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Should I give DS some independence?

(31 Posts)
mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:10:26

Not sure where to put this thread actually as not sure it is here but hey ho.
My DS is 10 in August but he is the youngest in his year and his best friend is nearly a year older.
Anyway should I now let him go off to the village on his own or to visit friends or go to the park?

I am not an anxious parent but have to admit that I do worry about him as altho he is sensible it is some of his friends that are not.
I now let him go swimming on weds evenings but as it is a bit far from our house I drive him there and pick him up later. One of his friends walks or cycles there but lives a bit closer.

He came out of school the other day to ask if he could walk to mcdonalds with his friends. To get to Mcdonalds he does have to cross 2 busy roads and I said no. His reaction was that I never let him do anything!

As it turns out he told me that the friends that did walk there were throwing their drinks in the road and got told off by a driver. I said to him that they were not being sensible then and I had just cause to be wary about letting him go.

WE have just stayed at my brother-in-laws and his wife lets their kids who are similar ages wonder around the village and go to the park etc. I just worry about my DS getting hurt or some weirdo approaching him.

I remember when I was his age I walked home from school on my own, was out til late etc. I know I have to let go but I want to find some happy medium. Please anyone I would appreciate your advice.

sparkle12mar08 Thu 16-Jun-11 10:28:56

Honestly? It sounds totally smothering. But I think you recognise that. As to how to let go, start small. Does he walk to school without you yet? Try that first. Or let him walk to swimming, but pick him up. Take a deep breath, tell him you're trusting him, and let him try it. Because if you don't he's going to get to high school with no idea...

mrsravelstein Thu 16-Jun-11 10:32:13

ds1 is the same age, he's 10 in a few days, and this morning for the first time he has cycled to school on his own (it's about 1/2 a mile away, so no distance at all, and he's v sensible about crossing the roads). we've worked up to it gradually for the last 6 weeks or so, with him cycling and meeting me at school, then me dropping him half way, then dropping him at the end of the road. so i feel pretty confident that he knows what he's doing. he LOVES having a bit of independence.

mrsravelstein Thu 16-Jun-11 10:33:57

having said that, i wouldn't let him go to the park on his own yet, purely because we live in london and generally the local playground is full of teenagers setting things on fire and smoking spliffs...

mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:34:49

I know what you are saying Sparkle and I do recognise that I may not give hime enough independence. Walking to school is a little difficult as it is a bit far but just thought maybe I could drop him a little bit away from the school so he can walk the rest and I can just drop off DD aged 7.

Appreciate the advice and will look at ways around it. smile

mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:36:32

Ravel I agree about the park as we also have teenagers up to no good in our parks. He is pestering me at the moment for a mobile phone but I said not until he starts big school next year. I think he is just comparing himself to one of his friends who has a mobile, walks everywhere etc.

stripeytiger Thu 16-Jun-11 10:39:44

I can completely understand where you are coming from Mumoftwomonsters. My dd is going to be 10 in a month and like your ds is one of the youngest in her year at school. I have had the same thoughts of you and have come to the conclusion that you should trust your gut feeling.

No doubt you will get very mixed responses here but I can't help thinking that some of these very "streetwise" kids who are allowed a lot of freedom are safe and well more by luck than anything else.

Like you, I remember walking home from school on my own and generally having a lot more freedom when I was the same age as my dd.......but I grew up in the 70s and it was a very different world back then.

Sadly today there are more weirdos out there who may potentially harm our children, roads are busier the list is endless. But we have to let go at some point don't we.

Maybe you could start giving your ds more independence in very small stages, such that he feels you are trusting him and you are still in control. An example that springs to my mind is that my dcs started at new school last September. A lad who is in the same class as dd, started off last year being walked to school and collected by his gran. I have noticed during the year that she has very, very gradually increased his independence and he is now able to sensibly cross the reasonably busy road to the quiet lane where he lives.

Hope this helps smile

sparkle12mar08 Thu 16-Jun-11 10:40:26

How far is too far, to you? Do you mean physically or emotionally? Because a ten year old boy, with the right preparation, is perfectly capable of walking for at least 30 mins to get to school for example. It sounds like you don't give him any independance, not just not enough. As I say, start small, but for goodness sake start soon. It's your job to prepare him for the world, to help him, guide him. And to do that you have to start letting go smile

sparkle12mar08 Thu 16-Jun-11 10:44:21

Oh the whole 'weirdos' argument is ridiculous and you know it! There are no more weirdos now than ever - we are a damn site more aware of them and that causes many people a great deal of anxiety, I grant you. Traffic is a big issue, and one that has changed dramatically. A child who can only just cross the road 'quite sensibly' at 9/10 has been let down by his parents frankly.

mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:46:57

Sparkle he has to cross a really really busy road where there have been accidents in the past. That is the bit that concerns me not so much the distance. I appreicate that I have to give him independence but as a parent I have a right to worry about him.
I have given him independence with the swimming and he really appreciates it. I guess the think that worries me is as a child I walked home from school and for a few weeks I was followed by a strange old man who eventually approached me and I ran all the way home and told my parents who called the police.

I know I should not worry about this happening to me and I will talk to DH to find ways around giving him independence. Just to point out tho thee must be lots of parents like me because apart from two boys I know of the rest of the parents all pick up their kids.

Stripey thanks for your comments smile

stripeytiger Thu 16-Jun-11 10:47:09

Thanks for that Sparkle. Note to self....have let down my dd sad

mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:48:24

Sparkle as a matter of interest how old are your kids?

mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:49:47

Sparkle we have not let down our kids we are just being parents and protecting them. Do not feel like that. I have talked to my DS and he does realise that I am concerned about him just as your DD would x

PiousPrat Thu 16-Jun-11 10:50:06

As with anything like this, it totally depends on the child and the area you live in. Since you have said you are in a village, I am going to go ahead an assume that it is similar to my village (population of about 3,500, one main road through the middle, couple of shops and some little parks type of thing) and bore you rigid with what I did with my DC wink

Start small and build up. My DC were allowed out to play out the front when supervised for a while, then taken to the park round the corner supervised, then walked to the park and collected later, then left to go on their own etc. They both started walking to school on their own when they moved from infants to juniors, but there are no roads to cross and it is only a 5 minute walk, so it it is further to yours I can see why maybe he doesn't go on his own yet. In that case i would be happier letting him start walking home alone but still take him in the morning as there tends to be more traffic at 9 than at 3.

Now that DS2 is 10, he is allowed pretty much free reign of where he wants to go in our half of the village (the one main road goes right through the middle) on the condition that he tells me roughly where he will be (ie in the little park, on the green, in the woods etc) and he is old enough to understand why he has to tell me. Not just so I can keep tabs on him, but so I can find him quickly in case there is an emergency with his brother, or he has lost track of time and his tea is going cold. Again, this was done in a staged way so he was initially allowed to the little park, then the woods, then the green so each time he was a bit older, had proven he was reliable and so the distance he is allowed from home has increased.

Does your DS have any mates who live a little further from home, that he could start off by going there and back and maybe phoning or texting you when he arrives and is about to leave to build up both of your confidences in him being out on his own?

mumof2monsters Thu 16-Jun-11 10:52:14

Pious when I say village it is not like a country village it is just what the little town is called but you are right little stages . Thanks smile

peanutbutterkid Thu 16-Jun-11 10:57:34

When you give them some independence they are going to blow it bit. You being prepared to deal with that is just another part of parenthood. They will do one more more of the following: throw a drink in the road, climb up somebody's front garden tree, do it again even after being told off, pinch apples off of said tree, spit in the playground, make a car hit its brakes sharply, look at rude pictures on someone else's phone, get into a barney with random hulk-like teenager at the skatepark, say something rude to another child (or worse even, maybe an adult). They'll accept a lift from someone you didn't pre-approve or hang out with the older manky spotty smoking feral always-truant boy who's been playing GTA4 since he was 5yo. If not at 9-10yo, then all too soon after. That is the advantage of keeping them in, it keeps your stress levels down for longer smile.

All Some of it will come back to you & be highly embarrassing. But if you don't let them go out & blow it a bit you won't find the boundaries that need tweaking, areas they need to shape up in. And the sooner tweaked the better. I don't think there's anyway around it, they will make some mistakes. It's part of how they get street smarts, eventually.

sparkle12mar08 Thu 16-Jun-11 10:58:26

Stripey - A child who cannot cross a road by themselves at 10 years old has been letdown, yes.

