UPDATE: Max Haidt, 9-year-old son of Jon “Coddling of American Mind” Haidt, Gets His Freedom

UPDATE: stsaettrks
Free-Range parents Jon Haidt and Jayne Riew crafted this identity card with their son Max, age 9, to allow him to run errands in the neighborhood. It may be a good model for others to copy!
– L
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Max Haidt. I am 9 years old and live in NYC. My parents are teaching me a sense of independence, the kind that they had when they were growing up. They encourage me to go out and play in my neighborhood. I also help my mom by doing an occasional grocery store run for her.
New York State Law does NOT specify an age below which children must be attended by an adult. It grants substantial leeway for parents to exercise their judgment about what is safe. And my parents and I believe it’s safe, healthy, and fun for me to be allowed to explore my neighborhood.
If you do not believe me, please call them or text them:
Jayne Riew, [I deleted the #]
Jonathan Haidt, [I deleted this #, too, but I’m glad to have it!]
If you attempt to detain me on grounds that you think it’s inappropriate or illegal for me to be on my own, then please:
2) Read Free Range Kids, by Lenore Skenazy
3) Call my parents with your name and address so they can pursue legal action against you.
Then let me go.
Max Haidt
Consider this the next generation of the Free-Range Kids membership card! Let kids roam! – L.


Dear Authorities: Please read this book before arresting me or my parents.

Dear Authorities: Please read this book before arresting me or my parents.


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49 Responses to UPDATE: Max Haidt, 9-year-old son of Jon “Coddling of American Mind” Haidt, Gets His Freedom

  1. That_Susan December 11, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Great kid! I’d be proud too!

  2. lollipoplover December 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    Great letter. As for Max’s first suggestion to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I’m sorry to report present day challenges to ban this masterpiece of literature. I think that’s part of the problem.


  3. Donald December 11, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    Remember the tv show, The Stepford Wives? It looks we’re trying to create Stepford children. We can’t let them read radical books such as Huck Finn. They won’t be as submissive.

  4. BL December 11, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    “We can’t let them read radical books such as Huck Finn. They won’t be as submissive.”

    Now they read Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

  5. John December 11, 2015 at 5:20 pm #


    “Great letter. As for Max’s first suggestion to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I’m sorry to report present day challenges to ban this masterpiece of literature. I think that’s part of the problem.”


    I apologize for drifting off the subject of this article but as far as “Huckleberry Finn” is concerned, banning it is just plane stupid and does not do anything to help those kids. It’s part of the PC movement and kids nowadays wanting “safe zones” from every type of speech that offends them. This is not going to help these kids when they reach adulthood and needs to end right now!

    BUT, there was a case in a middle-school involving children of some very devout Christian friends of mine who were forced to read a story with profanity in it, out loud in front of the class. My friends were not so upset with their kids having to read a story with profanity in it BUT were upset that the teacher made them read it out loud in front of the class where they had to actually say the words. Not just read the words, but say the words.

    Now in MY opinion, I think my friends may have had a point here and the teacher probably went too far in making the kids read the story out loud. Nothing wrong with having them read the story but not out loud where they had to actually say the f… and G..D… and J…. C….. words. But what do you all think? Am I being a child coddler in my opinion here? Now these were middle-school kids (6th/7th grade) whose parents eventually decided to home school.

    Again, I apologize for diverting away from this article but regarding this article, finally I see two articles on Lenore’s site that made me feel that there IS hope for American kids of today! I just LOVE it when parents take a free-range stand with their kids. Way to go Max!!

  6. Mark December 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    @lollipoplover, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn isn’t being challenged because of its free-range content, it’s being challenged because it contains the word “nigger”.

  7. Warren December 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    They might consider having him carry a second note, for law enforcement only.

    “Dear Police Officer,

    I am out and about with the knowledge and permission of my legal guardians.

    Am I being detained?

    If the answer is NO, then I will be on my way.
    If the answer is YES, then please contact our family’s attorney at —————, and explain to him/her why I am being detained.

    A Future Voter and Taxpayer.”

  8. SKL December 11, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    Seems kinda long though.

    How about this. You know how the schools have hall passes / bathroom passes?

    “Neighborhood Pass.”

