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sheryl

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

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14 minutes ago, moonflower said:

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.

 

We did co-sleep, and we still have our children.

However, we know a young man who did suffocate his baby in the bed and the baby died.  He never got over it and ended up taking his own life over the guilt last year.  He was 33 years old.  The entire story of their family is so tragic.  The mother (his wife) died months later from an illness she didn't know she had until it was too late.  She was 31.

I think in retrospect, I wish I had gotten one of those baby beds you attach to your bed and the baby can sleep in her/his own "bed" but with you things.  Or a bassinet next to the bed.  

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7 minutes ago, 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."

Absolutely.  Teens who can't navigate the simplest of things....both in general terms and specifically navigate as it getting from point a to point b.

By 9 I was babysitting  for 30 minutes or so next door...for an infant and a toddler.  By 11 I was babysitting down the road for. 6 week old up to 40 hours a week.  By 16 we all had cars (bought with our own work money) and drove ourselves all over with no cell phones, gps, etc.

A friend (and she is just early 20s herself) worked at the local college for years and was amazed and frustrated at how many kids coming to college couldn't navigate around college, figure out how to chose classes or do other basic college stuff without mom or dad helping them.....not as in giving them advice, but the parents actually doing it for them.

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Sheryl, I am sorry this distressed you.  I remember a friend being so hands off with her kids and letting them do things I thought were dangerous (leaving them home alone when they were 7 or 8 for very long periods of time, allowing them to go off in a museum to another floor alone at 7 or 8, letting them go off in the woods to play at a park around that age as well) and I didn't feel comfortable with it.  It stressed me out to go out with. her sometimes because I didn't want my kids alone like that.

Thankfully all of our children have survived and are doing ok, but, there are things that happen!

Edited by DawnM
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13 minutes ago, 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."

There's a lot of territory there but in general yes, I think it plays some part--and maybe a big part--for many kids. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally a thread pops up on here where someone asks opinions about allowing their 16/17 yo to do something that I would have let my kids do when they were 12 w/o a second thought. And I really wonder how on earth that kid is going to be capable of going off to college in a year or two if he/she is still being treated like a pre-teen, not being given what to me is even a basic level of opportunity to make his/her own decisions, make a mistake or two in order to learn from it, etc.

But then again--every situation is different and every child is different. Some kids take longer to mature than others. And to a large extent I think the tendency toward fear/not fear (all kinds of fear) is hard wired into our brains and there may not be much any of us can do about that. I tend toward the "not fear" end of the spectrum, and it constantly amazes me about the things others find to fear. It seems to me they have to be actively looking for things to be afraid of. No doubt others think I'm not cautious enough. Humans are interesting creatures.

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18 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

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.

 

ITA! I had to watch my boys like a hawk when they were little. I caught a lot of flack socially for it, honestly. But they had no common sense, I swear! And how much shade gets thrown around really depends on who happens to be around at the time, so that's just bad luck.

But now they are getting older, and I trust them with a lot more what I would consider normal for their age stuff. The "overprotective" phase (it wasn't 'over' anything, it was just right lol) did not go on forever. 

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46 minutes ago, 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."

Agree!

Yeah, I know bad things happen but when you can’t leave your 8 year old in the car while you run in to pay for gas and buy some milk (not talking temp extremes or known dangerous location) we are too protective. 

‘I don’t know any of my new neighbors but if a kid knocked on my door or I saw a need, I would help.  I *might* have even asked the girls if they were ok. But hearing the plan, I would move on. Nothing to get involved with.  Just like stopping to ask a stranded motorist if they need help. If they say no, move on. Don’t judge them for letting their car run out of gas or not having air in their spare. People learn from their experiences. Kids need that chance to learn to make decisions and such. 

Sheryl, I’m sorry it upset you.  You’re a nice neighbor. 

Edited by Annie G
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OP, I think it is always good when neighbors watch out for each other. I would have been concerned and pulled over as well had I seen two young neighbors kids out alone at that time of night. After making sure they were out with their dad's permission, I would have just watched to make sure they got in the house OK and told them to call if there were any problems before Dad got home.

These situations are so tricky. On the one hand, people jump on neighbors as being busybodies. (And there are many who do go overboard, sometimes in damaging ways.) On the other, had something bad happened to these youngsters (and bad things happen even in safe neighborhoods), people would likely be shaking their heads about how terrible that no one intervened and prevented the tragedy.

Edited by Valley Girl
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Glad to see most people agreeing that two school-aged girls walking in their own neighborhood and being at their own house without a parent present is a non-problem.

To me, what's scary is people who think they need to do something about the fact that my parenting choices / my kids / my fears are different from theirs.

