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Like any parent, I want my child to be safe. However, I don't want to raise her in an atmosphere of fear. Striking a balance between safety and freedom is what I hope to be able to do. Without their knowing, I watched from a distance in my car. Kids are no longer able to earn pocket money delivering papers.

My kids want to teach their kids to take risks but protect themselves, too. I totally agree people are overly paranoid today. It is sickening that children have a strangle hold on them from lack of freedom. Children need to be influenced into feeling their own sense of security Psychology basic human need.

But how secure can children feel if parents keep trying to convince them that people are after them. I appauld your article. The media has an interest in keeping people feeling afraid, because when people are afraid they look for more things to worry about -- which is what the news is giving them a vicious cycle. It's the exception for the news to broadcast wonderful things happening locally, not to mention with the US, and especially around the world, but they are eager beavers to find anywhere in the world something bad has happened.

It creates such a distorted view of life. Totally agree with you!!!!!!! People in USA become overly paranoid about safety and everything! I am 29 years old and my daughter is 2 years old. I remember myself when I started to walk to school 5 blocks crossing 3 big roads, when I was 6 years old. Now, people having 6 year old, have houses child-protected from floor to ceiling, do not allow child to go outside when they can not: Go to Europe, people, or Russia where I am from.

Parents there teach children to be independent and learn on their mistakes, they do not over-proof houses and give child to be a child and live in the house, not under the dome. When your child saying you "I can do it myself" -Listen to him! My baby is trying now to dress herself, she wants to play herself either inside or outside. I do not mind, I just encourage her. I teach her safety and common sense. I agree we have to teach our kids independence and and self preservation but to pretend there is no danger at all is also reckless. Kids go missing in all sorts of private and public areas with parents close by or far away.

Age appropriate independence is what I teach. My six yr old and 10 yr old girls do NOT get the same level of independence. As far as activities I think it is a sad state of affairs today. I have tried to get to know the people around me but no one gives a shit. I think there are 5 other houses with kids in them on my street but ONLY my kids play outside.

Parenting is hard work that requires constant effort,adjustments, and is always a balancing act of many different things I just think far too many have parents think all you have to do is love 'em and everything will be ok. Lets step back into our kids live NOT to control them and make them live our life but to guide them and teach them how to create one for themselves. I was born in and was raised in a number of locations, from big city Baltimore to nowhere hicksville and foreign cities.

Raising a Nonviolent Child

My parents gave me gobs of freedom, not because they were negligent or trying to make a social statement. It was just the way they were raised Dad was a New Yorker, Mom from Brussels , so it wasn't even a major discussion point. So I took my first solo transatlantic flight when I was 8. Was allowed to roam pretty much all over hicksville on my bike when I was 10 with a practical limit of about a mile radius, because my weak legs. Could go for hours on my own into Brussels when I was NYC when I was Nothing even approaching untoward ever happened to me, despite being a cute, outgoing boy unafraid of strangers and brimming over with sexual curiosity.

In many ways, I was the archetype of today's kid-who-is-guaranteed-to-be-abused. But -surprise - nothing happened! Matching the statistics, the few untoward things that did happen in my childhood came from within my family's own social circle. I am confident that this early freedom and independence contributed to my entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first business when I was 12 and have always been comfortable talking to anyone. It allowed me to make the most of being an exchange student, while my comrades were clinging to manufactured slices of home in their bedrooms.

Over the past 8 years I've been living in the Netherlands, and just wish that many US parents could see the freedom - and resulting independence - that children enjoy here. Classic scenes of two boys fishing off a bridge are commonplace. The swimming hole at our local park has maybe one adult for every 50 kids during the summer. Weekly some kid will knock on my door asking me to support one group or another. Sometimes they're on the buddy system, sometimes on their own, but only with the very youngest is there ever a parent marching along.

These are tweens and younger, walking around an urban area, broadcasting that they have wads of cash on them!

Your child is not a genius. Get over it

Yet all is well. Ultimately, for me, the tight-leash style of parenting it is a sad product of the selective insulation from reality that many practice these days. When the real world is unknown to you, anxiety and fear are not surprising byproducts of contact.

