Free Range Kids

Andrea - posted on 07/14/2010 ( 25 moms have responded )




I was on facebook and on my friend's was talking about a mother that left her 8 year old home alone. Someone commented and started talking about a movement called Free Range Kids. I had never heard of this term so I googled it. It was started by a mother that left her son in Bloomigdales and let her 9 year old son find his own way home on the subway, she left with him a map, a MetroCard, quarters for the phone and $20 for emergencies. Their suppose to be all about safety but not being over protective.

What's your opinion on Free Range Kids? Would you ever drop your 9 off and let them find there way home? If not what age would you believe to be more appropriate?


Jodi - posted on 07/18/2010




So, Christina, I am curious....are you also one of those people who believe children shouldn't have cell phones??? And why or why not?? or are you one of those people who thinks your kids shouldn't be out on their own (ever) until they are 16 anyway?

Seriously, there is a BIG difference between 4 and 9.......heck one can wipe their arse on their own, the other one, it is kind of touch and go!!!

Cotton wool doesn't work, you know......part of being a parent is also gradually letting go. Maybe it is a different age for every child, depending on the child and depending on the location, but honestly, you can't ban them from all this and then suddenly unleash them at 16 or 17. At some point you have to let go, little by little. It's difficult, it's scary, but you have to do it........

Baby Steps......from the moment they are born.....

C. - posted on 07/17/2010




I heard about that. Quite honestly, I think those parents should be put in jail. Until the children are old enough and big enough to fight against an attacker, they should not be allowed to go by themselves on subways or shopping.. It's just crazy.

I know people are going to argue that the media makes the world look much more dangerous than what it is in reality (as one has already started), but it IS dangerous. There are too many pedophiles out there to let your YOUNG CHILD go somewhere like that alone.

I don't know about them, but I was molested when I was 4. FOUR!!!! That's just a 5 year difference. No way in heck would I let my 9 year old go by themselves. You must be out your da** mind.

AND, another thing.. I know this is going to piss some people off, but I don't really care. It's really how I honestly feel about this. I think parents that have 'free range kids' are lazy. You shouldn't let your kid go off by themselves all the time. You should know where they are and when. WHEN DID PARENTS GET SO DANG LAZY??? BE A PARENT AND GUIDE YOUR KID, THAT'S WHAT A PARENT IS SUPPOSED TO DO. PARENT FIRST, BE THEIR FRIEND SECOND. Is it possible to be both at the same time? No, b/c you end up letting the 'friend' side come through too often when you should be letting the parent side through just b/c you feel bad for disciplining them or protecting them. They won't realize it now, but they will in the future and when they look back, they'll be damn glad you cared about them enough to keep them from going to certain places and doing certain things.

And it's a bunch of BS that not letting a 9 or 10 year old on the subway by themselves is being overprotective. It's called being aware of the dangers and keeping your child as safe as humanly possible, which is what a parent's job is- to protect and nurture their children.

Isobel - posted on 07/18/2010




I am not big enough to fend off an attacker.

I will not allow my kids to run around willy nilly. There will be rules and I will always know where they are and what they are doing.

I think that people who think free-range parents are lazy ar uneducated in what free-range truly is.

You say you were molestedwhen you were 4 FOUR! I am curious...was that by a stranger? Cause if not, I certainly hope that in order to keep your child safe you will NEVER leave them alone with any adults in your vaccinity! Because most cases of molestation are a result of trusted friends and family members...not strangers on the street.

I am sure that your safety bubble gives you a wonderful sense of security...I just think it's a false one.

Sharon - posted on 07/16/2010




There is a time & a place.

This world grows more & more populated and for some reason the sick & twisted are flourishing. It is my fight to keep my children safe from those who would harm them.

This child was not free ranging anywhere, she was in her front yard, in a neighborhood where nothing ever happens.,0,6745778.story

LOUISIANA, MO ( - The FBI is now playing a key role in the search for a Louisiana, Missouri girl who was snatched while playing in her front yard Monday night. Federal investigators say a child abduction rapid deployment unit is among the resources that have been brought to bear in the tiny Pike County town. Louisiana Police Chief Rich Hughes fought back tears as he briefed the media on the status of missing 4-year-old Alisa Maier.

