Free-Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy: “Kids are over-parented and here’s the answer”

Free-Range Kids' Lenore Skenazy

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For the past 10 years Free-Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy,  New York City journalist and mom of two, has been taking one for the team. The Free-Range Kids author and blog founder has been on a one-woman mission to give kids back the freedom and autonomy they need to grow into self-actualized adults.


I can’t get enough of every single thing she has to say, including stats like:


  • Crime is back to the level it was when gas cost 29 cents a gallon, says the Christian Science Monitor.
  • 2013 gun crime rate back to level of early 1960s, says Pew Study.
  • 2014 violent crime rate down another4.4%, says USA Today.
  • Pedestrian, bicyclist and car deaths ALSO at lowest rate in decades, says The Council on Foreign Relations.
  • And here’s an overall report on crime over the last 25 years, which includes the graph below: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School
  • All violent crime in the U.S.: Down  48% 1993 – 2012
  • All homicides: Down 50.5% 1993-2012
  • Forcible rape: Down 34.5% 1993 – 2012
  •  Violence Against Children 2-17 is going down too (and not just because we are helicoptering. Crime is down grown men and women  too, and we don’t helicopter them):
  • Physical Assault: down 33% 2003 – 2011
  • Rape, attempted or completed: down 43% 2003 – 2011

In fact, the most dangerous thing your kids can do? RIDE IN A CAR!!

I love Lenore’s informed candor about what is happening in the world, and what you and I can do about it. Examples:

  • Let your kids walk to the bus stop alone.
  • Let your kids play at the playground alone.
  • Let your kids stay home unsupervised while friends are over — unsupervised.
  • Let your kid do their own homework. 

My only problem with the Free-Range Kids movement is that it isn’t adopted widely or quickly enough — despite my eff-you nature I still feel pressure from other parents to hover, coddle and bake way more cupcakes than are good for my time management or public health. I resent that when I am forced to spend time with my kids at the playground, those are hours I cannot work — or do something less mind-numbing.

For moms like me, Skenazy created Free-Range Friend Finder, a no-cost site where you can connect with like-minded (i.e. sane, with a life of your own) parents in your neighborhood. Check it out! 

I also wrote about the financial fallout of helicopter parenting in this post:

Lots of ink has been paid to the high cost of child care pre-kindergarten, a phenomenon so dire that it can be solely blamed for the ever-stubborn gender pay gap, as it discourages mothers from remaining in the work force, investing in their careers and building wealth. What has not been reported, is how our current dysfunctional parenting culture promotes and enforces child care mandates well beyond any historical precedence — and parents are required to pay a financial price for it.


Related parenting topics on Like a Mother episodes:

Parental alienation: A call to change parenting culture — and law 

Naama Bloom: Periods, panty crusty and other puberty realities girls need to hear

Homework hurts kids and families, just say NO to overparenting




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4 thoughts on “Free-Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy: “Kids are over-parented and here’s the answer”

  1. I’m neither a parent nor a religious woman: but HOLY SHIT Lenore Skenazy is doing God’s work! I’m actually referencing one of her posts in one I’m doing on Valentine’s Day (but is being attributed to a historical figure.)

    It seriously blows my mind that things my parents did a mere 20 years ago– let me walk to the bus myself, leaving me in the car for a few minutes to pick up a pizza– would get them arrested today at worst, snubbed by other parents at best. Apparently by today’s standards the entire Greatest Generation would be in jail. My dad rode his bike all over the South Bronx and my mom took the subway herself, both before they were double-digit ages. Crime was much, much higher in the South Bronx then.

    You’re both totally right that it’s just being able to hear about terrible things happening to kids so much more easily through Google, social media, etc. A kid is a lot unsafer in a car and more at risk of someone they know doing bad things to them than a total stranger.

  2. In the state where I live, allowing kids to do ANYTHING unsupervised, including playing in the park or walking somewhere by themselves, is legal neglect/abuse. It will get trigger a visit from the police and a referral to the local Department of Family Services, who may very well seize children and put them into foster care while a judge decides if the mother is fit to get them back. I know single mothers to whom this has happened (curiously, in this very religious, rabidly conservative state, it doesn’t happen nearly as much to families with married, cisgender parents).

    I hope Lenore’s philosophy spreads. For it to work, though, we’re going to need some cultural and attitudinal changes, like decriminalizing free-range parenting and not automatically assuming single mothers are deficient parents.

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