Washington Post Goes Free-Range!

Or at least they let me expouse my views in today’s bfehhizsyn
op-ed pages
.  A Happy Mother’s Day to them!

And a Happy Mother’s Day to The Week (my favorite magazine), which printed a nice, big excerpt from Free-Range Kids (the book).

And yet more good wishes, this time to ABC World News Tonight, which is doing a Free-Range story on Sunday night. Check your local listings (as they say).

And now, if you’re a mom, eat some bon bons! If you’re a dad — hey!  Put down that bon bon and head out to  the park with you-know-who.

You can have a bon bon when you guys get home.  — L.

25 Responses to Washington Post Goes Free-Range!

  1. slowfamilyliving May 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    And you’re in the Boston Globe today too. And I’m honored to share the article space with you.

    Here’s the link…


    Happy Mother’s Day to you.

    Bernadette Noll
    Austin, TX

  2. Jordan May 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    Wonderful all the way around – congratulations and Happy Mothers Day! My husband took the kids out — now I’m going to go hunt for those bon bons…

  3. Nikki May 10, 2009 at 10:12 pm #

    Your article was 100% dead on. It’s nice to know there’s someone else out there who finds “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” a little too cloying.

  4. Annika May 10, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Your Washington Post article is fantastic. I’ve got an almost-three-year-old and I find that I’ve totally alienated myself from most of my mom friends by not reading any parenting books or worrying about growth charts or giving a rat’s ass about babyproofing. Et cetera. Enough of the hysteria!

  5. Alan May 10, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    The problem with the ABC story tonight (Sunday), is that they often preempt the news because of the sporting event before it. Tonight that would be a NBA playoff game. I hope if it is bumped that they show it later.

  6. PaddikJ May 11, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    Are you inundated yet, what with your story being in The Week? This thread still seems pretty light.

    Just stopped by to say “you go, girl – let your kids be kids!” Ours are in college now & have just about cut the apron strings. It was easy for us to let our kids range free, in our whitebread suburban neighborhood w/ 200 acres of green belts & our own creek, but we did encourage them to range a little farther in MS & HS.

    Of course the helicopter parents will scream bloody-I-told-you-so-murder should anything slightly bad happen to your kids, and then it’s back to kiddie leashes. Just to be on the safe side, maybe you better hire a covert nanny to trail after them.

  7. Olivia May 11, 2009 at 12:28 am #

    When I was pregnant with my first child (I have two now, ages 3 and 1.5) a good friend of mine gave me this piece of advice: “Whatever you do, do NOT read ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting.’ It will only make you paranoid about every possible thing that can (but probably won’t) go wrong during pregnancy” As a result, I didn’t know every last thing that could happen if I (gasp) slept on my back while pregnant or had an extra cup of coffee. Turns out, nothing happened, except I had two calm and healthy pregnancies with very healthy babies at the end.

    I admit I do read the occasional parenting book when I feel at my wits end, but I usually conclude that there was nothing in there I didn’t already know. I’m certainly not a perfect mom, but my three year old told me today that he loves me so so much and I’m his best friend. So I think I’m doing ok. 🙂

    Keep up the great work on this blog Lenore – I love coming here for a dose of common sense and good humor!


  8. Stacey May 11, 2009 at 12:30 am #

    Loved the article, it’s amazing how many intelligent people in they’re 30s who would never brainlessly follow advice on anything else are willing to follow books on parenting as if they are law.

    Oh, on the kite flying thing, you are going to have a hard time flying any kite on a perfectly clear day since wind is created by the heat exchange that occurs between cloudy and sun parts of the atmosphere (I had to add that since I just learned it).

  9. Sam May 11, 2009 at 12:55 am #

    1) Congratulations and admiration for surviving and gaining from the media blitz on this.
    2) Take a look at Beyond Fear, which talks about Risk and Threat and has the actual stats (fear pigs).
    3) Hey! Give us Dads some credit, we’re not all boneheads.

  10. Shari Stueck May 11, 2009 at 1:28 am #

    Just read your excerpt in the Week. I just want to say, kudo’s to you for having the courage to stand up publicly for your beliefs. People look at me like I’m crazy when I say I let my 14 year old daughter walk down to the river, park, Katy Trail – wherever. I have to remind them that our job as parents is to raise good adults, not necessarily good kids. I think it’s pure selfishness to steal childhood from our children. To become strong adults, kids need to have EXPERIENCES. And, you take the good with the bad. Childhood is just a small part of their lives, let it do it’s job.

