Parent Pearl: How Children Learn Bravery in an Age of Overprotection

by Peter Gray, An excerpt from Psychology Today

In the spring of 2008, Lenore Skenazy, a resident of Queens in New York City, left her 9-year-old son off at Bloomingdale’s in midtown Manhattan, in the middle of a sunny Sunday, gave him a handful of quarters, $20 for emergencies, a map, a Metrocard, and a kiss (I assume) and said he could go home himself.  To do so he would have to take the subway and a bus, on a route he had taken many times before with his mom. When he got home he was pleased as punch. He had been begging for this opportunity to prove that he could get home himself by public transportation, and now he had done it. He glowed with his new sense of maturity.

Lenore, who was then a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote a column about it. Within hours after the column appeared some in the media had labeled her as “America’s Worst Mom.” In a rare show of unity, all of the women on ABC’s The View soundly condemned her decision.  The more polite of the other fourth-grade moms at the playground said, according to Lenore, things like, “Well, that’s fine, and I’ll let my son do that too…. when he’s in college.”  Lenore used this incident as a trigger to write a wonderfully funny book entitled Free Range Kids, in which she diminishes parental fears by showing how ridiculous so many of them are.

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