Hats Off to the Free Range Mom

There I was, listening to public radio, again. And there was the Free Range Mom (great blog site, Free Range Kids) Lenore Skenazy. She is the woman that everyone got crazed about who lets her kids actually do things on their own. I can’t remember if her child was 8 or 10 at the time she let him find his way home alone but that’s the gist of it. They practiced, he had money, he knew what he was doing, etc. At first I had this visceral reaction of “oh, you can’t do that” and then I stopped and actually engaged some brain cells. I was riding the subway on my own at that age in New York City, and the bus. I rode to school on public transport, I rode home. I am fine, more or less. I can find my way in any large city in the world that has a subway system. I experienced greater harm when flashed during a trick or treat fo UNICEF experience, but that is another blog altogether. She has accumulated amazing statistics that show that crime is down, pretty much everywhere with the possible exception of serious central city ghettos in which gangs persist in harming each other. But generally crime is down. We read these awful stories ( and they are awful ) of children disappearing, assaulted or molested. But we don’t read of the millions of children who are fine and running about all over the place. And so all we know about is the one case, not the millions who are fine. This is similar to all the people who said, when we adopted, “aren’t you afraid she will come back and take him away?” Well, of course. but the statistics are overwhelming. There are many stories of the parents who came back and ripped the screaming child from its adoptive parents arms. But there are no stories of the millions of happily placed and adopted children who grow up in loving homes. But as usual, I digress. We are insanely overprotective of our children these days; we don’t allow them to become independent and self-reliant people. And our level of societal fear is incredible, notwithstanding the statistics that say that violent crimes hae decreased and violent crimes have decreased. Despite the fact that my husband and I tried very hard to give my son the space to experience things and do unusual things, travel and such, I still believe we have been overprotective. My son at 17 still seems to have a certain lack of skill at dealing with the world which I regret, although I know he will develop it eventually. I sent him to New York this summer to intern at a large, hip business managed by my brother. I knew there would be alcohol, possibly drugs and I knew he would have to deal with it. He rode the subway home at 3 in the morning, got lost, went the wrong way, ended up in Harlem, had to ride all the way back. He is fine and now he might be able to find his way in any major city in the world with a subway system. Better late than never. I don’t know why people are so distressed at the idea of allowing children to learn how to cope with the world, but my hat’s off to the free range mom!

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