"You Are a Horrible Mother" — Letter

Hi nbaiytitay
Readers: Just got this note tonight. Thought I’d share it. The writer must have recently stumbled on “Why I Let My 9-year-old Ride the Subway Alone.” — L.

[To Lenore]: In my opinion you are a horrible mother. You knowingly put your child in harms way. Yes its true, chances are its not going to happen but why give it the chance to happen. It is your job to protect your child until he/she is old enough to protect themselves. At nine yrs. old he is not going to be able to defend himself and I can’t believe that you didn’t give him a cell phone because you were worried about him losing it. Isn’t your childs life more important then your cell phone. You can replace your cell phone but your son is priceless but maybe you don’t see him as that way. You are a horrible mother and even reading your story made me wish someone would take him away from you  immediately. You dont deserve him and I hope for his sake that he does get taken away from you and with someone who actually cares.

210 Responses to "You Are a Horrible Mother" — Letter

  1. LauraL April 4, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    We love you, Lenore.

  2. MattB5 April 4, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Well, good luck to her when her 30-year old son is living in her basement and still needs to hold her hand to cross the street.

  3. perilsofdivorcedpauline April 4, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    HAHAHA! MattB5, that was hysterical.

  4. bob April 4, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    I’m dying to hear your son’s response to this!

  5. Emily April 4, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    “Isn’t your childs life more important then your cell phone.”

    it’s CHILD’S. possessive.

    sheesh. some people 😉

    <3 you!

  6. Kathy April 4, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Silly woman, her poor children! What you ARE is an inspiration in this wacky world!

  7. Jen C April 4, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    What a troll. It’s a pity her children never had their umbilical cords cut.

  8. LauraL April 4, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    I think we shouldn’t call these folks names. It just lowers us to their level of attack. Stay above it and stay strong!

  9. Maggie April 4, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    I think I might have an internet crush on MattB5 at the moment.

    Also, I kind of feel sorry for the letter writer. It must be awful, to be so paralyzed by irrational fear that feels like she needs to lash out at a complete stranger for NOT being so paralyzed and frightened.

    I, too, am interested in what Izzy has to say.

  10. Maureen April 4, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Who is protecting the children from her lack of apostrophes? PLEASE, SOMEONE, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

  11. enyawface April 4, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    WOW, what a heartless hypocrite. When I went to high school I road two different city buses, it took about an hour to get to school, the second bus ride was about 40 minutes from were I got on, to my school. Even then I was amazed at the grade school kids, one that looked about 6, who got on that bus well before I did, and road it to the stop at their school, just before my school stop. So was the school and the parents uncaring, sending their kids to school at 6am in the morning alone on a city bus? I really see no difference of that from the subway. So I wonder, in my day, (I’m not That old) me and my friends used to walk to school alone, ride our bikes around the neighborhood alone, go to the park alone, spend all day roaming in the woods behind the park alone and investigating the stream that ran through it, we didn’t wear helmets or kneepads or kiddie swimmers, we didn’t have cell phones back then and there were no adults constantly nagging over our shoulders.. and we all grew up to be well adjusted adults with all of our limbs intact, so except for the hyper “the sky is falling” media that reports that we are doomed, every 5 seconds, and ir you don’t think you’re doomed then you’re even more devastatingly in ultimate danger, what exactly has changed in our world to make us soooo unable to cope with the day to day rising and falling of the Sun?

  12. Micki April 4, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    The sense of righteous indignation gets lost behind the bad grammar and spelling.

  13. Shelly April 4, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    This is the thought process of people who write this kind of stuff:

    “What a bad mother. Something could happen to her kids. I am a good mother. I would NEVER let my child ride the subway alone; therefore, nothing bad will ever happen to my kids.”

    Like Maggie, I also feel sorry for the writer, and her kids.

  14. Hi, I'm Natalie. April 4, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    I bet her kids look awesome wrapped in bubble-wrap. *rolls eyes*

  15. enyawface April 4, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    I was almost finished there, but mom called me down here in the basement and said it was time to get off the computer, wash my hands and come sit down for dinner, she is having some canasta friends over tonight and they need another player………. just kidding. I haven’t lived at home since I moved at GASP 14!!!! with my parents approval.. to go to that school in the city, WHAT were my parents thinking????? A 14yo living with other 14 to 19 year olds in the city, going to a private school????? OH MY

  16. David Veatch April 4, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    By that person’s definition of harm’s way, we’re all horrible people. Putting a child in a car and taking that car onto public roads is putting that child in the way of more harm than nearly any other activity within reach of the average life.

    Raising that child in a modern home ranks right up there, if not higher, than taking the child on the road in a car. Granted, we spend most of our time in our homes, but I think the time-to-accident ratio will still come out in favor of the home being a dangerous place.

    What a sad person. I hope someone provides the help so desperately needed.

  17. Dolly April 4, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    What Laurel said. She has a right to disagree. You do not know what her life has been like. Maybe she miscarried her only child? Maybe she is infertile. Maybe her child was hurt in an accident? Things like that might explain her anger and hurt toward someone like Lenore who takes risks (healthy risks perhaps but still risks) with their kids and who is more laid back about parenting.

    I was very uptight and judgemental about parenting when I was infertile and having miscarriages because I thought to myself that they were taking their precious children for granted and I was depressed and jealous.

    It took me a long time to get over that even after finally having kids.

    Be the better person.

  18. Jennifer April 4, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Hopefully she’ll leave her kids alone long enough for someone to teach them how to write.

  19. sylvia_rachel April 4, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Ten years ago, at the height of my depression subsequent to losing my reproductive equipment, I would probably have thought the same way (though I would have thought it privately, and spelled it better). As Dolly says, I suspect this may be someone with some undisclosed Bad Things going on in her life, either past or current, which cause her to be terrified for her own (real or hoped-for) kids and get all judgy about other people’s parenting.

    I won’t disclose here, because I’m kind of ashamed of it, how many times I’ve looked at someone else — someone smoking right in a toddler’s face, say, or yakking away while their baby shrieked dementedly in a stroller, or, once, smacking her school-aged son in the head because she was pissed off that they’d missed their train — and thought, “If I had that person’s baby/toddler/child, I would be a MUCH better parent than s/he is!” I don’t think this tendency is confined to people who have had / are having extreme difficulty in becoming parents, but it’s certainly accentuated by that circumstance.

    But, anyway, we love you, Lenore! 🙂

  20. Angel April 4, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    If that is the definition of a “horrible mother” then I consider it a compliment and can’t wait to be called one!

  21. kimelah April 4, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I’m beginning to think the biggest fear is not that something-might-happen-to-a-child-so-we-must-keep-them-safe-at-all-costs, but that should something happen to a child, at least mom/dad will be there with them, so the child won’t be alone, and scared, etc.

    Maybe it’s not “I wasn’t there to protect them!” but more along the lines of: “I wasn’t there with them.”

  22. Sandra April 4, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Wow. I have about 300 really clever things running through my mind right now – yet I can’t seem to form the words on the typewriter for what I’d like to say.

    Guess my thoughts will have to just ramble around my brain unsupervised and in danger of being hit by an airplane falling from the sky and if they had a cell phone, helmet, leash, bubble wrap, and kneepads (and armed with the most current sex offender list) they would be okay. Right?

  23. omegawolf747 April 4, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Just ignore the trolls, Lenore. You’re doing a fabulous job and restoring sanity to America, one parent at a time.

  24. Anthony Hernandez April 4, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Well if whoever wrote that can find herself a douche without a bag, I’d dare say she has heself a job…

  25. Laura April 4, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    How long ago was it that you let your son ride the subway alone? A couple of years now? Really, what kind of mother waits this long to criticize the failures of others. What is wrong with her? I think her kids should be removed from her home for lack of diligence and inappropriate punctuation. : )
    Seriously, you are the voice of reason Lenore don’t let one paranoid Mom get you down.


  26. Kris April 4, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    There’s a mom who will be her son’s date to the prom.

  27. Melanie April 4, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    I agree that it seems like this woman has some serious pain behind these words and I feel for her – but that doesn’t give her the right to tell a complete stranger that she’s a bad mother and her kids should be taken away.

    In some ways this goes to the crux of the principles behind free-range parenting – people making irrational judgments about other parents and putting their own irrational fears above the wellbeing of their children. Fact is, lenore’s son is fine. He’s more than fine, he’s happy. She put her own feelings on the line to give him something important that he wanted. Isn’t that textbook good parenting? And isn’t holding your kids hostage to your own needs not so good?

  28. Anne-Marie April 4, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    oh man, how do you stand that! why are we so viscious with eachother. parenting is hard, there are so many decisions to make. Everyone (or most of us at least), are just trying to do the best thing we can for our kids – in a world with so much conflicting advice. why cant this woman follow her heart and let you follow yours….

    no matter how much you disagree with someone – cant you at least TRY to see things from their point of view. this kind of blanket statement and lack of empathy is THE MOST damaging thing in our world – not consciousious parents trying to do their best to make their kids independent….

  29. Pat April 4, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    That’s really sad that she felt the need to send that to you,

    With that said, I thought of this comic (Language Warning):

    Lenore, you are obviously doing it right.

    Keep it Up!

  30. KarenW April 4, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Wow, if the subway story got her that worked up, her head would explode if she ever comes across this website! To think that this “horrible mother” has inspired thousands to do the same.

  31. Donna April 4, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    I guess she missed the part about Izzy making it home safe and sound from this little excursion … 3 years ago. Since last I checked Izzy was still alive, and probably has many more lone subway rides under his belt, clearly he was never in harm’s way.

  32. Elizabeth April 4, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    OMG! What a horrible person… to wish such a horrible thing as losing a child. She is NOT Nice! Shame on her. I walked all over the city, to the pool & the library everyday in the summer (not NY but Allentown) and because of that, I have no fears and have moved all around the country all by myself. Thank GOD my parents were not overbearing. My freedom gave me confidence and taught me how good it feels to get outside and move everyday. I’m a Dietitian who wants to make the world a healthier place. Parents like her are going to put up roadblocks to healthy habits. What a shame…

  33. Dolly April 4, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    See most everyone is assuming she is a mother and using that to insult her. She may not even be a mother.

    I think Kimelah hit on a point there. I am probably midway on free range versus helicopter parenting. I am very relaxed about some things and super uptight about others so they balance each other out. I also get more relaxed the older my kids get. At first with a high risk pregnancy after years of infertility and then preemies and then food allergies and then asthma, I was fairly uptight and crazy. Now I am mellowing out a lot more.

    I also kinda feel like how Kimelah described. I know bad things will happen to my kids and I can’t shelter them from everything. They have to make their own mistakes. I just want to be there for them when they do. So they won’t grow up and blame me for not being there. I had a very there mother, but I still blame her for the few times she wasn’t there. I don’t want my sons to feel that way about me.

  34. joel dockery April 4, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    That’s right, a child is more important than a cell phone. So…don’t buy cell phones anymore, parents. Do you know how much protective padding that could buy?

  35. bmj2k April 4, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Using her logic we should never let children cut their own food until they are 18 because they can hurt with the knife. Ignore the dopes.

  36. MommyMagpie April 4, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Sadly, I think I might know that woman IRL.

  37. thinkbannedthoughts April 4, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    What always gets me about these people is the “I wish someone would take your child away, then you’d learn” talk.
    When I hear of someone taking risks, whether they are risks I agree with or not, my first thought is ALWAYS for a safe outcome.
    While I am not a “the sky is falling” type, occasionally the sky does fall and when it does, it’s no good. I would never wish that on anyone, no matter how many risks they were taking, no matter how much they provoked the sky, no matter how many stones they threw at it. Better their efforts come to some beneficial fruition, like perhaps lifting the sky a little so we can all breathe a little easier than having something horrible happen so that we all have to cower even more.
    Lenore – you lifted the sky that day, for all of us. And we all thank you for it – and your son, who was brave enough to ask for his freedom, trusting you were wise enough to grant it.
    Just because chicken little cannot see that the sky has been lifted and is not, in fact falling, doesn’t mean that the rest of us are blind. Thanks for all that you do to keep us sane!

  38. KaleandCole April 4, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I’m not entirely sure how she thinks her kids are going to fend for themselves when she decides they’re ready to be let free from her constant surveillance. I bet the contents of my savings account your son is better prepared to face the big, bad, scary world than her children will ever be.

    Not only will your child be better prepared with street (and common) sense, he’ll be better able to communicate like an intelligent human being, something with which this women — as evidenced by your critic’s inability to write using even the most garden variety grammar — will never be able to arm her sheltered children.

  39. Leah Welty-Rieger April 4, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    You are an amazing person.

    Your website gives me hope in humanity.

    And hope that I can raise my daughter in Chicago the way that I was raised in Chicago. Riding the CTA to get myself to gymnastics practice across town from where my school was, hanging around my neighborhood from when the sun came out till after it went down.

    I met a good friend in my neighborhood (I must have been about 10 or 11) when I saw her climbing a tree on my way home from somewhere with my Dad. I launched myself out of the car, yelling, “I’m going to go meet that girl in the tree.” She and I were quite good friends for the few years that I lived on that street.

    This woman’s kid will *never* know how much fun that was.

    Hang in there.

  40. LauraL April 4, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Heh. And this sounds like Childrenfreude – deriving pleasure from another parent’s pain. I think we’re all guilty of it, no matter which side of the fence…

  41. Layne April 4, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    This woman would be shocked to learn your son is still alive and well!

  42. Beth April 4, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    This the point that I’m struggling with on my quest to go free-range. When is my son “big enough” to do things on his own. He’s only 4 1/2 so I’m right there while he’s cutting fruit or making his Mac and Cheese. I even let him blaze ahead of me as we walk to places. (He’s always within eyeshot.)

    Keep on with your mission. I’ve learned so much from you and the other readers. My child is an only so the temptation to lock him in the ivory tower is very strong. But that’s not the point of raising a child. One day, he needs to go out on his own.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  43. Donna April 4, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    If it’s your job to protect your children (by not letting them do anything for themselves apparently) until they are old enough to protect themselves, how do they ever become able to protect themselves? Physically a 18 year old should be able to protect themselves better than a 9 year old just by being bigger but kids don’t just suddenly know how to make smart choices at 18 without being taught and being allowed to practice.

    And these arguments always seem to have a tone of somehow we cease being parents when our children turn 18. They give the impression that Natalee Hollaway’s parents should be less devastated than Adam Walsh’s because Hollaway was 18 and Walsh was 6. Loosing a child is devastating to parents whether that child is full grown or an infant.

    Personally, I think it comes down to selfishly not wanting to face the guilt and accusations if something happens, no matter how unlikely, to a minor child. Nobody would ever say to the mother of a 20 year old man killed on the subway “I can’t believe you let him ride the subway alone.” It would just be a tragic accident. However, if your 9 year old is killed on the subway, it’s all your fault for letting him go. It’s easier for you to never let your kids out of your sight until you can no longer be held responsible if the worst occurs. Who cares if that means that you’ve made them more vulnerable by failing to teach them how to live — at least you can’t blamed and won’t feel guilty if the worst happens.

  44. lakelineleah April 4, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    People like that exhaust me. And I do think there’s something to the thought that she is suffering from her own demons – but boy. To wish someone’s child be taken away? That’s pretty harsh. Sticks and stones and all, but then the call to CPS from people like that can really hurt you.

  45. Rachel April 4, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I put my boys (7 and 10) on an airplane last week, stayed till they were in the air, and drove home without them. They flew from Ohio to Florida to see their grandparents. My husband and I had a quiet week at home with their little sister, the boys and grandparents had a great trip, and now we’re all back together. My kids have a LOT of freedom in our neighborhood, but flying alone to another state is the most free-range my kids have been! Thanks for the inspiration, Lenore. We are the better for it.

  46. LauraL April 4, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    That call to CPS – yes.

    I was recently reading *yet another thread* about what age it was ‘safe’ to leave your child in the car when you have to inside to pay for gas. While there were the standard answers of fear of the kidnapper, there was a distinct several who were more afraid of the nosy busy-body who does call CPS over her perceived ‘danger’ of the situation. CPS has to respond and then a family ends up ‘in the system’.

    I truly believe that CPS could stem this practice if they asked a few pointed questions before committing one of their agents to responding in person to the family, such as, “What made you feel the child was in danger? What was the temperature? Was the car running? Were there any obvious dangerous situations occurring at that very moment where leaving the child alone for five minutes would constitute death and/or dismemberment? How old were you when your parents left you alone in the car? and now…do you still want to file this case, or could this just be an instance of a good samaritan simply being mistaken about the severity of the danger to the child? Thanks, have a nice day.”

  47. Kelly April 4, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Did I miss something? How do we know this was a woman who wrote Lenore?

  48. se7en April 4, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Oh you have so many terrible parents who read your blog!!! Terrible nasty mothers… And I for one am proud to be one of them!!! Just read your book and loved every single word of it!!! LOVED IT!!!

  49. kimelah April 4, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I used to be friends with a helicopter parent. She was always commenting that me and my three children were like a mother duck and her three ducklings: it was usually me, then eldest, then son, then youngest FAR behind. I’d look back, make sure she was still there, and then resume walking, and talking with friend.
    Friend, however, wouldn’t let her only child (same age as my middle child) walk further than five feet in front of her because, she explained to me, a car might drive out of its driveway and hit her daughter. Or a car might stop, and someone might jump out, and take her daughter! I challenged her on this belief MILDLY and with some humour, but then let it slide as my children ran far far ahead of me, spun around, and yelled at me to hurry up, while she bellowed at her daughter to stop running. Those walks were, um, interesting.

  50. kimelah April 4, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    @LauraL – If only CPS/CAS could be that intelligent. Instead they seem to jump at the chance to screw over some well-meaning and loving parent.

  51. KateNonymous April 4, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Wow, someone is really late to the party.

  52. MikeS April 4, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    “It is your job to protect your child until he/she is old enough to protect themselves.”

    Wrong. It’s your job to *raise* your child so that they wil be able to protect themselves.

  53. Will April 4, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Does this person know she left her Rapunzel up in the tower for almost 10 minutes in order to write this?

    Mother knows best . . .

  54. King Krak, Clueless Spotter April 4, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Who let this woman on the internets? How dare she use The Google to find your post?! And, how did this one manage to tear herself away from FearTV to email you? No, wait, I don’t need to know this. I see nothhhhhhing, I hear nothhhhhing.

  55. Juliet April 4, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Wow! I know you are very confident in your own decisions but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have other (normal, educated, thoughtful, reasonable) people say it: you are a hero to me! Thanks for vocalizing what I’ve known instinctively but had trouble articulating. Your blog inspires me all the time. Don’t let the turkeys bog you down.

  56. An Idle Dad April 4, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    LOL. Haters gotta hate.

    You know the difference between morons and the rest of us is that we can define our limits. Last week you published a comment about rear facing baby seats then semi-retracted the statement because, after review, safety was a legitimate discusion point in that case.

    That’s the sign that you do have limits, do have ideals and do actually THINK about the topic.

    The writer of the letter can’t make the same self-assessment. If you asked straight up how small a danger would have to be before she admited the risk was acceptable, she’d be unable to answer.

    Buck up Leanore, go kick some.

    Another ‘bad mother’ beat up is going on in Australia right now, but the common sense brigade is coming in strong.


  57. CC April 4, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    I heard a story recently about a child that was taken from a dad in Seattle while the dad was holding her hand in a crowd. The child was recovered quickly. You know I just have to pray for my kids and do the best I can as a mom but sometimes things happen even when parents are right there. I think more bad things happen to kids from their own parents then strangers anyways. . . .

  58. Laura April 4, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I imagine that when he started riding the subway at nine, it wasn’t his first ride, and he learned from his mom just how the thing was done. I remember kids doing several transfers for the bus system and then catching the transit when I was growing up in Cleveland, but I had never really done this unless I was going home with a friend after school. It wasn’t until college that I had to rely on the bus system, and one day I got so lost, I ended up riding the bus all around town until it came back to where I caught it. Crazy! A couple of 7th graders who were ditching class kept me company. They knew what they were doing; I was the confused one. Who was the more educated?

  59. Matt April 4, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    One of the first things I learned about in parenthood is to never question another parents’ choices about how they parent. That said, reading this letter, can you say “projection!!!” You just have to wonder what’s going on with this person.

  60. Marie April 4, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Since the letter writer is so worried about chances something bad might happen to a child, does she ever get in a car? Big chances of a child being hurt there. If taking a smaller chance with your child is negligent, what does that make taking a drive in the car?

  61. Steve April 4, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Wow! You are very secure Lenore and must have really thick skin.

    Apparently some people dont have anything better to do other than complain.

  62. SKL April 4, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Sad letter. I’ve been called some pretty hurtful things in that way. My 10mo was getting chubby at an unhealthy rate, and I posted a light-hearted post on a normally friendly adoption forum, asking if anyone had any ideas or experience. (I also mentioned that I’d lightened the concentration of her formula “a bit” since she was drinking so much of it. Mainly so nobody would accuse me of overfeeding her on purpose, LOL.) Some of the readers commented that I was neglecting my kid and starving her; that I didn’t love her unconditionally; that I was projecting my “body issues” on her; and that I could get my kid taken away for being so rotten. (She’d just come into my custody through adoption a month earlier.) Even though most of the commenters were much nicer, and some told off the meanies, I still felt so horrible. Sure, if I feed my kid as much as she wants for years as some thought I should, I wouldn’t be “neglecting” her nutrition, but I’d be setting her up for all kinds of troubles down the line. I’m a terrible mother for wanting to spare her problems in the future.

    And you, Lenore, were trying to benefit your child by developing his latent survival skills while giving him a feeling of confidence and pride. How awful of you. You should have let him think he was too incompetent to handle it. Any good mother would.

  63. Me April 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m sorry that woman lives with so much fear in her heart. That is a heavy load to carry with you every day. I hope she is able to find some peace.

  64. Sera April 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    How about I tell you what happens when the result of that sort of parenting grows up?

    My parents were fairly well like that. They weren’t incredibly intense, but I very rarely went anywhere or did anything as a child without them there. The constant message was that it wasn’t safe / I wasn’t competent enough to do things without them.

    Between parents like that and a public primary and high school education (the schools have a duty of care, legally they can’t not constantly supervise students), I had very, very little independence and very, very rarely was allowed to use my own judgement.

    Now that I’m an adult, I find it very very hard to trust myself. I’m a final-year uni student – about to start a career as a technical professional – and I can’t trust myself to make correct decisions about anything.

    I’m terrible at judging risk – most of what I have to go on is my gut instinct (which was never tuned properly during childhood) and my parents’ paranoia. I’m afraid of strangers, lots of things make me nervous that probably shouldn’t, I have a very low pain tolerance because I was never allowed in situations where I could get hurt, and my problem solving skills are poor (my street-style ones that is, my academic ones are fine).

    The short version is, life is difficult and unpleasant when you’ve been raised to believe that you can’t cope because it’s too difficult and too dangerous. I was thrown in the deep end, and while I doubt I’ll drown, I’m floundering and I find that distressing and shameful.

  65. Larry Harrison April 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Dear Letter Writer,

    By your definition, a lot of us are horrible mothers–or, in my case, are horrible fathers. We let our kids run around in our yards–not always fenced yards, by the way–without us being outside hovering over their every move. “Horrible fathers” like me allow them–heck, even ENCOURAGE them–to play in the dirt path and we expect other drivers, what few there are (maybe 2 cars all day total, going 10 mph), to deal with this area on that level as opposed to us keeping them off the dirt road at all times.

    There are no nanny cams, GPS attachments, or other extraneous sensory devices designed to keep them on our minds 24 hours a day on the off-chance that, God forbid, something happens. We let them cross parking lots without always holding their hands, or carrying them. We let them go around the block on their bicycles. We leave them in the car for 2 minutes while we check the mail at the PO box (that’s legal where I live at, by the way–as it well should be). We let them go to the bathroom at Subway’s without us going in there with them. We leave them on the shore of the lake while we swim out away from the edge, say, 30 yards or so–while they play with kids their own edge in the sand, doing just fine. We let them explore the woods short distances, including jumping around in mud puddles to the extent they’re covered lips to hips in mud.

    And you know what? Our kids are BETTER for it.

    For that matter, Lenore’s child is better for it too with his experiences. He is, in our estimation, a very lucky young man to have a mother like Lenore Skenazy who loves him enough to let him actually be a child. This isn’t wrecklessness, it’s normal. Your opinion that it’s otherwise is just wrong, and it’s none of your business anyway. Izzy is Lenore’s child, not yours, and Lenore owes you no explanation.

    Frankly, letter writer, you could learn a lot from her. She, I estimate, could learn absolutely NOTHING from you at all, except maybe how NOT to be a mother or a member of society observing other parents. Lenore is trying to help encourage us and does so with a respectful tone. You are Atilla the Hun in a dress.

    Another thing, dear letter writer, while you have the right to your opinion & to state it, you are exactly what is wrong with this country at the same time. Parents like Lenore Skenazy–and me, for that matter–owe you no explanation at all for why we parent our kids the way we do. You have the right to parent your child as helicopter as you please, and the decent thing for you to do is to grant us the same right. For you to fail to do this is the essence of hate, snobbery, judgmental-ism, holier-than-thou-ish-ness, You should be ashamed of yourself for your attitude.

    Dear letter writer, let me make this clear to you: how Lenore chooses to parent her children, and how we choose to parent ours, is absolutely NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. How DARE you think you have the right to suggest that Lenore should lose her child just because she doesn’t agree with your point of view of parenting. If she were doing a meth lab in her house or exposing her children to porno, incest etc, that would be one thing. She is doing none of this, and deserves absolutely none of the ugliness and hatefulness you are directing her way.

    You, dear letter writer, need to ask yourself this–is what I’m doing seeking to uplift Lenore as the mother, to encourage her how to be a good mother with a POSITIVE tone of encouragement, even in times when I disagree? Or am I saying what I’m coming from the angle of “what’s best for the child in MY opinion, to hell with the parent’s authority etc?” If it’s #2, as it most certainly is, my advice to you: shut up.

    Yes, to quote Jim Calhoun in his famous “not a dime back” routine from a couple of years ago–shut up.

    Lenore, my dear, owes you NO explanation as to why she parents her kids as she does, anymore than you have to justify to us why you parent as you do. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves for your attitude. You are, frankly, pathetic. You are a tool of judgmental, snobby, holier-than-thou pinheads.

    Dear letter writer: I would just LOVE for you to tell me, to my face, what you think of my parenting. You would hear it back thus: are you my child’s mother? Did I fertilize your eggs (assuming you’re a woman)? Are you the one our children call mommy? Are you the one paying their daycare, or staying at home with them all day dealing with the various headaches of parenting them? Are you the one that gets up and cooks their breakfast? Are you God?

    The answer to all of these questions is “no,” so guess what–your opinion on how I should parent my children is irrelevant. I owe you no explanation on why I do the things I do anymore than you owe me one. Stick your Pinocchio-sized nose somewhere else, and maybe–if there is a God–someone will dutifully slam a book shut right on it, and then you’ll have as much of a pain on your nose as your butting-in is a pain in the ass for all parents out there trying to parent without nimrods like you poking around where you’re neither needed nor wanted.

    Next time you write a letter to Lenore, write a letter APOLOGIZING for daring to suggest she should lose her child because she doesn’t parent Izzy the way you think she should. Maybe you, dear letter writer, never let your child 2 inches from your apron strings. As pathetic as this is, you know what? We here, including myself, would NEVER suggest that you should lose your child for this, even though we are very certain that style of parenting is very detrimental to your child’s being. It still isn’t abuse, it still doesn’t rise to the level of extremes such as molestation or drug abuse, and we respect that as the mother of your child these decisions are YOURS to make and yours ALONE, not ours.

    You know what? I get up most every morning and cook my children a full breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, sausage and biscuits. Do you feed your kids cold cereal? If so, how would you like me calling you an awful mother because you don’t do a daily Aunt Jemina or Quaker Oats impersonation?

    Respect Lenore the same way, dear letter writer. Otherwise, know this: you are a judgmental holier-than-thou snob whose opinion is not welcome here, whose attitudes are poisonous to our free-range society, whose ideas are actually downright dangerous.

    You stand against and on the other side of everything that is pure, decent, fair, ethical, moral, and sensible. We will call you on it every-time you rear your ugly head towards the sunlight casting its harsh light down on your ugly world of hate.


    Larry Harrison

  66. Staceyjw April 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I <3 you Larry, lol.

    WHY do all these skeptimommies want everyones kids taken away, because they do things different? What an asshole.

    Letter writer – in other countries, kids even younger have much more responsibility! and their kids thrive! This scared of everything parenting is going to hurt the USA (and other places its popular, like UK).
    Where are our soldiers, entrepreneurs, and olympians (etc) suppose to come from? NOt from scared parents that hover over them, anfpd call CPS for things they dont like. US parents like yourself are going to produce weak, scared children, and they will not be able to compete in this globalized world.

    Oh well, I guess your kids can always work for ours! Cheers.

  67. Larry Harrison April 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I wrote plenty as it was, maybe I should stop, but I feel compelled to add a PS.

    To Lenore: look around you in your home. What do you see? You live in a nice home with a husband who can hold you close, give you tenderness, and tell you what a wonderful wife to him that you are & what a wonderful mother to his children you are for him. You have your children (2 of them, am I right?) who, arguments aside, love you and call you mommy, and would never ever trade you in for another mommy for all the mommy in the world.

    These things which are lovely, pure, wonderful, and by your side through it all–think on these things. Smile, relax, and soak up the tender love that surrounds you in your New York City apartment.

    This woman–or man, whatever the case–is nobody in the scheme of things. Yes it’s an upsetting thing to read, and this person should be ashamed, it’s normal to be hurt by what read.

    But with the love of your husband, 2 children–and the support of many parents who are proud to know of you and would love the chance to actually KNOW you–you have nothing to fear or feel sad about.

    Besides that, great leaders–and yes, I consider you a great leader–are subject to this sort of thing, but these same great leaders are strong and focused in their mission, never wavering in their belief that they’re doing the right thing. They know that pleasing everyone all the time is impossible, so they don’t try. They knew if they altered their mission based on the results of polls, they’d get lost in politics & lose the focus of their mission altogether.

    So Mrs Lenore Skenazy, stand strong as the leader, and rest peaceful, wistful and wonderful in the love of those close to you who don’t care a fig what this person thinks. They’ll be there for you through anything. In the end, that’s all that matters.


  68. HSmom April 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    How sad to be so afraid that it makes you lash out at those who are not afraid.

  69. Appalachian April 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    The letter reflects what I have come to understand is the typical attitude of the american public. It’s quite disturbing but it is definitely an attitude held by millions.

  70. Staceyjw April 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    OT- Im just finishing up a cross country trip, from Mexico to Fresno CA, to Ohio- with my 7 month old, 3 cats, a dog, a ferret and my DH- in a Mazda 3. While you are trying to picture this, (not as chaotic as you would think), let me say that its been a FREE RANGE trip. In every way. And I haven’t gotten one rude comment yet! AMAZING. And we have hit ALL of the helicopter parent nightmare issues- kids in cars, kids with animals, kids out at night (walk in Las Vagas and a show in Denver), feeding French fries (in celebration of his first tooth,which he cut during the trip).

    Also Its cool how good even a little kid can be- he’s been a great traveler who loves all the new stuff and new people. We went to see a cousins band at a bar in Denver, and about 10 people took turns playing with him outside, so me and DH could catch part of the show. (not allowed to bring a baby in the bar, guess they worry he might drink, lol) DS had a great time, so did everyone else, and everyone commented on how cool it was he likes strangers, and was happy and friendly the whole time (waaaaay past bedtime even!)

    One girl, who held him a good hour, told us she was extra happy to see a baby so friendly and open. she is a nanny for a family that keeps their kids (6,8) indoors all the time, and the kids are picky and weird, and afraid of both new people, and new things. How sad! I’m not having a kid like that, for sure.

    I hope we can keep running i to cool people, since I also plan to continue my Mexico style parenting while in the USA, maybe it will rub off on others? If not, back to Mexico we will go 🙂

  71. GARY April 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Lenore, The response I have to the person who wrote you would start off the same way.
    You are a horrible mother. You will not encourage your children to explore the unknown, to stretch their wings, to push the envelope. This country was built on THOSE values. Explore. Innovate. DO. Just because we CAN do it. To try untried things. To boldly go where no one has gone before. Be it the subway home from Macy’s or the moon or beyond. We have lost those values to fear in the past few decades. It is time to put fear away and face the world once again. As a famous American once said, “The Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” THAT is what I hope to teach MY children.

  72. Staceyjw April 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    And no one kidnapped him from the bar or the car!

  73. Lihtox April 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    If this woman wants to raise her children her way, that’s fine. And she’s not even necessarily doing a bad job; just because she wouldn’t send a kid on the subway doesn’t mean she doesn’t let them do other free-rangy things.
    But when someone has the nerve to tell a parent “You are horrible and I hope your child is taken away from you” that just crosses the line. What a terrible mean-spirited thing to wish for any parent, that they lose their child. That’s not just fear; fear I can understand. It’s self-righteous hatred.
    (And hopefully no one here would ever wish the same thing on a helicopter parent.)

  74. timkenwest April 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Lenore, you’re pretty strong and feisty, but I imagine sometimes you just need a big group hug and a few rah rahs, you know?

    That letter writer was mean and is acting from a place of fear & self-doubt, not truth. WE all think you are a great mom and a great force in the world.

    I hope you can feel the giant hug coming in from all your fans (even the non-huggers like me ; )

    For what it’s worth, based on a superficial judgement, I would say a person who lets their child ride a subway alone is a more “moral” parent than one who tells another that she doesn’t deserve her child and hope he gets taken away.

  75. timkenwest April 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm #


    If you keep driving north to Canada, you can come hang out with me! I’m raising my babe (18 mths) the same way and have done all the things you listed (plus letting her eat food fallen on the floor : ) (And my experience wasn’t at a show but a family reunion.) It’s been a delight!

  76. Anon April 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    “Can’t defend himself” at nine years old? Pardon my language, but that is bullshit. Maybe if you’ve coddled him his entire life and never let him do anything for himself, but I still think that his instincts would kick in. Mine did when at eight years old, a friend and I accidentally wandered into a bad situation while out playing. Two swift kicks where it counts got us out of being gang raped. And knowing our neighborhood well from the many hours we had spent wandering around playing got us away from the uninjured guys who were chasing us with their knives. We are alive today because we were Free Range Kids. And we are both raising our own the same way!

  77. Emily April 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    It is interesting that most people are assuming the writer was a woman. In any case, we think you’re doing fine, Lenore, but of course the ultimate criteria is how well your kids are doing, and it sounds like they’re doing just fine!

  78. North of 49 April 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    This is the type of parent we have to worry about. They are the type that phones child services if we are not tethered to our children by a 5 foot long leash. These are the people that freak out with “what ifs” and convince the lawmakers to make the laws that refuse to let kids walk or bike to school, make latch-key kids illegal and more.

    Parents like that make me sick. All they are doing is retarding the growth of all children, physical, mental and emotional growth. Worse – parents like me after dealing with their bullying start to look over our shoulders all the time, or worse yet, freak every time there is a knock at the door – because child services might be calling for a visit.

  79. Tuppence April 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    This letter is just really, really mean (and stupid) and the woman is “asking for it”, as it were, but I was glad to read the comments of Dolly & co., and the empathy they express, which recognizes that the author is most probably coming from a place of pain.

    And Dolly, thanks for being candid enough to share your own personal experiences to give us some insight. Ultimately of course, it is this woman and her ilk that need to get themselves under control – what she’s doing is shameful – but we are never poorer for trying to understand someone.

  80. Paula April 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    What a terrible mother that must have been, how could she have let her child out of the womb before they where 18 at least. Just think of all the nasty things that can happen to a child when they are born!!!!!!!!! Much better to be pregnant for 18 years than to risk one poor baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  81. Tuppence April 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Granted, Lenore’s message — Free the Kids! — is more important, but as a speaker of German, I can’t help myself: Childrenfreude makes no sense in the way it is being used in the above link.

    Freude means joy. Schade means shame. Schadenfreude means taking joy in someone’s shame. The “bad part” is the word Schade. Freude is a very good thing indeed (“Ode an die Freude”, org. title, Beethoven’s 9th) .

    So, the meaning of Childrenfreude is more or less the opposite of how it’s being used above. Thus, Lenore takes joy in children and wants to set them free, she has Childrenfreude.

    Our lesson for next week: Why uber fill-in-the-blank (e.g., ubermodel) is wrong. Hint – much ado about umlauts.

  82. Sean April 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    “You knowingly put your child in harms way. ”

    Isn’t this about weighing risk? I mean, you KNOWINGLY put your child at risk when you put them in a car or keep Drano under the sink or let them climb on monkey bars.

    So if this writer differs in her risk assessment, why not debate risk versus pulling the ‘bad mother’ card. Hmmm, perhaps because she could not support a risk argument….

  83. Amy - Parenting Gone Mad April 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Larry Harrison, you crack me up! Loved your response to “letter writer”.

    Lenore, how you keep your wits about you and not let people like him/her affect you is admirable.

  84. Kenny Felder April 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    I appreciate you posting this, Lenore. You are deliberately exposing yourself to all kinds of venom, and just because it’s irrational doesn’t mean it feels good. I winced while reading it and it wasn’t even directed at me.

    We all have all the intellectual arguments lined up about why we are right and they are wrong, and I like to think I would still believe that even if I were the last “Free-Range” parent on Earth, but it is still heartening to read the comments and see that your blog has developed a small community of like-minded people.

  85. Lola April 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Dear Letter Writer,
    I have to admit, when I stumbled across Lenore’s article (a couple of years ago) I, too, was shocked just by reading the title. A 9 yo on the subway by himself?! Well, the reasons behind it must have been exceptional, so I read on, expecting some sort of epic adventure.
    And I came face to face with my own unbeknowned prejudices. Just “why not?” would have been enough, I think. But she totally convinced me that my job as a mother isn’t shielding my kids from The Real World. After all, I live in it and actually enjoy it and everything. No, the roll of us educators (and parents must be the frontliners), is to introduce our kids in it, teaching them to be happy, useful members of our society.
    Now, I live in a more or less large city (pop. about 4 million), with one of the best underground systems in the world, and a traditionally child-friendly society. So I can relate to Lenore’s circumstances, and agree with her choices. Probably, you live in a totally different environment, where Lenore’s choices would certainly be reckless. But it would be really helpful if you could answer Lenore’s arguments with your own, facts-based point of view, instead of resolving to panicked threats and ill-wishing, don’t you think?

  86. Heather April 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    LauraL: I’m in the UK, and I recently had someone threaten to call the police on me because my in-laws had left the *dog* in the car for the evening while they were visiting (my two-year-old is scared of him, and I’m allergic, so bringing him indoors wasn’t much of an option. There’s no safe outside space).

    My friend, who is a teacher, says that while setting up a school trip, she discovered that most of the kids in her school had never been on a subway (the Tube). We live in London, that’s an utterly crazy situation to be in.


  87. Lola April 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Oh, and Lenore: the reason most parents are outraged about all the FRK movement is just the embarrasment of knowing they are raising useless, helpless, really vulnerable children. When they see a FR kid in action (resilient, resourceful, brave and happy), they can’t help comparing. And the outcome is certainly not flattering.

  88. Cass April 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Well I know who I would rather have as my mum!

  89. Ayla April 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    @Maureen my thoughts exactly! Lol.

    Mothers: doin it rong no matter what they do *rolls eyes*

  90. Elza Dunkels April 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Those are horrible words from a very angry person. Don’t let it get to you. You’re doing a great job!

  91. Paul Havlak April 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Lenore, you’re awesome.

    And I don’t agree with everything you say, but you’re pushing us in the right direction, to let our kids DO more and have some perspective about relative risks.

    What the letter-writer needs is more consideration for other parents, who can legitimately disagree.

  92. thescreamingkettle April 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    You’re an awesome mom. Don’t listen to jerks like this. To her, you’re one more thing to be afraid of.

  93. That Girl April 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Wow. The narrowmindness astounds.

    This kind of letter, and the thought process it represents, is exactly why IMO some people need, need, need to travel outside the United States (or at minimum, watch NOVA or Nature or even the Travel Channel) to see how other people live and raise their children in other countries.

    Lenore, you are offering a great public service here. Keep your chin up!

  94. Douglas John Bowen April 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    This letter was made up, right? Right? No? Aw …

  95. Sara April 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    A good friend recently told me a story about her 17 year old little sister who came to visit her. She came on a plane from Florida to Maryland. Her father said she was to be escorted to the gate by my friend and that she was to stay with her sister until she got on the plane. This 17 year old could not do anything by herself and freaked out when the gate was changed (it was the next one over). My friend was flabbergasted and so am I. We cannot raise our children like this! Keep at it Lenore, you are doing a world of good.

