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Spinoff: If you don't let your kids play outside alone, why not? - Page 2

post #21 of 196
I think it always depends on the child and the neighbourhood. I let my ds play in the unfenced front yard in our quiet street and I check on him frequently from the front window. He knows to stay on our lawn, he is mostly interested in digging in the dirt and making up stories in his head. Our neighbours do the same thing - we see the kids out front and parents peeking out. Our street runs in a circle so there are very few random passersby.

In our previous house we would never have done it -- much busier street, neighbours we know less well, street used as a throughway to get to other areas in the neighbourhood.
post #22 of 196
Originally Posted by yellowpansy View Post
These are very valid fears of which you write but statistically they are also very rare occurrences. I feel it is also very important for children to play outside and that cannot always be attended 100%. And, children need to do things on their own, without us near them 100%. We cannot succomb to the fears around us and limit our children's life experiences to the point where they don't get much outdoor time. To me, that would be a real tragedy.

As parents, it does behoove us to monitor our children and safeguard them. But, we cannot protect our children from every possibility. We have to make choices. There has to be balance; we have to balance our fears with the freedom to let our children grow.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and parenting styles of course... but I fail to see how "1 in 3" is as you put it, statistically a rare occurrence.

I agree that it is very important that children play outside and that they do things on their own. I do not limit my dd's life experiences so she doesn't get much outdoor time. At not quite 2 she recognizes the call of a chickadee, has pointed out a bald eagle to us, finds buds on branches etc. And sometimes she just wanders and plays. We have succeeded in doing this despite the fact that we live in an apt bldg with no outdoor space to play. Like I said in my original post, you can monitor - from a distance or even from inside if you have a home - so that the child still feels like they are on their own.

And I don't see how when we soon have a house, my letting her play outside while I peer thru the window, sitting by it, or sit in the other corner of the yard reading, is not letting her have her space or is teaching her fear. I think it's just a good precaution.

Also telling kids names for their body parts etc is a good thing - but not a preventative measure. That just helps so that maybe if something happens, then maybe they will know how to tell you. But when the perpetrator tells them it is their fault and don't tell your mommy or daddy even if they told you it's ok because you were bad and thats' why this happened or if you tell mommy and daddy then I will hurt them too -ad infinitum - most very young children will live in fear and believe that. And those *are* the kinds of things said to children who are molested.

One in 3 *is* a high statistic - and it spans urban, rural, poor, middle class and wealthy. I will do all I can to protect my dd, not in a paranoid way and telling her that every person might hurt her etc, but I will keep her in my sight until she is much older and able to follow simple instructions such as "come get mommy if someone comes in the yard". That kind of simple instruction does not bring fear with it -and I will prob say something like "I'ts important that mommy knows right away when we have guests so that I can greet them myself and make them feel welcome" or something.

Just my opinion...
post #23 of 196
I get that we all have different ideas about this, but I really don't think that those of us who don't allow them to play alone outside at the ages of 2, 3, or 4 or 5 are not allowing them freedom to grow, or succumbing to fears, limiting outdoor time, or trying to protect them from any and every possibility. I think that's really a stretch and almost a little insulting,actually. We don't sit indoors in fear. I'm just kind of trying to keep him safe, period. I'm not breathing down his neck or instilling fear in him.
post #24 of 196
Even if it's true that 1 in 3 girls is molested, most of them are not molested by strangers. The number of kids who are molested or abducted by strangers is certainly very small. And I doubt it's more of a risk for a 3 year old playing in her own yard than for a 12 year old riding his bike half a mile to his friend's house, or a 16 year old walking around the mall with her friends. If you're afraid to let your preschool kid play alone in your yard because of the threat of abduction/molestation, it seems like you'd have to be equally afraid to let your preteen or teen ever go anywhere alone.
post #25 of 196
We live in a quiet suburb with no wild animal or water concerns and have a 6 foot privacy fence. I've let my DD1 play outside alone since she was an older 3--I consider her a particularly mature and thoughtful child, and I open all the back windows and stay near where I can hear her. That said, I do NOT see the same thing happening for my DD2, who is way more impulsive and daring--oh, SO daring : She's the "climb to the top of the jungle gym and see if she can fly" kind of kid.

