Would You Leave Your Kid in a Park?

At least one mother says yes. Me, I'm not so sure.
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Would You Leave Your Kid in a Park?

At least one mother says yes. Me, I’m not so sure.

-Shana Aborn

Children at a park

As play spaces go, Central Park’s Ancient Playground is a kids’ paradise. Everywhere you look, children of all ages are climbing the pyramid-shaped walls, digging through the sand pit and running after each other. My daughter makes a beeline for the tire swings, while my son begs to take off his T-shirt so he can get drenched in the sprinkler.

The playground is clean, securely fenced with only one gate, and so well-padded that a kid would have to work hard to skin a knee. A few decades ago, a mom would think nothing of dropping off her school-age child in a place like this for an hour – or even letting him go there alone if he lived close by. But when I ask the mothers here if they’d consider letting their children play on their own, they raise their eyebrows and say, “Are you kidding?” Even my 7-year-old son calls the idea “stinky.”

It looks as if “Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day” may take a while to catch on.

The parents-free Saturday playdate is the brainchild of Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids. Skenazy, who’s become locally famous (or infamous) for letting her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone, is tired of seeing kids spending their childhood at home with their Wiis, socializing only at soccer matches and scheduled get-togethers. This lack of independence, she says, takes a toll on confidence and social skills.

Read Why Even Good Moms Take Risks

“Kids play differently when they’re alone than when they’re with parents,” Skenazy says. “You don’t get as much self-regulation when you’re on a team or playing with Mom.” So she proposed a day to let children get together and have some fun without parents hovering around.

You’d have thought she was telling moms to abandon their kids in a dark alley with a pack of Marlboros and a pint of Jack Daniel’s.

The reaction among the local media and local moms was swift and furious: WORLD’S WORST MOM! What kind of irresponsible behavior is that? Why not send an engraved invitation to all the kidnappers and pedophiles? What if some child breaks a bone or loses a tooth without an adult to help? Even my own friends laughed and said, “I’d like some of whatever she’s smoking!”

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0 thoughts on “Would You Leave Your Kid in a Park?

  1. I would worry way too much! I don’t think I’d be able to leave my kid on a playground alone…maybe a bike ride around the block would be ok.

  2. Lenore Skenazy is a total NUT. Why is she so obsessed with how other people raise their children. She wants to drop her kid off in Central Park alone? Fine. But why make a mission out of it?

  3. I couldn’t do this. Have the kids play outside the house, yes. A park, no. I remember getting approached when I was a kid. I ran like hell; I was lucky.

  4. I don’t have kids, so Im not entirely sure, but could it also be that in the old days when people had larger families, letting a 7 year old go somewhere parent free was okay because they also had 9, 10 and 12 year old siblings to go with them?

  5. I don’t have kids either, but I still think this lady is off her rocker …how could you just leave your kid alone? I dont understand the independence part at all at 7 or 8…they don’t need to be independent at that age …they still need their parents…and whether or not the crime rate has gone down…there is still a lot of dirt that goes on everyday..apparently she hasnt watched the news in awhile..

  6. I wish kids could go exploring,riding bikes or other places like when I was growing up. I realise tv, radio and the internet tells us about bad things happening to kids every few minutes all over the world. It’s not that it’s happening more, we just hear about it more. But truth be told with excuses being made for the perverts in courts, so they are let out of jail after awhile. So they go after someone else. If perverts were kept in prison or executed maybe things would be a little different.Cases in point,4 young women( I knew one since she was 3) in Bristol Tn/Va. have been murdered. So far 2(Including my young friend)have been tied to the same guy and rumors are the other 2 were connected to him also. He was on a sex offender list. So it seems to me teens and young adult children are apt to get in bad situations easier then little ones. If you won’t let the little ones out, why let the others? I don’t know the answer,except make some laws that people who hurt or kill kids,teens and young adults for their pleasures and kicks should be put to death. And I mean PUT TO DEATH!!! No put offs, appeals,mental treatments and NO SEX OFFENDER LIST. People like this can’t be cured. And they really shouldn’t put someone on that list for teen sex, unless it was really rape.

  7. We were allowed to go up and down our street when I was a kid, but that was it — we could not leave our street without a parent. About 15 years ago, my kids were at that age, and I allowed them to ride a bike to their friend’s house or walk, but i had to know where they were going and I had to know the family and I still think that is okay today. when they were a little older, they were allowed to ride their bikes in the subdivision and to to play at their friends houses without me bringing them. However, I do not think it is okay to leave a child at a public park to play by themselves in a big city. We had a park by our house, but the only ones that played there were the kids that lived in our subdivision and my kids were allowed to go there to play without me. But we lived out in the country and it was not a heavy populated park. My husband said when he was little they would ride their bikes over town — his town was population 200 tops. Most of this really depends on where you live and how many of the people you know.

  8. Children do not have to be completely alone to learn independence. Let them do things for themselves, let them make some of their own decisions, let them play within a reasonable distance — but don’t leave them away from any supervision whatsoever. It’s not a matter of whether crime rates are up or down; it’s a matter of whether child have the physical, emotional, and cognitive maturity to take care of themselves (including self-defense or escaping from danger if necessary), make good judgments/decisions quickly, find their way home safely, or deal with anything else that arises. Young children do not have all of those abilities, no matter how many times you let them ride the subway or play in a park on their own. They’re not just miniature adults; their brains are still developing and work differently than ours do. And you can’t rely on other responsible, trustworthy adults to be around all the time (or to know what kind of care your child needs even if they are around).

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