8 Year old outside alone? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-16-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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the 2 i live with are 10 and 8 and they go to the park across the street by themselves all the time.
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:18 PM
 
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As long as my ds knew where to find a parent, I think he'd be fine. Especially in another year (when he'd be 8). He is pretty sensible, can cross the familiar corners safely, etc. But he doesn't like to be alone so it isn't likely he'd wander around by himself anyway.

This. I could have written this, word for word.

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Old 08-19-2008, 03:00 AM
 
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Where we live, I definitely will never keep on 'locking' our children in our tiny yard until they're 18 and 'ready' for the big wide world. I let them the freedom to explore to some extent and do not want to be the ever panicky parent about all the bad things that may happen or all the bad people they may meet. I don't want to imprison my kids in such a tiny little suffocating world.
That is extremely patronizing and condescending. Just because some choose to be more protective of their children doesn't mean it's a bad thing. It's not about "locking" them up or "imprisoning" them, it's about keeping them close and safe. If you don't think it's best for your children, fine, but don't put others down for what they think is best for their children. I don't tell you you're irresponsible or endangering your children so you should give the same respect and courtesy.

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Originally Posted by mamazee
I honestly think that the risks of not having plenty of unstructured outside play time are greater than the risks of "stranger danger".
And how is a backyard not unstructured? Our backyard has a full veggie garden to dig in, trees to swing from and climb in, a fire pit area, a pond and a lot of room to run with our dog. My kids have tons of fun back there. When we want, we walk to the baseball field and beach. Why do they need to be out alone?

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Children are very very seldom attacked by strangers. And by 8 and 9, I'd think they'd know to run to the house if someone approached them.
I don't know what you consider "very very seldom", but it's often enough. Also, when a child is put in a stressful and spontaneous situation, who knows how they will react, even when they do know it's dangerous or wrong? For me, I don't want to bank on the hope that my child will do what they are 'supposed' to do. For me, I don't want them in that situation in the first place, until they are ready.

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Old 08-19-2008, 03:50 AM
 
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This is a super interesting thread for me because I ran a little neighborhood experiment this summer.We live in a fairly busy urban neighborhood. Not a place where kids can just head out at 8 years old : Even when pp mention letting kids run in "packs' I laughed since the kids that do roam here unattended would hardly work for that sort of okay peer pact. I sent an email to the parents of every parent I know with a boy or girl who had played softball or baseball in May to meet at the local middle school to play unsupervised ball every Monday at 6:30 and bring whoever might be interested. I wanted them to have a chance to pick their own teams, make their own calls and learn from each other without parental intervention. Well...The parents I knew said it wasn't safe because the kids that showed up unsupervised would be out of control Well...turns out the kids who showed up unsupervised were out of control... It just isn't the 80's An additional problem was that a bunch of mothers of girls got wind of it and decided that it was an equal rights opportunity thing and that girls who had NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY BASEBALL (which is weird since our local league is full of girls) had to join in so the field was loaded with so many girls who had never played before that the boys who had been playing for like 8 years said it was boring and took off...so there were a bunch of new players on the field and the whole kids teaching kids thing was lost...Anyway, it isn't the 70's. I did the best to create something loose and fun for my kids this summer and it was a bust. OTH every single Monday a bunch of kids who I get the feeling have had NO adult attention all summer (if ever) showed up for baseball. Nice little memory for them, I guess.

Anyway, I am not sure I added to the conversation but it seemed relevant....
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:52 AM
 
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gosh, my DS started playing outside alone when he was 4! We live in a quiet, safe neighborhood with an alley (no cars, foot and bikes only) behind our house. He couldn't cross the street without us, but could play on our block. He and his best friends (whose houses also abut the alley) are in and out of our back garden all day. If they are going elsewhere (other than one of the three houses or the gardens/alley) they need to tell us. Otherwise, off the go.

I realize a lot depends on the neighborhood, the responsibility level of the child involved, and the set up of the houses/streets/neighborhoods but . .. wow . .. I can't even imagine supervising my DS (now 5.5) every time he was outside!!!
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:55 AM
 
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Depends on the neighborhood and on the child
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:28 AM
 
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We put up a simple fence with a locking gate with DS was 1 and man am I glad we did! He plays outside by himself for several hours of the day and it's a great place for neighborhood kids to come over too. It is a short enough fence that their parents can still see them, but they are all safe from the road. Can't wait until my DD is old enough to play with him (she's 7 months)

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Old 08-19-2008, 09:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
I think 8 years old is plenty old to be outside alone in the yard. I'd let an 8-year-old wander a bit even.

