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

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FREE RANGE KIDS has become a national movement, sparked by the incredible response to Lenore Skenazys piece about allowing her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC. Parent groups argued about it, bloggers, blogged, spouses became uncivil with each other, and the media jumped all over it. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range. Any risk is seen as too much risk. But if you try to prevent every possible danger or difficult in your childs everyday life, that child never gets a chance to grow up. We parents have to realize that the greatest risk of all just might be trying to raise a child who never encounters choice or independence.

Customer Reviews:

  • Finally...common sense prevails!
    While common sense seems to be suffering from an inferiority complex these days, it shows up in buckets-full in this book. In my own humble opinions, if we just take the time to A) listen to the weird things coming out of our own mouths and B) pick apart the even crazier things the media repeats ad nauseum on a daily basis, then the world would be a much better place. And Lenore does just that on the subject of child rearing in today's world.

    I don't have kids (yet) and even I feel the societal pressure of raising a healthy, well-adjusted kid. So I gobbled up this book, looking for one of those voices of sanity that helps me keep my head on reasonably straight. This book is chock-full of real life examples, well-researched references and a great sense of humor about it all. An easy read and one that will be well worth your time whether you have kids or plan to eventually. (Or give this book to your baby-knee-pad-buying, horrific-statistic-spouting, safety-obsessed friends!)...more info
  • Sanity for insane times
    BRAVO! Buy this book if you buy no other parenting book and ESPECIALLY if you have a bookshelf full of them. Read this and discard the rest. Parents: the job description is to prepare them for the world- not shield them from it, nor live life for them. BUT parents say the world is a scary place. Not as scary as you might think- and the very things you fret over are the least likely to happen. Relax and empower your kids and yourself and giggle while reading the book.
    You might also want to grab a copy of "The Call to Brilliance" by Reisa Steindell Brown for even more data about the insane, misplaced pressures our society is putting on our kids rather than giving them what they need. Gavin DeBecker's "Gift of Fear" further substantiates the Free Range author's assertion that what we fear (and teach our kids to fear) is not what we should fear- and he has data and gruesome stories to prove it- not to mention the obligatory Oprah endorsement. Leavitt's "Freakonomics" has great supporting data as well.
    Buy them all. Believe their data- not the nightly news, PEOPLE, or your neighbors. You'll sleep better and your kids will get more of what they need to be happy, successful and satisfied....more info
  • wonderful fast service - great condition!
    was very happy with the condition of this book and the swift delivery! will definitely buy other things from this seller......more info
  • snarky, interesting, but not terribly instructional
    It's pretty clear this book is the result of a successful blog. The wit is acidic, acerbic, and sarcastic. I like that kind of humor, but it can get a little overwhelming after a few pages, which is why it fits better in the small doses of a blog instead of the chapters of a book.

    The content itself centers more on mocking overly-protective parents than giving any detailed advice on how to avoid it. The author sticks with the broad-scope recommendations, like to remember that kidnappings are actually exceedingly rare.

    Since i'm a new parents and not steeped in the modern lifestyle of fear-parenting, this approach works well for me. I don't have to change any existing habits, and i'm already pretty convinced that most people are too overprotective.

    For people who are just starting to wonder about letting their child out of their sight once in a while, this book may be a bit offensive, due to the mocking i mentioned above. And it's certainly not going to convert anyone who's convinced that helicopter-parenting is the only way to parent, though they would probably only pick up this book to see the horrible ways bad parents are raising their kids.

    It's pretty much preaching to the choir, but it's amusing and a little bit informative as well. I do highly recommend it for new parents who are trying to establish free-range parenting habits....more info
  • Excellent and helpful
    As the mom of a preschool girl, I've seen and heard all the warnings new parents get heaped on them:

    Never let your child out of your sight - some wacko will snatch her.

    Carefully select every toy, DVD, and Mommy & Me class for it's potential to help her get into college.

    Get your name on the waiting list for the best preschool BEFORE your child is born or you will doom her to a life of flipping hamburgers.

    Baby proof everything you can think of and then talk to other paranoid parents to figure out what you forgot to think of.

    The list can go on and on.

    This book reminds us of what our kids do need to grow up happy and healthy: freedom to learn, grow, play, and explore. I hope to remember that as my daughter gets older and I hope to have the courage to give her the freedom she will need to become a happy, healthy adult. Isn't that the point?...more info
  • Every Parent Needs To Read This Book!
    In this day and age of hyper scheduled, over stressed kids, this book offers the recipe for raising happy and productive kids!