It's true that bad things randomly, rarely happen.  Also true about kids whose parents are under the same roof with them.  More bad stuff happens the older kids get.  The age of those twins is probably about the safest age there is for females to be out without escorts.

If I was the mom and someone knocked at my door to inform me that my kids are walking in my neighborhood and not in any trouble, I would be the one upset.

It would be like me going to their house and telling them off because their 10yo isn't allowed to do the same things my kids did at that age.

ETA at 9yo I used to walk home from school and take over the care of my infant brother until my parents came home from work.  I knew how to change cloth diapers, cook safely, and so on.  I got my first paid babysitting job at age 10, for a 1yo, at night; I walked to and from the job.  I don't see 9yo as being particularly young and vulnerable.

Edited by SKL
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3 minutes ago, SKL said:

If I was the mom and someone knocked at my door to inform me that my kids are walking in my neighborhood and not in any trouble, I would be the one upset.

This past summer my 9 year old was walking around our block (fully sidewalk-ed) one afternoon.  A neighbor (from down the street) that we only kinda, sorta know pulled over to ask him if he was okay.  DS said that he was just going for a walk.  The neighbor then drove alongside DS and followed him to ensure he made it home.  This greatly disconcerted DS and soured him to walking around the block by himself because now he worries he might get in trouble with someone.

I guess I maybe understand our neighbor stopping to see if DS was okay - OTOH, it was a sunny afternoon, he was only a 5 minute walk from home, and he was clearly fine going about his own business.  But following him home after he said he was just going for a walk?!?!  I thought that was definitely crossing a line and I did not at all appreciate them interfering like that, even though I am sure she would say that she followed him home because "better safe than sorry!"

Wendy

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41 minutes ago, SKL said:

 

ETA at 9yo I used to walk home from school and take over the care of my infant brother until my parents came home from work.  I knew how to change cloth diapers, cook safely, and so on.  I got my first paid babysitting job at age 10, for a 1yo, at night; I walked to and from the job.  I don't see 9yo as being particularly young and vulnerable.

At 9 I had a "job" walking another kid to and from school. He lived about halfway between my house and the school. I'd stop on the way and pick him up, we'd walk together, and after school I walked him to his door. He was 2 grades below me. I made $2 a week for that service. I was also watching my 4yo brother and fixing dinner for us when my mother had to work nights. We had babysitters then but I was a better cook than most of the teens who watched us.

At 9 ds had nowhere near the freedoms or responsibilities I had. We were just starting to leave him alone for short trips to the store. He has raging ADHD and at 9 his social skills and common sense were more like that of a 7 year old.

Every kid is different. Every parent is different. Every location is different. As long as the kids aren't in real danger I see such things as a parenting choice.

ETA: I swear I put a reply to OP @sheryl but it's gone. Anyway, I think you did a good thing checking on them. It's a nice neighborly thing to do. However, now that you know the parents (and the girls) are comfortable with the situation don't let it bug you anymore. 

 

Edited by Lady Florida.
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5 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

This past summer my 9 year old was walking around our block (fully sidewalk-ed) one afternoon.  A neighbor (from down the street) that we only kinda, sorta know pulled over to ask him if he was okay.  DS said that he was just going for a walk.  The neighbor then drove alongside DS and followed him to ensure he made it home.  This greatly disconcerted DS and soured him to walking around the block by himself because now he worries he might get in trouble with someone.

I guess I maybe understand our neighbor stopping to see if DS was okay - OTOH, it was a sunny afternoon, he was only a 5 minute walk from home, and he was clearly fine going about his own business.  But following him home after he said he was just going for a walk?!?!  I thought that was definitely crossing a line and I did not at all appreciate them interfering like that, even though I am sure she would say that she followed him home because "better safe than sorry!"

Wendy

Around that age I told my kids to walk home from sports practice on a summer afternoon.  They got to the corner leaving the rec center when a man pulled up and told them he thought it was unsafe for them to walk home.  I don't remember if he offered them a ride or not, but they did not accept if he did.  The whole incident bugged them so much that they refused to walk home after that.  And that's just one example of healthy things my kids stopped doing because of other people's comments or looks.

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12 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 seems very, very conservative to me. At 12, my kids were babysitting. The 5 minute increment you describe happened at 7/8 in my home. I think this is a case of your personal comfort being off of the norm, which is fine with your own kids, but not healthy to apply to other parents. 

The situation you described does not alarm me at all. 

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My older dd has been staying home alone for up to around half an hour since she was eight, and she's been able to go anywhere she wants in our neighborhood with her best friend since she was nine. I don't see anything wrong with a couple kids that age walking home without a parent.

