Jason’s Ranting & Raving

Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.

A Free Range Kids Conversation

Posted by jaystile on June 11, 2010

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy


The hairstylist, Elaine, complimented me today on my very outgoing 5 year old daughter. My daughter had made the rounds after her haircut to each of the stylists. She introduced herself and made small talk while Dad was getting his hair cut. She even helped sweep up the hair and straighten the shelves.“Oh, she is so friendly!”, said Elaine

I responded with, “Yes, we don’t teach Stranger Danger in our house. We teach the girls not to go anywhere with a stranger and to stay away from stranger’s cars. But it’s OK to talk to people and even except a piece of candy.”

Elaine obviously misheard me at the point. She chimes in with, “Yeah, you should never take candy from strangers.” At this point the chit-chat changed into a lecture given by myself exhorting the values of free range children. The self reliance, problem solving, and social skills to name a few. And to point out that we should only be concerned about everyday type risks and not the 1-in-a-million type risks.

Needless to say, Elaine was unwilling to back down from her position that there is danger everywhere. Yes, I agree, danger is everywhere and one should teach children to be on the lookout and how to handle different situations. “Always wear your helmet; Look left-right-left again before crossing the street; Never go anywhere with a stranger; Put on sunblock and your hat! (We live in Colorado with 5280 less feet of atmosphere to stop those UV rays); Wear your seatbelt; Slice away from your fingers (My girls help with dinner preparation)”

With a little more (less than polite) back-and-forth, I repeated from “Free Range Kids” by Lenore Skenazy that there was not one recorded instance of a child’s candy being tampered with at Halloween. This is what transpired (and you can see where I lost my patience):

“There has never been one recorded case of someone tampering with a child’s candy”
“Oh yeah, it happened to my brother!”
“What happened?”
“Someone put a razor blade in his apple!”
“Which one of your neighbors was trying to kill your brother? Did the police come?”
“We were trick-or-treating… in another neighborhood…”
“And the first thing your brother did when he got back home after a hard night of trick-or-treating was to dive into his candy bag and say ‘I really cannot wait to eat this healthy delicious apple!’ ha-ha-ha”

Laughing at Elaine’s preposterous story earned me a lot of razor burn and deep scratches on my neck. It was totally worth it.

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