Are children overprotected ?

Charlie - posted on 04/18/2011 ( 25 moms have responded )

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Hannah Zelinger just gave her doll collection to her 3-year-old cousin — and now Hannah's bedroom in Long Beach, N.Y., is going from all pink to a black-and-white geometric design that's more mature.
After all, she's 9. And by today's standards, she's leaving childhood behind.

"At 3, 4, 5 and 6, they're playing with toys and dolls and puppet shows and crafts. It stops at 7. After that, they kind of skip into tween," says Hannah's mother, Jennifer Zelinger. "She talks about boys asking them out and who's going to like them."

Zelinger says Hannah wants some independence. But as a mother, Zelinger says, she's so torn about that idea that when Hannah rides her bicycle around the block to see a friend, the moms are on the phone for the entire journey.

"We're actually monitoring how long it takes and checking in, and I think it's sad," Zelinger, 46, says. "I want her to have that freedom, but the stories that I hear — I would never live with myself if anything happened."

Today's kids may never know the no-cares time of innocence, exploration and imagination that their parents recall about childhood.

Many parents rarely let their kids roam the neighborhood, use public transportation or walk to school alone. Play and sports are organized into play dates and teams, and extracurricular activities eat up kids' free time. Hannah's schedule at one point included Hebrew classes, ceramics, gymnastics, Zumba, trapeze and softball.

Even the lazy days of summer aren't so slow anymore, with many kids in structured camp programs, often focused on academics.

The cost, some analysts say, is not just rising concern that kids won't look back fondly on their childhoods. Analysts say there are increasing signs that a lack of independence fuels stress, anxiety and depression among young people. Many child-development specialists and others worry that it's just not as much fun to be a kid anymore.

"Kid time today? That time is filled," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a developmental psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia.

"We've lost the sense of allowing children to be children, to have that period of time in their lives where we don't burden them with a zillion things to do," says Malcolm Goldsmith, professor emeritus of health education at Southern Illinois University.

Zelinger says she grew up with "a lot of free time to play outside and put on roller skates and play kickball. In many ways, I do feel they don't have time just to play games and play with their friends and go to the park."

She says she's skipping the gym so she can pick up her daughter an hour earlier from her after-school program so Hannah can have an hour before dinner to unwind. She's also cut back on the weekend schedule and activities that Hannah wanted to pursue.

"We made some changes to have downtime," Zelinger says. "I'm blocking out a few hours of just nothing — maybe even a whole day and night — which I never used to do."

Protection or overprotection?

Childhood specialists say parents' fears — ranging from concern about their child being harmed or abducted to worries about their child's future education or career — seem to be driving much of the change.

"It's the reality of contemporary life," says historian Steven Mintz of Columbia University in New York. "We think we live in a pretty dangerous world, and kids who are nave are vulnerable."

"It's not that their lives are more hazardous, but perceptions of the hazards have increased a lot," says historian Paula Fass of the University of California-Berkeley, co-editor of Re-Inventing Childhood in the Post World War II World, due out this fall. "When that happens, we close down on the children and make it less possible for them to act informally, and worry that we need to have somebody watching over them."

Dawn Pettus, a stay-at-home mother of four in Florence, Ala., says she can't let her kids, ages 4 to 13, have the freedoms she had growing up in the same town.

"We would be allowed to go to the mall or the skate center, and a parent would come back and get us," says Pettus, 41. "Now, you can't. There's a possibility of someone taking them. People at these places are not responsible for them. There's too many things that could happen today."

Janis Feinstein, 49, of Hoboken, N.J., says she had much more independence as a child than her daughters, ages 12 and 15, do now. She was allowed to walk to school and local shops and movies, but she says it's been difficult to allow her daughters to roam.

"My younger daughter got her cellphone when she was 10 and walked to school on her own," she says. "It was only when she got home that I could actually relax."

Whether these fears are real or imagined, parents take them to heart, analysts say. But those who study childhood say kids were in a lot more danger 30 or 40 years ago.

