Free Range Mom Kicks off PEP TALKS Series

March 08, 2013

Lenore is best known for allowing her nine-year-old son to ride the New York Subway by himself. This landed her the moniker: “America’s worst mother,” a title she’s been refuting ever since. 

She’s a columnist and author of the blog and book Free Range Kids  and has even hosted her own reality TV show. She aims to “fight the belief that our children are
in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.”



The enthusiastic March 7 Pep Talks audience ?composed of mothers and fathers, local bloggers and Festival fans?  laughed and nodded as Lenore humorously critiqued
our safety-crazed society. She then laid out the reasons we should stop being so paranoid and help our kids to genuinely be a part of the world.

Some of her gems:

“School arrival and dismissal has changed to drop off and pick up … Children are like FedEx packages.”


“I have another son known as the son who did NOT ride the subway.”

She outlined the four main reasons we are afraid to let our children go out and experience the world:

* The 24-hour media cycle that perpetuates illogical fears of child predators and murder that, in fact, do not exist. She pointed out that watching back-to-back episode of Law and Order and CSI
would make anyone paranoid!
* A litigious culture, which makes every afraid of begin sued so that all the fun and possibility are being drained from playgrounds and activities. They have become so “safe” that they are boring
to children and teach them nothing about the world. 
* Expert culture whereby so-called parenting experts outline the most minute and banal things you should be doing as a parent, and as a result set parents up for failure. One parenting manual goes
so far as to explain how to properly hug your child and how to respond to their preschool drawings.
* The child safety industrial complex, which includes recalls of perfectly safe products and encourages the manufacture and marketing of products designed to take care of non-existent problems such
as rubber duckies to test the bath water temperature or baby knee pads to save baby’s precious knees. Lenore also took issue with the oft trotted out phrase “stranger danger,” citing that children
are more likely to be preyed on or abducted by family members that by strangers. In fact, children should be taught to approach a stranger if they feel they are in danger in a public place.

Despite the serious subject matter, Lenore’s frank, down-to-earth message was punctuated by laugh-out-loud moments that pointed to another important point for us parents: Lighten up!

It was a treat and a thrill to host Lenore as part of the PEP Talks Series  with net proceeds benefitting us, the Vancouver International Children?s Festival. She was
the first of four first-rate thinkers on the subject of modern parenting. Next up isSheryl Feinstein  who will reveal secrets of the Teenage
Brain on April 10.


Read blogger Lisa Corriveau’s recap of the Free Range PEP Talk!