My friend Nicole is leading a book discussion at MOMcation at the end of this month. The book she picked is called Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. I wanted to write this post after I had read just the first couple chapters, but I can’t stop reading the book long enough to write the post!
The basic premise of Free-Range Kids is that we, as Americans, have been trained into a culture of fear, especially when it comes to our children. Skenazy addresses issues such as crimes against children, the influx of safety products on the market, and the pressure on parents to raise an army of baby geniuses with a frankness and wit that is fun to read and easy to understand. She bases her discussions on statistics such as the fact that violent crime rates have been falling since the early nineties, even though media hype has us all believing that there is a pedophile hiding around every corner.
For me, this book is interesting because I feel I am already a fairly laid-back parent. I come from a childhood of playing in the woods, and in the creek, with no parental supervision, based on what I can remember, as early as age 6. In 3rd and 4th grade, I roamed the neighborhood (and the 20 acres we lived on) on my bike. In these same years, I owned a bow and arrow and a .22 rifle (both kid sized). When I was 9, I spent the entire summer in the care of a babysitter who was 12. At the age of 14, I traveled to the UK with a group of cross-country runners, and have fond memories of exploring London with a pack of 4-5 other teens. And still, it is hard for me to imagine these same experiences for my own children. According to Skenazy, it’s all in our heads.
So, I’m curious if anyone else has read this book, or is reading this book, and what your thoughts are. I’m looking forward to hearing what other moms think about Free-Range Kids when we discuss it at MOMcation. It seems to be very polarizing. Some moms that I’ve mentioned it to have a very strong negative reaction to it. One mom I know said, “I don’t care what the statistics are. If it happens to your kid, the chances are 100%!” So true. Of course, her 12-year-old also cannot order for himself at restaurants or cut his own meat at dinner. Other moms assume that these issues don’t apply to them, since their kids are too young to run down to the playground by themselves anyway. However, thus far, I’ve found every chapter very relate-able as the parent of a 2 and 3-year-old.
I’m about half-way through, and I’ll be posting again about it after MOMcation, but would love to hear your thoughts and comments in the meantime. Ok, back to reading now!