Theme 4 – Helicopter parents vs free range kids Q&A
with "America's Worst Mom"

Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy, a columnist and a website proprietor, has been fighting against “helicopter parents’ since 2009. Her belief has put her in the “Amercia’s worst mum” list of Google. Watch her interview with correspondent Kennedy in the attached video clip.

We suggest you do the following matching task first. Then watch the video clip and do the comprehensive task to check your understanding. Finally, practise the” further thinking” task.




Task A: Matching Task

Match the words and acronyms in Column A with the correct definitions and full forms in Column B below:

Task B: Comprehension Task

Read the questions first before watching the video clip. Give the answers to the questions after watching the video clip once. You can watch the video clip again if you can’t get the answers in the first viewing.

  1. Why is Lenore Shrenzy in the worst mum’s list of Google?

    It is because she is a free-range mum, which is a feature of bad parent in people’s eyes.

    Hide answer.

  2. Why does Lenore think that promoting free-range kids is a movement in these days?

    It is a movement because people get inspired and have started assessing their ways of parenting.

    Hide answer.

  3. According to the interview, have parenting skills changed over the years? Why and why not?

    Yes, parenting skills have changed over time as people have become more insecure with the environment they live in, especially after the frequent and sensational reports of child abduction and abuse cases in the media.

    Hide answer.

  4. What does Lenore want to reveal by telling the experience of her friend, Melissa, in Walmart?

    -To show that people around us will push us to be the typical “good” parents even if we don’t want to.
    -To tell that she began to realize current parenting skills were filled with problems.

    Hide answer.

  5. Does Lenore support the use of worst-first thinking? What is her explanation?

    -No, because she believes that there is a little risk in everything and kids will never be safe, but they need to know this and learn to be independent and able to handle risks in their lives.

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  6. What is the view of the correspondent of this interview on free range kids? How do you know?

    She supports Lenore’s view as she calls for more liberated and enlightened parents at the end of the interview.

    Hide answer.

Task C: Further thinking Task

This task is to help you think more about the subject being discussed in the video clip. There are no fixed answers to the questions. You can say anything as long as they are reasonable and sensible. The suggested answers are for reference only.

  1. Will Lenore’s role as a newspaper columnist and book writer affect the credibility or contradict her role as an advocate of free-range kids?

    Suggested answers: It will not if she is really a strong believer of free-range kids and practice as a free-range parent in her real life. It will if she does not practice what she promotes.

    Hide answer.

  2. Do you think “helicopter parents and free-range kids” is a good title for this video? Why or why not?

    Suggested answers:

    -Helicopter parents vs free range parents is more appropriate as the video talks about parenting skills more.
    -The title is appropriate as it describes two extremes in parenting: extreme controlling parents who cannot take their eyes off their children, and relaxed parents who let their children run around like free range farm animals.

    Hide answer.

Video ©ReasonTV (


K: (interviewer) L: Lenore (interviewee)

L: If you google … uh … ”America’s Worst Mom”, I’m there for 68 Google pages.
K: Hey it’s Kennedy from Reason TV at Bleecker Street Park here in New York City with Lenore
Skenazy. Now Lenore, you’ve become famous for writing columns not only in the New York Post ... you also had a book that came out on 2009, “Free Range Kids”
L: “Free Range Kids” is the book that bought the movement. Yup.
K: And it is a movement … when I talk to people about that, they are really inspired at the thought of … really? I can stop worrying and be a better parent?
L: Um … I don’t know if you’ll be a better parent, but you don’t have to worry to be a good parent.
K: Yeah … and … parenting nowadays is filled with worry … it’s all about restriction and regulation and hysteria, when did you first realize this?
L: Um … you know I realized it before I became the free range mom. I remembered a friend telling me that she had been at the … um… at Walmart or someplace like that and waiting in line and the lady in line behind her asked her if she would watch the baby … and my friend Melissa said yes and then she told me that, “Wasn’t that crazy? I mean I could’ve just stolen her baby. Nobody should ever leave a child unattended.” So she felt that the woman behind her was crazy to trust her. And that’s when I started thinking: really? Are we not supposed to trust our children with anybody at any time and that, and a fact, is the mantra now? You’ll find parents being arrested for letting their kids play in the park. Really, I get these calls all the time: letting the kids play in the front yard, the cops come, CPS comes, and they say why are these children unattended and they write up the parents for negligence. Sometimes the parents have to go to court.
K: So you think when we grew up we were obviously less restricted … I mean … our moms say okay go out and play (L: right) … be back by dinner. Why don’t people do that anymore?
L: People don’t do that anymore because when my parents were raising me, they could not reel off the names Elizabeth Smart, and Jaycee Dugard, and Amber from the AMBER Alerts because the stories hadn’t become sensationalized. Local news was still local. And so because the media loves those stories because they get the biggest ratings, those are the ones that inhabit our brains and we start being afraid. Once we’re afraid then everything tumbles from there. Then you start getting, you know, neighbors who are afraid ‘cause you think your kid is safe in the front yard but they see your kid playing and they think: that mother doesn’t care. Doesn’t she realize … I had a woman write to my site who said that she was on the lawn, with her kids, but she was reading a book and a lady came by and said, “Put down that book! Don’t you realize your children could be snatched at any minute?” Okay … that’s the kind of neighbor that then calls the cops or CPS. So if you‘re living in a society like that, where everybody is turning into the KGB, in terms of your parenting, it’s very hard to trust yourself, trust your kid and trust your community, but I’m saying we have to.
K: Do you get a lot of backlash from people saying that you’re a bad parent because of “Free Range Kids”? Because of this, you know… (L: Yeah) really traditional style of parenting?
L: But I feel like I am a really traditional parent … um and yes I mean if you … if you google … uh … “America’s Worst Mom”, I’m there for 68 Google pages … uh so yes I had some backlash because people really believe the worst case scenario that there’s something I called the “worst-first thinking” which is coming up with the worst possible thing that could possibly happen and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen. You have to admit that there is a little risk in everything, and … and there has never been a safer time for children on this planet than now. That’s not just me who says that. That’s Steven Pinker at Harvard says that we are in the safest times ever in the history of the world.
K: My daughter’s pediatrician had really good advice. She said a good adult would never ask you for help … they’ll never ask you to find a puppy (L: yeah, yeah, yeah). They’ll never ask you to look for something or go off with them.
L: That’s an excellent advice. It’s going off that’s the problem. Never get in a car. Never go off. It’s so simple and also it makes a lot more sense to kids because … when you tell kids don’t talk to strangers and then you go into your store and say I’d like a coffee (K: yeah) … who do you … what do you … you’re talking to a stranger! And then … if you are a polite/nice person you say excuse me when you bump into somebody. Maybe you ask for directions so … yes you can talk to strangers. It’s as simple as that.
K: Lenore Skenazy, get a Free Range Kids dot com … read everything she’s got … (L: And there’s more) come out enlightened and liberated. From Reason TV I’m Kennedy thank you Lenore.
L: Oh thanks so much Kennedy. Let’s go play.
K: Alright.

Helicopter Parents vs. Free Range Kids: Q&A with "America's Worst Mom" Lenore Skenazy -
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