Chief Hughes said there were very few details into the abduction but they do believe it was random and are looking at surveillance video from a nearby convenience store and looking into all leads. The FBI is also investigating.

Alisa Maier was taken from her front yard around 8 p.m. Monday night. Her parents were at home at the time of the abduction. An Amber Alert was issued after her five-year-old brother told police a man in a black 4 door passenger car pulled up and took the child from the yard. Louisiana, Missouri is in Pike County, about 90 miles north of St. Louis and sits along the Mississippi River.

Alisa is a white female, 3 feet tall, weighs 40 lbs, with brown hair and brown eyes. She is believed to have been wearing a white t-shirt and blue jean shorts.

There is very little description on the suspect in this case. It is believed Alisa was taken by a white male around 20 years old. He took off in the 4 door passenger car.

The Illinois State Police and the FBI are assisting in the investigation and search. About 60 officers are on the case. Authorities are also asking for the public's help. Anyone who wants to volunteer should go to the Elks Lodge in Louisiana, Missouri, 120 North 5th Street. They will be given assignments.


That is one of the original stories. Alisa was found safe, wandering alone at a car wash. The suspect, a convicted sex offender, was out on bail, (I think) and committed suicide before he could be apprehended.

I think we all know that outcome is NOT normal for a stranger abduction.

This conversation has been closed to further comments


View replies by

Valerie - posted on 07/31/2010




Sounds to me like the free-range-kid movement is a radical reaction to how this generation tends to hover over our little ones. I remember going to the park 3 streets away on my bike, on my own, at 7 or 8 years old, with instructions to come home when the street lights come on. Now you have parents that never let their kids out of their sight, never let them figure things out on their own, solve their own problems, play their own games. I saw a documentary about fresh-out-of college kids (the first of this sheltered generation to reach adulthood), and their parents are actually doing the calls for their job interviews, negotiating salaries, calling their bosses...
Sounds to me like a free-range kid can grow up to be trusted, solve their own problems, and be autonomous adults.

Coley - posted on 07/22/2010




My siblings and I were left at home for short periods of time (mum had to run a quick errand) when we were young, but my oldest sister was about 11-12, if I remember correctly, and we lived in a small town. We were all individually drilled on what to do in an emergency. We had to be able to recite our parent's full names, our phone number, our full address, which neighbor's house to run to, etc. My mum knew we were mature enough to not do anything stupid, and we weren't allowed to cook or anything until she was there to help/watch. My younger brother was a troublemaker, though, so she always took him with her so he didn't pick fights with us 3 older girls, or "the baby". My younger sister was a few years old at the time, but my oldest sister was/is a very good sitter and helped take care of her all the time anyway. We were allowed to roam the neighborhood either on foot, or on our bikes, but we were very close and always traveled as a "pack", lol.

The city I currently live in apparently has an unusually high kidnapping rate, so although (when he's mature enough) I will let him go places without me, he will be required to let me know where he's going, carry an emergency-only phone, and be with at least one other person. If he's walking over to a neighborhood kid's house at a younger age, I need to know that the other parent's know, are home, and are okay with it. My 2 baby sisters are notorious for wandering off, and have ended up at a friends house without the parent's knowledge and were given cans of beer by their little friends at an extremely young age. After they came home hours later, they were chewed out for not saying where they had gone, but our parents never found out about the alcohol since even the other kid's parents didn't know.

Janessa - posted on 07/22/2010




That does not sounds like a bad idea. Sinced i grew up in Haiti sinced i was 9 years old. My mom always left me home alone to take care of my two younger sibling sinced i was 4 years old and we would go everywhere. Haiti is way more dangerouse then majority of places in canada and america. Looking back i can't not believe how we survived. I still think it is dangerouse because our world is getting very scary and if something happened to your child you would feel sick to your stomach and would not be able to forgive yourself. I can see maybe teaching your kids how to get home with you along just in case someone took them.

