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sheryl

Flustered neighbor kids walking home at 9:30 pm!!!

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It's 9:52 pm as I type this. This happened at approximately 9:30.  Dh and I were driving home and I saw the twins walking!  These 2 identical twins are turning 9 or 10 (so, they are 8 or 9 now).  My dd has babysat them off and on for a few years. I guess the parents haven't called for dd to babysit again b/c they leave them alone.  

Well, we were driving home and I told dh to stop.  I rolled the window down and asked if they were ok and they said yes, they were at a party with their dad and he sent them home to check on the dog.  They live 2 houses up from us.  He's a stay at home dad and the wife/mom works ft outside the home.  We have to pass their house to get home so I told dh to pull over. I went to the house and knocked on the door thinking the mom was home b/c I didn't know it at the time.  The girls come down the street and said their mom is at work and their dad would be home in 5 min. I told them to go inside and lock the door.

WTH????

I didn't leave dd alone at that young age. I know this could be controversial, but why rush leaving kids at home alone at such a young age. I don't get it.  We live in a safe neighborhood but no area is without problems. 

I was ticked off with this but am now settled down.  Still, it bothers me. 

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Was the party in your neighborhood?  So the girls were walking a few houses away to an empty house for five minutes?

My 10 dd and her 9 year old friend came in from walking in the snow about the same time as you got home.

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I'd be less worried about them in the house by themselves than walking a long way in the dark.  If it was just down the block, I don't see the issue.

Edited by EKS
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8 minutes ago, sheryl said:

It's 9:52 pm as I type this. This happened at approximately 9:30.  Dh and I were driving home and I saw the twins walking!  These 2 identical twins are turning 9 or 10 (so, they are 8 or 9 now).  My dd has babysat them off and on for a few years. I guess the parents haven't called for dd to babysit again b/c they leave them alone.  

Well, we were driving home and I told dh to stop.  I rolled the window down and asked if they were ok and they said yes, they were at a party with their dad and he sent them home to check on the dog.  They live 2 houses up from us.  He's a stay at home dad and the wife/mom works ft outside the home.  We have to pass their house to get home so I told dh to pull over. I went to the house and knocked on the door thinking the mom was home b/c I didn't know it at the time.  The girls come down the street and said their mom is at work and their dad would be home in 5 min. I told them to go inside and lock the door.

WTH????

I didn't leave dd alone at that young age. I know this could be controversial, but why rush leaving kids at home alone at such a young age. I don't get it.  We live in a safe neighborhood but no area is without problems. 

I was ticked off with this but am now settled down.  Still, it bothers me. 

 

If 9yo children together cannot do this in YOUR neighborhood, then they can't do it anywhere in the USA and it's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Time to call it. The end of the world.

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This wouldn't bother me.  Many kids that age are responsible enough to walk around in their neighbourhood and be home alone for a bit, especially if their father is in walking distance.

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How far from their home were they?

 

i am going to be honest, I just don’t think it’s that weird to send a pair of 9yr olds home a few houses down, just a few minutes before dad is expected home.  

If they were several blocks, or dad was like 30+ minutes away or it was one kid, a bad neighborhood etc.  

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DS10 came home with a police escort once last year; he had been walking home from the skate park, about 4 blocks away in a very safe subdivision neighborhood, and had sat down to rest on some large rocks by the sidewalk outside a church 2 blocks from home.  Someone called the police because they were concerned about a (then 9YO) kid being alone on a sidewalk in a neighborhood.

OP, they were together, they knew where they were going, they are in your safe neighborhood, it's (I presume) not -15F out, what is the big deal exactly?

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I don't know how far away it was.  Neighborhood, yes.  But, it flustered me.  Well, Jean, thanks for sharing. 

They had each other, so that's good and it was more than likely not "too" far, but still it's the idea of 2 little girls out in the pitch black.  I'm glad they are ok.  

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3 minutes ago, moonflower said:

DS10 came home with a police escort once last year; he had been walking home from the skate park, about 4 blocks away in a very safe subdivision neighborhood, and had sat down to rest on some large rocks by the sidewalk outside a church 2 blocks from home.  Someone called the police because they were concerned about a (then 9YO) kid being alone on a sidewalk in a neighborhood.

OP, they were together, they knew where they were going, they are in your safe neighborhood, it's (I presume) not -15F out, what is the big deal exactly?

It is still not the best scenario but helps me to know they were together. I was replying at the same time as you. 

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This seems like a non-issue to me. But I've left my ten year old stay home alone for roughly an hour before. I've left him with his other siblings alone for twenty minutes or so too.

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9 years old, for just a few minutes? Meh. 

At 10 I would leave DS to run to get gas or grab milk or whatever, probably 15-30 minutes. Increased as he got used to it. 

Walking in the dark is a bit more concerning I guess, but if it is a safe neighborhood and together, and there are sidewalks, meh. 

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9 minutes ago, sheryl said:

I don't know how far away it was.  Neighborhood, yes.  But, it flustered me.  Well, Jean, thanks for sharing. 

They had each other, so that's good and it was more than likely not "too" far, but still it's the idea of 2 little girls out in the pitch black.  I'm glad they are ok.  

 

I glad you are settled now and you know they are ok.

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It wouldn’t bother me.  If it was -15 degrees out or they weren’t dressed for the weather or dad was leaving them alone overnight, then okay. That’s different.  But it sounds like they were just walking down the sidewalk a couple houses or even a block or two?

My oldest is 8, and because of his ASD I’m not ready to leave him home alone.  Mostly because the house could burn down around him and he wouldn’t notice if he was playing video games. DD will be 7 in May, and honestly I now would be comfortable letting her walk down the block to our house alone and stay for a few minutes.

My mom remembers playing outside with cousins/neighborhood kids for hours with no supervision. Some of the kids she remembers were very young—4 and 5.  I think we way overprotect very capable children.

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I see see zero issue at all with an almost 9 or 10 year old being by themselves for a few minutes while their dad is in the neighborhood. It was a little late at night but eh whatever. It is a bit overzealous to have such an issue with this and to knock on the door checking for the mom after what the girls described. You do not have to allow it yourself but it is plenty old enough to be left alone for small periods of time especially with a parent nearby. The kids in my neighborhood of all ages walk to a nearby playground and play and I think it is good for them. I have no problem letting kids that age alone for short periods of time. Kids like having increasing independence and it is not bad for them and actually can help them mature. This was the norm in most time periods.

Edited by MistyMountain
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39 minutes ago, sheryl said:

It's 9:52 pm as I type this. This happened at approximately 9:30.  Dh and I were driving home and I saw the twins walking!  These 2 identical twins are turning 9 or 10 (so, they are 8 or 9 now).  My dd has babysat them off and on for a few years. I guess the parents haven't called for dd to babysit again b/c they leave them alone.  

Well, we were driving home and I told dh to stop.  I rolled the window down and asked if they were ok and they said yes, they were at a party with their dad and he sent them home to check on the dog.  They live 2 houses up from us.  He's a stay at home dad and the wife/mom works ft outside the home.  We have to pass their house to get home so I told dh to pull over. I went to the house and knocked on the door thinking the mom was home b/c I didn't know it at the time.  The girls come down the street and said their mom is at work and their dad would be home in 5 min. I told them to go inside and lock the door.

WTH????

I didn't leave dd alone at that young age. I know this could be controversial, but why rush leaving kids at home alone at such a young age. I don't get it.  We live in a safe neighborhood but no area is without problems. 

I was ticked off with this but am now settled down.  Still, it bothers me. 

What were you going to do?

You knew the girls were told by their father to go home and check the dog...so why did you go to the house and knock on the door?

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24 minutes ago, sheryl said:

I don't know how far away it was.  Neighborhood, yes.  But, it flustered me.  Well, Jean, thanks for sharing. 

They had each other, so that's good and it was more than likely not "too" far, but still it's the idea of 2 little girls out in the pitch black.  I'm glad they are ok.  

