Leaving your kids alone - how long is too long

Charlie - posted on 01/19/2011 ( 169 moms have responded )

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Recently on another community it became very clear a LOT of parents leave their kids alone , sounds fine right ?

But how much is too much ? Just running to the toilet , ducking into the kitchen , running into the shops while they are in the car , leaving them at home by themselves while you leave the house in your car , is it ok to the leave the house for a while if YOUR DOG is babysitting ( yes someone said that ) ?



We all need to duck out for a few seconds generally still in the house but when is it going to far , when does it become neglect ?



The children in question are between infancy and early teens .

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Mary - posted on 01/20/2011

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I think there is a HUGE difference between running out to the mailbox, or weeding your garden while a small child is sleeping, and actually getting in your car and leaving the premises.



First of all, in the US, it is actually ILLEGAL to leave a small child in either your home or car unattended. Sadly, this law varies from state to state, and in those states that do have laws, the age varies. Sherri - I checked - your state has no such laws, so you are not the criminal in NH that you would be in some others (such as mine).



There are a few things that REALLY bug me about the thought of "running around the corner" while leaving a sleeping child in the house. The first (and biggest) concern is this - how can you guarantee that YOU will not be in an accident in that 10 minute drive? If I decided to just pop in my car, and make that quick, 2 mile drive to the post office while my two year old is napping, who is to say that I won't get hit by some little old lady in the parking lot, or broadsided by a UPS truck while turning into my court? That 10 minute absence is now a whole hell of a lot longer.



The second is this...maybe my child is unique, but the exact timing and duration of her naps is not precise. What do you do if those twins aren't asleep when you need to pick up your child from preschool? Do you then take them with you, or leave them (crying, playing - whatever) confined and unattended for that time period?



As for the dog thing...I've stated my opinion on this enough, but it obviously bares repeating. Most of you know how passionately I love my boys. However, no matter how gentle and well trained I know them to be, they are still what they are - dogs. To treat them any differently is to fail them as an owner. I love my child and my dogs entirely too much to place them in a situation where one could potentially harm the other (and since my daughter is 2, and my dogs are tolerant fools, the greater likelihood is that SHE would harm them!).



**edit to add**

If anyone came into my shelter to adopt a dog, and it was discovered (by self admission or reference testimony) that a potential owner would leave small children and a dog unattended, the application would be denied on the basis that the applicant was not providing a safe and suitable environment for the DOG.

Tara - posted on 01/19/2011

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Infants, only alone for sleeping during the daytime, or alone in an infant seat in the bathroom while I shower.
Toddlers, alone in the parts of the house that I know are babyproofed and safe for short periods of time when I am in another room. Outside if I'm at the in laws and I can see them from where I am (they live on a farm)
My 5 year old? I can leave alone in the house while I am in the back yard or front yard etc.
My 8 year old, all of the above and she can also stay home alone for short times if I run to the post office, library or down the street, all within yelling distance of the house, lol
My almost 11 year old stays home alone when we go to the bigger town to do groceries etc. she has stayed home for up to 4 hours alone. She loves it and she is very responsible.
I live in a tiny tiny little town, all my neighbours know my kids, and the kids know them. She knows who to contact if she needs help and can't reach me on my cell. And I always let the one neighbour know that she is home alone and when I'll be back.
My 14 year old son goes camping alone. I have no problems leaving him alone over night. He is responsible and mature for his age and has never been an issue.
It depends on geography and your knowledge of your child, what they can handle what they can't.

Jenny - posted on 01/19/2011

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I'll bet a good chunk of parents of dog bite victims felt the same way. "Fluffy was a good dog, then one day she just took a chunk out of Johnny." Well the 99.9% of the time it went great so worth the risk right?



For me, not a chance. My dogs are 65 and 80 pounds, they could kill an adult let alone a child. It is highly irresponsible and completely indefensible to allow small children unsupervised interaction with dogs. Not every child will be bit but for the ones that are, 100% are preventable.

