Free Range Kids book...have You Read It??

Updated on June 02, 2011
M.W. asks from Fremont, CA
14 answers

At the library I picked up "Free Range Kids. Giving our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry" by Lenore Skenazy "America's Worst Mom" Yep that is the whole title

I am enjoying the book and just wondering if any mamas have read it and what you think of it? I think I have always been a follower of Free Range childrearing. It is interesting to read all the myths being debunked of why we hover over our kids in the name of "safety"

I appreciate any and all comments..pros and cons

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I really liked the book and recommend it. I understand why some people don't like her style of writing because she has an edgy, sarcastic tone. But...I found humor in it. I didn't get offended even when I thought she was talking to me.

I give my kiddos alot of freedom to roam and I think that is why they are very independent, self assured and confident. I felt the statistics were helpful and reassuring.

One mom brought up a good point about the fact that sex crimes against kids are down..but is that because of helicoptering our kids? Very good point in stats. I just don't feel I need to helicopter my kids to keep them safe or scare the daylights out of them so they will never take a risk. I believe in teaching them and giving them tools to keep them aware of dangers around them and how to avoid most of those dangers. I have always thought the "don't talk to strangers" was a wrong motto. I taught my kids that it is ok to talk to just don't go off with them. Strangers are people who could help them..or save their life. My kids at an early age talked to who ever would give them a listening ear. Many adults would tell me, "Oh need to be careful with your kids. Look how they go up to random strangers and start a converstation." I would just smile and say that is what I am teaching them to do. They couldn't believe it. taught them confidence at an early age. It taught them they could go up to a clerk and ask for help...or a police man. Predators don't tend to pounce on the strong and independent kids who tell their parents everything.

Soooo, long story short. I loved the book. But, maybe because it reassured my way of childrearing, gave statistics to support it and gave me more tools to teach my kiddos.

I can't say enough good things about the book. Thanks again for all your posts!!

Featured Answers



answers from San Francisco on

Is it possible to be a little bit of both? I hope that I fall somewhere in between the helicopter mom and letting my girls (9 and 13) be free range kids. My question to the author would be how free would she let her kids be if there were a registered sex offender living across the street like I have. And no, moving is not an option for us. My daughters (as are all the children and parents in the neighborhhod) are aware of who he is and that he has done some very bad things and they are to stay away from him. When I am feeling ambivalent about letting my daughter do something that might put me outside my comfort level I always ask myself, "could I live with myself if something were to happen to her?" and "is this something that most reasonable parents would let their child do?" I think striking a balance is key.

More Answers


answers from Dallas on

Oh, this is the woman who let her ten-year-old son ride the New York subway by himself. It was quite a media sensation at the time it happened. People had a field day with this lady. I remember seeing her on Dr. Phil shortly after it happened.

Honestly, I'm a self-admitted helicopter Mom. I hate it though, and I'm trying to change it. I'm reading books and working on it. There's just so much to worry about! So many dangers out there! However, it is selfish to smother our kids with protection.

I honestly don't buy what this particular lady is selling though. I think she's way too far on the other side of the spectrum. Letting your ten year old ride the subway by himself is a bit out there. I have a friend who is a free range parent and it is way beyond my comfort zone. Her kids have the run of the neighborhood and they are ages 9 and 7. She often doesn't even know where they are.

I think like most things in life, with this there should be a happy medium. Not overbearing, not overprotective, but definitely not without boundaries. Kids need gentle guidance.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

i should read this book. i was lured by a man to his car and almost grabbed when i was 4. i ran screaming but it has stayed with me all these years and i practically glue my children to me for this reason. i see other kids play freely in our neighborhood and i hope to be able to do that worry free one day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

I am reading it now and really enjoying it. So much of what she says makes sense to me, and I also love reading about the myths we all accept as reasons to over-parent our kids. I think I am naturally inclined toward this style of parenting, and I tend to allow my three year-old have more freedom than some of his peers are allowed.
I had been wondering about other parents' thoughts about this book, so I look forward to reading the other responses to your post.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I will have to read this. My husband and I were discussing this topic this weekend. My kids are 6 & 5 and I am thankful now that we had them so close in age because they always have someone to play with. With that said, they are still in our hair almost constantly throughout the day. This was not the case when we were little, I was almost always out playing with friends riding bikes, go to the neighbors. I think it is hard to be a free-range parent even if you want to be because no one else is. You can't just let your kids go out and play because there is no one else to play with. That was the fun of it when we were little, every other kid in the neighborhood was also out playing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I read it. Honestly, I wasn't blown away by it. First of all, I really didn't love her tone at all. She was very flippant and condescending for someone advocating that people let their children just walk around by themselves. Secondly, I didn't find some of her "research" convincing. One of the things she says is that predatory sex crimes are way down, so why are we hovering? Maybe predatory sex crimes are way down BECAUSE we are hovering. She doesn't address that at all.

I wish she had talked a little bit more about empowering your children to learn skills to help them be safe and independent. I agree with most of what she says about parents who, for example, don't let their kids handle knives or learn to cook. However, I felt most of the book was mostly mocking parents who are overly cautious rather than giving concrete examples of things that we as parents can do to help our kids navigate an often scary world safely.

