Let’s Write Some REAL WORLD Free-Range Headlines: “Kids Play Outside, Come Home Safely,” etc. etc.


This rihddskfrz
great idea comes to us from Emily Adams, whose insights and emails I am always grateful for. Please add your own headlines!

Dear Lenore: Maybe Free-Range Kids could expand, and do a newspaper/news show/Internet blog with boring (but true) “news” articles about people who make the Free-Range decision for themselves and/or their kids, or kids in their care, with no ill effect, and sometimes positive results.  For example:

-“Kids Walk to School, Get Fresh Air, Exercise, Basic Navigation Skills”

-“Brownie Troop Makes S’mores the Real Way, A Good Time is Had By All, and the Kids Learn Fire Safety by Using Fire, Safely”

-“University Students Respectfully Disagree on a Major Issue, Aren’t Traumatized, Remain Friends”

-“Man in White Van Drives By Children, Does Not Molest Them”

Of course on the news, most of the Free-Range stories we hear are when something goes hideously wrong. That’s what leads to “worst-first thinking” — thinking up the worst-case scenario first and proceeding as if it’s going to happen. Time to fight headlines with headlines! Add yours and have fun! – L.


Extra! Extra! Christmas Miracle: Child sleeps in car while mom picks up pies. Everyone safe! (Even the pies!)

Extra! Extra! Christmas Miracle! Child Sleeps in Car While Mom Picks Up Last-Minute Gift for Grandma. Everyone Safe!” 

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83 Responses to Let’s Write Some REAL WORLD Free-Range Headlines: “Kids Play Outside, Come Home Safely,” etc. etc.

  1. Melanie G December 21, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    “Child comes home after school, does homework and chores.”

  2. Rick December 21, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Since ’tis the season:

    “Child left behind in city after festival. Parents find him three days later unharmed, inspiring others”

    and we all know how he grew up.

    Luke 2 41:52

  3. Laura December 21, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    Children ride bikes to the park, play on playground, arrive home unscathed.
    Eight year old reports back to mom, “I made a new friend”.

  4. That_Susan December 21, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    I’ve already shared our wonderful story about our 10-year-old beginning to walk to school on her own, but I’ll try to retell it concisely now.

    This fall, our 10-year-old daughter started school for the first time after homeschooling up to now, and she and I were making the one-mile walk to and from school together. Then one day she mentioned that she’d like to start walking on her own. My husband was originally very alarmed about the idea because we live in what’s considered a high-crime area, but after a few days of thinking about it, he decided to have me walk a little ways behind her the next day to make sure she remembered the route, and then she started walking on her own.

    It’s been great for many reasons. First, since I’d arranged my work schedule based on the information I’d had last summer about school hours, and didn’t know at that time about the “morning mixer” at which the fifth and sixth graders got to go exercise to music in the gym, when she had to wait for me to go on break to walk with her, she usually got there too late for the mixer. Being able to leave a little earlier has enabled her to take part in that very fun activity.

    Second, we’d met a little half-grown kitten on our walk who would run out to us crying for attention, but when walking with me at the later time, my daughter didn’t have all the time she wanted to stop and love on this kitten. When she started going on her own, she got into the habit of sitting right down on the sidewalk and really spending a few quality minutes with this little kitty and they formed quite a bond. One day on the weekend, she and I walked over to see the kitty, and a neighbor came out and started telling us about how she didn’t belong to anyone, and different neighbors were just putting out food for her but she was just sleeping under cars to keep warm and so on…so the long and the short of it is that we now have a new kitty.

    Third, one of our old friends who lives along our daughter’s route to school noticed her out walking, and got the idea to check with us and see if she’d like to stop for her six-year-old grandson, who lives with her along with his mother. His mother works nights and is tired in the mornings and prefers driving him, and when he asked to start walking, she didn’t feel like he was old enough to go on his own. So our daughter’s now been going by for this little boy for a couple of months now; it’s her first experience of taking responsibility for a younger child. She is currently considering whether she wants to go back to school next semester, because there’s been some bullying that she hasn’t enjoyed, and she hasn’t made all the new friends that she thought she’d make — but she has agreed that even if she returns to homeschooling, she still wants to keep up her morning commitment of walking this little boy to school.

  5. That_Susan December 21, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    @Rick: “Since ’tis the season:

    “Child left behind in city after festival. Parents find him three days later unharmed, inspiring others”

    and we all know how he grew up.

