As our children grow older, J and I have started to ponder more on the boundaries and freedoms we set for them. I was raised knowing all of the millions of ways disaster could befall me. My mother was protective and cautious, and to her credit we all emerged from childhood unscathed. J was raised with more..... liberties. He and his friends wandered their neighborhood freely and had hours of unsupervised time with which to set fire to ant hills {and nearly his younger brother.} 

I'm confidant that a happy medium exists. In fact, I'm a bit enchanted by the Free Range Kids movement, but achieving it has been more difficult than I counted on. 

For example: J and I have been debating over what age we feel comfortable leaving the children at home while I go running. Little Miss C is almost 8. I can remember being home alone at 8, but my father was right outside in the milking barn. My brothers were all practically the same age as I was. We didn't have to be responsible for a baby. Granted, it would be less than an hour, but so much could happen in an hour. I'm haunted by thoughts of the house burning down, the baby drowning, or someone choking. 

I want them to learn to be safe, responsible, and capable adults. But I'd settle for them living long enough to be adults.

Perhaps I'm more like my mother than I thought. 


Becky said...

I leave my 8 year old alone while I walk up and down our street for exercise. I never leave the street and she knows to either come outside to stop me if she needs something or to turn on the porch light. I could also carry the cell phone if I was extra worried, but my block is shorter than most and I can see my house the whole time.

Spymommy said...

We have just started leaving our 11 year old to watch the other two while we go on a quick walk, bike ride or less than one hour date.

I always worry people will call CPS on me if they see me leaving my kids alone at home, but I was raised same as you and remember being home alone at about 9 years old.

I don't know what to say - different times I guess.

Ashley Ann said...

Check out what the laws are in your state. My friend left her little ones in the care of a 10 year-old, and Child Protective Services told her that it was against the law. (They ended up at her house when the youngest, who was 3, snuck out whilst in the care of the 10 year old, and walked to the park by himself, YIKES!) Freaked her out.

Plus, I was always used as the babysitter, being the oldest of three, and I hated it. Who wants to be "mom" to their siblings? My brother and sister always resented me bossing them around, and enforcing the rules.

molly said...

i love this post and i love this photo. i remember my childhood as complete freedom and loved it. didn't know any different, really. now, i'm a first grade teacher at a small private school and see these little kids as being completely sheltered. maybe it's a sign of the times, maybe it's just that fear of everything took over, i don't know, but if your gut tells you it's right or it's wrong, it is.

tharker said...

My oldest is 9 and we have started letting her "babysit" when I have to run a quick errand (to the store for milk, for instance) and she loves the freedom of it. But the entire time, I worry, worry, worry.

I too have been wondering if it would be okay to leave them for 45 minutes when I go run, but since I end up freaking myself out about it all, I just end up waiting until they're at school.

I was raised knowing that I could ride my bike anywhere in our town and I felt completely safe. Yet, now I don't even like our kids to play outside in the front yard by themselves. These are tough times.

marcee said...

Lance and I have the same conversations all of the time. As I'm sure you can imagine, he thinks a lot more things are "just fine" than I do.

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