It’s nice to push for this whole Free Range movement, but the fact is, sometimes I’m about as free and fun as a frozen chicken nugget.

That’s ehbdiyyfzb
because we all have certain things that push our buttons — especially the buttons marked, “IRRATIONAL” and “FEAR.” We are so sure these things are going to hurt our kids, we can’t even think straight. And that’s a fear we pass on.

“Look mom! Shrek is stupid!” said my 10-year-old as we were walking down a city street the other day.


He pointed to a billboard featuring the green monster on a skateboard. “See? It’s dangerous! He could crack his head open!”And I cringed.

Who on earth had taken this fun-loving boy and filled him with skateboard terror? Good ol’ Mrs. “Give Our Children the Carefree Childhood We Had!” Me.

“Um, maybe skateboards aren’t that b-b-bad,” I stammered. “Maybe it’s time for you to try one.”His eyes bugged out. Since when had his mother ever suggested skateboarding was anything other than  text- messaging Death: “Meet U @ playground Saturday?” Truly this was a teachable moment€¦for me.

Part of Free Range Parenting means nudging yourself to do something that you have been afraid to try. Or, really, afraid to let your kids try.

Not something  crazy —  like skateboarding without a helmet. But maybe,  letting your kid try skateboarding with a helmet. Or letting your 4th grader cross a street by herself. Or letting your 12-year-old bike to the Dunkin Donuts. These are things they can do if we just let them. So let’s.

In the next week, my Free Range goal is to get my son (and maybe even his brother) onto a skateboard without any of us having a breakdown. 

Want to set a Free Range goal, too? Let’s hear all about it — the goal, the execution, the results.

I wish you luck!

You better wish me the same.


  1. Walter S. May 21, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    Let the child skateboard. Teach him/her to do it safely but expect some scrapes. Kids who don’t get hurt in small ways never learn to be careful. They may learn to be fearful, but not careful. Too often they take very unsafe risks later when we aren’t around.

    Learning that it hurts to fall from a skateboard may keep the kid from learning how much it hurts to fall from a motorcycle without proper gear.


  2. Brent May 21, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    I totally agree with Walter. I try to never stop my now-4-year old daughter from doing anything that will not cause disfiguring or fatal injury. She’s a very careful, deliberate rider. She’s fallen off her bike w/training wheels, her three-wheel scooter, her two-wheel scooter, and her bike without training wheels, collecting a nice assortment of scrapes and experience along the way. It’s amazing how quickly a 3 year old can learn to handle simple vehicles like that. I remember walking behind her as she rode that scooter down a slight hill. She was dodging bumps in the sidewalk, standing on one leg, her other leg crossed behind her body for balance. She was a total pro, and she knew how to stop when she had to.

    I put her on a bicycle without training wheels just last weekend, and she could immediately ride it. It was so cool. If she asked for a skateboard, I’d get her one tomorrow.

  3. Kim May 21, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    I agree completely with Walter and Brent. Often heard in our house: “Falling down is part of growing up.”

    But, I’m still more cautious about what I let my 4 year old do than I could be. She doesn’t seem to be particularly aware of her surroundings and her body and thus is constantly bumping into things and falling down and tripping, etc. I hope to be better about letting her do more potential pain inducing activities when she has shown she has more awareness and control of her body. Until then, we will continue asking her if she’s ok after a spill and suggesting that she be more careful so that she doesn’t get hurt again. .

  4. Grace May 21, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    Tuesday is let her walk to school alone day. She is 7 and she needs to cross 3 streets, and only the last one has a crossing guard. We live in LA, but not one of the neighborhoods with drive-by shootings. Mostly, the danger comes from drivers talking on their cell phone or drinking coffee as they roll through the stop signs.

    I talk her to yell, “This is the limit line. Use it!”

  5. Jen May 21, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Ha, Grace, my son has been walking home since halfway through kindergarten. We live two blocks from the school, and that was half the reason we moved here. “Yay, he can walk to school!” But on three separate occasions I was called by his kindergarten teacher to come pick him up. “What, did he hurt himself and he can’t walk?” “No, there’s just no one here to pick him up.” “Did he tell you we only live two blocks away?” “Yes, but I thought I should make sure it’s okay with you first.” And that is how it takes 15 minutes for my kid to walk home from school. *sigh*

  6. Susan K May 21, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    Laughing with you Jen.

    I live 3 doors(!) from the school. I can see my son’s classroom from my house- through a fence.

