I have been a fan of Lenore Skenazy's writing for a long time, since reading her columns in one of our favorite monthly papers, The Funny Times (please keep in mind, if you follow that link, that those who know me best often refer to me as a "bleeding-heart liberal"... this paper leans, perhaps more than slightly, to the left - and, it's really, really funny).
Last summer, I read that Lenore had started a blog, Free-Range Kids, after she became known as "America's Worst Mom" for allowing her 9 year-old to ride the subway on his own. I enthusiastically checked it out and ended up placing Free-Range Kids into my Blogroll (over there, to the right). I love it because it's the antithesis to helicopter parenting; every new post helps me to remember that, while we live in an era of heightened media coverage, we do not necessarily live in an era of heightened crime, child abduction, or Death By Raw Cookie Dough.
Lenore now has a book, Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry, coming out next month, and I cannot wait! She's turned the title "America's Worst Mom" around on itself, proudly using it as a rallying cry for those who dare to disagree with parenting experts about how young is too young to ride a bike to a friend's house alone, or use the stove, or... (place your worst fear for your children here). I must say that, as a homeschooling mom with some experience disagreeing with parenting experts on what's right for my children, I am enjoying the free-range/helicopter debate very much!
Anyway, the introduction to the book has now been placed online, and you can read it here. I hope you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about free-range kids; if yours are still young, do you hover more than you'd like to? If they are older, how did you handle their need for independence combined with your need to assure their safety?
I'm still working on the right combination - mostly, I try to stop and think before immediately saying "no." I also try to include the boys in decisions about their independence/my need for their safety, and I'm learning that making mistakes can be good for them. Not set-the-house-on-fire, lose-an-arm kind of mistakes, but still... as the saying goes, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Thanks to Lenore Skenazy, my 8 year-old makes a great omelet!