A Cool Treat and a Hot Debate

Before I start in on what I want to discuss today, I wanted to remind everyone that Sonic is giving away a *free* 10 oz rootbeer float today, June 3rd, from 8 pm to midnight.  Be sure to swing by to get yours!  I’ve read about it all around the blogosphere, so chances are, everybody knows about it – so you better get there early or risk missing out.

And now on to the meat of my topic today: At what age do you give your children independence?

Do y’all remember the story about the journalist who let her 9-year old boy ride the subway alone?  Her boy got home just fine and dandy, but she got a lot of flack about it.  But she feels so strongly about her decision that she’s created a blog, right here in on WordPress – Free Range Kids.

Some questions:

At what age do you let your kids play outside unsupervised?

At what age do you let your kids walk to school by themselves?

At what age do you let your kids stay in the car while you run into the store?

At what age do you let your kids stay home by themselves for an hour? For a day? For a weekend?

At what age do you let your kids babysit siblings? Other kids?

At what age do you let your kids have a cell phone, get a license, get a job?

Put a group of moms in a room and get them talking about these questions and you’ll get a lot of discontent.

I’ve had issues with this myself.  For example, when we moved to this city four years ago, I wouldn’t let Baby Gurl (then 3) go outside without The Boy (then 7).  To many, the Boy wasn’t old enough to be outside unsupervised, but I allowed him to go outside with his sister and they played, happily in our yard.  Now, at 7, Baby Gurl goes outside and plays out back by herself.  However, I have friends who won’t let their 2nd graders outside by themselves for fear of child abduction.

Back when MonsterMama and Bean Pole were young, they were allowed to roam through Busch Gardens by themselves.  We all worked there, so it was no big deal.  But the thought of letting Baby Gurl and The Boy roam around Wild Adventures by themselves makes me want to break out in hives.

My point is, every mom (and dad), have their limits on what they will and will not allow their children to do and at what age they’ll allow them to do them.  Aside from government’s laws – legal drinking age, driving age, etc – it’s pretty much left up to us.

I encourage each parent/legal guardian to make their own decisions based on their convictions, their children’s maturity level and needs.

Right now, I’m in the midst of my own struggle: should the Boy be allowed to stay home (with or without his sister), while I head to the store – a 10 – 20 minute errand?  He’s already won one battle: this past year, I’ve allowed him to walk home from school after Science Olympiad.  And guess what?  He did just fine.


2 thoughts on “A Cool Treat and a Hot Debate

  1. I remember at the age of 9 having the privledge of walking down the street (one block on a residential street) to a friend’s house. Then a couple of years later I was allowed to walk/bike/roller blade around the neighborhood, as long as I told my parents which route I was taking. Here in NC, I’ve heard that you’re not allowed to leave a child under 12 home unsupervised (that seems a little strict to me as a law, though), so I can’t imagine letting a 9yo go on the subway alone.

    1. Ronnica, when I was nine, I lived in Southern California and remember walking/riding three city blocks to go to school. I used to cross a huge four lane street to go to my best friend’s house. At the time, I’m sure my parents thought nothing of it. Today, while we were at the Y, I sent The Boy out to get my cell phone so I could grab a few numbers, and when he comes in, he informs that me that he almost got hit by an SUV! :O I just thank God that the SUV was looking out for my boy since it’s obvious he wasn’t looking out for himself! Ack!

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