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12 hours ago, sheryl said:

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. 

I am not understanding who you would need to let her know her kids are OK.  Is there some reason to believe that she didn't think they were OK?  

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I started leaving my kids alone for short periods around age 7. They were also allowed to walk to the park around that age. By age 9, they could go to the store without me and stay alone for at least an hour or so. They could go off on their own at a large event with a meetup place, such as at something at the convention center or a museum.

I'm glad the general gist of this thread was to tell people to stop freaking out. I mean, five years ago, I feel like it was way more harsh on parents. It feels like we've had a small shift, which is good. You don't have to be as free range as I was as a parent - it's definitely a to each their own thing to some extent. I think the key things are that you don't judge others or barge in on parenting that's perfectly safe and fine. And that you don't let your kids graduate high school still struggling to go to the store alone or walk around the neighborhood alone unless there are some real special needs at play.

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14 minutes ago, sassenach said:

This seems very, very conservative to me. At 12, my kids were babysitting. The 5 minute increment you describe happened at 7/8 in my home. I think this is a case of your personal comfort being off of the norm, which is fine with your own kids, but not healthy to apply to other parents. 

The situation you described does not alarm me at all. 

I agree.

I started leaving DS home alone when he was six. I did lock the door, though; where we lived it was common for visitors to just walk in without knocking. Lol

While every situation and kid is different, I am concerned about kids who get no independence or freedoms. I have several professor friends at an elite private college who can't believe how unprepared their students are. It's a real problem with serious consequences.

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It is ok that in your family 8 or 9 year olds don't walk home alone. But many families give their children the skills and independence to do that. Many kids walk home from bus stops, or take train rides, walk to friend's houses. 

I have sent my son at 5 to grab a loaf of bread in which he needed to cross a busy street, remember words in second language and use the key pad to make it back in the building. He has also stayed home alone for 10 minutes from 5 on. 

I really think you crossed a line going over to the house after you saw the girls were fine and doing what they were told. 

The US has such a huge problem of delaying independence in children, then getting frustrated at all the teenagers who can't do anything! Gaining skills in independence and the confidence needed grow little by little over the years. 

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1 hour ago, wendyroo said:

This past summer my 9 year old was walking around our block (fully sidewalk-ed) one afternoon.  A neighbor (from down the street) that we only kinda, sorta know pulled over to ask him if he was okay.  DS said that he was just going for a walk.  The neighbor then drove alongside DS and followed him to ensure he made it home.  This greatly disconcerted DS and soured him to walking around the block by himself because now he worries he might get in trouble with someone.

I guess I maybe understand our neighbor stopping to see if DS was okay - OTOH, it was a sunny afternoon, he was only a 5 minute walk from home, and he was clearly fine going about his own business.  But following him home after he said he was just going for a walk?!?!  I thought that was definitely crossing a line and I did not at all appreciate them interfering like that, even though I am sure she would say that she followed him home because "better safe than sorry!"

Wendy

 

When my boys were 11 and 13, I was going to take them to their karate lesson, but the car wouldn’t start.  We live only 1/2 mile from the karate studio and it was a nice day at about 10:45 in the morning and I told them to walk there.  

I found out later that another parent of students at the karate studio saw them walking and pulled over and offered them a ride.  They took it. 

The problem was that I don’t know that woman At All.  She is a complete stranger to me.  I was pretty freaked out when I found out the boys had done that.  They’d gotten into a car with someone I don’t know.  Now, it was someone *they* knew, vaguely from being at their karate lessons...but I wasn’t happy at all.  

I would much rather that people leave my kids ALONE when they’re out walking rather than asking them to get into cars with them.  Sheesh.  I had thought I’d taught my kids to NEVER get in a car with someone.  I had to give them a big old lecture about not getting into cars with people we don’t know.  And when I say “know” I meant close family friends that I had actually met.  They felt ok getting in the car with her because they’d seen her in the karate studio waiting room, but I wasn’t comfortable with that at all.

Perhaps I overreacted, but I was not appreciative of an adult asking my kids to get into a car with them.  I was thinking, “Doesn’t that woman have any sense?  Why would she encourage kids walking alone to get into cars with virtual strangers!”

And that was it.  They never wanted to walk again because the whole incident spooked them (feeling pressured to get in the car with the woman, and then when I told them not to do that in the future) and I was leery of it because of the idea of people pressuring my kids to get into cars with them.  

 

OP:  You probably scared the kids.  A car pulled over in the dark while they were walking...scary.  They realized it was you...relief.  But when they got home a moment later...there you are hanging around their house.  That would have been scary to me as a kid.  

In your case, I’d have pulled over to make sure they were ok because that’s reasonable in the dark at night, and then driven home and quietly watched to be sure they got in their house if I felt like I needed to.  I’m not sure what knocking on their door would have done to help them.  

 

Note:  I had a Spanish exchange student stay with me for a summer and he thought we were all nuts at how we don’t let our kids do anything.  And he made (gentle) fun of us non-stop about how we drive everywhere.  When he found out that I drove the kids to karate each time, he thought it was the funniest thing.  He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the American culture of driving places that were within walking distance and parents driving their kids everywhere.  He’d been independent and spending the entire day away from his parents for years upon years.

Edited by Garga
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1 minute ago, Bootsie said:

I am not understanding who you would need to let her know her kids are OK.  Is there some reason to believe that she didn't think they were OK?  

 

I'm guessing the OP didn't think everything through but rather acted on instinct. I'm touchy sometimes but I'd be okay with a neighbor knocking and saying, hey, I saw the twins walking outside just now, wanted to double-check that was okay? Because kids do lie, lol. Depending on the kid/family, I may or may not have checked with them. I would definitely have made sure they got in the house.

I fall on the very liberal side of leaving kids home alone and think it would be fine for them to be alone for longer than 5 minutes. I wouldn't have let them walk home in the dark, though. It sounds like the suburbs, so much less activity at that time <<< greatest concern. Also, no real benefit to offset the risk id dad was 5 minutes behind them.

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5 minutes ago, Garga said:

 

 

Note:  I had a Spanish exchange student stay with me for a summer and he thought we were all nuts at how we don’t let our kids do anything.  And he made (gentle) fun of us non-stop about how we drive everywhere.  When he found out that I drove the kids to karate each time, he thought it was the funniest thing.  He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the American culture of driving places that were within walking distance and parents driving their kids everywhere.  He’d been independent and spending the entire day away from his parents for years upon years.

Yes. I have heard and experienced this so often. 

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12 minutes ago, katilac said:

Also, no real benefit to offset the risk id dad was 5 minutes behind them.

Possibly the dad was not driving because he had been drinking and needed to wait before he was safe to drive.  Or, he was going to walk also, but he was finishing up a conversation or Pinochle game.  (I don't think anyone said the dad was 5 minutes behind.)

Also it is very likely he was trying to give his girls an opportunity to experience some independence, which they were apparently ready for.  IMO it is very age appropriate for 9yos to walk home in a safe neighborhood, check on pets, etc.  9:30pm sounds like a very reasonable time for them to be doing that.  As others have said, it has to start sometime, and waiting until age 12 or 15 or 18 is no safer (actually less safe).

Edited by SKL
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19 minutes ago, MEmama said:

I agree.

I started leaving DS home alone when he was six. I did lock the door, though; where we lived it was common for visitors to just walk in without knocking. Lol

While every situation and kid is different, I am concerned about kids who get no independence or freedoms. I have several professor friends at an elite private college who can't believe how unprepared their students are. It's a real problem with serious consequences.

I remember when my son and I did our first college tour when he was 15. It was at an elite LAC and we were in town for another reason, so we decided to go ahead and visit. Towards the end of the tour there were some on-campus apartments and our guide noted how it was a good experience for juniors and seniors to live there because they learned about things like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. that came with apartment living and helped prepare them for life after college. My son was incredulous that there were actually college students who didn’t already know how to do all of the these things he had been doing for many years.

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21 minutes ago, Garga said:

 

Note:  I had a Spanish exchange student stay with me for a summer and he thought we were all nuts at how we don’t let our kids do anything.  And he made (gentle) fun of us non-stop about how we drive everywhere.  When he found out that I drove the kids to karate each time, he thought it was the funniest thing.  He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the American culture of driving places that were within walking distance and parents driving their kids everywhere.  He’d been independent and spending the entire day away from his parents for years upon years.

When DS was 11, we were in Austria and he wanted to attend a local Kendo practice.  DH and I accompanied him as we wanted to see what it was like and DS did not speak German.  There were over a dozen boys there, ranging in age from 6 to 13.  We were the ONLY parents there.  Every other boy had either walked or taken public transportation to get there; some alone and some with a sibling or friend.  It was in the evening--still daylight when the practice began, but dark by the end of practice.  Not only did the boys take responsibility for getting themselves there and home; they took responsibility for getting there gear together, treating each other with respect, etc., without parents hovering over them.  

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19 minutes ago, SKL said:

 (I don't think anyone said the dad was 5 minutes behind.)

 

It's in the OP: The girls come down the street and said their mom is at work and their dad would be home in 5 min.

