When does hovering hurt kids?
So I'm reading this book called Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry. It's written by a humor columnist who writes about what a nation of wimps we've turned into, not letting our kids have the freedom we had as kids to roam the neighborhood and poke around unsupervised. She makes a pretty compelling case for how none of the statistics hold up to our fears and we can be hurting our kids in the long run by not giving them the opportunity to learn self reliance.
The author, Lenore Skenazy, caused a firestorm when she wrote a column about how she let her 9-year-old son ride the subway home alone from Bloomingdales. She's kind of proud of the "America's Worst Mom" tag she earned for that, and people I know who live in New York tell me it's not that out there. Kids do it all the time. The controversy launched her blog and this book.
I'm interviewing Skenazy and will post an update later. But I leave you with this double-dare. Throughout the book she puts up challenges to get you to loosen up. I know few parents who would do all these (though many tell me they are trying). So I ask, would you:
- Cross the street with your school age child (K or above) without holding hands. Make them look around at the traffic.
- Let your little bikers, starting at age 6, ride around the block a couple of times beyond where you can see them
- Drop off your third grader or fourth-grade child and a friend at an ice cream store with money for sundaes. Pick them up in half an hour.
- Let your 10 year old browse a separate part of a department store. Say you are in ladies shoes and he is in the magazine section.
I'll write about my chat with the author in the coming days, so I look forward to your answers to this challenge.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne