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Even The “Hunt, Gather, Parent” Kid Gets Stopped by the Cops

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Read Time: 2 minutes

Michaeleen Doucleff is author of the incredibly great, scales-falling-from-our eyes book, “Hunt, Gather, Parent.” She and her daughter Rosy traveled the world to witness the parenting practices that have been working for millennia. They watched kids eagerly hunt, gather, clean up, tend fires, and help their parents every which way, from the jungle to the tundra. And meantime, here in America, she dropped a note to Let Grow:

Dear Let Grow:

I saw your story about the 6-year-old being harassed at the store. It reminded me of what happened last month to Rosy.  I was at my mom’s house outside Albuquerque, New Mexico (a suburb), and Rosy (now 7.5) walked three blocks from my mom’s house alone, just playing. Within minutes a cop came, picked her up and brought her home. 

I was like…hmmm. She was three blocks away. The cop told me that “many people were worried and something could have happened.” (Where we live now, in Texas, Rosy rides her bike a mile to school and to the grocery store.)

The rest of the visit, I asked Rosy to stay within TWO blocks of the house, and she was approached by three more people “concerned” about her safety during the week we were there.

Holy smokes! I told my mom, “So Rosy is basically a prisoner in this house.”  Meanwhile…. Many children have absolutely no restrictions on what they look at or engage with online. So porn, suicide, eating disorders, violence — but not playing two/three blocks from a house in a middle-class suburb. I think we are growing more backwards in our thinking.  



When we asked Michaeleen if we could run her note on this blog, she wrote back to say she’d be honored. And then recalled a time she and Rosy watched a 9-year-old hunt a whale to feed a big part of his village.

Let us pledge to remember just how competent, brave, and eager to help our kids are!

Help change the laws that leave parents unsure if they are allowed to let their kids do anything on their own. Click here!

Give your kids a “Let Grow” license to carry that says, “I’m not lost or neglected!” Click here!

Approach your school about doing the (FREE!) Let Grow Experience, that gets all the kids doing more and more on their own, so competence and independence become second nature again. Students, parents, and teachers ALL WIN. Click here!

And send your kid out to kill a whale!*


Hunt Gather Parent


  1. Lon GLon G says:

    Glad to hear Rosie didn’t get discouraged by being brought home twice.
    Sometimes, as a treat, I let my sons take my phone, cross the quiet street, and play Pokemon Go at the playground. I’d put on a timer to tell them when to come home, and phone location was sharing with my husband.
    One day they came home with two police officers, who were responding to a call about boys who “looked lost.” (I guess walking back and forth looking for imaginary monsters can look a bit lost.)
    Since then, they have only asked to play PoGo once, and they stayed in our yard the entire time. I am, needless to say, a little tweaked.

    • Lon GLon G says:

      btw, I’m a fan of Hunt Gather Parent. I do want to know if, at 7 years old, Rosie is still eagerly doing laundry.

    • Merry ChaseMerry Chase says:

      My neighbor told the cops some cock-and-bull story about my 6-year-old son wandering around lost, not knowing where he lived. It was BS. He knows the block like the back of his hand. He is never lost and always knows where I am. She told the cops she was taking him around the neighborhood trying to “help him find his home,” apparently not mentioning in any of her statements to police HOW she was taking him around the “neighborhood” (really just a small area of the block) – which was that she had him IN THE FRONT SEAT OF HER CAR WITH NO SAFETY RESTRAINTS.

  2. Lon GLon G says:

    Is it just me, or do a large number of these stories seem to come from Texas? For a state that claims to believe in individual freedom, there seem to be many who want to keep kids locked up and dependent…

    • Merry ChaseMerry Chase says:

      Actually, I think she said that at home in Texas her child enjoys more freedom than they did while visiting her mom outside Albuquerque. But there probably are areas of Texas that are like that.