"Research shows very clearly that kids are safer today," says Michael Ungar, a professor of social work at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and author of Too Safe for Their Own Good. He credits public health campaigns, such as car-seat legislation and anti-drug and anti-smoking efforts.

"We've created safer worlds for our children, and now we need to make sure we don't hold (them) back so they don't get disadvantaged," he says. "Children need manageable opportunities to experience risk and responsibility in their lives. If we take away all these opportunities to suffer natural consequences, then where are they going to learn the skills they need to become well-functioning adults?"

The stress builds

Research supports the idea that children's autonomy has lessened over the years.

A 2009 study in the journal Qualitative Sociology reviewed 300 advice columns and editorials from 34 randomly chosen issues of Parents magazine published between 1929 and 2006 to gauge parental authority and children's autonomy. It found that children today have increased autonomy at home — in their self-expression, daily chores, appearance and defiance of parents — but fewer opportunities to be in public without adult supervision than kids in earlier generations.

In a column in The New York Sun in 2008, contributing editor Lenore Skenazy created controversy when she announced she had let her 9-year-old son ride the subway by himself. In Free-RangeKids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry, she suggests parents loosen their grip.

Free-range parents, she says, believe in helmets, car seats and seat belts for safety, but "We just do NOT believe that every time school-age kids go outside, they need a security detail."

Her blog (freerangekids.wordpress.com) gives like-minded parents a chance to talk about their "common-sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times."

Increased parental fear is a product of various factors, says Skenazy, 51, including round-the-clock news, TV dramas about child abduction, a litigious society that skews the view of risk and a multitude of products designed to help parents monitor their kids.

"We think of our kids in constant peril from a lot of things, starting with predators on down to the peril of not getting into a good college," she says.

Educators add to the pressure by expecting more from students and parents, Pettus says.

"When my oldest started school, all you had to bring was a pencil box and some crayons," she says. "Now, if you don't know your letters and the sound your letters make, then you're already behind."

These increased educational and social pressures may be taking a toll on kids' mental health, suggests Laurence Steinberg, psychology professor at Temple University.

"We don't have large-scale surveys that ask kids about fun, but we do have them about depression and anxiety," he says. "A lot of kids are reporting being depressed or anxious. It's partly because they feel under a lot of pressure to do well, whether in school or on the athletic field or at piano class or whatever it is."

One in five kids ages 9 to 17 grapple with mental illness such as depression or symptoms of anxiety, and 80% go untreated, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Experts say there's no way to determine if childhood mental illness is increasing or decreasing, because it wasn't measured as such in earlier decades.

But about 12.5% of kids ages 12 to 17 received treatment or counseling for problems with behavior or emotions, according to a 2009 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"Kids need unstructured time to unwind and relax, just to play without worrying about their performance," Steinberg says.

Pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg offers solutions to help kids navigate stress and focuses on the importance of resilience rather than perfectionism in his book, Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, released earlier this month.

"There is no question there's a lot of stress in the lives of children and particularly teenagers," he says. "We need to reduce the stress by taking some of the pressure off while at the same time preparing kids to manage life's inevitable stressors."

Ginsburg, an adolescent-medicine specialist in Philadelphia, is among a group of child experts trying to refocus attention on the benefits of play.

"Play is a vital piece of childhood under challenge by a variety of forces in society," he says.

One of the larger efforts is the Ultimate Block Party, a large-scale play date in the park organized by various play advocates, including Hirsh-Pasek. The first event was last fall in New York City's Central Park, and others are scheduled around the country to focus on the science and educational value of play.

Steinberg, author of You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10-25, out earlier this year, says he's not ready to proclaim that fun in childhood is dead.

"It's a different kind of fun that kids have today," he says. "It's not fair to say playing video games is inherently less fun than playing tag. Kids who are glued to their screens today don't know what these other things were like."

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Are children overprotected , is there valid reason ?

Do you think they are missing out on a childhood or do you think it is necessary?

If we could even the playing field and it was a safe area with trusted and aware locals
At what age will your child have the freedom to play alone in the yard ?
Ride their bike down the street ?
Walk home from school ?
have a sleep over ?

Now would that differ from the ages you would allow those things in your current area ?

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Isobel - posted on 04/18/2011

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my kids are allowed to ride around the street at 7 and 9. My nine year old is allowed to run to the store around the corner for milk.

I actually disagree with Jenny only in the fact that I DO believe something has changed...the world is SAFER than it was when we were kids.

And for some reason we aren't letting them do ANYTHING

[deleted account]

Yes and it continues on to their adult years as well. I've mentioned before that I work for a health insurance company. You would not believe the number of times Moms call in for their ADULT children to handle their payments, their claims, their benefit information. I always give them the benefit of the doubt and say to myself that the adult child is probably ill. However I always have to abide by HIPAA laws and make sure there's written authorization to call in. I ask (if there isn't on on file) to speak to the child and they react as though I'm on drugs because, "Well *I* handle all of this for them. He/She doesn't know anything about this and they work." I'm sorry but your son/daughter is 38 YEARS OLD! (Not an exaggeration.) It's only gotten worse since the health care reform extended dependent age to 26 which I was not in favor of. It only increases child dependency on parents and inhibits them growing up.

Jenny - posted on 04/18/2011

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I'm raising my kids very similar to how I was raised. I do not believe anything but the level of fear has changed since then. If anything the public is more paranoid and bad things are less likely to happen. My 8 year old is now allowed to go to the corner store and ride her bike around the block unsupervised.

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Tara - posted on 08/10/2011

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We live in the best community!!
My kids do ride their bikes around our village, even the 6 year old is allowed to ride down the street to the cemetery and back. Or play with sidewalk chalk down the street in front of our neighbours house on their blacktop driveway (ours is gravel).
They walk to their friends' houses, or ride if they are too far to walk.
They have sleepovers all the time, often in the yard in the tent. They play outside alone early, we have a fenced yard and a good dog, lol. Although since we now have a pool, we won't let Riley play alone outside until the whole thing is fenced next summer.

I'm free range and proud of it, been doing it this way forever.
:)

Amanda - posted on 08/10/2011

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I am raising my children the same way I was, the world is not a more dangerous place then when I was a child. Stranger danger is BS, a family member / friend will hurt your child long before a stranger. I grew up to a very independant adult, were as my youngest siblings are extremely co-dependant adults as they were raised with the "new rules" to parenting. Since I see the difference within my own family first hand. I will say my parents got it right with me LOL, and my parents would also agree.

My children have been playing outside by themselves since age 5, and been walking home alone from school or to school, since they were 7. I am the strangest mother on the block as I know children in grade 8 still walked by their parents. By age 7 they could go to the park by themselves, and by age 12 they could go to the huge central park with friends (this park is farther away 30 minute walk), and I know they really arent at the park, they are hanging at Mc Craps across the street LOL. Also by age 7 they have been allowed at sleep overs.

Emma - posted on 08/10/2011

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I Am not overly protective, Although im very sure to those of you living in the US or Europe I would be considered a paranoid over protective nut job.
I have Stats to prove that My kids are living in a far more dangerous environment than i grew up in. Sad to say the Freedom to roam and explore that i had as a kid is a long gone memory.
My kids have been able to play freely in our Back garden since we moved to a house with a garden. So they where 2 and 3 years old note though our rear garden is walled with 6ft walls and electric fencing on top of that, and is not seen or accessible from the street. So they are Safe.
My kids will only be aloud to ride there bikes down the street with an adult present in till they are teens.
Walking home from School im going with never due to having to walk passed open bush felt very dangerous.
Have a sleep over is a tough one i would have to know the parents well before i would even think about sleep overs.

