Note: Cross-posted on my professional blog at the Marshall Independent.
Lenore Skenazy is a columnist who usually writes from a light humorous perspective.
Not surprising, she used to write for MAD Magazine back when it was still good, and is the author of “The Dysfunctional Family Christmas Songbook.”
She’s also “the worst mother in the world” according to quite a few people a few years back after she let her 9-year-old son go home alone from midtown Manhattan on the subway.
Aside from her column, which you can find over at creators.com under “liberal opinion” she has a blog “Free Range Kids.”
And Skenazy authored a book for parents, “Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).”
Skenazy explained the origin of the Free Range Kids movement on her blog:
“Somehow, a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing.
They have lost confidence in everything: Their neighborhood. Their kids. And their own ability to teach their children how to get by in the world. As a result, they batten down the hatches.”
I have to confess, I’ve shared these fears. I’m a single dad raising two kids. My son is eleven and a moose so I don’t worry two much about him. But my daughter is six and just entirely too bold for my peace of mind sometimes. She insists her brother does not need to walk her home from school (all of three blocks).
OK, I’m good with that. But the other day she went and crossed a busy street by herself…
I have to remind myself when I was six I walked to and from school every day in Castro Valley, California. There were two ways. I could either go down the street, round a corner and walk up the street, a distance that was probably at least a half-mile.
Or I could take a short cut up a hill and across a cow pasture.
I try to remind myself of that every time my heart starts pounding and my breathing gets rapid.
There’s a term for parents with unrealistic fears and uncontrollable anxiety about their children, “helicopter parent.” It goes waaaaay beyond a healthy concern for our kids’ welfare to the land of Phobia. And unfortunately it’s institutionalized in our schools due to our lawsuit culture, and yes a lot of sensationalist journalism.
Lenore has the cure, and one could do worse than have a look at her blog.