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Am I the only one?

100 replies

indianelephant · 06/04/2021 22:33

I've been having conversations with parents I know including my own sister and her partner about keeping kids safe and how old they should be when let out alone. This came about because I work in a shop in a village and the amount of young children I see out and about without adult supervision surprises me. I grew up in London, it was never deemed safe enough for me to be out alone or with friends until around 16. The kids I see out are primary school aged. I just don't understand it. I know everybody parents differently but when you see interviews of parents who have lost children they always say 'you never think it will happen to you until it does' or something similar. There is always a possibility of something happening to your child and I know it's probably a very small possibility but is it ever worth the risk? I know I would never be able to live with myself if anything happened to one of my children. I feel it's my responsibility to keep them safe until they are old enough to make smart decisions and even then I will always worry. Especially with my girls as we all know how many dangers we face as women. My sisters partner said to me that they will hate me if I don't let them have any freedom.

Am I the only one? Or does letting them have freedom outweigh the potential risks of anything happening to them?

OP posts:
Nicknacky · 06/04/2021 22:34

So what age do you think is “old enough”?

Champagneandmonstermunch · 06/04/2021 22:36

Have you considered there are also risks to not letting them gain independence? You can't keep them in until they are adults, then expect them to go out and make sensible choices. Yes there is risk in letting them out, but none of us get to live a risk free existence.

WorraLiberty · 06/04/2021 22:36

I grew up in London, it was never deemed safe enough for me to be out alone or with friends until around 16

Sorry but that's pretty ridiculous (and yes, I've been a Londoner all my life).

It's possibly what's clouded your view about giving your kids some gradual freedom/responsibility as they grow.

Unleashing a very sheltered child just because they've turned 16, is likely to cause far more issues.

WhatTheFlap · 06/04/2021 22:42

I grew up on the outskirts of London and was travelling in to places like Camden with a friend from aged 14.

In my hometown, we’d be allowed out to play on our own from maybe about 10/11? But home before dark.

Iyiyi · 06/04/2021 22:42

They need to start preparing at primary age for transitioning to secondary, and 12 is the cut off point for a lot of childcare / holiday clubs.

My 11 year old has very poor impulse control / decision making skills and I am struggling to give him more independence but he does go to the shop by himself. His older brother would go out with friends to the park etc from 12 onwards, and he was one of the later ones to be allowed to do this!

arethereanyleftatall · 06/04/2021 22:43

At 16, you could be married, live on your own, have your own child.

You can't progress straight to that, without slowly building up independence years previous.

There's a larger risk of not learning independence, than the tiny (though admittedly awful) risk of something happening.

ColourfulElmerElephant · 06/04/2021 22:45

Primary school age is pretty wide. Yes, I think four is too young but 11 is fine.

StealthPolarBear · 06/04/2021 22:45

" is it ever worth the risk?"
To produce independent confident children. Yes.
I made ds get a bus to see friends recently as he's reached the age of 14 without ever having to get a bus alone. Life skills. Independence.

TaraR2020 · 06/04/2021 22:45

I think it depends on where you live, surely? At least in part. I was given increasing freedom out on my own from childhood but was certainly walking myself and sibling home from school by 10/11 and out exploring neighbourhood and countryside. It was usual then (90s) old does that make me sound?! Doesnt seem to be so common now.

indianelephant · 06/04/2021 22:46

@Nicknacky I'd probably say the second year of high school as I feel the first year is a real steep learning curve and you grow a lot that first year. It'll also be around the age that I'd be sorting them mobile phones so we could stay in touch. I definitely think primary age is too young.

@Champagneandmonstermunch I understand there would be different challenges for them without being let out at the same age as some of their friends but I also think you can teach responsibility and independence in a supervised environment. I'm not always on top of my children but while they are still in primary school I wouldn't want them to be out and about without me or another adult within eyeshot.

