Welcome, TIME Magazine Readers!

Hi Folks! Welcome to Free-Range Kids, where we (mostly) look at new ways to raise safe, self-reliant kids — kids at home in the world, happy outdoors, and even capable of entertaining themselves without the aid of Steve Jobs. We also look at stories in the news that illustrate Free-Range ideas in action — or the opposite. And we examine the disconnect between the fact we live in pretty safe times, but the media keep telling us to be scared from the second we wake up to the second we (try!) to go to sleep.

The chapters in my book, Free-Range yyefsafthk
, illustrate the themes you’ll see here — and, of course, in it! (The perfect holiday gift, if I may say so myself.) Voila:





Playdates and Axe Murderers: How To Tell The Difference


Go Easy On The ‘Law & Order,’ Too


Who Knew You Were Doing Everything Wrong? …Them


And The Rest of the Kiddie Safety-Industrial Complex


Some Risks are Worth It


They Don’t Know Your Kid Like You Do


Give Halloween Back To The Trick-or-Treaters


Your 10-Year-Old Would Have Been Forging Horse Shoes (Or At Least Delivering The Paper)


Why Other Countries Are Laughing at Zee Scaredy-Cat Americans


Quit Trying to Control Everything. It Doesn’t Work Anyway.


Not Every Little Thing You Do Has That Much Impact On Your Child’s Development

12 FAIL!

It’s The New Succeed


Make Them Play – Or else


They’re Sick of Being Babies (Except The Actual Babies, Of Course)


Animals (being eaten by); Bats (Metal); Bats (Vampire); Baby Formula; BPA Poisoning; Cell Phones and Brain Cancer; Choking On Food And All The Other Little Things Around the House; Cough and Cold Medicinitis; Death By Stroller; Eating Snow; Germs, Anti-germs and Shopping Cart Liners; Halloween Candy; Internet Predators and Other Online Skeeves; Lead paint, Lead Toys and Lead Everything from China; Licking the Batter Off Beaters While They’re Still Plugged In; Playground Perils; Pools and Water and Kids and Toilets; Raw Dough’s Raw Deal; School Shooting Stats; Sunscreen, Vitamin D, Skin Cancer, You Name It; Spoilage (of food); Spoilage (of children); Teen Sex; The Woods (playing in); Walking to school; Zoo Animals (in cracker form and otherwise).


Even the Folks Who Put The Faces On Milk Cartons Aren’t Too Worried


The Other Problem that Has No Name

And How to Fix It and Give Our Kids Their Childhood Back

That’s it! We’re glad you’re here! Have fun connecting with us and some new ideas. And coming soon — new feature: Find Free-Range Families in your own neighborhood! — Lenore

26 Responses to Welcome, TIME Magazine Readers!

  1. Ginkgo100 November 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    I just saw a banner that would make a good logo for this post, or in fact, this entire blog. It kind of unintentionally sums up the attitude of the opposition (“Be safe, or WE’LL get you”).

  2. Carla November 20, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    looking forward to the feature of meeting other free rangers in my area! It is PAINFUL going out and NOT seeing anyone anywhere! Where the hell are all the kids?!

  3. Bernadette Noll November 21, 2009 at 3:43 am #

    Okay, see, you know how to do it right sister. And I’m following your lead. Glad to share pages with you in Time. And so glad too that Free Range and Slow Family are hitting the streets.

  4. April November 21, 2009 at 3:47 am #

    Well, I know where my kids are. Last weekend, they visited friends in the neighborhood, played board games with them, were invited for lunch at one friend’s house and dinner at another friend’s house. They come home throughout the day or called if needed.

    They’ve even influenced one of their friends, who walked up to our house and was very proud to tell me that she’d done it all by herself (she’s 8).

    I make sure that my boys know how to not impose on someone, the leave when asked, and wait until invited in. Since other parents keep inviting them back over, I guess it’s working pretty well.

  5. Sophie November 21, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    I discovered this blog on Time Magazine this afternoon, and haven’t been able to put it down since. I wish all free-range parents had been my friends when I was raising my daughters – now 20 and 16 yrs. I lived in a small town in Indiana when I was a kid, and grew up on the same books we encourage our daughters to read today about the independent spirit that grows out of freedom from parents and authority (Pippi Longstocking) and/or that grows from parents who respect their child’s need for freedom and self-reliance as a valuable tool in later life (Nancy Drew). My parents were what I call “Charlie Brown” parents — the reverse of the old saying that children should be heard but not seen – in that they always provided reassuring background noise, but were never hovering. My two siblings and I grew up in total freedom after school and during the summers, riding bikes, playing “Nancy Drew” which meant exploring the town and the woods in search of all clues, walking to the bus stop over a mile away, and venturing out on a $1.75 allowance in search of treasures to be had at the GC Murphy’s uptown (also a mile away). The only cautionary advice my mother gave us as we ran out the door was to be sure to be home before dinnertime. Once, my brother left a note on the refrigerator that advised my mother that she didn’t need to cook that night because he was going down to the Ohio River to catch lots of fish for dinner (my mother had Swanson’s TV dinners on standby just in case). He was probably around 8 or 9 years old.
    When my (now ex-) husband moved to a city and had children, we wanted the same opportunities for freedom for our girls. Having chosen an inner-city neighborhood, we knew we had to be particularly creative. In retrospect, we just started slowly allowing them to “free range” in a responsible and age-appropriate manner – taking cookies across the street and down a couple of houses for a sick neighbor at 4 or 5 years, picking up pizza around the corner at 6-7 years, riding their bikes to the community garden to pick flowers at around the same age. Like Lenore, when our older daughter turned 9, she begged us to let her ride a bus all by herself from our house to her dad’s office at Carnegie Mellon University (about a 45-minute commute). We were thrilled at her wanting to do this at all! – after all, the books we feed our children encourage this very kind of independent spirit . (My sister, who lives in the suburbs, complains that she encourages her boys to do things like this ala Huck Finn, but they don’t even want to do them!). So, I waited with her at the bus stop, and her dad was there to greet her, at the other end. It turns out this is one of her fondest memories of childhood because of the pride and thrill of having accomplished something big and responsible all on her own.
    I’m a divorce lawyer who does a lot of custody, and I am particularly sympathetic to free range parents, because often the judges are the very over-parenting parents we free rangers don’t admire because of their tendency to judge our own parenting skills. I think I’m a very good parent, just like my mother was in the 1960-1970’s, and I like my life and the way it turned out to be confident of my own parenting when it comes to my daughters. My mother kept the note that my brother had written about catching an entire dinner. She also made sure that she had Swanson’s dinners on standby, which turned out necessary when my brother returned empty-handed after fishing. My younger is a teenager now. I am not her “best friend” but remember how hard it was to be a teenager. Being a fan of Beatrix Potter as a kid, I offer the same kind of comfort that Peter Rabbit’s mother offered him after a day of scary (but unknown to parents) adventure—chamomile tea and a big hug.

    I would like to see more blogging and ideas about how this concept applies to parents of teenagers.

  6. Krolik November 21, 2009 at 10:32 am #


    Hear hear! I’ve been waiting for this feature forever too. My daughter is an only child, so unless I specifically arrange a playdate, even when I can pull her away from the TV and make her go outside she comes right back because there is no-one to play with. This in spite of the fact that our neighborhood is exceptionally well-equipped – playgrounds, basketball courts, soccer field, a forest – all just steps away from the house. So we’d love to meet other free-range parents for some free-range playdates (Is that an oxymoron? Don’t worry, once your child gets here, I won’t supervise them at all! I’ll make them hunt their own food.)

    Also, in a few months we’ll be deciding whether to buy the condo we are currently renting or look for another house/condo to buy/rent. I think knowing which neighborhoods are the most kid-friendly (have the most free-range parents in them and the most kids playing outside) could be of big help to any parent looking for a new home for their family.