Sherri - posted on 01/25/2011

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If I didn't mow the lawn it wouldn't get done either. My husbands hours are so unpredictable and I can't expect him to do it after working 14hrs. I also have to do the shoveling well snowblowing because I have daycare kids so I have to have all walk ways, driveway cleared and the mailbox or we don't get the mail. If they are awake all the kids get bundled up and get plopped in the snow while I work but if they are sleeping I run out while they are napping.

Krista - posted on 01/20/2011

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I'm with the others. There's a BIG difference between going out in your yard, baby monitor in hand, to do some weeding or to check the mail. If something goes wrong with the baby, you'll hear him, and can be back in the house in about a minute.

If you actually get in the car and drive away, you're probably out of range of the monitor, which means you're out of earshot.

To me, that is when things are no longer acceptable. I can tell you now that if my sitter ever did that, I would fire her ass, and would probably report her as well. As well, like Mary said, what if you get in an accident on the way there or back, and wind up being much longer than 10 minutes? A neighbour watching the house (not the kids, but the house) won't do a hell of a lot of good if one of the babies starts to choke, or climbs out of the crib and starts toddling towards the stairs.

Yes, if you've got multiple kids, it can be hard to juggle. But if you, for some reason, have to go out of earshot of the kids, then why not just ask the neighbour to come over to your house and watch the kids themselves, instead of just watching the house? To me, that makes a heck of a lot more sense.

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Try - posted on 10/09/2012

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If you're driving off, then not for the first several years. If you're still at home stop worrying! It's not like the house can burn down without you noticing it.

OLUFUNMILOLA - posted on 01/27/2011

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I am a working mum & i started to leave my kids home alone (since about a year now) during d hols with strict instructions on what to do and what not to do. My husband and i make sure they do not lack anything and basically they watch Cartoons, play with the computer and read their books when alone till i come back from work daily except on weekends where i get to stay with them all through and go out together. This they also do when school is in section and they are been dropped home from school by their School bus. They have a cell phone which they use to call me or their Dad at all times which we also used to call them and check on them daily. I simply believe leaving your kids alone depend on the foundation been laid down in bringing them up but basically i would not leave a child(0-3yrs) all alone by themselves.

LaCi - posted on 01/27/2011

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"This summer, I wont be able to do that anymore, because I know he'll be old enough to push a chair over, unlock the door, get out, "

Heh. I actually installed locks on the tops of the doors because I was afraid he'd wake up in the middle of the night and escape, and I'd be the parent of that toddler who was found wandering along the highway you hear about occasionally on the news. Maybe I'm paranoid :)

A - posted on 01/27/2011

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There are so many variables its hard to "its wrong to EVER leave your kid alone".



I think if its against the law, obviously its wrong! In most states, children under the age of around 13, without an adult, are not allowed to be alone. In many states if you leave your 10 year old home alone while you run to the store, and the cops find out, your child could be taken away.



I think obeying the law is a good indicator if what is right and wrong. I think children under 12/13 (whatever your state law is) shouldn't be left alone at all- whether its in your home, in the car when you run errands, etc.



Now, lets say you have a baby. Baby falls asleep. You turn on the monitor and go in the backyard to relax- no problem, IMO. Or your leave the sleeping baby for 1 minute while you go outside and check the mail- no big deal. But I would never, for example, leave my baby or small child to go walk the dog (even just around the block). I've heard from a friend that in her neighborhood parents let their small children wander around the neighborhood in the summer ALL DAY long. I'm talking 7am until 7 pm. I don't understand how parents can do that.



Its different the older your child gets. If your 5 year old child wants to sit and watch a little TV while you go outside in the yard and water the plants.... thats one thing. But children are underestimated and can get into a bad situation quickly if proper precautions haven't taken place. I've fallen back asleep for a few minutes in the morning while my 18 month old son plays in the living room. But the house is child proofed and he can't go anywhere or do anything. This summer, I wont be able to do that anymore, because I know he'll be old enough to push a chair over, unlock the door, get out, climb out the doggie door over the baby gate, etc. There are just a lot of variables.