Unless it were a really bad neighborhood or something, I'd have no problem.
I agree.

It would depend on the child and the area I live in. We live in the country, no neighbors and we can hear cars coming since we live on gravel. My kids can go out at anytime they want. My oldest used to wander around at the age of 4/5 in our yard when we used to live in apartments some years ago. I could see him through my front door and never got engrossed in t.v. and was working from home but knew where he was. He liked to explore and had to be outdoors either digging in dirt or looking around. I couldn't keep him inside knowing that's what he wanted to do. He knew not to go near the road at that time and my kids know that now. I always make sure to push that one rule on my children starting at a very young age.

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Old 08-19-2008, 11:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by SAHDS View Post
That is extremely patronizing and condescending. Just because some choose to be more protective of their children doesn't mean it's a bad thing. It's not about "locking" them up or "imprisoning" them, it's about keeping them close and safe. If you don't think it's best for your children, fine, but don't put others down for what they think is best for their children. I don't tell you you're irresponsible or endangering your children so you should give the same respect and courtesy.
Uhm I've only been speaking about MY children and how I do want or not want to do it, about my feelings regarding keeping them in... Our yard (not to say house) is so small that keeping them in at all times would be totally suffocating for all of us.
When they're out in our neighbourhood they are still 'close' and 'safe' to me.
Sorry, this is something I do feel strongly about but I'm not telling you or other parents what to do.

By the way, I won't be patronizing anyone (you have no idea how I really am :-), and then you'd rather call it matronizing .

Me:,loving HB,two active sons of 3 & 5,1 cat, nature lover,,extbf,occ,SAHM, multicultural/lingual family,+/-cl, :become a better parent/person by not expecting to be the perfect parent/person
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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I don't know what you consider "very very seldom", but it's often enough. Also, when a child is put in a stressful and spontaneous situation, who knows how they will react, even when they do know it's dangerous or wrong? For me, I don't want to bank on the hope that my child will do what they are 'supposed' to do. For me, I don't want them in that situation in the first place, until they are ready.
I googled and there are approximatley 8 children age 11 and younger under abducted by strangers in the US each year. That's according to this website: http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/doc..._nonfamily.pdf There are approximately 115 abductions of children 18 and younger by non family members every year, and only 33% are by strangers, and only 19% are of children 11 and younger. 19% of 115 is 22 children 11 and younger abducted by non-family members (usually friends of the family) and 33% of those are abducted by strangers, which leaves 8. Most children who are abducted are teenage girls. Teenage girls are in much more danger outdoors than young children. Actually, adult women are more likely to be abducted than young children. There are many, many more adult rapists than child molesters. If you were to allow a teenage girl to watch your children and think that was safe, she'd actually be a much bigger target than your child and your children would be in more danger simply for being in the way of someone who wanted to abduct her. You're probably a bigger target than your children.

The website also says that only 19% of stereotypical abductions (by strangers) were from people's homes and yards. So of the 8 kids abducted each year, that leaves 1.5 kids age 11.5 and younger abducted by a stranger from their home or yard each year in the whole US.
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Old 08-19-2008, 02:57 PM
 
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I googled and there are approximatley 8 children age 11 and younger under abducted by strangers in the US each year. That's according to this website: http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/doc..._nonfamily.pdf There are approximately 115 abductions of children 18 and younger by non family members every year, and only 33% are by strangers, and only 19% are of children 11 and younger. 19% of 115 is 22 children 11 and younger abducted by non-family members (usually friends of the family) and 33% of those are abducted by strangers, which leaves 8. Most children who are abducted are teenage girls. Teenage girls are in much more danger outdoors than young children. Actually, adult women are more likely to be abducted than young children. There are many, many more adult rapists than child molesters. If you were to allow a teenage girl to watch your children and think that was safe, she'd actually be a much bigger target than your child and your children would be in more danger simply for being in the way of someone who wanted to abduct her. You're probably a bigger target than your children.

The website also says that only 19% of stereotypical abductions (by strangers) were from people's homes and yards. So of the 8 kids abducted each year, that leaves 1.5 kids age 11.5 and younger abducted by a stranger from their home or yard each year in the whole US.
And yet a lot of people firmly believe that their child is in imminent danger of abduction at any moment.

I think my kids are better off being taught how to react if a stranger does approach them, and how to react if a non-stranger makes them uncomfortable, than being constantly supervised.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:04 PM
 
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really?
hhhhmmm OK I guess I am over protective...
my mom didn't let me play alone outside until i was 10 and even then she was watching from the kitchen window as she did dishes and i was playing in the backyard.

I also DO think it depends on where you live. I lived in a pretty rural area. If i had wandered off at 8 and got hurt in the woods or down the road, it could be hours before any came by to be able to help. Or in some cases...days!

In the neighborhood i work in now it's much different, kids of all ages meet up and walk down to the park unsupervised and it's a really safe area. Many parents keeping eyes out for other people's kids and such.

Now, with my own child, i will probably be an over protective freak, but i've already accepted that. He was born with a heart defect and we've been through open heart surgery, I am just way too scared of losing him!!!

me, dh and 2 boys = our family (oh and a cat...who is also a male...lol)
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:04 PM
 
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8 is old enough in my book to play out alone. Depends on the maturity level and neighborhood also. It's not something i would stress about with an 8 year old especially where I live.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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I think my kids are better off being taught how to react if a stranger does approach them, and how to react if a non-stranger makes them uncomfortable, than being constantly supervised.
Exactly. And there is always the chance that "constant" supervision will be interrupted by a ringing telephone or a diaper blowout or any other unforseen event. I'd much rather my DC have the knowledge and confidence to know how to react in those uncomfortable situations.
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Old 08-19-2008, 05:40 PM
 
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I've noticed some very weird attitudes among my RL friends regarding stranger danger and abduction. They really don't like it when you point out that the danger is very small. They react almost by putting their fingers in their ears and saying "LALALA I can't hear you".

It's almost as though they either WANT or NEED to believe that there is a huge danger of stranger abduction.

I wonder why this is? Could it be a sense of control? We are not able to control all aspects of our environment, but keeping children under supervision is easy enough, so we feel like better parents even if the actual effect of such over-supervision is actually detrimental? Or can it be that they really do buy into the culture of fear so much that even when shown the statistics it makes no difference to them?
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:22 PM
 
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Sure stranger abduction is rare. Molestation/rape/car accidents are not. I don't allow my kids to roam the neighborhood because most of the parents have vastly different values than my family and I don't want my children exposed at an early age to certain elements of our culture.

I was under-protected as a child. I was molested/raped, exposed to drugs/alcohol, violence, porn etc. And a lot of that was by other kids!

I like to be respectful of my kids, and I don't think I'm overprotective in the negative sense, my DD's have never said, "Aww mom!" When told something was not safe, or inappropriate for them.

I also remember being a kid and in each of the houses I lived in there was always a creepy guy that was more than happy to pump up a bike tire, or show you his kittens.

I firmly don't believe in allowing kids to roam neighborhoods, that is how most mischief happens.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:32 PM
 
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I wonder why this is? Could it be a sense of control? We are not able to control all aspects of our environment, but keeping children under supervision is easy enough, so we feel like better parents even if the actual effect of such over-supervision is actually detrimental? Or can it be that they really do buy into the culture of fear so much that even when shown the statistics it makes no difference to them?

IMO, it's much easier to not supervise a child. Much easier to let them go play alone, unsupervised, while you go about your day. It's much harder to spend all that time with them, not doing the things you would otherwise be doing.

What exactly is "over-supervision"? Sounds like wrapping kids in bubble wrap to prevent injuries or making them use training wheels at 14 so they don't fall and get hrut. Seriously, it's getting blown a bit out of proportion. If someone is a bit more over-protective, people deem it as being over-protective yet I don't call it being careless when other's aren't as protective as me.

Porcelain Interior - Nice post. I completely agree. Neither one of my children have ever been upset by it either. They've actually agreed with it and appreciate me caring so much (not to say that others don't care about theirs).

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Old 08-19-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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My 8yo walks to school by herself. It's about a km, and she's been doing it since the end of June. And I'm fine with it.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:31 PM
 
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My DSD plays outside on her own with the neighborhood kids. I just need to know if she goes in someone's home.

