So I have been struggling with how much freedom to give my now 8 year-old K. She is actually very responsible and has good common sense. I have let her ride her bike around the block alone a bunch of times now, and she loves it. But really, that is all I have felt comfortable letting her do. And that is so ridiculous, really. When I was 8, my parents sent me off in the neighborhood and I would come back when the street lights came on.
So, in trying to figure out what to do, I read a great book. It is called Free-Range Kids. If you are a friend IRL, you are likely to receive this from me in the next few days. The author also has a cool blog. It basically says that the world is really no more scary than we were kids (in some ways LESS) and it is just the media and general paranoia that has overtaken our society.
She debunks this general feeling we all have that strangers will grab our children off the street at any moment. She has actual facts and statistics that are often ignored in media reports. Instead she talks about the good that will come if we let our kids explore, try, god-forbid PLAY outside. It builds confidence, it teaches street-smarts, combats obesity, and generally HELPS our children.
I was recently yelled at by a woman in a car passing my house for letting my children ride their bikes right in front of my house while I was outside watching them. I do not live on a city street. I live on a suburban street that has light traffic. My kids know how to ride their bikes and stay away from parked cars and watch for moving cars. I thought that lady was nuts. Now I am sure.
I am going to let K ride around the block. I may even let her ride to the library (ok, its 1 block away)..and maybe to her friend D's house (although she will have to cross a busy street). This book helps alleviate some fears, and makes me WANT to give my kids some more leeway.