Parenting isn't an easy job. Does it suck you have to take your sleeping child into the store to go pay for your gas instead of leaving him there? Yes. But you do it because no one ever said parenting was easy. Or you could just be like me and never leave the house anyway to have to worry about it. hahaha! :)

Angel - posted on 01/26/2011

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Hello Ladies!

Ok, so here goes my two cents...

My son is 1 and although I have never gotten into my car and drove away with him in the house, I have left him alone in the house. He takes a 2-3 hour nap in his crib, and I may walk down the driveway to get the mail or on weekends me and my honey will be out in the yard. No I can't hear him but he is sleeping so I wouldn't hear him anyway. A few people have mentioned "what if they choke", ummm...if your kid or anyone is REALLY choking, you WILL NOT hear them. Do I check on my son every 15-20 minutes while he is napping? Nope. What for, he is sleeping? My house is baby proofed so he often wanders from room to room playing by himself. I don't follow him around but I do check to see what he is doing every few minutes(not sure how but he always finds leaves and likes to chew on them, gross). If I take a shower he is in his crib or in his play pen. He follows me to the bathroom. He is not allowed in the laundry room, so when I am doing laundry he is in a different room playing(yes I can hear him). We got a dog when my son was born so he could have a companion. Our dog is VERY large, so I think my son is too small to be left unattended at this time, but I don't see a problem with it when he is older. I am fine with 4 and 5 yr olds with dogs(as long as the kids know how to treat them).

I was allowed to roam the streets when I was a kid. I grew up in a very rough neighborhood, but we knew better. We didn't talk to strangers and had to be home when the street lights came on. Two men tried to abduct me and my younger sister on our way to school when I was in the 5th grade. We ran and yelled fire(we were taught not to scream 'HELP' because people are actually a lot less likely to call the police, weird but true) the two men sped off, we reported it to the school, the cops got called, and we went on about our day. I remember going outside to play by myself at age 5. I can't see doing any different with my son.

When does it become neglect? To me, leaving your kids in a hot ass car while you go shop, is neglect. I wouldn't even leave my dog in the car. I wouldn't say that Sherri is neglecting her kids. If I were friends with my neighbor and my son was a SLEEP, I would be ok with driving down the road like she does. So what if they wake up, ummm, they are in the crib. How can they hurt themselves? I guess everyone's definition of neglect varies greatly. I think I agree with Laci and Kati more.

Kimberly - posted on 01/25/2011

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I can't leave her alone for a few seconds and I have 3 dogs! I put her in the Exersaucer - in plain view- when I shower or cook. If I have to answer the door to collect a package and sign for it she goes in the Pack-n-Play. She is my human backpack any other time. She is quick as lightening!

Krissy - posted on 01/25/2011

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we really live in a different era. While I'm protective at times, I think I should have been born over a hundred years ago.



I don't see anything wrong with the dog, but I teach the kids to respect the dog, and they know that if he DOES have to warn them with a growl, mom is gonna really get them... and I'm following up with, "It's not fair to the dog... if he bites you, then he's the one that gets sent back to the pound." Let them know that they have to behave not just for their own safety, but also for the safety of their dog. If said child isn't old enough to understand this, then different standards, of course apply.



I feel safer leaving my older two home alone for a few moments with the dog here, but my kids have never made me worry about leaving them for a bit. They generally behave the same as if I were here. Now, they might sneak a piece of candy or something, but shoot... they're not gonna suddenly start building a bomb in their bedroom because I'm not around for fifteen minutes.



However, many of you come from a position of having younger children, and I do have different standards for my almost 3 year old. That's diff... she's only just learned to use the potty in the past six months... she's NOT much more than a baby herself and is probably MORE reckless now that she's a bit bigger and stronger. She actually needs MORE supervision now than when she was 10-15 months old... (not that I didn't then... just saying she's capable of getting in more trouble now than before)...



