The date is upon us.

Lenore Skenazy, the writer/columnist/mom/blogger who started yet another crack in the great parental divide when she wrote about letting her nine-year old son ride a subway in New York alone, is encouraging moms and dads to take what may be considered a radical step for today’s parents.

Skenazy has dubbed May 22, 2010 as Take Your Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day. No, she’s not talking about setting an infant carrier in the sandbox and making a run for it. This “event” is suggested only for children seven and over.

Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids and founder of the Free Range Kids blog, believes that children today are losing the ability to solve problems, possibly becuase they have been denied the kind of social play that parents had in their own childhood:

“Childhood is a time when kids play. That's what makes them happy — and learn a whole lot, too. When they play on their own, they communicate ("The fence is out!"), compromise ("OK, we'll say it's in"), create ("The tree is the store") and run around. They develop all the skills we want them to have, with the possible exception of sitting quietly. But after they've run around for a while, that's easier for them to do, too.”

As a mom, I long for my children to get along without my constant watchful eye, especially in play situations. The freedom to play with other children without constant direction is good for their independence and social skills, and it gives them some relief from the constraint of always having a parent or teacher a few yards away.

It allows them to practice what their dad and I have preached, and I love it when they stay away from a busy street because they’ve been taught to do so, or when they help another child who has fallen off a swing.

But in this modern society, it’s hard.

Bumpers for the corners of tables, safety helmets for toddlers, car seats with three- and five-point restraints, shocks on stroller wheels: We’re a little conditioned to try to protect our kiddos from everything.

Of course, that’s impossible.

I’m not sure if there are more dangerous strangers out there now than 20, 30, or 50 years ago, or if we simply hear more about them due to modern media. And I’m not sure there are more or fewer accidents on playgrounds today than decades ago, but when one happens, there’s often a rush to solve the problem and create equipment that is “safer” and more “kid-friendly.”

Of course, parents have to know their kids, something Skenazy isn’t hesitant to point out. But the whole idea of letting children “come into their own,” so to speak, does seem to have taken a backseat to common sense and letting children experience natural consequences.

Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist, author, and parent writes in his book, Have A New Kid By Friday, about the need for children to experience consequences of their actions from a young age — and without apology and overwrought emotion from Mom or Dad.

Nigel Latta, author of Politically Incorrect Parenting, is a New Zealand clinical psychologist and host of a parenting show. He advocates that parents develop a good relationship with children, but  he takes a no-nonsense, straightforward approach on things like childhood obesity (if child is overweight, he blames the parents) and setting boundaries for kids.

Both professionals want parents to be just that: Parents. And just maybe, if we do that, dropping our school-age children at the park will be just what they need to use what they’ve learned for their own, au natural, social development.

And your thoughts? Playground play without the parent? Would you do it with your kids?

For more information on Skenazy's position on parenting, read our review of Free-Range Kids.