  7. montessorimatters November 21, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    I absolutely love the chapter titles, and got a giggle out of the Kiddie Safety-Industrial Complex. 🙂

  8. Jan S November 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    Welcome to the newer participants at this site. This is a movement and it’s good to have a leader. The future is bright! The tide is starting to turn.

  9. Mark Montgomery November 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    Awesome blog, wonderful premise. It’s nice to know that their are other parents out there who actually let their kids ride public transportation. My wife and I got lots of grief for letting our 12 year-old ride the city bus in Denver…alone! He loved it, however.

    Moreover, my wife, who teaches kids from around the world at a public middle school in Denver, has students who ride the city bus for 75 minutes each way. Because the have no other choice. And they get along just fine, thank you very much.

    My 14 year-old son has asked to ride his bike to school. It’s about 5 miles away. After reading this blog, I’m ready to say “YES!”


  10. riverdaughter November 21, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Am I reading Time right?? There isn’t a space for comments? You’d think with a topic like this one that comments would be overflowing. Am I missing something? I’ve looked all over the page for the comment link there and I can’t find one.

  11. gramomster November 21, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    @ Mark

    Love it! I grew up in Denver, and I used to love riding the bus downtown to the library and the art museum. I also used to ride the bike trail along the Platte down to Larimer Square, and play in fountains, and ride the parking structure at Boetcher.

    Was in Denver for the first time in 20 years this past summer. What a great city! Lucky kids you’ve got!

  12. bequirox November 22, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    Dodgeball might be next on the chopping block.

    (Besides being a possible future outrage, this video is just dang funny!)


  13. Sophie November 22, 2009 at 7:24 am #


    If your son wants to ride 5 miles everyday, you need to definitely encourage that before it is too late and he gets into other things… As I wrote earlier, I have a sister who encourages this in her two boys, but they are not interested. I have one daughter who rode the city bus and it’s one of her fondest memories today. The younger (16) has no interest, but of all the boys who are her current friends, the ones I really like are the ones who bike over, and frequently leave the bikes on our front porch until the weather improves for riding home.


  14. JeninCanada November 22, 2009 at 8:31 am #

    Congrats on getting into TIME, Lenore! And of course, welcome to the new readers and commentors.

  15. Jane Baginski November 22, 2009 at 11:00 am #


    I am so relieved to see that others feel the same way about the over-parenting that is in my face everyday. There are so many dimensions to it, from the absence of children playing outside in our perfectly safe neighborhood, to the moms who manage all the answers on their kids’ elementary school homework, to the purell squirts at every playdate. I’ve been making myself accepted by others to just say that I’m too lazy to watch my 4 year old kid every second of the day. I was also “too lazy” to stand in line for 4 hours to get my kid vaccinated for the swine flu despite the god-forbidders. The hysteria on all of these fronts have to stop or I’m going to have a very hard time making friends.

    Where does the helicoptering spring from? Is it anxiety and competition that your child must be a bigger wage earner than the next kid when they grow up, or they won’t survive? Is this because the middle class is disappearing?

    I’m going to check this site regularly and buy any tee-shirts you might be selling, so maybe I can start a few conversations in this leafy town.

  16. Uly November 23, 2009 at 4:30 am #


    Okay, so here it is. Apparently, the argument against having a civilian trial in NYC for this guy is that he’s a terrorist and if we have the trial in NYC he might kidnap some kids.

    No, really. Go read the link.

  17. Uly November 23, 2009 at 4:30 am #


    That’s the better link, go read that link.

  18. Julie November 23, 2009 at 6:52 am #

    I really enjoyed the article in Time, and decided to have a talk with my 6 year old daughter about independence. She was very inspired and asked if she could ride her scooter around the block by herself. With helmet on, she headed down the sidewalk, where a neighbor stopped her, told her that Stranger Danger was out there and could get her, and said she needed to turn around right away and go home. I fear this movement could take many generations to sort out!

