- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 19, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470574755
- ISBN-13: 978-0470574751
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 200 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) Paperback – April 19, 2010
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Library Journal Starred Review - Skenazy flies the blackflag of America’s Worst Mom, a title this syndicatedcolumnist and NPR commentator earned by allowing her nine-year-oldson to ride the New York City public transit alone in 2008. Here,she puts parents? fears to bed by examining the statisticallikelihood of the dangers we most fear (murder, baby-snatching,etc.). Drawing on facts, statistics, and humor, she convincinglyargues that this is one of the safest periods for children in thehistory of the world, reiterating that mostly, the world is safeand mostly, people are good. Even the lowest-flying helicopterparents would have trouble disagreeing that we have entered an erathat says you cannot trust yourself. Trust a product instead.Skenazy argues that it’s time to retire the national pastimeof worrying and that childhood is supposed to be about discoveringthe world, not being held captive. The obvious has never been sohilarious.
"Skenazy will find plenty of supporters for her contention that,in a world where the rights of chickens to roam freely arechampioned, it's time to liberate the kids." (The Wall StreetJournal, April 24, 2009)
"Skenazy advocates for a child's right to separate graduallyfrom a parent's assistance and to learn the joy and self-confidencethat comes from trying out independence."
—Christian Century (November 2009)
"Free-Range Kids is the best kind of manifesto: smart,funny, rigorous, sane, impassioned, and bristling with commonsense. If you’re a parent, or planning to become one, readthis book. You have nothing to lose–apart from youranxiety."
—Carl Honoré, author, In Praise of Slowness andUnder Pressure
"Even scaredy-cat parents like myself now have a how-to manualon overcoming irrational suspicions and, finally, differentiatingbetween an axe murderer and a play date!"
—David Harsanyi, syndicated columnist and author, NannyState.
"Free-Range Kids makes the perfect baby shower gift."
—Nancy McDermott, parenting blogger, Spiked Online
"Moral insight without moralizing—how rare is that?"
—Amity Shlaes, author, The Forgotten Man
"Keep Free-Range Kids on your bedstand next to your bibleand the TV remote, and refer to as needed during the 11 o'clocknews."
—Jordan Lite, news reporter, Scientific American online
"Read this book—Mommy said you could."
—Penn Jillette, Penn & Teller
From the Back Cover
Critical Praise for Free-Range Kids
"Skenazy will find plenty of supporters for her contention that, in a world where the rights of chickens to roam freely are championed, it's time to liberate the kids."
—The Wall Street Journal
"A bubbly but potent corrective for the irrational fears that drive so many parents crazy."
—Robert Needlman, M.D., coauthor, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 8th Edition
"Lenore Skenazy is a national hero."
—Mary Roach, author, Bonk and Stiff
READERS RAVE TOO
"I read the whole thing and feel so much better! The pressure of always trying to do the exact right thing for my kids was exhausting. In truth, I have two normal, high-energy boys who need to be able to explore the world. Thank you!"
"Your book had me laughing so hard that my husband had to come and see if I was okay! (I think my gasping sounded like sobbing.)"
"Just what the doctor ordered. I'm a single mother of two girls, 7 and 10, in a middle-class suburb that is very safe. I needed the advice in your book and had a lot of belly laughs reading it."
"I didn't even realize the path I was going down until I stumbled across your book. Letting go feels great, and I can really see a difference in my son. He plays outside all the time with his group, and he loves being able to run to all of his friends' houses, alone, to see if they can play. It's a proud moment for both of us."
"I was finding myself getting paranoid. I am so happy I read your book! It has really helped me relax."
"Now if I can just get my wife to read it."
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When I was a child, I remember roaming for miles without anyone knowing exactly where I was. There were no cell phones, and no one was worried as long as I showed up by dark. At 8, I was home along for an hour or so a day with my younger brother. We survived. I want my son to have similar freedoms as he grows up. This book was amazing and humorous as well!
But this book... this is anti-alarmist parenting book. And I devoured it.
Ms. Skenazy is very polarizing. And I see why. The parents who have been indoctrinated to live in terror of every thing from germs to chemicals to sexual predators feel like she's minimalizing their fears. Poo-pooing them.
But she's not. Not in the least. And she is certainly not advocating reckless behavior. What she's suggesting is that we look at our fears rationally, statistically, and sort out for ourselves which of our fears are rational, and which are not. For the rational fears, take precautions and empower your child. Let him gain the skills he needs to make his way in the world with confidence.
Here's an example I worked out for one of my own situations. My 8-year old wants to walk to her friend's house two long blocks away by herself. It feels a little to dangerous for me. So I break down my fears. Well, I'm afraid she won't look when crossing the street and she'll get run over. So we work on this while walking together. I won't let the solo walk occur until I feel sure she's in the habit of crossing safely. The other fear is, of course, child nabbers. Which as Lenore points out, is incredibly unlikely... but still. So I teach her what to do if someone tries to coax her into their car. We practice. She gets it. Eventually, we both feel pretty good about her skills to walk two blocks. And she does. Her friend's mom texts me to let me know she got there, and all is good. My little girl is thrilled with her independence and with my trust in her.
At the end of each section, Lenore offers suggestions on how to move toward Free Range parenting at a level you're comfortable with. Here's one of them:
"Free-Range Baby Step: Cross the street with your school-age child, without holding hands. Make 'em look around at the traffic
Free-Range Brave Step: Let your little bikers, starting at age six or so, ride around the block a couple of times, beyond where you can see them. (Yes, in their helmets)
One Giant Leap for Free-Range Kind: Drop off your third- or fourth-grade child and a friend at an ice cream store with money for sundaes. Pick them up in half an hour. "
I love the different levels so you can proceed at your own pace.
Also, I love her humor throughout. The section of how worrisome trick-or-treating has become had me rolling.
Anyway, if you're like me and you feel that your kid could really benefit from more independence and free play, but you are reluctant to let it happen for fear of the worst (or fear of judgment), then this is your book. Enjoy.
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