  96. kymlee April 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    So mean spirited and judgmental. Sorry you had to receive that lenore. Even if you’re used to the mean people sending you self righteous letters, I bet stuff like this still hurts. as long as you know that your blog and the sharing of your experience has helped so many people stop being afraid. You’ve inspired so many of us and your fearlessness will result in your kids being mature and productive citizens. So let the haters hate. Someone will always think they can do it better, but they don’t know what path you took to get where you are. Namaste.

  97. sue April 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Dr. Phil has a great parenting philosophy. He says that we’re not raising children, we’re raising adults.
    By giving our kids small freedoms when they’re very young, and working up to more independence as they get older, they become more competent adults. Kids who are sheltered and never given any freedom have a lot of trouble when they leave the nest.

    I recently read a book called, “The iConnected Parent,” which is about college students in the States who grew up with helicopter parents. These kids call their parents about every little thing since they never learned how to make decisions for themselves when they were younger. An example cited by the author was a girl who called her mother from the college cafeteria because she didn’t know what she should have for dinner. I also saw an episode of “20/20” a couple of years ago that featured a helicopter mom and her two college student sons. The mother gave her sons wake-up calls, kept track of their assignments and due dates, and drove two hours to their dorm to clean their rooms and do their laundry for them.

    If Lenore is the worst mom, I should have the honor of being the second worst because my son is very free-range. Last year I blogged about how I’m such a “bad parent,” and even mentioned Lenore. Here’s the link:
    If the link doesn’t work, it’s the entry for 6 June 2010.

    Here’s another entry from 17 November 2010 about college life lessons.

  98. coffeegod April 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    I have several responses but the only one I can express in proper company is:

    Dear Letter Writer,


  99. kimelah April 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    The thing is, how another parent raises their child(ren) should concern us. As in: “it takes a village to raise a child”. However, it can be done in a respectful manner. Asking questions as to why things are done a certain way, instead of instant judgements.

  100. Mike April 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I’ll say it straight out: The writer of that letter is evil.

  101. dmd April 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    No, I disagree – she’s not evil. She’s stupid. Okay, that’s not a nice word (as my son would remind me). But her argument is that you are supposed to take care of your child until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Her logic never considers the fact that kids can’t learn how to take care of themselves if they never have the opportunity to do so.

    We all know that historically kids have done amazing things. They’ve worked alongside their parents on farms. They have started companies at age 10. They’ve rescued younger siblings. These things did not happen in a vacuum. They weren’t “taken care of” until one miraculous day they could do these things. We don’t keep spooning food into our kids mouths until they can do it on their own. At a certain point we give them a plastic spoon and fork, show them how to do it, and let them make a mess until they learn the right way.

    I fear for that woman’s children. When they want to date, will she go with them? If something suddenly happened and her kids *had* to stay home alone or walk to school alone, could they? Or will they be so stymied that they are unable to do so.

    Sad. So very sad.

  102. SJB April 4, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    I pity her children.

  103. Matt L. April 4, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    I was an amazing parent until I had kids too…

  104. pentamom April 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    How many nine-year-olds were involved in incidents on the subway in which they were saved by a small woman’s ability to fight off attackers, in the year in which your son rode the subway by himself, I wonder?

    Three? Fifty? 6,000? Any?

  105. Libby April 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    The majority of overprtectove parents seem to believe this: “It is your job to protect your child until he/she is old enough to protect themselves. At nine yrs. old he is not going to be able to defend himself ”

    Now. Really. Let’s think this through, because this logic is truly flawed. Bad things happen to people. (Not just children, all people) Which of the Bad Things that Happen can be avoided by having an overprotective mother? NONE OF THEM!

    Getting into accidents, broken bones, broken hearts, and all the other horrible things… they happen right at home, with Mom and Dad there. Bad days are not avoidable.

    OK, so this woman is thinking Worst Case Scenario: terrorist attack! I am 5’6″, 150 pounds. What, may I ask, am I going to “protect” a nine year old from? !! There could be a flasher on the train! Yep. Not a thing I can do about it. (Except perhaps model the “ignore it strategy”, which everyone on the train will be demonstrating anyway…) I think she knows that no one can protect kids from Bad Things, she just thinks that good parenting means that no one can ever say “And where were YOU when Billy broke his arm?”

  106. harmonyl April 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    This reminds me of this story: http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14369871#

    It’s a beautiful story of a dog keeping a 2-year-old company while he was lost overnight. But if you read the comments, the only thing you’ll come away with is that the parents are lazy, horrible parents who *dared* to let their son out of their sight for 2 minutes.

    1) Nothing bad happened to the boy. 2) Not everything bad thing that happens to kids is a result of negligent parents!!

  107. Vince L April 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Wow. What a group therapy session this has been. Think that writer will ever read what anyone here wrote? I always like threads like this that really go no where and do nothing. That’s what makes the internet fun.

    I run a website and a discussion group. I,too, get interesting mail. I hit my second favorite key [DEL] and move on.

    I think, er , KNOW this is a great site. But’s let’s do more than shout into the wind and pat each other on the back.

    Back to your regularly scheduled day now. Everyone go outside and play.

  108. Dragonwolf April 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    I can relate to those who have had fertility problems and miscarriages, and have also felt anger at the blatant disregard some people have for their children (smoking/drinking/doing drugs while pregnant, smoking in a small child’s face, etc), but I still wouldn’t wish losing a child on even my worst enemy. Having that happen, no matter what age the child is, is soul-shattering.

    Outside of doing things that have no positive benefit (drugs while pregnant, smoking in a child’s face), it’s a matter of weighing the risks with the benefits. The benefits of allowing a 9 year old to take the subway, or an 8 year old to fly solo to visit family several states away (I did that, too, as a child), far, far outweigh the potential risks, at least in my opinion, but I wouldn’t pull out the “horrible parent” card on someone who chooses not to do these things. Instead, I’d talk to the parent and try to understand why they choose to do or not do something.

    We should never take our kids for granted, while part of that is not putting them in situations they can’t handle, the other part of that is equipping them so they can handle situations.

    Our local radio likes to play Kelly Clarkson’s Because of You quite a bit, and every time I hear it, I always think of FRK and call the song “the sheltered kid’s anthem,” because it’s about the cycles perpetuated in families as parents’ fears and troubles get instilled on their children. “Because of you, I never stray too far from the sidewalk, because of you, I learned to stay on the safe side so I don’t get hurt, because of you, I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me…because of you, I am afraid.”

  109. BMS April 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    As an adoptive parent, who got there via infertility, I resent with all my being the idea that that gives me carte blanche to judge others’ parenting. So I couldn’t have biological kids. Boo freaking hoo. That doesn’t mean the world will, or should, tiptoe around me forever. Sure, I went through my own private hell about it. But I would be the most arrogant jerk on the planet if I expected everyone else to hover over their children proclaiming their gratitude about being able to reproduce 24/7. I’m free range precisely because I know how resilient kids are. They can (gasp) spend their first 6 months in a third world country and live! They can be handled by strangers I have no control over and not get kidnapped or catch diseases. They won’t actually crumble into dust if someone says an insensitive word about adoption or if they have to do a family tree project. It’s us parents turning everything into a crisis that makes it so.

  110. Mike April 4, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    I stand by my earlier comment that the writer is evil. Her whole premise is, “I disagree with your parenting choices, so I will destroy your family if I can.” Read the last sentence of her letter.

    Evil is a choice. Stupidity is not. Her choice was destruction because of disagreement. She is evil, and must be opposed by every means available.

  111. Frances Locke April 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    What a moron. I bet she hasn’t even stepped foot in NYC. What you did wasn’t dangerous in the least. People acted like you let your son loose in the Bronx and told him to get lost.

    Parents like this are the reason more and more kids are living with their parents until they’re 30. I’m 27 and I still have friends who have never lived alone, and still depend on mommy and daddy to live their lives for them.

    Keep your chin up Lenore, people like this woman are crazy and I think you’re doing a great thing.

  112. Mompetition April 4, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    I wouldn’t put that much stock into someone with such poor grammar.

  113. Binxcat1 April 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Geez my mother must have been the devil [her]self then… we were allowed out with our friends (unsupervised!) until dark… on horse back no less… we played all day down at the river (about 100 yards from our back door and only a wire ringlock fence to climb through!)… we rode on the back of the farm ute… we rode our bikes with NO helmets (heaven forbid!)… and lo and behold we survived! 😉

    Get a grip moron… I have this overwhelming urge to smack this dimwitted @#$% in the face.

  114. Jessica April 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    Nice grammar, lady.

    Look out, the sky is falling!

  115. Jody April 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm #


    Well…you can’t please everyone and you don’t need to please everyone. However, I personally couldn’t be more pleased that your decision to let your then 9-year-old take that ride back home led to the book and the website. I am a “recovering hovering mother.” My timid 8 year old is benefitting greatly from my more relaxed parenting style. He’s more conifident in his own abilities now. The other day he rode his back down the street without ANYONE going with him! I am so proud of him and of MYSELF. I was in parenting burnout big time.

  116. Lizzie April 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    I feel really really sorry for the person who wrote this letter. What fear she must live in every day, fear so strong that she feels threatened by the very existence of people who do not share her fear!

    I hope that one day she will experience some peace.

  117. Felicity April 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    well. Lots of comments…judgement either way is not going to make any of us any better. If we can reach out to the frightened child inside the letter writer, her perspectove mgiht improve. But then, that’s why we are where WE are, and she is where SHE is.

  118. Jules April 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    Sounds like someone has too much time on their hands…

  119. Jules April 5, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    And may I add that my grandmother had nine children and the whole gaggle of them would ride all over the place on public transportation. No one got kidnapped, murdered, or lost.

  120. Hattie April 5, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Um. Yeah- we love you Lenore!

    And Matt- I think I just fell in love with you too!

  121. Erica April 5, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    Ah haters, everyone has to have them. You wear it well.

  122. Sylvia_rachel April 5, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    @Dragonwolf, @BMS — you’re absolutely right, that last sentence of the letter crosses the line. So much so that I think I must have blocked it out on my first reading.


  123. Jen C. April 5, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Bah….haters gotta hate. 😉

  124. Cheryl W April 5, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    “You dont deserve him and I hope for his sake that he does get taken away from you and with someone who actually cares.”

    You know, I really can’t agree with this at all. We have sometimes neighbors (who move in with Grandma and Grandpa because they can’t find affordable rentals,) whom I do not agree with their parenting. My son is best friend with the oldest child (7). I know they have issues, I know they do not look outside to see what the kids are doing. I know that they smoke in the house and can’t understand why I don’t want my child with asthma in the house. I know that they make choices that I find poor – like allowing the 7 year old to come to my house at 6:30 am and not call all day to be sure that he is here. I know that they don’t always have enough food, because food stamps don’t go very far. I just don’t let my son go up there to play, because, I don’t feel it is safe.

    But, darn it, when the mom used drugs during her pregnancy, and all of her kids were taken away (to different houses, one with paternal grandparents and two to foster care – different houses) I really wish that they hadn’t. I really was hoping that the boy who is friends with my son, whose dad was convicted of statutory rape and got 3 days (so son wasn’t going there) would at least be able to stay with grandma. But no, because mom had no place else to stay, son had to go.

    So now, my son has no contact with his best friend. Yes, yes, I understand, punish the mother, keep the kid safe, but he has lost ALL contact with people who care for him, good people who fed him, washed his socks, got him mittens and bike helmets because we could and his family couldn’t afford it or was clueless, I am not sure which. “I” cared! My family cared. Mom could have gotten treatment and he could still have been home with the only family he knows, and the friends who have helped him during the last two years. It is done this way in some states, and it does work, and may work more for the mom to see every day what she may loose than to have lost it and have no hope of getting it back.

    And yes, I really HOPE that the foster family cares for him. I do, I really do. But the thought keeps popping up in the back of my head about how some families don’t. And he has no way to get a hold of us. Because he has now been removed from our village.

    No, I wouldn’t wish that even in passing for a child. Because, what about the child? It is so much worse for them… no contact with anyone that they know. To me, it is akin to kidnapping in the scars that it creates for the child.

  125. Crystal April 5, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    Right, because getting taken away from your home and family would be WAY less traumatic than something like getting lost on the subway…

  126. Chris April 5, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    *GASP* What a horrible mother to write such an atrocious letter! The lack of correct punctuation demonstrated gives me serious concern that their children would grow up grammatically deprived and never be able to get a decent job as a result. Then again, maybe she would view this as a positive thing, since then the kids could live safely home with mom, where she could protect them for their whole lives. It would be awful if they moved to their own place and not only had to face all the dangers of the world alone, but maybe wouldn’t even have plugs in all their electrical outlets. Growing up with a parent like that, I’m sure that would be an extremely dangerous situation, since they probably wouldn’t know to not stick a fork in the outlets, having been so thoroughly protected from everything their whole lives that they never had a chance to grow and learn!

  127. oncefallendotcom April 5, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    Well, on the bright side, at least it wasn’t a 3am phone call from some drunk mother wanting to cut your head off. I’ve had enough of them over the years.

  128. Uly April 5, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    Cheryl, is it possible you can take care of the kid? Call up child services and see if you can volunteer to be his foster family for a short time. It’s not impossible that they’ll do that for you – if they’re overbooked enough, they may be thrilled to have somebody *wanting* to take a specific kid off their hands!

  129. Micki April 5, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    I feel so sad for this woman, and by extension, parents like her.

    They think our job is to protect our children until they can protect themselves, and it is. However, she and others like her think that every bump and bruise is preventable, and someone is always to blame for any accident. By extension, she also believes that the bumps and bruises and SMALL risks that we allow our children take have no value. That they will just magically turn from children to adults “When the time is right”.

    She doesn’t realize that the time is right now! It is every day, every experience, every situation where we TEACH our kids to take care of themselves, assess situations and act accordingly.

    Lenore, I love your blog, and I love what you stand for .

  130. TinyKvetch April 5, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    You know, when people start challenging me too much about my free range style with kids, I tell them, “My kid didn’t break any laws, he is not a criminal; so why should he be under constant surveillance or, worse, under house arrest? What crime did the kid commit to have his freedom taken away from him?”

  131. Evie April 5, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    I recently visited the New York for the first time. I was a little nervous about taking the subway for the first time myself (and I’m an adult). I saw 3 free range children smiling and happy together on the subway. They obviously knew what they were doing and where they were going. It made me feel a little silly for being nervous myself. 🙂 I think it’s wonderful when we give children the freedom to learn and grow. It means that we care so much more for them than if we tried to keep them “safe” inside learning about life from what they see on television.

  132. Teri April 5, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    It seems today that the greater majority of parents are either completely neglectful or helicopter to the point where the kid can’t even breathe. Fewer and fewer people are, well normal, and let their kids be kids. Glad to be in the minority in this situation, although I wish this type of thinking were the majority.

    The little girl next door to us (12 years old) is not allowed to come down to my house unless her mom stands on their front porch and watches her traverse the yard. There are no street to cross, no ditches, no rappelling required, no fording the river, no caverns into the abyss, no uncovered wells – just grass and dandelions. After the kids play, and myself previously before I said enough was enough, my daughter has to walk her home and then the other little girl’s mom stands on her front porch and watches my daughter traverse the yard back to the house. Apparently sink holes could have opened up in the past 30 seconds. It drives me bonkers. I refuse to stand out there and watch them play or go from one house to another. As far as I’m concerned, the yards interconnect and there is no fence, so mi yardola, su yardola. Trust me – she has a set of lungs and if she gets into any trouble, we’ll all be aware of it. Besides, she can outrun just about anybody and it takes her all of 10 seconds to run between houses.

    One thing that bothers me about my daughter (10 years old) is that she announces every single move. “Mom, I’m going to the bathroom.” “Mom, I’m going to my room to read.” “Mom, I’m going outside for a little while.” “Mom, can I get a snack/get something to drink/put on a sweater/brush the cat?” “Mom……” Ok, I can somewhat see the need for an “I’m going outside to play” announcement, but that’s why the alarm on the door is set to chime when it’s opened (goodness knows the alarm itself has never been set.) Anyway, the constant announcements get on my nerves. I’ve been told this is a school-related thing, though, where they constantly have to ask permission to do anything. Asking me permission to put on a sweater? Good grief.

  133. Krista Andress April 5, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Wow this person is really angry! I don’t think it’s personal…she is just venting on you. Go Lenore! I appreciate your support.

  134. EricS April 5, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    @MattB5: lol. ya know.

    THIS woman is the one that’s a “horrible mother”, as well as selfish, fearful, and judgmental. ALL BAD THINGS teaching her child how to grow up. She may not be telling them to be like that, but she is certainly showing that’s how they should be. Does she not realize, that kids are VERY observant. Little things they see her doing, they pick up on and react or re-enact. That’s how beliefs are passed down. Idiots like this, speak before they think. Worse, they know they are over reacting yet, give in to their fears and lose all common sense and logic. All because THEY are fearful (not their children). The children are the one the suffers in the long run. THAT’s a horrible mother, to ruin your child’s future, because they are 20 something (30 something), and they are fearful just like the mother, and have no idea how to function with independence and confidence one should have at that age. And all because the mother wants to feel better about her decisions. Selfish.

  135. Paula April 5, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    What gets me about media talk about children is this myth of the shortness of childhood. Childhood has never been longer than it is now. From the middle ages right up to the georgian age children as young as 7 could and where hung for theft. Children worked from the time they could walk. If you looked at the median age of people in the 14th century it that meant that about 40% where under the age of 15. These days people expect 18 year olds to allow their parents to check their text messages, read their email. I even saw on one message board a man proudly boasting that when his daughter reached the age of 13 he and his wife where going to randomly do urine tests on their daughter for drugs!!!!!!!!!

  136. EricS April 5, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    @ Evie: Right on.

    @ Teri: The sad thing is, before the late 90s, Free Range (there was no name for it back then) was the norm, the majority of the way parents raised their kids. Paranoia was the greater minority. This day and age of media helped propel the helicopter parenting style. The question is, has it been around long enough that it can’t be changed? Rules are being passed, laws are being adjusted, authorities are getting more involved (for the wrong reasons). The more people try to shelter their kids, the more they tear down their future. And these parents refused to believe the problem isn’t in society, but themselves.

  137. WendyPinNJ April 5, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Oh lordy. Where is s/he from? Generally, people who are horribly freaked out by NYC subways, haven’t actually ridden on one.

  138. Teri April 5, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    Very true EricS. I think this is the primary reason that children don’t accept adulthood until their mid-20’s or even their 30’s these days. Mine knows that at age 18, she can continue to live at home, but she either has to be in school or working AND paying rent (of which I plan to save and eventually give back to her as a surprise downpayment on a house). That simple. I refuse to have an unemployed 20-something sitting at home watching tv all day. She and I have our moments and our disagreements, but overall, she is pretty confident and competent for her age. I’m proud to say she is more responsible than some adults I know. 🙂

    Hopefully the grandparents of these helicoptered kids will be around to reverse some of the negative results of the helicopter crowd parenting. I just have to wonder how and why all of this got started. It doesn’t seem that it was a slow progression, but rather one generation was relatively free and the next is uptight about everything.

    My sister is only 14 months younger than I. We were raised in the same environment with only one difference – she had more freedoms at an earlier age than I did simply because we pretty much got the same freedoms at the same time. She turned out to be one of these helicopter parents. Her 8 year old still sleeps in their bed, can’t play with animals, can’t go outside barefoot or alone. I call her the hand-sanitizer queen. The child is terrified of her own shadow. One summer when she was about 5 years old, she came and stayed a few days with us – her first time away from her parents ever. Absolute disaster – tears, meltdowns, you name it. I finally had enough of it and told them to go outside and play – I needed a break. Nope, she wouldn’t go. I said, ok, don’t play – sit on the front porch and read a gook for all I care, but I need a break. Finally, we agreed that I could sit on the front porch and they would play in the yard – way off in the yard. Well, “way off” to her is about 10 feet. Great. I’m not going to sit her and try to convince an 8 year old that it is in fact safe to walk on grass. Also, I can’t just sit, so I went and got out some cans of spray paint and started refinishing my patio furniture – you know, one of those chores that had continuously been put off that I finally may as well do because I clearly wasn’t going to be able to do anything else. She dang near had a panic attack in my driveway because I was spraying paint and she just knew it would kill her if she got near it. More tears, more meltdowns. That was 3 years ago. She is still afraid of the dark, won’t sleep alone, won’t be in a room alone, won’t go to the bathroom unless someone is standing at the doorway, won’t take a bath unless someone is sitting on the toilet. I just fear she will not know how to function when she gets to adulthood. She will matter of factly tell you that she has no intentions of ever leaving home and plans to live there forever. Let her come stay with me this summer. I will leave both of them at the house all by themselves and go to the grocery store. Watch and see if I don’t do it. LOL! Somebody has to reverse the effects of what has been done to this child or she will not be able to function as an adult.

    Same trip, different incident. I sent them outside to pick blackberries as I had promised them blackberry pancakes for dinner. She would not go because she was terrified that there were bears out there. I gave her a stick and told her it was a “bear stick” and all she had to do was wave it and they would not come near (we don’t have bears by the way). She asked how did I know it worked and it if was a “real” bear stick. I told her because I got it from http://www.bearstick.com and I was going to be really upset if it was a fake. Sheesh. She did go pick about 2 or 3 berries right along the edge of the yard, but I had to go out with them and pick, too. She caught her dress on the bramble and thought something had grabbed her and that set off the next round of tears. After that, she wouldn’t get near the bushes. We had plain pancakes for dinner.

    Anyway, point of that is…………..I have no clue where the helicopter parents pick up on that style of parenting. I will say this, though – I have never been one that was concerned with keeping up with the Jones’ or with what they think and my sister is VERY much concerned with what other people think and having to be number one and have the best house, best car, dress her kid in the best clothes, have the best costume at Halloween/school events, etc. So, I do think that those two lifestyles (helicoptering and keeping up with the Jones’) are related and that it is more of an attempt to come across as the great, caring, perfect parent with the perfect child than it is a genuine concern with the wellbeing and safety of the child. The true fear comes not of evil strangers harming your child, but of your parenting skills being questions by the other parents.

  139. Uly April 5, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    I was a little nervous about taking the subway for the first time myself (and I’m an adult).

    It makes sense to be worried about taking the subway for yourself for the very first time. Even if your head isn’t filled up with the media image of the trains as they were 30 and 40 years ago, in the 70s and 80s (I just barely remember the late 80s. There’s no comparison on the trains from today), it’s reasonable to be a little concerned about navigating in a strange system in a city you’ve never been in before.

    I’d be worried about doing things some of the people here take for granted, because they do it every day and I never have.

    But I wouldn’t expect them to worry about their children doing those things (because their kids have grown up seeing it done and doing it themselves) and neither would I worry about my nieces taking the train unsupervised when they’re a little older. (The younger one is five. The older one LOOKS five, to everybody’s consternation. Five is a bit young to navigate the city alone. Eight is better, but not when everybody assumes you’re your sister’s twin.)

  140. Micki April 5, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    @ harmonyl…It is a beautiful story, but I think the reason so many of the people are beating up the parents in comments has to do with the fact that the conditions in the home were so bad that the investigating officer contacted CPS.

  141. Dolly April 5, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    Cheryl: thanks for sharing that sad story. It is so sad that these type of stories are all too common. Maybe this is why a lot of parents try TOO hard, because they never want to be anything close to parents like that. I know I don’t. It makes me sick when people have kids and literally have no means or ability to properly care for them. Not mentally, emotionally, physically or financially.

    You should petition the social worker for that boy and see if maybe he could stay with you but outlook not so good. They normally only put kids with family even if a non family would be better for the kid. They would probably make your family go through an expensive and intensive home study too.

    I don’t however agree with the mother could get counseling and might improve. I doubt it. Sounds like this is not a one time thing. Sounds ongoing from how you described it. It would just continue and the poor little boys life will continue to be messed up. Might be better to get him a real family that actually can properly care for him then maybe that family would allow him to visit your son.

    Counseling can’t majically make someone a good person or a good parent. Doesn’t work that way. They have to WANT to be a better parent and his mother looks like she didn’t care about that.

  142. Hunter April 5, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    Wow. I would hate to get that kind of letter. To have anyone say that to you can feel bad even if you know it isn’t true. It isn’t true. Thank you Lenore for being a GOOD mother. Thank you for helping the rest of us to be better parents in many ways.

  143. MFA Grad April 5, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    Jeez, who pooped in the letter writer’s cornflakes? Disagreeing with someone’s parenting philosophy is one thing, but saying you hope something bad will happen to said parent and the parent’s kids because of that disagreement is just plain cruel and should be mocked accordingly.

    So guess which finger I’m holding up at the moment?

    On a more civilized note, I just want to say “thank you” to Lenore and everyone here for demonstrating that sensible parenting isn’t a thing of myth. It makes me worry less for my parent siblings and friends that they aren’t alone in their beliefs that part of raising kids is teaching them how to rely on themselves and not be afraid of the world they inhabit.

  144. EricS April 5, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    I actually remember reading this article when it came out a few years ago. I said to myself, “that’s how I grew up”, and accepted the name Free Range. But I was 9-10 years old (my brother 2 years younger), when we walked and/or took transit from our home, to downtown. Played outside till the we got too cold or tired. Way pass the street lights coming on. In the winter, me and my siblings would walk 40 (20 min with adult legs, lol), to an ice rink after dinner (which sometimes we made ourselves because our parents sometimes worked late), and didn’t get home till about 10pm. That was normal.

    Even at my cousins place where we stayed almost every summer at, we played by the creek, go down hiking trails through the woods, go to swimming pools by ourselves, we even got kid’s memberships to a nearby Tennis club by ourselves. Our parents just signed the forms we brought and gave us money to pay for it. My personal take, my FR started at the age of 6, but even at the age of (let’s just say 10), I think I was more well versed in my community, the world, and confidence in being able to fend for myself than most teens these days. I could have probably baby sat these 14 – 15 year olds that parents are too afraid to leave on their own. Dang! Me and my siblings were used to that way younger. Didn’t make my parents bad parents. They both had to work to make ends meet, they grew up FR as well, so they in turn taught us how to fend for ourselves when they aren’t around. Everyone took part in taking care of the family. Everyone had a responsibility. Just because kids are kids, doesn’t mean they aren’t suppose to be responsible. And to be responsible, they have to have the opportunity to prove themselves. To have the opportunity, parents have to loosen that grip of fear that makes them hold their kids back to gain such opportunities. All things aside, these experiences can only serve the kids better in their future. Mentally and emotionally.

  145. Muriel April 5, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    Wish we could vote thumbs up or thumbs down on letters on this forum. I agree with the women who pointed out the letter writer’s illiteracy and ignorance.

  146. walkamungus April 5, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    “I was a little nervous about taking the subway for the first time myself (and I’m an adult).”

    Yep, me & a friend, maybe five years ago, both in our thirties, both with multiple advanced degrees, first time in NYC for both of us — a very nice lady helped us get subway tickets from the machine, and we laughed about it later (“Total deer in headlights!”). Good thing she helped, or we’d probably still be there.

