We Want To Read: Free-Range Kids
Melody Morgan Sorensen
As summer arrives, it’s almost too easy to become overprotective while our kids try to learn how to walk, bike, swim, date, and everything in between. That’s why we can’t wait to get our hands on Lenore Skenazy’s book, Free-Range Kids, which explores the eternal parenting dilemma: How do we protect our children as much as we can and still give them the chance to learn how to take care of themselves?
Although the book was published in 2009, Free-Range Kids has been in the news a lot lately [see a recent Salon story about a mom leaving her son in the car while she went shopping], and we’re intrigued to say the least. The media crowned Skenazy “America’s Worst Mom” after she wrote a newspaper column about allowing her 9-year-old son to ride the NYC subway alone. Overnight she found herself on national television in heated debates, as she suggested that today’s parents are protecting their children too much, and she was inspired to write her book.
Skenazy defines a “Free-Range Kid” as a child who is treated as a smart, capable individual, not an invalid who needs constant attention and help. She thinks by giving kids the space and independence they need to discover their own strength and abilities, they can become more confident and competent.
With chapters like “Play Dates and Axe Murderers: How to Tell the Difference,” the book offers serious insight with a refreshing sense of humor. And while we are all about raising independent, self-reliant kids, we’re curious to see if Skenazy’s theories are sustainable, since a parent’s decision of when to step in and when to step back is often complicated, and always personal. Even still, we’re hopeful that this summer her words will inspire us to be less anxious as we give our kids more freedom to run…and to fall.
Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenzay, $11.86, Amazon.
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