Running & Sports
- Kids & Family
- Fitness & Health
I came across this story online and was blown away by people's reactions to a kid walking to soccer practice alone.It was daylight, only 1/3 a mile from his home and he knew the route.
He even had his mom's cell phone.
Do you let your kids walk to sports practice or school? Do you think it's safe?
Although I do not let my own kids walk by themselves I know that this a decision I have made for my own family and not for someone else's. I also do not live in a small town where there are walking paths to school. I respect this woman's choice and she had obviously thought about it if she gave him her cell phone and would be meeting him at the field. How can we expect our children to be independent and reliable if they are not given the chance to show they can be.They need to experience independence. (if only for a few blocks) It is obvious to me that the people in her neighborhood need to find some hobbies.
Wow -- sounds like that small town in Mississippi has some uptight folks. I totally agree with Lori. Building independence in children is important. I have a friend who lets her six-year old walk to school by herself -- not because she doesnt have time for her kids -- but because she felt her child was mature and capable and wanted her child to feel independent. It's a parents' right to make that decision. Parents (hopefully) know their children better than anyone.
It wasnt like this when I was growing up. Tons of kids walked to school every day. Some -- over a mile at younger ages than 10. And no one thought twice. I think I was already babysitting at 10.
Deciding whether your child is capable of walking to practice depends on so many factors...the route, the traffic, the neighborhood/town crime rates, who you personally know along the route, your child's maturity and fearfulness/cautiousness toward strangers (and non-strangers who don't know the password), whether or not the child has a cell phone, whether or not you can see your child from your house for most of the walk, and the list goes on. No one can make this decision other than the mother. She is the only one with all the information.
I have an eight year old that I often forget is 8, because she is so mature for her age....like a 12 year old. It's almost scary. (Not bragging. I also have two other kids who are quite average, or below, in maturity level.) Twice in the past couple weeks, I've let her stay home alone for 20 minutes, while I ran an errand. She locks the doors, and doesn't answer them. She has an "emergency" note card that I keep by the phone which lists steps to follow in an emergency. I kept my cell phone in my hand the whole time and called her at least once. Funny thing is, the second time I left her home, I inadvertantly left my house keys at home. She locked the doors, as told. She didn't answer when I rang the door bell. She didn't even answer when I incessently rang the door bell again and again. Good girl! I think any child who knows the rules (and why they exist) AND has been well prepared for "what to do if..." is perfectly capable of walking to soccer practice with their mother's cell phone in hand.
On a side note, please don't send Child Protective Services to my house for leaving my daughter home for 20 minutes. If you doubt that it was wise, I invite you to come over and have a conversation with her about......... the state of the economy ........or who she would have voted for in the election (and why) ..........or why her favorite tv show is Mad Money (a financial investment show)........or why I ask her to lock the doors while I'm gone.
Lastly, my children will never do sleepovers. That is FAR more risky than walking to soccer practice alone.
My oldest is only four but I think I'd do what Lori did in that situation. I also worry about sheltering my children too much - I remember walking to the corner store at age seven on my own, and to school and back younger than that. Children still need to learn how to develop independence and instincts, even if times have changed. Given all the measures Lori took with her son (cell phone, short time frame and distance), I think she made a good decision.
My youngest (and most babied) is 11, and I let him walk to school every day, which is about 1/3 mile. This was the first year we allowed it, and he had been begging for a couple of years. The first 2 months, my husband followed him in the car on the adjoining blocks so our son wouldn't see him. I am paralyzed with fear every day KNOWING that every day many kids are kidnapped, and my son could be one of them. But I also know I wouldn't be doing him any favors by wrapping him in bubble wrap 24/7. ...much as I would like to. I think about his future and realize that he needs to have the confidence necessary to get through life and make the best decisions he can, and he cannot do this if I keep him under my thumb too much.
And by the way, those "curtain-twitchers" in the story about Lori and her son? Wow. Seriously? I appreciate the whole "village-raising" thing and all, but do they have nothing better to do than call 911 whenever they see a healthy happy 10-yr-old gasp walking down the sidewalk??
Endure, learn, apply.
Here are a few great articles on the subject:
The Walk-to-School Fight
Family Defies No-Bike Policy