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Am I to cautious?

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about many things and wanted to ask here about this one. How old was/is your dc before you where OK with letting them go any distance from home without supervision?

My dd is 10 now and I do let her play outside the house with her brother who is 6 but I check on them often. Like every 2-3 minutes and we dont live by any main roads and they cant be seen out playing in the yard here. At my parents house they are not allowed outside without someone watching them because it is right near a main road.

I still wont let my dd go any distance from home without me being able to lay eyes on her and there is no way my ds could be trusted to go anywhere. He wouldnt think twice about running into the road or talking to someone he dosnt know.

So how old was/is your dc before you would let them be out of your site or hearing? What about a neighborhood park or out riding a bike around the neighborhood?
post #2 of 71
For what it is worth, I live in a rural subdivision near a smaller town in a very rural area. Many people still don't lock their doors here. DD1 is 7 and this summer I started letting her walk down the street to a friend's house, it is probably a 2 minute walk and I can't see down that far. Last summer, I allowed her to walk down there only if she was with her friend who is 2 years older, and they called and stayed together before homing back. I don't let her go to the playground alone, 3-4 minutes up the other street yet, I might be ok with next summer for brief periods of time, I will have to feel it out. When we take family walks at night it is common for us to get passed by an entire pack of kids on bikes/scooters from K+ with no parents around.
post #3 of 71
I just started about 6 months ago allowing my 7yo and 5yo to play outside without direct supervision, although I do check on them every few minutes. They are also allowed to go to the neighbor's houses and play (one is right next door and the other 2 doors down so I can see all the way). The houses 2 doors down are their "boundaries"- if I'm not out there,they can't go past those houses on bikes, etc...

I think the boys would be around 10-ish before I would let them go around the neighborhood any farther! Even older for my daughter.

We live in a cul-de-sac, so hardly any traffic and great neighbors who always look out for the little ones who are playing around the street. We're very fortunate.
post #4 of 71
DD is 5 and she can walk two houses down to the house on the same side of the street by herself as long as she tells me when she is going.
post #5 of 71
My kids are 6 and 9. I let my 6 year old go around the block without supervision. I let her go to the neighbors around the corner to play without supervision, and I don't call up the neighbors to ask if she's gotten there. I let her cross the street to the other neighbor's house.

Both my kids play outside for long periods of time without my checking on them. I was going to write 'hours', but the reality is that it's not 'hours' because they are in and out of the house about every 15-30 minutes, and I can usually hear them.

So, yes, I think you are too cautious.

Or let me say it another way: How is your 10 year old going to learn responsibility if you're checking every 3 minutes? What message are you giving your kids that you don't trust them to be alone for that short a period of time?

Only you know your neighborhood, but unless you have unusually impulsive children or an unusually safe neighborhood, I think it's time to loosen the reins a bit momma.
post #6 of 71
I wanted to add: We live in a pretty typical suburban neighborhood. I'd be comfortable with ds going to the neighborhood park by himself next summer when he's 10. It's got a mix of people -- some low income apartments near the park, a richer neighborhood than ours between us and the park (about 3 blocks away), and a lot of working class housing nearby. I'm comfortable with the people who are at the park. I'm confident in our son's ability to handle short periods away from us. He's a very responsible kid.

I'd be comfortable with my 9 year old and 6 year old playing outside at the grandparents house, main road or no. They'd be OK.
post #7 of 71
Thread Starter 
It isnt that I dont trust my dd but I do not and can not trust others. Ds is not capable like I said of staying safe.

DD knows why I need to be able to see her because I want to keep her safe it has nothing to do with trusting her or not.
post #8 of 71
We live outside of town, not in a neighborhood. If the kids wanted to get to a nearby house, they'd have to walk along the highway. So they don't go off our property alone. But they're free to play outside while I'm inside (and not checking on them), or to wander off to a part of the property where I can't see them. (They don't usually go very far, though.) I've been pretty comfortable letting them out of my sight and hearing on our own property since DD was 6 and DS was 3. If we did live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, I'd feel comfortable letting DD (7) go down the street to a neighbor's house or park, as long as that was considered normal in that area and I didn't have to worry that people would freak out about it. I'm not sure if I would have let her do it at 5, but I might have.
post #9 of 71
We live in a working class neighborhood that is generally safe and quiet, though there are several sex offenders about 2 blocks away in an apartment complex. I am comfortable letting my 4 year old DD play in our fenced backyard alone as long as she wants. It's also ok if she sits on the front porch or runs out to get the mail or grabs something from the backseat of the car. At 10 i would definitely be fine with her walking up and down the street alone!

