How much freedom at what age??

mom2emallAugust 27, 2010

How much freedom do you give your boys when they are in middle school? The last month I have been allowing my ds to ride his bike around the neighborhood with friends, walk to local parks with friends, walk to the local ice cream shop with friends, etc. Some of his friends have check in times when they have to stop home. Some just have curfews. I like to know where he is going so I have more of a "you can go there and then come straight home before going anywhere else" thing instead of letting him wander aimlessly around the neighborhood. And then one of his friends (who is in 8th grade) is not allowed to go anywhere. He can have friends over playing outside his house, but is not allowed to go anywhere else unless his older brother goes with him.

Just wanted some imput on what you all think. This is all kind of new to me with him and my way worked fine with sd's, but seems to be more of a struggle with ds.

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parent_of_one

I think it depends...And I don't have boys...it might be different with boys

When DD was in high school, she rode a bike or walked everywhere, she never had curfew simply because she was never a party girl and never was up late, plus she always had very safe, totally not wild, friends, LOL

But in middle school she really didn't go anywhere much. She once rode a bike with her male cousin same age like around subdivision and police officer brought them back telling me that kids are not allowed riding on their own at this age, and she was like 11 or so and we always lived in a safe neighborhood.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 12:02PM
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mattie_gt

"She once rode a bike with her male cousin same age like around subdivision and police officer brought them back telling me that kids are not allowed riding on their own at this age, and she was like 11 or so and we always lived in a safe neighborhood. "

Seriously?! That's ridiculous! Especially when one considers that twelve was the traditional age (for my friends, anyway) to begin babysitting for money. So an eleven year old cannot ride a bike around her neighborhood during the day but in less than a year she could be presumably responsible for several younger children?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 12:10PM
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lovehadley

I will say I would never hire a 12 year old to babysit. JMO. I realize some people might and I know it depends on the 12 year old, but that would just be too young for my comfort.

I can tell you my experience in middle school, but I'm almost 30, so this was many moons ago. :)

I went to a private school, so I didn't have neighborhood friends to hang around with. When I was in middle school, it was at this age that I was allowed to go to the mall or to a movie with my friends and no parents.

"I like to know where he is going so I have more of a "you can go there and then come straight home before going anywhere else" thing instead of letting him wander aimlessly around the neighborhood."

That sounds totally reasonable to me. :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 12:39PM
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silversword

I hire the neighbor girl to babysit last year at 12. But it was in my home, next door to her home, where her mother was home :)

I could go around on my bike from 8 as long as there were two or more of us. But we lived pretty rurally.

I only have girls, but I'd imagine as long as there were two of them and they had a set location, set times, and abided by those times/locations/rules I'd be pretty flexible.

Go to Sally's house? Call when you get there. Call when you leave. Increase freedom as he increases responsibility. Make sure he understands they are directly correlated.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 12:55PM
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lovehadley

"I hire the neighbor girl to babysit last year at 12. But it was in my home, next door to her home, where her mother was home :)"

That's true. I would be okay with something like that probably.

I babysat the two year old next door when I was about twelve-ish. And it was the same thing, literally right next door and my mom was home. When I was about 13-14, I babysat the girls across the street--one time until about 2 AM, and I felt okay about it, and the parents did too, because MY parents were right across the street.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 1:03PM
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parent_of_one

mattie I don't know if a police officer knew how old they were. DD always looked about her age. We always have a lot of police in my neighborhood. There are bunch of laws in my city, no cell phones, no eating or drinking (anything) in the car, no kids by themselves etc.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 1:05PM
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silversword

Mine too. Cellphones must be hands free, but both ears may not be covered at one time and minors may not use cell phones and eating or drinking (called "distracted driving) is illegal. Children may not be left unattended in vehicles, nor may pets, and no one may smoke in a car where minors are present. If you leave Christmas lights up past 2 months you may be fined.

One also may not shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar or eat an orange in the bathtub.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 3:35PM
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imamommy

I remember babysitting when i was about 10 or 11. That was back in the late '70s. It was a neighbor (rural) that went out for the evening, kids were in bed before I got there & I sat watching TV until about 10pm, ready to call my parents if there were an emergency. I grew up in a rural area, we lived on 5 wooded acres so I played in the trails & trees a lot. We walked to the nearby high school by trail, which was about a mile away when I was 9-11 years old. We moved to a city when I was 13... I was given quite a bit of freedom, but only because dad was working a lot as a truck driver & always gone and mom was drunk or 'out'.

I think the freedom I had as a young kid, prepared me for the freedom I had as an older kid. I think that is the most important aspect, how prepared is the child for the level of freedom you give? I would never tell a child that at age 10, you get to do this. At age 12, you get to do that. Each child is different... personality, temperament, & maturity level.

My SD11 has been treated like a baby & sheltered by both of her parents... DH is now trying to give her more responsibility like washing her own clothes & taking out the trash. When my sister was her age, she kept the house clean (two story, large house) and babysat my sister & I all day during the summer while our parents worked. My sister was cooking by the time she was 9 or 10. I cooked with the stove for the first time in 2nd grade. SD is in 6th grade & is making her own lunch for the first time... something I think she should have been doing since 3rd grade. and she looks much older than 11, so I don't consider how old a child looks in determining when they are ready for more freedoms. (and SD also lies to us so we have trust issues to deal with when she wants to do certain things)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 4:34PM
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mom2emall

I guess we have babied our kids by ima's standards and by how I grew up. By the time I was in middle school I was babysitting and allowed to go places with friends as long as I was home by a certain time. I cleaned most of the house and babysat younger siblings all day in summer. I also got myself up and ready for school from about 2nd grade on plus helped my siblings. I made my own lunches then too.

