Free Range Parenting

Katherine - posted on 06/22/2011 ( 98 moms have responded )

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Are you a free range parent? Then why don't others let you be? This is inspired by cafemom. They can't go to the bathroom by themselves, be unattended at the store (ok, ok), Schools let you drop off your kid alone (free range).

She talks about going to Denny's where she let's her daughter go to the bathroom by herself. The waitress follows her in there to keep a close eye on her.

So what do you think? Is it near impossible to be free range?

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Jodi - posted on 06/25/2011

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"First, as parents and caregivers to our children we need to be vigilant when real risks exist, but ease up when our fear gets the better of us. Well-founded worry conveys to children they are loved; senseless, ungrounded worry debilitates children in many ways far worse than the few bumps and bruises they may experience without us.



Second, when children do act out and put themselves at risk, we need to force ourselves to listen to them closely so they can tell us why they have chosen to take more risk and assume more responsibility than we think they can handle.



And third, we need to provide children with safe substitutes for their risk-taking and responsibility seeking behaviours that can provide just as much excitement as they find when they put themselves in harm's way. These substitutes must help kids feel like adults in ways that are meaningful to them."



"The problem is that children are at a loss to find ways to be powerful people. The media has convinced us that the world "out there" is dangerous. We believe we are being quite sensible to pull back and shelter our kids, and we answer each of their requests for more adventure and responsibility with "No" or "Wait until you are older". But with or without us, our children won't wait and they won't accept "No" for an answer."



"Children who push to find their limits (and scare us as adults in the process) may also be those who are the ones most ready for life".



"Too much risk and we endanger the child. Too little risk and we fail to provide a child with healthy opportunities for growth and psychological development."



The above are excerpts from the book "Too Safe For their Own Good" by Michael Ungar.



An EXCELLENT read and lesson in finding the right balance on this issue.

Jodi - posted on 06/22/2011

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See, I think not allowing your children to use a public bathroom alone until they are 11 is being too cautious. Yes, I know that is only my opinion, but I do think it is actually detrimental to be THAT protective of your children. I still can't understand needing that much control over your children's lives. I truly wish you the best, but it HAS been my experience that children whose parents are so overprotective like this tend not to be as capable of making good choices later in life when they are no longer under their parents' control.

Jenny - posted on 06/22/2011

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I agree Jodi. People who wish to cause harm are still a tiny minority. If anything our kids are more safe because the public is more aware.

I'm not going to teach my kids to be afraid. I'm teaching them how to deal with anything life throws at them and how to take care of themselves.

Jenny - posted on 06/22/2011

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Sherri, nothing as in you live rurally or nothing as in it's only homes? Are there any parks? Do kids just keep to their own homes or are there not many where you are? Do they have bikes?

Sorry to pester you but I don't meet many women as protective as you and I don't really understand it.

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Medic - posted on 09/24/2011

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At the age of 11 I started flying by myself from Texas to California with stops in Denver and LA. No issue there. I will probably let my kids do it to when they are ready. I made that flight every summer for 8 years by myself.

Merry - posted on 09/24/2011

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Me too Sherri, idk if I'd let my 18 yr old do that haha

Sherri, could you explain the reason you're so concerned about public toilets? Is it strangers? Germs?

[deleted account]

Nobody is as free range as my own mother!

When I was 10 she thought it would be a good experience for me to travel to France by myself (from Australia) and go and live with a family and go to the local school to improve my French!! So off I went - it was a 36 hour trip with 3 different planes, and stopovers in Sydney and Singapore. At 10!! I still can't believe she did it, and that I wanted to do it too. I remember sitting on a stool in the Singapore Airlines office at Singapore airport for 5 hours between flights.

Anyway, although it was probably too early for me to do something like that alone, I was perfectly capable of doing it. I think maybe people nowadays underestimate their kids' capabilities.

I think this terror of sending kids to a public toilet is really overblown - if you are nearby, it's hghly unlikely that anything would happen. Nearly all abuse happens at the hands of family and "friends" - not strangers.