Danielle - posted on 07/22/2010




This wouldn't be for me. Even if I had a very trustworthy 9 year old child who would almost certainly be able to make it home I wouldn't risk it. There are still crazy people out there! My son is only 15 months old so of course we aren't anywhere near that stage of independence...but in my family growing up I was 10 years old before I was allowed to be home alone. And even then it was only for a short amount of time. Like I would get home from school at 3pm and my mom would get home at 4pm. That was the age I was allowed to start walking to school without an adult (but with friends) too. But I don't think my mom and dad would ever have wanted me to take the bus home from the mall by myself or anything until I was at least 12. They would've driven me.

Jodi - posted on 07/18/2010




LOL Laura. From the time I was about 12, I used to jump on a horse and ride off into the bush on my own as a kid (or ride it to the lake for a swim in the summer). Sometimes I met up with my best friend who lived a few properties up the road and we rode together.

When I think about it now as a parent, I wonder how much I must have worried my parents. What if my horse had thrown me and I ended up injured? I always told them pretty much where I was going, and always followed the trails, and always promised to be home by a certain time, but still, it must have been worrying for them. I really appreciate, however, that they DID let me go, and maybe that has made it a little easier for me to let go a bit with my kids. So far, my son has proven to be trustworthy in his freedom.

Isobel - posted on 07/18/2010




You know what's weird? I'm at my Mom's house in the country, and I am having a VERY hard time letting them out on their home in the city, I know that they are NEVER alone. Here, it's easy to see a lone wandering grown up be able to do lots of evil stuff, cause there's nobody around to stop them (or even see them) may sound strange to some of you but I think the city is FAR safer.

Sarah - posted on 07/18/2010




I tend to lean more towards a "free range" approach. Although my eldest is only just 6, so it's not a big thing at the moment.

I don't want my kids to grow up fearing everything and everyone, although obviously I will teach them common sense and "stranger danger" etc etc. There's a difference between free range and letting your kids run wild!!

I think the media DOES have a lot to do with scaremongering people into thinking that the world is this awful place. It's no worse now than it's ever been.

It depends on the child, and the area and the circumstances. I don't think you can make blanket statements on this, there's too many grey areas.

C. - posted on 07/17/2010




And for the record, I think EVERY loving parent wants to teach their child responsibility and safety.. But letting your 9 year old run about town all alone is NOT the way to go about it, IMO.

And about leaving the 8 year old home alone?? Nope.. Especially if there is a creeper in the neighborhood and they notice you left your kid in the house and nobody's home. You never know what could happen and your children are YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

I think if people do that when their kids are that young and something happens to the child/children, the parents should definitely be held responsible and possibly even charged with neglect b/c those incidents could have been prevented if the parent would just take their child with them. It's ridiculous.

Christy - posted on 07/16/2010




My daughter is only 2 at the moment so it's hard to say for sure how I will feel when she is older but these are my current thoughts. Right now we live in town but on a fairly quiet street so if we are still here when she is 5 or 6 I will let her walk across the street or the alley to play with the other kids but I will watch her leave from my porch and ask the other child's parent to do the same when she comes home.

As for playing in the yard, we have a fenced in back yard and a storm door in our kitchen so for this year and next year I will probably be out there with her at all times but by the time she is 4 I may let her play out back while I tidy up the kitchen and whatnot.

We do plan to move to the country in 5 to 7 years and if we do she will be allowed to play in the yard by herself whenever she wants to. I was the kind of kid who always wanted to be outside and if she is the same way I don't want to take that away from her just from being paranoid. Also, if she has friends that live in the area I will let her go on bike rides with them when she's 9 or 10 but I will have to judge the area as to whether or not she would be allowed to go on her own.

I think totally Free Range is too scary of a thought for me right now but I plan to teach my daughter how to be responsible and independent so we will have to wait to see if my opinion changes in the future.