I understand your feelings. Yes, most likely  nothing bad will happen. And then this happened next door to me. The killer lived about 5 doors down. The yard was full of kids, she was walking back to her house.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/amp/Hockley-man-set-to-die-Tuesday-for-1995-murder-of-1785382.php

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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My children regularly played outside at that time of the night in the summer or on weekends, in the cul-de-sac, with all of the other neighborhood kids when they were that age. City ordinances allowed for that. Curfew was I think was either 10:00 or 11:00 unless a parent was also outside. This seems completely normal to me and I would not have been alarmed at all by the situation you described. But the thought that someone would call the police or CPS for that scares the heck out of me.

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13 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

9 years old, for just a few minutes? Meh. 

At 10 I would leave DS to run to get gas or grab milk or whatever, probably 15-30 minutes. Increased as he got used to it. 

Walking in the dark is a bit more concerning I guess, but if it is a safe neighborhood and together, and there are sidewalks, meh. 

Yeah, 9 is young.  I started when dd was 12. I was gone 5 minutes.  Over time this increased, of course.  On 2 of the roads there are no sidewalks.  We do not have a sidewalk on our cul-de-sac and the other street approaching ours, does not either.   

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13 minutes ago, school17777 said:

 

I glad you are settled now and you know they are ok.

Thanks, I'm glad they are ok too.  

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8 minutes ago, MistyMountain said:

I see see zero issue at all with an almost 9 or 10 year old being by themselves for a few minutes while their dad is in the neighborhood. It was a little late at night but eh whatever. It is a bit overzealous to have such an issue with this. You do not have to allow it yourself but it is plenty old enough to be left alone for small periods of time. 

Well, you are assuming it is for a short period of time.  That's what they said but who knows in reality.

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5 minutes ago, unsinkable said:

What were you going to do?

You knew the girls were told by their father to go home and check the dog...so why did you go to the house and knock on the door?

I learned their dad was to come home after I saw them the 2nd time, not the first. 

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7 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

I understand your feelings. Yes, most likely  nothing bad will happen. And then this happened next door to me. The killer lived about 5 doors down. The yard was full of kids, she was walking back to her house.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/amp/Hockley-man-set-to-die-Tuesday-for-1995-murder-of-1785382.php

Exactly.  People just don't know.  Thankfully today we can research people.  Thanks for sharing. So sad though. 

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7 minutes ago, KidsHappen said:

My children regularly played outside at that time of the night in the summer or on weekends, in the cul-de-sac, with all of the other neighborhood kids when they were that age. City ordinances allowed for that. Curfew was I think was either 10:00 or 11:00 unless a parent was also outside. This seems completely normal to me and I would not have been alarmed at all by the situation you described. But the thought that someone would call the police or CPS for that scares the heck out of me.

But, I never said I was going to call CPS or police.  I don't know if that was directed at me but that never crossed my mind.  I told them to go in and lock the door.  One of the twins thanked me! 

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4 minutes ago, sheryl said:

I learned their dad was to come home after I saw them the 2nd time, not the first. 

I guess I'm missing something.

After you saw the girls the first time, why did you go to their house and knock on the door?

What was your intention?

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The dad was in the neighborhood so even if it was longer it is fine. I doubt they are left all day but short periods there is nothing wrong with. 

Edited by MistyMountain

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Just now, unsinkable said:

I guess I'm missing something.

After you saw the girls the first time, why did you go to their house and knock on the door?

What was your intention?

To talk to the mom.  And, don't go to a point that I was going to get on her back.  We know them, they know us, our dd babysat for them for years off and on.  A friendly chat to let her know her kids are ok.  I would have thought she would have been on the porch.  Later I found out she was at work. 

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2 minutes ago, MistyMountain said:

The dad was in the neighborhood so even if it was longer it is fine. 

Right, it seem sensible.  BUT, strange things happen.  I'd rather be safe than sorry as the old saying goes.  

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I think it is very kind to check up on them.  I hope they are fine, too.  

 

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Crime is actually down from when we were kids but the 24/7 media just does not make it seem that way. Sure we all heard of stories but statistically it is very rare for a stranger abduction to happen. There is no need for you to worry about those kids. It is your own worry and they are not yours to raise. The parents are not doing anything concerning.

