Would you leave your kids at the park and tell them to stay there?

This is exactly what Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids is asking parents to do this coming Saturday, May 22 at the first ‘take our children to the park and leave them there’ day. The fact that Skenazy has declared a specific day in which to do this says a lot. It tells us that very few parents feel comfortable sending their children to the playground without adult supervision. But it also tells us that adults need to make a formal day in which to be free-range parents.

I find it absurdly ironic that adults are bonding together in order to plan for their children to be free-range. It’s sort of like the barrage of books on the topic of simple living – complicate the subject before you can live simply.

So, I’m wondering about the children. They seem have been left out of the equation here. They are talked about like passive entities. Understandably, some parents need to be reminded that they can leave their children at the playground. But creating a date only formalizes a process that should be initiated and guided by children. I have visions, for example, of parents who want to leave their single child in the playground when he would really rather wait for a day when his friends are around.

It’s great that there are people like Skenazy who push the envelope of parenting philosophies and give Mom and Dad a venue where they can exchange ideas. But when it comes respecting childhood and having a hands-off approach, we really need to be hands-off.

My children aren’t old enough to participate in a day such as ‘take our children to the park and leave them there.’ If they were, I might suggest that they go to the park. But if they’d rather bike around the block trying to find the ice cream truck, I would consider that just as respectable. There is simply no need to formalize and adultfy the process of leaving kids alone. Maybe next time we want to celebrate the idea of free-range parenting, we should ask the kids what they think first.

2 Responses to “Would you leave your kids at the park and tell them to stay there?”

  1. 1 amoment2think May 17, 2010 at 2:01 am

    You have a really good point here, and I agree that the process should be initiated by children, not by adults. But I also see value in encouraging parents to be more free range, even if the way it is done isn’t particularly free range. So I don’t know. My kid isn’t old enough either, but I remember playing the the park all day as a kid and I know I want my daughter to be free to do the same. And it would be nice if she had some other kids to play with when she decides she wants to spend the day in the park. 🙂

    • 2 Mama Tortoise May 17, 2010 at 5:34 am

      Thanks for your thoughts, amoment2think. I was thinking about past discussions on using our children as a sort of political statement. We want to be a certain ‘type’ and so we use our children as a venue to demonstrate certain beliefs. This is okay to some extent, but ultimately we need to keep some perspective about the statement we are trying to make. ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’ kinda thing.

      And yes, I remember playing outside at the playground by myself ALL the time. And we played in the forests and streams too. All unsupervised. I guess we just need to remember this when we bring up our kids.

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Inspiration for free-range parenting or simple living

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