Has anyone seen the Penn and Teller Bullsh!t on Stranger Danger that aired recently? It was fantastic. I highly recommend watching it when it airs again.
http://www.sho.com/site/video/bright...lid=1655771618
http://www.sho.com/site/schedules/pr...isodeid=131001

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Old 08-19-2008, 11:50 PM
 
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IMO, it's much easier to not supervise a child. Much easier to let them go play alone, unsupervised, while you go about your day. It's much harder to spend all that time with them, not doing the things you would otherwise be doing.

What exactly is "over-supervision"? Sounds like wrapping kids in bubble wrap to prevent injuries or making them use training wheels at 14 so they don't fall and get hrut. Seriously, it's getting blown a bit out of proportion. If someone is a bit more over-protective, people deem it as being over-protective yet I don't call it being careless when other's aren't as protective as me.

Porcelain Interior - Nice post. I completely agree. Neither one of my children have ever been upset by it either. They've actually agreed with it and appreciate me caring so much (not to say that others don't care about theirs).
To me, it's easier to supervise a child than to teach the skills needed to interact with the world in an age appropriate way, and to trust the child to be able to use those skills.

I was molested as a child in my own home by two different people. It would have protected my a lot more if my mother had ever discussed with me what to do in such a situation than if she restricted my from normal childhood neighborhood activity.

I guess we all see these things through the prism of our own experience.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:15 AM
 
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It would be much easier to send my kids out unsupervised than create situations with them to play safely with peers.

I agree with a pp - my husband was undersupervised as a child and got to have terrible experiences at the cost of older children without ever actually being kidnapped.

I don't breathe down my kids neck every minute, but I will not leave my little little kids well-being in the hands of kids whose judgement is still unfinished as well.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:59 AM
 
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There's a big difference between a child roaming the neighborhood alone, going into people's homes without parent's knowledge or approval - and a child playing outside in a neighbor's front yard, calling to you to ask if they can play in sammy's basement, walking up to the corner store, building tree forts in the woods, riding bikes together, going to the park, etc.

I don't have any desire for my kids to feel comfortable enough to go into my neighbors homes, really ever, but I do want them to talk with our neighbors, help them with their lawns when their out, pet their dog's and ask them about their day and be social and friendly with them. My main goal in this, however, is for my child to have the freedom to play as he likes and learn to be safe. it's not safe to put yourself in a position where you'd be alone with an adult that you and your parents don't trust, but it's plenty safe to ride your bike around the block, knock on your friend's door and ask if he can go with you to the park and the store to buy Popsicles. All the kids in my neighborhood do this and it's one of the thigns I love most about where we live.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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My kids are still young but I'd definately let them play in the yard by themselves by 8. My son is 5 and I recently started letting him play in the unfenced backyard by himself without watching him - but with a window or door open so I could hear him. Though, I admit to checking up on him more than I'm willing to admit!

At 8, I wouldn't let my kids roam the neighborhood. We occassionally get neighborhood kids asking if they can come in our house and play. (Boys ages 7-10). I have a rule that they must ask their parents before they come into our house. I wouldn't allow my kids to play in other's houses if I don't know them but kids seem surprised when I tell them my rule that they have to ask. I figure I'm making certain that the parents know where their kids are. Plus, I feel like I need to do that to protect us as well.
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:32 PM
 
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All 3 of my kids play outside by themselves (well, if "by themselves" that includes together, lol) . I work at home fulltime and I can't be outside all day. My office overlooks the backyard and neighborhood, I can hear them and peek in on them. My oldest wants to walk to school this year ( about 5 blocks from home), and as long as weather permits I'm going to let her. She is also allowed to walk to the library by herself and to the little mom and pop corner store.

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Old 08-20-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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To me, it's easier to supervise a child than to teach the skills needed to interact with the world in an age appropriate way, and to trust the child to be able to use those skills.
You are assuming the "overprotective" parent is doing it out of laziness when that's not really reality- at least in my house. Trust me it's much more trying and stressful to have them in my hair almost 24/7 then say "Go out and play."

My kids are given ample age appropriate opportunities to flex their worldy muscles. We also discuss in age appropriate detail why our family chooses not to allow what the "Jone's" allow their kids to do. We have calm rational worldy discussions.

IMO an 8 year old child shouldn't be interacting with the world at large alone. I trust my child to make good decisions, and they trust me to be their mother, and in our house that means I am in charge of their safety.

I have no issue with what other families choose for their children- I trust their judgment. These are my kids though, and I have to follow my heart and gut.
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:00 PM
 
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You are assuming the "overprotective" parent is doing it out of laziness when that's not really reality- at least in my house. Trust me it's much more trying and stressful to have them in my hair almost 24/7 then say "Go out and play."

