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August 1, 2010

Free Range Kids

Does the idea of letting your 9 year old with their friends sit in a movie theater with no adult chaperon scare you? Does the idea of of letting him or her ride a subway alone scare you? Or what about eating Halloween candy BEFORE it was carefully check over by an adult?

If so then perhaps raising Free Range Kids is NOT for you! Honestly, I don't know where I'm at on the spectrum, but reading (or listening) to the book Free Range Kids How To Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children.

I admit I haven't finished the book yet, but the author raised some very valid points. For example the crime rate against children are nearly the same today as they were in the 1960's. We are drowned with 24 hours news and made for reality TV, that we really don't have a clear sense of what is true Reality and what is Reality TV. Oh and those drama shows that are "ripped" from the headlines (such as law and order) are no help in determining what is reality and what is Reality TV.

I haven't come to a complete decision on things, and I would encourage my husband to listen to (or read the book) before we did anything different then what we are doing now. Of course just like with homeschooling he would have to be in agreement with me. However, often lately I've been tempted with letting Superstar, age 9, stay home while I run up the street (literally) to walmart to grab some milk and bread.  I can't tell you how many times he's begged me to let him stay home while I run to the store to get milk and bread. I know I would be gone no more then 30 minutes (if even, seeing walmart really is just up the street; after all we've have walked there).

I use his age as the reason for him not being able to stay home. I tell him he has to be at least 13. I've always been under the impression that it was the "law". However the book raised some points and now I'm not even sure if it's the "law" or not. The author did mention that only 2 states had laws regarding children that stated actual ages and Illinois was one of the 2 states. (Maryland is the second state). Even with Illinois law the author said something that made me question if the law would apply for simple, quick, walmart run. Yes, there is an age listed in the laws, but at the same time child neglect statue describes, in part, what is consider neglect as "any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor's welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard to the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that minor." (705 ILCS 405/2-3 from Ch. 37, par. 802-3 (d)).  That statue goes on to list question to take into consideration, such as weather, are there other minors, day, night, duration of time, etc.

So you see, even in Illinois, it's not automatically neglectfully to leave a child under the age of 14 home alone. So would it be "okay" to leave Superstar, at 9, home alone while I ran to Walmart to get bread and milk? Could he manage for the 20-30 minutes (if even) that I was gone?  Of course, that's up to my husband and I to decide after all we know our son the BEST!! I wouldn't do anything that I've felt was dangerous. It just interesting for me to learn that things are as cut as dry as I thought. What has stopped me from allowing my son to stay home while I do a quick milk and bread run? Well his age, because I've been under the impression the "law" forbid me from leaving him home alone at 9, but now I'm not so sure. (Of course hubby would have to give his 2 cents on this and He and I together will decide what's best for our children).

I just think back when I was his age. I know that I had to have been 9, 10, 11 and Mom let us walk down to the drug store by ourselves. I remember being around that age being allowed to pretty much ride my bike anywhere I wanted in town as long as I was home before the street lights came on. Oh and there was NO cell phones!! YIKES!! Of course things are so much worst, you can't do that this day and age, or can you?? How does the crime rate today compare to that of the 60's, 70's, 80's, etc? Is it really that much different? Or have we've been sucked in to believe it's so much worst by those 24 hour news channels?


  1. I haven't read free range kids, but I post on a message board that has a lot of people who adhere to that style of thinking, so I'm fairly familiar with it.

    At any rate, for me it really depends on the situation and the child. I'd be okay with my 9 year old staying home while I went to the store. I wouldn't be okay with my 9 year old riding the subway in a big city. I think there's a reasonable amount of responsibility and freedom you can give children, but I also think many of the ideas "free range" supporters espouse are naive at best and neglectful at worst. An adult on the subway might be able to pick up on any unsavory characters and avoid them; a child might not. Children are not fully developed mentally and emotionally and they really do need our guidance.

    I think there's a reasonable middle ground between "helicopter parenting" and "free ranging."

  2. oops...I sent that before I was done commenting; sorry.
    I must say, without having read the book...I tend to believe that kids today need MORE supervision than kids of long ago for many reasons.
    1) Kids long ago were made to become "adult-like" out of necessity at a very early age. They were running farm equipment and taking care of children, etc...

    2) The focus in the family was different (generally-speaking). Kids were responsible and mature BECAUSE they spent A LOT of time under the supervision and direct tutelage of an adult!

    3) The kids of old weren't distracted with electronics, cell phones, and all of the other myriad of things that have desensitized...and...in mho...lessened the maturity levels of kids today.

    Still...I'd like to read that book and see what the author has to say.

    Thinking of you guys and praying to Web Princess...how is she?


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