One More Hip Parenting Term I Can Live Without: Free-Range Kids

I just read a Newsweek article called "Are Modern Kids Coddled? Helicopter Moms vs. Free-Range Kids." I'm simultaneously annoyed and entertained.

You may recall a recent hullabaloo over a mom who let her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone in New York. He wanted to try to go someplace and figure out how to get home on his own. He did and his mom, Lenore Skenazy, also a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote about it.

And now two weeks later, here's Newsweek plugging a discussion about "Free-Range Kids," which just so happens to be the the name of Skenazy's new blog:

"At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less."

Let me paraphrase: Just like free-range chicken, parents of free-range kids let them roam. They raise healthy, independent, safe and sane children. Unlike helicopter and/or hyper parents who coddle and worry and make their children all stressed out about random violence and freaky strangers.

In the words of Randy Jackson on American Idon: Dude.

This is a story about a kid who took the subway alone in New York. Like that hasn't happened before? There are kids all over the country who take buses, subways, trains and bikes to school safely. And more than 40,000 kindergarteners are home alone after school every day just in the U.S. alone.* But we don't read about them because their moms aren't newspaper columnists. And these kids? They do it out of necessity, not because they're bored.

What I do think is interesting is the choice of the words: "free range." Everyone wants to eat healthier and be rid of food injected with bad stuff. Of course we want to eat free-range poultry and meat. We're all about organic. Wouldn't we want our kids to be free range too? It's brilliant, really.

So are you as surprised as I am that this is a news story? Does the term "free-range kids" bug you as much as it bugs me? And of course, the obligatory question...would you/do you let your 'tween ride public transportation alone?