    Chock full of advice and stories of kids who made their parents crazy and ended up successful adults, you'll find reassurance on every page.

    This couldn't have come at a better time. I have a (nearly) 6 year old and it makes me remember that even though times have changed, I can still give him the freedom to be a happy, healthy, creative and crazy/wonderful kid!...more info
  • Common sense about child safety!
    I really enjoyed the sense of humor in this book--it makes it a quick, fun read. But the real point of reading it is to get hit with a big dose of common sense about child safety. Some things that we worry about as parents--such as making sure our kids are wearing seat belts--really ARE worth worrying about. And others--such as evil child-poisoning neighbors on Halloween--are just myths, and when we buy into those myths, we deprive our children of a lot of the value of childhood. With the training of a reporter and the sensibility of a Mom, Lenore Skenazy helps us ferret out the difference, instead of reacting to every possible threat with a knee-jerk protective response that does more harm than good. I'm giving away so many copies of this book to Moms I know!...more info
  • Wise & Witty
    Lenore is a hoot and my new parenting hero!

    As a later-in-life mom (something Lenore & I share), I've often pondered if I would be more or less nervous than a younger mom. Does age play a role in comfort level and parenting style? I wonder.

    I do know that I work hard at allowing my 6 year old son freedom, and I try not to be a hovering mom. We live in the suburbs, so he won't be taking the subway any time soon. Maybe the Long Island Rail Road in a couple of years? Something to consider for sure.

    Lenore has planted the seed.

    I totally recommend her book. She's the wise and witty mom friend you wish you had. She tells it like it is without preaching. It's food for thought...and it's an approach worth considering.

    Robin, founder,
    (for moms with more life experience than baby experience)...more info
  • Great book!!! Fresh views and unexpectedly humorous
    I was not expecting to read a funny book, but this is hilarious. It reminds me a lot of Dave Barry's style of writing. I read this in one evening - skipping very little. I just couldn't put it down. I'm a new dad and this book seems to support every disagreement I have had with my wife over safety issues. It also is a refreshing view of modern society. The main thesis is that, although the world looks like a dangerous place based on what we see in mass media, it really has never been safer - statistically speaking. That is, your child is no more likely to run into trouble riding her bike to a friends house down the street, than she would have in the 70s. The only difference is that kreeps now show up on the evening news. Statistically, it is really unlikely anyone will harm your kid. The book also does an excellent job of helping parents lighten up. It gives fourteen commandments that speak volumes about modern society.

    The thesis is that letting your kids have some freedom will do more good than bad and helicopter parenting is not only a horrible way to live your life, but also will drive your kids nuts....more info
  • A great read for parents
    This is seriously one of the best parenting books I have read. Not only do I love Lenore Skenazy's writing style - so very down to earth - her advice is right on the mark. She doesn't dictate what you have to do, but offers some very practical wisdom on what dangers are real and which are overblown.

    Her ideas are well-researched (documentation in the back of the book), her examples are on-the-mark - sometimes sad and many times hilarious, and she demonstrates a real empathy for parents. We can all get overwhelmed by the abundance of advice for parents. Lenore urges us to take a step back, use our common sense, and do what's best for our own children....more info
  • Fun and thought-provoking, tho may be extreme for some
    Let me preface this first by saying that I am one of those parents who would not release my child in New York City and let him find his own way home by subway...and not only because I live 517 miles away and am almost certain the subways don't come here. Statistics on his ability to survive this trip notwithstanding, I am almost certain it would be detrimental to _my_ health. Indeed, I'm not sure I'd survive the anxiety of the wait. But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the read or that I thought Skenazy's theories were half-baked. She offers sound research, sound logic, and a light, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny presentation to boot.

    I would hope that this book and its audience will not be politicized, though I'm afraid that's unavoidable. As Skenazy points out, we parents do seem determined to divide into groups in judging ourselves and each other. Much better, imo, to listen to each other with open minds.

    If you are the choir to whom Skenazy is preaching, you should enjoy this book. It will provide fuel for discussion with other, more conservative moms and dads, and it will reaffirm you in your decisions.

    But even if you do *not* agree that Halloween is a safe holiday or that elementary-aged children can competently order ice cream on their own, you may find some value here. There is no hard, clear line about sensible, sane safety precautions, and you may find the evidence offered worth sifting through in determining where that line belongs in your own family. If you are not the sort to be offended merely by the fact that someone feels differently than you do, you might get some laughs out of reading it, too.