Mumof2monsters - My children are 5 and three and I will allow the elder to walk to school by himself, should he wish to, when he is in KS2/Y3. We already practise crossing the road every day on our way and will carry this on.

Are there any other groups of children or parents doing the route to your school? Does the road have a crossing available? If not, could you shadow him for a couple of weeks to see how he behves & reacts to different situations? Do you trust him generally, is he usually sensible? If so, you have a great base to start from, give him a little trust and let him earn a bit more. You have to start the process yes, but he has to live up to it too.

peacemoon Thu 16-Jun-11 10:59:01

I agree the world was no safer in the seventies,worse probably and that was just the playpark equipment!
Everyone is different and I suppose it depends where you live too but parents need to let go.Kids need time away from adults in a non structured environment ie just hanging about/playing/interacting with each other.
There are teenagers I know who have never used public transport or gone to a shop for a pint of milk.What kind of adults will they become?

PiousPrat Thu 16-Jun-11 10:59:20

Well tbh mine is probably more of a very small town than an actual village, since bits keep getting tacked onto the sides all the while lately. Certainly is it big enough that it takes half an hour to walk from one side to the other, anyway.

Bit by bit may well work best for both of you, as he isn't going to be suddenly overwhelmed with the new found freedom and independence and end up getting himself lost in an unfamiliar part of town first time he goes out if he has to stay nearer home, or only go to familiar places along well known routes, and you can feel more reassured that he can be safe and sensible (even if his friends aren't) as he has built up to it and you have built up to letting go a bit.

Hope it all goes well for you.

sparkle12mar08 Thu 16-Jun-11 11:00:02

Pious & Peanut have great posts. Is there anything you can take from them to start your ds off with?

shakey1500 Thu 16-Jun-11 11:00:14

I feel like marking this page for reference in 6 years time! I am going to be a nightmare I know it sad

I am sooo anxious for my son and yet totally realise that it is unreasonable, will do more harm than good and will not prepare him for independance. I guess I would be described as a "helicopter parent" but it's so hard! Any advice on how to handle this? How do I change my gut instinct/immediate reaction of "what if". He's so small at the moment (almost 4), intellectually fab but socially a tad behind I would say. Youngest in his class, only child, PFB, stands on the sidelines and attempts to talk to the other children but gets rebuffed and it literally breaks my heart sad

Any tips gratefully received.

stripeytiger Thu 16-Jun-11 11:16:21

DD can cross some roads by herself, just not that confident on busy roads with people driving like complete twats as is sadly the case with our road. I don't feel I have let her down at all, quite the opposite.

Groovee Thu 16-Jun-11 11:21:18

My dd was 11 in January. She now goes to the local shopping centre with friends. I used to drop them off but I started dropping them off in stages and now they either bus it or walk it.

She's not done McDonald's yet but has done burger king in the shopping centre.

My mum pointed out I was doing things younger than her, and I also feel when she goes to high school next summer she will need more and more independence. She goes to the park close to our house and once a week while her dad takes her brother to footie training she meets friends in the other side of the park.

I think it does take time to get the independence these days as we are more cautious and step by step is fine.

FairyLightsForever Thu 16-Jun-11 16:51:21

It is all about small steps- my DS was allowed to walk to the park from the age of 9 or 10, but he had to walk the long way round so that he could use the padestrian crossings and he collected his friend on the way. I would then go and collect him later on, before all the teenagers started to congregate. This meant that he actually came home when he was supposed to and that I was there to walk him back when the traffic was heavier.

Sparkle, I have read on several occasions over the years that children's perception and judgement of traffic speed and distance isn't fully developed until they are about 10, so OP hasn't 'let down' her child at all.

valiumredhead Thu 16-Jun-11 16:58:49

My ds is just 10 and walks to and from school which is about 15/20 mins away. He's allowed out on his bike near our house with his mates and has been going to buy milk from the local shop for about 3 years ( one very quiet road to cross)

It's time to let him start spreading his wings a bit OP.

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