Free-Range Kids

New Yorker Warming Up to Free-Range Parenting

Reason's Lenore Skenazy profiled

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free-range-kids

The New Yorker's Lizzie Widdicombe has written a terrific profile of Reason's Lenore Skenazy and the Meitiv family. The piece credits Skenazy with starting a movement, and like Larry Wilmore's coverage of free-range parenting last week, it shows that that movement has definitely struck a nerve with people who remember growing up in a less playtime-averse society:

The movement was founded by Lenore Skenazy, a former columnist for the News and for the New York Sun, who achieved mommy-blog infamy when, seven years ago, she wrote a column about letting her nine-year-old son, armed with a map and a MetroCard, find his way home from Bloomingdale's. Skenazy published a book and now has a reality show, "World's Worst Mom," on the Discovery Life Channel. In it, she swoops into the homes of overprotective parents and persuades them to let their offspring perform such retro tasks as riding city buses alone and setting up a lemonade stand. "The kids are thrilled," she said the other day at her family's apartment, in Jackson Heights, Queens. "And the parents are happy you've replaced their dystopian horror story with reality."

The Meitiv children own, but were not carrying, the I.D. cards that come with Skenazy's book: " 'I am not lost! I'm a Free-Range Kid,' " Skenazy said, reading from a card. " 'The adults in my life know where I am.' " She added, "Unfortunately, it doesn't come with the phone number of a lawyer."

Skenazy is wispy, and had on big tortoiseshell eyeglasses. She and her husband and two sons moved to Queens from Murray Hill five years ago. A pan of brownies sat on the stove. "They said something I loved," Skenazy went on, talking about the Meitivs. "They said they wanted to raise their kids the old-fashioned way." She ran through a few statistics, emphasizing that children are safer today than they were a generation ago, in the carefree days before "To Catch a Predator." "If you actually wanted your child to be kidnapped, how long would you have to keep him outside for him to be abducted by a stranger?" A week? She shook her head. "Seven hundred and fifty thousand years." She derided the "back-door anti-feminism" of expecting mothers to monitor their children all the time.

Read the full thing here.

Skenazy told Widdicombe that she has had great success convincing parents that the supposed dangers to their children are overhyped. It's harder, however, to assure them that they won't be arrested for ignoring those false dangers, since the law often requires paranoia and incidents like this one are real.

Read Skenazy's archive here.

NEXT: Beyond Dead Malls: Dead Jails

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  1. The government hates Illinois Skenazys.

    1. Nice.

    2. Acceptable names for Lenore’s Children:

      Ash
      Neo
      Ske-Neo
      Commie

    3. I’m kinda taken by “Lizzie Widdicombe”. The name, I mean.

    4. Skenazys? Skin Nazis? Either some sort of nudist Nazi cult or replicant Nazis.

      1. Either some sort of nudist Nazi cult or replicant Nazis.

        Replicant Nazis… from the moon!

        1. There aren’t any Nazis on the Moon. They were bought out years ago and relocated to Europa. Attempt no landings there.

          1. Ah, I see you’ve read Charles Stross’ The Atrocity Archives.

      2. Ms. Skenazy doing a MILF/dominatrix thing?

        Go on . . . .

        1. I hand the Skin Nazi baton to SugarFree.

      3. Dude…

        Ashkenazi

        get with it, you philistine.

        1. Arthur Ashe understands Nazis? Why, is he Sephardic?

          1. No, dead.

            1. So is Hitler, but people talk about him all of the time.

              1. Not in the present tense.

  2. “If you actually wanted your child to be kidnapped, how long would you have to keep him outside for him to be abducted by a stranger?” A week? She shook her head. “Seven hundred and fifty thousand years.”

    How long to be abducted by the police?

    1. depends. how brown is he?

      1. And what’s the proximity of the nearest histrionic busy-body?

        1. I always assume one is near. ALWAYS.

    2. C’mon, Spencer. The cops don’t seize brown kids who are outside by themselves.

      They shoot them.