    I’ve had after school coaches check to make sure my 4th grader could walk home alone.

    I don’t live in Beirut.

    I live in a town of approx 2000 people.

  7. Lee Coursey May 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    Good for you. It’s impressive and encouraging that you were able to recognize your own fears.


  8. mjh May 21, 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    I also agree with Walter. And I recall seeing a documentary on childhood development that presented research results that showed the relationship between “falling down” and later success at the skill being tested.

    They were specifically looking at crawling and walking for toddlers. Those children who just learned to crawl would be undeterred by the dangers of coming to the edge of the platform that they were on, and happily crawl right off the edge (to be caught, of course, by the researchers). But add a small amount of experience to the mix (e.g. just a few weeks) and those same toddlers learned that edges matter in terms of getting hurt.

    The same thing went for walking. It was the experience of falling that teaches children how it feels to be unbalanced. And as a consequence, they learned to monitor their balance better as a mechanism to avoid the consequences of falling.

    Then there’s leprosy researcher Paul Brand, who discovered that the mechanism by which that disease destroys the body is that it takes away the person’s ability to receive sufficient pain signals. Those signals could never send the message: stop doing what you’re doing. As a result, those with leprosy destroyed their own bodies because they didn’t know they were doing it.

    Keeping our children from experiencing pain is a laudable goal. However, if we completely inoculate them from experiencing any pain, we are (in the long run) doing them much greater harm. We are censoring the signaling mechanism that directs them away from really dangerous activities.

  9. Bryn May 21, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    mjh, I’ve wondered about that. When my now-4-year-old was very young, I’d let him crawl right off the end of the couch. He only did it twice, and never hurt himself more than just a conk on the head. Now my biggest worry around the couch is that he’ll knock over his kool-aid. He’s turning out to be a ‘natural’ at sports, and I suspect that it’s at least partly because I let him do things like walk off of curbs and crawl off the couch and close his own car door (so he doesn’t hit himself in the head).

    He reached a goal this past weekend – he went to play in the back yard by himself. He asked ‘Can I go play on my playground?’ Then he thought about it for a second and said ‘I don’t need anyone to go watch me!’ so off he went. He climbed the ladder, went down the slide, and didn’t even drown in the fish pond.

    My next goal for him is to take the training wheels off of his bike. He’s definitely ready.

    In the fall, we’ll bike to kindergarten together.

  10. Kes May 21, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    I let my 16-year old son stay at a friend’s house this weekend with 3 other boys and no adults in the house–does that count?

    Mitigating factors–I know all the boys and their families (they’ve been in the same classes since elem. school).

    I knew and understood why the parents were away.

    They were in the last house on a dead-end road, where the hosts’ relatives are in the two nearest houses.

    They were working on a school project which would count for 1/3 of their final grade.

    Most importantly, I *know* these boys. They might do something…umm, not too bright (like attach Estes rocket motors to hotwheels cars…about half the time, the cars went STRAIGHT UP into the air…) but they’re not trouble seekers.

    You wouldn’t believe –actually, you probably would–how much grief I’ve gotten from parents who were appalled at my reckless irresponsibility. “Are you going to call every few hours? Are you going to drive by to make sure everything is OK? Why don’t you volunteer to stay over there with them???”

    Why not? Well, in 2 years these guys will be in college, possibly 1000 miles away. What am I supposed to do then, get a room in the dorm? I’m trying to help them grow up, people. Jeez.

  11. skyscraper May 21, 2008 at 11:06 pm #

    My oldest child is a wanderer. Seems to be the way he is wired. My fear button was him getting LOST and never finding his way home.

    My epiphany came when he was 8. He was NEVER going to learn to orient himself to his location and this would continue into adulthood if I didn’t shape up.

    The realization didn’t make it easier for me. My first time ‘letting’ him play outside without an adult supervisor, I had to lay on the couch and do yoga breathing. His first time out alone he had a great time and no he didn’t get lost. In fact it has been 7 years and he hasn’t ever been lost.

    Overcoming my own fears has allowed all 4 of my kids more freedom to explore, discover themselves, and practice dependance on self.

  12. Anonymous May 22, 2008 at 12:31 am #

    Kids are meant to have scratches and scabs and bruises from exploring the world, aren’t they? They’re much more physically “bounce-back”-able than adults..

  13. vespabelle May 22, 2008 at 12:42 am #

    I’m more worried about my husband hurting himself on a skateboard! (he did some serious damage to his wrist a few weeks back while teaching our 7 year old daughter to ride.)

  14. mjh May 22, 2008 at 3:42 am #

    skyscraper: That’s relieving news. My 5 yo is a wanderer, too. Our most frightening experience of this was when my wife was when he was three. My wife was at an amusement park with our oldest (8 at the time) and our youngest (1 at the time). While my wife was giving the 1yo something, the 8yo asked if he could go on a ride. In the 5 seconds or that it took my wife to finish with the 1yo, the 3yo disappeared.

    My wife didn’t freak out. She calmly started calling his name and looking around for him. After a few minutes, she enlisted the help of the park. After a few more minutes, she called me, starting to panic. After about 20 minutes of looking for him, she heard him crying.

    When she finally retrieved him, and managed to calm him down, she tried to figure out what had happend, so she asked him how it felt being lost. He looked at her funny and said, “I wasn’t lost.”. “Then why were you crying?” “Because they wouldn’t let me on the ride!”. It turns out that when she gave the 8yo permission to go on the ride, he thought it applied to him, too.

    He is still completely unafraid of pretty much anything. When we go places, he will happily walk up to strangers and ask if they’ll hold him, before even saying “hi”.

    I’m not sure what to do about his wandering, which is really just a symptom of his high initiative. Last week, my wife and I went for a walk while leaving him in front of the TV watching his favorite show. We gave him explicit instructions to stay in the house. When he got bored of the show he picked, he decided to come looking for us (despite our instructions). Our neighbors saw the event and tracked him down. Then decided to join him on his quest to find us, which they did.

    So I’m open to ideas on how to either live with the wandering, or train it out of him w/out training out his natural initiative.


  15. MikeT May 22, 2008 at 4:39 am #

    For parents scared of their kid falling, you might look for a judo school with kid classes. One of the first things they teach you is how to fall without hurting yourself!

  16. HK May 22, 2008 at 7:19 am #

    My soon-to-be 6 year old will be starting swim lessons in a month, and I’m scared sheet-less. lol! I know how to swim, but am frightened of the idea of drowning; therefore, I’m in panic mode and “protect” my child from ever getting near water.

    I signed him up for lessons when he was 4, but I was such a wreck during that 6 month period he never learned one stitch of swimming; in fact, he now says he is afraid of water. This time, I will not be present to allow him freedom from my scared expressions he constantly saw.

    For him, Free Range will be freedom from my phobia. I wish you all the luck in the world and I ask for luck in my little guy loving (and not fearing) the water.

  17. Brent2 May 22, 2008 at 7:32 am #

    As I learned a couple weeks ago,

    “As of January 2003 California law requires all persons under 18 years of age to wear a properly-fitted and fastened bicycle helmet while operating a bicycle or riding upon a bicycle as a passenger, operating a non-motorized scooter or skateboard, wearing in-line or roller skates, or while riding upon a non-motorized scooter or skateboard as a passenger.”

  18. Wil May 22, 2008 at 7:51 am #


    Which is why I don’t live in California. Eventually, almost all the states will have laws like this — where will a regular person go then?

  19. Casey (kcb) May 22, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    Two summers ago I let my then-seven-year-old attend full-day horse camp for two weeks. He didn’t know that I’m scared of horses. I thought I was going to pass out at the open house when I saw my kids getting close to those big animals. The thought of my little boy riding one was almost too much.

    But I knew my fear of horses was overblown and I didn’t want to pass it on to my son. As HK said above, it was about “freedom from my phobia.” At the end of camp, he’d learned all kinds of safety and riding skills. I was able to watch the mini horse-show without flinching, even when he and “his” paint pony took a few low jumps. He was so proud and happy, and I was so glad I hadn’t prevented him from accomplishing something he really wanted to do.

  20. Delia DeLeest May 22, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    I try my hardest to not pass my own fears on to my kids. I’m pleased to say none of the 4 have inherited my fear of water, travel, rodents and just about any kind of change. At 13 & 14 my son and daughter flew across the country by themselves, including making a connection in Chicago O’Hare, and my 11 year old has gone parasailing and loved it. My youngest is fearless. I’m so proud of my brave kids and wish I had more of their courage.

