I finally got around to reading Free Range Kids (link to book) by Lenore Skenazy (link to her blog).
Pros: I don't think she is the "worlds worst mother" as her critics have called her. I think she trusts her instincts. She is a very funny writer, which makes me like her. I do like many of her suggestions for the more paranoid parents among us.Some seem like no brainers but I have this image of a Real Housewife of Orange County in a panic over a middle-school child walking a few blocks to school.
I am a big advocate for trusting your instincts as a mother. Sometimes that means I hover. Sometimes that means I coddle. I am a huge fan of teaching children independence and self reliance. I could probably focus more on it, but both of mine are under the age of 6 and therefore are not apt to be too screwed up (yet) that I have not let them go to the playground by themselves. I believe one of the best things about a Montessori education is that it goes without question that kids can handle responsibility, self direction and can learn respect for self and others.
While I understand that throughout the course of human history, children were put to work as soon as they could say "hello" and we would not be here if it were not for all of the young teens having babies (especially since the life span was so much shorter) but there are some pretty good biological reasons to think of kids as kids in to their 20's. For one, brain development. Just because a 12 year old can have a baby does not mean that she should. American modern life has provided for an extended childhood. Kids are certainly growing up faster in some ways as it is an accelerated modern life, and their brains are able to process more complex information than any of their predecessors. But the luxury of our modern, 1st world age is that childhood does not end at 12.
I love the idea of taking said 12 year old and giving her exposure to the rewards of adult life - getting involved with a cause, volunteering, etc.. and letting them make a difference, rather than be mall-rats with cell phones. But again, I trust my instincts.
Note: I borrowed this book from my local library. I did not receive any compensation for this review.