Discussion- Fear Mongering vs Free Range Kids

Free Range Kids

Fear Mongering
Can a Mom Leave Her Kid Alone at the Library for Three Minutes?The mother was at the library with her 5-year-old, the library where they go every week, in Rochester, New York. So why did this Terrible Parenting Moment have to happen?

Five years ago, I was a notorious safety zealot. And while I haven't abandoned practices of common sense and remaining informed; I'd much rather children have cuts and scrapes than a recess coach.

above, replica of the metal slide that graced my elementary school. At the bottom of the slide there was loose dirt; no woodchips, no rubber cushioning. In the six years I spent there, I can't recall a single slide injury.


About the author said...

She presents some interesting points on this video. When I was younger, I lived in a fully residential area.
I played outside in the summer until the streetlights came on, had a specified play area that was a certain radius from the house and walked by myself to school from age 6 onwards. All of it without a parent in eyesight.
I might only be 24 but things have certainly changed since I was young!

cali mom said...

I disagree with the library story somewhat. I think the old "it takes a village" line is an easy fallback for people who don't feel that THEY should have to take absolute responsibility for their children's safety.

And a recess coach? SUre, there are fewer fights in prison yards where snipers are positioned in all the watchtowers too, but how can kids learn to resolve conflicts on their own if all potential for any conflict is always eliminated, or all need for resolution eliminated because there's always an adult ready to step in and dictate the outcome? If problem-solving is such a huge issue overall, the classroom curriculum should address it. That's a big part of what grades k-4 are for.

Becky and Mike Mooers said...

It's also a big part of what preschool is for. I direct a program and I spend many tours letting parents know that we are play based and work on children's SOCIAL skills (cinflict negotiation) instead of flash cards that drill the ABC's. The academics come later - but children who can't handle other children, or themselves will never get the academics part if they don't get the behavior part first.

Becky and Mike Mooers said...

i meant conflict negotiation - sorry for the typo

Phoenix said...

I agree with leaving the kid to wait if she wanted to. I remember waiting in the car (gasp!)

fear monger said...

Sorry but those slides are sinister. I fell off one when I was a child and had to get stitches. I also knew a girl who fell off the monkeybars (the old-fashioned kind) and she bit through her lip and had to actually have plastic surgery.

Playground accidents are so common. If that makes me a fear monger, so be it. I don't agree with letting your kids run around unsupervised when they could get seriously injured, or fall on another child and hurt that child.

djembé said...

I'm fine with letting kids have some freedom, learn to navigate the social world with conflicts, get scrapes and bruises, etc... but it's not black and white where you are either a fear monger or a free ranger. There is a sensible middle ground.

And don't try to justify lazy parenting by pointing to negligence of the past... if that is valid, why not just do away with car seats? I never rode in a car seat growing up and I'm fine, yet that is a very poor justification not to use car seats for my own children.

So many children today live in neighborhoods where there are very few adults home during the day, and even where there are very few children home to hang around with because many children today are overscheduled. With both parents working, kids are shuttled off to summer camp programs instead of roaming the neighborhood with each other, with a watchful parent peeking out the curtains from every other house.

Phoenix said...

I think a lot has to do with intuition too. Like sometimes when I take my step son out and we can go to the same park. Some days I stick right by his side because I just have a gut feeling that something might happen, other days I let him roam free because that lingering fear isn't there. So if a mom is worried about something, maybe there is something to it.

Apartments upstate new york said...

If I were a kid, I would like to go to the playground instead of going to the library every weekend. It's good to go to the library, but it's also good to go to the playground to have some fun!! remember, it's the kids!! they need to make more friends and have some fun!!

MissMannah said...

I agree with cali mom about the library. Asking someone else to watch your kid is laziness. For one thing, it interferes with whatever work the librarian needed to do. And for another, it makes the librarian liable in case something happens. And things DO happen. This isn't fear-mongering. There's a difference between letting kids run around a playground and letting them be alone in a public place.

PS: I've never heard of a "recess coach" and having read that article, it is one of the dumbest ideas I've heard.

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