Denikka - posted on 08/10/2011

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I do think kids are overprotected. And I think a lot of it is unfounded paranoia.
I was an overprotected kid.I was just about never allowed to go anywhere without my grandparents (who raised me, I lived with them).
No one (aka friends parents) was allowed to drive me ANYWHERE, my grandparents always dropped me off and picked me up. It wasn't until well after my 16th birthday that I was allowed to go for a ride with a friend. And that was an argument and a half the few times I managed it.
I wasn't allowed to walk anywhere. Up until almost my 19th birthday when I moved out of my grandparents place, I had never walked to the elementary school (15 minute shuffle walk from the house), the corner store (10 minute shuffle walk) or even to the mail box (5 minute walk).
Any time I had ANY activity, my grandparents dropped me off (if they couldn't figure out a way to actually go with me or at least stay in the building. They would wait AT the pool whenever I went swimming with my friends) and they would always be there to pick me up at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time.
I was left home alone for maybe 2 hours tops at any given time (only AFTER I was 17). I never had any time to myself, and I never had the chance to make any mistakes or feel like I was trustworthy.
I should mention that I've never been drunk, have only drank AFTER I was legal, have never smoked, never done drugs, never partied (never had a chance to), always been where I said I was going to be and never done anything to suggest to my grandparents that I was untrustworthy.

So being on THAT side of the fence, I would never do the same to my own children.


Do you think they are missing out on a childhood or do you think it is necessary?

I know what I went through, and yes, I feel like I missed out on huge parts of my childhood. I never got to go to parks with my friends, I never got to experience a lot of things. But most importantly, I never felt that I was trusted. Seriously, when a 16 or 17 year old can't go to the swimming pool or roller rink without a parent sitting in the same building, in eye shot, you really start to feel like there's a REASON your parental figure doesn't trust you. You second guess yourself.


If we could even the playing field and it was a safe area with trusted and aware locals
At what age will your child have the freedom to play alone in the yard ?
I allowed my 1.5 year old to play out on an enclosed porch. I don't see much difference in an enclosed yard. As long as it IS fully enclosed and safe, I would let my kid out there when they could walk. Obviously checking in periodically (more frequently with younger kids. Take a peek out every 5-10 minutes for a 2 year old, leave the door open to hear them, etc)
Now with multiples, it would take a while longer and they would have to be older, but that has more to do with the damage that they would cause each other, rather than the risk of something happening to them.

Ride their bike down the street ?
Depends more on maturity than age. I don't really like ANYONE of ANY age riding bikes on the street. Too many horrible images of nasty things happening. But I'd let my kid if they were mature enough to be safe about it.

Walk home from school ?
Same as above. Depends on maturity, as well as how far away the school was. Oddly, I am WAAAY more comfortable with my kid walking to school than riding a bike on the road.

have a sleep over ?
Whenever he has friends that he wants to have sleepovers with. My son is 2.5 yrs old right now and if I was comfortable with the parents, I'd let him go now. Same as I would be okay having a friend of his come stay the night.

Now would that differ from the ages you would allow those things in your current area ?

Currently, I share a backyard and it's not completely enclosed. There's also too many things for my kidlet to get into (BBQ'S are FUN XD) so no unsupervised time in the yard here. I would say more like...6 with the way my kiddo is (VERY headstrong, wants to do what he wants to do and is gonna do it XD) and even at 6years, there would be frequent check ins.

Biking and walking here, I would have to say closer to 10 or 11. I've noticed a lot of drivers around here are kind speed crazy. Lots of burnouts and sqealing brakes can be heard most of the day. So definitely wait till the littles ones were significantly older.

Sleep over would be the same. If I'm okay with the parents, I don't see why not.

Jenn - posted on 04/19/2011

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I guess I'm just thinking of my girls who only started to really walk well at that age - I just couldn't imagine letting them play outside alone. They love it outside too - so I'd go out with them.

Ashley - posted on 04/19/2011

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Well my son is three and allowed to play outside in are fenced yard i do check on him often but he is generally good. As for bike riding alone i have no idea we live in town and people just dont care here but if we move out of town then i would let him at 5 or 6 around the area i was at that age. Walking to school yes at prob around grade 3 its only a couple blocks away and its a safe path. Sleep overs i hate them so family really close friends yes otherwise prob no.

Stifler's - posted on 04/19/2011

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He hates being inside. I fold washing or something inside while he plays on the grass pushing his mower around or on the cement with his crayons and scrapbook where I can see him. I don't like go have a nap or watch tv while he's out there.