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Just now, Lecka said:

I think it is very kind to check up on them.  I hope they are fine, too.  

 

Yes, thank you.  I would like to think that our neighbors would have cared enough for my dd if something like that happened to her.  Dotwithaperiod replied with a sobering story - bad things do happen.  Not all the time, but they still do. 

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8 minutes ago, sheryl said:

But, I never said I was going to call CPS or police.  I don't know if that was directed at me but that never crossed my mind.  I told them to go in and lock the door.  One of the twins thanked me! 

It wasn't directed at you. It was just a jumping off point that that sort of thing frequently happens these days. 

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3 minutes ago, KidsHappen said:

It wasn't directed at you. It was just a jumping off point that that sort of thing frequently happens these days. 

Right, I wasn't sure if it was or not.  No worries. 

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I don't think this particular scenario was one to worry over. Think of it this way-- there are people like you in the neighborhood who know their neighbors and who are aware of what's going on and who keep an eye out for one another. It sounds like a  safe neighborhood.

I worry sometimes too about the what-ifs and the worst possible scenarios, but I try to remember that things are generally safe and that it's good for kids to learn freedom within age-appropriate limits.  So I try to let my kids have those experiences (like walking or biking in the neighborhood) without letting them know I am nervous. 

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17 minutes ago, DesertBlossom said:

I don't think this particular scenario was one to worry over. Think of it this way-- there are people like you in the neighborhood who know their neighbors and who are aware of what's going on and who keep an eye out for one another. It sounds like a  safe neighborhood.

I worry sometimes too about the what-ifs and the worst possible scenarios, but I try to remember that things are generally safe and that it's good for kids to learn freedom within age-appropriate limits.  So I try to let my kids have those experiences (like walking or biking in the neighborhood) without letting them know I am nervous. 

Oh so much nervousness, but I did it anyway.

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1 hour ago, sheryl said:

Yeah, 9 is young.  I started when dd was 12. I was gone 5 minutes.  Over time this increased, of course.  On 2 of the roads there are no sidewalks.  We do not have a sidewalk on our cul-de-sac and the other street approaching ours, does not either.   

Walking in the dark on a road with no sidewalk is the only part I am concerned by. The chance of being hit by a car would be my worry, not abduction. 

52 minutes ago, sheryl said:

Right, it seem sensible.  BUT, strange things happen.  I'd rather be safe than sorry as the old saying goes.  

Right, but I mean, you drive your kids in the car, right? You probably even drive places that you don't absolutely have to go. Driving a car is way more dangerous than what those girls did. Yet you do it all the time. 

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1 hour ago, sheryl said:

Yeah, 9 is young.  I started when dd was 12. I was gone 5 minutes.  Over time this increased, of course.  On 2 of the roads there are no sidewalks.  We do not have a sidewalk on our cul-de-sac and the other street approaching ours, does not either.   

Many 12 year old are paid babysitters, so they are being left alone to care for other kids.

Were they walking on the road or the grass? 

Edited by Frances
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If I were just observing the situation as a parent, I'd be far more concerned about a car pulling over to talk to my kids while they were walking home at night than I would be about my kids walking home at night or spending time alone in the house while I was down the street at a party. I have also told my kids not to answer the doorbell while they are home alone (for various reasons). Unless I had arranged in advance for a neighbor to check in on them I'd rather people not trying to get them to answer the door without me there.

And I know you said this isn't the case with your relationship with your neighbor, but if I had a neighbor that felt compelled to come over and "let me know my kids were okay" (after I had gotten home from work and presumably seen them myself), I would be worried that the neighbor was making a veiled judgment at the very least about my decision to let them be home on their own. I can't figure out how that is not an extremely awkward conversation. "Hey, just letting you know your kids got home all right!"  "Yes, I know I'm home with them right now." "Well, I saw them walking alone and you weren't waiting for them on the porch, so just thought I'd let you know they are okay because I stopped by to check on them."  That would be really weird to me as the mom unless we knew each other really, really well. And even then I can't quite figure it out.