I don't let my DD1 play in the side or front yards alone, and I have no idea at what age I'll feel comfortable doing so. Probably older than 7 or 8, because I'm completely paranoid. I can't even fathom letting her go around the block, but I'm sure that will come when she's older. I totally agree with Daffodil, and statistically she's correct, but we live very near where Megan Kanka was abducted and I've just heard too many stories. That, combined with my overactive imagination, gives me a hard time Then again, I know far more people who were molested by "trusted" family members (including one of my best friends and most of the women in my immediate family on my dad's side) than have ever even been approached by strangers.

Bottom line, it depends on your kid, your neighborhood, and your sense of safety.
post #26 of 196
We just started to let our son go down the street to play on his own. We do watch him walk down and periodically look out. Prior to this year, we always were with him. We have no backyard and our front yard is minimal. We have friends with a totally fenced back yard and the kids will play there by themselves. The youngest boy is soon to be 3. We closely monitored his playing, but all the kids were also looking out for him. If the backyard had not been totally fenced there is no way they would have been allowed to be there unsupervised.

My personal feeling is that it is irresponsible to leave young children, as in 5 or younger, unsupervised to play. THIS IS MY OPINION. I know that it differs from others.
post #27 of 196
I let DS1 when he was 7. He is only allowed in my or the neighbor's yard. We have tons of kids in the neighborhood that come over to our yard (we don't have a fence)
post #28 of 196
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
Even if it's true that 1 in 3 girls is molested, most of them are not molested by strangers. The number of kids who are molested or abducted by strangers is certainly very small. And I doubt it's more of a risk for a 3 year old playing in her own yard than for a 12 year old riding his bike half a mile to his friend's house, or a 16 year old walking around the mall with her friends. If you're afraid to let your preschool kid play alone in your yard because of the threat of abduction/molestation, it seems like you'd have to be equally afraid to let your preteen or teen ever go anywhere alone.
I understand that most of them are not molested by strangers - which is why I already stated that my dd when older will be instructed on how to make our guests feel welcome by immed saying "let me go inside to tell my mommy you are here" so that I can greet them and make them feel welcome. That does not instill fear and still protects her.

As for older kids - the difference is that my preteen or teen is going to know enough to run even if a gun is pulled on them, to fight back, to tell me if someone tries something, to not go near a car to "give directions" etc They would not be intimidated by someone telling them lies that they will hurt dd's parents if she tells or that it's all her fault etc. So in that case, riding a bike to friends or going to the mall is much safer.

Also a preteen/teen is going to be smart enough to know to take precautions hopefully- like stay with a friend at all times, don't go in secluded places etc etc. At least they are smart enough to know those precautions and understand the reasons...
post #29 of 196
I don't let my kids play outside alone because we have no yard at all. All we have is a sidewalk next to an intersection. My 8yo has enough maturity now to be able to sit on the porch with a friend or jump rope on the sidewalk, but I just started letting her do it. My other two? No way.

And yet I know thats obviously just me because I can look up and down the street and see kids still in diapers playing on the sidewalk with no parents in sight and cars whizzing by. No thanks. It just doesn't seem responsible parenting to me.
post #30 of 196
Wow! I just can't imagine living my life with such fear. It's amazing I'm still alive, and unmaimed remembering all the crazy things my laid back mom let me do. I've broken bones, and I have a lot of small scars, but I had a blast doing it. I'd really like to see the 1 in 3 girls are molested statistic, since I can't find it anywhere. Also, I'm guessing as with any such statistic, one needs to read the fine print. Fear sells, so that's what the media sells. I rarely watch the news because it angers me in this aspect. It also encourages the governement and businesses to infringe laws/rules upon my freedom.