Rosie - posted on 04/19/2011

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it depends on the child. i let vinnie play outside when he was 3, in a gated yard unsupervised, checking in on him every now and then. lucas is almost 4, and he likes to sneak out of the gate and go down the street. i can't leave him alone outside yet.

and while vinnie (my 6 year old) is pretty mature, he doesn't want a sleepover yet. he's scared. my parents wouldn't take him when he was younger because he peed the bed, so now that he finally doesn't he's scared to do it. grant has been spending the night since he was a baby, and has no problems. he's also very immature at age 11.

it just totally differs for each child, for each answer.

Bonnie - posted on 04/19/2011

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With some things are I am more overprotective then I am with others. I would rather be overprotective then wonder where I went wrong if something were to happen. This is just the way I was brought up. I don't think I will ever be as bad as my mother was and sometimes still is. Although, my kids are only 2 and 4 right now, so it is kind of difficult to say whether or not I am too overprotective.

At what age will your child have the freedom to play alone in the yard ?
I think 5 is a good age.

Ride their bike down the street ? 8 or 9

Walk home from school ? 11 or 12 depending on how far it is.
have a sleep over ? I think sleepovers are okay at any age as long as the child is comfortable with it. If it is at someone else's house, I would definitely have to meet the parents first.

Jenni - posted on 04/19/2011

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I don't base my protectiveness on a number. I base it on the child's individual maturity. We all know our children best and what level of supervision they require. My SD is very mature compared to my son. She's very responsible at almost 4. I wouldn't feel concerned about her safety playing in the yard unsupervised or going off with older children to play at the park. She is very cautious and very well-behaved. My son however, is more immature than she was at the same age. He has to *touch* everything. He is almost 3 now and still has to be warned about picking up garbage at the park. He gets into everything even though he's been carefully guided about safety. He knows when no one is watching him and uses this opportunity to test his boundaries. I've already had a scare of him running into the busy street. I teach him road safety. Stopping. Looking both ways for cars. Not crossing the road without mommy or daddy. He is a boundary pusher unlike his sister who obeys the rules of safety.



I struggle to even allow my son to have alone time to do his business in the bathroom. I allow it. But I do have to check up on him if he's taking longer than usual. He likes to throw whole rolls of toilet paper in the toilet. Also he has a fascination at the moment with putting his hands or feet in the potty before or after he flushes.



I think where you live plays a large factor in protection (over or under). I grew up in small towns and we were allowed to roam free when we were 2-3 yrs old with the accompaniment of older kids. Play in the yard by ourselves. However, my brother had ADHD and was not allowed to play alone. See above. Same reasons as my son. He couldn't be trusted.



I live in the city now on a main road with heavy traffic. I would be quite fearful and more overprotective of my younger children being allowed to roam. My son knows how to open the backyard gate and he is a roamer.



We've had to put covers on all our door knobs and ensure all locks are locked. As a deterent, mainly. Because my son will escape and has. He snuck out our backdoor when he had just turned 2 yrs old. I watched him walk from the livingroom to the kitchen where his dad was and the next minute a man is knocking on the door with my son in his arms. He had run from our backyard straight across the road. Another time, my husband had taken him out in the backyard and was cutting the grass. He had just filled up the lawnmower with gas. Walked away for a few minutes then realized he left out the gas jug. Turned around to see my son screaming. He had poured gasoline on himself and we had to call the ambulance. So I don't feel I'm overproctective with him by not allowing him to be unsupervised yet at almost 3 yo. I know my child. When he is ready to be left unsupervised or go to the park alone. I will know.

Jenn - posted on 04/19/2011

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Emma - you let a 15 months old play in the yard alone?!? I'm certainly not an over-protective mother, but that's a freakin' BABY playing alone! :O

Sarah - posted on 04/19/2011

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We need to remember that abductions and such like are only on the news because they're such rare events. Obviously we need to take sensible precautions, but if we don't encourage independence and some degree of risk taking while they are children, how will they learn these skills for adulthood?

Sherri - posted on 04/18/2011

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Sadly I think it is a necessary evil.

If we could even the playing field and it was a safe area with trusted and aware locals
5 but only in the back yard where it is fenced and no one can even know they are outside.

Ride their bike down the street ? 12 (depends on a dead end st. they can here me call for them) If the road was busy and I can't be aware of there where abouts and they can't hear me if I call - Never.

Walk home from school ? Never

have a sleep over ? At any age.

I based these answers on the here and now. Hard to say what I would do if things were different so I can't really think that way.

April - posted on 04/18/2011

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Well i think it depends on what your are comfortable with as a parent. My mum was pretty strict with us and was more lenient as we became teenagers.

I'm a bit over protective of my kids because of all the crazy things i hear on the news. I just couldn't forgive my self if anything happened to them in a situation that could of easily been avoided.

The best i can do is tell my kids what to avoid,what my rules are and how they should react in certain situations. I don't want to smother them because that would make them rebel which is ten times worse. You can only protect them for so long before they go off on their own.

Shannon - posted on 04/18/2011

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I believe i have a healthy dose of protective.... I allow my children freedom to be children. My oldest 2 girls have walked home from school before, it is a 5 minute drive altho we are technically in a "rural" area, they laugh at me because i make them call me every 5 minutes between the time they leave the school and the time they walk into the back door. We have had multiple sleep-overs, however the one rule i have when a child is coming into my home or if mine is going somewhere i HAVE to speak to one of the parents, we trade phone numbers, allergy information if any, and what we want done ICE. We have a large field behind our house, woods and a river and my children have played in all of them. I have shown them how to play kick the can, freeze tag, i have even helped them climb trees, we spend every single minute we can outside in the fresh air. We go to museums, zoo's, drive in movie theaters and amusement parks. I am not saying i don't worry about my children while they are doing these things but i have FAITH and TRUST that God will not allow harm to befall my children for enjoying the life that he has given us.

Amber - posted on 04/18/2011

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Some parents are overprotective, some are under protective. I think I probably fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. My 4 year old is allowed to run around in our back yard by himself for short periods of time (like while I make dinner). We have a fenced in yard and I leave the sliding doors onto the deck open. I'm usually outside with him, but he's an only child and wants somebody to kick the ball back to him...pretty normal.

He's allowed to ride his bike in the garage or draw with side walk chalk while I'm inside. It's child-proofed from dangerous tools and the house alarm extends to the garage, so no door or window can be opened without a beep alerting me. He's never completely unsupervised for long, but he does have a bit of freedom to run out ahead of me instead of having to wait for me to finish whatever I'm doing.

He's had sleepovers with family since he was an infant. He's actually been to Wisconsin a few times without me (with grandparents or dad when I couldn't come with). He had a sleepover at my close friend's house when he was 3 to play with her children.

He has done swimming and soccer lessons, but they were things he asked to do. It wasn't to keep him from harm or protect him, but to give him healthy exercise that he wanted to do.

A lot of our time is spent as free time. We have a basic structure for meals, sleep, and preschool. Aside from that, we pretty much wing it.

My son won't ever be able to walk to school; we live out in the country and he'd never make it :) haha. When he gets to about 12-13 he'll probably be able to wander around the mall or go to the movies without me; it will depend on how responsible he proves himself to be.

Stranger danger must be a part of what we teach our children, but it does not have to absorb our entire life and hinder it. We need to be aware and get on with it all; otherwise, the criminals have won because they cause us to completely recreate life as we know it.

Elfrieda - posted on 04/18/2011

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Looking back, I have to bless my aunt and her poor, over-protected, over-fearful children. At the time, she was considered a bit freakish in her concern. Her kids, my cousins, were not allowed to walk to the park 5 blocks away, even in a group of 4 kids (ages 6-11), climbing trees was frowned on, no running, no hanging out with "mean kids" meaning kids who wrestled and yelled and kicked the ball really hard, no Red Rover, no climbing up a ladder to a second story treehouse unsupervised until age 8. They were not allowed to play in the front yard, just in case some car came by and they disappeared. But they had to practice piano a lot and do really well at school. They were warned about strangers, robbers, kidnappers, and "strange men". These were by turns very fearful and resentful kids! They did do all of these things because their mother was pressured into it because of the nature of how people parented back then, but she wasn't terribly happy about it. (I, especially, was seen as a "rough" girl, but I guess she trusted that if I hurt her poor darlings it was unintentional. They were my favourite cousins, after all!)



