Leaving Your Kids to Play in a Vacant Lot Is Good Parenting?

Posted by Zachary Slobig

When is a vacant lot a vast wilderness? When you're not quite tall enough to ride the roller coasters, your imagination is bigger than the latest Xbox offering, and your parents aren't the smothering types. 

Our friends at Shareable have a nice little essay by Corbyn Hightower extolling the virtues of letting her little ones romp in a run-down parcel of land just down the street—gasp—without supervision.

I'm only around to do treasure triage, and I reject sharp metal things and glass whiskey bottles. When we’re at the park, they are constantly checking in with me and demanding my participation. “Watch me go down the slide,” asked of me endless times, until I’m smiling through gritted teeth. And then there are the swings, every lazy parent’s curse. Teaching your kid how to pump themselves back and forth means freedom. But here at this lot, I’m an awkward interloper. I’ve been experimenting with walking up the block and back into our house, coming out to rejoin them after twenty minutes. They hardly look up and rarely notice me, or that I was gone at all.

It's refreshing to see a bit of praise for the feral, rough edges of urban childhood, particularly with the growing chatter around the rise of "Chinese parenting" and so-called "tiger mothering."