When I was 10 we rode our bikes around the block and then some...it was so much fun. I would have been mortified if my mom insisted on following me.
post #10 of 71
You asked the question, and in all honesty, at least with your dd, I think you are being far too cautious.

I worry about what it does to a child to get the message that the world is so unsafe, that the people in her world are so unsafe.

That said, we don't really have a yard and we live on a pretty busy street, so my 4 and 5 year old are not allowed much out front (I do let my 5 year old ds sit on the front steps for a couple minutes before I check on him, but my dd doesn't have ds' impulse control, and I would worry she'd run across the street to say hi to a neighbor and not look both ways).

In the back, which is fenced, they have only a *very* tiny area, but we let them play out there until we hear the water running. They can't play with the hose because when the ground gets soaked out there our basement gets wet (old new england home). So, since we make them come in when we hear the water running, or at least pop our heads out the window to check in and remind them to keep the water off, at this phase in their lives they really aren't out there for more than four minutes at a time without us checking in.

I remember riding my bike all over town, and even taking the city bus to the library at 10. And the U.S. is actually statistically even more safe now.
post #11 of 71
Thread Starter 
I wish I could be more laid back but better safe than sorry is what I always think. If something where to happen to one of them because I didnt watch them I would never be able to forgive myself.

To me the world is far from a safe place and to have the kids think otherwise to me wouldnt be right. I am always aware of my surroundings and what can happen at any given moment and until they can do that they are not safe without being watched.
post #12 of 71
Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
You asked the question, and in all honesty, at least with your dd, I think you are being far too cautious.

I worry about what it does to a child to get the message that the world is so unsafe, that the people in her world are so unsafe.
post #13 of 71
Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
You asked the question, and in all honesty, at least with your dd, I think you are being far too cautious.

I worry about what it does to a child to get the message that the world is so unsafe, that the people in her world are so unsafe.
I remember riding my bike all over town, and even taking the city bus to the library at 10. And the U.S. is actually statistically even more safe now.
I agree with this. My 5 year old plays outside in the front by himself for up to half an hour, although I usually peek out every 10 minutes or so. We live on a pretty suburban street without a whole lot of traffic, although my son in particular is really really good about the road anyway. He can play in the back all he likes. We go to our local park and I sit on a bench and he can get out of sight there, and in another perhaps two years (once he can meet most of the rule of 12) I'll let him go with a reliable friend.

Although I am considering getting walkie-talkies! Mostly because we have bluffs, lake, and a creek all at that park (yes it is a biiiiiit scary - not predators so much as water and falling hazards). And I do worry a bit because the park lacks a lot of visibility.

I don't entirely buy into the free-range ideal but I do think we need to allow our kids to develop skills at navigating our neighbourhoods.

10 seems a very reasonable age to me to be doing that. In 6 years your daughter can drive. She will need to have developed her own judgment. Sometimes teenage girls are more of a target for certain people because they are more of a dating age, so it might be better to start now.

I know it's scary though.
post #14 of 71
When ds was almost 5 I had a new baby that was constantly nursing. I started letting him go outside to the "woods" (a 30x30 patch of trees and whatnot, lots of brush and bolders) with walkie talkie to play. It was pretty fun actually and I could usually find him through the window. He felt very big and independent even though he really wasn't.

When he was 7 I would let him play in the neighborhood with the walkie talkies and other kids. If they went in he had to come home though.

This summer he was 9 and I let him have pretty much free reign in our neighborhood. He had his phone and check in times and I knew the pack of kids he was running with. The park is about a half mile away and I haven't let him go there yet, but I'm sure next summer I will. I've let him go to the gas station a few times with specific kids, but not the big group that goes because I'm sure they steal and I don't want ds getting caught up in that.

