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hitbyatruck posted 5/12/2013 21:23 PM

My Daughter is 12, my niece is 10. My Niece's parents let her walk their residential neighborhood...think woodsy with some trails that can't be seen by any houses or the street. Considered to be a safe area.

I am not ok with my daughter walking with her cousin alone not even with a cell phone. A cell phone isn't really going to help too much if the unthinkable would happen.

My mom, step-dad, brother...all tell me that I am too protective and need to let my 12 yr old go a little bit. I see no reason why an adult just can't go along for the walk, which I do.

Even with all the stuff in the news lately about kidnapping they still think I am being silly. This problem comes up quite a bit. We camp and vacation with a lot of family that lets their kids do more alone than we do. Such as walking to a close store, or back to the beach house (while on vacation).

I am tired of defending my choice as a parent. Even the other kids tease me about it. Of course my kids feel like I am treating them like they are babies but they do listen without an argument.

jo2love posted 5/12/2013 21:47 PM

My DD is 12. She is not allowed to walk alone or with friends. She understands that there are crazy people out there and I do not want to lose her. She knows that after my little brother passed away, I can't go through having another child in the family be lost. She respects my feelings. If kids give her a hard time, I can explain it to them. You need to stick to what you feel is right.

Dreamboat posted 5/12/2013 22:52 PM

First let me say that I completely respect your desire to keep your child safe. There are many parents out there that (I think) throw their children to the societal wolves.

At the same time that you are keeping your child safe, you also need to teach her how to be independent and how to keep herself safe. At 12, I think that burden falls on the side of telling your DD not to do things that you do not consider safe. But she is also at a delicate age where soon she will want to fly on her own and want to make her own decisions and want to decide her own fate. THAT is the very delicate tight rope that we must walk as parents. If we are too permissive then our kids may make bad choices just because the choices are there. If we are too restrictive then they might rebel and choose ANY decision that goes against our advice.

While I know that evil is everywhere, I also feel know that evil concentrates in "victim rich" environments. I know that term is abhorrent and I hate to use it, but it is a fact. I do not live in that type of environment and therefore I give my DD a little more freedom than if I did. At the same time, I teach her about evil and I have advise her from a young age that any person can be evil. We watch the crime shows, we discuss the awful abduction cases, etc. Sadly, she knows to trust no one (more to do with X than any crime shows...)

The thing is, you cannot control what other parents may allow your child to do while at their house. Even if you tell the other parent that you do not want your child to do xyz, that parent may allow it. Therefore, it is up to you to teach your child to keep themselves safe in all situations. Teach your child to NOT trust anyone who offers a ride, even a neighbor. Teach your child to steer clear of any wild animals, including "cute" but feral dogs and cats. Teach your child that adults do not ask favors or help of children, unless the adult is a parent.

For now, you can control who your child is with. But you will need to let her try her wings soon, in a couple of years. You need a strategy for that. While your protective nature of your DD should be commended when she is 12, if you do not adapt then it will be rebelled against, by her, when she is 14 or 15 or 16. And by 18 she will be an adult and will have to navigate the very scarey world on her own. You need to prepare her for that, not protect her from the reality of that.

I hope you do not think I am being harsh. I think you are doing EXACTLY what you should be doing with a 12 yr old daughter. But she will only be 12 for 1 year and I am advising you to prepare her for this world that can be both wonderful and awful so she needs to know how to protect herself.

Being the mother of a daughter is scary stuff.


Sad in AZ posted 5/13/2013 06:59 AM

I agree with Dreamboat. I know it's hard to let go and let them grow up, but 12 is plenty old enough to go for walks alone.

My opinion is a parent's job is to impart every wisdom they have on their kids, then nudge them toward independence. I was babysitting for other kids at the age of 10. From the age of 6, DS was out playing with friends all day--not at anyone's house. He flew by himself at the age of 7.

If your daughter doesn't have any cognitive difficulties, I hope you'll reconsider.

sad12008 posted 5/13/2013 09:08 AM

Go with your gut. You know your child; what you DON'T really know is their neighborhood, their notions of 'safe', etc.

If the niece was also 12, I'd lean toward allowing the two of them to walk together w/o an adult; however, I'd want to know when they were leaving, when they planned to return, and where they were going.

When I was stationed in rural NY, the hunt was on for a young girl (12) from Herkimer: Sara Anne Wood. She had her bike and was just going home from the church where...if I'm remembering correctly...her father was the minister. Rural, friendly, country New York...and she vanished off the face of the earth. Watching the reports and the parents pleas and such was just harrowing.

