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Publisher's Summary

Lenore Skenazy called down a firestorm of controversy when she wrote a newspaper column about letting her nine-year-old ride alone on the New York City subway. In this plainspoken take on modern parenting, Skenazy offers a commonsense approach to letting kids be kids.
©2009 Lenore Skenazy (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Skenazy flies the black flag of "America's Worst Mom," a title this syndicated columnist and NPR commentator earned by allowing her nine-year-old son to ride the New York City public transit alone in 2008. Here, she puts parents' fears to bed by examining the statistical likelihood of the dangers we most fear (murder, baby-snatching, etc.). Drawing on facts, statistics, and humor, she convincingly argues that this is one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world, reiterating that "mostly, the world is safe...and mostly, people are good." Even the lowest-flying helicopter parents would have trouble disagreeing that "we have entered an era that says you cannot trust yourself. Trust a product instead." Skenazy argues that it's time to retire the national pastime of worrying and that "childhood is supposed to be about discovering the world, not being held captive." The obvious has never been so hilarious." ( Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • C
  • hounslow, KS, United States
  • 08-24-10

Plenty to think about

I read this today and was relieved to find it was written by someone who can actually write, has a sense of humour and - best of all - can succesfully avoid triggering the gag reflex of a 41-year-old male curmudgeon. I was quite interested at the range of emotion it provoked in me, from wanting to shake her hand and buy her a drink to wanting to hurl the book across the room. I didn't hurl it though because it's an audiobook and my ipod is precious so I hurled James Joyce's "Ulysses" instead. Even after all these years it's surprising how therapeutic that can be.

Anyway, she's very good* on educational toys, Baby Einstein DVDs ("Even Mozart didn't listen to Mozart as a kid. His kids did though - and who's ever heard of them?"), and general running-about-outdoors-and-making-a-mess. she is fundamentally unsound** on breastfeeding and bicycling***. There are some dodgy applications of statistics in there and some hackneyed health-and-safety-gone-mad stories are trotted out, such as that old chestnut - no pun intended - about conkers being banned throughout England by government fiat. On the whole, the buy-her-a-drink tendency outweighed the throw-Ulysses-across-the-room tendency about 80:20, so buy the book if you're in the mood to have an argument with the author in your head or if you need an antidote to society's excesses but that's about it.

Footnotes:
*=by which of course i mean "she reinforces my prejudices"
**=by which of course i mean "she does not reinforce my prejudices"
***=alliteration aside, even i would have to admit it is unwise to combine the two...."

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

even more true now than when it was written

what a great book. Absolutely essential for parents and anyone involved with kids. And a great sense of humor. Very enjoyable very informative

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mia
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 07-19-16

Thought provoking but needed breaks from the read

I found this topic thought provoking and the book offered a lot to agree or disagree or partially agree with, which I enjoyed. My one kind of significant issue with this audio book is the tone of voice of the reader. There was kind of a cloying snarkiness to it which I found to be unlikeable and actually made me feel more hesitant to embrace the author's ideas. It just made it all sound a little mean girl ish or negative or something despite what I believe was meant to be a positive and liberating book. I kept on because I did like the book, but had to take breaks from hearing the reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Simply a long argument

I was hoping this book would describe the childhood my parents and grandparents had, but the content was primarily just an argument for why one should let their children be "free range". However, there is little actual content on what it means to be "free range". I suspect anyone reading this book would have already decided to go "free range", making the repeated arguments for going "free range" unnecessary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Perfect Book for the Worried Parent

Headline for all American Parents: Mostly, Things Go Well --- This is what I really took away from Lenore's book, that yes, bad stuff happens, but mostly, things turn out okay. This doesn't mean to ignore or neglect your kids, but it notes how parenting in America has become this micro-managed activity where parents don't even feel comfortable letting their 12 or 13 year old go to the park without them.

It reminds us how we grew up-- without cellphones, with free-range of the neighborhood, walking to school or being out of touch with our parents for hours without them thinking we were abducted.

Why have we become such helicopter parents? Lenore's book looks at the question and considers the media and well, the disapproving looks of other parents and compares what we do as parents in America versus other parts of the world.

It's a great book to listen to if you want to give your kids more independence, but are worried about it or what might happen. I think it will be a book I will listen to on many occasions to re-remind me how much independence we used to have and how to help our kids have a little more.

Oh, the only negative in the book is at first you might think the reader is going to come off as annoying the whole book (almost a know-it-all), but her voice becomes more of a comfort than a hinderance as the book progresses.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Important message that's hard to hear

I think this book describes an extremely important shift in thinking about how to support children in becoming whole, healthy, well-rounded adults. But I find it hard to recommend the listen because the reader's voice and the author's tone and style conspire to sound like such a stereotypical hyper-anxious hovermom, it's hard for me to relate to her or even pay attention to some of the valuable arguments she makes. Which is a shame.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Understand my anxiety better

Lenore helped me realize that my worrywart parenting isn't entirely my fault which is really helpful-- it's bad enough to parent with such anxiety but to add guilt on top of it is just too much. She breaks down the reasons why we've gotten to the gluten-free, helmet at all times, keep your child on a leash (or better yet, in a bubble) state we're all in!

Extremely helpful and entertaining read/listen.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting to think about

Free range parenting is an interesting concept in this helicopter parenting world. I have three kids. I really thought about the points the author made about free range parenting, as I made decisions about what I feel comfortable with as a parent.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

love it.

content was good reading was good. I'm going to try and get my 8 year old to ride her bike a bit further from home today.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Must read for all parents.

wish all parents would read. we could raise happier and more competent kids. perhaps I could then find other like minded families who would allow kids to explore. Very sad to see parks empty while all the kids sit at home in front of screens.