Take Our Children To The Park...And Leave Them There!

Lenore Skenazy, a mom and the author of Free-Range Kids has declared May 22nd - the weekend before Memorial Day - as the very first "Take Our Children to the Park... And Leave Them There Day."

It is all part of Skenazy's crusade to bring back common sense parenting to what are some very overprotective times. Her basic philosophy is that kids need to get out in the world, and that even though there might be some risk involved, the risk is small and well worth taking.
Most of us used to play outside in the park, without our parents, without cell phones, without Purell or bottled water and we survived! Thrived! We cherish the memories! And if you believe the million studies that I’m always publishing here, kids are healthier, happier and better-adjusted if they get to spend some time each day in “free play,” without adults hovering.

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From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by timcanny.

Previously at Neatorama: Would you let your 9-year-old ride the subway alone?

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This is just a little funny observation I saw growing up. This is what they call on the westside...dropping your kids at the library because you don't want to pay for daycare and leaving them. I used to see that all the time. The librarian in the kids section would feel so bad so she would bring in juice boxes and fruit snacks.

I used to hover while my daughter was one and two years old on the playground. She loved leaping and jumping with no fear. Most of it was teaching her how to get on and off, how to jump off without hurting herself. Then after that, I just kind of sit back and wait. When the kids get really into playing, they never notice you are there anyway. I think once the few times you set good habits for them playing on the playground at the start, it really helps for just letting them play on their own.

My three year old daughter holds my hand to cross the street. I supervise when she's playing with her friends in their yard. But she gets a good amount of free play, time to roam free where she wants. Just not without me in an earshot. She can roam freely without supervision once she's got all the skills in order to be independent. Just not now and not for a while. It just doesn't make sense to think it's suffocating to not be good company while children are at play or exploring. Besides, I enjoy playing with her at the park as much as she does. I like traveling in unexplored areas of the forest. When she grows tired of me and hangs out with her friend, I'm sure I'm the only one that's going to be upset about letting her go, ha ha!

In the end, it's everyone's personal preference. It's the parents decision of what KIND of personal responsibility they want to take with their child. Each child is different so if it's worked and there has been no incidents, then that's cool. If there is, then you have my sympathies, absolutely. I feel horrible when anything happens to families like that. You just want...everyone to be ok...It's a hard balance to find, you know, with what works best. But what works is what works, right?
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This is horrible. Lazy parents let their kids run down the street alone so they can get other things done besides spending time with their kids and then if your one of those that has a kid that never comes back you play stupid like I don't know what happened. They always go down to the park and come back. That's ignorant and lazy and stupid and not worth the risk. I don't wish any harm to children left alone, but I do wish that child protective agencies would step up and watch parks for stupid sh*t like this and put your kids in a better home of course the government can make more money and give you a huge f**king ticket.
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I think adults have forgotten what it was like to be a kid, and to be able to ride your bike where you wanted, and figure out how to solve problems on your own, and how to deal with negative situations.

Not that I was left alone as a five or six year old, but once I got to be ten or eleven, I was riding my bike all over the place, miles from home. Usually with a friend or two. Once or twice we ran into trouble (a gang of older kids cornered us and hit my friend in the mouth... I did the smart thing and took off, my friend became aggressive and taunted the gang), but most of the time we were fine.

Of course, as a parent, you want the very best for your child and you want to try to ensure no harm ever comes to them. At some point, though, you've got to let them explore on their own. Otherwise you end up with children like one of my high school classmates, who, 13 years after graduating, still lives at home with mommy...
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The funny thing, at least for me, is the fact that no one has posted any real, concrete numbers to support their claims. Whenever I hear "30 children were kidnapped in parks" I always wonder "out of how many? What's the crime rate in the zone? How does it compare with, saying, getting struck by lightning or winning the lotery?".

I respect Leonore Skenazy, I read her blog and I consider she is the first person in a long time to answer questions in a rational way. No one says there is no danger, because there always is (and always was), but you have to keep it in perspective, or you'll end up locked inside your house (where your kid could catch the extremely rare "house bug" and DIE - of course, it only happens in one out of 23 billion cases, BUT IT COULD STILL HAPPEN TO YOU!!)

Finally, as far as I know, most case of child abuse come from someone your child already knows (9 out of 10 times, according to Wikipedia), which means your kid is safer in the park than, say, alone at home with uncle Joe.
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