I used to live in a state where the minimum age is 8yo for kids staying along by themselves. I personally can't imagine waiting until a kid is 12 to leave them alone for five minutes (I was baby-sitting at 12 for up to two hours at a time!) but I realize everyone has their own comfort level and each kid has their own maturity level. 

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1 hour ago, EmseB said:

If I were just observing the situation as a parent, I'd be far more concerned about a car pulling over to talk to my kids while they were walking home at night than I would be about my kids walking home at night or spending time alone in the house while I was down the street at a party. I have also told my kids not to answer the doorbell while they are home alone (for various reasons). Unless I had arranged in advance for a neighbor to check in on them I'd rather people not trying to get them to answer the door without me there.

And I know you said this isn't the case with your relationship with your neighbor, but if I had a neighbor that felt compelled to come over and "let me know my kids were okay" (after I had gotten home from work and presumably seen them myself), I would be worried that the neighbor was making a veiled judgment at the very least about my decision to let them be home on their own. I can't figure out how that is not an extremely awkward conversation. "Hey, just letting you know your kids got home all right!"  "Yes, I know I'm home with them right now." "Well, I saw them walking alone and you weren't waiting for them on the porch, so just thought I'd let you know they are okay because I stopped by to check on them."  That would be really weird to me as the mom unless we knew each other really, really well. And even then I can't quite figure it out.

I used to live in a state where the minimum age is 8yo for kids staying along by themselves. I personally can't imagine waiting until a kid is 12 to leave them alone for five minutes (I was baby-sitting at 12 for up to two hours at a time!) but I realize everyone has their own comfort level and each kid has their own maturity level. 

Not to mention the inappropriateness of the OP trying to tattle on the father’s parenting choices to the wife. 

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1 hour ago, EmseB said:

 

I used to live in a state where the minimum age is 8yo for kids staying along by themselves. I personally can't imagine waiting until a kid is 12 to leave them alone for five minutes (I was baby-sitting at 12 for up to two hours at a time!) but I realize everyone has their own comfort level and each kid has their own maturity level. 

 

Unfortunately, 12 is the minimum age to leave a child alone here.  Ugh! The law is slightly ambiguous, but cfs around here is going on the strictest interpretation. The big worry here IS someone calling cfs.  A fes years ago cfs was called on a family here because of a 10yo and 8yo playing in a fenced backyard without a parent outside with them (the mom was watching them through the window while washing dishes).  Cfs did the required intake interview, which includes a search through the house.  They havd to, but ut sas ridiculas!

I used to play outside as a toddler, walked to friends houses as a preschooler (including crossing a quiet street), and walked to school alone or with friends as a Kindergartener.  Took the city bus all over the city starting at about age 10.  (It was inexpensive summer entertainment to get on a bus and ride it for a while...)  I babysat at age 11 (admittedly next door...).    But horrors if my 10yo was to walk half a block to the playground and play there unsupervised!

 

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I re-read the Little House books several years ago with my daughters and thought it was interesting that Laura reported being left overnight (actually, I think it was a couple days at least) with Mary in this house in a remote rural area at ages 6 and 8 while Ma and Pa traveled to shop in a nearby town.

I was babysitting at 11 too, and see no problem with the girls walking home as described in the OP. Yes, things happen, but they happen with the parents there too.

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Why would you want to talk to the mom?

The kids are clearly fine, and she would know this if she and they were all home. 9:30 is a little late but not terribly outre for two kids in that age range to walk home a couple of blocks and be away from Mom and Dad for a few minutes. You live, as you said, in a safe area.

Quote

I know this could be controversial, but why rush leaving kids at home alone at such a young age. I don't get it.

 

Maybe the kids wanted to go home by themselves. Maybe they were bored with the party and wanted the independence of being grown-up enough to get themselves home while Dad made his good-byes. That's a perfectly good reason to allow your kids a few minutes of freedom.

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I would have stopped to make sure the kids were okay. Upon hearing that they were fine and a parent directed them to do what they were doing, I’d have gone on my merry way.