And I am by no means a helicopter parent, but my own parents were (which is ironic, given the subtitle of the book). I try very hard to be more "free range" than they were - actually I know I am. But because that was the model of parenting I grew up with, I had hoped this book would be more reassuring and empowering than I found it to be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I really enjoyed it. The research she put into it was amazing & there are a lot of things that parents take as the truth but really it's just media hype. She points out that with our constant access to news we are often overwhelmed with the bad things that happen or can happen even though statistics show that the major crimes are not as frequent as they once were. That being said, we tend to parent somewhat "free range" as our kiddos get older and depending on the circumstances/location. I've never been a helicopter & am comfortable letting my kids take risks - I just prefer they do it *mostly* in my line of site. Happy reading!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have not read the book. I have read her blog and articles. I am a free-range mom. Not that I don't ever worry, but my daughter is now 9 and I am allowing her to explore her world more and more on her own. When she asked us this spring to be able to ride her bike to her friend's house over a mile away, both her dad and I tamped down our worry and said yes. She has now done this several times. As her dad said after her first solo trip "she came back looking a little older" and very proud of her new ability!

We as parents need to be informed of what the "real" dangers for our children are and not let sensationalist media control how we parent. I am all for preparing my daughter to confront the world in all it's good and bad. She has been training in karate since she was five and we talk about all types of situations and what to do if she finds herself in one. I know that I can't control what happens, I can only help her be prepared for life, and that requires an increasing level of freedom to make her own decisions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

I just ordered it off Amazon because there's been a lot of talk about it on here and if I'm understanding the principle correctly, it's right up my alley.

Get back to me in a week ;)



answers from Phoenix on

I have not read, but thinks me will now (sorry, just watched a pirate movie with the kids this wknd)....

Does the book address the flip issue...for instance....moms who expect other mothers to be helicopter moms? Our school lets out at 3:24pm here....and I usually show up by 3:40-3:45pm and there are a few moms who politely frown on this 'late' arrival....I can tell that they are helicopter moms and they show up precisely at 3:24p to stand there at the playground for yet another 45 minutes to chat. My eldest is in the 6th grade and is certainly capable of playing with his friends who are 'walkers'...gosh there are teachers, buses, students, parents everywhere....



answers from San Francisco on

I highly recommend this book for moms like me- catastrophic worriers- I don't care about the minutiae- if they're dirty, if they have a snotty nose, if they eat a donut- I only worry about the BIG scary stuff- she helps moms like me let go a little using logic and wit. Her tips at the end of each chapter were simple ways of letting your kids "off leash" a little. For instance, very helpful when she encourages kids to learn to cross streets themselves, instead of the death grip I was using. Teach them to look and learn and then go instead- that has been hugely helpful and makes alot of sense. If you're already a free range mom- then I guess you could read this to make yourself feel more confident?, but I think it's better for the catastrophic worrier moms- different from the helicopter moms I'd say...



answers from Pittsburgh on

I did not know there was a book, but I follow the website Unfortunately we do not have many kids in our neighborhood anywhere near DS's age (5) and we have no sidewalks. So I am not sure how much we will be able to put into practice. We will certainly try. DS plays outside by himself in our yard. My sister's girls (9 and 10) have had the run of their neighborhood for several years and I would consider her quite the helicopter mom normally. I would consider 10 -11 old enough to ride the subway for a child who has been riding the subway with parents their entire lives. The subway is very safe and there is a conductor very willing to help (after all look how many tourists use the system).



answers from Redding on

I haven't read this book, but I did catch the episode when Lenore was on Dr. Phil. She was in such stark contrast to another mom on there who never let her practically grown kids out of her sight for a single second.
I think there has to be somewhere healthy in the middle.
My ex husband, who is a control freak by nature, FREAKED when he found out I was letting my son walk to and from school with one of his friends. He called me telling me that he was getting complaints from other parents because the kids were in the middle of the street almost getting hit by cars blah blah blah. He was completely lying and making all of that up because either myself or the other mom let them have a head start and followed along in our cars to make sure they were obeying all the safety rules. Which they did. I let my son take an hour bus ride to his sister's house. The actual distance isn't that far, but with all the stops, it takes that long. I got on the bus with him, I told the driver what stop he needed to get off at and his sister was waiting for him at the other end. My son knew not to get off at some random stop. He sat near the front. He's 15 now and has friends who still aren't allowed to use public transportation and we live in a rural area.
I understand being worried something bad "could" happen to our kids, but we also have to give our kids social skills.
If my son needs to stay after school in the library, he knows how to walk three blocks to get on a bus and get off two blocks from our house and be home before I get home from work. The high school is in a different town. If he has to miss the school bus, he knows the public transportation schedule and how to get himself home. In fact, I always make sure he has a bus pass in his wallet. I think kids need to be able to know how to navigate in this world.
My little sister and I were put on airplanes to fly to Tennessee. We were taken and put on the Greyhound at the San Francisco station and rode all the way to Ukiah to spend summers with our grandfather.
Obviously the world has changed. Obviously we need to be careful.
I just don't think we should raise our kids to believe they can ONLY be safe if we are within 5 feet of them.
That's just my opinion. I haven't read the book, but I think I may pick it up.

P.S. I moved here from Fremont. I had lots of friends in Pleasanton as a kid.

Best wishes.



answers from Honolulu on

I do agree we infantize children for way longer than necessary. I mean my 5 year old can definitely play in the fenced in back yard by herself without me watching (as in I must be outside with her instead of me being inside looking out the window watching her while washing dishes!), but I have neighbors that have told me she can't until 8... It isn't like I am asking her to go pick up milk at the safeway 2 houses down!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions