Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aren't You a Little Young for That?

I live in a very safe neighborhood. That said, I'm the type of mom won't let my kids play in the front yard unless I'm able to keep an eye on them.  When my girls play with the neighbor girls (the oldest of whom is 11) I know the parents are all keeping watch.  We try not to be helicopter moms, but we're aware that the world is crazy and just because we live on a safe street in a good neighborhood doesn't mean we're comfortable just letting our kids roam.  This is four households who don't let the kids play unsupervised where strangers have access.  It's nice to live on such a protective street. 

Yesterday, I saw something that disturbed me a little. A girl Miss E's age, who lives about a quarter of a mile away, was walked past our house with another little girl whom I know to be a year younger.  That's an eight year old and a seven year old, walking fairly far from home, by themselves.  They were carrying pool toys and towels, so they were obviously heading for the new city pool which is very nearby.  It's entirely possible they were meeting up with responsible adults at the pool, but it really drove me nuts thinking about kids that young not only walking alone, but heading for the pool!  This pool has enough lifeguards that I allow Miss E to swim with her friends without keeping her under my nose at all times, but I would never, ever just allow her to be at there with out a grown up.  Geeze, I wouldn't even let her go to the bathroom there by herself!  And don't even get me started on seeing such small girls walking unaccompanied.  Yes, this is a nice neighborhood in a quiet little town but in yesterday's paper alone there were two stories about child predators and attempted abductions are reported a few times a year.  I'm trying not to judge - I know the older girls mother.  She's a splendid person and an excellent mother.  She and I just see these things differently, obviously.  I still wanted to rush out and make sure they at least got to the pool safely. 

This all brings me to wonder at what point I WILL feel comfortable giving my kids this kind of freedom.  Geeze, it was wrench to let Miss E ride the school bus every day and she has four older neighbor friends who watch out for her.  At what point do I let her ride her bike to a park with a friend, or play at someone's house where I don't personally know the parents?  Urgh...  I don't even want to think about it.  Parenting is hard.


  1. Kids are not even aloud at our pool with out some one over the age of 16 ,untill they are 12. Garrett is 15 and I still tell him I have to know the parents before he goes to some ones house. For me 11,12 seemed right to let them ride their bikes to the park (mine is much further away then yours.)and I make them take a cell phone every where they go. and they call me just to check in with out my asking them to. I think it is important to let them know how much you care, that you need to know were they are at all times. I think you will know when she is responsable enough for a little independence.

  2. I totally agree with your thinking. There is a girl on our street that is 5 and has been known to wonder around the neighborhood to include riding her bike in the street. She has also walked into other neighbors homes and garages wihtout permission. She just lets herself in if the garage is open or tries to walk into the house. I heard a weird noise one morning and looked out the window to find her yanking on our door trying to come in. She didn't knock or ring the doorbell. It scares me to know that she is allowed to wonder around the neighborhood. At first I thought that soemone was sitting outside watching her but there have been several times I've seen no one. I mean the day they moved in to the neighborhood little man and I were playing with chalk on the front porch and she invited herself over and her parents let her come having never even met me. They didn't even come introduce themselves or come ask if it was ok. That just scares me that she's so young and has that much freedom.

  3. So this was a hard one for me......On one hand I feel like I am on of those more lenient parents, and then on other.....well, you know. I won't let Mr. J ride his bike by himself 1 1/2 blocks to a friend's house without me or his sister going with him. However, I will let Miss. J go hang out with friends at the pool without adults. I don't think at age 8 I would have been comfortable with Miss J walking to the pool by herself, but at age 11, I would. I think you will be amazed at how fast they mature in just a couple of years.

    You have to ask yourself, what will make you feel more comfortable with giving them more freedom? Is it a cell phone, karate lessons, or maybe pepper spray and a taser? Now I'm not above arming my kids, but I eventually decided a $10 Tracfone was a good place to start. Just the thought of her having access to that little piece of technology made me feel better about her walking home from the school bus without adult supervision or going to that friend's house that I didn't know so well.

    It's hard walking that fine line between helping them build their confidence through their experiences and smothering them - but you know your kids better than anyone, and when the time is right, you'll know it.

    Thanks for a great post. It's good to be reminded that we need to be careful (I've stopped watching the news, it pisses me off).