  21. Mammamsterdam May 22, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    When I was first pregnant I swore I would never be the over-anxious Italian mom. it sort of worked, maybe too much as sometimes I am a tiny bit carefree, but the kids are still alive. My Dutch husband, who doesn’t spend much free time with the kids, was a it worried sometimes: this is dangerous, you don’t tell me you let them do that? Yes, I do.

    The first times I was standing under the high wall they were walking on with their uncertain toddler steps, praying they would not fall, pretending I was looking at the roses under it, and trying them not to notice how scared I was, but encouraging them and saying how good they were, and please, wacht that branch, and cral on your knees on this part, darling.

    It sort of worked, they are incredibly independent, but never walk to far away. Now I let both my 4 and 6 ys old play in the back public garden: I know they watch if any bikes are coming before crossing the bike-path, and they wont go see the ducks near the canal on their own.

    Of course I envy the parents living on that side, especially those on the ground floor, who make dinner or read while watching their kids, I sorta hope that if things get ugly they will watch mi kids too, or bring themo home, or call.

    So a bit of neighbourhood social control helps too.

  22. Derek May 22, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    Paranoia can strike any time for even the most stable mom. I played ice hockey from 2nd grade til 5th, then in 6th grade took a year off to try football. Mom and I went shopping for shoes.

    This woman who had watched me take pucks in the teeth, get thrown into the boards by kids twice my size, and crash knee-first into goalposts without batting an eyelash, now was hassling the shoe salesman over a 1/4 inch difference in cleat length and worrying about whether this would be more likely to cause a knee blowout or torn ligament.

    Needless to say, I survived the season (and the boredom of the placekicker/3rd-string defense position) just fine. After which I returned to the ice and getting pounded by visiting Canadian 14yo’s … everything worked out fine. ;D

  23. Anna May 23, 2008 at 1:20 am #

    We live in So Cal, where skateboarding is everywhere, so naturally my now 9yo son (only child) wanted a skateboard. We got him one for his 8th birthday, along with a month of weekly lessons at the elaborate local YMCA skatepark. It was a very good introduction to boarding in a safe way.

    For his 9th birthday, we got him a ramp he can use in front of our house. He’s great on it. He found out the hard way that it isn’t for bikes, though. One trip over it on the bike and he and the bike went end over end and he hurt his hand enough for us to to consider an x-ray briefly, but it ended up not needing that. But the bruise and ache for a few days was enough to remind him about mixing sports equipment inappropriately.

    Skateboard rules at our house: helmet, elbow and knee pads are required every single time. Infractions result in loss of skateboard use for a week. In all this time, I think I’ve only had to ground the skateboard twice.

  24. Anna May 23, 2008 at 1:32 am #

    I have a pretty good fear of dogs, though I can get comfortable around “friendly” dogs pretty quickly (though I’ll never really “like” dogs). I even chose my house and neighborhood with a HOA because some of the other houses I looked at were in neighborhoods without HOA where there were loose dogs running around. I didn’t have a family yet, but I wanted to be able to walk with a stroller without fearing dogs. Not sure the HOA was such a good idea (I now want pet chickens and can’t have them because of the HOA) but at least I have no scary dog problems nearby.

    But I have tried hard not to pass on my fear of unfamiliar and barking dogs to my son. It appears to have worked. He walks right past his buddie’s big dog that barks alarmingly with bristly hairs raised on the back (our vet’s dog!!!) before it retreats. The dog ignores my son but barks at unfamiliar me, of course. I do think my son knows that one has to get to know new dogs slowly though.

  25. Kate Whinney May 23, 2008 at 3:08 am #

    I grew up the US but have lived in the UK for many years. You may think the UK is more liberal about these sorts of things. However… we live in very affluent, ‘safe’ North Oxford, and my neighbour (also American) told me recently about how she had deigned to let her 11-year-old daugther walk to her flute lesson mid-afternoon literally 1 block down the road, and she received a call from the police saying a neighbour had reported this to them, and could she ensure that she didn’t let this happen again? Things have changed so much since my early years growing up in suburban Illinois, when we would stay out till midnight, aged 10 +, playing flashlight tag and peering in to the dining rooms of neighbours. Nothing more serious than that. What has happened to childhood?

  26. Alana M May 23, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    My boys will start walking to and from school together next year. They will be in 3rd grade and (gasp) kindergarten.