The things we experience influence us; I'm on the side of caution due to this experience among others.

hitbyatruck posted 5/13/2013 17:46 PM

I understand my daughter will be at friend's houses that have different rules than I do. But my daughter understands what her rules are and as far as I know she hasn't broke the walking alone rule...which is about the only rule I give her at friend's house other than the obvious.

We do discuss dangers and how she should handle herself. She is permitted more freedom in a larger groups in public areas. Such as our festivals. She goes with a group of girls. Difference is walking a trail in the woods that isn't visable from the street.

I guess we all have our own ways. I wouldn't let my 7 yr old fly alone or play outside other than our own backyard unless an adult was there.

There was an attempted abduction in my area last summer. I was always a little over protective but that really did me in. I never thought that would happen in my area... IT DID.

I am aware that she might turn on me but I am hoping not. I explain why she has rules, she doesn't like it all the time but understands why.

[This message edited by hitbyatruck at 5:48 PM, May 13th (Monday)]

StillGoing posted 5/13/2013 17:54 PM

I am tired of defending my choice as a parent. Even the other kids tease me about it. Of course my kids feel like I am treating them like they are babies but they do listen without an argument.

I let my 10 year old walk alone to his friends house but think people know their kids and neighborhoods best, make their best judgement calls and do what makes them feel most comfortable as parents. I think it's obnoxious to question or mock someone's judgement when it comes to their children.

I may let him wander the neighborhood alone but he is *in bed* by 8 at the latest because of other reasons. People occasionally have commented about that, but in our family, it's our call. In your family, it's your call, and your friends and extended family should respect that IMO.

circe posted 5/13/2013 18:42 PM

I grew up in an inner city neighborhood that was on the same block as a halfway house. I'm not sure what type of recovering people it served, but I do remember there were often older men who seemed out of their minds that would follow us and approach us if we were sitting on our front steps. And still we walked to and from school, the store, the park, played outside alone and would lay out in the sun and all that, and just squeal and run away if a stray person from "the home" down the street should happen to appear in our yard. I thought this was normal and just faintly annoying growing up!

My sisters and I as adults asked our mother why on earth this never bothered her. She said that back then, creepy perverts and kidnappers weren't as prevalent! She actually believes that. When in fact it has always happened, we just didn't hear about it as much. This was the same time period that Ted Bundy was killing women! And John Gacy! I think back to getting approached by these men who were clearly not in their right mind when I was walking to the store, and having to run across the street to avoid them, and it terrifies me in retrospect.

My own children have grown up in small towns with low crime rates, except for a few years before I remarried when DS18 (no it's now DS19! Wow!) and I lived overseas. But in the US we've always lived, and continue to live, in places where people don't lock their doors, and leave their keys in the ignition of their cars. Where kids still come home "before dark" and we trust our neighbors and feel safe. Walking on paths through the woods, well, maybe not so much, but on sidewalks and through yards, yes. And yet I often wonder if in our town we're a bit like my mother, being so oblivious and feeling safe out of nothing more than ignorance. Because it hasn't happened yet right here, does that mean it will never happen? Because we feel safe, does that mean we are?

I hate that I know so much about what has happened to innocent children. It's terrifying and heart breaking.

Maybe this didn't answer the original question directly, but I think you see where I'm going with it.

hitbyatruck posted 5/13/2013 19:14 PM

My neighborhood is considered safe. BUT I still won't let my child walk to friend's houses. Maybe I am paranoid. My mother was always very protective too and I didn't rebel. I understood why she was concerned. 'Cherie Mahan' has been missing since 1985, that happened an hour from my home. Cherie would be about 37 now, a little younger than myself. Her pictures were everywhere. Yes, I do have a fear of letting go and living to regret it.

I don't want you all to think I keep my kids in a bubble, they do get out and have fun. Such as...They both go to summer camps without me (I worry every second they are gone) but they love it. But I know the rules of the camp.

I fear situations when there isn't an adult present. will I ever make it through their teenage years!?

[This message edited by hitbyatruck at 7:15 PM, May 13th (Monday)]

peridot posted 5/14/2013 22:48 PM

My son is 12 yrs old and there is no way I would let him walk any where alone without an adult.

I was almost kidnapped as a kid. There is no way another child is going to be able to help. They also aren't going to have time to pull their phone out while trying to run away from an adult trying to grab them.

My friend and I were very lucky that we were only a few houses down from where we lived.

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