      1. I thought abducted could mean dead or alive… I am from texas.

        1. Alive is abducted. Dead is deducted.

          1. Got it. that makes IRS returns a lot more sinister…

    3. That is a very good factoid. It won’t make a dent in the worst histrionics bubbles, but an average person that could go either way is likely to hear that and lean the free range direction.

    4. That seems to depend on location quite a bit. Though if you make your kid stand outside for 750,000 years, the police will probably take notice at some point. In fact, I would say it is probably reasonable for them to do so after only a few weeks.

      1. They’d have to put chalk marks on the kid to make sure he’s the same one.

  3. At first I was wary of the whole “Free Range” kids movement. But then I remembered how delicious the chickens raised in the same manner taste, and now I’m all for it.

  4. I’m not sure which is sadder: that we have people to whom this is such an alien concept and that it must be stopped, or that we have to give a name to how kids were raised for centuries.

    1. You don’t understand! It’s a different world now! Don’t you read the newspapers? There are sex offenders EVERYWHERE! And they’re all creepy kid-touchers! EVERY LAST ONE! You can’t leave your kids outside alone! Someone in a white van will come and take them! And you’ll never see them again!

      /my wife

      1. Obviously the solution is to ban white vans.

      2. I’m more concerned about my idiot 14 year old getting run over, as he blissfully Instagrams while walking.

        1. BAN ANYTHING WHILE WALKING!

        2. Well that’s just natural selection there. He’s too busy paying attention to his phone in the jungle, than BAM! eaten by predator.

          1. There’s nothing natural about Instagram.

    2. Centuries? Try “all of human history until about 20 years ago”.

      Remember, it takes a village, and the village owns you and your kids.

      1. Centuries? Try “all of human history until about 20 years ago”.

        THAT’S JUST A LOT OF CENTURIES.

        1. Cricket match of the year!

          1. I would rather gouge my eyes out.

        2. It’s actually not even that many centuries.

          1. Everyone is a critic.

            FINE. YOU DO IT.

          2. 200 centuries is 2000 years. I think that qualifies as “a lot”- especially since that’s only the tip.

            1. Uh…200 centuries is 20,000 years.

              1. yes. i meant 20 centuries counted as a lot. i work for the government.

            2. I’m retarded.

            3. Your math is off. Also, prior to the written word is prehistory.

            4. And marriage is even older.

      2. The thing is, it does take a village to raise a child. Or at least, that is how is has worked for most of human history. The problem is that you can’t turn the village into the massive state apparatus. The village is the actual community of people who personally know and care about the people they live with and not a bunch of public school and child welfare fucks.

        Fuck Hillary Clinton for taking a good principle of human interaction and turning it into an evil piece of shit.

  5. “back-door anti-feminism” – The Cis-Gendered Patriarchy rears its ugly head again.

    1. I suspect Lenore is trying to come up with some way to sell left-tard feminist housewives who believe in helicopter parenting to realize that free range parenting isn’t something strange that needs to be looked down and stopped.

      While simultaneously keeping us misogynist Cis-Gendered Patriarchical libertarians on her side with a clever double entendre reference to anal sex.

      1. Cunning.

      2. I suspect Lenore is trying to come up with some way to sell left-tard feminist housewives who believe in helicopter parenting to realize that free range parenting isn’t something strange that needs to be looked down and stopped.

        Don’t think it will work. I don’t think the whole free range thing offers enough opportunities for social posing.

        1. Now, if you had certified, free-range nannies….

          1. Would the nannies require advanced degrees and vaccinations? What about body armor?

            Did I miss anything?

  6. letting her nine-year-old son, armed with a map and a MetroCard, find his way home

    How about something like this as a requirement for graduating from high school?

    1. I would still be waiting to graduate. I’ve got a GPS in my phone though.

      Why don’t you keep your value judgements about directionally challenged people to yourself!

      1. You would be given a *map*, Spencer.

        1. I don’t think I made the extent of my disability clear enough. a MAP wouldn’t help unless it self oriented and gave directions.

          I know my limitations.

            1. it’s not actually a disability. It’s more a failure of intelligence. I mean, I’m not blind or anything. Screw those sightless bastards. I’m just really, really bad at orienteering and really, really good at getting lost.