Anyway, I let my DS run around in the backyard all the time (since about a month ago when the weather warmed up). My biggest concern is that he will fall and hurt himself, but then he could do that even if I'm back there with him, and I'm not about to hold his hand constantly (even if he would let me, which he won't). I have a fenced yard, no wild animals (although I do have a dog), & no freaky neighbors (and even if I did, I'd still let him play outside). My 5 yr old plays in the front yard with minimal supervision all the time - riding his bike or scooter up and down the sidewalk/driveway. I have limits that I enforce, and DS is good about following them. If something happened to either one of my children, I'd be devastated, but I will not shelter my children, and refuse to live in fear.
post #31 of 196
Believe it or not, some people are just more protective than you but do not live in fear or completely shelter their chlidren.
post #32 of 196
Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
The ugly statistics are that 1 in 3 girls is molested. I would be suspicious if a friend were to enter the backyard and not try the front door first. Or maybe it would be a friend whom I would never be suspicious about, but I would never try to tell my dd which friends could be trusted implicitly and which couldn't. <snip>

We do not allow dd to go with the "daycare" at a consignment sale, or to go to the church nursery, or anything like that. I am shocked that most parents feel perfectly comfortable with these things. <snip>

Parents are often so trusting they just let their kids run all over out of sight after services. And forget about nurseries at church! The people running them have no background checks, sometimes no experience with kids etc.
Stranger abductions are rare, very rare. Even most cases of kidnapping are custody disputes. As you acknowledged, children are more at risk from people you know than they are from strangers. I refuse to live my life in fear of something that is probably as remote as my dying from being struck on the head by a stray icicle. (yes, this did happen to people in Minnesota where I grew up!)

I think that living in fear about every little thing makes us less sensitive to real fears. The world, contrary to popular opinion, is not a more dangerous place than when I grew up. We were just less aware. The statistics of 1 in 4 girls being molested/raped is accurate (not sure where you got 1 in 3) and has been that way for a long time.

I am more cautious about where I leave my kids. One of the reasons I'm comfortable leaving my kids in our church nursery is because we have PAID attendants who have had a background check. And because there are always 2 adults (or an adult and teen) in the nursery at all times. It's a simple precaution that protects both my kids and the caregivers. OK, I do let them run around after services, but that's because there are about 25 eyes on them at all times. If I say "Where's M?" 10 people will tell me where she is!

I don't leave my kids at drop in daycare. I refused to leave my kids at the daycare at the gym when we belonged when they responded to my question about background checks as if I had 2 heads.

I don't force my kids to say hello or talk to people. I honor their instincts. When we're out, they are within my sight at all times. But my backyard? Nah. Not at 6 and nearly 3. They're safe there.
post #33 of 196
Originally Posted by pixiesmommy View Post
Although she knows to ask before picking something and eating, I can't trust a 6 yr old 100% to not pop a lovely flower in her mouth just because she THINKS it's one we use in salad.
I know you are probably only talking about your child and not 6yo's in general, but I can't imagine not being able to trust a 6yo to not eat things in the yard. I mean, they're six, not two. And I say that as a mom of a 6yo...
post #34 of 196
It's not about living in fear.

For me, it's just that I don't have anything more pressing in life than to just be where my dd is when she is in a questionable situation ( like being outside by herself). I don't really need to be in the kitchen doing dishes when she's outside playing. The dishes can wait so that I can give that extra bit of time for her to be fully supervised. This is just me. I have only 1 child. This works for my situation. I'm not criticizing anyone else... please don't take it that way. It's just that 1 in a million odds of my dd being abducted is too much and it's something I can VERY EASILY prevent. I can't keep her out of the car - we have to drive... and an accident is not something I have control over other than to be as safe as *I* can be on the road. It's a bad analogy because there are too many variables outside of our control on the road. At home, just being outside with dd *IS* completely within my control. I let her explore and do things that might be construed as dangerous (climbing fences, trees, hanging from poles that are 12 feet high... she's even had her token broken foot from jumping, so she's familiar with casts and broken bones). But by simply putting aside what I am doing to spend the time on the deck with a book (and it's a great break for me), I can prevent her from becoming (even a 1 in a million) statistic.