At the time she seemed crazy, and I remember being so frustrated and wishing that she would just be sensible and realize how capable we were of taking care of each other and ourselves. But she was just ahead of her time! She would not have been out of place on these forums and in the world that is paranoid mothering today.



So every time I start to think, "Well, I'll just do this to keep my baby safe" I think of my dear aunt and of my poor cousins and I make another commitment that I am going to let my kid be a kid. I am not going to ruin his childhood with rules and fears. If he gets hurt I will cry, but I will not let my fears hinder him from growing into a confident boy, then teen, then man.

Stifler's - posted on 04/18/2011

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I'm too underprotective. I let my 15 month old play outside in the backyard. I plan to let him walk to school once he's in year 4 (it's like 200m away). Logan has sleepovers at family's houses since he was about 6 months. He can ride his bike in the street as long as I'm sitting out the front watching for hoons.

[deleted account]

You all know I'm over protective...but luckily, I know it too, so I try to compensate for it :P

We live in a gated community and our back yard is fenced and alarmed, so I'm actually pretty lenient about him playing outside. He's been playing in our back yard alone since he was 2 1/2-3 yrs old. I can see him from any room in our house though, except his. I let him play in the front yard alone when he turned 4, but I do check on him a lot and I open the doors and windows so I can hear him. The front yard has surveillance, but no alarms.

Ride his bike down the street? I would probably allow this if it weren't for the new teen drivers who think they have to fly down the street at 40mph while texting. I'm more afraid one of them will run over my kid while than I am of abduction.....but if we were not in a gate, I'm not sure....

Walk home from school? Maybe middle school if we live close enough and there are sidewalks.

Sleepovers? He had his first sleep over with a friend when he was 4 yrs old (many before then with family). I did know the parents well.


So yes, I know I'm over protective....at least I've been told so a number of times by mothers on COM, but I try to take precautions that he does not realize are there. He doesn't realize that he has additional freedoms only because of the gates or our security.

As for the over scheduling, I agree with everything the author said--kids NEED time to do "nothing". My son does do a lot of scheduled activities, but every day he has one hour for doing nothing, just playing what ever he wants to play (except video games, it has to be imaginative). He usually goes outside and putts about the yard, swings, reads, or builds stuff with his blocks. In the summer time, he has more "nothing time" but school makes it difficult. Our weekends are also pretty unscheduled, though we do usually spend them together doing something all 3 of us want to do, rather than just chilling at home. We should have more chill at home weekends....

Jenn - posted on 04/18/2011

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Oh - I was going to mention about the kids becoming tweens at 7. I do think that around this age or a few years down the road, their interests may change, but any of the kids I know that age still play with toys all the time. I guess around here I just don't see it like that. My friends daughter was still carrying a doll around at age 11, but she also was into boys etc.

Jenn - posted on 04/18/2011

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I didn't read all of it - too long LOL! Yes, I do think a lot of kids are overprotected and many parents have unreasonable fears. My son was allowed to play in the yard by himself starting at age 3, but it was only for short periods of time and our yard is enclosed. Now that he's 5 he goes out to play alone all the time and will run between our yard and the neighbours' yard when he's playing with their daughter (she's 6). I won't let him ride his bike down the street alone because we live 5 minutes from one of the biggest trucking companies around and there are transport trucks flying down our road all the time. He isn't able to walk to school as we live in the country and it's too far away so he takes a bus. If we lived in town, I'd let him ride his bike on our block (he wouldn't be allowed to cross the street yet) and if the school was within walking distance, I'd let him walk on his own around age 7 (they are not allowed to be unsupervised going to or leaving the school when they are in JK and SK) If he was invited for a sleepover I'd let him go.

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