Brittany - posted on 09/23/2011

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I suppose I free range a little bit. I live in an apartment complex and have been here for 3 years now. I was one of the first to move in. I know everyone who moves. I do let my two youngest (3, and 4) play outside when I have the shade pulled all the way up so I can see them, if I do not want to go outside. They know to stay in front of the window and they know they will have to come inside if they don't.

If we are out and they have to potty I may go into the bathroom but, sometimes I stay outside the door.

My oldest is 5 so he has a little bit more range than the other two. I want them to be comfortable doing things and be independent. I do not throw them to the wolves or anything but, I do allow them to do things on their own.

JUST REMEMBER!! Mama bear is NEVER far behind her cubs.

P.S. I also live in the way back of my complex over, four speed bumps and at a dead end with a perfect view of incoming traffic. If I see a car I have not seen before I will get up and go outside. For someone to snatch one of my kids, they would have to pull into my dead end, do a three point turn, get out, take one, then go over 4 speed bumps. By the time they turn I am outside.

Denikka - posted on 09/23/2011

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I'm one to take reasonable caution where there's reason to be. If I lived in a high crime area, I wouldn't let my kid run around the neighborhood.
My son is currently 2.5yrs old. If we had a back door that opened onto a fully fenced back yard, I can just about guarantee that the only time that door would be closed would be if we weren't home or he was asleep :P And I would not be out there most of the time.
We have a fenced in playground with locking gates about 5 minutes away from our current place. I let him go and play around there without thinking about it too much. I sit on the grass nearby and play with my 8mo old. I do prefer to keep him in sight, but I don't panic if he ducks behind some play equipment for a minute. If he's gone for more than a couple minutes, I go check on him. Mostly because I know if he's out of sight and quiet, he's probably doing something he shouldn't XD
When he gets older and if fully potty trained, I won't go into the stall with him at a public bathroom. I'll go into the actual bathroom, but I'll stay outside the stall itself (he'll probably be about 4 or 5 at this point. Depending on the place, he'll probably be able to go down to the bathroom by himself by about 6 or 7. Even if it's an area I'm unwilling to let him be completely on his own, I can just stand outside the actual bathroom.
I think it depends on the kid and their maturity level. Obviously if a kid is easily distracted on the 30ft journey to the public bathroom, they need some supervision.
My general motto is that if the kid is capable of doing it and there's no reasonable reason NOT to do it, then let them do it.
I kinda find it funny that so many moms/parents out there are so freaked out about the chance that someone out there is gonna snatch their kid and do terrible things to them. But the numbers say that children are much more likely to be abducted, abused and/or molested by someone who is involved in their lives (family, family friend's, sport coaches, etc).
So....in general, your kid is actually safer with a stranger than with friends or family. Just food for thought.

Johnny - posted on 06/25/2011

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I was just talking about this with my dad today. We both are of a bit of the "free range" philosophy, but more to do with allowing them to learn their own lessons and how to get over failures than simply running free around the neighborhood randomly. I was saying that it frustrates me to no end when my daughter crashes and burns at the playground or indoor play place, I wait to see if she'll get back up and keep going but some other mom panics and runs over to save her. If she is injured or upset, I'll be there if need be, but I do not think I'm doing her any favors by swooping down every time she gets a minor owie and doting over her. It doesn't seem to bother her in the least. My dad has stopped other women from doing the same when he's looking after my daughter. He suggested I just ask them not to. So I tried it at the indoor play zone at the mall the other day. The mom gave me this evil glare and said in an accusatory tone, "she could be hurt". Yes, it is possible. And if she cries or indicates she needs me, I will be there to help her, but if you'd notice, she got right back up and started climbing the ladder again. I've got to say, I now look for empty playgrounds or ones where there are just dads with their kids. Moms, leave my kid alone! She's fine!

[deleted account]

I LOVE that, Jodi--I'm printing it out :)

I am well aware that I have an irrational fear of predators. While being aware of it does not help me squelch my fears, it does allow me to make provisions for them.

I sit on the bench at the park, and I've done so since before he was one year old. He climbs, he falls, he gets back up. I won't read a book, I watch closely, but he goes where he pleases. I do not think my inability to stop watching him and read a book will hurt him developmentally.

