Free Range Kids: Special interview with Lenore Skenazy

Did you catch the 7.30 Report interview with Lenore Skenazy last night ? She is the author of a book titled 'Free-range Kids'. If you missed it, take the time to watch the whole interview with Kerry O'Brien ( who I am secretly in love with and devastated that he is leaving soon!) 

Do you think that it is strange that this topic has become SO CONTROVERSIAL ? 

I congratulate Lenore for being brave enough to take on the topic of 'helicopter parenting' and the issue of 'blame'. I LOVE her position that you can't go to the park and play because it is too dangerous, yet it is okay to let them sit on the lounge and watch television, become obese and develop poor habits and health issues that stay with them for life.

We won't accept caged eggs, but we readily accept caged children ! We fight for free range eggs, but are quite happy to raise 'battery hen' children.

Think back to your own childhood. Were you roaming the streets on your bicycle without a helmet ? Off playing down the street knowing that it would be okay as long as you were home in time for tea ?

Do you remember lots of kids, at some stage, having a broken arm, or skin off from 'stacking' their bike ? Eggs on their heads where they were running around the house and crashed into each other ?

Do you remember when kids were 'dirty' ? They were literally covered in dirt because they were building bike jumps, dig outs, cubby houses or burying treasure maps ?

How does the way you raise your children to compare to your own childhood ?

Think about times back even further. Was my Grandmother hovering over her children to make sure they played nice, didn't get their feelings hurt or (god forbid!) scuff their knee on some grass and get a graze ?

It seems crazy when we compare.

Are you a helicopter parent, a lawnmower parent (the parent that smooths out all obstacles) or a free range parent. I think I am in the middle ground, but with my boys now 9 and 12 I think I can swing a little more free range now that the Lenore has done such a great job of putting language on the issue.

Let's get some dialogue happening, people. Where do you sit on the free range parenting scale ?


Libby said...

What a great interview. So glad you shared it. I'm definitely more of a free range parent. My dd 9 and 11 walk to school by themselves (or with our neighbours) and are allowed to go for walks up to our local park area or shops (def. not the norm for their age). I do give them a phone to use just in case. Next year my 11 year old will be catching the public bus to school and walking by herself. Other parents are horrified. I think it comes down to knowing your own kids - mine are pretty careful kids but I think that's because I've always allowed them to go at their pace and trust themselves.

A Vision Splendid said...

What a great point Libby..... knowing your own kids! I would say my kids are cautious and I trust them !
The other thing is that they have ridden around our little town for years with a parent, so it doesn't seem strange to now let them out on their own. They know how to handle themselves from year of experience!

white_lilly said...

What a great post! I was a free range kid and I tried hard to make my kids free range and I can see it rubbing off onto their children now. I think my grandma duties are so important as I try to pass this lifestyle onto the next generation.

Cheryl said...

We just returned from a bush camping trip with the kids, and one of the reasons I love camping so much is the freedom it allows our kids. They played within eye sight (just) amoung the rocks, climbed trees, played imaginary games with sand and grass, zoomed down hills on bikes (occasionally causing us to shudder), poked the campfire with sticks and generally had a ball. These activities could be frought with danger, but we gave them enough rope to do it all, and you know what, no one was injured once. Everyone should take their kids camping, they'll love it.

Margot said...

When I was a kid from the ages of 6 years, I had to catch the coach to take me back to school, three times a year, from Moree to Toowoomba. It was a journey of about 380kms. Back then it took about 6 hours. My parents would put me on the bus and tell the driver that I was travelling by myself. There were three or four stops along the was and I used to get off at these and have a walk around or buy something from the shop.

A Vision Splendid said...

oooooooohhhhhhhh the dialogue has started! (which is great)

I just spoke to Lenore on ABC radio and thanked her for bringing some language onto the topic.

Now I am waiting for the people to start raising the counter argument. Then we will generate some more discussion.

I have been thinking about the topic a lot today. Whilst I am not at the stage of leaving my children anywhere ( not because I don't think they can find their way home safely or will get attacked, but just because we enjoy being together) I did hold back from saying ' don't do that you will split your head open on the concrete' when I came home from town and number two son had rigged up a swing in the garage and was showing me his 'tricks'. lol

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