  11. Elizabeth May 11, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    As usual, wonderful stuff! I’ve already posted your Washington Post article on my Facebook page! I only hope more people catch on with this movement. The TV tabloid world is no place to live.

  12. Somegirl May 11, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    I saw your story on ABC 7. I think what you’re doing is great.

    I wish I had a little- ok, a lot- more independence growing up. I grew up afraid to go anywhere on my own; my mom succeeded in convincing me that every strange man on the street was a rapist/killer/child trafficker. For someone who wasn’t allowed to stay home alone until 15, who wasn’t allowed to go down the street alone until 13… someone who’s not even allowed to take the NYC subway alone at 16, I wish my parents eased up and considered what you call “free range” parenting.

    I don’t think I would have grown up afraid of everything.

  13. Jen May 11, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

    Sam: Not all Dads are boneheads! Of course they aren’t. If they were, there’d be no Father’s Day! 😉

  14. Lori May 11, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    I just read the excert in The Week and one of my favorite sayings is “we give our children two things, one is roots the other is wings” – I applaud you.

  15. Michelle May 11, 2009 at 10:15 am #

    I live in Boston, and I have lost my kids a couple of times, once on a bike for about 5 minutes, once in the Common in a crowd for about 6 minutes. Also, once my 2 year old almost ran into the street. Not to mention losing them occasionally at the Whole Foods. It makes you crazy paranoid scared when this happens, you feel like a bad mother, and there are always a few well meaning also paranoid parents (particularly police officers wives) that helpfully fuel your paranoia. I hated being told what to do as a kid, and my kids have far less freedom than we ever had. I have been feeling guilty of letting them cross the street to go to their friends or the corner store, or leaving them home while I park the car (they are almost 7 and 8 1/2). I like you article and will think of you the next time I second guess my decision to let them have a little freedom. Thank you! (wow, subway at 9 years old, very interesting)

  16. Sophie in the Moonlight May 11, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    I applaud you and your mission.

    I try telling people that my job is to work myself out of a job and they look at me like I’m speaking Portuguese (a beautiful language I don’t actually speak).

    “how could you ever not be needed as a mother?”

    Well, the truth is I think, like you do, that my job is to teach my kids the necesary life skills, the emotional intelligence, and a rational approach to challenges, so that when they do leave home at their various stages, they don’t need me to hold their hand. They know what to do and they’ll know that if they find themselves in a pickle, yeah, I’m still here.

    I think the old-fashioned terms are self-confidence, know-how, and wherewithal. Gosh, I wish we’d bring those back.

    Happy Mother’s Day. And, thank you, THANK YOU, for listening to your kid and preparing him for his journeys. He’s a lucky boy to have you for a mom.

  17. Vagabondblogger May 11, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    I live in Cairo, Egypt and just saw the piece about you and your son in a repeat Sunday Night ABC News. When I heard you had been referred to as “The Worst Mom” I was shocked. We let our 9 year old daughter take The Rapid from Shaker Heights, Ohio to downtown Cleveland to meet her dad after work. When we moved to Alaska, announcements would come on the school loudspeaker warning kids not to take the shortcut through the woods, as a bear or moose had been spotted. When we moved to Abu Dhabi the kids took taxis on their own starting in grade / middle school. My son recently took his university sophmore year and an extra semester off to work for Obama, driving himself from Connecticut to New Hampshire, then Ohio and then twice round trip to Oregon. We were told we must be so proud, blah, blah, blah. Yes we are. But a couple of years ago he went to Bonnaroo (two summers in a row). Visions of Woodstock went through the minds of those who tsk, tsked us. As our next door neighbor in Ohio said when I had just had our son (and he had 2 teenage girls), “It doesn’t get any easier. It just gets different.” And that was probably better advice than anything I’ve ever read about raising children. You have to let them see the world, have their own experiences, and have a part in decision making.

    BTW, it looks like your son had a great time on the Subway. Happy belated Mother’s Day.

