Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

I just finished reading Lenore Skenazy's book Free-Range Kids and it gave me a lot to think about.  I may not consider myself a worrier,  but I don't know if I would say I am totally free range either. After reading this book though I think I want to work at being a little more free range and at encouraging that independence in the Things.

The book is laid out really well and makes you think alot about your own fears and how they are transferring on to your kids.  The commandments at the beginning of the book are a great start to the ideas and huge positives to kids. I really like that the information is backed up by facts and figures. It makes me realize how the media is making us more over scared parents than we really need to be.  The end of each chapter has great real life notes from individuals and steps to encourage you to be a little more free range, which I really like. The safe or not chapter was really funny to me as most of the things mentioned I thought at the time they were in the media were a bit cookoo, but I was disappointed she didn't cover kids getting hit my cars. The kids and cars thing is a HUGE fear of mine and I could have used some statistics to peel me off the wall on that one.  Generally I think this is a great read for any parent and is a nice, lighten up and enjoy your kids sort of thing.

Reading a book like this makes you feel silly about a few fears, and made me think how generally unprepared we have made the Things.  Though I have picked them up from school and we walked home, I don't think they have done it enough to not get lost.  I don't know that they could get themselves to the grocery store. I do let them go to the park and to a friends house in the neighborhood so I don't think they would get lost, but I am not sure. I am thinking I might start taking them around on their bikes more and actually leave out little neighborhood.  We live in bubble, about a long country block, surrounded by very busy streets and this is part of my concern about letting the kids go beyond our bubble.  I think I need to let them go a little more free range though, because even though my fear is about them and cars, once we teach them the skills of crossing the street it is the same on a busy as a quiet street.  The other thing I think after reading this is I need to let them roam the neighborhood more, usually I say you can go to the park or a friends, but don't mess about in the neighborhood. I wonder if more messing about in the neighborhood would give them more confidence to explore the world in general more.

The other thing I took to hear was that you are the person that knows your child best and their abilities.  What I struggle with in this statement is that the older one is a little less prepared and aware of the world around her than the younger. When crossing the street in the neighborhood, I no longer tell the Things, stop wait look both ways,  Thing Two naturally does it, Thing Ones just wanders out there. I need to work more with Thing One on developing that independent spirit and awareness and I think because Two picked it up so easily, I haven't focused on really teaching the skill assuming it would just occur.  Also, I don't know what they are like when I am not there, maybe Thing One does fine and I just need to take a deep breath and let life occur.  As a parent sometimes our kids amaze us with their abilities when they are not with us and I guess I just need to have the faith to let that happen.

How Free Range or your kids and how much do you trust their preparedness and responsibility?


  1. I need to read this book. I have fairly strong opinions, having helped raise (via teaching) some 400+ kids who had widely varying parental control. In general, as with most everything in life, it seems best to avoid the extremes. Off to the library website to put the book on hold...

  2. I really liked the book and I read because another mom recommended it. I am with ya though Cindy, having worked with tons of differently abled kids and thier parents and having been a swim instructor I have seen alot. This book really made me look at how I parent and why.