I allow him to ride in our neighborhood, but I know damn well I would not be able to do that were our home not in a gated development. I know I SHOULD be able to let him do that in any safe neighborhood, but I can't. I truly believe that in that case, my irrational fear would have been detrimental to his development, so I made sure we purchased a home in a gated development where *I* could feel he was safe enough to ride without an adult. He is 6 1/2, he has a curfew, and is only allowed to ride in groups of two or more (we've solved the stupid speed demon teen driver issues), and thus he is learning that independence.

I am just starting to let him go to public bathrooms alone, and at this point, he is only allowed to go to single use restrooms alone--the ones without multiple stalls, and I stand just outside the door. He will probably be at least 9 before I allow him into multiple stall bathrooms alone, except for locker rooms, but those I feel better about because adults are prohibited all together so I can be sure adult predators are not lurking.

It is about balance. You have to analyse your own fears, decide whether they are rational or not, then make your choices based on your child's readiness, not your own fears. If you know your fear will prevent you from doing what is best for your child, you have to find a way around it.

Jodi - posted on 06/25/2011

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It has been one of the best parenting books I have ever read with respect to focusing on raising my kids to be functioning adults :P I actually just had a look through it this afternoon and thought it is probably time for me to read it again.

Rosie - posted on 06/25/2011

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we're moms who have to teach them how to function in the world on their own. never letting them out of your sight isn't going to accomplish that. we're not supposed to do everything for them, we're supposed to let them go and learn. :)

Laura - posted on 06/25/2011

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I could never be a " free-range" parent as you say...I think that there are too many perverts out there just waiting to snatch up your child and rape them or sell them or even worse...I could never let my daughter and I know she is only 2.5 right now I could never let her out of my sight...I don't care if she is 5 or 10 I would never let her go to the park alone, or ride her bike to the store even if it was across the street...I' am a very over protective parent who always fears the worst....I can't imagine something horrible happening to her I would die. So no I am not a free range parent and I am proud to be a over bearing over protective parent because thats what in my opinion were suppose to me...were not suppose to let them do whatever they want were not there friend were there moms and dads.

[deleted account]

Laura, I do that almost every morning. My 4 yr old puts cartoons on for her and her brother who is 3. Once the 1 yr old wakes i do get up though and my bedroom is right off the lounge room so i hear everything.

Tara - posted on 06/25/2011

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Well, when we go grocery shopping my two older girls who are 11 and 8 will take a list and a cart of their own and go do some of the shopping!
So they are free range in public quite a bit. I don't hover, I don't keep them in sight at all times. They are confident, they have self defense training and know how to handle most situations. And being in a pair is a HUGE preventive measure. It is not often two children are abducted etc. at the same time.

[deleted account]

I don't know if it's considered free range, but I bet 99% of us do what you did, Laura. ESPECIALLY when there's a newborn in the house. =)

Merry - posted on 06/25/2011

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Is it free range to fall asleep when your kids awake :D. I just had a mom call me 'unfit' cuz I'd put the tv on early in the morning and fall back asleep......

Katherine - posted on 06/24/2011

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Good question, what age is appropriate for "free range?" Well some moms start from birth. Is it appropriate? Maybe not. I do know some moms who allow their 19mo's to wander freely. I know moms who allow their 26 mo's alone while they take a shower. It's all up to you and how you know your child. There really is no set age limit.

Sara - posted on 06/24/2011

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I live in a tiny town. I thought I'd be able to "free range" my children. And then Lindsay Baum happened. She lives a mile from my house. Now I'm paranoid again. My kids are really too little to be going anywhere alone. But after she went missing I upped the age where I would even consider it even more!

[deleted account]

At what age do you consider "free range" mine are six and four and they arent allowed outside without an adult, I goto the bathroom with them, and at the park I keep in eyesight. I dont hoover and keep them on leashes, but I believe they should be in eyesight. I let them pickout their own clothes and make decisions while reminding them of other choices or consequences. ive always been safe than sorry, theres always that *if* factor. Trust your instincts.