Boy does this hit home, and I'm not even a parent! I'm a Youth Volunteer a local church or was for the past years, and a former Big Brother member , and I can think of one 13yo right now that stays just up the street from me. I've known him and his mom for 3 whole years, and when I 1st met them, the boy was so protected, he had never thrown a football, learned how to skate, play basketball, or had opportunities to make friends his own age!

I taught him all these, took him to the youth gym, to Youth Church, etc. All day on weekends too. I kid you not! Wonder what type of adult he's going to become? This cannot be healthy for him. Media outlets are not the objective journalists they portray themselves to be. They are businesses with profit expectations that come from advertising revenue.

Advertising revenue is generated by higher ratings, and these higher ratings come from more viewers. People watch what excites extreme emotion, whether fear, anger, rage, sadness, sorrow or euphoria. What I think some of you are forgetting is that you can still teach kids to be safe and let them go out and play on their own. Make sure they know not to get into a stranger's car, give them limits as to how far they can go - that kind of thing - and then shoo them out the door!

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They know when a situation feels off - and to get the heck home and tell their parents if someone is making them feel unsafe. Now that I have a son, I'm so glad this topic is coming up. Growing up, I started walking to kindergarten alone when I was 4 since we were only a block away from the school. My parents taught me all about not talking to strangers, but they also owned a restaurant so there were very few strangers to us in our small town. Later, they opened another restaurant in a neighboring town and when I was 11, I was in charge of taking our deposits to the bank, which was about a minute walk from the place.

That's an year-old girl with an envelope full of money making deposits for the restaurant. Also at 11, I was in charge of my three siblings on our first unaccompanied international trip. It's not about being reckless, it's about teaching our children how to be smart, think on their feet, recognize danger and be responsible individuals who are accountable for their actions.

I'm not going to let my child play outdoors by himself if he doesn't understand that he can't run into the street. But it's my job to teach him how to look for cars so that he can enjoy the playground and the park and live his childhood to the fullest. I was raised free-range and am doing so with my daughter.

Thanks for being our voice, Lenore! I think it's sad that despite the drop in crime, kids are imprisoned in the home and only allowed to go outside for supervised "play dates" and structured sports. My father tells me about his childhood in the 40s, playing pickup baseball at the local sandlot with just his friends, baseballs, bats and gloves brought from home; no parents, coaches or umpires; the kids made up the rules.

By the time his little brother was ten, he was in little league with the uniforms, coaches and umpires. I'm glad that even though I was somewhat restricted not allowed to ride my bike everywhere in the neighborhood till I was about 11 , I still had the chance to go outside, climb trees and drink from the garden hose. Today's children won't have those memories.

They will have memories of soccer practice, Mandarin Chinese lessons, community service and heaps of homework. There are SO many things we can allow our kids the freedom to do without turning them loose in the dark streets of the big city. Cooking, making things including messes volunteering, etc. I think we create more danger by the way we train them using video games and tv than by allowing them a bit more freedom to become Great to see many positive responses to this article. As far as crime rates dropping; the fact that violent crime is dropping for adults as well as kids shows it's not just that kids are being kept inside.

Also, Lenore is not saying there is no danger, but rather that trying to protect your kids from every danger by never letting then out does more harm than good. The problem is that people take isolated stories like the above and make them the rule. How many thousands of kids delivered papers when that 1 kid was kidnapped?!? NOT very good odds. BUT by making your kids paranoid and not allowing them to be kids, then your odds are 1 to 1 that they will be miserable. And before you ask, yes, I have a 7 year, 4 year old and 2 year old.

This seems very convenient to me, and even reminiscent of the "quality time vs quantity time," rubbish of the s which was designed to make parents who were pushing parenting responsibilities off on daycare feel good about being an absent, self-centered parent. I don't know where you live, but crime is not down everywhere. National statistics do not accurately describe every neighborhood.

