Woman Charges $350 to Let Kids Play in Central Park Alone

Blogger's believe in "freerange parenting" prompts offer of unsupervised playtime.
3:00 | 09/12/12

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Transcript for Woman Charges $350 to Let Kids Play in Central Park Alone
great crowd in times square this morning. The big question, how many have you heard of helicopter parenting. Now, a countermovement is gearing up, free-range parenting. Getting kids to play alone outside, no adult supervision. Juju chang talks to one new york woman who is pushing the idea for pay. Reporter: Imagine a place where no parents are allowed. Kids govern themselves, like in the movie "lord of the flies." Imagine that place is a big city playground. Some people would argue that mother nature is "lord of the flies." They'll end up pouncing on each other, hurting each other. We seem to think that play is something new and horrible and barbaric, until we all used to do it. Until recently and we took it out and replaced it with classes and coaches and supervision. Reporter: This woman is launching a revolutionary program this afternoon. Drop your kids off at a playground and they'll play. Unsupervised. And it will cost you a whopping $350 for 8 90-minute sessions. Central park happens to be the safest precinct in new york city. Reporter: She calls it free-range parenting, ledding your kids play, free of parental controls and scrutiny. She was once called the worst mother in the world, after writing about letting her 9-year-old son ride the new york subway by himself. He is now 14. The trend in american parenting is increasing paranoia. Fear of letting kids play alone. Three different parents I spoke to said what kind of liability does she have? I don't expect anybody, muchless lenore, to be supervising my kids. Reporter: But even parents who struggle with urban limitations on their had mixed emotions. You can't just let them go completely free. You want them to get some street smarts. I would never pay somebody money to help transition my child. That's why I send them to school. I can't imagine leaving my children unsupervised at that young age at all. Reporter: And critics, like parenting expert, ann pleshette murphy, worry about the safety of young kids being left to fend for themselves. I think it's unbelievably irresponsible. Letting kids run around and potentially doing a lot of harm to themselves or others, is not a good idea. Reporter: An adult-free playground may not end up like "lord of the flies." But the prospect seems just as controversial. For "good morning america," juju chang, abc news, new york. Let's talk this out now with katherine connors. Along with our child psychologist, dr. Jan taylor. I'm torn. I have two girls, 10 and 7. And I sympathize with both sides. You're a supporter. I am. I really agree very broadly. You know, I think -- there's an element of me that is torn. I have a free-range mom and an helicopter mom that do battle frequently. But I try to be as free-range an parent as I can because i believe it's important for children and my children, to have an opportunity to explore the world, to develop independence, to develop confidence, and the ability to move on their own. But you agree with ann pleshette murphy that it's irresponsible. The goal of parenting is to have a child that's assertive and can make decision. But that comes with parenting being able to create rules and structure and teach our kids discipline. There is a balance. You want to give your kids the independence. The at the end of the day, kids and teenagers need limits. Here's what holds me back, catherine. Living here in new york city, I'm not entirely comfortable having my kids out on their own. I think a city like new york is probably an ideal place to give your children more freedom. I wrote recently about a situation -- my 4-year-old tried to walk himself home from school. The response I got from the community -- because i empathized this is new york city. He tried to walk across brooklyn. The response was, well, maybe new york's the best place for this because you have an active street life. You have a lot of people. You have people looking out for each other. And maybe in the city, children have, at least the natural social parameters that they might lack in the suburbs. One of the attractions, is kids are all overscheduled. They're going from scheduled play date to scheduled play date, to lessons. And that doesn't feel like childhood. Kids need unstructured time. And they need that freedom to find themselves and bond with other kids. This is understanding, it is irresponsible to think you're going to leave a group of kids who don't know each other, unsupervised. They could be in kentucky. They could be in new york. Kids need supervision. What are the guidelines? It's a great question to ask. You need to know your child. Not every child is inclined to be independence and fearless. I think you have to look for those characteristics. Parents are responsible for trying to develop those characteristics, kids will benefit. But if you have a child that's inclined to explore, is confident enough to explore his or her own environment, to negotiate his or her own social dilemmas, you need to give them the freedom. You need to know your own style as a parent. Sometimes you need to hold on. Sometimes you need to let go. Also, the temperament and personality of your child. And don't put them in a situation to make them more anxious and fearful. Would you let your 8-year-old child play unsupervised in a park? Go to goodmorningamerica.Com on yahoo! And vote now. Now, outside to lara and

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