Sal - posted on 06/24/2011

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there is a lot of faulse security in the phone, as the incident shows it went flat, no good to anyone, no point sending the kids out saying call if there is a problem, and not teaching them how to look after themselves as well....and as for knowing the neighbours, much safer to run into a freinds house to escape ot get help rather than stand outside calling and getting attacked

Sal - posted on 06/24/2011

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what i ment was that it was sad the other boys was so scared....and really what good is a phone,, if someone takes your kid and throws the phne out the window it is bugger all good to anyone, and as i also said it took me weeks and weeks to teach him how to do it, which i think was the point, teach them how to be independent, not molly coddle them, the just let them lose

[deleted account]

Just because your child may not be ready at 7 or wasn't ready at 7 doesn't mean Sal's son wasn't.
Only i know what my children are capable of and just because you may not think my child is ready doesn't mean they aren't.

Merry - posted on 06/24/2011

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No way in hell would I let my 7 yr old walk 15 minutes away without a phone! Even if he knew some neighbors.....idk I'm with Sherri here.

Sal - posted on 06/24/2011

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what i don;t think many people understand is that to give your child freedom (be free range if you like) isn;t the easy option, you don;t just drop them at the park and go home the first time your kids want to go alone, you make it a gradual learning process, start with small things and work your way to the next level in their deveolpment, i have long been of the opinion that it is much harder to have your child free range on the mum personally than it is to be a helicopter parent, sure it does look the other way but teaching your child how to look after themselves and be happy and confident in thier independence is the MOST important thing you can teach your children, i now fully think this is the right action to take and will do it with my next 2 as well, and an incident with my son and a mate made me certain of this, my son liked to walk to the corner shop, it was maybe a 15 min each way walk, get some hot chips or lollies about a 45 min trip, for weeks i walked the rout with him, showed him the best way, least traffic ect, usually went at about the same time (this was also the hour that people could use the hose to water) so we got to know quiet a few people along the trip, and then i let him go alone, he was over the moon and felt so important getting milk for me....(he was mybe 7) his friend wanted to go too one day, this kid had never been allowed to do anything by him self, his mum would drive him the 500 mt to our house, and we could pretty much see each others house) i rang her and she said yep he could go but she wanted to drop off her mobile incase they needed it.....so she came down we had a coffee and the kids went off, about 20 mins later the phone rang and dropped out, didn't think much off it, then again and again about 7 times in all, so we started to worry, and drove to the store to check.......well there was no prblem, the mobile had gone flat and the kid was too scared to walk home without it working..........yes my son done the walk all the time no prob, her kid was unable to make the trip with out his security blanket as he was never taught how to, it was really sad....

Merry - posted on 06/24/2011

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Dyan, I do think that a kid is at more danger then an adult, first of all a predator might not try something with an adult, but might try with a kid. Also a kid is unlikely to be able to avoid suspicious characters while an adult could have better judgement as to who totalk to or not to talk to. A kid could unknowingly make friends with some creep at a park, and an adult would know that it's a creep!

Idk, kids are more trusting and less cautious sometimes about strangers, not all, but some are just too sociable and easy prey for a perv.

If the predator is going to kidnap and rape someone specific then it doesn't make much difference adult or kid because they are determined to get you and there's not much fighting you can do even as an adult, but who they pick could be different. I think they would be more likely to go for some 8 year old kid alone at a park then a full grown woman....

Becky - posted on 06/24/2011

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I agree, I don't think a 6 year old is any less safe in a public restroom than an adult is. Once my boys are capable of getting on the toilet, wiping themselves well, and reaching the sink to wash their hands without a stool, I'll let them go to the bathroom on their own. With a girl, like someone else said, I'd probably go in with her, just because I had to go too! Not into the same stall though. I think in busy public place like a mall or restaurant, the chances of getting raped or kidnapped are pretty low. Especially since there's only 1 way out of the bathroom and it's not like I'm going to be going across the mall while they're peeing! At a deserted rest stop in the middle of the night, yeah, I probably wouldn't send them in alone. But I wouldn't be comfortable going in alone either!

Rosie - posted on 06/24/2011

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i'm kinda free range for their ages and maturity levels. grant is 11, is allowed to ride around the neighborhood on his bike by himself. he's not all that mature so i don't let him go anywhere else without asking me first, and then he has to go with his friends.
my 6 year old can go around the block except for on one side (it's a busier street) and he plays outside without me watching him.
my 4 year old i let play in our fenced in yard. he has progressively gotten better at staying in the yard instead of wandering out to the alley out back, or the street in front. he is still not allowed to be anywhere else without me watching.
all of my children use the public restroom by themselves. the only time my 4 year old doesn't is when he can't reach the toilet, sometimes they are just to tall for my little man. he has just recently started using the bathroom himself. he feels he is a big boy and gets upset if he has to use the girls.
i really dont' understand all the hysteria about public restrooms or kidnappers lurking at every corner. things are the same as they've always been, there hasn't been any rise in the rates of these things throughout the years. i also don't get why at a certain age they magically become able to fight off a kidnapper or something. i mean if that were the case full grown women wouldn't be raped and kidnapped. should we all just stay inside too?

Merry - posted on 06/24/2011

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Not too free range here.....well I have gotten nasty looks and rude comments from people in stores who think Eric is lost because I'm not hovering.....I always keep an eye or an ear on him, but not always both ;) and I don't make him sit in the cart or hold my hand unless he's being naughty or I'm in a hurry.

People will stop him and ask where's your mommy? And I'm always close enough to say nice and dryly I'm right here! Lol they mean well I think but then give me such a rude condescending look like you poor teen mom you can't keep your kid with you :( btw, I'm 22 but don't look it :)

Then again, at the park i hover, Eric is 2 and he thinks he can do more then he can, and he's quite clumsy as he grows so fast so idont trust him to stay safe on big park equipment. My friends say just let him fall and he will learn, I say yes he will fall and learn by accident sometimes, but I won't purposefully allow him to get hurt.

So, middle ground there.

Outside, no he can't be alone, not even close he doesn't respect the roads and won't reliably stop when I say stop.

But inside our house he's quite free range, he goes into other rooms as he pleases and I don't freak, if I haven't seen or heard him in a while I can safely say he's pooping cuz he rarely goes off on his own for too long without checking in on his own.

I think I'll end up on the protective side as he gets older because I don't think I'll ease up much on his care, I doubt I'll let him go outside and play unsupervised until about age 10, I don't think I'd let him go to a park or cross streets alone til about 10 either.

Idk, hard to say for sure at this point but I don't think I'll qualify for free range parenting :)

Kacie - posted on 06/24/2011

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Free range!? what are they, chickens!? (Sorry, ive only heard "free range" used in describing chickens! LOL)

well, to the OP, im very free range! Since the day my son was born, he was a VERY INDEPENDENT baby, and is still a VERY INDEPENDENT child!! (i got lucky! LOL)

Isobel - posted on 06/24/2011

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No...free range would require letting them leave your sight ;)

And I would like to know exactly what you think your 12 year old could do about a psycho rapist killer in the bathroom. or what you would do for that matter. Perhaps we should all go in pairs.

Jessica - posted on 06/24/2011

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I think it depends on the children. My parenting is a bit different for each of the 4 they are all very different. The parent knows them best I guess. Sometimes I look at some parenting choices and think man if that kid makes it out alive then I guess they were meant to be LOL

[deleted account]

Oh crap.... I didn't realise watching them make their own mistakes (if minimal) from the background was a helicopter parent. I thought helicopter or hover parents were the ones who didn't leave their kids side and free range were the ones who stood back and watched?

[deleted account]

@Sal thats my point.Giving freedom but being in the Background were the child is not aware.I feel its not hard to do this.Your child is safe and still is allowed to explore freely.Safely.:-)So i am happy and my child is happy in turn safe.:-)



When i hear parents say, i am not going to be a hover mom etc and its there kids who wonder off on a daily basis..i think its being a bit irresponsible.It doesn't take much to keep an eye on your kid.

Stifler's - posted on 06/23/2011

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Most of my friends are pretty free range. People in this street let their kids all walk to school and back and play in the street unsupervised all the time. I supervise Logan because he's 1.5 and he tends to get into things while I'm feeding his sister but honestly once he's a bit older I won't be watching his every move.

