How much freedom should a 9-year-old have?

My husband and I disagree about how much freedom our daughter should have. He thinks that our 9-year-old should be able to walk or bike home (half a mile and we do live in a safe neighborhood) from school by herself, walk to friends’ houses, go to the park with friends and no adult. I disagree and think it should be a closed case, as pretty much no one else lets their kids do that anyway. He thinks that I’m giving in to a society that shelters kids way too much and gives in to fear-mongering media. What do you think?

I think it’s possible that you’re giving in to society that shelters your kids, but I also think, who gives a shit if you give in? Last week I stood there and watched while my husband not only ALLOWED, but ENCOURAGED, my teeny tiny little children to ski into a vast forested cavern the size of the Grand Canyon. It freaked me the frick out, but of course they both emerged in one piece, happy and with a nice boost to their self-confidence. But still, if I had a time machine and could go back and make myself in charge, there’s no way in hell I would have let them ski down there, because I just wasn’t comfortable with it.

You could be a crazy helicopter mom; I don’t know. Do you make your kids wear helmets at the playground in case they bonk their head on the slides? (Oh, yes, there are people I know who do this.) Then you might want to ease up a bit. But a nine-year-old walking home from school alone seems scary to me. Safe neighborhoods don’t have signs at the edges of them saying, ATTENTION KIDNAPPERS: THIS IS A SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD, SO YOU JUST SKEDADDLE ON OUT OF HERE.

I just want to know what your husband’s hurry is. If one of you has the time and inclination to walk her to her friend’s house, or sit at the park and read while she plays, then why not do that? I mean, say you let her go—wouldn’t you secretly follow her to school, or give her a cell phone and make her talk to you the entire time she’s walking, or install hidden cameras on all the light posts in the park?

Tell your husband if he’d like to get rid of the fear-mongering media, he can go stage a sit-in outside the Fox News office, not let his kids wander around town unsupervised.

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