    I did. And though I don't plan to unleash my 11-year-old child on public transport just yet (verb carefully selected), I did plop him down yesterday in front of the microwave with a recipe for macaroni and cheese...a big step for a boy who usually wants help with pb&j. For me, the most thought-provoking concept in the book--and one that is worthy for any parent, no matter how safety concerned--is that doing too much for our children deprives them of the satisfaction of mastering things for themselves. It's not the first time I've encountered the concept, but with everything parents juggle in raising our children, it was a valuable reminder for me.

    I hope the book will have value for you and that you might be able to read and enjoy it no matter where you fall on this particular mommy (and daddy) divide....more info
  • How To Carefully Let Go
    Are you looking forward to your grown children living with you the rest of their lives? Robbing the refrigerator, stealing the newspaper, never paying rent, or gasing up the family car? If you are, don't read this book. Readers of "Free Range Kids" will be interested in raising children who, with their parents watchful guidance, safely learn how to be independent, thinking, free human beings, who will. one day, move out and have their own lives. Having a true childhood that is full of fun, learning, play, and yes, risks, is Skenazy's goal and her book gives us plenty of ways to achieve it with our children. Recommended reading for both parents and their too-soon-to-be-grown-and-off-to-college-kids ...more info
  • Lost track of both of my kids, but only because I was reading instead of watching.....
    Lenore has a great sense of humor that is consistent throughout the book. It is a humorous and easy read. It rings alot of common sense. How did I end up this parents never watched me the way that I watch my three year old (well okay if you really really knew my three year old you would watch him carefully to) or seven year old (but wait he ACTs like a three year old). You have to let have to let your kids live life. This book reminds me of the "fight the battles that matter". Find out what is really really important to you as a parent and concentrate on will only drive yourself nuts trying to control it all, and you can't.

    This book is a nice reminder for parents. Take some time for yourself and let your kids be kids! IF you can't...get a dog and hover over that!!! I would definetly recommend this book! ...more info
  • good info for the chronically-controlling parent
    I didn't expect to learn a lot from this book, not because I'm all-knowing, but because I'm pretty open to kids playing outside and having fun. But besides duh things like letting your kids walk to school if you can see the school from your window (an actual story in the book), Skenazy discusses the media hype about safety products. In chapter four ("Boycott Baby Knee Pads and the Rest of the Kiddie Safety-Industrial Complex") she mentions news shows pushing products meant to keep baby safe from all harm, and has some of the best advice in the book. "Forget the fact that 300,000 years of evolution have made human children pretty sturdy and parents pretty competent at raising them. We have entered an era that says you cannot trust yourself. Trust a product instead."

    But the main emphasis of the book is not just for parents to trust themselves, but to trust their children. That's right, even though you tell your children that it's not them, it's others you're worried about when you refuse to let them camp at a friend's, it really boils down to trusting your children and yes, your parenting skills in teaching them what to do in emergencies.

    The book consists of 14 chapters or "commandments" ending with a "real world" anecdote and a sidebar for baby steps, brave steps, and giant leaps for parents to think about allowing their kids to do. Skenazy also includes a guide to life at the end, referring to different possible perils facing kids, which isn't redundant material to the rest of the book, although not an inclusive reference by any means. At the end, lots of references and sources help those who may want to check out the statistics Skenazy uses to illustrate her points.

    Besides the good advice she's conveying, the book layout and her incisive wit contribute to make this book an excellent read for anyone, including parents and parents-to-be, youth program supervisors, paranoid adults who had too much safety smothering as kids, or any average reader who enjoys laughing out loud at the some of the antics parents have come up with in the name of protecting their kids....more info
  • I love this book! Calm down, parents, and let your kids learn from living
    The common sense of this book is so refreshing. Stop repeating the "stranger danger" lesson and help you child learn to make judgments about whom they can trust. If you get lost, talking to a mom with her children can be a good way to find help. And don't be scared just to TALK, for gosh sakes -- just don't go anywhere with someone you don't know!

    At first, I thought a whole book on this theme was overkill, stretching a newspaper column to sell a book. But as I read the whole thing, I felt more and more affirmed in my parenting. Like the author, I believe in seat belts and bike helmets -- but not baby wipe warmers, and not toddler leashes. I need to give my kids, now young teens, more freedom and responsibility, more of a chance to learn from their mistakes. Allowing a child to develop true competence is a gift! They don't need to be treated like babies forever.