I always swore I would let my kids be kids for longer. So I still pack all their lunches, wake them up for school, cook breakfast, etc. As for chores they all have daily chores that don't take them long to complete. I just want them to enjoy their childhood without the stress of doing all the adult things too young.

But I do think the freedom I had in my childhood made me mature and responsible, so I do want my kids to have that. Its just so hard because I worry when they are not home. I guess I have watched too many Lifetime movies, crime shows, and Americas Most Wanted!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:29PM
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parent_of_one

silverrswood, I was on the phone with my mom yesterday and all of a sudden she screamed "gotta hang up", she was driving and passed a border of my city, and remember no cell phone rule. LOL but we eat oranges in a bathtub all the time. haha

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:51PM
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silversword

@ PO: It's second nature for me. I slap on the bluetooth as soon as I get in the car. I haven't eaten in the bathtub (except for the occasional piece of chocolate) since I was smaller and my mom let us eat in there and I dumped a whole bowl of salad in the water.

@ Ima: I babysat once at age 10 or 11 for a couple of kids I barely knew. The mom was a friend of my mom's and volunteered me. I'd never been to their house, it was in the middle of the forest somewhere with no electricity (solar) and no telephone. One of the kids got sick 1/2 way through the night and was so feverish. I was scared out of my mind and couldn't do anything. No medicine, no phone, it was raining, there were no close neighbors, I didn't know where I was so I couldn't even go looking for help if I wanted to walk outside in the middle of the night in the rain to look for someone and leave the 4 and 6 year old in the house alone. Looking back I can't believe my mom put me in that situation.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 12:26AM
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seekergal

Even though there is no law against having someone under the age of 16 babysit your kids...if you do, YOU will be held liable for anything that happens!

If you hire someone who is 16 or older THEY can be held responsible for anything that happens.

It is highly recommended that you NOT leave your kids with someone who is under the age of 16 and hasn't had babysitting classes. They give classes at the Red Cross.

It depends on the age and emotional maturity of the each kid, how much freedom you give them. It is still a good idea to have them check in each time they plan on being in a new place other than where you were last told they would be.

When I grew up in the country (in the 60's) we would run the neightborhood in a "herd". It was different then, we were given more freedom than now days. All the parents in the neighborhood had an understanding that whoevers yard we were in, that parent would contact the others if something happened. A different world now days, too may kooks out there to protect out kids against!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 2:25PM
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smashley

mom - I figured maybe I could give some perspective being a "younger" person on here (Love, 30 is YOUNG! I'm sure you're still very in the know :) )

In middle school, I was allowed to walk/bike to friends houses in our neighborhood (we lived in a subdivision with sidewalks) and my mom knew all of my friends parents, so if I didn't show up, she would know about it! At that age, I was also given a pre-paid cell phone with barely any minutes on it so that if I went to the movies, I would call my mom to let her know what time it ended. If I left the mall with friends, I called my mom, and I called her when we got to the new destination. If I didn't do that, privileges were taken away, and if I did, I was given a little bit more freedom.

I think more than anything, the fact that my mom knew and had relationships with my friends parents really helped with the trust factor. She knew that all of my friends had the same type of rules so it wasn't like she was overbearing/too lax, and she knew that I was always safe when I went places with them.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 3:41PM
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gellchom

It depends on a lot of factors, including the neighborhood, the temperament and judgment of the kid, the group of friends, and the safety of the roads.

I'm just chiming in to say that I would encourage freedom whenever possible. I think that parents lately so pressured to protect their kids against even a tiny chance of any possible harm that the kids are growing up crippled in social and coping skills. (This is also a function of "childhood moving indoors" with computers and so much stuff to watch on TV. But I digress.)

Anyway, kids used to play outside a LOT more, and not always with adult supervision. And it was valuable. They learned how to settle an argument, how to make up and enforce rules, how to get along, how to deal with new kids, how to compromise, how to find your way if you get lost, how to comfort a friend, how to deal with a bully, how to solve a problem, how to deal with a cut or scrape or lost object or broken bike, etc. -- you get the point. And they learned to be brave, to feel competent, to be fair (and what happens when you aren't!), and to trust their ability to deal with the unknown.

My kids are young adults, and they grew up in a neighborhood (a very close suburb of a big city) where we could tell them "Go out and play! Just be back by dinner time. Go ride your bike somewhere, or see if anyone's playing ball at the playground, or find someone to play with." I feel sorry for kids who don't have that. I think there is a lot to be said for "wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood," in fact. Now that there are cell phones, it seems like it ought to be easier to send kids out without knowing where they are going. IMHO, middle school is high time for most kids to be out on their own sometimes without a rigid agenda every time.

Re: the age of babysitters -- again, it just depends on so much. No bright line rule. I did observe that younger sitters often were even better than older ones. They were more interested in playing with the kids, and they didn't have tons of homework.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 4:18PM
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ceph

SS11
- Walks/skateboards/bikes to and from school on his own (about a 10 minute walk to his mom's house). There's only one route and he knows he's not allowed to deviate from it.
- Goes to the stores by our place by himself (2 minute walk). He has to tell us which store he is going to and come straight home.
- Goes to the park with a friend with a "be home by X" instruction.
- Goes for a rollerblade or skateboard around the neighbourhood, but is only allowed on the side streets, not the busy one or down to the river.

He's lost all of these privileges at one time or another. He abuses it; loses the privilege for a time; gets it back and is good for awhile... Then we go through the cycle again.
He keeps getting better though and going for longer between losses.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 6:51PM
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