Jane - posted on 07/16/2010




I think it all depends on the kid. I too was a "don't talk to strangers" type mom but it wasn't to the extent of paranoia. Some kids at 9 are very self reliant and mature. With the example in the start of this post, with the 9 year old boy left in Bloomingdales, I'm guessing this was Manhattan and honestly, a kid in Manhattan (I'm a Bronx kid) probably does this quite often.

At 9, my daughter was very self reliant although I live in a semi-rural environment so there are no public buses, taxi's, subways, etc. so it's drive your kids everywhere. School was many miles away for her when she was 9 so she had to be driven to and from school or take the school bus. My son's (he's now almost 17) elementary school, however, was only 1 mile from home and while he took the bus most times, he knew how to get home and had done it on occassion when he missed the bus and decided not to call me.

I don't think it's a bad concept...the Free Range Kids thing...I think teaching safety is extremely important rather than fear!

Tara - posted on 07/16/2010




each child is different. I let my oldest son stay home alone at 9 years old for short times. Free range kids is a nice label, but I'm afraid it will give the wrong impression if I use it, lol
I am very confident in my children because I raised them! I know my kids well and I know what they can handle.
I believe in letting my children show me when they are ready for things. I wouldn't let my 9 year old alone on the subway to find her way home (not because I don't think she could do it, but I would worry about a 9 year old girl being preyed upon by others). I do let her ride her bike all over our tiny town, I let her stay home alone for 2-3 hours. I let my 7 year old ride her bike all over but would never leave her home alone at his age.
My 14 year old son has been staying home alone overnight since he was 12. He is responsible and smart. He knows the rules and he obeys them. He respects the fact we trust him. And he makes good choices about his time.
Kids need to spread their wings. Being over-protective is a disservice to kids. They are capable.
King Tut ruled a nation at the age of 11. Many other historical figures were on their own doing adult things at young ages.
We don't give kids enough credit. I think over the generations we have infanticized our children. Babied them and now think they are lost without us. It's not the case. Given the right tools, the right support and the right example children can be a lot more than we allow them to be.
I want my kids to grow up being responsible and wise decision makers. So I help then to explore their independence.
Free Range kids? When the time is right.

Jessica - posted on 07/15/2010




Honestly I can't see letting my 9 year old do that. My son is only 1 right now lol but unfortunately I think I'm going to be one of the more over protective ones. Hopefully I'll be able to make myself back off though when its appropriate because I DON'T want to be one of those parents who smothers her children. Part of it too is where we live right now- its really not the nicest neighborhood. Its crowded, a very busy street, kind of ghetto. I'm a tad agoraphobic anyway and keep the door locked when I'm home alone and won't even take a walk down the street. However we don't want to live hear for more than a few more years so I think if we were in a nicer, safer place I wouldn't be so paranoid.

Jenny - posted on 07/15/2010




I'll let my 7 year old stay home if I run to grab milk but the 2 year old comes with me. I have a deli across the street so it's a 5 min. excursion. We'll go longer as I feel more comfortable about it. She, of course, thinks it great and she told me it makes her feel "older". We're not going to keep our kids in bubbles. The world's harsh but they are going to have to learn how to operate within it.

[deleted account]

My girls play outside unsupervised all the time. I've thought about leaving one of them home alone when I have to make a 10 minute round trip before, but since I can't guarantee that nothing would delay my return home... I've never done it.

Funny story... A while ago my girls told my ex about how they walk alone to school from their Auntie's house and back again. My ex sure was questioning them about that one since the last he knew the Auntie had lived across the town (and the major highway) from the school. What he didn't know was that they had moved RIGHT next to the school and the girls could get there w/out ever stepping foot in any street. I got a good round of gqtm over that one.... like he seriously thought I would let my children walk that fat AND across and extremely busy street. Yeah, right. ;)

Joanna - posted on 07/15/2010




I might let my daughter play in our community with her friends when she's 7, 8, 9. But we might not be here that long. It's a really nice, safe, community. We may be moving closer to my husband's work, and he works in the ghetto of Los Angeles, so I wouldn't let her out on her own that young in that area, or even in a nicer area of LA. it just scares me to no end, the creeps that are out there.

