I'll never be a free-range parent

The modern range has lost touch with the concepts of propriety and shame, as the definitions of what is publicly acceptable have changed. Behaviors that used to be kept behind closed doors are now dressed in their Sunday best, marched out the front door, and paraded down the street for all to see (and affirm, if they know what’s good for them). Advertisements that used to be for adults only are writ large on roadside billboards and blared on radio and TV spots. And language that was once avoided in polite company is now uttered with abandon on social media and YouTube and plastered unblinkingly on bumper stickers.

Rather than send my child out into this moral wilderness entirely on his own, I prefer, if I can, to walk ahead and shield his eyes a bit longer.

I think the principle behind the free-range movement is laudable. I understand the pitfalls of overscheduling and scripting our children’s lives and following them around like drones, ready to swoop down at the earliest sign of trouble. I appreciate what Skenazy is trying to do in encouraging parents to allow for greater independence, resourcefulness, and creativity in their children.

As a society, we have swung too far in the direction of keeping ourselves and our children safe at all costs, leading to ridiculous stories of parents being arrested for letting children play in their own yards. But there is no way I would allow my nine-year-old to take a subway alone in New York.

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