  19. Uly November 23, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    I hope she told your neighbor to go to… work.

  20. ali November 23, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    پروژه هایی که در این وب سایت ارائه می شوند در 5 گروه عمده به شرح ذیل می باشند:
    پروژه های کارآفرینی

    پروژه های تحت وب
    2-1- پروژه های ASP.NET (وب سایتهای Dynamic)
    2-2- پروژه های HTML (وب سایتهای Static)

    پروژه های پایگاه داده
    3-1- پروژه SQL Server
    3-2- پروژه Access

    پروژه های برنامه نویسی
    4-1- برنامه نویسی به زبان سی شارپ (C#)
    4-2- برنامه نویسی به زبان ویژوال بیسیک دات نت (VB.NET)
    4-3- برنامه نویسی به زبان ویژوال بیسیک 6.0 (Visual Basic 6.0)
    4-4- برنامه نویسی زبان ماشین (Assembly)
    4-5- برنامه نویسی به زبان C و C++

    پروژه های تجزیه و تحلیل سیستمها و مهندسی نرم افزار
    5-1- تجزیه و تحلیل سیستمها به روش UML (متد RUP به همراه رسم نمودار با نرم افزار Rational Rose و . . . )
    5-2- تجزیه و تحلیل سیستمها به روش SSADM (روش تحلیل شی گرایی و . . .)

    پروژه های گرافیکی
    6-1- پروژه های Multi Media Builder
    6-2- پروژه های Flash MX

    بیتاسافت مفتخر است که تاکنون با پشتیبانی 24 ساعته از مشتریان توانسته تا حدود زیادی رضایت مشتریان را جلب نماید. در همین راستا و برای جلب رضایت بیشتر مشتریان و برای پاسخگویی مناسبتر اقدام به ایجاد یک انجمن (Forum) نموده که دانشجویان و مشتریان محترم می توانند از این پس سوالات قبل از خرید ، در خواست آموزش و رفع ایرادات نرم افزاری خود را پس از خرید در این انجمن مطرح نمایند که در اسرع وقت توسط مسئول پشتیبانی به سوالات آنها پاسخ داده خواهد شد.
    البته کماکان پشتیبانی از طریق تماس تلفنی و یا ارسال ایمیل و یا رفع اشکال حضوری در محل انجام پروژه ها بر قوت خود باقی خواهند ماند.
    همچنین مشتریان و دانشجویان محترم می توانند قبل از خرید پروژه های موجود ، یک نسخه به صورت نمونه یا Demo از پروژه را مشاهده نمایند و در صورتی که پروژه مورد قبول واقع شد ، آن را خریداری نمایند.

    تمامی پروژه های فوق الذکر دارای Document و مستندات ، پشتیبانی پس از فروش و آموزش در حد نحوه اجرا و استفاده از پروژه خریداری شده و گارانتی می باشد. در صورتی که به اطلاعات بیشتری نیازمندید با ما تماس حاصل فرمائید

  21. small heresies November 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    You know what I really think it is? I think it is that moms (dads, too, of course) are older when they have kids in the first place, and have thus had time to develop the dreadful sort of work ethic and future-orientation required to be so INVOLVED.

    I myself was a youngish mom (23 when my first was born) and I’ve always noted a certain age/class disparity in parenting styles.

    (there’s a reason young moms are stereotyped as lazy and self-centered! And yes, it got on my nerves when some anxiety-riddled 35-year-old first-timer helpfully lectured me about how I wasn’t stimulating my kid’s brain in the proper manner!

    She, in turn, probably found it horrifying that I reeeeeeally actually didn’t care that much about the various extremely dull developmental milestones of infancy. Nope, and I still don’t care much whether my kids can transfer a block from one hand to the other by the appropriate age… but it’s easier for me to see why it *should* somehow matter.