OP posts:
PatriciaHolm · 06/04/2021 22:46

er, how did you get to secondary school??? I don't know any secondary school children (and yes, in London) who are taken by their parents unless there is no public transport (not an issue in London)

Plenty of year 6s get to and from school themselves too.

StealthPolarBear · 06/04/2021 22:46

Or you could never let them put of your sight until they're 25. Any risk just isn't worth taking, right?

Sally872 · 06/04/2021 22:47

The benefits of playing with peers in the fresh air unsupervised out weigh the risks. My 10 year old has been going to local shop for a year. She tells me when she goes and when she is back. Follows our rules on where she is allowed, is home when we tell her to come home and answers the phone if we call. Much easier to establish rules at 10 than at 16.

SchrodingersImmigrant · 06/04/2021 22:47

I grew up in London, it was never deemed safe enough for me to be out alone or with friends until around 16.

😱 That's mindboggling.
We walked to school by ourselves at 6. Kids still do. Even travel on bus or train then. Not UK though.

SpongebobNoPants · 06/04/2021 22:50

My 10 year old walks back and forth to school on her own 3 days a week, I regularly send her to the shop or pharmacy on her own, she also goes to the park and to visit her friends alone.
She’s more then mature enough.

mynameiscalypso · 06/04/2021 22:51

I also grew up in London. I got public transport to school (and other places I probably shouldn't have gone) from age 11. Before that, I used to go to the local high street to go shopping with a friend from when I was 9 or 10. I can't imagine not going out alone until I was 16! I was going out to nightclubs and getting a cab home at 3am at that age...

WorraLiberty · 06/04/2021 22:53

How old are your kids now OP?

I'm guessing very young and why doesn't your partner have a say in it, or is he not their dad?

Nicknacky · 06/04/2021 22:54

@indianelephant Mines in second year. She has been out on her own for 2 or 3 years so far, it would have been younger if we had lived in an area where she was closer to her friends.

Ellpellwood · 06/04/2021 22:54

Gosh. I used to get the bus into town with a friend at age 11 (late 1990s) and go by myself from age 14. We're talking a very large town with half a million people here.

You do need some freedom to learn how to deal with real life situations.

Billandben444 · 06/04/2021 22:55

The parents who think primary school children are mature enough to wander the streets - do you leave them at home without adult supervision as well?

vdbfamily · 06/04/2021 22:56

My kids got themselves to and from primary school from year 4. It was very nearby. They would often come home, change and then go and meet their friends in the park. I think that wrapping your kids in cotton wool carries more risks than allowing them to develop independence.By secondary school many kids will be walking or getting a bus to school on their own. When we moved near our secondary school, our youngest was year 5 and she got a bus to and from primary school.

SpongebobNoPants · 06/04/2021 22:57

@Billandben444 yes I would happily leave my 10 year old for an hour or so alone and do regularly.

Nicknacky · 06/04/2021 22:57

So you live in a village and you think kids should be 12/13 before they go to a village shop?

indianelephant · 06/04/2021 22:58

@WorraLiberty my eldest daughter is 10 but has learning difficulties so has a much younger mindset. My other 2 are 6 and 4. It was my sisters partner that i was talking to about it. My kids father agrees with me (we are separated)

OP posts:
Hidinginstaircupboard · 06/04/2021 22:59

Ok, I'm all for being supportive and parenting children but OP? You think children under 16 shouldn't go out without parental supervision??

My London friends children use the tube and train independently to go to and from school ages 11+ and stop in corner shops on walk to stations

If you'd said she 6, I'd be all behind you...

But daylight my children go to local shops as long as I know where they are going and they are in pairs ages 11 upwards (& NT) and when younger my 10 year old walked his 6 year old sis home a couple times on safe footpaths no big roads. And I think I'm over cautious!

If you don't let growing teens stretch their legs and frighten them about the world without learning skills , suddenly you'll have naive young adults who resent your restrictiveness and rebel without having skills to cross roads independently and Keep themselves safe

They learn gradually

Going into a local newsagent shop in your own isn't a big deal and certainly not 9-10+ years onwards

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