Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry


Lenore Skenazy

Publication Date: 

April 19, 2010

In 2008, when Lenore Skenazy wrote a newspaper column about letting her nine-year-old ride the subway alone in New York City, it touched off a media firestorm and critics dubbed her "America's Worst Mom." Surprised at the reaction, Skenazy began to ask how fear has reshaped parenthood and childhood alike. The result is a provocative and often hilarious book that asks and answers important questions like why are we so quick to judge other parents, do children really need to be supervised by adults every second of every day, and why isn't Halloween fun anymore? By examining actual data on phenomenon ranging from stranger abductions to razor blades in candy, Skenazy punctures many of the myths that keep parents living in a state of constant fear and keep children inside the house or constantly under the watchful and worried gaze of adults. What does any of this have to do with the commercialization of childhood? Plenty, it turns out. Many of the activities that parents are afraid to let children participate in - playing outside unsupervised, for instance - are decidedly noncommercial. No one benefits more than the marketers if parents perceive the outside world as so scary that they feel compelled to keep children inside and engaged with screens. Just as fear is marketed to parents, so are products, from Baby Einstein to Baby Knee Pads (seriously),  designed to address those marketing-created fears. Highly readable and often laugh-out-loud funny, Free Range Kids belongs on every parent's bookshelf.


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