Life · Parenting

How Young Is Too Young?

I believe that everyone has the right to raise their children any way they see fit. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it but there comes a point where you really have to question people’s judgement and this is one of those occasions.

I was reading the Washington Post recently and saw an article about a father in the DC Metro area who was being investigated because he let his 10 and 6 years old children walk home from the park alone. The park was just under a mile away from their home and the father said that his children were more mature for their ages and thus he felt comfortable letting them. He stated that, he was not a helicopter parent and preferred the free range style of parenting.

So what is Helicopter versus Free Range parenting? I know I had to look it up. According to Wikipedia, which is where I go for everything, a Helicopter parent is one who pays extremely close attention to their child’s experiences and problems. While Free Range parenting gives kids the same freedoms we had as kids without being overbearing. All that said, is any method better than the other. Probably not. I say it depends on the child. Some children need a more involved “hands on” style while others thrive on being left to their own devices.

With that in mind, how young is too young to walk home alone?

I would say 10 and 6 are way too young to walk home alone from anywhere. I wouldn’t let my daughter walk down the street alone to the neighbor’s house on the corner, a mere 500 feet at best, without watching her the whole way. I definitely don’t consider myself a helicopter parent. What I do consider is reality and that reality is that on the news every day you see kids being abducted from right outside their homes. There are sick people in the world and those people are waiting in the shadows. That reason alone is enough to make me walk my children everywhere they have to go until they are old enough to concealed carry.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that children should be given latitude to make mistakes and to make their own choices. I’ve started that with my own children and they are 4 and 6. Even at those young ages, there are things they can decide and do on their own and learn from them. There are responsibilities they can have but I draw the line at pushing them out into the world to navigate it alone no matter how mature I think they are. A six year old is still a six year old and I know that no matter how many times I tell my daughter don’t talk to strangers, let one show up with a cute puppy and all bets are off.

I put the question out to all of you, how young is too young to walk home alone?

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3 thoughts on “How Young Is Too Young?

  1. When talking about allowing children to do things, using a simple age isn’t enough. The temperament, maturity, trustworthiness of the child needs to be taken into account, and it’s different for each child. I would have no trouble letting my 6 year old walk to a neighbor’s house by himself if I could see him from my window the whole way there. However, I let my 11 and 12 year olds ride their bikes the half mile to a church parking lot to play basketball without me. At age 16 these kids will be driving cars. I need to prepare them for it, and it starts years before they get to that age. My heart may be in my throat the entire time, but I have to let them do things on their own.
    I agree with the article. Many parents are just too scared and are holding their children back. Kids need to be able to do things on their own to gain confidence and nurture their intuition.

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  2. My kids are grown but I do have an opinion on this (just like about everything else). #1 This man lives in the DC metro area which is an area that I would find uncomfortable to walk alone almost a mile at 45. The truth of the matter is that we need to give our kids room to make mistakes but that outer area of that room needs to guarded vigorously by the parent. There’s a fine line between being to strict and to lenient unfortunately in today’s society it has been proven that time and time again children who are left unattended end up hurt or worse. So I agree this is to young.

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