  27. Karen May 26, 2008 at 11:00 pm #

    I’m afraid to let my 7 year-old scooter alone to his friend’s house 4 doors down!! In many other ways, I am a sane, even-handed mother, but I do let my fear of sexual predators get the better of me.

    Here is my pledge: before his 8th birthday this summer, I will allow this 300-yard scooter trip to take place without being Spy Mommy. But I hope, I hope, it’s okay to call the friend’s house to make sure he arrived safely, at least the first time?

    Thanks for trying to restore some sanity to the world of child-rearing…

  28. dana May 27, 2008 at 3:43 am #

    How sad that in this day and age this needs to be said. And yet it does — my own experience attests to this. Thanks for starting this website. My kids are older now but yes they lived to tell the tale and are the better and the smarter for having caught a bus a time or two in their lives 🙂

  29. Tom White May 29, 2008 at 7:21 am #


    I thought you’d be interested to know about

  30. Tom White May 29, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    (oops, got cut off!) an article by Jill Suttie, Confessions of an Anxious Parent, in the current issue of Greater Good magazine. This issue focuses on the psychology, history and biology of play.

  31. jaci May 29, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    Oh, let him. And promise yourself to NOT LOOK. When my son started BMX, I thought, “Oh, why not? He wears a HELMET when he rides his bike, right????” And,actually, all things said and done, my son is a coward about getting hurt. He’d rather watch his friends do back flips and half-pipes and grind flights of stairs. And know what? They DO wear the helmets when they get into the scary stuff. Most of the time. And most of them survive. Hey, a broken collar bone or a busted knee, but they’re right back out there, getting their adrenaline rush for the next go round. And the funny thing is… The boys are all in their twenties now, some of them raising their own kidlets. It’s OK.

  32. jessica May 30, 2008 at 7:52 am #

    Not to kill the fearless buzz, but you should probably add knee and elbow pads to the helmet when using a skateboard. I hope that isn’t too protective for ya 🙂

  33. AP May 30, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Read about this blog in the Ventura County Reporter. Am going to add to my blog roll to “Uncategorized Blogs”.

    My parents used to let me take the train all the time in Philly when I was 12.

  34. AP May 31, 2008 at 1:10 am #

    I’m actually going to try and do an article about this website tomorrow/Monday.

  35. toplist June 1, 2008 at 4:44 am #

    thanks super blog

  36. annab June 1, 2008 at 10:58 am #

    Protective gear is mandatory… for a reason. Skateboarding, cycling, snowboarding, even skiers now wear helmets (and for kids its also mandatory here in Canada, atleast). I can’t imagine going without, and would compare this to driving without a seat belt and/or car seat.

    We can still allow our kids all of the freedoms of our generation, with the advances that living in a modern world now allows us.

  37. jen June 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm #

    Yesterday, I let my kid bike to his friend’s house. His friend lives 6 blocks away, across a somewhat busy street. I made him promise to cross at the crosswalk and call me when he got there. And I fretted. But he did it.

  38. Jeff June 6, 2008 at 12:39 am #

    When it comes to the helmet thing, we do require our 2.5 yo to wear his helmet on his tricycle.

    Mom and I both know darn well that without the helmet he has little chance of seriously injuring himself. He doesn’t need that protection at this stage because the trike is so small and he can’t go that fast. But, we are trying to instill in him (for when he gets older) that wearing helmets while riding bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, etc. is a reasonable safety requirement.

  39. Amber in Albuquerque June 6, 2008 at 3:19 am #

    Jeff makes the best point about helmet use I’ve heard to date. My husband, who never wore a helmet while biking, wouldn’t dream of riding a motorcycle without one, but I have to agree that, like wearing a seatbelt, this is a good habit to instill when kids are young.

    Here’s a safety rule I give my kids: “Don’t jump off anything higher than your head.”

  40. Conn Buckley June 10, 2008 at 2:01 am #

    Try to get the kid to wear a mouthgaurd at least while he’s learning or attempting jumps. My older brother lost his two front teeth his first day on his board while in full protective regalia. They got them back in again, but it is a common risk (I chipped a tooth once, but was doing something really stupid at the time so it was probably more my own fault).