              1. It’s New York. I mean how long could it take to find your home just randomly anyway.

                1. It’s Queens – all bets are off there. The only place in NYC easier to get lost is downtown Brooklyn.

                  1. Downtown brooklyn isn’t “bad” at all. Because its all squeezed in a big triangle between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, and has visible landmarks (e.g. the Williambug bank, the bridges) and topographic features for navigation. (downhill = towards water)

                    Queens is a fucking nightmare. It all looks the same.

                    1. I think it’s Flatbush that messes me up. It just comes in at this crazy angle I’m not expecting. At least in Queens all the streets have numbers, even if they sometimes seem to be assigned at random.

                    2. I have a simple solution for dealing with Queens. Go north or south, depending on where you are, until you hit Queens Blvd, then head towards the city over the Queensboro. It works for a fair amount of Queens, at least the parts closer to the city.

                    3. Your “dealing with” queens is only useful as instruction on “how to get out”

                      which is probably not the worst plan, really.

                      I have a friend who moved to ridgewood around the same time I moved to Williamsburg (1999). He always came to visit *me*. He’d moan, ‘you have to come up sometime. We have restaurants too! its nice…’

                      Never. happened.

                      I actually liked long island city, back before it got Waterfronted… but that was because it was like “Greenpoint North”. It was much less @(#$*@ shithead-hipster ridden, and actually had ‘real artists’ and ‘real musicians’. Because it was fucking hard to reach. Not so much anymore.

                    4. I have an even simpler solution for dealing with Queens: I don’t live there.

                    5. I lived in Astoria, Queens for 8 years – yeah, it was not easy getting folks to visit. Despite being 15 minutes away from Midtown.

                    6. I have some friends who live in Astoria and it seems kind of ideal. Very fast to get to midtown and lots of nice stuff right there that isn’t stupidly expensive. And it was easy to drive to from points north. I thought it was the best place to be in NY. But that might have something to do with the fact that I can’t stand being in Manhattan for more than a few hours.

              2. It might be a disability. Geographical orientation seems to be something that is built into most people’s brains and is more than just an application of general intelligence.

      2. Do they teach how to read maps in school anymore? Or did it go the way of handwriting.

        1. Yeah, you take out your phone and start the mapping app. Then you look at it. Voila, map reading!

        2. I hope not. Unlike handwriting, map-reading is actually useful.

          1. Unlike handwriting, map-reading is actually useful.

            Which makes it virtually guaranteed that they don’t teach it in school.

          2. I find handwriting quite useful as a tool to confuse and piss off millenials who are incapable of reading it.

            1. a communications tool that is useful as a tool to confuse people sounds like a broken tool.

              1. My tools are fine. I can’t help if they’re not properly educated.

              2. You’re not a lawyer, are you, Spencer.

        3. I know millenials in NYC who will literally wander in circles around a block staring at their phone and whining about the reception rather than look at the street names and building numbers to deduce which direction their destination is in.

          “Maps”? the kind that fold? Are you kidding?

          1. When the whole smartphone thing started (actually, even earlier – with cell phones) I never expected it to become routine for people to walk around jabbering and/or looking at their phones everywhere they go. I thought it would surely be common sense for people to find a convenient spot first, perhaps out of ease or politeness. Boy was I fucking wrong.

            1. I know. I think Bburg had it worst for a while. 1) because of the super-high concentration of bubblehead non-new-yorker millenial imports… 2) its ‘brooklyn*’ (not even) and therefore not as systematic as manhattan, and 3)… things actually were changing so fast in that hood all the time that buildings were coming down and new stores opening up that no one bother to ever remember what was where. Hell, I lived there for 13 years, and couldn’t give people directions to shit that was 2 blocks away because i’d never even heard of it. And then it would be gone the next time I’d walk by.

          2. Start calling them “vintage GPS.” Actually no, fuck off, forget that, I’ve got a business plan to write.

            1. include an artisan leather binding with some sort of garish color scheme.

          3. Unless you’re downtown, that’s inexcusable.

        4. It seems like they never did a very good job of it if they did teach map reading. I am often amazed at how useless people of all ages can be at reading a map.