Even if crime were down, it's still a parent's responsibility to keep track of their kid, tell them when they do some thing wrong which you can't do if you don't know where they are and make sure they get to school safely. Anything else is just trying to justify getting around your roll as parent. We struggle with this issue now that our son is twelve. We live in a university town, in a "highly walkable" neighborhood where everything we need can be obtained nearby.

Our twelve year old is a mile from his school for the first time. Previously, it was a twenty minute drive. He is enjoying walking home with his classmates that live nearby. This feels very normal to us, and we get a phone call before he leaves school and when he arrives at their homes, only when an adult is home. This summer, we were visiting family in Berlin.

Their thirteen year old was attending a party and expecting a friend to meet him who was planning to stay overnight with them at their house. When the friend had not arrived by 9PM, he called home and asked his parents if he could stay passed the 10pm deadline his parents had established. He seemed only concerned about his curfew, not the friend's absence. Coming from our culture, we were immediately upset. Where was the other boy? Where was he expected before he was to go to the party?

Our nephew's parents were barely concerned. It was hard for us to understand their complacency, until we realized we had been programmed to be hypervigilant by the media. They don't experience that same level of hysteria surrounding childhood disappearances. Children routinely ride the trains and subways, bike or walk to and from school and do other errands unattended.

I don't mean to devalue the suffering of families that have lost a loved one or have that fear. And we certainly share real concerns about letting our child go about without supervision. Right now we're trying to structure ways in which our son can experience independence and grow, without smothering him. It is a difficult balance which requires a lot of discussion and negotiation for all of us.

I wish it weren't so, but neither unlimited freedom or hypervigilance is the answer. My husband and I have both commented that when we try to send our kids 15, 10, 4 out to play in the neighborhood, there are not other kids outside to play with, even in the middle of the summer. And the ones that are outside, are young under 4 and have parents with them. I'm probably part of the last generation of free range kids I never had a curfew, and I didn't even have a cell phone!

As long as my parents knew were I was and I called from my friend's house or a payphone if we had taken a train to Chicago yes, I was allowed to go to Chicago with my friends by ourselves when we were 14 after we got caught doing it anyway , they were okay. Now, I'm getting close to the age when the idea of having a kid is becoming more of a reality.

I do not want to be one of these parents I see all the time that don't let their kids out of eyesight, nor do I want to be villified for letting my kids out. Hopefully by the time I do have kids old enough to venture out on their own, it won't be an issue. I'm from Chicago, too. And actually, I do think the tide is turning as we start to see the results of too much hovering. Kids arriving at college today are called "tea cups" by administrators, because they are beautiful -- perfectly made, in fact -- but so fragile. We all want our kids to grow up safe and also self-reliant. Self-reliance doesn't come out of nowhere.

It's like a muscle kids have to develop. And they can't develop it if they never get a chance to make their own decisions and even some mistakes. So be of good cheer and good luck when the parenting time comes! I love this article. I must say I am an overprotective single mother. I let my daughter play outside with her friends but sometimes I'm paranoid the whole time she's gone. Part of the reason I'm paranoid is because of all the trouble we my brother and I got in to when we were children.

I can't even tell you how many times I look back on my childhood and think, 'wow! I could have died, or been kidnapped. I'm going to try to calm my nerves and allow her a little more freedom. I have a few issues with the premise of free range kids. Yes, we who grew up in the 70's and 80's might have thought we were running around unsupervised, but we weren't.

We were outside playing with other children that lived next door or across the street. Most of the mothers in my neighborhood were stay at home and there was always one sitting on the front porch 'knitting' but in reality were watching what was going on. And believe me, if you misbehaved your playmates would tattle and the mom on duty would have told your mother before you got home. I lived on a dead end and we knew when it was dinner time because the only time cars drove down the street were fathers coming home from work.

My parents live in the same house.

Raising a Free-Range Kid . Expert Q&A . PBS Parents | PBS

But now there are cars flying down the street all day and there are only 2 kids living on the block, instead of the 26 when I was a kid. I send my kids out to play but its so sad when they come back in complaining that there is no one to play with. Thank you for this article. I will purchase the book for future reference. I am concerned about my first grandchild, just one month old. His parents are couch potatoes. The only time they EVER go outside is to flip the burgers or steaks on the grill.

