Granny needs some advice

  1. When I was a kid, my mom would throw us all out of the house in the morning and wouldn't have a clue where we were for hours. We had territorial boundaries we knew not to cross, but on the whole there were blocks and blocks of city streets we navigated unsupervised.
    I was little. My earliest memory of being gone for hours was when I was around 6-7 years old.
    My children grew up in the country, so there was no place to go. I never ran into the boundary issue. Or not knowing where they were.
    Fast forward to grandchildren.
    When is it old enough to let your child go on their bike and ride around unsupervised?
    When is it considered negligence to not know where your child is at any given minute?
    We live in a very rural area. Small town life. My grandchild wants to know why she can't ride her bike all around town like classmates. Why can't she walk 4-6 blocks away to a friend's house?
    She's 7.5 years old.
    Her mother never had these issues because living in the country meant we had to drive her wherever she needed to go. We never didn't know where she was when she was 7.5 yrs old.
    Can I have some input from mothers of young children?
    Last edit by imintrouble on May 5, '15
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    I had the same kind of childhood, out and gone right after breakfast. Small rural town, in which we rode bicycles every-and-anywhere.
    Very different life, back then.
    I can imagine the dilemma in this day and age.
    I'll be interested in reading the responses as they come in.
  4. by   MrChicagoRN
    Are fathers ok to answer?

    When I was little, I grew up in Chicago, and kids could play till the streetlights came on. My son started walking to school alone, 3 blocks, in the 3rd-4th grade. But I did secretly follow him the first time to make sure he got there ok. There are also a lot of other kids and parents out there at the same time.

    Nowadays, there is a greater perception of violence, there are less eyes and ears out on the street at any given time, and everyone drives...including the bad guys.

    Everybody has to make their own decision based on the child's age and maturity, traffic and crime concerns, the community, and what the norms are. There has been a few things on NPR and in the news, about parents bucking the trends and encouraging their kids to be more independent.
  5. by   Farawyn
    My childhood was the same. Came home at lunch when the Church bells rang, home for supper when the 6 o'clock whistle blew, home at night when night fell. Couldn't cross the street without my mom or Aunt Barbara down the block. Then on bikes we couldn't cross 4 lane roads.
    My boys grew up in a neighborhood that has 2 small developments attached, small Capes and all houses on 60-70X 100 property. It's a huge "boy" neighborhood that butts up to a park, so really, my boys had the same rules as me.

    I like what MrChicagoRN said about greater perceived violence. There was tons of violence back when we were kids, but I think it's all "out there" now. Kids were bullied and beat up and molested back in our day and everything was kept quieter.

    As far as your grandchild, yes, the level of maturity plays a huge role in this. It also depends on the neighborhood and the other kids.
    I probably would NOT let a 7.5 year old go alone. Can a buddy meet her half way?

    I keep thinking about that story of the family in Maryland that let their 10 and 6 year old walk together to a nearby park and people called the police. The family got media attention and flack for this. *****
  6. by   Spidey's mom
    I agree that the same stuff has always been happening - just when I was a kid, we didn't hear about it on the news.

    Personally, I was allowed to roam free like the others have mentioned. One time a man drove up to a friend and I and asked us to come over to his car for a minute because he needed directions. I was about in the 5th grade. We walked over and he was holding onto his penis, which was enlarged . . . I'll never forget that we screamed and ran! Another time my little brother and I were on a homemade raft on a pond and some boys started throwing rocks at us. One hit my brother and he fell in the water. I pulled him out and he was ok. But we ran for the apartment and my mom called the police. Another time my sis and I were walking across a field on the way to the market at dusk and some 8th grade boys started walking behind us and yelling out rude stuff. My sister wisely ran ahead to the store but I was too proud to let them see me run. Of course they caught up with me, surrounded me, pushed me around, grabbed my chest and called me "two-backs" (flat in the front, flat in back). They pushed me to the ground where I just huddled until they left me alone. Then I ran to the store. My parents called the police and my step-dad went over to their house and threatened their parents.

    This was the 1960's folks and in So. Cal.

    I live in a small town now. We just now this year let our son walk over to the river and fish - although I go over there and check on him a lot. He'll be 14 in July.

    I'm cautious even though the stats on sexual predators is way less than the media reports nowadays.

    Not sure what to tell you. I probably err on the side of caution. Even though I loved having the freedom to explore as a kid. Oh, I forgot one silly episode . . . on the way home from school (yes, we walked home) a girl in my class taunted me with "you are a two-bit whore". I had no idea what a "two-bit whore" meant . . . had to ask my mom.
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Jun 9, '15 : Reason: typos . . .
  7. by   Farawyn
    The old drive by engorged penis thing. *yawn*
    Kidding!
    But...Ew, really? Every woman I know has been through some sort of episode like this as a kid/teen.
    Zip it up, Perv!
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Farawyn
    The old drive by engorged penis thing. *yawn*
    Kidding!
    But...Ew, really? Every woman I know has been through some sort of episode like this as a kid/teen.
    Zip it up, Perv!
    Yeah, I warned my kids about not walking up to men in cars . . . . . what idiots to think that would impress anyone.
  9. by   Farawyn
    Quote from Spidey's mom
    Yeah, I warned my kids about not walking up to men in cars . . . . . what idiots to think that would impress anyone.

    Unless he is steering with it, color me bored.
  10. by   imintrouble
    Thanks to all for the response. Her mom is the boss, but she asks me what I think. So I ask all of you what you think.
    It was easier to decide these things when the decisions were for my kids. Why is it so much harder when it's my grandkids?
    Her mom is standing firm about staying within eyesight, with much pouting from the little one. Add a chorus of "Lilly's mother lets her ride her bike ....."
    The next concern will be when is she old enough to be home alone.
  11. by   NurseGirl525
    I grew up in the 80's. We played outside all day long, came home when my mom yelled for us. They had no idea where we were. We got on our bikes and went. Although I can remember when I road my first bike around 4 or 5 I could only ride down to the corner and back. It was within eyesight and she put a giant, tall flag on my bike. I also had to wear knee pads and elbow pads. I remember being so embarrassed by all of that. And I know you say in your mind 4? Of course you had to be in eyesight!! But, I started kindergarten at 4. I walked to and from school starting in first grade when I was 5. It was about a half mile to mile trek. You went a certain route and there were safety patrols who were sixth graders that let you cross the street. But no sidewalks at all. You just learned back then. And none of my friends had those stupid flags that went 8 feet in the air!! Lol.

    I have a nine year old son. I had a super hard time letting him out of my sight. But, when he was 7, I started little by little. I live in a neighborhood in the country. Not many cars go down the streets out here, but there is not a lot of kids either. I have mostly retired people in my area. I started just letting him play in the front yard or going to a neighbors to play basketball at their hoop. The neighbor told me he could play there anytime and it was no issue. He would even lower the hoop to his size. Then I gave him distances where he could ride his bike. Maybe down to the cul-de-sac and back. Then I eventually allowed him to go to the stop sign and back. Now, he goes wherever he wants. He is all about safety. He really is. And he is like his mama, doesn't like to break rules. It's funny sometimes.

    My ex and I have been experimenting with allowing him to stay by himself for short periods of time. He has his own phone so he can call us immediately if something goes wrong, he knows to never ever answer the door if someone knocks (do not even look out the window), and he's not allowed to touch the stove which he never has anyway. He is allowed to microwave something to eat if he wants. My kiddo is pretty mature for his age, probably because he is an only child. We first started with just very short trips. No more than a half hour. Then we gradually increased it, but he is never alone longer than 2 hours without one of us stopping at one of the houses to check on him. My ex and I live 5 minutes away from each other. My son doesn't like to go to work with his dad if he is off school for something. He ends up sitting in my ex's truck for hours while he does calls. There's not a whole lot of room in his work truck because of his tools. I spend Tues and Thurs nights with my boyfriend who is an hour away and with traffic in the morning it's hard for me to get there early. So my ex leaves for work at 7, and I pick him up no later than nine. It's worked out great so far with no issues. I was super worried at first, but then I remembered I was at home watching my little brother and sister when I was his age. I took my first babysitting job where it wasn't my siblings when I was 11. I also realized if I kept babying him, he was never going to grow up and be a confident man. He would never learn how to do things for himself or how to take care of himself if there was an issue. Problem solving skills and such.

    We do live in a different time where we have access to the media 24/7. It wasn't like that in the 80's. You either waited for the 6 o'clock news or read it the newspaper. When cable finally did come out, most people couldn't afford it so you had no idea what CNN was and there was no internet. The world is just as safe as it was back then with abductions and all that jazz. We just have access to everything much, much faster and it's in our faces more, which is why we think the world is unsafe.
  12. by   StNeotser
    Quote from imintrouble
    Thanks to all for the response. Her mom is the boss, but she asks me what I think. So I ask all of you what you think.
    It was easier to decide these things when the decisions were for my kids. Why is it so much harder when it's my grandkids?
    Her mom is standing firm about staying within eyesight, with much pouting from the little one. Add a chorus of "Lilly's mother lets her ride her bike ....."
    The next concern will be when is she old enough to be home alone.
    I suppose you knew what to do with your own children because you were in the peer group that had young children. You could gauge what every other parent were doing because they were your friends and neighbors.

    I was brought up in the late seventies/eighties and we were also allowed out for free play all the time. When my daughter was young in the early 2000's nobody did that.

    For my daughter it was all play dates at each others houses and all manner of after school activities. I remember when I let my daughter walk to school when I just couldn't get her there I worried because in my day there were an army of children walking together. In her day most were being driven to and fro and so I worried that she was alone because there are safety in numbers when all the kids are walking back and forth to school. She was 10. And now parents are actually getting charged with letting their children out unattended.
  13. by   vintagemother
    I was an 80's-90's kid and I was allowed to walk to the corner store, park, etc by myself.

    I have 2 older children, ages 16 and 20. Even though I lived in a nice suburb, I didn't allow my children outside unsupervised....ever. Even as teens. I had them involved in sports daily and I worked at home, so they never had free-time to "run the streets".

    Fast forward to my life now, as a divorced mom with a 10 year old, not living in a great area. Egads! I let my boy play outside by himself all the time! I encourage him to get out on his bike and ride with his friends. I figure he needs to experience life. There are lots of kids and my apartment complex is gated. He has to tell me where he will be if he won't be outside where I can see him.

    It was a huge letting go experience for me. It still is strange to think that I, a former helicopter mom, allow this. But I went through some life changing events that caused me to change.

    My son has experienced other kids hitting him outside on 2 occasions. He handled himself appropriately both times. He's learning about life, I think. I hope! I had an acquaintance tell me I was a bad mom for allowing my son out of my eyesight. All I can say is I put a lot of thought into it and considered the consequences. I'm okay with my decision, so is my son.

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