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Balancing Keeping Kids Safe And Giving Them Freedom

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by deb1, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. deb1

    deb1 Songster

    Jun 26, 2008
    I admit, I am a paronoid parent. All those crime novels and shows that I watch have scared the heck out of me

    But I like readin the site Free Range Kids because it calms my fears down a bit.


    I have read some comments on news articles about Somer Thomas(SP?) that stated that the mom was horrible for letting her child walk a mile home from school. I don't know who is responsible for the little girl's death but allowing your child to walk home with friends does not make you a negligant mother. According to Free Range, your child stands a greater chance of dying in a car wreck then being abducted.

    So, how do you all balance giving your kids appropriate freedom and still keeping them safe. My kids are older but I still worry about them.

  2. deb1

    deb1 Songster

    Jun 26, 2008
  3. ams3651

    ams3651 Songster

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    my oldest is now 18, he was allowed to play alone in the yard when he was 5 but I checked on him frequently and we lived in a townhouse with lots of neighbors. By 10 he was allowed to walk down to the convenience store with a friend and I had 2 way radios. It was like 4 blocks. After that he could ride his bike around town with friends but again, those 2 way radios were used. At 15 he started hanging out with a friend who drove and another kid. When they went to the movies I checked up on them and told him where they parked to let him know I checked. He had a prepaid cell phone at this point. I think you have to give them some freedom but it depends on your neighborhood and how responsible the child is. I have always had an anxiety problem so letting him go was a BIG deal for me but it helped make him independent, not afraid to go in a store and ask a question or talk to a police officer. On the other hand if I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of crime it would be different and also the key thing is, he never went alone.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    In my opinion, there is no way I can answer that for you. It has to be an individual judgment call. It is going to depend on the capabilities of the kid and the circumstances where you live. To me, there is a big difference in the kid walking home from school or a bus drop-off on a busy 4-lane highway versus a country dirt road or through certain neighborhoods. And some kids are a lot more capable than others.

    A lot of it depends on what kind of kid you are trying to raise. When they have a problem do you give them detailed step by step instructions of what to do or do you say something like: "Yes, that is a problem. Do you have some suggestions to fix it?" Then listen to their suggestions and help them come up with their own workable solution.

    It's like them learning to ride a bike. When you start off, it is training wheels and in the driveway or an empty parking lot on the weekend or after hours. Gradually, they obtain physical ability and hopefully you are teaching them the rules of the road. Eventually, you let them ride to a friends house, with a specific route to get there, then they call you when they get there. As they get older and, in your opinion, more competent, you give them more freedom. We had one that we trusted pretty young to be able to ride a bike to a friends. He was naturally cautious and could keep focused on what he was doing. Another was so absent minded, he did not get that freedom until a later age. The third one certainly had the physical ability, but we did not trust him to only go where he was supposed to, so he was kept on a tight phone us when you get there and just before you leave restriction.

    When I was in high school, a long time ago and in a rural area, I would at times find my own way home from school. That was five miles. Sometimes it involved hitchhiking. Yes I got into cars with strangers. I never had a bad experience. I would not recommend that these days but my parents trusted my judgment and knew the area we lived in. That does not mean Mom did not worry, but it means I had some freedoms my sister did not have. They would not let her do that.

    In high school, we not only allowed we required our boys to ride city transportation home, paid for out of their own allowance, if they missed the school bus. If they stayed late for a school function, we'd reimburse them. Usually we would pick them up, but not always. Were there risks involved? Some. Was responsibility taught? I think so. Did we worry? Absolutely!!!
  5. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    The sicko who killed her is at fault not the mother!
  6. Sillystunt

    Sillystunt Master of the Silly

    Jul 11, 2008
    Winter Haven, FL
    Quote:Totally agree! I see little ones walk to school because they have no cars in the house hold, single moms working and it is scary.

    We can't start to blame parents who are limited but people who pray on children~

    OP, i understand your fears.I am a nut and limited freedom with my kids. But oneday you will have to let them go. It is the hardest thing to do and over time it gets better.My 17 year old gives me more upset bellies more now then she did when younger. I have no clue what she is really doing when sleeping over friends. I just have to believe i instilled values and street smarts in her to keep safe.

    as for my little ones, still locked up in the backyard and no chance for parolle untill they are like 10 or older [​IMG]
  7. PlymouthRocker

    PlymouthRocker Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Plymouth County MA
    I find it amazing that I lived through my childhood. We played in the barn, climbing up and down the ladder - no one ever fell. We carefully walked over the rotting 100 year old planks to get to the bales of hay to play in all day. We opened the wagon hatch and slid down the sides and out of the opening without the heavy door ever crashing on us. We jumped into the oats, climbed the corn crib, played on the combine. We rode bikes without helmets to Grandpa and Grandma's or to a friends by ourselves - 3 miles away. We ate a homemade cookie that had fallen on the ground. We played outside for hours without checking in or even thinking about a walkie talkie.

    We live on 2 acres and have lots of room to explore, and I admit to unease for every moment my 7-year old is outside on the swing or playing ball. I let her because I know how much she'll get out of it, but when it's time for dinner and I call and she doesn't respond, my heart stops every time. When she rides her bike without a helmet, the expression on her face is priceless, and I get mad that I enforce the helmet rule.

    I feel like I'm saying, "Be a kid, but be it in this bubble." I would love for her to roam the woods behind our house with a friend. What an amazing experience that would be. Sorry, there's poison ivy and coyotes and PEOPLE.

    So unlike me, she gets to be a kid with an adult by her side. Stinks.

  8. Camelot Farms

    Camelot Farms Chickenista

    This is a tough one. Our kids are DS (19), DS (16), DD (8).

    We recently faced this issue of free-ranging when I went to drop off DD at her BFF's. BFF is 9. She was outside at her apartment complex playing with a bunch of other kids. (ages 6-14 maybe).

    I noticed no cars were at her unit. Asked about Mom and she said that Mom and Dad were gone but her brother was home sleeping. *gulp*

    It took every ounce of my strength for me to leave her there. I knew mom would be home shortly. BFF said that she was at the market. I just wanted to put DD back in the car and take her home.

    This is a nice neighborhood, we lived in these townhouses ourselves for several months when we first relocated. So I let her stay but it was tough.

    I want her to have all of the freedoms that I had as a child but it just isnt possible all of the time. I just hope that since she doesnt know what she is missing that she wont miss it [​IMG]
  9. deb1

    deb1 Songster

    Jun 26, 2008
    Quote:I just wanted to know others' opinions. I wasn't asking for any solutions to my own problems. [​IMG] I like to know how other parents handle the day to day activity of being a mom and dad. It is interesting to me.

    My 16 year old wants to go on a road trip with his 18 year old friend. They plan to drive to PA to see the other boy's grandparents. I know the older couple very well so I am not afraid that they won't be well taken care of. But two hyper boys on a car trip from NC to PA. Ahhhh.....Still, I have given my son permission to go. But I will worry the trip.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  10. deb1

    deb1 Songster

    Jun 26, 2008
    Quote:Totally agree! I see little ones walk to school because they have no cars in the house hold, single moms working and it is scary.

    We can't start to blame parents who are limited but people who pray on children~


    Those comments angered me. How can anyone blame the mother?

    One summer I stayed with my stepgrandparents in Minnesota. They lived way out in the country. They let me walk six miles through the country to meet my grandfather on his way home. I love it and felt so adult. They also gave us a schedule of chores. I loved it. Having freedom and responsibility was great to me.

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