    Reverse: “Permits holder to explore the neighborhood during daylight hours.
    In emergency call 123-456-7890.”

  9. Caiti December 11, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    @John I agree with you completely. Nobody should be forced to speak a word they find offensive. Remember the case about ten or so years ago about the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance? Though I don’t remember

  10. Caiti December 11, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    Oops didn’t mean to post yet. My point was the child’s was allowed to not say the words as a way of accommodating the family’s atheism and I would think a situation like this would be similar

  11. Sam December 11, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    It is not well known, even to NYC residents, that NYC has one of the most inclusive human rights laws in the country,
    In particular, all public accommodations are prohibited from discriminating based on age (which includes both old and young age, of course), and law enforcement is prohibited by profiling based on the protected classes (including age). This seems to imply that age alone cannot be used as a factor in being approached by a police officer in NYC. I wonder if this law can be used effectively to secure the rights of children in NYC, as it currently seems untderutilized.

    For example [emphasis added], “… “Bias-based profiling” means an act of a member of the force of the police department or other law enforcement officer that relies on ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED race, national origin, color, creed, AGE, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status as the determinative factor in INITIATING LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTION against an individual, RATHER THAN AN INDIVIDUAL’S BEHAVIOR or other information or circumstances that links a person or persons to suspected unlawful activity.”

    This is a strong statement. In addition, no public area such as libraries, museums, subway system, etc., can discriminate on age without applying for a special exception.

  12. Emily December 12, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    Love it.

  13. JimK December 12, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    Good for Max, and good for his parents.

    It’s especially interesting as he gets to walk around NYC at 9 (and as aside I was wandering around my neighborhood in Philadelphia at that age) yet in another group I belong to, someone was looking for a babysitter for her 15 and 7 year old kids – which I find incomprehensible. The 15 year old should be doing that. Heck, I was babysitting my 6 younger siblings at 13-14. That 15 year old is in for a shock in a couple of years when he/she goes off to college.

  14. Angie December 12, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    JimK – a babysitter for a 15-year-old? Wow!!! If you’ve raised a teenager you don’t trust enough to attend to him/herself and a younger sibling you have FAILED as a parent. I hope this person isn’t a close friend.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been babysitting my sister and neighborhood kids since I was 11. My mom trusted me to be alone when I was 9, and I remember even being allowed to use the stove while my parents were still asleep. They taught me the skills and then trusted that teaching enough to let me be independent. It was very simple.

    Nowadays I hear my friends with young children moaning about early Saturdays, when they want to sleep in but their 5-year-old is awake. You don’t trust a 5-year-old to tend to themselves for an HOUR? Sad.

  15. BL December 12, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    “JimK – a babysitter for a 15-year-old?”

    What’s the new minimum age for baby-sitters? 55?

  16. Maria Hasankolli December 12, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    This is an awesome story! Good for you parents of Max. Even after being arrested for sleeping whilst my almost nine year old son readied himself for school, after reading these stories, I’ve been encouraging him to explore his outside environment. I printed one of Lenore’s free range kids cards and have him carry it everywhere. I will not be silenced (so to speak) and controlled by the fears and/or beliefs of others.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  17. Megan December 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm #


  18. Diana Green December 12, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I am weeping tears of joy.

    Thanx, Lenore!

    Thanx, Max!

    Thanx, Max’s parents!

  19. Rivka333 December 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series satirizes beautifully the way kids are being raised nowadays. There’s the section, for instance, where the school bans different pieces of playground equipment one by one, out of fear that the kids might get hurt. Then they realize that kids can get hurt without playground equipment, so the kids are forbidden to run or tough each other during recess. They have to just walk around with their hands at their sides.

    It’s a great series, but I think adults need to be the ones reading it.

  20. Becks December 12, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Great story! Out of interest, would most of you who allow your 7,8,9 yr olds out and about walking to school/shops etc only allow this during daylight hrs? And if so at what sort of age can they go out once it’s dark? Here in Scotland during winter it’s dark at 4.30pm or so which means playing out is pretty limited, whereas during summer they were out til about 10pm. And if my 9yr old was away playing at the school football pitch (1 mile away) he had to be back by 8pm to play In the street.

  21. Jana December 12, 2015 at 2:57 pm #


  22. Jana December 12, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Also, about censorship: Books under fire by Pat Scales…

  23. Yocheved December 12, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    If Huck Finn is problematic, then have them read The Hardy Boys. Sure, the Hardy’s were slightly older, but wow did they get to have a lot of cool adventures!

  24. Catherine R December 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    Love it.

  25. That_Susan December 12, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    @Maria Hasankolli, Bravo to you for encouraging your boy to explore the outdoors, and for not letting fear have the upper reign! By the way, I’ve just sent letters in support of you to both the addresses that Oy vey listed on your last thread here, and I hope that others will see these addresses and do the same, so I’m copying them here. I hope that seeing the outpouring of letters from all the people who support you will make them realize how much their actions are in the public eye, and motivate them to drop those crazy charges.

    New Haven Judicial District

    Michael Dearington, State’s Attorney
    235 Church Street New Haven, CT 06510

    Geographical Area No. 7
    54 West Main Street Meriden, CT 06451
    Cheshire, Hamden, Meriden, North Haven, Wallingford

  26. sexhysteria December 13, 2015 at 5:33 am #

    Genius in action!

  27. Jim Collins December 13, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    You might want to go and take a look at some of those old favorites. They are NOT the same books that we read as children. They have been re-printed and REVISED to be more politically correct. A few years ago there a scare about there being a minute amount of lead in the ink that those books were printed with. This lead to their being removed from children’s libraries and replaced with the new books. Overlawyered.com covered this, I went to buy some of the “Boxcar Children” books for my great-niece and decided against it after I read some of the book.

  28. Kristin M December 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Love it!

  29. Sam December 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Good for Max, but probably an overkill for a NYC kid (especially one from Manhattan or a densely populated neighborhood in another borough). In NYC, some 8-9 year old kids commute to school (with a full school/parent permission), and I’ve never heard of them being stopped by anyone. It helps that there are lots of people out and about, such that no-one sticks out.

  30. Doc Hal December 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    Just a thought – if an adult detains a kid shouldn’t that be considered kidnapping and the adult arrested?

  31. Suzanne December 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    My favorite line is “Call my parents with your name and address so they can pursue legal action against you.”

    I do not understand why people think it’s ok to detain a child who is not theirs because they don’t think they should be allowed to continue not doing anything wrong. If you see my child committing a crime, even a petty crime and you want to make him wait for me or the police to arrive that’s one thing but if they are minding their own business then you need to mind yours too.

  32. MichaelF December 14, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    I used to think I needed something like this, but this past weekend my 5 year old changed my mind.

    At a 99 Restaurant he had to go to the bathroom, which was nearby our table, I was getting up to go with him to make sure he was ok. This is a usual with our kids, instead this time my son turned to me and held a hand up.

    “Daddy, you don’t need to come. I won’t be kidnapped, you can stay,” then he turned and ran into the bathroom before I could say anything. Emerging a few minutes later with clean hands and went back to sitting down as if nothing had happened.

    Never have I talked to him about kidnap fears, he is 5 and too young for that I think, instead he has just jumped ahead and already told me he knows when he is safe. I followed him into another bathroom later this past weekend in a busy store, he didn’t seem to care.

    I don’t need a letter if my kids are capable of telling me they don’t need me helicoptering.

  33. DrTorch December 14, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Instead of fiction, how about pointing out that George Washington took over Ferry Farm at age 11, after his father’s death? Yes, he had help, but he ran a farm at age 11!

  34. lollipoplover December 14, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    I don’t mean to derail this great letter that Max wrote with book censorship discussions. I only pointed out the irony that he included in his letter a reference to Huck Finn as a book that influenced his family and a current day private school is removing it from their shelves because of offensive language.

    “My friends were not so upset with their kids having to read a story with profanity in it BUT were upset that the teacher made them read it out loud in front of the class where they had to actually say the words. Not just read the words, but say the words.”

    I hate the N word but it exists. It’s all around us, in literature, music, and our culture and to remove a book because it contains the N word and not discuss it’s use serves no purpose. A family tradition of ours is to go to NYC every year for the Radio City Christmas show. The girls love visiting NYC this time of year. On the way up last year, my oldest daughter was in the front seat and in charge of the radio (we have free Sirius radio) when “Empire State of Mind” came on she turned it up- we were on our way to New York! This daughter loves Alicia Keys and belting out songs. Yet the Jay-Z parts of this song use the N word repeatedly (and other choice words). My daughter only will sing the Alicia chorus, she doesn’t like the rest of the song(or the N word) but she still listens to it. I just find it hard to tell my 12 year-old they can’t read a book like Huck Finn because it has the N word but the theme song for NYC was written present day with the N word. It makes no sense.

  35. JulieH December 14, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    I allow my children to read books with the n***** word (as well as other vulgarities) in it. However, it is always within an appropriate context – historically accurate or culturally accurate to the situation being depicted. We choose as a family to avoid gratuitous use of vulgarity in shows and books – included just to “be cool” or for shock value (and when we come upon gratuitous use, we can see the laziness of the writer who could convey their thoughts in a different way).

    We watched the miniseries “Roots” recently and have read “The Slave Dancer.” How can one tell a story of that time of that topic without the use of racial slurs? Lack of racial slurs coddles the viewer/reader into a sense that attitudes were kinder and gentler than they were. And if these stories are followed up with good family discussion, it is a catalyst for kids to understand how absolutely, horribly wrong it is to use such language in reference to another human being BECAUSE OF that history and what the words truly mean.

  36. EricS December 14, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Lol! The last line is the best part. I’m sure most people that read that far, will suddenly just do a 180 and mind their own business. After all, the only thing more important than “children’s safety”, is adults’ “safety”. Or rather, their inconvenience or threat of law suits. 😉 Only then, do they actually start using a little bit of common sense and reason.

  37. EricS December 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    It’s just sad that parents are having to resort to these measures, just for children to have a childhood as it was meant to be by nature. They literally have to be tagged, in order to be kids.

    It’s as if they are to be considered fragile, invalids, incompetent, and therefore must be watched over 24/7, because they are incapable of doing anything or thinking for themselves until the age of 18. At which point, many parents are booting them out of the house, expecting them to be ready for the world. Yet, all they have taught them as children, was to be fearful, incompetent, and dependent.

  38. John December 14, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    @Caiti……I think the same thing goes for “under God” within the pledge. If kids feel uncomfortable uttering those words out loud, then they should NOT be forced to.

    BUT, on the other hand, if other kids have no problem uttering the “under God” words out loud and, in fact, actually want to, then they should NOT be impeded from doing so just because some other kid(s) in the classroom might feel uncomfortable hearing them.

  39. Red December 14, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    There’s one falsehood that even the folks on this website seem to believe, and that’s the false belief that about 80 % of pedophiles are GAY! For the record: Most pedophiles are ( “gasp!” ) NOT gay!!! It does seem that only MALE children and MALE “offenders” are being talked about! The insinuations are fairly obvious! This should upset gay people because it strongly suggests that there is perhaps a “genetic” connection between pedophilia and homosexuality!!! An unfair line that should NEVER be drawn. Yeah, even on THIS website, hardly ANYone dares talk about little girls, THEIR freedom, or the fact that most accused sex offenders ARE NOT GAY! But, you see, that is what “gay rights” accomplished! If the subject is GAY or TRANSGENDER, it can be openly talked about. But if the sexual topic is HETEROSEXUAL,…. THAT’S DIFFERENT!!! That’s NOT COVERED by “gay rights” legal provisions!!! That means you’d better keep your MOUTH shut!!! This probably is why everybody on this website talks only about being falsely accused of “inappropriate behavior” with little BOYS!!! No one DARES mention false accusations of NON-gay child sexual abuse!!!

  40. Warren December 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm #


    I suggest you learn more about this site, because your accusations are absolutely unfounded. Either that or adjust your meds and try again. Either way, you are dead wrong.

  41. Red December 14, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    And, as a result of all these highly unfair gender biases, little boys may one day get their ‘independence’ back. But sadly, it will probably take much longer ( why this doesn’t SERIOUSLY upset women, Feminists, the ACLU, and women’s rights groups, I will NEVER understand ) for GIRLS to even win back the “right” to put up LEMONADE STANDS!!! “Those who trade their liberty and freedom for safety will lose BOTH!”~ Ben Franklin. And I will add this, that those who trade their CHILDREN’S liberty and freedom for safety will find themselves AND their children living in the very same, Soviet style “police state” that many people have WARNED us about over the years!!!! But today’s children ( particularly in the U.S and Britain! ) won’t even know what “freedom” is like!!! They will have never been given the opportunity to ‘experience’ freedom! This is especially true for little girls! By the time today’s kids are grown, they won’t even have an appetite for freedom! The freedom seen in the old movies will seem like absolute CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR to them!!! And that paves the way for tomorrow’s Police State! Where the authorities will never be “questioned!” Where “political correctness” will reign supreme!!! Where the men will DARE not even TOUCH the fairer sex! Where everybody will mindlessly obey the law! Where the citizens are timid and “soft!” Where the children will all have to walk around in “safety cushions” and “helmets” so they won’t get any “boo-boos!” ( protection from “lawsuits!”) and where kids will have to walk around with GPS tracking bracelets on their necks ( like fgn’ DOG COLLARS! ) so they won’t get ABDUCTED or MOLESTED!!!!!! And that, folks, is EXACTLY where “parental society” is headed!!! Sound like “fun?!?” …. didn’t think so.

  42. Red December 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    I and MANY other folks have researched these things, Warren. Reality is what it IS. It will remain that way until we all wake up, see what’s REALLY going on ( the BIG picture ) and decide to “DO” something about it! Reality SUCKS! But it is what it IS. Don’t bite peopl’s heads off because they “point these harsh realities out!”

  43. Red December 14, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    P.S. You need to change YOUR meds!!!

  44. James Pollock December 15, 2015 at 3:35 am #

    “Just a thought – if an adult detains a kid shouldn’t that be considered kidnapping and the adult arrested?”

    Statutes can vary a bit from state to state, but generally, no.

    “Generally, kidnapping occurs when a person, without lawful authority, physically asports (i.e., moves) another person without that other person’s consent, with the intent to use the abduction in connection with some other nefarious objective. Under the Model Penal Code (a set of exemplary criminal rules fashioned by the American Law Institute), kidnapping occurs when any person is unlawfully and non-consensually asported and held for certain purposes. These purposes include gaining a ransom or reward; facilitating the commission of a felony or a flight after the commission of a felony; terrorizing or inflicting bodily injury on the victim or a third person; and interfering with a governmental or political function (Model Penal Code § 212.1).”

  45. James Pollock December 15, 2015 at 3:40 am #

    “I and MANY other folks have researched these things, Warren. Reality is what it IS. It will remain that way until we all wake up, see what’s REALLY going on ( the BIG picture ) and decide to “DO” something about it! Reality SUCKS! But it is what it IS. Don’t bite peopl’s heads off because they ‘point these harsh realities out!’”

    Dude, you’re ranting about something that just isn’t real. There really is homophobia in the world, and there really is sexism in the world, but… not as you seem to imagine it.

  46. John December 15, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    @Red……I’ll do you one better. According to Dr. Fred Berlin, a Psychiatrist who founded a treatment center for pedophiles associated with Johns Hopkins Hospital, many adults who molest children aren’t even pedophiles! I’m not sure how he arrived at that but I’m sure he knows much more about the affliction than I do. Perhaps it’s a power thing.

  47. Tommy Udo December 15, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    Clever, but nobody will read and comprehend it.

  48. That_Susan December 17, 2015 at 6:51 am #

    @Red, I suggest you do more reading at this site, because I don’t see where you’re getting the idea that the people at this site are only focused on little boys’ freedom. I think most people here are aware that most child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone in the child’s home or at least someone close to the family. Someone trusted by the parents, if not actually one of the parents. Since our main focus here is on children’s freedom to explore their neighborhoods and communities, many of us are trying to get the word out that imposing the “stranger danger” mindset on our kids does NOT make them any safer. I’ve taught my own children that it’s perfectly fine to “talk to strangers” — you just don’t get into a car with them, or follow them anywhere. Just saying hi and chatting is perfectly normal.

  49. Vaughan December 21, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    I believe in the concept-for Free Range Kids.

    People are plain PARANOID.