A few months ago I saw the author of Free Range Kids participate on a segment of the Today Show. I can’t remember what she said or did but it resonated with me enough that I decided to request her book from the library to learn more.
The tagline on the book is, “Giving our Children Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry”, which gives you a pretty good indication of what the book is about.
The book is broken down in to 14 “commandments”.
- Know When to Worry – Play Dates and Axe Murderers: How to Tell the Difference
- Turn Off the News – Go Easy on the “Law and Order,” Too
- Avoid Experts – Who Knew You Were Doing Everything Wrong?…Them!
- Boycott Baby Knee Pads – And the Rest of the Kiddy Safety-Industrial Complex
- Don’t Think Like a Lawyer – Some Risks are Worth It
- Ignore the Blamers – They Don’t Know Your Kids Like You Do
- Eat Chocolate – Give Halloween Back to the Trick or Treaters
- Study History – Your Ten Year Old Would Have Been Forging Horseshoes (or at Least Delivering Papers)
- Be Wordly – Why Other Countries Are Laughing at zee Scaredy-Cat Americans
- Get Braver – Quit Trying to Control Everything. It Doesn’t Work Anyway
- Relax – Not Every Little Thing You Do Has That Much Impact on Your Child’s Development
- Fail! – It’s the New Suceed
- Lock Them Out – Make Them Play-or Else!
- Listen to You Kids – They Don’t Want to Be Treated Like Babies (Except the Actual Babies, of Course)
At times I found the book very repetitive so I would sometimes read several paragraphs and then skip to the Real World and Going Free Range at the back of each chapter. I probably disagreed the most with points that touch on strangers and leaving a child alone (even with a friend in a public place). I don’t plan to let Levi play unsupervised in the front yard, its my personal preference for his safety. But I also don’t try to catch him every time he falls and I will let him crawl into a wall or table leg, because how else will he learn to do or not do somethings?
I like the chapter on Halloween and totally agree that if you are old enough to trick or treat alone you are too old to trick or treat. I agree that many baby “safety” products are totally unnecessary. I feel like bumps, bruises, and scrapes are apart of childhood. I had a great time climbing trees, playing baseball, riding a bike and I want the same for my son.
Although the author had some good points, I still kind of felt like it was just another parenting book telling me that I was doing it wrong. As she states in the book (in “commandment” 6) no one knows your kid like you do. I think we each adapt our own parenting style based on our kid, our partner, how we were raised, and only a little from the parenting “experts” and books.
Have you read this book? If so, what principles did you find most helpful? Or most disagreeable?