  18. Marcia A Wrick May 11, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    It’s a miracle CPS didn’t terrorize you! As a kid in the early 70’s, I grew up on the books about Billy & his pony Blaze, going all over creation having adventures, riding my bike from one end of town to the other and going grocery shopping for my Mom. In second grade. People look at me like I’m crazy when I let my son, 9, take off at a busy horse show to go to the rest room or go get food. Or at the mall when he goes to FYE while I’m in Macys. Now he does have a phone (hates using it, so it works out perfect), so I can find him fast. I could care less about other folks and the “experts” (ever notice how many of those experts are unmarried & childless??), I worry about the CPS Nazis. I’ve had idiots “call me in” for letting my son sit in the car playing a video game while I go in to pay for gas. Really.

  19. SheWhoPicksUpToys May 12, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    I liked “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” but then again, I’m the kind of person who pretty much knows what I think about a lot of things, and so I can read a book like that and find useful information that might turn out to be beneficial, and go “pfffffft” to the over the top stuff. And that line about “every bite you eat” got the “pfffffffft” reaction from me 19 years ago when I read it. But I’m pretty sure there was stuff in it I later put to use, though it’s been so long I really don’t recall. Still, I can definitely see the kind of person who doesn’t have confidence in her own common sense (or doesn’t have a good mom or other family and friends to learn from) being thrown for a loop by a lot of the scare stuff.

    The thing about mobiles made me laugh — I’m thinking my mom probably didn’t even use one for any of her five kids, because a crib was for, well, sleeping, and when you were awake and playing, you were crawling around on the floor or in the playpen (in which I once got my head stuck between the too-wide bars and am here to tell the tale. Not that bar-width standards are foolish — SOME safety stuff is really necessary.) Not that there’s anything wrong with mobiles — we had one for the first few kids until it broke somehow and didn’t bother to replace it — but the things that are taken for granted as absolute parenting necessities are kind of funny, when you think about it.

    BTW, on the head stuck in the bars incident — my mom tells the story that she saw me with my head stuck, figured if I got it through it had to go back the other way, and gently worked me free. I realize that such situations do sometimes end tragically, though. But I wonder how many moms today (myself included) would react so calmly after the diet of fear we’ve all been exposed to?

  20. DLGScraps May 12, 2009 at 2:40 am #

    Yay you. I was a free range child who turned into a free range adult. I just read the excerpt of your book in The Week. I have two young children and quite agree with your ideas about motherhood and childhood. I am glad to see that I am not alone in wondering what happened to “letting kids be kids.”

  21. No kids Yet May 12, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    It’s really great to see that so many people agree with you about what you have taught your son. When I mentioned this article to my co-workers some of them gasped. No, I don’t have kids yet so I don’t know that paranoia. However, I was a kid with lots of freedom. Not only did you give your child the freedom to learn on his own but now, if something really does happen, he will have the confidence to get home or at least get to safety. Our world is turning into such a paranoid state that it almost makes me not want to have children. I don’t want them to feel they need to be in “bubble wrap” until they’re 18. I’m worried they will learn that every where else but me. I guess that’s part of the fear though. I need to trust that I have educated them enough to be open minded and to not be paranoid…even from all the paranoia.

    Thanks for not being part of the mold! It’s inspiring.

  22. Dave May 12, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    Another great post. So glad people are taking notice. Keep up the good work the next generation needs your voice.

  23. SheWhoPicksUpToys May 12, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    Sophie — maybe a good way to put it is that we want to work ourselves out of a full-time management position, and shift into semi-retired consultant mode? 🙂

    But I agree with you, the “You’ll always be a mom” thing never resonated with me. I mean, of course, we’ll always BE moms, emotionally, and hopefully will always be there for them when they need us, but 15 years from now when my youngest will presumably be out of the house, I surely won’t define myself as a “mom” anymore, or time will hang pretty heavy on my hands. The only way it wouldn’t, would be if I became one of those helicopter parents of adults, which is even worse than the version when the kids are young.

  24. SheWhoPicksUpToys May 15, 2009 at 1:39 am #

    Oh, Lenore, not to nitpick, but since you’re a writer you can probably deal with editorial hints: “expouse” isn’t a word. I imagine you had “expound” and “express” running around in your head, and maybe mixed them up with “espouse,” which many people think means “verbally express a view in favor of,” but really doesn’t. 🙂

  25. Carl Baker May 18, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    Hadn’t heard of you before I read the excerpt from “The Week”. I was absolutely thrilled to read it, and am delighted to discover another voice of reason (i.e. yours) contributing to the public discourse. Sign me as a huge fan – I _love_ your reality-based approach!

    — carl