Never sit out on their own patio and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Am purchasing a stroller so that the first warm spring day he and I can go for a walk in the great outdoors. I only see life in a box for this little boy otherwise. I think a part of this issue that has not been addressed is the way parents are chastised when they let their children be independent. There are so many judgmental people that are not afraid to make a parent feel inadequate. I can't count the number of times I've been heard this from both sides. Either your overprotective or your shirking your responsibilities as a parent.

I have 3 children and live in a very busy neighborhood but I think that my children are allowed enough freedom to be kids but are also safe. And when I am confronted by an overly judgmental neighbor; I simply reply "to each their own". Everyone has a different style of parenting and I am a firm believer that each family should do what works best for them. No one else could possibly know what is best for your family than you do.

That's my 2 cents. I think it's all about teaching your kids how to be safe. If you equip your children with the smarts and common sense they need to recognize danger, they are most likely going to be fine on their own. Like Lenore touched on, I am much more concerned about the growing number of kids who grow up as television zombies and fast food addicts. What are we really so afraid of?

So many people have these insane notions that there is a seedy stranger lurking around every corner, just waiting to abduct their child. This really isn't the case, our media just likes to make it seem that way. I grew up in the 70's and 80's. My friends and I loved riding bikes around the neighborhood, with geographical boundaries, and exploring our world. I can't imagine completely denying my children that experience. I value teaching my children how to recognize internal "red flags" instead of warning them and frightening them about what COULD happen.

The bottom line is that abductions don't happen that often. Sexual abuse and molestation also happen most frequently by someone you know! Keep that in mind folks. Strangers are actually your best friend when a dangerous situation comes along. They are the people that are going to help your child when they need it and you are not there. When I was growing up in the 70s and early 80s, there were children everywhere.

I always had a choice as to which group of kids I wanted to play with, depending on the activities that were going on: There were sidewalks and I had defined limits to my roaming. There were a great many more stay at home Moms, and no one hesitated to yell at any kid that was seen misbehaving. These Moms also tended to minor injuries, provided the water hose to a vast number of neighborhood kids and there was a definite feeling of community.

Now I am a parent living in a suburb with no sidewalks. There are few children living on our street. Those that do are in After-School Care and then there is homework and activities. Every other weekend, they are with the other parent due to custody arrangements. Spontaneous play with friends just doesn't happen anymore. Playdates have to be arranged days, if not weeks, in advance. I have now enrolled my child in SEVERAL more than I am comfortable with activities because that is a time that she at least can be with kids her own age. I would love it if my child could be more Free Range, but with the lack of neighborhood involvement, it just doesn't work.

A neighborhood of empty houses during the day just isn't conducive to letting your child run free. I was born in and grew up in a suburb outside Seattle. My mom was old school and never really believed in cloistering her kids inside and my and my older brothers had free range of the neighborhood and we knew all the neighbor kids and their parents and my dad lived about 6 blocks away so we had lots of freedom to roam. I remember late night kick the can games in my cul-de-sac and playing endlessly in the woods behind my house. My mom only got rightfully scared when a high school classmate of mine was murdered on school grounds one weekend and the suspect never found, then my mom insisted on driving me to school.

Today though I know most of my neighbors in our neighborhood not too far from where I grew up, there are no such games of kick the can, kids mostly keep to their yards and it's sad one exception being the Vietmanese family next door. I have encouraged my son to get outside and play but being a free range parent can be a lonely experience.

You can send your child out but who do they play with if everyone else is keeping their kids bubble wrapped indoors? I've been reading the comments with interest and a lot of people keep mentioning the horrible cases that happen to kids every so often. Here is a clip of a mother who had to go through the worst thing a parent could experience and it goes on to explain how she has dealt with it.

I for one feel like a helicopter parent, understanding fully well that my children are not free rangers. I try to put back as much independence as possible but I know its nearly not enough. Humans live in boxes of their own creation - all day long we enter from box to another, trying to fit in somewhere, somehow. We explore new boxes, choose to create new ones or simply stay in the current ones, lest we are lost. Humans go in herds, like cattle, and loan rangers are looked down upon - often labeled or should we say diagnosed each day with new disorders.

