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Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy

Yes! So much yes! I agree wholeheartedly with the underlying message of this book. Imagination, independence, failure and responsibility are crucial features of childhood that have been under accelerated attack due to the rise in popularity of helicopter parenting.

The introduction to this book hooked me in. After the first few chapters, however, I noticed the tone begin to shift into a cycle of commentary from worried parents, followed by sarcastic remarks by the author with stories to the contrary. Wash, rinse and repeat. I found it hard to maintain focus after a while because the pattern of writing became so predictable.

That said, I find the bits about child rearing in other cultures beguiling and provided much-needed perspective. I also appreciate the “field guide” of sorts towards the end of the book that dispels and minimizes common dangers that monopolize the conversation among modern American parents. I have the feeling I’ll be referencing that section time and again.

When I hark back to my own childhood, I instantly think of the freedom afforded to me by my parents to ride around town with my friends on my mountain bike. There was no greater feeling of joy for me as a kid. Being able to roam freely with friends and play was so crucial to my growth into an adolescent, I wouldn't dare deprive my own future children of activities that could give them similar feelings of joy, trustworthiness, and free will. Let the kids play.