  147. Noël H. April 5, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    I admire your bravery, Lenore. In going public you’ve raised much needed awareness and perspective about the harms of over-protecting children. Any good mother can keep constant vigil over her child in hopes of simply keeping that child alive to adulthood, but a great mother actively readies her child for adulthood by allowing and encouraging opportunities to practice independence. Your children are fortunate to have such a great mom!

  148. crowjoy April 5, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    First, one person’s imperfect mom, to them, may be a hero and another person’s “perfect” mom, to them, may be a monster. We can never judge. Except that we do.

    More hugs for the pile, Lenore. Getting that email would make me want to throw up. I’m sorry you take it on the chin for the rest of us.

    @harmonyl: I saw that too and my thoughts were 1) if the kid was across the street the whole time, why wasn’t he found sooner, I mean, did the police look for him or just stand around berating the parents? and 2) I really have to fear for our society if the neighbor across the street wasn’t immediately told of the situation and asked to keep an eye out for the boy. She was *ignoring* the dog barking like a patient neighbor would, why couldn’t she have been enlisted to help find the kid?

    Both of those thoughts lead right to Lenore’s premise that knowing strangers/neighbors is the safest way to live. I didn’t dare read the comments.

  149. Rachel Federman April 5, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    You’re really brave, Lenore. Thanks for sharing that and for continuing to push against so much resistance. Everywhere I go I encounter parents so terrified for their kids — even while they are there. Yesterday my toddler was having a blast playing in an empty conference room with another boy (a little older). The mom and I were both occupied with paperwork at a help desk, and the boys naturally fell into a game. It was so great. So rare (in NY) for that to happen. I was done and offered to take both boys down to the playspace (she had said she was going there, too) and I thought she gave me a look of absolute horror at the suggestion. In NY I guess it really is almost out of line to make such an offer. And maybe it is odd–like my offer to the stranger in the park that you so kindly published last June. The fear is just so palpable though, and so intrusive, and so at odds with the way kids naturally are. Later I mentioned free-range kids to her. Maybe she’ll check it out. Oh, one more little anecdote that made me think of you (so many things do). In the playground Wally grabbed a little girl’s hand. The grandfather actually LEFT the playground. Swooped her up and left b/c “He [my son] plays rough” and by that I think he meant touches other people.
    Thank you Lenore for the constant reminder that we’re not alone.

  150. Julie April 5, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Just a little note to say you are a breath of fresh air and I have been so thrilled to serendipitously find your book and blog. You and your fellow readers/contributors have helped me so much to relax and not worry so much in this world hell-bent on creating anxiety for parents. I can’t imagine getting that letter – cruel is right.

  151. Kelly G April 5, 2011 at 4:18 am #

    I was angry at first when I read this woman’s words, because she isn’t just directing them at you; she’s projecting her fears and insecurities at the rest of us too, with vitriol and hate. There was a part of me that was unhappy that you’d posted it, because it would get a lot of us angry, but I understand now why you did it: it wasn’t to cause an uproar but to give us all an opportunity to understand that this is what we must face everyday. We live in a dangerous world and people won’t like the way we choose to parent. We must be prepared to face things like this on a daily basis. But we also have to be prepared to compartmentalize our emotions in order to allow open dialogue with detractors. An eye for an eye won’t help spread the movement and will only serve to discredit it. I think we should feel hurt and angry by this woman’s words, but we should then turn around and use that anger to propel us in a positive direction – one of understanding, compassion, and kindness. Thank you Lenore, for sharing this note with us, so that we can be reminded of the challenges we face, and be inspired to find new ways to handle them gracefully and with dignity.

  152. Elizabeth E. April 5, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    I might suspect that at this point letters like this one become a point of honor for you. For every one who reacts this way there are going to be others who agree with you. The most vitriolic are often times the most vociferous.

  153. EricS April 5, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    @ crowjoy: “Both of those thoughts lead right to Lenore’s premise that knowing strangers/neighbors is the safest way to live. I didn’t dare read the comments.”

    It’s like the old saying goes, “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer”. You don’t know who to watch out for if you stay away from EVERYONE you don’t know. And ironically enough, statistically, most abductions and assaults against children are from people they DO know. Like teachers, family friends and even family themselves.

  154. Ken April 5, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    The first question that pops into my mind: Does this woman actually have children, or is she a “child-advocate,” the type that thrives in government bureaucracy but wouldn’t go near the little brats unless it is to rip them away from loving parents?

  155. EricS April 5, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    @ Elizabeth E: “The most vitriolic are often times the most vociferous.”

    So true. Probably because it hit the right nerve. Wherein they know it’s the truth, but can’t accept it, so they challenge it hoping it would give them justification to continue to act irrationally. Some people just have a hard time facing their fears, and accepting the truth. Again, this is just points to the being about the parent and not the children. Selfish people.

  156. Brittany April 5, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    I couldn’t even read that. What atrocious writing.

    You cannot even blame her for holding such an opinion as she evidently is uneducated and simply ignorant.

    The topic of overprotection came up in one of my lectures this morning as we built 3D shapes with toothpicks and marshmallows; I mentioned that somewhere toothpicks had been banned and replaced with Q-tips.

    My professor laughed. She told us not to ever be so ridiculous and to let the kids use toothpicks. They aren’t incompetent. She preaches daily about the need to give our students the credit they deserve.

    I love her.

  157. Ann-Marie April 5, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    As plenty of people have pointed out, she’s wrong. Years ago someone said something similar to me though, and it still stings. I’m sorry that standing up for this way of parenting makes you a target, but thanks for doing it anyways.

  158. Cheryl W April 5, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    I wish I could take care of the boy who had previously lived down the street. However, I know that we would have to go through the whole check thing, and I suspect that maybe we have too many power tools (think Norm Abrams) and old tractors and things that I think would be deemed “not safe” but we need because Congress may cut my husband’s job at any time and those things are plan B. (So, we can’t just get rid of them.)

    From what I have been told by a counselor who has served on planning committees or what ever they are called for deciding what happens to the kids, that I probably need a background check in this state just to meet him at the park with his foster family.

    Also, I think that social services would not like the fact that I live next door to the mom, and, because I let the kids out in the field and don’t watch them every second while they dig in the mulch, that his mother could conceivably have contact with him or even kidnap him. Free Range would backfire with people who have power trips on the “safety” stuff like the woman who wrote the letter to Lenore.

    I still think (from my background in drug treatment) that mom would do better with the threat of the kids being taken away. Right now, what does she have to lose if she does not get drug counseling and comply with court orders? Not a darn thing. And I personally think that the laws in my state stink – a pregnant mom should be able to go to the doctor and say “I need help – get me into treatment” and have that happen without losing custody of her baby and kids. That is not the way it happens in other states – they want people to have incentive to get clean. There is no incentive in this state. No, my state operates more like the Judge in the “This American Life” segment from two weeks ago about the Treatment Court that badly fails its client by being too punitive, so that they rebel.

  159. Echo April 5, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    people are a-holes.

  160. DairyStateMom April 5, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Good grief. How sad this person is.

    And I, too, have an internet crush on MattB5.

  161. Miss Substitute Teacher April 5, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    If the kid has never ridden a subway before, it’s different. If the kid has been riding around on it since they were a baby and it’s the middle of the day – by all means – let the kid have the adventure. You have to trust that your kid is responsible because you’ve taught them what they should/shouldn’t do. Overprotective parents in my opinion are people who are not confident in their own skills as a parent.

  162. BobB April 5, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    That seems so long ago that I figured your son had his drivers license by now. Then I remember something from “Annie Hall”. New Yorkers never get a driver’s license.

  163. Uly April 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Also, BobB, it’s not legal to drive in NYC until you’re 18.

    You may LEARN to drive (with a permit) under that age… with an instructor, in a car with dual brakes, but once you get your license you can only drive outside of the city.

    They normally only put kids with family even if a non family would be better for the kid. They would probably make your family go through an expensive and intensive home study too.

    We didn’t have to do any of that, oddly, when my foster sister came to stay with us. (We were already friends.) However, she was only older than this boy, and in retrospect it seems to me she was probably more difficult to place than a lot of kids. But basically it all boiled down to “We called them to make sure she was all right, and they were impressed we made the effort”. No, seriously.

    I’m not remembering this with rosy eyes because I was a kid back then, either. My mother was surprised at the time that it turned out to be so simple. (But then, as I always say, rules are only as good as the people who enforce them. They wanted a place to send her on weekends (she was in a group home during the week, we didn’t want her *that* bad) that wasn’t back to her grandmother’s, and we were it.)

    All this ramble boils down to, Cheryl, is that it probably doesn’t do any harm to ask. If nothing else, they will know you to be somebody concerned about his welfare – and if you get somebody who is willing to bend the rules, well, there you go.

    But if you don’t want to, or if you’re sure it’s not worth the effort, we can’t make your choices for you. And it might well come to nothing even if you DO ask and make a big push. You never can tell.

  164. Thalass April 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    You are an awesome mum!

    I was at a friend’s son’s first birthday party the other day, in a large public park. And while i didn’t let my three year old daughter wander too far, i was quite pleased to see older kids zooming around on bikes and scooters. Also quite annoyed at the completely un-parented girl the same age as my daughter wandering off to other parties, out of sight through some trees towards a creek, while trying to get my daughter to go with her. That’s worse, i think.

  165. sue April 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    @Miss Substitute Teacher, You’re right about letting a child have the adventure of riding the subway by himself if he’s familiar with the system. I assume that by the time Izzy took the subway, he had made the trip enough times with his parents that he knew exactly which stop was his and where to transfer to the bus. It was the same situation when my son rode the train for the first time by himself at age 10. He had taken the train with me (or my husband) several times before and knew where his station was. In addition, the stops are announced a few minutes before the train arrives, and he knew to listen to the announcements.

    When he had to take a bus by himself to visit a friend, he had never gone on that particular bus before. But his friend’s mother told him where he needed to get off the bus. We had him bring a mobile phone in case he missed his stop (which didn’t happen). He had the confidence in himself from riding other buses, and from taking the train by himself several times, that he would reach his destination without any problems.

    This ski season my son wanted to take the ski train that goes from near our house to the Zugspitze ski area by himself. He had been riding on that train with an adult since he was 6, when we moved here. Last month he finally got his wish. He met up with 3 friends, the oldest being 14 or 15, at the local platform. My husband and I also took the same train, but made sure to sit in a different car. My husband and I skied together and left the 4 boys on their own. When my husband and I were ready to leave, we met up with our son to show him where the backpack with his lunch was and reminded him to bring it home. The boys stayed for another 2 hours and had a great time. My husband and I were convinced that our son would leave his backpack at the ski area, but he surprised us and remembered it. The boys not only had to remember their things, they had to plan their skiing time in order to catch their train. Kids will really rise to the occasion when they’re given some responsibilty along with a little bit of prior experience to guide them.

  166. baby-paramedic April 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I would have loved someone to hold my hand first time I attempted to navigate public transport in Brisbane – at the age of 20.
    To explain, if youre bored, look up Fortitude Valley. This is where I was heading to.
    I ended up in Chermside.
    Okay, only about 10kms apart.
    But considering I had never heard of “Chermside”, and it was dark, I was not happy with the situation.

    So, I rang my bestfriend, who lived interstate, asked them to google how on earth I was to get home. And made my way home (with some helpful understanding from a bus driver I found).

    I used problem solving skills.
    That I had acquired before, in non-public transport situations.

    And hey, I wouldnt let my 10year old brother catch a bus into the city (3 busstops). But then Im sure Lenore wouldnt let her son ride a tractor, or have a go at shearing, which I would be happy for my brother to do.
    Different previous life experiences. I would expect a cityboy to be able to navigate the primary mode of transport. I would expect a kid on a sheep farm to be able to handle a hoggett.

  167. Kimberly April 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    @harmonyl I actually agree with the comments that take the sheriff to task. Calling off the search for the missing child – and the neighbors didn’t know the child was missing? Why didn’t the family and the deputies knock on all the neighborhood doors. If they had instead of locking the doors this neighbor might have either investigated the barking or alerted the search party.

    My sister had a neighbor child go missing. The child was mentally impaired, disobeyed a rule and got lost. She was afraid of asking an adult for help because of all the stranger danger stuff drilled into her head. She ended up in the care of a bunch of street kids. They realized they were dealing with someone who really needed help. They walked her into fire station down the road and explained she was lost.

  168. Andrea April 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Giving your son the tools for succeeding in life is your job and you are giving him a head start :). It’s not like you randomly dropped him somewhere in the middle of Manhatten and said “See ya! Hope you make it home ok!” It was his idea. He felt ready. Good for him. The writer is a heartless wench who would wish on another mother the loss of her child. Sanctimonious hypocrite. In my opinion, the most dangerous aspect of the whole situation is giving him $20 cash. I would worry about him getting robbed or losing the money and being stuck.

  169. Lola April 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    @Andrea: Well, my mum actually did something of the sort. She was fed up having me hanging in the house, doing nothing. So when I was 11, she came to me on a Saturday afternoon with a city map, a public transport title and some cash, and actually threw me out of the house, with the instruction to roam around for a bit, so that I started to get my bearings around town. Her instructions were:
    1. Be home at a given time (always by daytime), and call her on a pay phone if I thought I would be late.
    2. Stick to known places at first, and note how long it took me to get there. After that, set specific unfamiliar destinations (like a certain museum/ theater), check them out and figure out how to get back on time.
    3. Keep the cash in different pockets, saving a coin in my shoe, so that if I lost the money or someone picked my pocket, I could always use a pay phone to get her to fetch me wherever I was (?!?!).
    I’ve always been very lazy, shy and conservative, and this “harsh” measure took me completely by surprise and was fairly unwelcome. But I think it was somehow called for, as I started to get a taste for adventure, and became gradually more confident and daring since then.
    On the other hand, my mum would never have dreamt to do something like this with my second brother, who has always been more reckless, impulsive and toughtless than me.
    It always comes to the same thing: get to know your kids, by watching how they tend to act in controlled situations. And then trust them accordingly.