    But I honestly lacked the capacity to worry about it that much back then.

    At 28, I’ve developed a much better “what-if??” meter. I live less in the moment than I did at 23. I’m less selfish. More future-oriented. Better able to imagine likely outcomes for present actions. Etc.

    They say you finally finish growing up at 25, and I believe it. That said, our mothers may have let us have more free reign BECAUSE they were largely still young, selfish and shortsighted when we were born, and by the time they themselves had finished growing up enough to worry overmuch about our little destinies, certain family and neighborhood dynamics had already emerged.

    My mom was 21 when I was born. HER mother was 19 when she was born.

    I doubt either of them were as patient or as self-sacrificing as the 40-year-old new mothers I used to run into at playgroups.

    Maybe a pinch of maternal selfishness is not the worst thing in the world for a kid.

  22. Nicole November 23, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    Eh, I had a young mom (21 when I was born) and had to fight with her about letting me walk to school in my town that had 800 people *total* when I was 12. She was super crazy protective. Once she finally let go I really started having all kinds of fun riding my bike around town with friends.

    I think that’s why I’m so big on free range kids, is that I was smothered and isolated for years.

  23. gramomster November 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    I was 19, 24 and 26 when my kids were born. I was the paranoid mom of the year. In my defense, in my immediate family and neighborhood we’d had 2 non-custodial parental abductions of kids we knew, as well as 2 stranger abductions, one of my youngest brother and one of a kid my other brother rode the bus with to school. They went to different schools, but rode the same bus. My youngest brother reappeared about 10 hours later… the kid from the bus was Kevin Collins. San Francisco, about 1983. He has never been located. I was an older teen, 17 and 18 respectively, and these experiences impacted my later parenting in profound ways.
    As a grandmother raising a grandchild who was born when I was 40, I’m waaaaaaay more relaxed. I moved to the midwest when my kids were 2 younger kids (oh yeah. my oldest? the one who was born when I was 19? He was non-custodial kidnapped from school at age 7. I found him on Myspace at age 21) were 9 and 11, and it changed our lives. There are sidewalks here, and parks, and my neighbors noticed when we moved in, and noticed we had kids, and came over to give us a block phone list, introduce themselves and their kids, and invite us for tea, picnic, coffee…
    I’ve developed a great community of friends, and I love the freedom of knowing that my grandkid, and my kids when they were younger, are/were much safer than I ever imagined, and it was okay to let them go explore and find themselves.

  24. Sophie November 24, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    Having reviewed this blog after the Time article., I am having trouble with what I perceive as an irony of reading a really good, thoughtful article that confirms us free range parents VS reviewing a blog that now seems anti-thetical in terms of not judging, or most importantly, listening to other people.

    Lenore is a potential Oprah, but seems too inspired by her own need to live and define her life via the one episode about her son riding the subway all by himself….Been there, done that, and never blogged and/or thought of my kids adventure as some defining moment that I would ever capitalize on for my own…

  25. chiromamma November 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    As an avid reader of this blog, I was delighted with the Time magazine article. There’s one point I do not agree with. I can’t remember if it was made by the reporter or Lenore..that of vaccinations. The over-vaccinating of our children is another piece of fear based over-parenting. I had a few vaccinations as a kid…polio, small pox, etc. Now 2-day old babies are being vaccinated against hepatitis! This is a disease transmitted primarily via intravenous drug use. The chicken pox vaccine has been labeled a convenience vaccine. Parents couldn’t afford to take a week off of work to stay home with a sick kid. I got the chicken pox, mumps, measles, etc. I choose not to vaccinate my kids because I realize their immune systems need to get sick sometimes in order to grow and develop, much in the same way our kids need to fail in order to learn, make their own judgments in order to thrive as adults.

  26. Krolik November 25, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    small heresies,

    Right on! There will always be exceptions of course, but as a youngish mom myself (and daughter and granddaughter of moms who had their kids in their twenties) I have noticed the same kind of disparity.