Dr. Karen Ruskin is ruffling the feathers of parents with her TV advice that kids shouldn’t go outside alone until late tweens, and I agree. Although I’m far from considering myself a helicopter parent, I’m keeping my kids on a leash until age 11 or older.
In response to the mom who was arrested for letting her 7-year-old walk to the park alone, Dr. Karen Ruskin went on TV and advised parents not let kids play outside alone or allow unsupervised kids to walk to and from school. And while I was giving a rousing, “preach it, sister!,” parents were getting their undies in a bunch over a post by Free Range Kids touting the advice as asinine. And I’m standing up for my right to protect my kids.
My kids also aren’t allowed to play out front alone, even if I can see them from the window. We also have a rule in our house that there won’t be sleepovers until Junior High, at our house or anyone else’s house. Even then we might renege if my gut tells me to do so. And, while both rules may seem like different ballgames, they rest on the same principle: It is my job as a mother to keep my kids safe, and I can’t do that when my kids are more than a quick sprint away.
Call it suffocating my kids. Call it stifling their independence. But, there are plenty of other ways that my kids can grow without handing them over to any child molester that drives onto our block or friend’s parent who convinces my kids that mommy says it’s OK to play the tickle game. It took until the fifth grade to feel comfortable enough to allow my son to walk to my car after school without parental supervision. And I’m OK with the judging you might give me for that because they are my kids.
I think I’m doing a pretty good job of raising independent kids, even if it is mostly based on the fact that I’m too exhausted to cater to every whim my youngsters have. But, if I’m swamped with work or am not feeling so hot, they don’t get to play outside and roam the neighborhood with other unsupervised kids. End of discussion.
I don’t really qualify for the helicopter parent category and I don’t co-sleep with my kids. But, parenthood is different for every household. So, let’s make a deal: I won’t tell you how to raise your kids and you don’t tell me how to raise mine. You want to let your unsupervised kids play outside or stay home alone without parental supervision? Go right ahead. I won’t judge. Just don’t expect my kids to be out there, too.