Bottom line... know your kids... know your expectations... also plan for the unplanned... like if you do run 5 minutes away..., what is the plan if you run over a nail and get a flat and don't have a spare tire... well that's pretty poor planning on your part.... I've changed a tire in 20 minutes before (and I'm a mom, not a dad if that matters, yes, I'm old fashioned)... So I know my back up plans...



Also, I at least have a cell phone with a few neighbors phone numbers. And I don't feel my 9 year old is babysitting age yet... I think they are supposed to be 11 in Missouri, but I could be wrong... I know I was 11 when I babysat for the first time. But she babysits when I'm doing yard work, or running a dish to a sick neighbor, or something... I don't have probs with that.

Bonnie - posted on 01/25/2011

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I just shovelled snow yesterday while my boys were in the house watching tv. I was outside for about 20 minutes. I checked on them every 5 minutes or so and a lot of the time they were watching me through the livingroom window. It was -25 degrees celius out there. I was not going to take them out in that if I didn't really have to.

Rowan - posted on 01/25/2011

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No young child should be left alone for long enough to do themselves any harm. I leave my son watching TV for a couple of minutes but any longer than that and I take him with me, or put him in his cot if I am having a shower.

[deleted account]

Under the age of 9, leaving the house and leaving the kids a lone is not at all. In Ontario children are allowed to be left alone for a couple of hours at the age of 10. At the age of 12 they are allowed to baby sit other peoples children for a couple of hours.
Children ages 4-9 can definitely be allowed to play in another part of the house on their own for short periods of time with the parent checking in from time to time. Children 2-4 years of age (depending on personalities) can cope for very very short periods of time on their own while say you get dinner in the oven or toss a load of laundry in.
Children under two shouldn't be left on their own. Going to the bathroom well, the kids can hang out in the bathroom or even in the hallway with the door open with you.

Children shouldn't be left in a car on their own unless they are over the age of 10 and then why didn't you leave them at home?
Pre teens (10 and older), depending on the maturity of the child can cope with the privilege of being left alone for a couple of hours. Here in Ontario there is a program that is starting spread across the Parks and Rec programming of many cities called Safe at Home Alone that helps teach children what to do about possible problems that might come up while staying at home without Mom or Dad for a couple of hours. If they fail the course then they aren't ready and the child has to explain to their parents why they aren't ready.

It scares me that I know of parents in the neighborhood I live in who have no qualms about leaving their 3 children by themselves while they go grocery shopping and the children are ages 9, 4 and 2.

It becomes neglect when the child is left in a situation that has the potential of going horribly wrong.
Would a 9 year old know what to do if his 2 year old brother started choking?
A two year old wouldn't know to leave the house in the event of a fire.
A 4 year old might try to do something "helpful" like start dinner and seriously burn his/herself on the stove.

[deleted account]

Infancy - Never ok to leave your infant home alone. I would never leave my child home alone under the age of 12, but then it also depends on how mature your child is. I think 12 is a good age to leave them home for a few hours, and as long as they have a way to get a hold of you. Never over night!

[deleted account]

It is never OK to leave the house when you have a young child at home alone. My parents never left me alone until i was in my teens and it was never more than an hour at the most (until I was in high school).
For the longest time the farthest I would go without one of my kids was either down stairs to do the laundry, or upstairs to put the laundry away. About 3yrs ago I had a kidney stone and was in the ER all night. All three kids came with us when my husband dropped me off. But when it came to picking me up he only brought our infant daughter while our boys (who are quite a bit older) were still sleeping. Then again about week later he left the boys home sleeping while he dropped me off at the hospital to get that kidney stone taken out. He wasn't gone for long, but I hated the fact that they were home alone.
I am a paranoid person by nature and to me this world is just to unsafe to leave any child home alone for any length of time until they are truly able to take care of, and defend themselves if needed.

Melanie - posted on 01/23/2011

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i left my 10yr old Son home with his 8mth old Sister while i drove to pick up my 5yr old Daughter from her friends
My son was playing the computer with the phone next to him & the baby was asleep..i was gone 10min (maximum) & he was under strict instructions not to answer the door (certain family have a key anyway) & if anyone rang to say i was in the loo (lol) & to phone me if bub woke, which she didnt (before getting her up, which he is capable of doing & has done to help if im busy..washing/cooking etc)
i wouldnt do it on a regular basis (i was freaking the whole time) but i do leave all 3 kids in the car while i run into a shop, only if i can park right outside the door & my son locks the car while im gone, even tho they can see me

Stifler's - posted on 01/22/2011

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I just leave the yard work stuff to him. I'm supposed to wash my new car, but I have only ever taken it through the car wash which apparently wrecks the paint etc. so from now on he can get the Gerni out and do it himself. I just don't feel like i can trust my 1 year old kid inside to his own devices while I fart arse around washing the car and mowing. Maybe when he gets older.

Tara - posted on 01/22/2011

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I like to mow and I like to shovel. I don't do much of either though, that 6 foot 1 inch 14 year old son of mine has to have something to do. But I do it on occasion. My thing is the garden. I am the digger. I prefer to do all my digging by hand, myself.

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i mowed the lawn, tended to the garden, planted trees and whatnot..I loved it, good way to make extra money, people pay 20$ for an hours work!

Bonnie - posted on 01/22/2011

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I don't mind mowing the lawn, just don't enjoy it as much when it is scalding hot out.

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I wish my dad had made me, Jenn, but I have two brothers who were always expected to do it. It was until I was an adult that someone thought it was strange that I hadn't ever done it.

Laura, I LOVE shoveling snow! :) Wish we'd get some that I can shovel!

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Yea when i was like 11 or 12 my dad taught me how to mow the lawn he said Mija u cant depend on a man to always be there to do the dirty work so u gotta learn how to fend for yourself. we dont have a lawn but if we did and if i absolutely i had to then i guess i would i mean its not something i would look forward to doing :/

Jenn - posted on 01/22/2011

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My Dad used to make me cut the grass when I was a teen, so to me it's no big deal - it's just another household chore that needs to be done - like dishes or laundry.

Jodi - posted on 01/21/2011

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I've never mowed a lawn :D
Even when I was on my own, I paid someone to come and mow my lawns, LOL.

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I like mowing the lawn i find it theraputic in a wierd way. I don't do it often because my hubby likes to do it to.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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My dad said to me when we moved in together... 'your mother hasn't mowed the lawn in 27 years of us being married' so from then on I never mowed the lawn.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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My husband has weekends off lol he likes to kid himself that he doesn't have time but I know different. HAHAA.

Jenn - posted on 01/21/2011

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Well, I guess vacuuming is something that can be done with the kids there LOL. But if I didn't cut the grass it wouldn't get done - Brian works longer hours in the summer and just doesn't have time to do it.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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My kid FOLLOWS me when I vacuum. He is annoying. He sits on the vacuum! I make my husband mow LOL the grass could be knee high and I wouldn't mow it. It's his job.

Jenn - posted on 01/21/2011

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How is going out to mow the lawn any different than vacuuming? Either way you can't hear the kids. When my girls nap (2 year old twins) I like to get things done, other wise they'll never get done! Mow the lawn, shovel snow, vacuum, weed gardens - whatever needs to be done that can't be done with little ones in tow. How else do these things get done? Should I cut my grass in the dark? Should I just not shovel snow?

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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I have one kid and only hate leaving him with people because I fear for THEIR mental health. HAHAHA.