We want to stand up for our freedom and true independence but often don't have courage to do so. Is it any wonder then that we raise our kids the same way People thought we were insane when we let our 13 year old fly to China alone, on a nonstop flight. He was met at the airport by his friend, and had the time of his life. After all they are still children, and children may not be cognitively ready when it comes to certain types of decision making.

That doesn't mean we should never allow them to make their own decisions, but proceed with caution. It does take practice to be able to survive on your own. Just as you or I wouldn't go into an Ironman competition without training, you shouldn't send your child out into the world without the knowledge and tools it takes to survive. Even then there are unknown variables lurking everywhere. We do live in a much different world than before. A more connected world, where predators seem to be more connected than the communities that we live in.

Gangs are more prolific than ever. Maybe you don't have to worry about your child joining one, but that doesn't mean that your child won't experience the violence. When I was growing up the neighbors would look out for us as we played in the streets, and when we were out after dark. Now, more people are at work during the day, and no one cares about their neighbors kids. Our neighbors pay no more attention to us than we do to them. I'm not saying that we have to completely shelter our children, but we need to adjust our gauges accordingly.

It isn't a crime to trust our children. It becomes a crime when we turn a blind eye to the world around them. Your child may be smart and fast, but the pace of the world is even faster. I'm just saying we need to be realistic about the limits of protection. Any of us could leave our homes tomorrow and never come back. Or come back pregnant. Just remember you and your child will have to live with the consequences of the decisions you make for them. Such as when they are ready to venture out on their own.

I love the concept of Free-Range Kids! I let my kids play hockey in the driveway, and you should see some of the looks we get from passing cars. There is something, too, to teaching kids common sense. We live in the rural state of Nebraska, and I can tell you that farm kids who actually have some responsibilities and are expected to do some manual labor seem to have more common sense and self-confidence about handling themselves in the world than kids who never set foot outside.

I love the concept of free-range kids! We let our boys play hockey in the driveway, and you should see some of the dirty looks we get. I think there is something to teaching kids common sense by giving them responsibilities, too. Here in the rural state of Nebraska, farm kids who actually have responsibilities and are expected to do manual labor seem to have more confidence and common sense than their peers who are not allowed outside to play.

I am a very permissive yet strict parent, if that makes sense. People on this blog who mention the isolated incidents that parents use to scare their children, etc. The young woman who was just killed in California could just as well have been my daughter: I mourn for them, and for all children and families in similar experiences. You can't control what happens in life; some of it is horrendous my 13 year old daughter was raped, and 3 years later the perpetrator has not been tried and the police don't know where he is; the judge, at the latest delay, said it needed to be handled to "keep this from hanging over that young man's head.

So, do what you can to protect them AND give them freedom, and be prepared for the fact that in the end you have no control. I don't understand why so many parents today have a hard time with this concept, or the concept of saying no and setting limits in general. It is your job. It teaches them to set limits. Also, try to leave behind antiquated sex-role related expectations and have requirements of all children inputting into the household - asap doing their own laundry, helping with shopping, cooking, cleaning, car and yard maintenance, etc.

I don't really understand this concept other than it seems to free up a lot of time for the parents. And really, after years of complaining the lack of parental involvement was racing crime rates and creating delinquency, now we are suppose to embrace parenting styles of those who stuff their kids outside and then slam the door?

There is no way to ensure safety. I guess the notion of them becoming independent "street smart" kids is suppose to be so enticing that we are expected to be OK with the risk. I say not a chance. So here's the deal: NY Subway Mom ; I lived outside nine months out of the year with the other neighborhood kiddos, I couldn't imagine it any other way. I highly recommend the book "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin de Becker. And also, "The Gift of Fear. For instance, the inanity of "Don't talk to strangers. Ordering fast food, maybe asking directions, etc.