Dd is 5 and she's allowed to run the neighborhood with ds. If he's going somewhere she's not allowed he has to physically bring her home. If she doesn't listen she gets 'banished" (her word) from the big kids. She wouldn't risk banishment so she follows the rules about being out without mommy very seriously.
post #15 of 71
At 4, my dd was allowed to wander through about four adjoining yards (and of course ours) where other kids live. At 6 or 7 she could ride her bike to areas of the neighborhood maybe three blocks away. She has pretty free reign now at 8.

It's really good for kids to play outside, and lots. More time than I could possibly afford to spend outside. And the risks are really incredibly small that she will be abducted. Outside active play reduces the chances of obesity, diabetes, etc., and is just good for them from a mental health and happiness standpoint as well. It isn't a "reduce this risk and there are no other consequences" thing. You reduce the risk of a risk that is already incredibly small, but you increase the risk of other issues that are much more likely. The law of unintended consequences.

I played all around the neighborhood when I was little, as did every other kid I knew. I use the 70s as my model for what freedom kids should get.
post #16 of 71
I don't know if you're being too cautious or not, but when I was a kid I used to get seriusly annoyed by how cautious my parents were.

I didn't grow up with the message that the world is unsafe, I grew up knowing my mom is a worrywort. I didn't grow up thinking that she didn't trust me, I grew up knowing she didn't want anything to happen to me. It worked out, and now I live in NYC, 3,000miles away from her, and really miss her!
post #17 of 71
I don't allow my children out and about without an adult.They are no safer in a pair or group.Sometimes even an adult will not deter a sicko.

The world IS a dangerous place. I have read far to many child murder cases to feel comfortable about it.Sadly,if someone wants your child they will find a way even if it means coming into your home. You do what you can to prevent these horrors,and hope for the best!

Do what you feel comfortable with.
post #18 of 71
I think this is the type of thing that is greatly influenced by where you live. We live in a middle-class neighborhood in a fairly rural area. There is only one road in and out of the neighborhood and it is WAY off a main road. My dd is almost 9 and my son is 6. I've let them run around the neighborhood without me for about the last year and a half. The rule is that they must have a buddy at all times.

It isn't unusual for them to be outside for hours at a time playing with their friends. I'll check up on them every hour or so. I feel completely safe allowing this in our neighborhood. I know there are places out there where this wouldn't be safe, though. So, really it just depends.
post #19 of 71
The murders, molestations, abductions, etc, of children by strangers are incredibly, incredibly rare. We hear about them on the news because it pays to frighten people. We hear about mine cave-ins, but we don't hear the news every single day when thousands of mines worldwide DON'T cave in.

"Better safe than sorry" is an excellent philosophy for things like car/ bike/ pool safety, but is doing more harm than good to your kids when it comes to helping them live in the world. A 10-year-old who doesn't have special needs is more than capable of taking care of themselves in the yard for an hour, and to teach him or her otherwise *is* dangerous. Thinking that the world is a scary place where dangers lurk around every corner, and not having any coping skills to deal with said world isn't going to help a child who not so long ago would be ready to start apprenticing at the career of his or her choosing/ birthright.

As far as thinking the world is scary as an adult- I was raised VERY free-range. My sister and I spend sun up to sun down playing all over town, and yes, we got into some pretty scary situations (not with strangers, but with nature) and it felt SO great to know from a very young age that we could escape "bear traps" (sink holes) and "wolf packs" (distant coyotes). We felt so brave and strong, and that's stayed with us. As an adult, I've experienced some VERY scary stranger things (menacing men whom I'm certain would have gang-raped me had a car not gone by at just the right time, being assaulted by a mentally-ill man on the open street, etc) but I always knew I could handle it, and got through those experiences unscathed.

Had I been told over and over how dangerous the world was, and never been allowed to learn to take care of myself in little situations, I doubt I would have had the skills to handle myself in BIG DEAL situations where clear thinking and self-confidence saved me from serious harm.
post #20 of 71
I was babysitting my brother full time (in the summer while my [single sometimes having to work ovetime] mom was at work) right after my 11th birthday.

Yes, I think you are too cautious.
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