Am I to cautious? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 71 Old 10-21-2010, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

 
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#2 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 12:30 AM
 
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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.

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#3 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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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.

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#4 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 12:55 AM
 
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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.
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#5 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:16 AM
 
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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.

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#6 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:21 AM
 
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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.

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#7 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 
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#8 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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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.
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#9 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 02:19 AM
 
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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.

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#10 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 02:29 AM
 
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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.

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#11 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 02:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 
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#12 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 06:29 AM
 
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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.
This.
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#13 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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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.

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#14 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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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.
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#15 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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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.
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#16 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 11:41 AM
 
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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!
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#17 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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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.
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#18 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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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.
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#19 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 12:49 PM
 
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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.

Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

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#20 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:00 PM
 
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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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#21 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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I totally understand your concerns and have a lot of the same issues. There are a lot of good people, and there are some people without good intentions, in our "safe" neighborhoods. These are the people that watch and know which kids are vulnerable.

Our DD is 7 and she is allowed to play where I can see her from the window. I am either outside with her or reading near the window. She is not allowed to roam our neighborhood as many kids are.

IMHO, there is absolutely nothing more important that I could be doing than keeping an eye on her when she's outside.

When I want her to have more freedom, I take her to the big park where she can roam way farther because I can keep an eye on her.

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#22 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:11 PM
 
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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!
I truly believe the media drives this kind of desperate fear. Most children who are kidnapped are kidnapped by non custodial parents or relatives. Most other children listed as missing are runaways. While these are sad cases that deserve attention, they are not the huge, sensational, and tragic cases the media needs to drive ratings and garner advertising dollars.

What does drive the ratings is planting the idea through ceasless media coverage of stranger abductions that all our children are at risk. I mean after all, you don't want what happened to little Joan Smith to happen to your kids so stay tuned through the next commerical break to learn how to protect your kids.

I believe this kind of 24/7 info drives up our stress levels so that we lose our ability to think rationally about how rare stranger abduction is. I believe we mistake the unending coverage about 1 or 2 cases and extropolate that it is happening everywhere, every day, as soon as your back is turned. It makes us believe that the only thing that exists beyond the safety of our front door is danger.

I for one am not willing or able to live under that kind of stress and fear. There is a world of difference between teaching my child common sense safety tips and teaching him to live in terror of being snatched out of his bed in the dark of night or grabbed off the street. There is a world of difference in setting age appropriate limits on freedom based on my child's level of ability, and not on my level of fear.

It is like the Google phenomenon. Whenever you are sick, you look up stomach ache and the search comes back as OMG!!! cancer. The media does the same thing because the worst news is what sells. Fear sells.
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#23 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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My kids were all 4-5 when I'd let them walk to the school(5 houses away crossing 2 roads), the park or friends houses.

At 9 they would walk to the convenience store by themselves. It is a 15minute walk 1 way crossing a main street through the city.

My oldest(almost 12) now walks 4-5 blocks to catch the bus instead of walking the 4-5houses to the school to catch it there(to get to the Middle Scool).

IMO kids learn independance by giving them independance.
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#24 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:34 PM
 
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I truly believe the media drives this kind of desperate fear. Most children who are kidnapped are kidnapped by non custodial parents or relatives. Most other children listed as missing are runaways. While these are sad cases that deserve attention, they are not the huge, sensational, and tragic cases the media needs to drive ratings and garner advertising dollars.

What does drive the ratings is planting the idea through ceasless media coverage of stranger abductions that all our children are at risk. I mean after all, you don't want what happened to little Joan Smith to happen to your kids so stay tuned through the next commerical break to learn how to protect your kids.

I believe this kind of 24/7 info drives up our stress levels so that we lose our ability to think rationally about how rare stranger abduction is. I believe we mistake the unending coverage about 1 or 2 cases and extropolate that it is happening everywhere, every day, as soon as your back is turned. It makes us believe that the only thing that exists beyond the safety of our front door is danger.

I for one am not willing or able to live under that kind of stress and fear. There is a world of difference between teaching my child common sense safety tips and teaching him to live in terror of being snatched out of his bed in the dark of night or grabbed off the street. There is a world of difference in setting age appropriate limits on freedom based on my child's level of ability, and not on my level of fear.

It is like the Google phenomenon. Whenever you are sick, you look up stomach ache and the search comes back as OMG!!! cancer. The media does the same thing because the worst news is what sells. Fear sells.
The world isn't any more dangerous than it was years ago. We just have more media coverage of all the worst things. It doesn't do a child good to teach them how scary and unsafe the world is... they won't be ready to go into it alone when they are adults. It is more important to teach a child common sense and to grant them independence based on their abilities. Some kids DO need to be watched at an older age than their peers, but many are just fine playing outside in the yard.

I WAS almost kidnapped. My brother's dad attempted to kidnap me to hold me as ransom to see my brother (who he most definitely was NOT allowed to see - court order - and I'm sure you can guess WHY based on his attempt at kidnapping ME) Still, I was allowed some freedom. It would be ridiculous to keep me locked up in my house so I don't get locked up in someone else's house. My mom couldn't watch every minute. I was taught to trust my instincts and use common sense instead.
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#25 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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[QUOTE=ErinYay;15972626
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.[/QUOTE]

I agree with this whole post and especially this.

I was molested by a family member and I was assaulted & raped in university. Obviously I do not want my children to experience either of those things and I can be very paranoid about it. My parents were pretty disengaged and I was pretty free-range, but the worst stuff happened at home and at university.

At the same time...what saved my SPIRIT and soul was being able to really engage and connect with the world. To enjoy travel, to explore my city and others, to make friends, to be a part of my community - and to learn that I am ok; I am okay to be alone and to go out and do things. To get to know how much there is out there that is so cool.

If you can't talk to strangers, you also can't get help from strangers if you need it.

In order to do those things I had to feel confident in myself.

Like I said, I don't buy wholeheartedly into the free-range movement that sees the 60s and 70s as idyllic. I think I had too much freedom and too little structure in some ways and I think it is a mistake to try to recreate that without the same community structure. But I also think the best response is a moderate one - not to go too overboard the other way. I try to temper my fear with a little trust. And you have start small - a trip around the block. You can't go from total fear and control to letting your kids go off and have their lives, at least not easily.

Most of the world is a wonderful place - sometimes in a big city, a little indifferent, but also great. Not all communities are and so parents have to judge. But I think we do our kids a disservice if we let fear rule.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#26 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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I was taught to trust my instincts and use common sense instead.
I agree with that, and, I think that common sense with regard to what is safe and what is not varies greatly on place and circumstance. We were totally free-range when I was growing up, but we also lived in a very rural area. My family presently lives in a 5th floor apartment in a large apartment building in the middle of the city on a very busy street (with no yards). I can't apply the same practices that my parents employed with us, mainly because I live in a totally different environment. We have four, busy bars within a block from our building. My concern has less to do with people and more to do with speeding cars (specifically taxis), blind spots, and general traffic safety. My goal right now is to teach DD (who is four) basic street and traffic safety. Once I feel she is responsible, I will let her travel freely throughout the neighborhood. I think that when she is six, she will be ready to go to the corner deli on her own. I already let her go in by herself (while I wait outside) so she can get used to the idea. She loves these little moments of independence. It helps too that we have introduced her to a wide variety of people in our neighborhood (including store owners) and she has formed relationships with them. The goal is to eliminate the "stranger" aspect of her environs.

Recently, we were upstate staying in a mountain lodge, and DD roamed freely all over the grounds. It was fun for all of us. Different circumstances, different way of handling it.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
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#27 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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My son is 7... he knows his boundaries, which sometimes are JUST out of my vision/hearing but I would just have to walk about 10-20 feet outside my door to be able to see him and he's not allowed near the streets or parking lots. We are in a town-home division so there are a lot of busy streets/parking lots which make me nervous. I have stretched his boundaries a little each year. I probably won't let him play where I can't see him until he's at least 10 or so. I'm not so nervous about people as I am cars... they drive really fast around despite all the children playing outside. We had a little boy (I think he was 3) that was being watched by his 8 year old sister get hit and killed 2 years ago.

My 4 year old still doesn't go outside without me, period. I probably will start letting her go out in our front courtyard by herself in the summer next year if my windows/doors are open... and slowly spread her boundaries as I did with my son.

When I was young, we ran all over the place (granted, my sister was 5 years older then me and with me most of the time) we were out at dawn and didn't come home until dinner most days... My mom wouldn't have had a clue where we were but most of the town knew us but I am not comfortable doing the same as she did. I'm OCD so I worry about every little thing that could go wrong... maybe that sucks for my kids but better safe then sorry, I think.

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#28 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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I was allowed to be anywhere in my neighboorhood (about 10 blocks by 8 blocks) from the time I was 8 on. The rule was, I had a certian time I had to be home to "check in". The amount of time I could be gone without checking in became longer as I got older. I wasnt allowed to call, I HAD to come by the house. We live in the country, and we dont really have a neighborhood, but I plan to allow our kids to run around and play on the farm as long as they are within of a dinner bell.

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#29 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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I personally do not agree with you and do not raise my children in the way you are. I feel that at age 10 they should be capable of being alone unless the child is very immature.

Quote:
To me the world is far from a safe place and to have the kids think otherwise to me wouldn't 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.
I am very troubled by what you wrote and wonder given how you feel, just when will you think they will be safe?

How are you teaching them to deal with this unsafe world?

At what age to you think you can trust the older one to look after the younger?



I guess I am really baffled by this type of belief and how these children "grow-up". The only person I knew who treated their child like this ended up having a 15 year old that my 22 year old DD baby-sat for. The child was and continues to be very immature and lacks self-confidence and is now leaving for college and can't be alone. I feel sorry for the person she lives in fear of so much.

 

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#30 of 71 Old 10-22-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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I let my children play in the backyard by themselves (well, with the dogs) starting at age 2. With ds we waited slightly longer until he learned not to hit the dog.

I don't let them play in the front yard, but that's because there aren't any kids on our street and we live at a corner where people speed around. I will let them ride their scooters in front of the house and in front of one of our neighbors houses, but only if I'm in the driveway/garage.

With in the last couple weeks, we started letting dd (who will be 6 in November) go get the mail (at the end of our drive) by herself or with her brother. I watch if ds is with her, mostly cause he will sometimes go running for no damn reason.

I do think you are being overly cautious. At the very least, they should be able to play in the backyard without you calling to them so often.

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