My kids are given ample age appropriate opportunities to flex their worldy muscles. We also discuss in age appropriate detail why our family chooses not to allow what the "Jone's" allow their kids to do. We have calm rational worldy discussions.

IMO an 8 year old child shouldn't be interacting with the world at large alone. I trust my child to make good decisions, and they trust me to be their mother, and in our house that means I am in charge of their safety.

I have no issue with what other families choose for their children- I trust their judgment. These are my kids though, and I have to follow my heart and gut.
I think each family needs to do what is right for their family and children. children mature at different ages and can handle responsibilities at different ages.

My only hope is that families that choose to parent differently don't judge my parenting methods only because they don't agree with them for their families. I'd also hope that they don't put me down when discussing our choices to their children, because that is judgment as well.

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Old 08-20-2008, 04:22 PM
 
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I think each family needs to do what is right for their family and children. children mature at different ages and can handle responsibilities at different ages.

My only hope is that families that choose to parent differently don't judge my parenting methods only because they don't agree with them for their families. I'd also hope that they don't put me down when discussing our choices to their children, because that is judgment as well.

I can tell you what I tell my kids. It goes something like this:

Movies:

12 yo DD "Mom can I go see the new batman movie? Please please please ALL my friends are going."

Me "No it's not appropriate and I don't want you watching it."

12 yo DD "Mom, everyone's mom is letting them go."

Me "That's fine for them, their parents get to make those choices, and I get to make the choices for my kids and you aren't going."

12 yo DD "OK."

Privledges:

12 yo DD "Mom can I walk home with Julie after school and then take her dog to the park that's a mile away?"

Me "No, I don't think that's safe."

12 yo DD "But her mom said it's ok, and she's letting her, please mom?"

Me "Her mom feels safe with that, and that is her decision, I am not ok with it, so the answer is no."

12 yo DD "OK I'll tell her, maybe we'll just do something else."

Me "I would be okay with you walking the dog if you stay in Julie's cul de sac."

12 yo DD "Okay well we'll just do that."

And the talks we have about other kids out after dark etc, like 8 years olds that we don't even know whom we frequently see out after 9 pm in the streets have been like this:

12 yo DD "Mom there is a kid alone outside right now on the street out front."

Me "Well either their parent is ok with that, or they maybe don't know their child is out there."

12 yo DD "I don't think that's ok."

Me "Well I don't either, which is why you aren't out there. We don't control other people's choices and some people are more relaxed, now stop staring."

I don't judge anyone, if I think something is unsafe I tell my children so- parenting is all about making JUDGMENT calls. If you feel judged by that, well that's not my issue. I feel judged by people who think I'm overprotective, but it doesn't bother me. I'm ok to disagree.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Porcelain Interior View Post
I don't judge anyone, if I think something is unsafe I tell my children so- parenting is all about making JUDGMENT calls. If you feel judged by that, well that's not my issue. I feel judged by people who think I'm overprotective, but it doesn't bother me. I'm ok to disagree.
Well, honestly, I don't think you are overprotective, I think you know whats right for your kids. So, no judgment from me.

I don't think having different opinions is judging, I think making negative assumptions is. So if you aren't making negative assumptions about my parentings style, then I wouldn't feel judged.

Mom to Joscelyne 14, Andrew 12, and Mackenzie 10 and wife to Nate.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:06 PM
 
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Well, honestly, I don't think you are overprotective, I think you know whats right for your kids. So, no judgment from me.

I don't think having different opinions is judging, I think making negative assumptions is. So if you aren't making negative assumptions about my parentings style, then I wouldn't feel judged.
That's awesome. That's exactly how I feel. I just can never tell if someone is going to be thinking I'm making judgment, because I try to give nearly everyone the benefit of the doubt and I do NOT like my children thinking ill of other people, or feeling superior because we do something differently.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:08 PM
 
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That's awesome. That's exactly how I feel. I just can never tell if someone is going to be thinking I'm making judgment, because I try to give nearly everyone the benefit of the doubt and I do NOT like my children thinking ill of other people, or feeling superior because we do something differently.
I think it's important to remember that each of us makes a different risk assessment based on different issues specific to where we live, our families, our neighborhoods, etc. We can't assume what is right or wrong in anyone else's case because we can't know specifically what is happening that caused them to assess risk the way they did.
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