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I appreciate a neighborhood where people are aware and watch out for each other.  I don’t appreciate judgement of parenting.  While in the state we previously lived in I received many looks and comments of criticism when attempting to let my kids have more latitude (eg being scornfully asked you let your kids [5, 7, 9] ride down the block without you?, or even you let your kids [2, 4, 6] play in the front yard when you are inside [doing dishes and watching them through the window]).  I also received looks and comments of criticism from reining my kids in (eg telling a 4 year old you can ride your scooter here by the playground where I am but not around the loop circling the park, or telling a 10 year old you have to stay within seeing or hearing distance of one of the adults on this unfamiliar and poorly marked hiking trail).  And I have heard the comments and judging about third parties not present. 😞

You wonder why people are insecure in their parenting? It’s because no matter which decision they make there is someone there to judge them - as unthinking or overthinking, as reckless or overbearing, as uninvolved or smothering, as indulgent or strict...

Thankfully I moved to a place where there are now free-range laws, so well-intended community members can’t call the cops on mom or dad because the kids rode their bikes alone to the gas station and bought candy bars. Sadly the location comes with different forms of judgement. Why are we so judgemental?!?

Can’t we, instead of reporting something we find unacceptable and expecting that the world agrees with our opinion on the matter and that the “offender” should be notified, punished, made an example of, or in any other way shamed, ask questions from a place of sincerity?? For example with the OP’s situation a question might be “how old do your kids need to be before they could walk home in the dark? How did you decide that they were old enough? I get nervous about so many things related to that - how do you feel calm and sure?”

Don’t we as Homeschoolers know that, like there is no perfect parenting out there, there’s no perfect educational approach YET we have had sufficient enough judgement from those who don’t homeschool, and witnessed plenty of judgement of public schoolers by Homeschoolers. 😞 Just give a little credit, give a little love, try to understand and even if you don’t, be slow to say what’s absolutely right or wrong.

Edited by Targhee
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5 hours ago, Garga said:

 

When my boys were 11 and 13, I was going to take them to their karate lesson, but the car wouldn’t start.  We live only 1/2 mile from the karate studio and it was a nice day at about 10:45 in the morning and I told them to walk there.  

I found out later that another parent of students at the karate studio saw them walking and pulled over and offered them a ride.  They took it. 

The problem was that I don’t know that woman At All.  She is a complete stranger to me.  I was pretty freaked out when I found out the boys had done that.  They’d gotten into a car with someone I don’t know.  Now, it was someone *they* knew, vaguely from being at their karate lessons...but I wasn’t happy at all.  

I would much rather that people leave my kids ALONE when they’re out walking rather than asking them to get into cars with them.  Sheesh.  I had thought I’d taught my kids to NEVER get in a car with someone.  I had to give them a big old lecture about not getting into cars with people we don’t know.  And when I say “know” I meant close family friends that I had actually met.  They felt ok getting in the car with her because they’d seen her in the karate studio waiting room, but I wasn’t comfortable with that at all.

Perhaps I overreacted, but I was not appreciative of an adult asking my kids to get into a car with them.  I was thinking, “Doesn’t that woman have any sense?  Why would she encourage kids walking alone to get into cars with virtual strangers!”

And that was it.  They never wanted to walk again because the whole incident spooked them (feeling pressured to get in the car with the woman, and then when I told them not to do that in the future) and I was leery of it because of the idea of people pressuring my kids to get into cars with them.  

 

OP:  You probably scared the kids.  A car pulled over in the dark while they were walking...scary.  They realized it was you...relief.  But when they got home a moment later...there you are hanging around their house.  That would have been scary to me as a kid.  

In your case, I’d have pulled over to make sure they were ok because that’s reasonable in the dark at night, and then driven home and quietly watched to be sure they got in their house if I felt like I needed to.  I’m not sure what knocking on their door would have done to help them.  

 

Note:  I had a Spanish exchange student stay with me for a summer and he thought we were all nuts at how we don’t let our kids do anything.  And he made (gentle) fun of us non-stop about how we drive everywhere.  When he found out that I drove the kids to karate each time, he thought it was the funniest thing.  He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the American culture of driving places that were within walking distance and parents driving their kids everywhere.  He’d been independent and spending the entire day away from his parents for years upon years.

Nm

 

Edited by Frances
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LOL, I must be a bad neighbor.  I see kids walking, skating, riding bikes around our neighborhood all the time. Some are alone, some in pairs or groups. Some I know by sight, some I don't. I wouldn't stop and question any of them  unless it was very late at night (after 10pm, maybe? but it would probably depend on apparent age) or the child appeared distressed.  

If someone ever followed one of my kids home they and I would be so creeped out. If it was someone we knew - why did they do it?  If it was someone we didn't know - are they coming back to get me in the night?  I can't even think how long it would take them to get over it and go out alone again.