So, I guess what I am saying is that there is nothing important enough to me to *not* be out there with her, so why stay in the house just to "give her independence". Especially among APers... why give the independence at such a young age? I'm sure by the time dd is old enough to go off to college, I won't be going outside with her.
post #35 of 196
Kailey is 6 and not allowed to go out by herself except in the front yard. We do not have a fenced in yard and we also have people walking through our yard to get to the soup kitchen behind us. These are not the same people but different ones all the time. I don't know them and don't trust them (not because they are homeless), just as I wouldn't automatically trust any stranger adult with my child.

It isn't about living in fear, but about being safe and using common sense. I also remember a news story about a young boy who was taken out of his backyard that had a fence.

I am in charge of ensuring that my daughter is safe, so I am going to take reasonable precautions to ensure her safety.
post #36 of 196
The reason I don't let my kids play outside by themselves is for their safety. Mainly because I don't want them to be molested or kidnapped. It can happen anywhere, in a safe, good neighborhood, it doesn't matter. It may not be very likely, and I know that its more common by people your child knows, but I'm not willing to take the chance. I don't mind being called overprotective, or maybe even a little irrational or paranoid. IMO, its my job to keep my children safe and this is what I feel is best. The other reasons also being safety related - ie: they could fall and get hurt, or somehow get out into the road and get hit by a car, etc.
post #37 of 196
I don't let ds outside alone because of where we live. I would have no problem elsewhere. We live a short walk from an economically depressed part of the city. We find drug paraphernalia in our bushes. A man with a knife broke through our locked front door while we were home last year. He assumed we must be rich because our house is big. He wasn't the first intruder, either.

A couple of days ago, I went for a walk with ds on his new bike. We noticed a large group of young adults congregating in front of the grade school. We managed to get past and away before a fight broke out. The firehouse was nearby so we stopped there and asked the guys to call the police. My ds is never going anywhere alone where we live. I'm concerned when he gets older that he will be targeted by gang members that want to "prove" themselves.

Growing up here, my brother had his bike taken from him while he was riding it and two of my brothers were held up at gunpoint.
post #38 of 196
I don't let me dd play outside alone, either. We live on a corner lot and thouh we have a fenced yard it is accessible to those passing by. ALot of people walk in our neighborhood, though not a main street, a busy one through the neighborhood.

If we lived with houses on both sides of us and I could see the yard from the kitchen window or something, I probably would let her play outside alone. We have a privacy deck off the kitchen and i close the door to the deck and I put our dog out there with her. That is the only outside alone time allowed.

I wish i felt more comfortable but I can barely read a paper or watch the news any longer without crying about some kid getting killed/molested, or something awful. (which is why we no longer have a TV )
post #39 of 196
I have to defend my previous post because when we lived in NC and had not garden my dd knew better than to EVER eat anything outside, and she was probably 3 when she learned this, or even younger. She never was a "mouther" anyway, so I'm certainly not saying that all 6 yr olds will eat things from the yard.... I just meant that since we grow herbs and flowers, etc that I don't want her confusing a marigold for a poisonous weed!! If I'm out there with her, she does point and ask "is this okay?" and pop things in her mouth for a snack while she's playing- which I love that we're able to do! Chives are her favorite so far.
I certainly don't hover over her- I go out and sit with a book, etc. and let her play off in another corner of the yard, or even clean the kitchen facing the window so I can see her on the patio.
She's a smart kid and she's awesome at following rules, but she's just not mature enough, IMO, to be completely unsupervised.

post #40 of 196
My friend who's in real estate told me recently that until the 1950's, houses were built with kitchens in the front of the house so moms could watch their kids play out in front. Since then, they have been built with kitchens in the back of the house so moms could watch their kids in the backyard.

Interesting how changes with the times influence architecture like that...

Anyway, this thread reminded me of that...
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