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29 July 2009

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Jamie

It's been almost a year since a woman in our neighborhood reported us to the police and then to CPS because she didn't think our son should be walking home alone, and I still think about it all the time. It's not just a question of what my kids are capable of; it's also a question of what other people think my kids are capable of.

We live in a great neighborhood for walking -- we bought this house because we wanted to be as un-car-dependent as possible. But when we give our kids permission to walk home from church without an adult, or to go get an ice cream cone without us (expeditions which I think are great for developing independence), I always worry a bit about whom they will encounter on the way. It's ironic that I worry less about "bad guys" (a possibility, sure, but a slim one) than about busybodies like the woman whose freakout cost us all in time and tears last summer.

Jamie

A friend just posted this on Facebook: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-462091/How-children-lost-right-roam-generations.html

Bethany

Interesting. My kids aren't old enough to roam yet anyway (the oldest just turned 6), but it's a great idea to actually train them to get around the neighborhood.

Barbara C.

I understand part of what you're saying, while at the same time I can't really relate. I wish we had a postage-stamp yard all of our own to send our kids out to play in...that would seem like freedom to us.

And while I was allowed more freedom than my kids are or will be, I was never allowed the same freedom you were as a kid. And the biggest difference is that I grew up on a cul-de-sac where all the families knew each other and looked out for each other, whereas we have moved often and are very disconnected from our neighbors. I don't feel comfortable crossing the street to the library with all three children in tow much less let my oldest cross by herself. I was at least ten or eleven before I was allowed to leave the street by myself for short periods and had to check in regularly.

It's one thing to have specific goals (buy this at the store, return these library books), but even if my husband would allow it, I worry that too much roaming time without adult supervision might not be good....just from my own childhood experiences.

LeeAnn Balbirona

Today was a first for my older daughters, age 9 & 11. I let them go into Daiso (Japanese dollar store in a mall) by themselves for 15 minutes or so while I stayed in the little kids' play area with my younger children about 50 yards away.

In comparison, my husband, born in 1968, rode for miles and miles away from his house, came home to an empty house after school and was often dropped off at a downtown park by his working mother during summer vacation. He'd play all day and she'd pick him up after work, having given him a few dollars to buy lunch or a snack.

At 13, I rode a cross-town bus to downtown Seattle and spent most of the day roaming around Pike Place Market and buying comic books. Hard to believe. One of my school bus stops (in middle school) was about half a mile from my house.

My kids have taken the bus right in front of our house to the public school just one mile away. Now that they are getting older, the 11yo will walk or bike and the 9yo & 6yo will walk or bike with me sometimes to get used to it.

My 11yo is just about ready to be given the freedom to walk down to our small town library and back, although it's not an easy walk and about 1.5 miles. Maybe next summer--and a cell phone might be part of that scenario, although I hate to buy another one.

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