Beach Walk 653 – Risk: Math v Emotion

Recently a mom in NYC (writer Lenore Skenazy) allowed her nine-year-old son to take a subway ride by himself.

She approached this situation with a lot of consciousness and planning. She makes a great case for her actions and I agree with her. Risk can be managed so much more consciously than most of us do.

Read Lenore Skenazy’s original article in the New York Sun.
Watch a video from the Today Show with Lenore and her son Izzy.

Hawaiian word:
Hōʻaʻano: to take a great risk

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  1. I really think the risk needs to be seriously considered because independent kids sometimes think they can walk on water…it worked in this case and I’m sure both the child and parent are relieved but the consequences could have been disastrous…but the parent knows their kid and the situation so if it works the hoaano will have a very positive mindset…most parents know that feeling the first time after their child gets their drivers license and they head out to pick up their buds….we need to give them their trust and blessings

  2. Susan and my dog Lexie says

    I am reminded of 3 year old “Babsie” stories where she roamed our neighborhood in the 1950s, letting herself into homes. Mom would turn around while preparing a meal in the kitchen and there she was. Yes, she survived; is a lawyer now. Then I think of a water boy cousin who had has own boat and outboard…and at seven years old when out alone, even towed in a 40-some year old man to safety that had been in distress! That cousin is a licensed boat captain now.

    But even with these examples, we live in a world where I believe such parents open the door for greater risks that can happen. Children may feel prepared, but the bigger risk is what kind of person/situation will they run into? How equipped are they to handle bigger/stronger unknowns or menaces of society?

  3. …the last couple of vids aren’t syncing to my iPod (iTunes says they’re not playable). They play fine in iTunes.

    We could go almost anywhere we could ride our bikes growing up here back in the late 60’s. It was slower and safer then (in these parts). Not having kids I don’t know how far I’d let the leash out – especially today; interesting to ponder…

    PS: I’ve never ridden on a subway. I don’t like mass or public transit in general, however I love the concept… Hmmm?

  4. Hi Rox,

    First of all, I love the podcast. I’m a long time listener/viewer from NYC. I had met the same criticism when I allowed my son and daughter to learn the NYC Subway system at a young age. It’s best that they learn as soon as possible to be “street smart”. They are adults now and they are very aware of their surroundings. Many of their contemporaries from the suburbs who did not have this indoctrination are deathly afraid of the big city. What better way to really attune themselves to their environment.


  5. Buddy 'Friendly' Wachenheimer says

    The biggest risk is never taking one.

  6. @Bob from Canada – you have a great point about hubris. I think the best solution though is to not try to squelch independent urges rather to support them with parental guidance. Our little friend Kaile loves climbing trees, etc. Her mom told her she can, as long as she keeps three points of contact – 2 feet and a hand or two hands and a foot. That gives her both a boundary and useful information.

    @Susan – great examples! I could picture them each in living color.

    @Jonnie – we changed the data rate for our file encoding, I made a file link error on Monday, and for some reason Feedburner is grabbing the file enclosures in the wrong order. We are working on it and mahalo for your feedback.

    @Buddy – Amen!

    @Henry – Welcome! Thank you for posting your experience. I am a big fan of training and preparation too.

    The more real life examples we can point out, the more we support each generation in being more competent IMO.

    I think the hard part for parents must be when the child wants to do something that frightens *you* or for which you have little mastery. How do you impart wisdom you don’t have, free of fear that you do have?

    That’s when it’s helpful to have aunties and uncles who might be able to fill in the gaps, and then being willing to trust them against our own primal instincts.

  7. @Jonnie – As always, thanks for the heads up and being on top of the iPod/iPhone versions. Turns out it was a new audio setting for out encoding presets I created last week. I’ve fixed and tested it and we’ll be uploading replacements today and files going forward should work.

    Because I was working on my Grandfather’s farm, literally pulling down a steady paycheck when I was 12 years old, I was able to buy 2 cars before turning 16. At 14, in Iowa, if you pass a driving test, you can get what’s called a “school permit” that allows you to drive to and from school if you’re involved in extracurricular activities like Football or Track and can’t take the bus home. I drove 20 miles to and from school (and lots of other places…shhhhh) for 2 years before my friends got their drivers licenses.

    I know a few 14 year olds and I CAN’T imagine them driving or working a full-time job 7 days a week and going to school like I and my brother did…. I definitely believe taking on responsibility at an early age helps a person to understand responsibility and the results of their actions later in life.

  8. Great thoughts.
    I heard she got pretty badly savaged in the press for what she did. Whatever.
    I think you’re bang on with the mass media point at the end – fear sells, etc.
    And I’m always amazed by how people forget what it was like to be a child. Maybe they were super-protected. I remember being pretty smart and independent at around 10 years old. Maybe that’s because I was sent off to boarding school at 7, so perhaps that’s not such a good thing.
    But my parents used to leave me in Central London at Hamleys (big toy store, like FAO Schwartz times five) to wander around by myself for hours while they did what they needed to. It was great. Maybe that’s not the New York Subway, but even that’s not the hellhole it was in the 80s – I’ve always felt as safe down there as I have on the London Underground.
    It’s no different really to the way my friends and I used to cycle round by ourselves between local villages when we were little kids growing up in the countryside south of London. You never see that anymore. Those things are some of my strongest memories. Weird to think our kids won’t have experiences like that. And it’s no more dangerous now. Really.

  9. This podcast came out on the day that I interviewed for a new job, thinking of leaving my old job of almost 10 years. Great timing! All I’ve been doing since that day is weighing the risks.


  1. […] Watch this episode on the mom who let her young son ride the NY Subway by himself. […]