Personally, I’m unlikely to send my 8 and 11yos down the street at night because we’re surrounded by bears, bobcats, and coyotes. Then again, we sleep in tents in the woods, so that’s not very congruent! But my comfort level is what it is, and other parents should make their own risk assessments.

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6 hours ago, KidsHappen said:

My children regularly played outside at that time of the night in the summer or on weekends, in the cul-de-sac, with all of the other neighborhood kids when they were that age. City ordinances allowed for that. Curfew was I think was either 10:00 or 11:00 unless a parent was also outside. This seems completely normal to me and I would not have been alarmed at all by the situation you described. But the thought that someone would call the police or CPS for that scares the heck out of me.

Police curfews are a real thing? I thought they were some kind of joke.   I assume the OP is in the US though and it is the middle of winter.  I would think that odd but on a summer evening when still light it would seem fine.  Which is silly because bad things happen during the day too.

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9 hours ago, sheryl said:

Yeah, 9 is young.  I started when dd was 12. I was gone 5 minutes.  Over time this increased, of course.  On 2 of the roads there are no sidewalks.  We do not have a sidewalk on our cul-de-sac and the other street approaching ours, does not either.   

 

This surprises me.  Kids are legally able to babysit other kids around here when they are 12, and my dd was babysitting an infant and two other siblings by 13! I can't imagine going right from never having been alone to caring for other kids for several hours or longer.

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I think it can really depend on your specific kid, and if your oldest kid is an exceedingly immature or impulsive sort, you can get the idea that all 9 year olds are similarly incapable of being responsible for self and 12 year olds for self and others.

 

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I do think there's a danger in over-protection; it's not the same kind of drastic danger as child abduction or whatever, but it has a negative result.

I see it kind of like the pressure you get at the hospital to Definitely Not Co-Sleep Ever It Is So Dangerous My God Your Baby Will Definitely Suffocate.  Co-sleeping can be made less dangerous with simple safeguards - no alcohol, no drugs OTC or otherwise, no cushy blankets, no 200 pillows on the bed, etc. Similarly, you can make walking home from the park or staying home alone safer - practice street crossings, what to do when accosted by strangers, being sure of the route, who to call in case of various emergencies, etc.  There is also a cost to not co-sleeping, and to not allowing/encouraging some physical freedom for kids - less sleep for the mother and baby, potentially more distress for the baby (who must make more of a fuss to alert a mother in another bed or room that she is ready to nurse), less confidence for kids and increased anxiety, and less physical activity in general, contributing to childhood obesity.

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Do any of you think the rise in overprotection is part of the reason that young adults aren't able to do as much on their own anymore?  Like, all these safe things we used to do as kids are not available to our own.  Our kids can't go to the playground unless an adult is willing to sit there, for example, which means kids do less, and as adults they do less...they're not getting the exercise or responsibility  or problem solving skills we once were.

I have a 9yo.  I live in a safe neighborhood.  My kid knows he can, at any time, go to a neighbor for help if he can't find me/I am unavailable.  I would hope that's the same in the OP - instead of knocking on a door where she knows the parents aren't there, she becomes the person who tells the kids, "I'm right here if you need something."

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Just now, HomeAgain said:

Do any of you think the rise in overprotection is part of the reason that young adults aren't able to do as much on their own anymore?  Like, all these safe things we used to do as kids are not available to our own.  Our kids can't go to the playground unless an adult is willing to sit there, for example, which means kids do less, and as adults they do less...they're not getting the exercise or responsibility  or problem solving skills we once were.

I have a 9yo.  I live in a safe neighborhood.  My kid knows he can, at any time, go to a neighbor for help if he can't find me/I am unavailable.  I would hope that's the same in the OP - instead of knocking on a door where she knows the parents aren't there, she becomes the person who tells the kids, "I'm right here if you need something."

I’m on the maybe bench there.
My kids, during their single digit ages, had nowhere near as many freedoms as I did primarily because it was socially frowned upon, but also because of location limitations.  That said, I decided to ignore all that in the teen years, lol.  My current 15 and 16yos could easily go be average to above average functioning adults tomorrow... if they could legally drive!   I don’t think the earlier years caused any barriers. Later, they might have.

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