  3. CaryCary says:

    It sounds like seven-and-a-half-year-old Rosy, riding her bike a mile to school and the store, and walking blocks from her house, alone, is having a childhood that resembles the way it was for us all when I was a kid in the 1960s. Michaeleen’s journey to see how children are raised in other parts of the world is fascinating. But for those of us old enough to remember–grandparent age, I suppose I have to admit–all that’s necessary is to remember how it used to be right here in the U.S. forty or more years ago. Yeah, I’m that old dude going on about the old days again.

  4. MarkMark says:

    When I ask parents if they had greater freedom growing up, they nearly all say yes. When I ask if they regret any of this, feel they were recklessly neglected, should have been supervised closer, none I recall say yes. So why not afford kids the same freedoms, expect the same responsibilities. Some just shrug. Some say it’s a different world. Yes, a safer one, statistically, as Lenore has repeatedly underscored. My parents understand if they hadn’t given me freedoms, tasked me with responsibilities, they would be stunting my growth, crushing my upbringing. Along with my restless doggie companions’. Plenty adults then were happy to supervise me on Scouting activities, school-related trips, recreational whitewater kayaking, nature hiking. Downriver canoe racing (maybe some 15 miles) had a class for teens/minors. Of course there was no adult supervision for every twist and turn down the river on each canoe. Somehow, the Scouting First Aid I repeated instructed younger Scouts in had much that nurse practitioners during my hospitalizations have been wildly clueless, mistaken, about. Menaces. Denying me my general rights to demand, refuse care.

  5. MarkMark says:

    To me, wretched beyond words. The Scouting First aid I speak of is perhaps most blatant, most dangerous with regret to Anaphylaxis. I haven been hospitalized for many procedures and over 3 months during the Pandemic with Covid leading to Sepsis to the precipice of Stage 5 Kidney disease and dialysis. The hospitals confiscated my meds and refused to administer my heavy regimen to agonizing post-Shingles neuralgia, a rare Systemic Disease among other things. The latter leaves me pathologically prone to dangerous Anaphylaxis. Authorities all direct we have Epipens with Epinephrine at hand ALWAYS to arrest, reverse attacks that likely would otherwise leave persisting brain damage, death. I complained, among others, to a neurologist. He insisted NPs are always available to respond to Call Buttons within minutes. Nonesense. Further, that the NPs all know where the Epipens are. 2 were standing next to us so I asked them. They bowed their heads silently: they hadn’t a clue. But one of many life-threatening fabrications. You obviously have had extensive legal services to accomplish so much that you have. I wonder if you can procure more to lay out — state by state; federally — what the legal restrictions on child supervision genuinely are. Where there are ranges to argue. Where there’s legitimate room to push back and argue FAILURE to provide for unsupervised activity constitute, at least arguably, violations of kids,’ parents’ freedoms under State and Federal laws, constitutions, regs. I realize your resources are limited, likely erratic. I’m in no position to second-guess your calls on priorities, tactics by/large. But FWIW, this strikes me a pivotal one. Including so parents, kids, schools can be duly advised. Know where they can push back. Where additional rights so desperately needed. With the happy correlate this can genuinely be a bipartisan issue if cast accordingly.

  6. MarkMark says:

    Appending: Law Schools increasingly look for pro bono projects students can aggressively pursue, under less than crushing supervision. Especially projects that don’t themselves require litigation: most law students are not headed toward trial law. Clinics where they can advise parents, kids on their rights, areas for advocacy, should be duly welcome.

  7. Jeff NelliganJeff Nelligan says:

    Thanks for posting this, Lenore!! Gotta add this – Maureen interviewed me two years ago on my book, Four Lessons, and noted my sending my kids alone into a mall to each get change for a five-dollar bill. She said at the time she was going to let Rosy walk to a nearby store (they were living in San Fran) alone to get an item. All of this – Rosy, my three young sons – stems from Lenore and turning loose her subway son. What a cycle!!!

  8. Greg CarletGreg Carlet says:

    We live in Texas but are visiting family in ABQ. We were about to send our kids (10 & 6) to the park to play and I remembered this post.

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