Independence and responsibility???

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-26-2003
Independence and responsibility???
8
Mon, 05-26-2003 - 10:13pm
Hello, this is my first post, so please bare with me. First, a little about us. I am married to my daughter's father for 11 years now. Our dd just turned 10 two weeks ago. She is an only child. We are working parents. In addition to my regular job I teach at night once a week to keep my child in a private school. We live in "Small Town" Oklahoma. So small that my husband and I come home for lunch and you can get anywhere in town in less than 5 minutes.

Our 10 year old, only child, very gifted child, is craving independence. Wants to ride her bike to the library this summer and to the YMCA, etc. I am scared to let her. She is easily distracted. At what ages should you allow this independence. She is already accustomed to staying home a few hours now and then by herself. She has expressed a desire not to attend her regular daycamp activities this year. I do plan on having her attend a few vacation bible schools and activities at the YMCA. But, now that I have rambled, how do you know when they are ready to venture on their own? I bought a bike for myself so that I could ride around with her and she could learn the streets. Any personal experiences would be greatly appreciated.

By the way, this morning I let her ride the one block to the "Dollar Store" and she ended up making a right instead of a left. She figured out what she had done wrong and fixed it, but still it's these things have me worried.

Thank you in advance.

Avatar for keke0116
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 6:27am
I think that you give them small doses of independence and see how they handle it, and increase it as they prove themselves. My DS is 11. We live in a large town, more big-city type, and safety is our biggest concern. I think if we lived in a small, safe, area, I'd be more apt to give him more freedom. I let him stay home alone at this point. Started out with small trips to the store and leaving him home alone. There are 'rules' about not answering the door, not telling people on the phone that I'm not home (he's to say that I'm in the shower or the yard,) not cooking (other than microwave,) not playing outside, etc. He proved he could handle this, and so we increased the times. He can now pretty much stay home alone (during the day) if need be. Riding his bike is another issue ... mainly because to get anywhere would require crossing some busy streets. And, we live around the corner from a busy middle school ... and I don't really let him ride his bike alone during dismissal times. Next year, he'll be riding his bike (alone) to school.

I think that if directions are the concern, then you need to go on your bike and explore with her, and have her show you she knows her way around. I personally have NO sense of direction, and can go some place 1000 times, but until I'M doing the navigating, have not clue as to how to get some place. But, riding her bike to the library and YMCA sounds like reasonable requests, and as long as they aren't too far and she is able to navigate them, she probably needs to be able to do that. But, I don't know that I'd leave her home alone during the days while you're working. She may WANT to do that now, but in reality, that gets boring after a time ... and I'd probably still keep her in day camp and such (maybe let her skip a day now and then.)

Never easy decisions. What I'm learning is that YOU have to feel comfortable in whatever decisions you make. I know that I let DS stay home alone long before my sis let my niece (who's exactly the same age) ... but she let my niece see PG-13 (and even R) rated movies that I wouldn't let my DS see. So, everyone just sort of needs to find their comfort level and trust their own instincts.

Nancy

Nancy 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 7:30am
Welcome to the board. Here is my personal opinion.....

In this day and time I think 10 is far to young to be left at home alone for hours, to wander around on a bike alone, etc. Even small towns have crime and it's often those small towns that feel overly safe and have the biggest tragedies with their children. Child abusers and kidnappers prey on children that are left alone. They watch school zones to see which kids walk or ride alone, which kids go home to an empty house day after day, what time Mom and Dad get home,etc. These children make easy targets.

Personally I wouldn't take these chances with my kids. There are other ways for her to have independence without putting her life at risk.

Just my two cents. Welcome to the board and I hope you will be posting often!

Sherri

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 9:26am
Welcome to our board! So glad you posted this topic. It's a really tough one for this age. We too, have started leaving our almost 11-year-olds home alone for short periods of time. (I have boy/girl twins finishing 5th grade.) They know not to answer the door, or even look to see who's there, and not to answer the phone unless they hear their dad or I on the answering machine. They have handled this responsibility very well, so as Nancy said, we've continued giving them small doses to see how they handle it.

They are allowed to walk or ride their bikes in our neighborhood. The neighborhood is quiet, but the street leading to it is too narrow and busy for them to use it to go to places like the library. I think I would be nervous about letting your dd have as much independence as she is requesting, particularly since she already made one wrong turn! Perhaps pick the closest place, maybe it's the library, and say once a week she can go to the library on her own, but only while you're home in case she needs to call you. Pick a small outing that you *are* comfortable with, and see how it goes. If you are not comfortable, just say no! Don't ignore your instincts. Is there a neighbor who can join her? I'd be more comfortable with 2 kids together, than 1 alone.

I also think you should keep her in as many programs this summer as possible, and not just home alone to do her own thing. Too much unstructured time is not a good thing, IMHO.

So glad you found our board and raised this important topic! Let's keep discussing it, and please let us know what you decide and how it goes.

Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-24-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 10:22am
My 10yo ds has asked for more independence also. We let him walk to a friend's house or ride his bike alone now but he has to take a 2-way radio so he can let me know he made it to his friend's house or is on his way home.
Avatar for patgalca
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 10:39am
I'm also in a small town, though it's growing quickly. My girls ride their bikes to school and will also make a run to the local convenience store if I ask. These are in the neighbourhood and a matter of a few blocks. As for the library, well, in my case it's right down town and though there are less busy roads to get there, I still am not quite comfortable letting DD 10 to go by herself. And she hasn't asked. Besides, we make a weekly trip to the library.

It all depends on the child and the area. My 10 yo is pretty mature, but my 6yo is nowhere near as mature as Katelyn was at that age.

Pat - Katelyn (10), Melanie (6)

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-26-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 4:26pm
Thank you all for welcoming me and replying. You gave me very good ideas. I have decided that I will trust my instincts. I stayed home with DD today because of my own head cold. With me sacked out on the couch I can tell she is extremely bored and that can just lead to trouble. I think I will enroll her in day camp. I don't have a problem with her missing a day or two as long as she has somewhere else to go, like a friends house. I also don't have a problem letting her stay at the library for a few hours, but I have decided not to let her ride it alone.

You seem like a well rounded group and you all love your children very much. Now that I have found this group I will stick around.

Thanks again.

Samantha

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 2:13pm
I'm so glad we helped you think this through and that you will be sticking around. Hope to see you often! -Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-26-2003
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 8:36pm
I almost have dd's summer planned for the next month. This week I have her in the YMCA day camp. Next week is VBS then we have two weeks of early morning swim lessons. From the community pool she will walk with 4 other children 5 blocks to the community center where she will spend the day at a Community and Free day center. I think that is a good combination of freedom (the walking with friends) and restraint(the supervised day camps). I will worry about July when it gets here.

Thank you again for all your suggestions.