    I saw less value in the A to Z list of things parents worry about. I never worried about animals eating my kids, but I'd like a discussion of the risks posed by rabid raccoons and foxes. I worry about my kids playing at homes where guns may be kept, though I have addressed that by teaching them to get away from any real guns and assume all guns are loaded. The choice of topics to address here could use some review.

    But I loved the admonition that driving your child somewhere in a car is more risky than allowing her to ride her bike to the park or go for a walk in the woods. If you love them, let them go! :)...more info
  • "Worst Mother in America" Hits a Home Run Out of the Park!
    What an amazingly funny and totally engaging book. The reader is hooked from the first page of the introduction. The author could make a good living writing jokes for Jay Leno or skits for "Saturday Night Live" or "Mad" magazine television. She has actually written for "Mad magazine" just to give the reader a clue to how funny she can be.
    Be prepared to laugh as the author makes her child raising medicine go down easier. Her advice is common sense and more of the same. My wife and I had our third grader occasionally taking the commuter train home from his Needham Elementary School on days when my wife (a teacher in the school) had to work late and he loved it. We lived practically next door to the Back Bay Station in Boston. I had accompanied him on the first couple of test trips, introduced him to the conductors and told him to always tell the ticket taker where he needed to get off the train because they'd want to know that information, and I met him at the station until he decided he wanted to go it alone. Naturally, since that afternoon train was practically empty our son Eric soon knew all the conductors personally and they and the other regular passengers kept an eye on him. It was like a traveling version of a small village. Since I guess that qualifies my wife and I as "The Worst Parents in the USA" we can report that our youngest son survived fine and is now a very independent and well-adjusted young, 29 year-old adult.
    For us the real dangers of child raising came from some of their teenage friends and high school classmates, but that's another story.
    The author is attempting to keep mothers from smothering their children with love and raising them "to be a hothouse, mama-tied, danger-hallucinating joy extinguisher--just like she is."
    This is definitely a page-turner of a book, but it may make you laugh so hard that your eyes will water so keep the Kleenex handy. Also be careful your hardy laughs don't cause you to wrench your neck or wake the neighbors with your bellowing. The humor is wonderful; the child raising advice is old-fashioned and "falling off a log" practical. One good suggestion follows another in machine gun-like fashion. One may not agree with every single piece of advice, but the book will open the eyes of many parents. Sometimes new parents can't see the path through the trees because of the media generated fog banks of fear and dread. People forget that television news is also selling a product to attract viewers and improve their ratings. Tabloid sensationalism still sells. If it bleeds, it leads. "As former Tucson anchorwoman Tina Naughton Powers says, `On local news, it's `Good evening and welcome to death, doom and destruction.'" But even in the children's classic "Little Red Riding Hood," she was safe while in the forest and it wasn't until she reached the safety of Grandma's House that she discovered the big bad wolf role-playing in granny's bed. But the village once again looked out for it's own and Red Riding Hood triumphed. Score one for little Red Riding Hood and scratch the wolf.
    To help illustrate her points, the author passes on this excellent statistical illustration: "...The chances of any one American child being kidnapped and killed by a stranger are almost infinitesimally small: 0007 percent. Put yet another, even better way, by British author Warwick Cairns, who wrote the book `How to Live Dangerously:' if you actually wanted your child to be kidnapped and held overnight by a stranger, how long would you have to keep her outside, unattended, for this to be statistically likely to happen? About seven hundred and fifty thousand years." This book is packed with this kind of factual information. Facts help parents separate the endless media hysteria and fear mongering from reality.
    Typical chapters of this volume include:" Know When to Worry, Turn Off the News, Avoid Experts, Don't Think Like a Lawyer" and "Listen to Your Kids." Common sense rules in this tome.
    This should be required reading for all parents. It will help them eliminate their own stress and result in much more independent and better-adjusted children. Fun, folksy and informative read....more info
  • Buy this book and ditch your other parenting books!
    This is the most refreshing and reassuring parenting book I've read. I will be recommending it or giving it to all my parenting friends. It is a quick and enjoyable read, but full of tons of information and facts to back up the assertion that your kids are basically safe. It is okay to let them play in your yard. It is okay to let them do things for themselves. They don't need to be coddled and have everything done for them to keep them safe. Let them grow up and be responsible. You'll all be happier. If you're still not sure, check out her blog. But I have started following the suggestions, and already my daughter is behaving more responsibly and enjoying the "grown-up" treatment. ...more info


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