  170. Jasmine April 5, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    I just found the site. Some interesting thoughts, for sure! I didn’t know that I was choosing to raise my kids “free range” I just sort of thought I was allowing them to learn how to be well rounded autonomous adults?… I thought the point of parenthood was to equip a child to eject from the nest. One certainly could never eject if they are afraid of all these things that they were never allowed to experience.

    But I guess I am just a quack, I let my three year old cook dinner with me, on a gas stove, and use a knife to cut carrots.

  171. Dolly April 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Brittany: LOL I let my 3 year olds use toothpicks to pop balloons. They love it! I supervise the activity of course but you know, no injuries yet.

  172. Sue B April 5, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    There is a post today about Stranger Danger at “Think Banned Thoughts” that supports the free range philosophy. If I had any idea how to link it here, I would, but I encourage anyone interested to check it out.

  173. Nanci April 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    As a parent you can either equip or handicap. I choose to equip. Those that choose to handicap can call me whatever they want to, I know that in the end I will have a capable child while their’s will be handicapped.

  174. Jean April 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    I apologize, as this is OT to the original post, but I did not find a good method of contacting Lenore – so this will have to do.

    Something interesting from In Mala Fide:
    It struck me as being QUITE relevant to Free Range kids, and also to ideals of individuality and Americanism.

  175. Emily (NY) April 6, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Almost exactly a year ago – when Lenore published a piece over at AOL about a 5 year-old who’d been (purposely, after a discussion with her mother and the children’s librarian) left to play alone in the children’s section of the library for a couple of minutes while the mom went to a different section to get a book – more than 2,000 comments were left in under 24 hours… (She also linked to the piece from this website, and a discussion was had here within the comments, too.) The great majority of the AOL comments were exceedingly negative and condemning, with many calling the mother horrible names and declaring her to be a terrible parent, and some even went so far as to declare – like this lovely letter writer – that CPS take the child away, that the child deserved to be molested (so the mother could see how awful her actions were), or even that the mother herself be KILLED so that the child could be raised by someone else.


    I remember it very well because *I* was the mother who left my 5 year-old daughter in the library! I’d told Lenore the story when she’d come to my city to do a book reading/talk. It was absolutely incredible to me to see the viciousness of the comments, to almost literally *feel* the condemnation and outright hatred aimed at the parent – at ME! – despite the fact that NONE of these complete strangers knew ANYTHING about me as a person or a parent. Even though I was entirely anonymous, it stung.

    So, albeit in a very small way, I can relate to Lenore’s experience – of having a complete stranger pass hasty, condemning, hateful judgment on how she’s parented her children. And I can say that it sucks!

    But also? It made me think. It made me re-assess how I DO parent, and made me look more carefully at WHY I parent as I do… And the outcome? I’ve become even more Free-Range! If THAT’S the mentality of others out there – paranoid, terrified, helicopter-ish to the max – then I know I *HAVE* to continue with Free-Range thinking and parenting now more than ever to ensure that my daughters grow up to be confident, strong, and capable, and to look at the world knowing that dangers do NOT lurk around every corner, that most people ARE good, and that they, themselves, are competent.

    Were it not for Lenore and this site, I never would have attended that book reading… And my story never would have been published on AOL… And I never would have been called a terrible mother by thousands of strangers… And I never would have re-examined my parenting beliefs… And my wonderfully smart, confident, trusting, capable, beautiful, HAPPY children might not have the childhood – the childhood filled with kid-made sandwiches, scraped knees, hours of unsupervised outdoor play, time “alone” at the library while I look for a book, and more laughs than we can count – that they do.

    So THANK YOU, Lenore!! Keep on keeping on. 🙂

  176. Cyn April 6, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    When are we going to turn the tables and demand Child Services bring charges against these people for endangering THEIR children? The children who are chronically kept indoors and “protected” are more prone to developing asthma, obesity, heart disease, etc. Surely these are more serious health issues than an occasional sprain or broken bone!

    I understand that if a child already HAS asthma, the outdoors can be a dangerous place, but it is well-documented that rural children (who are outdoors constantly) have almost no incidence of asthma.

  177. Jen Neumann April 6, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    While I’m not sure I would let my 9 (now 10) yo ride the subway… just yet, I support your decision to do so. I did enjoy the comment about “Good luck when your son is 30 and living in your basement.”

    To call someone a horrible mother… that’s just insecurity bubbling to the top.

    I continue to strive for Free Range Kids. We’re pretty free, but I still have the occasional freak out moment. Thanks for your wonderful blog.

  178. BMS April 6, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    I mentioned this discussion to my husband, along with the car seat discussion. His comment was “Gosh, I hope all these detractors took time to carefully examine the pedigree of their spouses before they reproduced. I mean, what sort of horrible parent would risk having their child grow up prone to high blood pressure or diabetes when that could be avoided through simple genetic engineering. They must not care about their kids.”

    Clearly, my husband’s tongue is firmly in cheek. But how far do we go with these contstant threats to ‘tell’ on other parents who don’t do things our way? My cousin is overweight and has high blood pressure. Clearly, I should call CPS to come and stalk her house before she even reproduces, because she’ll probably be a bad parent who won’t ensure that her kids get proper exercise and nutrition. Or will she be a model parent, because she will never take her kids anywhere because she has no energy to chase them? They’ll be in the house all day, playing video games, perfectly safe from any real experiences. Either way, someone would condemn her as a terrible parent. I’d better tell her to just stick with the cat.

  179. David April 6, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    THe sad thing is that your story made headline news in the first place, but I love your campaign!!!!
    When my Mum was a child of 5 in 1938 she took 2 trams to school by herself in pre war Glasgow.
    Just 2 years later, 10 miles down the road from her school, an air raid destroyed the town of Clydebank , killing a few people and made 35,000 homeless.
    By the age of nine , so in 1942, a year later ,she was responsible for taking another child age 5 on and off trams with a gas mask in her school bag. Where were the helicopter mums in those days and the CPA people?
    If someone was setting the regulations for war time now, I bet all the kids would have to travel with thier gas masks ON) otherwise the parents would be fined

  180. Rebecca Miller April 6, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    Ach. Ignore the haters, Lenore.

  181. Ali April 6, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Opinions are like *ssholes. Everyone’s got one. I just don’t happen to agree with dear letter writer. Just as, I’m sure, she wouldn’t agree with my parenting either. Oh well, life goes on.

  182. Emiky April 6, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    I’d be more sympathetic if it weren’t the epitome of a generic hate letter.

  183. Nettabird April 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Y’know…the more I think about this, the more irritated I get. A person has to be really fucking stupid to read your writing and think, “she doesn’t care about her child!” and then they have to be a real asshole to write a message so obviously meant to shame and be hurtful. I feel bad for that woman’s kids; it would suck to be raised by a stupid, petty, overbearing helicopter. Rrgh!

  184. Taradlion April 6, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Free range means different things to different parents. It has been touched on here, but as a NYC parent, I can say kids who have been taking the subway since infancy are more confident and capable than adults who have never done it before. (I will also say that there are parents here who wont let there kids take the subway alone…and parents who never take there kids on a subway…if they lived in East Oshkosh, they’d be the kids watched constantly in a fenced yard).

    It took my parents (small town folk ) YEARS before they could take the subway uptown to my apartment from NYC’s Port Authority bus station. They do it now, it part because they have experience…and, in part, because I think they felt silly asking me to come downtown to meet them at the bus, when my kids then took over directing where to go to get back home (at age 4).

    Anyway, my nephew and my son are 5 months apart (age 6). Both Free Range, but in totally different ways because my nephew lives in a small town upstate…I am very happy that we spend enough time together that the kids experience both types of free range. AND THE PARENTS DO TOO.

    My nephew walked smack into a pole on the subway platform because he was so busy looking around at everything there was to see while he was following my son. My son looked at him and said, “You have to look where you’re walking!”
    Fast forward a few months when my son crashed his bike trying to ride down a huge hill to the playground last year (NYC is pretty flat) and his uncle’s response was, “I just forgot he might not know how to do it”….

    My son’s favorite thing to tell people about last summer was he got a leech on his ankle when he was catching fish in nets in a “no swimming” part of a small pond with his cousin…A LEECH! As a New Yorker that was a new one…something I don’t worry about when he’s on the subway!

  185. antsy April 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    That woman has a right to keep her child prisoner. In my opinion, it’s a cruel way for a child to grow up, but I am all for parents’ rights to parent their own children. It is not okay for her to tell others off for not parenting in her same restrictive manner. I hope to goodness she does not live in my area – but sadly, there is probably one or more just like her in every neighborhood.

  186. Suzanne April 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    The reality is that the world we live in does not allow parents today to act like our parents did 20-40 years ago . The predator is a reality. Odds 1-1.5 million that your child will be abducted. Fear? No. But the reality of todays society is that there are certain elements in society who don’t care or respect the values you are trying to promote. What does a drug dealer care about your families values? What does the guy who robs the local 7-11 care about you and your opinions. The need to give children freedom to grow and thrive as individuals must be tempered by the new reality of todays society.Forgive me if I think that putting a 9 year old ona subway by himself is not something I would do. But you have the right to raise your child the way you choose. I’ll l ive with my choices and you can live with yours. Live and let live.

  187. BMS April 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Suzanne, as long as people actually ‘live and let live’ I have no problem with people having different comfort levels. (although I grew up in one of those ‘bad neighborhoods’ on the south side of Chicago. The only time I was ever threatened was in a park in a lily white suburb by a bunch of bored suburban brats. The drug dealers had business to do and never bothered me. But I digress.)

    The problem is the people who won’t “Live and let live”. Folks like the letter writer have declared themselves judge, jury, and executioner, and if you do not raise your kids EXACTLY the way they think is right, they’re going to call the authorities to make your life hell, and they’re going to justify their interference by saying it’s “For the Children”.

  188. Diane April 7, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    It is people like these that I feel the real need to protect my children from.

  189. Paula April 7, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    May I make a point and ask a question ? My point is that these days a lot of parents totally centre their world around being their child’s parents to the exclusion of their own lifes. My question is the over protectiveness designed to keep the children dependant so they don’t grow away from their parents?

  190. Ricki April 7, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Paula – yes.

  191. Uly April 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Suzanne, this world of today is SAFER than the world I grew up in. The crime rate has done nothing but DROP since I was a child.

    The new reality of today’s society is that it’s safer than it was 20 and 30 years ago.

  192. Scott April 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    That’s a pretty sad note. What’s revealing is that she’s sanctimonious enough to wish that the child would be taken from his parents. How would that emotional trauma work to his benefit? It just shows that “L” is more concerned with her own self-image as a good mother than she is with children. There’s a lot of ingrown anger there.

  193. bobby hughes April 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    I grew up in a very small Midwestern village and the best memories of my childhood were the days when we shoved a peanut butter sandwich in the back pocket of our cutoffs and were out all day long — without adult supervision. The concerned adults saved their supervision for trips like this one, that Pigeon Forge is giving away: http://www.mypigeonforge.com/familychallenge/Giveaway-Rules.aspx

  194. Dmitriy Kropivnitskiy April 8, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    I think all the people who think the world was safer X years back should be reminded of Albert Fish.

  195. Speechless April 8, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Wow. So u r horrible but this person is not? Who wishes someone’s child to b harmed or taken. Wow

  196. Wannabe FRP April 11, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    When I have my own children, I want to learn to be a free range parent. Unfortunately, I was brought up in a very sheltered environment where my clothes were chosen for me and I was walked to school all the way up until I reached my high school years. Even now, my mom worries about my safety and freaks out everytime I go home late at night and I’m 23. She’s one of those moms who thinks that danger lurks in every corner and I don’t want to instill the same kind of anxiety on my future children

  197. tracy April 11, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I just found your site thank God. Why am I the only on the block that let’s their kids play in the front yard? Finally a place I can come where I can feel normal.