    Luke 2 41:52

    I love it!

  6. That_Susan December 21, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    P.S. I forgot to post here about how influential this blog has been in our story. If you want to trace how it all began, you can read the comments on Lenore’s September 18 post titled “Send The Beloved Child on a Journey.”

  7. Linda December 21, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    This just in (last Thursday). Mother lets kids ages 10 and 13 shop for secret santa gifts by themselves in a grocery store. Kids get stuck in a stagnant line with a missing cashier, and move to self checkout. Aren’t sure how to do it, but figure it out. Do not get abducted. Police are not called.

  8. bob magee December 21, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    Man sits in in park where there are children present. No one cares.

    Lost child asks adult for directions. Gets them and goes home.

    Neighbor not offended others make different parenting decisions. Accepts that there is more than one way to think.

    12 year old shops at mall. Buys something

  9. James Pollock December 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Child, 8, left home alone at holidays… defends home from burglars, then makes awful sequel.

  10. brandy.king@gmail.com December 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    “Woman opens door to teens in black hoodies; serenaded with Christmas Carols.”

    “4 and 7yo drive power-wheels outside alone; learn how to make 3 point turns.”

  11. Robert Monroe, Jr. December 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Hipster Parents Try Retro Parenting: Allow Children To Play Outside Without Adult Supervision

  12. Havva December 21, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Young boys ease neighbor’s concerns about sending child to public school

  13. Marybeth Norgren December 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Here’s our headline and article for this last weekend

    “Son Rides Bus Between Soccer Tounament Fields, Beats Traffic & Arrives Early”
    A 13 y.o boy realized he could help his mom out by taking the bus to his Saturday afternoon soccer tournament field. His mother was enjoying both her sons’ sports activities over the weekend but as so often happens events overlapped.

    The soccer player looked up the bus schedule and route and shared the information with his mother. They discussed his plans and the mother made one suggestion which was to take the earlier bus so that he arrived to his unfamiliar destination while it was still daylight. She gave him the bus fare and off he went to the nearby bus stop located on the main road where bumper to bumper traffic was visible. Despite this, the bus arrived on time and the soccer player texted he was on the bus and on his way.

    After the soccer player texted that he arrived at the field in record time, his mother realized that in addition to keeping another vehicle off a busy road, it would have taken her twice as long to have taken her son to the field as it took him.

    The soccer player was thrilled with his independence and his mother continued to enjoy her weekend with her sons.

    Thus ends a thoroughly boring explanation of a successful free-range event.

  14. Linda December 21, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    I was driving with my younger, and at a stoplight she started giggling. I asked her what was so funny, and she said that the man in the van next to us was making funny faces, and she was making them back. For two or three stop lights, they tried to outdo each other with silly faces, and all three of us were laughing. Then, the two vehicles went their separate ways. Yes, the van was white.

    I wanted to share this cheerful moment with friends, but was afraid other people would think it was creepy.

  15. Linda December 21, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    @Marybeth Norgren, I didn’t find it boring at all. I love it!

  16. lollipoplover December 21, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    “Schoolchildren befriend strangers and deliver them Christmas Cookies on ride home from school.
    Christmas Spirit at Record High.”

  17. Kelly Adams December 21, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    “6 and 9 year old siblings walk to and from school together every day without incident and are very proud of their efforts.”

  18. K December 21, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Sounds like something The Onion would print. Unfortunately they don’t accept submissions – it’d be nice to get that kind of visibility!

  19. Vanessa Bello December 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    “Kids 10 and 13, leave apartment to play outside at favorite tree swing 100 yards away, do not get abducted or molested, or fall out of tree and crack heads open! Come back on time, with wet boots, pine cones, ruddy cheeks and big smiles”

  20. spankym December 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    Very Onion-ish headlines. Just need to replace “child” with “area child” lol

  21. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Boy, 6, cares for Mother, Saturday, as she lies sick in bed with the flu. Fixes lunch, entertains himself as she sleeps.

  22. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Cub Scout, 7, uses real knife after earning Whittlin’ Chip.

  23. spankym December 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Ahh, figures. They already do it: http://www.theonion.com/article/area-child-disappointed-to-learn-parents-love-unco-35071

  24. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Jealousy erupts among parent-supervised second graders when confident Kindergartner walks to and from bus stop alone.

  25. Catherine Caldwell-Harris December 21, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Happened yesterday:

    Five year old boy refuses to accompany Mom into day care enter where she needs to get sibling. So, she lets him wait by himself outside of day-care center, guarding mom’s and his bicycle, while mom goes in. Day care staff objects that it is not safe to leave a child unguarded on the street, but Mom over-rides. Staff person does not call police. When Mom returns with sibling, boy reports he was scared but says he sat under the bike, between bike and wall of day care center, to be safe. Episode is soon forgotten, but boy got a minute to experience being unsupervised on a street *at his request*.

    Why this was safe– son could run into daycare at any moment that he wanted; Security camera was visible immediately above, large window is visible to daycare staff inside, etc.

    It is good to have a forum where we can share our cases where people could differ about whether something is safe. It wasn’t my ideal to leave Raymond *outside unsupervised* so I made a split-second decision, because I know my child, knew he wouldn’t run off, knew he would make safe decisions, knew he would stay right there by the bicycles until I got back, knew I would be gone 1-2 minutes max. What do you think?

  26. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Neighbor reports that eight year old Sammy B., observed playing over two blocks from home, is just fine. Parents not notified.

  27. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Suspicious activity noted in 700 block of Deer Chase Green as ten elementary school aged children play pick up games of tag and bumper baseball.

  28. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    Girl misses recess, cries, because of forgotten homework that Mom refuses to deliver. Later that week, remembers homework.

  29. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Dinner hostess forgets to inquire about guests’ food allergies and special diets, cooks specialities. Guests discreetly make healthful choices. One leaves a tad hungry.

  30. Caiti December 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    First grader answers door for UPS, uses Swiss army knife to open package because “it’s the shape of a Hess truck,” all while mom takes shower.

  31. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    Squabble over TV remote leaves one child in tears. Father turns a blind eye.

  32. JulieH December 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    Town experiences flash flood overnight; kids, 10 and 12, take bikes downtown the next day to help their friends (business owners) clean up; businesses back open within 24 hours.

  33. JulieH December 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Male retiree rides bike around town; bandages a child’s bleeding knee at the park; child not molested

  34. Catherine Caldwell-Harris December 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Enjoyed reading all of these. Thanks for posting free range parents! You keep me feeling that there is something really right about our approach.

  35. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    Harried mother of three demands quiet time to rehearse music, barks at noisy brood. Children, chastened, comply.

  36. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Children denied a voice in choice of restaurant suffer no signs of malnutrition, studies say.

  37. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    Lax parenting to blame for emergence of independent young adults, forced to live by unforgiving law of natural consequences.

  38. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    Stingy Santa brings only three presents. Kids appreciate them.

  39. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Teen girl spends weeknights after school in office of male clergy, organizing PhD research materials. Both parties behave conscientiously. Girl receives glowing college recommendation.

  40. Kate December 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Sick mother opts for shower over making Saturday breakfast for her 3 children; 10 year old son steps up and makes pancakes, unsupervised.

    Strange man lingers at bus stops, given hugs. (My brother came by to see me one morning while I was waiting with my kids at the bus stop. Of course, my kids all gave him hugs when they saw him. But he was taken aback when two of the other kindergarten kids–who he didn’t know–also walked up and gave him a hug! Nobody was freaked out, everybody laughed.)

    Heck, all month we’ve seen this scene:
    Children sit on lap of strange older man man promising presents, everybody smiles.

  41. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    School district drops blanket background-check policy for volunteers, opts for trust in group situations. Volunteer rates soar.

  42. Claudia December 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Mum going into shop for two minutes reckons that walking two tired kids through a busy carpark probably more inherently risky than the possibility that a paedophile might pass by, notice two kids in a locked car, smash window and drag them out in a busy carpark to kidnap them.

  43. angeleyes1307 December 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    3 year old steps off elevator just before it closes leaving family to ride all the way to the top of the hotel and back alone; has a wonderful conversation in lobby and forgets to notice mom is gone. Laughs are had by all.

    Children have conversation with stranger in restaurant; learn something new about city they are visiting, No “grooming” indicated. (The only reason it stuck in my head is because of how sad I felt as the mom that the grandmotherly lady felt the need to ask permission to talk to my kids after my daughter said hi to her first.)

    Child under the age of 10 helped himself at buffet and cleaned up own small spill. Early reports indicated the spill made him think to grab extra napkins to bring back to the table for his little sister.

    Boy, then 6 years old, conducted business at flock swap for replacement hens for family flock. Got 4 for price of 3.

  44. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Feisty girl, 8, scoffs at “10 and up” warning on scooter, dons helmet, whizzes through neighborhood laughing. Parents stop worrying.

  45. Melissa December 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    Boy, 13, Enters Men’s Restroom Unattended, Returns to Mother with Empty Bladder”

  46. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    Good Samaritan notices two children alone in car in front of Rite Aid, raps on window. They give her a thumbs up, and she continues about her errand.

  47. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Child eats too much Halloween candy on the way home, feels green. No tampering suspected.

  48. SanityAnyone? December 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    @Melissa, the bladder one was my favorite!

  49. Julie December 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    At neighbor’s Christmas party five year old girl takes three year old brother to the bathroom. Children report that they remembered to wipe, flush and wash their hands using stepstool to reach the faucet.

  50. That_Susan December 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    @James: “Child, 8, left home alone at holidays… defends home from burglars, then makes awful sequel.”

    I LOVED that sequel — all about how the child, then 9, learns that an odd-looking stranger is a very kind person; she protects him from the bad guys at one point, even though he’s still the one who saves the day overall. 🙂

  51. James Pollock December 21, 2015 at 2:51 pm #


  52. ChicagoDad December 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Area children, ages 5 & 7, spent all day on an unseasonably warm December weekend playing outside with neighbors. Came back for snacks, home in time for dinner. Big childhood memories reportedly made by all.

    Local 2nd grader walks home alone from park. Smiles all the way home. Nothing else happens.

    Local kids spend night in tent in backyard with their dog. Fun was had.

    Local girl has birthday party. Pizza at home, movie and sleepover with friends. No background checks were needed, no favor bags were handed out.

    Kids do chores, show responsibility, reportedly earn freedoms and privileges.

  53. Donald December 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Child and his friend went to visit a theme park. They made a mistake. They caught the wrong bus. They corrected this mistake and arrived at the theme park 1 ½ hours later than they planned. They still had a great time. They also came home with a bit more confidence that they have the skills to work themselves out of a jam.

  54. Catherine Caldwell-Harris December 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    So funny James Pollock December 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm #
    Child, 8, left home alone at holidays… defends home from burglars, then makes awful sequel.

    thanks for this! Would the Home Alone movies not be able to be made today? (Like Lenore’s point in her book that the early Sesame Street episodes are now considered not suitable for showing to children?)

  55. EricS December 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    “If it was good enough for you when you were a kid, it’s still good enough for your own kids.”

    “10000 years of human civilization can’t be wrong.”

    “We’ve populated the earth with several billion people, past generations were doing something right.”

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it”.

    “Parents are the ones that need coddling”.

  56. Melissa Lowry December 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    It’s a Christmas Miracle- 8 year old boy rides his scooter around the neighborhood alone for hours without being abducted!

  57. Michelle December 21, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Clingy 2yo sits in car alone while mom pays for gas. Smiles when mom returns.

    16yo with Muscular Dystrophy successfully babysits 2yo sister. Is annoyed that mom worried about whether he could do it.

    13yo babysits younger siblings. Doesn’t fight with them.

    Girl, 10, and brother, 12, walk to grocery store. Later, cashier recognizes them and says hello.

    10yo girl saves up allowance and buys own doll. Doll on sale; girl also buys accessories.

  58. Beth December 21, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    14 year-old male babysits for 1st grader; no molestation occurred and a great time was had by all.

  59. Havva December 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Mom expresses discomfort about boys up to their mom’s shoulder’s frequenting the women’s locker room, pool promises to print signs banishing the boys from the lady’s room.

  60. Warren December 21, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    16 yr old girl sees multiple headlines about parents being harassed by neighbors and police.

    Recently a 16 yr old Ontario student read news stories on parents being ratted out to the authorities and arrested. There offenses ranged from their kids walking to school alone, playing in the park alone and waiting in the car. 16 yr old wants to know what the hell has happened to this world.

  61. Donald December 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    How is this for the modern day Miracle on 34th Street?


  62. Cassie December 21, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    3 yo regularly buys bread for mum (at another shop) while mums pays for groceries…. returns with the bread and change.

  63. Suze December 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    10 year old makes own school bagged lunch. It isn’t pretty, but it hit the spot at noon. Makes own school lunch without being asked the next day too !!

  64. ifsogirl December 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    Two 11 year olds shop for Christmas presents at Walmart, they learn about sales tax.

  65. Betsy December 21, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

    Boys, 9 and 6, cut down small tree, drag it up hill and make fort.
    Boys, 9 and 6, pick vegetables from their garden, load up wagon, go door to door on their street and make $10.
    Girl, 2 1/2, comes home from grocery store with mom, unwraps bouquet of flowers, drags chair to cupboard and gets cup, fills with water, opens packet of plant food and dumps it in, places flowers in cup and sets them out on counter, all while Mom nurses baby.

  66. NicoleK December 21, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

    9 yr old Girl is taught to whittle over several camping trips. Asks to whittle a branch in the kitchen that was cut off the Christmas tree. Is told yes. Decides to take whittling activity to her room without telling anyone. Cuts the palm of her hand with Swiss Army knife. Cut is deep but does not require stitches. Girl will most likely remember ALL of the whittling rules from now on.

  67. sexhysteria December 22, 2015 at 3:52 am #

    Group of Kids Play “You Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You MIne,” and Parents don’t Freak Out

  68. CrazyCatLady December 22, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Moms and kids go to park. Moms sit inside recreation center, have tea and eat popcorn and cookies. Kids play outside coming inside occasionally for popcorn and cookies. Friend with allergies forgos the cookies and is excited that there is popcorn that she can eat. Kids solve problems with siblings without adults, kids get lots of exercise playing tag for two hours.

  69. Kim H December 22, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    “Kids work out disagreement about toy all by themselves!”

    “Kid climbs a tree at the park. Mom never says ‘be careful’. Kid feels extra proud of his accomplishments.”

  70. Rhonda December 22, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    Area Child Spotted Outdoors without Coat in December, Doesn’t Catch Pneumonia

    In other news…

    Highs in 60s, Even Though It’s December

  71. Buffy December 22, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Mom sits on bench; plays Words With Friends on phone while kids play at park. Kids are fine; other moms with they were as brave.

  72. Buffy December 22, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    *wish* they were as brave……

  73. Kaylee December 22, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    This just in: “8 year old plays in his own yard without supervision, doesn’t die!”

  74. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady December 22, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    Two moms go Christmas shopping, leaving the 12 year old in charge of the 7 and 8 year olds. All children watch Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and eat Christmas Candy.

  75. KarenElissa December 22, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    “Teacher takes children on public bus for field trips. No children are lost, all learn valuable life skill.”

  76. hineata December 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

    Teen raised free-range, cooks, sews etc, capable of just about anything, still wants to vege in room for the summer…..


  77. Emily Frick Horacek December 22, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

    Siblings ages 12 and 10 go to the movies alone. Boy, age 10, temporarily loses wallet. Kids use their sense of reason to request readmission to the theater to search for the wallet, which was recovered without further incident.

  78. Alexander December 23, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    3 year old approaches strange man fishing in broad day light, isn’t molested.

  79. Matthew December 23, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    Local man uses public restroom, washes hands, leaves.

  80. martha December 24, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    “Toddler survives 5 minutes of solo TV unharmed”

    Dad had to leave for the dentist while mom was still on her way home. Toddler failed to notice that no adult was in the house for a full 5 minutes.

  81. Kara December 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    I have one from a few weeks ago: “7-year old goes alone to store. Comes home with vegetables and change.”

  82. Caleb Shaw December 28, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    “Boy suffers over a hundred bruises during childhood; grows up coordinated.”

    Besides bruises, my boyhood included stitches. My father was a surgeon, and if he was home he would stitch me up (it was usually my chin) on the kitchen table. No big deal, back in the 1950’s.

    Now I am starting my 9th year running a Farm-childcare based on the idea it is good to have children get away from video games and to run around in the woods. In complete honesty I can say I have seen a sunny grove of pines do a better job of healing a child’s sour mood than any adult’s psychology could manage.

    I actually would be worried more if a child didn’t have bumps and bruises, though I do try to avoid all situations that might lead to stitches, (and so far have succeeded).

    I am a bit of an old grouch when it comes to putting up with all the rules and regulations the State has for us “Child Care Professionals.” Here is a summery of my complaints and joys:


    And here is the new site of a refreshingly optimistic “Child Development Graduate” who puts me to shame because she is not grouchy at all. However I think I will recommend your site to her, because forewarned is forearmed.


  83. That_Susan December 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

    Caleb, your blog looks very, very cool. I’m glad you’re still writing!