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Book Review: Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry

by Lenore Skenazy, "America's Worst Mom"

"All around us, parents are clutching their children close, and it's easy to understand why. That is what pop culture is telling us to do...[this book is] here to help tease out the real dangers from the hype, to show you (and me) the things that are worth guarding against, as opposed to all the parental warnings based on fear mongering, bad information, and modern-day myths. The book also aims to figure out how we got to be so scared in the first place". (Intro)
Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy is a book that every parent-new or old-should read. Not only does it explain why we don't need those silly toilet safety locks or baby knee pads, but it gives confidence to the parent to allow their child's reigns to be loosened up a bit, giving them the confidence they so desperately want and need to develop into responsible and smart kids.
I have been an avid reader of Mrs. Skenazy's blog, Free Range Kids, for some time now, and leave comments regularly on her though-provoking posts. Her passion? Allowing kids of today the freedom that children had only decades ago. Even I can remember being allowed to play anywhere in the neighborhood until it got dark, and I'm only 24! Today's parents are more worried than ever that something awful could happen to their children if they are out of sight for even a few minutes. Outside by themselves? Forget it! Riding your bike to the nearest park? Are you CRAZY?! Going to get ice-cream with a few friends? In your dreams, child!
Skenazy's book gives statistical information about everything from eating cookie dough to walking to the bus stop. It's a fascinating read and very quick. Just under 200 pages and full of wit and irony, it's like talking to a chatty friend who has great one-liners (with a smirk on her face the whole time). There is also a big section on "Strangers with Candy", which is the ultimate parent fear--a child getting kidnapped. Although this is always a tragedy when it happens, it does not happen as much as we think. Fear sells, and statistically, a child is more likely (40 times!) to die in a car crash than be kidnapped or killed.
I am glad I have a copy of this book as I have been spreading Mrs. Skenazy's website to all my friends and hope they will read her book, as well.
If you'd like a teaser for the book, read about how "America's Worst Mom" let her nine-year-old son navigate the New York City subway system by himself, then go pick up the book. Don't worry, if you can't afford it, I made sure the Lincoln Libraries ordered some copies! Now go get it...or better yet, let your child go pick it up!

Although this is a controversial topic in some mothering circles, what do you allow your children, however small, to do by themselves or with limited supervision?

*Sidenote* A friend of mine recently wrote to the Lincoln City Police Chief about any laws leaving your children unattended and the only law in Nebraska is about leaving your children under six years old locked in a car for any amount of time. Read the Chief's response to her question here.


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