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I consider my youngest two to young. They are 3 & 4 yrs old. My older 2 can handle it just fine together for an hour but I never leave them for more than 10 minutes. (my own worrisome attitude.) I haul all the kids into where ever I go but I will admit that I have left all 4 in the car with the doors locked, my cell phone, and our guard dog in the van. Our dog is extremely well trained and can attack on command though only myself, DH, & the 14 yr old know the command & the dog has been trained to never attack any of us. :) (go police training school!) Anyway, my kids are alone a lot when we are home. They can go to their rooms whenever they want, the media room, bathroom, etc. We don't require that we know where they are at all times but I do know. I have ears like a bat and can pin point each person depending on the sounds in the house. We have alarms on the windows and doors so that anytime they are opened or disengaged it will sound a certain tune. I am aware that I am protective of my children. Some would say over protective and others would say not protective enough. However, we are both aware of the dangers in life and we feel that our kids are going to need to know the dangers and be aware of how to handle situations. IF you don't give them those tools and let them try on their own now in smaller ways they won't have the confidence or know how when they are adults.

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I posted to the thread that the lady who made this post is talking bout. I said the following but will go into further detail since that is the point of this post which i think is a very good one since of what the other mothers had posted on the page were pretty extreme at least to me anyways. So one time ( and yes only once) my daughter who was five months was asleep on the living room floor i was trying to clean up in the kitchen and the bag of trash was really smelly and leaking my fiance would not arrive back home till many hours later so my gut instinct was to throw it away in the big trash can. i live in an apartment so the community trash cans are outside ( of course haha) but is close to my building right across the parking lot. so what i did was check on her take my keys lock the door cuz i didnt want there to be a chance that someone would take her even tho it would be super quick but i still wanted to be as safe as possible in that situation then i ran with the bag of trash and threw it then ran back. it took me less than five minutes and that is the only time i have left her unattended. i wouldnt do it on a regular basis i wouldnt do it if it took any long than that and i definitely wouldnt drive anywhere. idk but thats the only time have ever left her unattended.

Isobel - posted on 01/21/2011

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It's funny you should say that Jodi, cause any time people start talking about being nervous leaving their kids with a baby sitter...I get nervous too...just not for the kids, I worry what might happen to the sitter ;P

Jodi - posted on 01/21/2011

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I don't even let my 13 year old babysit his 5 year old sister for 5 minutes. My concern is that they will kill each other. Their personalities are so different they are like oil and water those two.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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I was probably roaming the neighbourhood maybe by 8 or so. But not 5 that's a bit young.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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There is a pack of like 5 or 6 year olds who roam around town here. Most people are thinking the same thing... WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS! There are road trains driving down the street here they won't see a 5 year old. I saw one kid cross the Capricorn HIghway on a scooter once.

Fiona - posted on 01/21/2011

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And to carry on from LaCi - Life is risk and we have to live it AND to teach our children to LIVE it, not be frightened of it...and if that means it is OK to go outside into their own garden on their own...then so be it.

LaCi - posted on 01/21/2011

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Going by the possibility of a child being abducted you'd never be able to let them out of your sight. adults get kidnapped. People of all ages can be sexually abused, killed, etc. Children need to be aware of danger, but we can't keep them under lock and key. More than likely the majority of adult women couldn't defend themselves effectively against a rapist, but they still leave their houses unattended. Fear can't dominate life. Something terrible could happen to any one of us when we leave the house tomorrow, but we will still go. Life is risk.

Amber - posted on 01/21/2011

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i wouldn't let a 12 year old baby sit my son. but see, that's just me. i have one child who is four and one on the way Kati. to me, i don't think it has as much to do with what my kids are capable of as to what other people are capable of. i don't live in a frightening area by any means Krista, but i have seen way too many areas that weren't frightening turn frightening when a child is abducted. i just don't trust the world we live in, i'm less concerned about the fact that my son is 'old enough' to go out by himself as opposed to can he actually defend himself against a sexual predator or any other sicko? because i can tell you right now if that kind of person is around, and they can and do pop up in EVERY kind of neighborhood even the peachy-keen ones, there's not much a 12 year old can do once they are taken by suprise and overpowered and even less a 6 year old can do. all it takes is a second, and that is one second i am not willing to part with, not on my kids lives. there is a lot that can and will happen to my kids in their lives that is practically unavoidable, but i don't see that as one of them. if i can prevent it by being a little overbearing, i'm damn well going to do it because if i don't protect them, and they can't fully protect themselves, who's going to? my neighbors? not their job, and therfore i don't trust them to do it to the fullest extent that it needs to be done. i'm not content with just being able to hear my kids playing outside, because anything can happen and i for one do not want to be a grieving mother.

Rosie - posted on 01/21/2011

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amber can i ask how old your children are? i know when i had young children i couldn't fathom leaving a 6 year old to roam in the neighborhood, even with how i was brought up. time goes on, and my sons have proven to me what they can and cannot do.

Krista - posted on 01/21/2011

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Exactly, to each their own. You think it's unsafe, and I think that it's BEYOND reasonable to allow an 11-year old kid to go out and ride bikes with his or her friends unattended. Cripes, a lot of kids are babysitting at age 12. So if most kids are allowed to babysit at 12, and you wouldn't even let yours walk to a friend's house by himself...well, I'm guessing you must live in a fairly frightening area.

Amber - posted on 01/21/2011

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i guess i'm just a 'better safe than sorry' kind of person *shrugs* to each their own, is what it comes down to i suppose. i still think it's unsafe to leave your kids alone under the age of 10 at LEAST.

Rosie - posted on 01/21/2011

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i was too laci. we went ALL over town after i'd say age 8. before that we were allowed to go around the trailer court i grew up in, and on the gravel roads behind it down to the first and second bridges on the road which were like a mile away.
i'm not that leniant with my kids, because we don't live in an area like that (trailer courts don't have fast traffic to worry about) nor do i trust my oldest with more than what he can handle. he is very socially inept, and it takes him alot longer to logically "get" things than my other children. my 6 year old i trust around the neighborhood, just not to much with traffic yet. we;ll see as the summer prevails how much leeway he'll get.
my 3 year old as of last summer hasn't shown me he can be trusted in the yard by himself so he doesn't get that yet. he will open the gates and go in the back alley. he hasn't tried to go out the front and get in the road, but i wouldn't put it past him. i will still continually "test" him and when i feel he's ready he'll be in the yard and in a small part of our street by himself.

LaCi - posted on 01/21/2011

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at 12 and 13 I was pretty much completely doing my own thing. I could walk over a mile from home to my friends houses in the next section of town, and I was allowed to hang out at the malls and movie theaters across town, all day with no adult companionship, though my mom dropped us off and picked us up, because screw walking that far.



What you might call irresponsible, I call fostering independence, and allowing such independence is my idea of being a mother. I can't imagine having been 8 years old and not allowed to leave my yard. My neighborhood was filled with kids, we roamed in packs, and I wouldn't have it any other way.



We all had the same rules. Don't cross the flood wall, which bordered the southern and eastern half of the neighborhood, don't cross the edge of the park-which was a similar hill running along the northern and western portion of my neighborhood. Be home before the street lights come on, if you aren't you'd better call to check in. all neighborhoods are very clearly set apart from one another here, so boundaries are easy.



Also a fairly small town here. :) My current neighborhood is ideal for school aged children. Two elementary schools, two middle schools, and a high school, right here, playgrounds galore. More kids than were in my neighborhood, in a peaceful quiet town, good neighbors, great for kids. Things haven't changed, I still see packs of grade schoolers on bikes going between playgrounds. I don't believe children need constant supervision, I don't believe in surveilling my son. I guess you could consider me fairly free range, as are most people around me.





*edit: Maturity of the kid and trust of your neighborhood obviously factor in. We were good kids, never got into trouble. Our neighborhood was safe. We were all responsible enough to not jump in strangers cars, and so on.

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