  41. Bob June 10, 2008 at 2:13 am #


    I agree with your stance but there’s an argument that if your child works out that the helmet is unnecessary now he’ll carry that attitude through to when he actually needs one, whereas if he recognizes that you wouldn’t want him to wear a helmet unless he needed one he won’t complain at having to wear one when he’s older. But he’s only 2.5, and maybe the instillation of a habit is more useful. It’s a judgement call.

  42. chris June 10, 2008 at 4:29 am #

    This is such an exciting blog, but Lenore, you need to keep the content coming! You’ve touched a nerve and people want to get in and discuss. Post, post, post!

    Here’s my “When I was young” story. I walked to school for 7 years, starting on the first day of kindergarten. It was indeed nearly 1 mile or more each way. My mother was a stay at home mom (they all were then). She drove me or picked me up only if it was snowing or raining. Today, I take no guff from anybody and I’m pretty sure my school experience is one reason why.

  43. Frances June 10, 2008 at 5:23 am #

    I live in Kingston – a suburb of London. People are pretty paranoid here like the rest of the UK – part of Madeleine fever I fear – but I’m determined not to be. I’ve just started letting my 7 year old walk to the shop down the road by himself and buy me stuff – a pint of milk or whatever. The first time he went, he was asked by the shopkeeper how old he was. But he loves doing it and feels so grown up. He is begging me to let him walk to school by himself, although the school wants all children under 8 to be dropped off and picked up by an adult. There is a great programme on the BBC here called “Child of our Time” which follows a group of children from birth to 20. They are now all turning 8. Most of them have never been out of sight of their parents’ gaze, have never walked or played anywhere by themselves. It is depressing. Most cite fear of abduction etc. On another programme here recently called Cotton Wool kids they showed a mum who desperately wanted to get her kids tagged with an implant so she would always know where they were.

  44. Betsy June 11, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    I’ve been letting my six-year-old feed the horses by herself in the mornings before school. It was hard for me to do because one of the horses is quite large, the other is a pony. But Esther, my daughter, is so incredibly proud of herself, and sure of herself and knows all the rules of horsey engagement. Every day at breakfast now, she says, “I’ve got to go do my chores.” This is why I have horses. I’ve been waiting for the day she would take this kind of interest. I was already riding bareback like a wild child when I was her age. So why do I feel so tentative? I’m worried what others will think and always second guessing my own judgement.

  45. jen June 12, 2008 at 3:58 am #

    When my child was two and three, we made him wear a helmet on his tricycle. People thought I was crazy, but when he really got to going on that thing, he could really fall hard. But then again, my child has always been prone to falling – he had stitches three times between age 1.5 and 3. And none of those accidents were in my presence. (Three times I had to be called at work because my child was bleeding from his head – THREE!)

  46. 1ofthesedays June 12, 2008 at 5:15 pm #


    Just heard you on TodayFM here in Ireland. Good for you. I wholeheartedly agree with your attitude. Keep it up!

  47. Grammy June 12, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    I am so glad to see some parents pushing back on the safety hysteria. My grandchildren live 1/2 mile from school, same as their father did growing up, but they ride a bus. A friend’s grandson lives 1/2 block from school and he rides the bus. He’s not allowed to walk, by the school district, because he has no sibling old enough to walk with him. And we wonder why our children are obese!

    As with adults, the fewer kids there are out and about, the more dangerous it will be. How will they learn the simple ways to be safe. My guess is that your son is actually safer for his independence.

  48. Karishma McGregor June 12, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

    The experience of letting a child go out and explore, take public transport and ask for direction – is a building block for their future. If people have such a problem with allowing their kid to go on the NY Subway – why not fix up the subway system so that it doesn’t smell like pee or get rid of the rats so it doesn’t seem so frightening, how about adding CCTV cameras at stops and in each car and proper lighting so its not too dark and dismal.

    Living in fear is just a horrible way to live. I live in Hong Kong and on some nights I see kids leaving commercial buildings at 9-10-11pm sometimes because they have tutorials. And why can they do that? Because of an efficient transportation system and mobile phones.