I will say that when my daughter had to be at work at 6am at her job 1/2 a mile away (age 16), I would get up and walk with her in the winter when it was still dark, or drive her if it was extremely cold/snowy/rainy.  Something about her walking alone in the early darkness creeped me out!  Ah, I was healthier then thanks to those early morning walks!  :-)  

 

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5 hours ago, 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 absolutely believe whole-heartedly that this is the case. From a counseling perspective, the "good enough parent"( i.e. the one who doesn't over or under worry about their kids by over catastrophizing every event or the other side, setting no boundaries) end up with the most well-adjusted and capable kids. It also results in kids with more confidence, more socially adjusted, better problem solving, less anxiety and depression...the list goes on. If I feel anxious about my kids doing a low risk event that is on me and not them. I need to find a way to deal with my anxiousness and not create it in them. 

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2 hours ago, Bootsie said:

I am not understanding who you would need to let her know her kids are OK.  Is there some reason to believe that she didn't think they were OK?  

I agree.  I can't imagine myself going to someone's home to "report" that their kids had no issues walking where a parent had told them to walk.  If the mom had been home, then obviously she would know that the children had just walked in the door and were fine.  If she had an issue with that parenting choice, then she could take it up with Dad later.

The only time I could imagine sticking my nose in a little bit is if I saw kids I knew doing something that I felt the parent really needed to know about.  We are pretty friendly with the family who lives across the street.  If I saw their kids playing with a downed power line, going out on the thinly iced pond at the park, playing tag across the busy road, etc. then I would 1) step in to stop the activity and 2) pop over to their house later to let a parent know what I saw so that they could use that information however they saw fit.

If one of my kids is off throwing rocks at a dog, then if possible please let me know.  But if my kid is confidently and maturely going about his own business in the neighborhood, then just leave him alone!

Wendy

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48 minutes ago, marbel said:

LOL, I must be a bad neighbor.  I see kids walking, skating, riding bikes around our neighborhood all the time. Some are alone, some in pairs or groups. Some I know by sight, some I don't. I wouldn't stop and question any of them  unless it was very late at night (after 10pm, maybe? but it would probably depend on apparent age) or the child appeared distressed.  

 

 

It was 9.30 and the kids were about 9, so OP kind of falls in those parameters. 

I see kids walking, skating, and riding bikes all the time in my neighborhood also, but it's usually during the day or in front of their house for the younger kids. There are definitely some 9-yr-olds I'd be surprised to see walking in the pitch dark. 

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Where I live, 12 is the legal age for being alone (home or elsewhere):

Section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty — 3 years imprisonment.”

There's been much discussion in the media here about what 'unreasonable time' means.

 

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2 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

I agree.  I can't imagine myself going to someone's home to "report" that their kids had no issues walking where a parent had told them to walk.  If the mom had been home, then obviously she would know that the children had just walked in the door and were fine.  If she had an issue with that parenting choice, then she could take it up with Dad later.

 

think the OP was ahead of the kids. With certain kids/families, I might do this: Hey, just saw Jimmy outside and wanted to make sure you knew. Again, this is assuming younger children, walking in the dark, and being unusual. 

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2 hours ago, Bootsie said:

When DS was 11, we were in Austria and he wanted to attend a local Kendo practice.  DH and I accompanied him as we wanted to see what it was like and DS did not speak German.  There were over a dozen boys there, ranging in age from 6 to 13.  We were the ONLY parents there.  Every other boy had either walked or taken public transportation to get there; some alone and some with a sibling or friend.  It was in the evening--still daylight when the practice began, but dark by the end of practice.  Not only did the boys take responsibility for getting themselves there and home; they took responsibility for getting there gear together, treating each other with respect, etc., without parents hovering over them.  

This is so rare in the US. I sometimes tell people that I make my kids get to their own activities regularly and they look confused, astounded, or disbelieving. I mean, they're in high school. These are only a few miles away. We live in a city with free public transit for city kids. It's just... I mean, I'm nice so I often go pick them up too, especially when they're finishing late - I don't make ds find his own way home after a late show after 11 pm or anything, but... they should be doing this for themselves sometimes. Yet... so few people do.

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There are freedoms I gave my twins earlier because they had each other that I did not let my oldest have since she was alone (and adhd).  I had no worries leaving my twins home alone from a very young age -- 6 years old for 5 min, 20 by 7, 1 hour for 8, etc.  By 10 they were able to stay home in an unusual situation (taking oldest daughter to a tour at a University) for 7 hours and they even managed to do their homework.  

