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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  3,193 ratings  ·  679 reviews

FREE RANGE KIDS has become a national movement, sparked by the incredible response to Lenore Skenazys piece about allowing her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC. Parent groups argued about it, bloggers, blogged, spouses became uncivil with each other, and the media jumped all over it. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, see no difference between letting their kids

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Published November 6th 2009 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published May 18th 2009)
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Suzanne Komaniak Wow. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. We had neighborhood schools and walked to and from school--even middle and high school. We were a 1 car family. Dad…moreWow. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. We had neighborhood schools and walked to and from school--even middle and high school. We were a 1 car family. Dad had the car for work. We had no choice but to walk! NEVER an issue aside from the occasional kid-bully, but we learned so much problem-solving. We weren't obese--far from it.
I understand that it's a different world now, but this Mom of 4 is pro walk to school!(less)
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Skylar Burris
This is the book to read if you’re tired of worrying about every little thing you may be doing wrong as a parent, or if you’re tired of people looking at you as if you were a horrible mom because you are letting your five-year-old daughter hang upside down barefoot from the monkey bars (not naming any names, but it might have been my daughter, who, by the way, has neither fallen nor contracted ringworm--yet, anyway).

I don’t agree with all of the author’s parenting advice, and I wouldn’t have ma
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Terri
I will start by saying that I rarely read "self-help" books. In this way I can agree with Skenazy. I think we should trust our own instincts and the advice of close friends and family over books by strangers.

I can agree with her in a few other ways. I agree with her about the crazy law suits. We all should take responsibility for our own actions. I also agree with her that children need responsibilities and freedom, but I think the freedom should come age appropriately. Children can babysit othe
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Cass
It is about time I reviewed this book. I first read it when I was pregnant with my first daughter. That time in life when you begin educating yourself as to what type of parent you will be. I had a strong background in education, but my parenting influences were all a bit scattered. This was one of the first books that I really felt strongly connected to.

The standout point when I first read this book was about risk assessment. Rather than just following the crowd in the name of protecting your c
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Meredith
I was one of the many parents who thought Lenore was off her rocker for letting her 9 y/o take the subway alone in NYC. As a native of Boston, I am comfortable in big cities and on the subway and I would never let my 9 y/o do that and still think she was really unwise in that choice.

That said, this was a great book. Since I knew I wasn't going to agree with everything she said, I expected to disagree with a lot of the book. Instead, I realized how much I've held my own kids back and that a lot
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Lauren
Eh. I tried reading this for book club, but couldn't bring myself to get more than a quarter of the way through it. I didn't think she was that funny (common praise is that she's hilarious). And I didn't find her advice compelling or relevant. I DO think of myself as a Type A, anxious parent, but I'm not anxious about the kinds of things she dismisses (kidnappings and razor blades in Halloween candy). And I found her casual dismissal of what I'd call conscientious, thoughtful parenting to be irr ...more
Jessica
This is one of the laziest books I've ever read. I don't entirely blame Lenore Skenazy, as I suspect there was an editor or publicist urging her to finish while America still thought of her as "the worst mom" (because she let her 9-year-old ride the NYC subway alone), but still, it makes this book a frustrating read!

I gave the book two stars instead of one because there were enough interesting anecdotes to keep me reading, but really, I was climbing the walls the entire time I read this. Let me
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Connie Gunderson
This is probably the only parenting book that I would actually recommend. I usually fall down on the side of "if you're a smart and decent person, you already know what's best for your kid" which renders most parenting books useless. We read them to find support for what we already believe/know.

This book was a revelation for me, though. It posits that helicopter parenting, even that degree of helicopter parenting done by parents who think they're *not* helicopter parents, is unnecessary and unhe
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Lisa Butterworth
This book was really good for the parent (like me) (sometimes) who needs a cheerleader to tell me my more laid-back less helicoptery parenting choices are okay, and it doesn't mean I don't love my kids. She wrote this book after she wrote an article in the New York Star (I think) about how she let her nine year old take the subway home, by himself. And even though such an adventure is statistically much safer than driving him home, she became dubbed 'the worst mom in America'. Skenazy has a grea ...more
Julie Ekkers
I came to this book without knowing not only that there was someone who had let her nine-year-old ride the New York subway by himself, but also that that someone was the author of this book. So, I was unfamiliar with the author's blog and her other journalism. I think her humor, while often funny, probably works better in those shorter forms that in this longer piece. There are a few chapters late in the book where I felt she was stretching her point a bit. Still, I really enjoyed this book. It ...more
Lori
Loved this book! It's one of the best parenting books I've read. It's not a "to-do" list of what every should do, but a discussion of real issues, real risks, and real options. Lenore does a great job of presenting subjects to think about and then documents her research.

