Lenore Skenazy is an American blogger, columnist, author, and reality show host. A mother who lives in Queens with her husband and two sons, her controversial decision to let her then-9-year-old son take the New York City Subway home alone became a national story and prompted massive media attention. She was dubbed, "America's Worst Mom." In response, Skenazy founded the book, blog, and movement "Free-Range Kids," with the aim of "fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape."
Skenazy is a 1981 graduate of Yale University. She got her Master's degree from Columbia in 1983.
Skenazy spent fourteen years as a columnist for the New York Daily News, but was fired in December 2006. She moved to the The New York Sun and wrote there until it shut down in 2008. Skenazy also wrote and reported for NPR and Mad Magazine, and was featured in the second episode of Bravo's series Tabloid Wars.
Skenazy's April 1, 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. 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, and MSNBC 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, ABC in Australia, etc. In 2015, she was profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times. The popularity of Skenazy's blog led to the creation of the book, Free-Range Kids, published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons. On the blog, Lenore proposed May 22, 2010 as the first Take Our Children to the Park & Leave Them There Day as a day for children to learn how to play by themselves without constant supervision. It has been celebrated every year since. Skenazy also became the host of the reality television show World's Worst Mom on Discovery Life. The 13-episode series features Skenazy visiting extremely anxious parents, including the mom of a 10-year-old who still spoon-fed him, the mom of an 8-year-old who bought him a skateboard but only let him "ride" it on the grass, and the mom of a 13-year-old who still took him into the ladies room. With humor, kindness, and some firmness, Skenazy separated the parents from their children and had the children do some tasks on their own, such as running an errand, or learning, at age 10, how to ride a bike. In the end, 12 of the 13 couples relaxed so much, that they became "Free-Range Parents" themselves. Now Skenazy lectures around the world, including speeches at Microsoft, Audi, The Yale Child Study Center, Wellesley, Barnard, and the Sydney Opera House.
- Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry (John Wiley & Sons), April 2009)
- 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.
- Gawker: New York Daily News Needs Women
- The New York Sun: Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone
- MSNBC: Mom lets 9-year-old take subway home alone
- Reason: It's "Take Our Children To The Park and Leave Them There Day."
- "'World's Worst Mom' goes globe-trotting".