My dd with adhd probably didn't stay home alone until she was 11.  We called her the bad idea machine.  It wasn't worth the risk.

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17 minutes ago, Farrar said:

This is so rare in the US. I sometimes tell people that I make my kids get to their own activities regularly and they look confused, astounded, or disbelieving. I mean, they're in high school. These are only a few miles away. We live in a city with free public transit for city kids. It's just... I mean, I'm nice so I often go pick them up too, especially when they're finishing late - I don't make ds find his own way home after a late show after 11 pm or anything, but... they should be doing this for themselves sometimes. Yet... so few people do.

 

That's very common in the city here. Public transit is not awesome and certainly not free, but in certain areas things are close together and/or there's decent transit. In my neighborhood, kids can easily and safely walk to parks and rec but not much else, unfortunately. 

6 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

 We called her the bad idea machine.   

 

😂

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Occasion when I would poop my pants:

I am home alone. I know my kids are with my husband. Neighbor comes to my door and says, "Now, you're kids are okay..."

I 'd drop my contents at that point.

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I am sorry that you felt distressed and anxious about the kids walking home alone.  

I think it is in realm of reasonable and normal, and the only thing that might lead me to comment to parents would be if the kids were hard to see and thus at risk from vehicles such that a flashlight or reflective triangle on jacket would be significantly helpful to safety.

I think neighbors being aware of strangers, lurkers, or issues with neighbors or other problems particular to the area such as cougars, is very important to help make neighborhoods safer—keeping an eye out for things like vans seeming to be cruising and lurking for example, or someone seeming to be spying on or following a child (which could turn out just to be someone worried about them, not with bad motives).  If I saw someone seeming to be doing something like this, I would bring it to attention of our local schools and nowadays post on Nextdoor

However, I don’t think dangers coming from people wanting to harm children will necessarily be helped by waiting to age 12 to be alone, nor restricted to daylight hours.  Though some issues like cougar attacks are more likely during crepuscular times or after dark.  

Different children in different or even the same neighborhoods and depending on family, skills, and emotional maturity have different capacities and will be ready for walking somewhere alone at different ages. 

 

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6 minutes ago, unsinkable said:

Occasion when I would poop my pants:

I am home alone. I know my kids are with my husband. Neighbor comes to my door and says, "Now, you're kids are okay..."

I 'd drop my contents at that point.

 

 

Yeah. I’d think next thing would be a “but they were in a car accident and are now at the hospital” or something along those lines.

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1 hour ago, chocolate-chip chooky said:

Where I live, 12 is the legal age for being alone (home or elsewhere):

Section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty — 3 years imprisonment.”

There's been much discussion in the media here about what 'unreasonable time' means.

 

My state doesn't have any legal age for being home alone but a lot of people start in Kindergarten or 1st grade because school lets out before they get off work and they can't afford daycare/babysitters.

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

I am sorry that you felt distressed and anxious about the kids walking home alone.  

I think it is in realm of reasonable and normal, and the only thing that might lead me to comment to parents would be if the kids were hard to see and thus at risk from vehicles such that a flashlight or reflective triangle on jacket would be significantly helpful to safety.

I think neighbors being aware of strangers, lurkers, or issues with neighbors or other problems particular to the area such as cougars, is very important to help make neighborhoods safer—keeping an eye out for things like vans seeming to be cruising and lurking for example, or someone seeming to be spying on or following a child (which could turn out just to be someone worried about them, not with bad motives).  If I saw someone seeming to be doing something like this, I would bring it to attention of our local schools and nowadays post on Nextdoor

However, I don’t think dangers coming from people wanting to harm children will necessarily be helped by waiting to age 12 to be alone, nor restricted to daylight hours.  Though some issues like cougar attacks are more likely during crepuscular times or after dark.  

Different children in different or even the same neighborhoods and depending on family, skills, and emotional maturity have different capacities and will be ready for walking somewhere alone at different ages. 

 

This biologist nerd just smiled 🤓 

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

This is so rare in the US. I sometimes tell people that I make my kids get to their own activities regularly and they look confused, astounded, or disbelieving. I mean, they're in high school. These are only a few miles away. We live in a city with free public transit for city kids. It's just... I mean, I'm nice so I often go pick them up too, especially when they're finishing late - I don't make ds find his own way home after a late show after 11 pm or anything, but... they should be doing this for themselves sometimes. Yet... so few people do.

My son was 16 and in high school and went to the movies with a bunch of homeschool teens. Their parents all went too (um, huh? Give the kids some parent free time!) and then were freaking out because I wasn't there right away to pick up DS when the movie let out. He called me, and I was coming, but would be about 25-30 minutes. He wanted to walk across the mall parking lot (well lit) to go grab a burger at the fast food place in the same parking lot and they flipped out. Insisted he stay with them and they waited with him until I got there. Um, hello, he's old enough to DRIVE, I think he can walk across a parking lot! 