Our children are much too capable to be kept under constant supervision. We should teach them skills and then give them opportunities to interact with the world on their own.
Rachel
I have been following Lenore Skenazy's blog for a while now and was appalled by the recent story about the two kids who were picked up by police in suburban Baltimore because they were walking home alone from their neighborhood playground. The incident spurred Child Protective Services to investigate the parents for child neglect! And there have been countless other examples too. I finally read Skenazy's book and I'm so glad that I did. It was an easy, enjoyable read packed with reliable statist ...more
Stepan
I love the premise of the book. It looks how much we stifle our children's independence by our fear for their safety. A fear that's constantly being fed by gory news stories and studies. The book is divided into short, digestible chapters, full of fun anecdotes and each ending with some ideas to try to let our kids off the leash a little.

I highly recommend it for anyone raising or planning to raise kids these days.

On the other hand, I found some aspects of the book annoying (the author's columni
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Lynn
Many years ago when my sister and her 2 kids and I and my two kids went to a very small town in Nova Scotia, my sister gave her son money and told him to go to the local store and buy some rolls for sandwiches. He was about 7 years old. The store was maybe a 5 minute walk away. Yet for a boy raised right outside of Washington DC this was major -- he went and came back all proud of his adventure and we all thought isn't that great! Mind you the small town was on an island and the ferry left port ...more
David
This is the woman who wrote an article about letting her then-9-year old ride the NY subway alone, and got a ton of blowback about her being a horrible mom. She must have an entrepreneurial soul, as she turned this potentially devastating incident into a platform for a blog, a website, a regular column, many TV appearances, and this book. Well played, ma'am!

General thesis is that things are not as dangerous as you fear, that kids need to be allowed to have the same freedoms we had when young to
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Kristin
Like any parenting book, one has to take to heart only the bits that fit best with their hopes for their family--but this book has loads of those bits, and I was so validated reading that those shopping cart cover thingies are just plain silly! Among other, more relevant, points. Overall a great read for parents who are tired of feeling like they should worry all the time.
Corinne
I heard some buzz about this book a while ago, and even just from what a good friend wrote about the book, I knew it was something that would interest me.

Let me start off by saying this is not your average parenting book. It's not really "un-parenting" either - it's about taking the nitty-gritty of parenting seriously but knowing when your job as a parent is to just let go and let your children do things on their own. It's about giving your kids skills and then letting them actually USE those sk
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Albena
As with any parenting book, it wouldn't hurt to read it, but don't forget to follow your own mind.
The book is well organized and has its good points against 'helicopter', overprotective parenting. I also like Lenore Skenazy's style and sense of humor. But not all the parents I've seen around are overprotective and constantly worrying to that extent. I've seen parents close to the types she describes, but isn't it their own business?
The part about the non-English speaking part of the world is e
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Maggie Larche
Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy is a refreshing look at how to raise your kids to be independent while minimizing your own anxiety about everything that could go wrong in the process.

Full disclosure: be ready for a little irony as this parenting book tells you to ignore parenting books. Otherwise, you can expect a hearty dose of practical sense and parental empowerment.

The overriding idea of this book is that YOU know yo
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Leslie
Totally with her on the basic premise -- it's okay for kids to be adventurous, take risks, stumble, fall, and fail sometimes. They are more capable than we assume, and we should try to prepare them for the world, and let them live in it -- not shield them from it. And fear is the fun-killer.

I didn't love her derisive tone, though. And there were a few really laughable assumptions (sad "you've gotta be kidding me" laughs, not ha-ha laughs) -- like when she's discussing our current "blame the par
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Elaine
An interesting read and certainly a must read for parents. I'm not sure that after reading this I'd let my 9 year old catch the bus into the city but I will at least not be as paranoid about danger lurking everywhere either. One thing that hits home from reading this book is that we need to empower our kids and give them the trust and freedom they need to be able to take care of themselves. We're not doing our kids or ourselves any good by being so overprotective. I will be taking baby steps tow ...more
Charlotte
I don’t say this about everybody, so take it as a compliment (if even a twisted sort of compliment): Lenore Skenazy is an idiot.