Rosie - posted on 07/15/2010




it all depends on the child and where you live. i live in a great town, feel safe, and my oldest child is now able to be by himself when i go places. i started doing that when he was 8 for a couple minutes here and there, and then when he was 9 i started going for longer stretches.
i do not leave my 5 and 3 year old at home with him-i don't trust him to pay enough attention to them-he has ADHD and high functioning autism. i'd say about a month or 2 before school ended, i started letting him walk home by himself. he crosses the main road in our town to do so.
he goes to his friends house that he has to cross a fairly busy road to get to, and that is about as far as i will let him go. his friend is about 4 blocks away. i havn't let him go to a park or anything yet, but he really hasn't asked yet either, so i'm gonna wait till he does, lol!!

i do worry about him, but i also know that i can't continually hover. if we had a subway system here i would not let my child go on it at the age he is now, 10. however, my middle boy who is 5 is showing more maturity and social skills than his brother, so who knows things might be different for him. :)

Andrea - posted on 07/15/2010




. My kids 10,9,7 play out side and ride there bikes but they have to do it in pairs. I have a park caddy-corner from my house I don't let them go by them selves. I couldn't imagine having my 9 year old or even 10 year find there way home even if it was a familiar area I just couldn't do it. I'm in walking area from the school and I prefer to drive them. I did let them walk for a couple day last year by them selves when i has pregnant and my car was in the shop. The had a cell phone and I made them call me when the got to school so that way I knew they arrived safely. Today I was dropping my son off at summer school and I watched 4 kids his age get off public transit. so maybe I am over protective than most. You hear story's off people kids being kid napped riding there bikes around the block. Playing in there yard by them selves. Walking to school. I prefer not to let there be to many chance of my kids becoming a statistic.

Isobel - posted on 07/15/2010




I'll be letting my daughter take the subway by herself by grade 5 or 6...but I already let her and her brother 7, play outside with their friends and ride their bikes to the park. I think that the media makes the world look much more dangerous than it is and that keeping our kids in a bubble is the downfall of today's society.

Jodi - posted on 07/14/2010




Well, my son is almost 13, and he was being a pain in the butt in the car this morning and I came damn close to dumping him on the side of the highway and telling him to hike it. If he'd given me any more mouth I probably would have!!!

Anyway, I did hear about that particular case, and the boy was familiar with the area. It wasn't like it was the first ever time he had been that route. And I think, from memory, it was only one subway stop away or something. I probably wouldn't have let my son do it at 9, but I do believe it is dependent on the individual child. For instance, there are things I allowed my son to do on his own at 11 that we would never allow my step-son (who is now 11) to do in a fit, simply because he is a lot less mature.

I do agree that children are not being taught personal responsibility as much as we were when I was younger (I am 40, just for the record).

I saw a report last night that stated that 47% of adults aged between 24 and 34 still live at home, and don't contribute financially (that's right, mum and dad don't charge them board....not happening in our house!!!). We need to stop babying and coddling our children, but we need to do this by finding a healthy balance. And really, only we, as parents, know our child's individual capanbilities. But we, as parents, need to allow our kids to explore those capabilities too.

Kimberly - posted on 07/14/2010




Its hard to say what I would do because my duaghter isnt even one yet but I really couldnt see myself dropping my child off somewhere that huge to find there own way home but maybe letting them going to the park up the road and back or running into the store to get a few things while I waited in the car. I'd say by 12/13 they should be able to go with friends and be able to meet me somewhere to be picked up( we dont have great public transport where I live) We are more over protective now a days with our kids but its the fact that things arent the same as when I grew up. I'll allow my daughter different degrees of indepentence when I think she is old enough to handle them.

Shelley - posted on 07/14/2010




no i wouldn't leave my 9 year old alone to get home but i do think there is a balance and that children are not being taught to take personal responcibility because mums are doing too much for them.
What age? maybe closer to 14 when they can start working and can understand more of the dangers ect

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms