As if they couldn’t possibly walk a couple of blocks, or make their own lunch or climb a tree without hurting themselves, or struggling too much. They’re kids who are expected to WANT to grow up and do things on their own.And then, when they show us they’re ready, we allow ’em to.I read a four-page article in a parenting magazine the other day on “How to Have a Fun and Totally Safe Day in the Sun” — as if it is so hard to have a safe day outside with your kid that you need four pages of instructions!
I launched my blog that weekend ( to explain my parenting philosophy: I believe in safety. I believe in teaching children how to cross the street and even wave their arms to be noticed. But I also believe our kids do not need a security detail every time they leave the house.
In 2008, I let my then-9-year-old ride the subway by himself.
He’d been asking us — my husband and me — to please take him someplace and let him find his way home by himself. Our boy knows how to read a map, he speaks the language and we’re New Yorkers. That’s how it came to be that one sunny Sunday, after lunch at Mc Donald’s, I took him to Bloomingdales — and left him in the handbag department. I gave him a map, a Metro Card, quarters for the phone and for emergencies. And if he needed to ask someone for directions — which it turns out he did — I even believed the person would not think, “Gee, I was about to go home with my nice, new Bloomingdale’s shirt.
I was a Free-Range Kid because we all were back when I was growing up, before cable TV started showing abductions 24/7 and finding the weirdest, saddest stories from around the world to make parents think that no child is safe doing anything on his own anymore.
And it’s not just cable TV to blame: It’s most of the media we parents encounter.
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