          I don’t recall being taught to read a map in school. But I can’t imagine not being interested enough to figure it out on your own.

          I always look at maps. I like to know where I am going before I go there. GPS makes people stupider.

          1. “I am often amazed at how useless people of all ages can be at _____________.”

            Fill in the blank.

            1. True. But I take special interest in maps, so I notice that one a lot. And it’s not that fucking hard.

          2. Think it’s possible that we used to communicate telepathically, but that skill atrophied when we developed language? Like, language might’ve been a little better than psi for some purposes, but then it caught on for all uses, so when we need psi, that’s no longer there for us to call on? And that the problem was that you needed it on both ends, so once some people lost it, language was needed to communicate with them even by people who could still send & receive telepathically?

        5. Do you think the average teacher knows how to read a map? Anyone with that skill set probably wants a career that doesn’t require being around children all day.

  7. The Free-Range kids moment?

    1. sure, followed by 2 examples and then pages of articles countering the notion. that seems par.

  8. Remember for progressives the point of open border is to create a new class of preferred victims and make natives second class.
    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=229837

    1. Eh…. they are telling the border patrol to not pull over drunk drivers.

      There is no way to tell if a drunk driver is a citizen or not. It seems more of a enforcement priority; if you are booking a drunk driver you are not patrolling for someone hoofing it over the fence.

      1. No they are telling CBP to let illegals they pull over who are drunk to go on.

        1. ARe you sure?

          Becasue I clicked through to the Judicial Watch article, and according to judicial watch, they seemed more concerned with being liable for a lawsuit for a false arrest than anything else.

          The article other than making vague insinuations about terrorists says nothing about this being an order relating to immigration. It seems more focused on giving guidance to border patrol agents happening upon a specific state-jurisdiction crime.

          I expect that citizens who are unlawfully detained tend to be the ones most likely to see a lawsuit through so this isn’t some cagey attempt to discriminate using a proxy variable.

          My take on it is that it’s far more likely that the Border Patrol agents are likely fucking up arrests – and the management rather than admitting that they suck at law enforcement are trying to limit their chances of being found out as fuckups – than that they are trying to give an excuse to let drunken illegal immigrants get a pass that a drunken citizen wouldn’t.

          1. according to judicial watch, they seemed more concerned with being liable for a lawsuit for a false arrest than anything else.

            They were concerned about being liable for any accident caused by the drunk they knowingly put back on the road.

            The document acknowledges that this feels counter-intuitive for Border Patrol agents, but eases concerns by answering a hypothetical question for the officers who have sworn to uphold the law: “If you allow this driver to continue down the road and they kill someone, aren’t you liable?”

            SPOILER ALERT: There are no consequences for the officers.

            The double-talk is here. After admitting that “an officer that elects to detain them is “acting within the course and scope of his employment,” and that even mere proles can detain a drunk driver in a citizens arrest, they nonetheless warn them off with a pretty baseless claim that it is “risky” for a Border Patrol agent to do so.

    2. Unsupported conclusion.

    3. Good. It’s bad enough that CBP people are operating away from the border at all. They definitely shouldn’t be enforcing traffic laws.

  9. I suspect Lenore is trying to come up with some way to sell left-tard feminist housewives who believe in helicopter parenting

    Soccer moms who took everything their college professors told them as gospel.

    1. I didn’t know one could count “THAT” as gospel.

  10. “Maps”? the kind that fold? Are you kidding?

    Yeah, sure, a map. One more thing to lug around. I am one of those people with a visceral aversion to being burdened like a pack donkey with *stuff*. One of the many reasons I could never be a parent.

    1. it’s good to know that you count children as stuff.

    2. Is one of the other ones womens’ collective aversion to you?

  11. it’s good to know that you count children as stuff.

    Even after they become self-propelled, they seem to be accompanied everywhere by a mammoth assemblage of claptrap and impedimenta.

    1. and then when you’re old they’ll let the doctors pull the plug.

  12. Your child has a better chance of getting murdered in a public school than of getting abducted on a public street.

  13. Just to pick up one tiny thread from the article, just what danger would children be in from flashers, anyway? The danger that they’d point & say, “Look at the funny man!”?

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