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52 minutes ago, Targhee said:

This biologist nerd just smiled 🤓 

me too! Crepuscular is one of my favorite words!!!!

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8 hours ago, katilac said:

 

I'm guessing the OP didn't think everything through but rather acted on instinct. I'm touchy sometimes but I'd be okay with a neighbor knocking and saying, hey, I saw the twins walking outside just now, wanted to double-check that was okay? Because kids do lie, lol. Depending on the kid/family, I may or may not have checked with them. I would definitely have made sure they got in the house.

I fall on the very liberal side of leaving kids home alone and think it would be fine for them to be alone for longer than 5 minutes. I wouldn't have let them walk home in the dark, though. It sounds like the suburbs, so much less activity at that time <<< greatest concern. Also, no real benefit to offset the risk id dad was 5 minutes behind them.

Maybe he was allowing them to build experience in a safe situation (he was following right behind them from just a few houses away).

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5 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

My son was 16 and in high school and went to the movies with a bunch of homeschool teens. Their parents all went too (um, huh? Give the kids some parent free time!) and then were freaking out because I wasn't there right away to pick up DS when the movie let out. He called me, and I was coming, but would be about 25-30 minutes. He wanted to walk across the mall parking lot (well lit) to go grab a burger at the fast food place in the same parking lot and they flipped out. Insisted he stay with them and they waited with him until I got there. Um, hello, he's old enough to DRIVE, I think he can walk across a parking lot! 

 

Bananas. I know a few parents who are on this tragectory. A 15yo who's not allowed to take a walk or be left alone for more than an hour, a 13yo who isn't allowed to go to the movies without a parent....it really concerns me for their development as adults.

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2 minutes ago, sassenach said:

Bananas. I know a few parents who are on this tragectory. A 15yo who's not allowed to take a walk or be left alone for more than an hour, a 13yo who isn't allowed to go to the movies without a parent....it really concerns me for their development as adults.

Yup. Another homeschool mom posted that she couldn't attend an event because it was during a time she couldn't find a babysitter. 

Um, your kid is 13, almost 14. It's for an hour during the day. She really needs a babysitter?!?!?!

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We left our kids home alone for 4 nights and 5 days when they were 15 and 17. They managed to get themselves to school everyday, take care of the dogs, and they were still alive when we got home. Some people completely freaked out when they heard. My own parents left us home alone for several nights even younger (but older siblings were at least those ages) so I just don't get it. 

I can't imagine thinking it was any big deal to see kids those ages walking towards home in a safe neighborhood. 

 

ETA : My kids and I checked in with each other a few times a day and my mom was less than 5 miles away if there was trouble. Just so no one here thinks we are bad for leaving them home as well.

Edited by Joker
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Best part of having kids this age is the ability to meet a friend at Starbucks or Panera and know my house won’t be laid waste in my absence, also child-free shopping. My kids would look at me like I was nuts if I insisted they come along. I have a rising MSer and an almost freshman. They can manage alone for an hour (or three).

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8 minutes ago, Joker said:

We left our kids home alone for 4 nights and 5 days when they were 15 and 17. They managed to get themselves to school everyday, take care of the dogs, and they were still alive when we got home. Some people completely freaked out when they heard. My own parents left us home alone for several nights even younger (but older siblings were at least those ages) so I just don't get it. 

My parents did this when my brother and I were about that age. They went to an annual convention and we stayed home (went to school, took care of pets, etc). I mean, the washing machine did overflow...and our parakeet was found belly up one morning...but it was fine. 😉

(But then again, I was married and out of the house at 19, and I'm often shocked how much parenting people are doing for young adults that age, so...)

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2 minutes ago, alisoncooks said:

My parents did this when my brother and I were about that age. They went to an annual convention and we stayed home (went to school, took care of pets, etc). I mean, the washing machine did overflow...and our parakeet was found belly up one morning...but it was fine. 😉

(But then again, I was married and out of the house at 19, and I'm often shocked how much parenting people are doing for young adults that age, so...)

Nothing died or broke here. Youngest actually got bored and organized my pantry. 😁

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33 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Yup. Another homeschool mom posted that she couldn't attend an event because it was during a time she couldn't find a babysitter. 

Um, your kid is 13, almost 14. It's for an hour during the day. She really needs a babysitter?!?!?!

 

I wonder if this happens sometimes out of habit. You've always had to get a babysitter, and you fail to realize there's a point you don't need to do that any longer. 

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