Welcome, New Yorker readers and anyone else just hearing about Free-Range Kids!
The lovely write ahbiyshnir
up about me in this week’s “Talk of the Town” pretty much sums up what I’m like — a worrier mom who nonetheless believes kids don’t need a security detail every time they leave the house.
There are so many of us who share this outlook and have been trying to give our kids the freedom to bike around the neighborhood, play at the park, or actually walk home from it, like the Meitivs in Maryland, without this being a big (or criminal!) deal. But a few things get in the way:
1 – No other kids outside to play or walk with!
2- Busybodies convinced that any child alone is a child in danger (and the parents must be BAD!).
3 – Laws and law enforcement operating on that same belief.
So here at Free-Range kids were are fighting for the right of kids to be part of the world, and for parents giving their kids that freedom.
How are we going about that?
First, by creating community, both online here, where we (usually) support each other. And by providing a handy list of crime stats the prove “times have changed” in a GOOD way: Our kids are safer today than when WE were playing outside. And by providing a Free-Range Kids membership card kids can carry, to prove that their parents approve of them being outside on their own.
Also here, as of yesterday, is a tab called Find a Free-Range Friend (freerangefriend.com). It may seem ridiculous to sign up to find other nearby parents who don’t want to supervise every playdate. But until our streets are once again teaming with kids (or our sidewalks, anyway), it makes some sense for like-minded parents to be able to find each other and say: “My kids are free on Saturday mornings but there’s no one at the park. Want to send yours?”
Another way we’re trying to create a more Free-Range world is has backfired a little — temporarily. It’s by highlighting here and at reason.com the cases where loving parents are investigated for neglect simply because they trust their kids to be fine on their own for a little bit. The upshot is that now some parents who’d like to Free-Range are worried now because they have read stories about people like Debra Harrell, arrested for letting her 9-year-old play in the park, or Kim Brooks, arrested for letting her son wait in the car for five minutes, or dozens of others. (Here’s a doozy!)
But I see these stories as serving the bigger purpose of calling attention to the way the government has been allowed to second-guess loving parents who don’t make their daily decisions based on what I call “worst-first thinking” — thinking up the very WORST case FIRST and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen. So to arrest a mom who let her son wait in the car a few minutes as if she actually put him in danger — that’s a true injustice. And we can’t fight injustice until we recognize it.
Hence, the Free-Range Kids and Parents Bill of Rights that we would like to see adopted by cities and towns across America and, eventually become the law of the land.
Heck, a gal can dream, right?
And to make Free-Ranging normal again, not just legally, I give talks everywhere from PTAs to conferences to corporations (like Microsoft!) about how we got so scared for our kids, and how to fight the fear being shoved down our throats. And when I speak at schools, I have been encouraging them to adopt the Free-Range Kids Project, which is really simple and cool and changes the kids and parents almost overnight. It’s based on the same premise as my TV show, World’s Worst Mom, where I swoop in, Supernanny-like, to help anxious parents finally see their kids as competent, confident young men and women, instead of adorable but vulnerable babies.
So there’s a lot going on Free-Range wise these days. Please join in the conversation. We are so glad you’re here! – L