Here, I have gone beyond criticizing the book to criticizing the author herself, which is not something I normally do. Books are just books. Unless it's something ridiculously offensive like Revealing Eden or anything Pat Robertson has ever written, said, or done, I don't criticize authors themselves. Books are fair game. Authors are not.

But this is different. Lenore S
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Linda
I have read a lot of parenting books. In fact, when pregnant with my first and the topic of parenting books came up, my husband said "She reads them all, and then gives me the Cliff's Notes." Which was exactly true. I started with the "What to Expect..." books and went from there.

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
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Liz
This book is a must read parenting book and one of the few I could completely relate to. Her arguments are sound, full of common sense, and are backed by facts. To boot, her writing is to the point and full of humor. My only criticism is I think she should have spent more time explaining the benefits of free range parenting on kids (and parents). Highly recommend for anyone with kids, planning on having kids, or even working with kids.
Laura
This book was selected for our book club, and I'm glad, otherwise, I may not have found it.

I do not consider myself a parent who worries. My kids are pretty independent at ages 6 & 8. They walk to their friends houses, they bike the neighbourhood, they bake cookies on their own, and they make their own decisions.

However, I do live in a small rural area. Maybe if I lived in a city I would worry about them more.... but I don't think so.

Even though I am a parent who doesn't worry, I still en
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Kathleen
I love this book for being rational about the real risks children face, rather than the imagined ones. What makes it a 4-star book for me rather than a 5-star is there are occasionally lapses in tone that hurt Lenore Skenazy's credibility with people who are most skeptical of her premise. What she and I might find funny as journalists is going to appall others.
H
I WISH SOMEONE HAD GIVEN ME THIS BOOK WHEN I WAS PREGNANT. I wouldn't have had the wherewithal to understand it at the time or over the following year or so, what with the sleep deprivation and constant hormonal flux, but there you have it.

This book is so damn rational that it's like a punch in the face, after years and decades of constant exposure to viral news about stranger danger and poisoned Halloween candy and other ridiculously unlikely (or not likely AT ALL) happenings.

It give me reason
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Jessica
This book has some excellent points that I think every parent should know. My takeaway #1: crime statistics have gone down in the past couple of decades, and kids are no more likely to be abducted today than they were 30 years ago. Takeaway #2: One reason for surliness in adolescents is because we don't let kids develop independence (at age-appropriate levels, of course). This leads to depression and neediness in young adults.

These ideas are not new to me, but like Skenazy, I'm surprised at how
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John
Skenazy makes her case, sometimes with data, and often with sarcasm or silly humor (too much for me, but what’s your style?). Here are some interesting points she makes:

— TV exposure to violence has made us think violence is more common than it actually is. In America, in 1971 things changed: the All in the Family show broke taboos, and other shows followed suit.

— There is an inner reflex to blame victims for their fates so that we can feel safe and smug. We convince ourselves the victims did so
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Susan Bazzett-griffith
I really enjoyed this book, whose main theme is for parents to stop being frightened of the world, and in turn, scaring and paralyzing their children. Kids can be competent. Kids should be taught to take care of themselves. No one has ever died from needles in Trick or Treat candy. No one. Baby knee pads are stupid.

Your child has a greater statistical chance of being struck by lightening or eaten by a shark or being mauled by a loose tiger than being abducted by a stranger in our country. Drivi
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Петър Стойков
Ленор Шкенази стана популярна като "най-лошата майка в САЩ" преди няколко години, когато позволи на 11 годишния си син с карта на метрото в ръка да се прибере сам от центъра (на Ню-Йорк) до у тях. Което той направил безпроблемно (понеже не е идиот), но разните му там загрижени американци веднага подали сигнали в полицията за родителска безхаберност и мухата стана медиен слон.

Има един израз "майка орлица", като идентичният на английски е "helicopter parent" - един вид родители, които постоянно и
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“You don't remember the times your dad held your handle bars. You remember the day he let go.” 9 likes
“We want our children to have a childhood that's magical and enriched, but I'll bet that your best childhood memories involve something you were thrilled to do by yourself. These are childhood's magic words: "I did it myself!” 6 likes
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