  49. shmal June 14, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    although it can be legitimate to worry about one’s own kid walking around in a big city (wherever it is), one should keep in mind that whatever the hypochondriacs see as ‘danger’ is a finite list or purely random events. Also, being mugged or accosted by unfriendly people in the streets is part of learning how to behave in the streets and people who literally own it. Class divisions have cast people into social spaces, namely, the streets versus the comfort of the bourgeoisie who sees the street as a no-go zone for children, while it’s no more than where alienated poorer classes dwell. Constricting your child in such a way will also most certainly lead to elitist alienation and increased spatial segregation in their adult years. Then they’ll have kids and tell them how good it was not to roam the streets at their age…

  50. Missives From Suburbia (Deb) June 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    I thought my husband’s head would explode today when I suggested we give our son his OWN ice cream cone the next time we go to our favorite ice cream shop. He’s not quite two. He’ll be fine. Messy, but fine. And how much fun will it be to watch him?

    Okay, so it’s not exactly a skateboard, but judging by my husband’s reaction, I’m sure you know what I’m up against.

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  52. Mara June 24, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    Bike-riding to Dunkin’ Donuts, huh? Ha-ha. According to your latest Sun column, the Real Fear looming at DD is for adults, what with the calorie counts on every dang thing. Now, forgive me, but How the Hell can someone eat a DONUT and Not know it’s a calorie-laden little slice of Heaven? Personally, I dislike these new calorie laws, as they are so guilt-inducing. And, the more guilt I feel over what I eat, the more I tend to eat of it (insane, reverse-psychology, I guess).

  53. jkugththfrjnftbgfjy7vjguybjgf June 28, 2008 at 7:56 am #

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  54. Denise July 1, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    My son started skateboarding and BMX biking when he was 3–he is freakishly athletic and seems to thrive on risk. He always wears a helmet, but he has gotten a few bruises. It can be scary to watch him go up ramps, but more than anything, I’m impressed by his boldness and determination.

    He’s now 10 years old–last weekend, he took a parkour class–the sport/activity where people run and jump over or under various objects on the street or in the park (or between rooftops, for the really advanced practitioners). From checking out our local parkour website, I know that many, many parents won’t allow their kids to do this, out of fear that it’s too dangerous.

    The funny thing is that far more kids get injuries from soccer–girls especially are prone to permanently damage their knees in competitive soccer. And yet, nobody is shutting down soccer fields or tsk-tsking those parents.

    I agree with many other posters on this site–I worry how my low-key approach to reasonable risks will play out with other parents. Because I’m younger than most other parents in my son’s school (I had my son while in my mid-20s), I feel like I’m often perceived to be young and reckless myself.

  55. KellyBelly August 16, 2008 at 4:11 am #

    Oh my gosh I am so glad to have found this website! What a relief… I’ve spent 9 years worrying myself sick about every thing imaginable (which is a lot!)

    I loved your chicken nugget comment btw I actually laughed aloud.

    My free range kid story: The whole family was getting in the van to go to some yard sales one Saturday morning at about 6:30 am. My 8 yo was sick and just wanted to lay on the couch and watch Harry Potter. DH and I thought, why not? We have a home alarm system, smoke detectors, he has the phone next to him and we left him one of our cell phones. We told him not to eat anything (he could choke!) and figured how many “bad guys” are prowling around at 6:30 am? So we left him alone. I reported this to my group of mom friends a week later and was verbally admonished. They were shocked at the danger I put my child in, informed it was illegal for an 8yo to be home alone, asked what would happen if a fire broke out, someone broke in… blah blah blah. I was crushed and hurt by being so harshly judged! We have since allowed him this freedom (which he desperately craves!) of staying home alone a few other times. He loves it and needs it! I just keep my mouth quiet now and don’t let other moms know. But I am ticked off that it’s illegal – where is my freedom to parent how I choose to parent? The world has gone off the deep end! Thank goodness for this site!!!!!

  56. Shariah December 5, 2008 at 11:19 am #


  57. Lmukkrce December 14, 2008 at 3:35 am #


  58. Arerluttift June 12, 2009 at 7:18 am #


    I’ve been passive on this forum for a while now, so here goes my first post! a great site I’ve found for Free Mobile Applications etc. is I’ve found everything on my list€¦

    let me know what you think!, Hope this helps 😉


  59. Blue Monster September 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Space and the environment is extremely important for the immagination of the childrens. I was grown in unfreindly environment I know exactly what would be a different on creation activity with other people.

    So, let them play, let them grow and let them explore thier immagination.

  60. Detailing Supplies January 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Great post. I’ve been looking for this exact information for a while now. Bookmarked!


  1. » Skateboarding The Learning Umbrella - May 30, 2008

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