don’t always have to rely on your parents is not only essential for healthy development, it can be a one of the only things a child can hold onto in the face of a “What if something happens?!?” scenario. I lived through one of the worst ones possible – BOTH my parents died within 3 years of each other – my mom when I was 12 and my dad when I was 14. The strong foundation of independence and confidence in my ability to take care of myself was the best possible defense against the giant “WHAT IF?!?” my parents could have given to me. I was enough of a mess after I lost them – I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if they had raised me to be utterly dependent on them. So those Detroit radio guys can take that and stuff it!

    And conflating the fictional world of Law and Order with the reality of life in NYC? *eyeroll* Why not just tell people to avoid Maine because it’s obviously a region of black magic/extra-dimensional beings that feed of children’s fear/haunted hotels – Stephen King’s books all say so!

  85. aj May 14, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    i listened to u on the mojo show and i agree with you for the most part, i have a 8 and 5 yr old who i trust to walk one block to my neighborhood park only after i visited it many times w them and also learned where all the other children in the rear live, my oldest wears a watch and checks in on a regular schedule and so far everything has been fine. i think people need to start talking to there kids instead of sheltering them so much. I have discussed strangers, molestation and many other contraversial events with my kids so that the know what to be awear of and i make sure they know we can talk about anything…its really sad these days when i was 9 i babysit myself after school for 2 hrs everyday and every night i ate dinner and then ventured off on my bike for hrs. ok theres my rant…thanks for listening.

  86. Cynthia May 14, 2010 at 2:36 am #

    I skipped through the comments so I could reply to Party Piper, so sorry if someone has already said this. Many people lack the ability to not take a difference of opinion as a personal affront. I personally think this is often a direct result of helicoptering, because overparenting vaunts the child’s views/ emotions/ whims to such a high plane that child (and adult he becomes) can’t see that others may have a well-reasoned argument, or that his own reasoning may be shaky. Not to mention that it limits a person’s interaction with people who disagree. Free range helps kids learn to relate to others, because they have to actually deal with others.

  87. Dave May 14, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    I’m the guy who wrote about my Brooklyn neighborhood. Life is usually boring and you are right on. Law and Order is not life. Be strong you have a lot of support and cookies help.

  88. Ira May 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    Lenore, stay strong! There are a lot of folks out there who are inspired by you and who’s eyes you opened up. I am one of them. I was a very self reliant kid, and always wished the same for my children. Although, I was never a true crazy helicopter parent, I did unreasonably limit some of the things that my kids should have been doing on their own. Now, my 12 and 7 year olds are much freer, happier, and may I say, more responsible. Every time they ask “Mom, may I?…” instead of saying “No”, I stop and think, if this is a free range opportunity. I find myself saying “Yes” a lot these days. One of the examples is that my kids started their own business cleaning up dog poop from backyards in our development. They made the flyer, went house to house, and even created a monthly contract for people to sign. Now, twice a week, they are out there doing their job, rain or shine. All alone, just pooper scooper in hand. Now, how can any mother say “No’, to that:)))

  89. Meggles May 16, 2010 at 3:55 am #

    Lenore, you just keep on putting yourself out there, as exhausting as it must be. You represent all of us reasonable parents, and for that, I want to say THANK YOU.
    Best, Megan

  90. Dragonwolf May 16, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Here’s a response for you the next time the Law and Order thing comes up:

    Try living in New York City and see what it’s like, instead of watching a fictional series/franchise that airs its syndicated episodes on a station with the tag line, “we know drama.”

    That said, Mojo reminds me of Rover’s Morning Glory, here in Ohio.

  91. chavisory May 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Lenore, I’m 27 years old, and I still have to remind my family continually that New York is one of the safest places to live in the world. (So long as you’re not stupid, that is.)

    Clearly, no one who actually knew what New York is like would cite “Law and Order” as an example of what New York is like, and anyone who’s ever been outside, like, ever, should know that life is not like television. I’d’ve laughed in his face….

  92. Olga May 31, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    Hey Lenore, don’t let the bullies get you down!!
    What you are advocating is common sense, something that is sorely lacking in the world. To read of so many vicious verbal and written attacks is quite saddening as it signals the beginning of the end of common sense and the birth of hysteria and cynisism.
    Unfortunately it will only get worse in the years to come – and no, I’m not a cynic, I am a realist with eyes and the ability to foresee consequences – a benefit reaped from my own very happy free range childhood (shout out to mom who was too busy managing our store – where I worked from the age of 12 to 28 by the way – to micromanage my life)
    What I see, is that all these helicoptered kids aren’t going to be able to make informed choices, take responsibility etc – because noone has taught them how to think rationally and how to be responsible.
    One of the most thought provoking books (other than Free Range Kids, of course) I have read is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham – unfortunately – kindergarden ain’t what it used to be!!
    One last thing – I am a L&O, CSI and Criminal Minds junky – but I know they are not documentaries, just incredibly formulaic dramas that have little bearing on the reality – how many police squads really have all that manpower to devote to one case?! The ability to tell the difference between fact and fiction – another casualty of helicoptering.
    Enjoy as many cookies as you want Lenore, afterall, its not like you can donate them to a school bake sale 😉


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