The Age Of Aloneness

Calling all moms, aunties, and grandmothers! Today’s post is actually why I started blogging in the first place– to provide a safe and inclusive community to share and learn from likeminded women all working toward the same goal –  to be the best and happiest woman that they can be.

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The idea behind today’s blog post stems from a conversation that took place a few weeks back. Girls night, actually! I think most of my readers know I need my girls like I need oxygen. While my husband provides a lot of stimulation (get your mind out of the gutter), 😉 it’s not the same kind of stimulation that my girls provide. And when this particular group of girls get together, we’re usually stared at for being LOUD. We just can’t help ourselves– it’s two hours of pure LOUD laughter and LOUD talking! And we love every minute of it.

Now stay with me here — all of our eldest children are all age 10 / 11. And I don’t remember who started the conversation, but it went something to the tune of — at what age do you start to leave the kids alone in the house?  Or at what age do you let your kids walk or bike to the park alone or with a friend? What is the age of aloneness – when do you leave them alone, unsupervised, either at home, or out in the real world?

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I was SHOCKED to learn that most of the kids my son’s age are starting to stay alone for bits at a time. They are also biking with friends and walking to the park with friends. Some of them even going alone. Maybe it’s my Jewish Mother neuroses — but I hardly even leave my kids alone in the driveway. And it’s not because I don’t trust them– it’s the crazies out there I don’t trust.

I then brought this discussion to another group of friends because I needed another sounding board and their response was, “When I was 9 or 10, I was taking the bus home alone and letting myself in the house after school!” They then continued, “It’s a different time today. I wouldn’t let them take the bus home alone yet, but I’m trying to give them more independence and that means leaving them home alone if I have to run out to the pharmacy for 30 minutes, or allowing them walk to the park without me.”

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Today ladies, I don’t have the answers, and this is a very subjective topic after all. I just know that I am not at all comfortable yet with any of the above. And I’m on the fence – am I neurotic and unreasonable, or is it justifiable to err on the side of caution?

I truly would love to know: At what do YOU let your kids stay home alone, and for how long? And at what age do YOU let your kids walk or bike to the park either alone or with their friends? I want my children to grow up to be independent thinkers and I do want to loosen the reins a little, but I don’t want to jeopardize their safety.

I’d LOVE you to weight in below, because even life coaches and experts don’t have all the answers. I know that if I’m unsure, someone else is too.

Have a beautiful weekend. It’s JUNE for crying out loud. When did THAT happen?!

Erica3

18 Comments
  1. Age 12 for me, although I started allowing them to stay at home for 15 minute quicky runs for milk to the convenience store up the road at 11. We live in mushroom country no sidewalks so mine never road bikes on the street too dangerous. Traffic on our road flies by at 45 mph, with narrow roads. It’s all about the maturity level of the child.

  2. Quite an interesting question. It dépends on the kids and on the parents. Everybody needs to be ready and confident. My older son stayed home alone in grade 6 while my younger one is staying home alone in grade 5. My older son started taking the city bus and metro in grade 7 while my younger one is taking the metro right now (grade 5). The younger one is very independent and is already talking about having breakfast downtown before school when he will be in grade 7!

    Cathy xx

  3. This was a difficult question to tackle with our 10 year old. The problem is we’ve spent some of our time in Montana, and the rest in California (I just graduated from law school here). I think the level of comfort depends on your surroundings- like you said, the crazies! In Montana, we live in a small sized city of about 80,000, our neighborhood is (in my opinion) safe and the community is filled with kind, caring people who aren’t afraid to talk to me about any concerns they might have. He rides his bike to the park (about a block away) and plays outside with friends in the neighborhood quite frequently without our immediate supervision. I firmly believe the whole “It Takes a Village!” concept is still in full force there. In California, however, we live just outside of Orange County, where there are millions of people and the small town feel is non existent. I keep him close and I’m always outside when he is. I know that he is a responsible 10 year old, I feel we’ve done a good job teaching him right from wrong, however I don’t trust the people we’re around in California like I do in Montana. We do have friends here in our neighborhood as well, but the feeling is different. Where you are and what your comfort level is with your child’s surroundings is the a big factor in how much “alone” time you give your kids.

  4. Janell I completely agree on your points. Huge factors whether you have a safe community, but anymore I really think there really aren’t any safe communities. People are mentally ill or on drugs and their brains tell them to prey on the helpless children, it’s sickening. We have to raise our children about stranger dangers and code words to use in case a predator approaches the child in the park or on their own street.

    Keep this dialog rolling, it’s a way to keep the kids safe! We live in a farming community where you would think the kids would be safe, but our Township Supervisor was arrested last year for having over 500 child pornography photos on his computer at home. His wife called to have the computer fixed and the tech turned him in. The case is still in the courts, it’s sick. This mans family were trusted members of our community for years. You just never know who would prey on your child.

  5. I am a picky mom and don’t let my kids do a ton of things without me being present. My daughter is 17 and I still won’t let her go off to the movies with her boyfriend by themselves. They have to take an adult with them to the theater with them.

    My daughter started staying at home by herself at the age of 13. Daycare stops at the age of 12 and she did great. I would talk to her and give her chores to do.

    I don’t even like my kids to play outside unsupervised. Things are totally different from what they were when I was growing up. I remember riding my bike every where and usually told my mom where I was going. I was allowed to play outside alone. Times have changed and I closely keep my kids in my sight at all times.

    I know that I am going to have to let my daughter go soon but I am not quite ready.

  6. My children are grown and I was a very caucious mother. I started leaving them alone when they were around 12. In this very scary world I would even be more caucious. There is always safety in numbers. I would never let a child walk alone. I teach school and every afternoon it is part of my job to help keep thing flowing at “pick up” One day there was a strange man on the playground. I approached him because he was acting funny. Sure enough he was up to no good. Just watching the kids. We called the police. I think kids should know how to react to strangers, how to be bold and I gave mine a cell phone early on. It just felt better when I could keep in contact. Wish we all lived in a SAFE world.
    Suzanne
    http://www.chapter-two.net

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  8. Erica, this was a hard one for my family. My daughter has always been very self sufficient and responsible. For example, she asked for her own alarm clock to get herself up for school IN KINDERGARTEN. My son, on the other hand, is blind, has Asperger’s, and has always tended toward high anxiety. Being a special education student, an adult had to meet his bus when he arrived home, too. He didn’t start staying alone for even 10 minutes at a time until he was 13, and he did that with the condition that he could call my cell phone to reassure himself that I was on my way home.

    My point? There’s no magic age. Look at your child, talk to your child, and work with your child. My son is now 22 and isn’t quite ready to move out on his own, but he can take care of himself all day while I’m at work. No easy answer exists for this issue.

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