Have your kids learn to interact with people and get a FEEL for people under your supervision. I also taught my kids to find a MOM or at the very least a female if they got separated from me. Another thing learned from this book. After the murder of Chelsea King, I'm still wondering about letting kids out on their own. I know the odds are miniscule, but when the police call to tell you your daughter's been raped and murdered, statistical probabilities don't mean anything. A girl her age was recently drugged and gang-raped at a party in a nearby "nice" upper-class town.

The parents were home, but didn't think the noise was anything to worry about. Again, this is a rare occurrence around here, but still, it happens. That said, I've done my best to give my daughter as much freedom as I think is appropriate for her age, and let her make her own decisions. Most parents I know think I'm crazy.

Increasingly we let it run our lives. What does it lead to? Miserable, disconnected people - adults and children alike. Sure, there's a lot to be afraid of in the world. There always has been. People seem to think abduction and rape and all that are new. They've been around as long as human civilization, and probably longer. But we need to understand that having a life outside our safe little boxes involves risk but it's worth it!

We must teach our children and ourselves, increasingly! That does not mean being oblivious to danger - it means learning how to manage risk. Kids need to develop a sense of what they can handle and what they can't, which risks are acceptable and which carry too high a cost. They can only get that kind of practical knowledge from experience. Deny them the experience and you deny them the chance to learn how to be a functional adult. Bravery is living your life in the full knowledge that yes, something bad could happen to you, but that's the risk you must take if you want to let anything good happen to you, either.

Life in a safe little box is not much worth living, because nothing, good or bad, ever really happens there. And my little boy is going to be one, too. That's what Free-Range Kids is all about: Not throwing them to the wolves. Teaching them how to be safe if and when they ever encounter a wolf! The safest kids are the self-confident ones. Teach your kids how to cross the street safely, how to ask a stranger for help if they need it, but never to go OFF with a stranger who approaches them.

And then let them live! Sometimes I feel that we are so worried about kidnappers that we end up kidnapping our kids, holing them up inside, like Rapunzel. And look how well THAT turned out. I am a free range mom, and people are always shocked to find that my sons play outside ALL day on Saturdays and after school. They recently got a video game system, but still prefer to be outside if there is daylight.

We DO live in walking distance of their school, and I walk them to school in the mornings and they walk back with friends in the evenings. As parents, we must learn our neighborhoods, neighbors, community spaces and systems of transit to prepare our children to enter the world from a stance of power, not victimization and fear. I will have you know I posted a link to your blog on my facebook page and was subsequently "unfriended" by a person I have known for 26 years I held one of her legs during childbirth and was her Maid of Honor!

This person is so obsessed with the notion that her children will be abducted that she had cameras installed around her home "just in case" someone takes them. I am so sorry that happened! Especially when that mom might think about the fact that the more people who know and love and watch out for her kids, the SAFER they are. She has just "unfriended" a source of security! I must again blame the media for turning parents into prison guards, employing the kind of security normally reserved for maximum security prisons.

Just on Friday, Good Morning America did a story on Jaycee Dugard, the girl who was kidnapped and held captive by her rapist for 18 years. But, said George Stephanopoulos, "in a sense, she was one of the "lucky ones. Every day children are reported missing. Often they went missing because of a mixup in plans or whatever. The vast majority of those who aren't back by night are runaways or children taken in custody disputes by the other parent. And rather than a day, children a YEAR are kidnapped and held overnight by strangers. It's been just under a year now since a Mom was arrested in Scarsdale for leaving her 10 year old to walk the 3 miles home after fighting with her sister.

She should have left the 12 year old behind too but let her back in. And the backlash against her must have been about the same. I had someone yell at me while my kids played in my fenced in yard, I was in the garage and they came to my front door. Get a grip and get a life. I know nothing about its vegetations or animals or creatures, I'm afraid and so my kid of dangerous animals or poison plants or spiders Forgive me for my English, I am a foreigner in Monterey since jan and, and going to stay for 18month. Thank you for your article.

I abhor those sensational tv 'news' shows like Nancy Grace. The men were later arrested a couple of towns over. I have one simple rule for the safety of my kids, the one I have to protect them from human predators: They cannot be allowed to be in a situation wherein they can be overpowered.

I struggle with this issue all of time coming from very nervous, protective parents,myself. The fears related to something happening to my child are hard to get away from. I am striving towards some balance, so that my daughter can feel as though she trusts herself and her judgement. Again as the grown daughter of very protective parents I find it hard to trust in myself and my judgement because it was constantly in doubt.

I am going to read your book too.

And I am appreciative of all of the responses, it really makes one think.. I feel so relieved reading this!!! I WANT to send my kids outside by themselves more, and it's good to know that others are promoting it. Our neighborhood is very kid-friendly, and the playground is just behind our house.

I want to be able to let them go without us, but have worried that if another parent is there with their kid, they'll think, "wow, I guess these kids' parents don't care about safety. I think it's all about teaching your kids safety, then letting them practice it. I didn't realize how different things were from when I was a kid until I had to sign a permission slip to allow my child to go outside for the school's winter fun day. They didn't leave the school property and they just did standard field day type activities.

We had all these reminders to dress the kids properly. I live in Cleveland - snow isn't foreign here! I'm a Girl Scout troop leader and many of the parents insist on staying for troop meetings and going camping. The programs are designed just for the girls and a couple chaperones and then we are trying to stuff just as many adults in the same space. The odd thing is, the kids of the parents who stay are less well behaved than the ones who leave. The parents excuse the poor behavior by saying the kids have been in school all day.

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I had the same thing happen when I taught an evening religion class. I always tell the parents that if they want to have their kid in an extra activity in the evening, it is a good idea that they make sure they eat a good dinner and play outside before they come. If they would just run around the block a couple times before they came, they would be able to focus when they need to. My expression for this is "outsourcing.

THEY are going to get things organized. THEY are going to make sure everything is perfect. Instead those kids are being told they are no good at it and an adult has to do it for them! On one hand, I totally get letting your 9 year old take the subway by yourself.

In the 70s, my mom let me, age 7, and my little friend do a fundraiser walking around our medium size city with thousands of hippies, in the day before cell phones. So I get it. But, first, he has a language disability and freezes in fear so easily--he doesn't have the maturity I had at his age. Second, times a year some bold pedophile attempts to pick up kids in front of our local schools, even one block from our house.

Kids are NOT always savvy. I know smart people who as teens were, like my son, sweet and polite, and the decision to ignore a momentary gut feeling led to disaster.

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I also have a friend who watched a pedophile lure her child to a car as she began running and screaming So no, I can't buy into the illusion of safety. I just can't in good conscience. My son has a cell phone, I don't let him do more than walk a few blocks to a friend's house or home from school and I insist that he have his cell phone and I drill him on running like hell in the opposite direction if a car pulls up.

Am I paranoid, or am I using common sense? I'm curious at what age you consider a child old enough to walk 2 blocks to school alone, or old enough to be left at home sound asleep for 5 minutes while you get something from next door? I've been talking about this very issue. I grew up out in the country on 75 acres of forest, surrounded by hundreds of other acres. I was completely free-range, though my parents always insisted on knowing where I was going which direction, at least , and how long I'd be gone.

I carried a gun much of the time, due to the packs of wild dogs in the area. I learned to be independent. Now, I still own that 75 acres, but wouldn't dream of living there due to the town it's near. Otherwise, I'd go in a heartbeat. I struggle with the constant feeling of wanting to teach my son to wander safely, while trying to suppress the notion that something will happen to him.


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I still don't know how to squelch that feeling. My husband and I have talked about this, and have looked into GPS tags for our son's shoes, etc. We don't know the answer. I want desperately to give this to my son, but don't know how. As someone who has made a career out of exposing children to the wonders of nature, I am regularly still shocked at how many kids are scared of bugs and stars and think that a wolf is going to eat them the minute they step on a trail.

But a solution might be to expose them to experiences in natural places that give them a sense of beauty wonder and respect for our natural world. So many kids' only time spent outdoors is in supervised activities like soccer or scouts. These are great, but also need to be infused with a chance to explore on their own, to really develop that sense of curiosity and awareness of the world around them.

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In order to properly introduce young people to nature, we as adults need to model that enthusiasm for exploring the outdoors. The best way to build resentment among kids is to shove them in ski lessons, scout packs or an Outward Bound trip without showing them that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to explore the unknown as well. Go out side with your child at home or anywhere else and ask them to point North. If they can't, it's a sign of a fundemental lack of awareness of the world around them.

If you can't, maybe you need a trip to some wild places yourself! You know, a lot of the reason kids don't go outside as much has nothing to do with safety. The author lives in NYC and for her to let her kids go outside, means out into the world. But many of us have backyards and quiet neighborhoods and kids still are not out as much. Could be that parents just allow them to watch TV instead of going out - I find that you need to suggest things to kids if not actually kick them out the door even in winter. Man oh man this really hit home for me too!

In the spirit of searching for better instructions, I interviewed adoptees ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s. From my many conversations, it became clear that we adoptive parents too often choose to delude ourselves with four comforting but dangerous myths. Love was not enough for them. Part of loving your child is seeing and loving the color of her skin—and accepting the reality that she will likely be painfully pigeonholed sometime in her life because of it. Abigail Scott, 21, is a Chinese adoptee who grew up with her single mother in what she calls the bubble of Berkeley, California.

She was active in the organization Families of Children from China. She and her daughter returned to China for a two-week trip when Scott was She encouraged her daughter to apply for Chinese mentorship programs at UCal, though Scott resisted because growing up she found herself increasingly disinterested in exploring her Chinese culture. Scott says she never told herself that she wanted to be white, but always felt atypically Chinese. She was a muscular lacrosse player who loved being tan. She told her mother never to buy her anything Hello Kitty.

When she and her mother went to large family functions, Scott remembers noticing that everyone else in the room was white except her. At one of her first fraternity parties, a drunk white boy sidled up to her and asked her about her foreign exchange program.

After a year of making tearful phone calls home to her heartbroken mother Scott transferred and landed more happily at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles where she is majoring in sociology. She accepts for now that she is confusingly adrift between her American and Chinese identities. When I tell Hagland, who is a co-moderator on the closed Facebook group TRA a Transracial Adoption community comprised of adoptive parents, adult adoptees and birth parents that many adoptive parents, including me, feel tremendous anxiety around introducing concepts of racism to their children he is kind but emphatic.

So if you prepare them for that you are helping them. Part of your role as a parent is teaching your child how to safely cross the street. Alex Landau, a year-old from Denver, remembers his first racial encounter. He was four years old, an African-American boy scuffling with a white boy on a Denver playground. But I just knew that my skin was different and I had no control over that.


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  8. You need to leave! But for the most part, race was never a conversation in their home. Meanwhile Landau spent much of his adolescence gelling his hair straight and wearing long sleeves and pants in the summer to cover up his dark skin. When he left home for college, his dad, who comes from a long line of Denver policemen, never gave him the talk—a tradition in many African-American homes—about how to have self preserving interactions with police and other authority figures.

    In Landau, then 19, was driving in Denver with a white friend in the passenger seat. Cops pulled him over and the officer accused Landau of making an illegal left turn. Landau was hauled out of his car and patted down. We should be able to talk as people. And then immediately I had my world changed. The officers grabbed Landau and started hitting him in the face. Two of the police officers who attacked him were later fired for unrelated uses of excessive force. Today Landau is the Racial Justice Organizer at the Colorado Progressive Coalition and he and his mother are working on a book about transracial adoption and the patterns and practices of police abuse in Denver.

    Together they hope to help spare future transracial families the ordeal of that night. I was just devastated. So I would strongly advise that parents do not have this sheltered mindset and be open to the narrative of folks who actually live this experience day to day. You can celebrate Kwanzaa. You can make BlackLivesMatter your Facebook profile picture.

    But for many white adoptive parents, the act of raising kids in a diverse environment is too hard, or too inconvenient, or too easy to trade off for better schools or safer neighborhoods. This despite a report from the Evan B. We live in a rural community. The difference is that when a black person is called a racially charged name, they go home and get the love and support from parents who look like them.