In recent years parents seem increasingly reluctant to allow their children to do things for themselves – to be ‘free range kids’. It makes me wonder if some parents have written activities like Scouting off as too dangerous, too unsupervised or less valuable than more controlled, conducted and packaged experiences for their children.
We are barraged by irrational fears and constantly told to worry about what our kids do, what they see, who they talk to, where they g0. We are a generation of hyper-vigilant, over-protective parents; parents who are probably making their children more susceptible to the very things they want to protect them from .
In Free Range Kids , How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) Lenore Skenazy applies her keen journalistic skills to researching and explaining the influences that conspire to frighten parents, debunking common fears, and offers 14 commandments to help parents adopt a rational approach to responsibly raising independent, capable children.
This humorous (how to tell the difference between a play date and an axe murder?), encouraging, well researched book is a good read and valuable resource for parents navigating today’s maze of fear and misinformation. Skenazy doesn’t berate and blame parents (she is less charitable when writing about those that misinform parents) but empathizes with them – what chance do any of us have in a constant climate of fear and worry?
Lenore was branded “The World’s Worst Mom” after she wrote about her allowing her nine year old son to take the subway by himself. Response to the article prompted Lenore to start the Free Range Kids blog and ultimately author Free-Range Kids.
She also hosts the television show ‘World’s Worst Mom’ (available nearly everywhere but the U.S.) where she helps parents understand, despite their misgivings, that their children are capable of doing things for themselves safely. In the first episode of the show she enables an 11 year old boy to attend his first overnight away from his parents with a Boy Scout Troop. The boy responds so positively that he joins Scouting.
When I interviewed Lenore on podcast 125 she spoke highly of the experiences her two sons (now 14 and 16) have as Boy Scouts; ” They come home smelling of smoke, and just shining…” . Her research also shows that Scouting’s “3 r’s” (recognize, resist and report) is among the most effective ways of protecting children from abuse.
As Lenore says; ” we aren’t raising children, we are raising adults”, a job that takes courage, understanding and confidence. Free Range Kids offers parents the facts, encourages them to expand their children’s horizons and builds their confidence not only in themselves as parents but in the abilities of their children as well.