Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
My main concern was not that he would come to any harm, but that somebody would freak out at me.
One reason I started this thread was to assess the likelihood of somebody freaking out at me. Looks like it's high.
That sounds like me, too. I give my son a lot of independence for his age, and have left him at a table while I went to the bathroom since he was three. I also let him run ahead of me when we are walking places. He won't run into the street because I spent a lot of time teaching him not to. He's almost 5 now, and is allowed to walk across the very quiet street next to our house to see if a friend is home. (I confess that I am still watching out the window to make sure he is never forgetting to carefully look both ways. This is a recently earned privilege.)
People freak out at me semi-regularly, and I find it sad. In reality, the odds of getting kidnapped are extremely low. Yes, it happens. Most kidnappings, though, are by someone a child knows, and usually by another family member. The real crazies...they are out there, yes, but I won't let them dictate how we live any more than I will condone signing away our civil liberties because of one terrorist attack. The odds are low of anything happening, and the price is high in terms of how much it has changed how we relate to our children and teach them to relate to other people in our society.
Plus, there are risks to taking kids into a public bathroom stall. Those places tend to be filthy, and I think the risk of catching a stomach bug or the like should be weighed into the analysis, too.
Ultimately, though, I really do believe it is for each parent to decide which things to be most cautious about and that the people who are freaking out need to understand this and know that we know our own kids. I can trust my son not to wander off or spill something hot on himself.