Jump to content

Lenore Skenazy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lenore Skenazy
Born (1959-11-27) November 27, 1959 (age 64)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.; raised in Wilmette, Illinois
Alma materYale University
Columbia University
Occupation(s)Writer and reality show host
OrganizationLet Grow
Known forFree-range parenting
Notable workBook: "Free-Range Kids: How Parents and Teachers Can Let Go and Let Grow" (2021)
TelevisionWorld's Worst Mom

Lenore Skenazy (/lɪˈnɔːr skəˈnzi/) is an American speaker, blogger, syndicated columnist, author, and reality show host, known for her activism in favor of free-range parenting. In 2008, she wrote a controversial column on her decision to let her then-9-year-old son take the New York City Subway home alone, which became a national story and prompted massive media attention, and dubbing as "America's Worst Mom."[1] In response, Skenazy wrote the book "Free-Range Kids" and ran a blog of the same name. She is the president of Let Grow, co-founded in 2018 with Daniel Shuchman, Dr. Peter Gray and Prof. Jonathan Haidt,[2] an organisation advocating free-range parenting.


Skenazy is a 1981 graduate of Yale University. She got her master's degree from Columbia in 1983.[citation needed]

Skenazy spent fourteen years as a columnist for the New York Daily News, but was fired in December 2006.[3] At the Daily News, she was tasked with writing about “intriguing oddballs”, with examples including a couple that got married underwater. She was featured in the 2006 Bravo series Tabloid Wars, which focused on journalists working at the Daily News.[4] She subsequently moved to The New York Sun and wrote there until it shut down in 2008.

Lenore Skenazy speaking at PorcFest, New Hampshire Porcupine Freedom Festival

Skenazy's 2008 column in The New York Sun, "Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone," described her making the controversial decision to let her son take the New York City Subway home alone, which was completed without incident.[5] The piece resulted in a flood of reactions ranging from accusations of child abuse to fond memories of first-time subway trips and childhood freedom. The story was covered on The Today Show, Fox News, NPR,[6] and MSNBC[7] two days after the column appeared, later becoming worldwide news and being featured on Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, The View, Nightline, Good Morning America, CBS News, NBC Nightly News, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Nancy Grace, The BBC, the CBC, and ABC in Australia. In 2015, she was profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times.[8][1] The popularity of Skenazy's blog led to the creation of the book, Free-Range Kids, published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons.[9]

On the blog, Skenazy proposed May 22, 2010, as the first "Take Our Children to the Park & Leave Them There Day"—a day for children to learn how to play by themselves without constant supervision.[10] In 2012 Skenazy hosted the reality television show World's Worst Mom on Discovery Life. The 13-episode series features Skenazy visiting extremely anxious parents, including the mother of a 10-year-old who still spoon-fed him, the mother of an 8-year-old who bought him a skateboard but only let him "ride" it on the grass, and the mother of a 13-year-old who still took him into the ladies' room.[11]

In 2017, Skenazy co-founded the nonprofit Let Grow, along with Jonathan Haidt, Daniel Shuchman and Peter Gray. Let Grow's mission is to make it "easy, normal, and legal to give kids the independence they need to grow into capable, confident and happy adults." Its free materials for parents, schools, and counselors help them encourage independence and unstructured, unsupervised free play and real-world responsibility for adolescents and children.[12][13][14]

In 2018, Utah became the first state in the U.S. to pass the Free-Range Parenting bill, assuring parents that they can give their children some independence without this being mistaken for neglect, which the Washington Post credited Skenazy's 2008 column as having a contributing influence.[15] Similar laws recognizing reasonable childhood independence have since been enacted in other states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. Several other states have relaxed laws regarding some aspects of childhood independence.[16]

Skenazy is a frequent contributing writer for Reason magazine, covering mostly topics related to her concept of Free-range parenting as well as busy-body type overprotective parents and laws which punish parents when they leave their children unsupervised.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Skenazy is Jewish.[18][19] Her paternal grandparents emigrated from Çanakkale, Turkey.[20] Her maternal grandparents came from Russia and Poland.


  • Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry. John Wiley & Sons. 2009. ISBN 978-0470471944. OCLC 268790698.
  • Who’s the Blonde that Married What’s-His-Name: The Ultimate Tip of the Tongue Test of Everything You Know You Know…But Can’t Remember Right Now (Penguin Books, June 2009)
  • "The Dysfunctional Family Christmas Songbook" (Broadway Books, 2004), with co-author John Boswell.
  • "When Good Parents Get Arrested". Reader's Digest. May 2016.
  • Why Parents are More Paranoid than Ever, NY Post, March 31, 2018


  1. ^ a b Brody, Jane E. (January 19, 2015). "Parenting Advice From 'America's Worst Mom'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  2. ^ "Our People". Let Grow. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  3. ^ Kelly, Keith (December 1, 2006). "Happy Holiday News – Hometown Paper Fires Columnist Skenazy". New York Post. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Jae-Ha Kim (July 24, 2006). ""Tabloid Wars": Newspaper rivalry not much fun to watch". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  5. ^ Skenazy, Lenore (April 1, 2008). "Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone". nysun.com. Archived from the original on May 6, 2022. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  6. ^ "At What Age Should Kids Ride the Subway Alone?". npr.org. April 9, 2008. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Mom lets son, 9, ride subway alone". todayf.com. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "Mother May I?". The New Yorker. February 23, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  9. ^ "Author Lenore Skenazy Explains 'Free-Range Kids'". ABC News. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  10. ^ "It's "Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day"". Reason.com. May 22, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  11. ^ Thielman, Sam (December 1, 2011). "'World's Worst Mom' goes globe-trotting". Variety. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  12. ^ Prichep, Deena (September 3, 2018). "To Raise Confident, Independent Kids, Some Parents Are Trying To 'Let Grow'". NPR.
  13. ^ Petersen, Andrea (June 1, 2018). "The Overprotected American Child". WSJ. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  14. ^ "Mission". Let Grow. February 26, 2024. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  15. ^ "Utah's 'free-range parenting' law said to be first in the nation". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  16. ^ "State policies and updates". Let Grow. February 26, 2024. Retrieved February 26, 2024.
  17. ^ Skenazy, Lenore (July 10, 2024). "Cops called on 8-year-old child for being outside". Reason.com. Retrieved July 12, 2024.
  18. ^ Skenazy, Lenore. "A Jew Finally Frets About Heaven & Hell". amNY. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  19. ^ Shefa, Sheri (June 9, 2011). "Loosen the reins, columnist says to overprotective parents". The Canadian Jewish News. The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  20. ^ Skenazy, Lenore (February 17, 1985). "The Road to Canakkale: In Search of Turkish Roots". Nash Holdings. The Washington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

External links[edit]