  198. Erica April 13, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    I don’t even know where to begin! So.. how exactly does she think generations of parents and children survived the days before cellphones and walking miles to school? Honestly – Is this woman for real? Especially to go so far as to say that the children should be taken away from their mother. Why? For allowing them to be carefree children? Maybe someone needs to help this woman get an education and direct her anger into removing pedophiles from our society.. you know – the MONSTERS who ACTUALLY harm children. I worked with rape victims of all ages from 2yrs to 90 yrs and it was hard for me to give my daughter her freedom BUT there was no way that I was going to remove what little moments of innocence a child has today. As it is children are forced by the media and society to grow up faster then they are ready. So, instead of locking my 10 year old daughter up, I armed her with KNOWLEDGE, CONFIDENCE and SELF-DEFENSE. Then I bought her a bike, a helmet and a watch and told her to go have fun. Just remember to always check-in and let me know where you are I said “not because I don;t trust you or that I’m afraid you’ll get kidnapped but simply put, when you’re alone you can get hurt and no one would know.”. Hey – before you judge…I tell my mom the same thing when she dates! 🙂

  199. Cheree April 16, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    My husband read an article in our local paper about Lenore’s book and I found this website because of it. I am very excited to read Free Range Kids! I am a mother of 2 who was told after 5 years of infertility that I probably wouldn’t be able to have children. 6 months later I was pregnant with my daughter and when she was 9 months old I was shockingly pregnant with my son. I am horribly paranoid that something horrible is going to happen to my precious gifts, but I also know that while I love them so much it hurts, if I don’t let them have their “free range”, it will only hurt them in the future. My daughter had a seizure when she was 18 months old. I had never experienced a situation like that before. The end of the seizure almost seems like death. So I actually thought my 18 month old daughter died in my arms with my 3 week old son sleeping just feet away. I felt, for some time that I had every right in the world to make it my sole priority to protect my children no matter what the cost. With a lot of help, it didn’t take me long to realize that it is not possible to protect my children from anything! LIFE happens. You have to let them be themselves, you cannot hold them back for your selfish reasons such as fear. Not only does the paranoid fear of something bad happening to your child affect them, it consumes you as an individual, and ruins your relationships. It seems to me that Lenore may have “struck a nerve” of insecurity of the Letter Writer. Maybe the Letter Writer feels insecure in their parenting and in turn lashes out at someone who is very secure in their parenting. We are all entitled to our opinion, but it is just rude to verbally assult someone you don’t know. Letter Write, you have your opinion, we get it, you don’t agree with what Lenore did. That’s all you needed to say. Some times I wonder why people don’t smile as much any more. I bet it’s because the general public is just plain mean. What did you teach your child by making that verbal assult? There is a respectful way to disagree Letter Writer. Children learn from the ones they look up to. That would be YOU. It is your responsibility as an adult to offer a decent, respectful role model for all children. Lenore appears to me as a strong person that I would be proud to have my children look up to. I am certain that once I read her book, that I will not agree with everything she has written, it’s normal to disagree, but I’m not going to criticize her for it. A difference of opinion is just “food for thought”. Thank you for this website Lenore, just one more tool to help keep my fears at large! 🙂

  200. Chad April 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Prolly gona catch hell bout spelling and grammer but oh well….I grew up on a dairy farm where most the tyme it was me,my dog and my daisy bb gun. Spent hrs on end wen I was maybe 5 yrs old runin thru corn fields walking to the tunnel a mile away that run under the train tracks behind the farm….and wen I wasn’t shooting cans or birds or setting pennies on the track for the train to flaten…I was driving the bobcat all around the farm and even to the neighbors….witch was down a qrtr mile driveway ond across state route 61 in marrow county in the good old buckeye state….anyways….I never once shot my eye out or run over by a train or hit by a car….and ya kno why that is…..cuz I had so much free range as a kido I new then as I still do today I can do anything that I want to. Was raised by my grandma and grandpa and they seen to it that I knew right from wrong on most of all let me make my own choices growing up…..sure now that I am older i ….as well as most of you can look back and say ….wow I realy was a strong and eager kid….dnt know how I made it this far alive….lol but then u realize that ur mom,dad,aount,uncle and in my case grandparents where there pushing for u to learn all u could…..the only thing u ever heard about getting hurt from them was….wen u fall off that roof n break ur leg dnt come crying to me about it….lol….sure do miss them days…..we moved to a small city when I was about 11yrs old…..and I had to start meeting new frnds all over again….kinda tragic wen ur the. New kid in school and dnt kno any one…but I was never afraid to talk to ppl I didn’t kno and I learned that from grandpa…he always took me to different places and was always meeting new ppl…..well I give my kids there own freedom now….I want them to walk across town like I had too….I didn’t have a cell phone to txt somebody and ask for a ride….hell if I did I would of been told….hey u got to legs….use them…..well my lil girl….she now is 17 has always know she dnt have to keep anything from me…..she was made aware of all the normal things we warn our kids about even tho we done it and we kno they will someday to….anyways…..wen she was 12yrs old….she informed me that her and a few of her frnds smoked some mary-j. At her frnds house…so I asked her why she smoked it and she told me that she jus wanted to see wat it was like…I asked her if she planned on smokin again and she looked at me and smiled and said….nope….all it done was made me luagh and then I was soooo hungry dad….and since that tyme she hasn’t smoked any….now sum one like the one that wrote the letter n says lanore needs her kidos takin away will prolly read this and call f.b.I. c.I.a. and wat ever other ones are out there n have them track me down and take my kids also….guess she better call a.t.f. as well cuz I’m takin my 9 and 8 yr old boy out to shoot guns this wknd….and they are gona have a blast.but as for the way mi kidos are raised I think I done pretty damn good so far and still goin strong…..and as far as sumone saying somebody needs there kidos takin away from them. …u have no idea the hurt and devastation it brings to u….hell would be an easier ride than havin someone walk into ur house and tell u…hi…I sorry but I have to take ur children with me.and u may be able to vist them once a week….yeah bullshyt…..tell ya now who ever said that n there letter needs to come spend sum tyme here with me and get them selves educated on some morals and good old family values….lanore jus wana thank u….found ur site tonite lookin thru other pages and had to check it out….amazed by the support u have and u also have mine now….hope to hear from u all soon….

  201. Matt Weiss April 18, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    When you think about it, we’re all exposing our kids to terrible danger just by conceiving them and bringing them into the world. In fact, and this is very alarming so sit down if you’re not sitting already, all children whose parents gave birth to them (including adopted children who were given birth by someone else) have a 100% mortality rate! Isn’t that terrible.

    I guess the only good parent is no parent at all. If a person is never born, he can never come to harm. Maybe the human race should just play it ultra-safe for a generation or so and see where that gets us.

  202. Brianna April 22, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    While I don’t feel quite as outraged as the author above, I was a little horrified when I read about your kid being left to ride the subway. Not because he’s 9 years old. Not because he didn’t have a cell phone. Not because he had to ride the subway or bus, or that it was in NYC. Parents know their children best, what they’re ready to handle and when.

    Again, I wasn’t bothered that you didn’t give your son a cell phone, but what did bother me is that you couldn’t trust him with a cell phone but still thought it was appropriate to let him wander a big city. If my kid can’t keep track of a cell phone, I’m certainly not letting her try out keeping track of herself on the NY subways. Anyway, maybe it was just worded in such a way that I took from it something that wasn’t intended. If you had given him quarters rather than a cell to encourage him to be resourceful if he needed to call, that wouldn’t have bothered me. Or if you needed the cell so he could contact you, that wouldn’t bother me. It was the implication that given a cell phone, your son may lose it that got under my skin and made me think that he didn’t sound ready.

    My intention isn’t to criticize as much as to point out that not everyone who gets upset about a story like this is just opposed to cutting the umbilical cord. For me, it was more that it just didn’t add up. He can’t be trusted with a phone AND he’d never done anything like this before. Starting with Manhattan just seemed absurd. But since I don’t you or your son, and you’ve only painted a partial picture, it’s not right to judge. Maybe you weren’t being serious about worrying that the phone would be lost, or maybe your son is more responsible with decision making than personal belongings.

    No one else knows our children as well as we do, and WE don’t know the reasons behind other’s decisions regarding their children, or their judgment of our own. While it’s easy to respond in kind when someone rants and name calls, it’s unkind and doesn’t give any merit to your point of view.

  203. Demi May 6, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    The times today arent the same as when we were younger get it together people

  204. neltherian June 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    PArden my French but MERDE the sender is a real bitch

  205. Imagine, 1942, Mengele's operating room, someone screaming at the top of their lungs:::"DO you know who I am? I'm the godfather!! I'm going to kill you all slowly!!" Ironic. August 11, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    Your job as a future mother is to learn the god’s ways and to help your child understand despite the negative reinforcement and conditioning of today’s society. Without consciousous parents the child will have no hope, and may even exaserbate their disfavor by becoming corrupted in today’s environment.
    Your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship wiith the gods and move on. You don’t want to be comfortable here, and the changes in Western society in the last 100 years has achieved just that.
    1000 years with Jesus is the consolation prize. Don’t be deceived into thinking that is the goal.

    Much like the other prophets Mohhamed (polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny) and Jesus (forgiveness/savior), the gods use me for temptation as well. In today’s modern society they feel people are most weak for popular culture/sensationalism, and the clues date back to WorldWarII and Unit731:TSUSHOGO, the Chinese Holocaust. They used this Situation to bury Japanese atrocities.
    It has been discussed that, similar to the Matrix concept, the gods will offer a REAL “Second Coming of Christ”, while the “fake” Second Coming will come at the end and follow New Testiment scripture and their xtian positioning. I may be that real Second Coming.
    What I teach is the god’s true way. It is what is expected of people, and only those who follow this truth will be eligible to ascend into heaven as children in a future life. They offered this event because the masses have just enough time to work on and fix their relationship with the gods and ascend, to move and grow past Planet Earth, before the obligatory xtian “consolation prize” of “1000 years with Jesus on Earth” begins.

    The Prince of Darkness, battling the gods over the souls of the Damned.
    It is the gods who have created this environment and led people into Damnation with temptation. The god’s positioning proves they work to prevent people’s understanding.
    How often is xtian dogma wrong? Expect it is about the Lucifer issue as well.
    The fallen god, fighting for justice for the disfavored, banished to Earth as the fallen angel?
    I believe much as the Noah’s Flood event, the end of the world will be initiated by revelry among the people. It will be positioned to be sanctioned by the gods and led for “1000 years with Jesus on Earth”.
    In light of modern developments this can entail many pleasures:::Medicine “cures” aging, the “manufacture” of incredible beauty via cloning as sex slaves, free (synthetic) cocaine, etc.
    Somewhere during the 1000 years the party will start to “die off”, literally. Only those who maintain chaste, pure lifestyles, resisting these temptations, will survive the 1000 years. Condemned to experience another epoch of planet’s history for their ignorant pursuit of xtianity, they will be the candidates used to (re)colonize (the next) Planet Earth, condemned to relive the misery experienced by the peasantry during history due to their failure to ascend into heaven before the Apocalypse.
    Never forget:::It is not a house of Jesus.
    If this concept of Lucifer is true another role of this individual may be to initiate disfavor and temptation among this new poulation, the proverbial “apple” of this Garden of Eden. A crucial figure in the history of any planet, he begins the process of deterioration and decay that leads civilizations to where Planet Earth remains today.
    Which one is it?:
    One transitions into the other, allowing the gods to wash their hands of obligation to their Chosen One. My personal “consolation prize”.
    And since the gods never committed despite tens of billions in mass media, product development and natural disasters/tragedy they will employ the freedom they positioned into the Situation and CHEAT me out of everything.
    Unfortunate for me, the gods can claim they never intended this, despite being control freaks who guide everything specifically and have the power to force it with AI, and now they are free to fuck my brains out, just as they did throughout my childhood.
    The gods were pimping me when I was a 3 year-old boy, only to exploit me and cash in decades later.
    Pre-pubescent prostitution is rampant in black communities. Now we see where it comes from.

    Consistant with “reverse positioning” understand the REAL Second Coming would equate with The Matrix’s Anti-Christ, the fake battle of good and evil which will come at the end.
    Understanding how they use the political encviornment to redefine people’s value system, realize anyone who speaks of the old world and its ways will envoke hatred. So when/if the Anti-Christ comes along speaking of reverting back to what liberalism would consider regressive and unfair, it may be the only hope to salvage the god’s favor and keep moving forward rather than begin the 1000 year clock. The fake Second Coming will feed into this political enviornment.
    Also consistant with “reverse positioning” recognize the gods will offer a REAL Anti-Christ, also known as The Beast. I have addressed these issues in years past::::
    The gods will offer clues throughout every dynaic of life. Geographical features onthe world map is yet another.
    The Beast is not a person, as the xtian Bible would suggest. It is a place:::The San Francisco Bay Area. And it refers to the socio-political poison the region exuded in the latter 20th century which promoted indecent behavior among the people whose favor was rapidly deteriorating. This decay spread to other states and countries, fulfilling the region’s role as The Beast of the Apocalypse.
    Another feature which the Gods offer as a clue is very foreboading. Mt. Zion is a mountain to the north of the eye of The Beast Diablo and one which has a working quarry at its base. Consistant with the decay we experience in society, Mt. Zion is being eaten away, slowly stripped of its resources, until one day paradise will be gone forever.

    So many theme oriented movies lately. Pills that make you smarter, now a movie focussed on time, immortality. The gods are taking steps in preparation for the Apocaplypse, 1000 years with Jesus on Earth.
    The gods are preying on the people, ramping up temptation and compelling them to engage in behavior which will ultimately cost them.
    What I teach is the truth:::The gods extensively use clone hosts and manage Earth through them, people who ultimately are reincarnated into lesser life forms because of their fatal decision.
    You’re all falling prey to the god’s royal scam.
    Any enviornment/perception can be created with their power. Never fail to recognize the power they have at their disposal. There is NOTHING it can not do.
    They still sell “going up” to the reals and their clone hosts, for living on Earth doesn’t sound so appealing to them, nor preditors like my family. But the gods are creating an enviornment which will fulfill their promise made in the Bible to stupid white people and the fools who fell for xtianity.

    Navy SEALS helpcopter crash of 8.6.11 was revenge for Osama bin Laden.
    One day default will bring insolvency, while the wealthy your bailed out with multi-trillion dollar stimulous package leaves you behind in the ruins.
    You fell for it. And now you will pay dearly. The United States is the empire of evil.

    Even with all the corruption this wasn’t going to happen on W’s watch because the conservatives are the good ones. It is the social decay which was the trademark of The Beast, and what has destroyed our favor with the gods, filthy sodomites.

    So confident in their relationship with the gods. Live in comfort in “the greatest country in the world”, bright future, kids do great.
    The gods have sent a very contradicting clue to the families of the 20 Navy SEALS killed in Afghanistan.
    The gods did this to you. This is punishment for the evil of your country, killing of a superior in the god’s eyes.
    Do you even pray? Have the gods already told you to stop going to church? Because Muslims pray 7 times a day, and you fucking white trash ridicule their favor.
    The clue has been sent. Let’s see what you do with it.

  206. Shannon December 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    I have been reading your blog today. I came across it by mistake. I did not realize I AM a Free Range Mom as well!! I guess I just didn’t know there was a title. I’m so glad I found this blog! Thanks for being the “face” There will always be “haters” but how confident these children we are raising will be and are!

  207. Shannon December 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    I also want to add….my children know how to accept and conquer conflict. I have noticed that other children do not know how. I like knowing my children will not run away from their problems.


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