Sal - posted on 06/23/2011

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i once over heard my son say "my mum lets me do anything she doens;t watch all the time like your mum" (the other kids mum was a helicopter parent to the extreme) my son was wrong of course, i watched him all the time, i just didn;t hover around screaming at any possible danger, when he wanted to do something by himself i taught him how to do it, watched him from a distance, i knew exactly what he was doing and he thought he had all the freedom in the world....i let him fall off his bike doing something that maybe i should of stpped, i let him look in the toy dept while i was in a department store while i was looking at dresses, i let him walk to the corner store with his mates, but i always knew where he was and what he was doing, i think people should respect the parents wishes, yes keep an eye on children not directly accompanied by an adult but back off a little, the realitly is that the child is being suervised by thier parent, just not hovered over by the mum

Kimberly - posted on 06/23/2011

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oh my god yes. my friend is always on my case about not watching my kid well enough i need to be able to see him at all times it is so irritating. that i keep telling her my son is just fine, and she keeps telling me i dont watch him close enough. and if its not her its strangers watching him when i am right there.

[deleted account]

For me personally.My two will not be going to the toilet in public on there own.Well my first born as shes six.They stay near me.I watch them when out playing.I give them there SPACE but i am in the background.I think thats responsible parenting.



We were asked to drop our kids off and leave them at school.I said i would if a teacher is out monitoring the yard before school starts.

They have to do that in school hours, so it makes sense they do it before school.I don't care that others think i am to protective.Maybe its because no one was protective of me.I find a healthy balance were i am not to overprotective.Many of the parents had a problem with leaving there kids alone before school.So i felt its not just something i felt due to my past.



I am protective.I feel sometimes more parents need to more protective of there kids.

We can teach them independence etc without leaving them unattended were anything can happen to them.That's not responsible parenting in my opinion.



There will come a time an age were they can be thought everything the need to be left to do things with out us.Until then we are there to protect him.

Teresa - posted on 06/23/2011

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My sons are 4 and 11. The 11 year old has a lot more freedom obviously than the 4 year old whom I still take to the bathroom in public places. I don't hover, they play in our yard alone and at the park I sit on the bench. I want them to be independent while keeping them safe so I teach them about stranger danger without scaring them to death.

Kellie - posted on 06/22/2011

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I think caution is warranted especially when there are stories like these:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/f...

Do I think there's a Child Molester/Rapist/Killer around every corner? No. But will I be more cautious then some? I really can't say at this time, my daughter is only 7 months old.

I do know she won't be running wild, however I won't be wrapping her up in a bubble either. Our society really needs to calm down Label wise, seriously why do we need to label/box everything?

Medic - posted on 06/22/2011

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I think I am a mix. A lot of my friends make fun of me because we are very strict on things that most parents arnt and we are very laid back where most parents arnt. My 4.5 year old can go to the bathroom by himself in public....I will wait outside the door but he is fine. We will be homeschooling after a disasterous school year but that will be scheduled only because that is what my son needs. We have set up the kitchen so that he can get his own drinks and snacks (poured milk and juice and water into slightly smaller containers so he can pour them). We do ask a lot of him with helping with his sister and we give him a lot of room to prove he can be responsible. We don't really hover over him but we do expect certain behaviors and attitudes and he has learned that if he acts right he gets a lot of room to run.

Christina - posted on 06/22/2011

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I'm such a rebel I let all five of them play outside without me!!! We don't have a backyard but there is a decent "front yard" away from the parking lot right outside my front door and all five of them have fun for hours. If it gets quiet, I poke my head outside or look outside the curtains.

ME - posted on 06/22/2011

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Mine are 3 and 15 months...so...I don't really know yet, but my guess is that I will NOT be a free-range parent. Working in Social Services may have jaded me, but given what I know about how psychotic people can be and how dreadfully they often treat children, I'm pretty protective.

Karli - posted on 06/22/2011

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My kids are only 2 and 4 so they still need my help but I think that when the time comes I will go to check out the washrooms and then wait for them to do their thing. I don't pass my fears onto them...icky spiders (shiver)....but I will teach them to be aware and when I'm comfortable with them going it alone I will let them. I just don't want to be that little girl's mom spending the rest of my life kicking my ass saying "all I had to do was go get her". I would go nuts...certifiably so..if anything like that happened. You never know where the sick people are.

Kylie - posted on 06/22/2011

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There was a 5 girl who was raped and killed in a public toilet in a shopping center in my city. The guy was having a psychotic episode and he was caught straight away. Stories like that scare me. But i use may parental instinct. If we are in a nice restaurant and i can see the door to the toilets i will let her go by herself. She is 6 so in large shopping centers and places like Ikea I will wait outside or go with her. Public toilets at parks i will always go in and check there is nothing yukky or someone weird in there then I'll leave her to do her thing. There has to be a balance i think, you can't let fear dictate how you parent.

Jenny - posted on 06/22/2011

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Yes, scary things happen. We had an abduction here about 15 years ago and the little girl was found murdered in the park. Nobody has been convicted for the crime.

Do I feel less safe? Absolutely not.

Katherine - posted on 06/22/2011

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That's scary Karli, and that's one of the reasons I would NOT let my child walk alone. As I stated before there are sex offenders in our area. It's too far for my daughter to walk anyways.
She's only 5 too. So there is no way.

Karli - posted on 06/22/2011

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My kids are too young for this yet but I think that trips to the restroom by themselves scare me, you just don't know who may be hanging out in there. I've heard too many stories about washroom abductions, murders, rapes..etc. I think walking home from school alone is not a good idea before 11 or 12 I think. There was a little girl who was 8 years old in a very small town in southern Ontario who was abducted by a young woman and taken home to her boyfriend where she was raped, beaten, tortured and murdered. Her body was found buried in some rubble on a farm. She was found because the woman who abducted her led police to where they dumped her body. The little girl had an older brother who was supposed to walk her home and I wonder what he feels. I wouldn't let my kids walk home alone for that reason.

Elisabeth - posted on 06/22/2011

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I think it not only depends on what the age of your child is with regard to different things (walking alone, visiting the toilet alone etc) but also whether each individual child is capable of being responsible and following rules and also the type of area you live in.

My eldest was just born sensible, lol ... he asked if he could walk to school alone when he was 6 and because of his personality I knew if he asked then he was confident enough and capable enough to do so.

We live in a country town and I can almost see the entrance to the school so if he thought he was capable and wasn't scared to walk alone then I was fine with that. Of course there were always other kids walking along the same street on their way to school so it isn't like he would be on an empty street alone.

Child number two however is apt to get sidetracked, stop to look at something, forget to watch the road etc etc so I am awfully grateful that his brother who is 5 year older has always been around which means that child number two has usually always had his brother watching him ;-)

And child number three has come along 15 years after the first one and now the roads are too busy for me to feel comfortable if she asks the same thing when she is 6.

I began letting my kids walk down town to do odd jobs when they were 7 or 8 with the instructions 'straight down, do what you hve to do and then straight back' I knew that to post a letter for example and be home again should take no longer than 10 minutes and if I didn't see them walking back up the street in 10 minutes time then I was on my way to see where they were. Before they left I would go over the 'course' they would take and talk them through stopping and waiting at the pedestrian crossing until a car stopped etc.

My just turned 5 year old walks up our street to her grandmother's house (and has been for 12 months now). I walk her across the road at the bottom of our stairs and the watch her walk 6 doors up to my mum's gate - with her turning to wave and blow kisses every half a dozen steps, lol! (And strict instructions that she doesn't need her grandmother to be waiting out the front anymore - she wants to be able to walk in her gate and knock on the door to 'surprise' her grandmother, lol)

Sometimes you need to let your young child 'think' that they are being independant. Let them go to the public toilet 'alone' - keep your eye on the door to the toilets so you can see that they dont' take any detours, give them 5 minutes on their own and then follow them. Or stand outside the shop while you give them the money to pay for something. Park a little further away from the school so that they can walk a small way on their own but where you can watch them until they go in.

You dont' want them still living with you when they are 24! And you don't want you children having panic attacks because they have never learned to go anywhere or do anything without their mum!

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