Free-range parenting, what is the fuzz about?

Free-range parenting

So, what’s the big fuzz about now with free-range parenting being in the news the whole time? Is this something you would consider?

The whole story about free-range parenting came about when a mom Lenore Skenazy gave her 9-year-old son $20, a MetroCard and some quarters in the hand. She then went and left him in the handbag section in New-York’s original Bloomingdales.

The story behind the story is that he begged her for a while just to leave him somewhere so that he can try to find his way home. This almost sounds like an adventure to me rather than free range parenting. Anyways, the child did find his way back home and was safe after all.

After Lenores son’s adventure, she went on and blog about the whole ordeal. This is when everything went viral, and everybody and their dog jumped on the bandwagon and gave their little 5 cents worth. Some people thought this is a great idea, and others tried to crucify her by saying it borders on child neglect, silly if you ask me, they actually went about and charged her and her husband with child neglect, and Lenore Skenazy was called America’s worst mom, really?

Anyway, to make things more interesting, the State of UTAH then went about and passed a free-range parenting law. Read the article here:  Basically what the law says, is that child neglect does not include permitting a child whose basic need is met, and is of sufficient age (they do not say what the age is) and maturity, to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities” such as going to and from school by walking, running or bicycling, going to nearby stores or recreational facilities and playing outside. What it boils down to, is common sense, but anyway, the laws say that you cannot phone the authorities to report child neglect if you see a child walking alone to and from stores, or school or playing alone in the park.

What is Free-range parenting?

Wikipedia describes free-range parenting as “Free-range parenting is the concept of raising children in the spirit of encouraging them to function independently and with little parental supervision, in accordance of their age of development and with a reasonable acceptance of realistic personal risks”

Ok, so it means that you give your child a little bit more freedom to move around with mom and dad not holding their hand the whole time, that’s what it sounds like to me. No, not really, it also means that you let your child make decisions on his own as well, and accepting the consequences that come with the independence, with little to no intervention from the parents. Also, you give the child the freedom to go about without parent supervision, being it playing in the park, walking to school, or going into town by train for shopping.

Remember there are different styles of parenting, it does not mean that your style or your neighbor’s style is the correct one. I think it comes down to balance and common sense, do not be stupid and let your child be independent when logic highlights the fact that it is a dangerous situation for a child to be alone. I can however personally not see something wrong with letting your child go a bit on his own, and loosen the reigns a little bit so that your child can learn a little bit of independence. In other countries, this is the norm and not the exception, I know, I know, we are not other countries, and, we hear about all these horror stories. I, however, do think that maybe we are nurturing a scared nation that can do nothing for themselves. Am I wrong, maybe, I suppose time will tell.

I personally had to send my 13-year-old son away to Europe to compete in a competition alone without supervision by his parents for 10 days. I must admit it is not totally the same because he was with Team managers and coaches, but still no parent present.

Would I have sent my son alone without any supervision, hmmm I doubt it? Would I have sent him alone through the city with just a train ticket and some money to phone, maybe? It all depends on the situation and your child’s own emotional and mature ability.


Would you have sent your child alone, like Lenore Skenazy did?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *