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Gabriela
11-21-2011, 08:17 AM
Just as I'd read and heard from others, my boy turned 9 and the changes started like clockwork.

I've always been overprotective = no sleep-overs, no going to the park by himself, no getting in a car without me... and many other no's.

For the first eight years, it didn't really represent any problems. It was just the way, and my son didn't question it. I got plenty of crap over it from friends and family, but he was fine and didn't complain. He even thought that other kids were allowed to do those things because their parents didn't take good enough care of them (I swear I didn't put that in his head).

But now, he's starting to see through me. He rolls his eyes, wants to know why or what I'm afraid of. I can tell that he's analyzing me and concluding that I'm too over the top about it. He doesn't say it with words, but his facial expressions are clear. "My mom is a paranoid freak, and I'm going to have to live with this until I'm 18".

So, I started letting him go to the park with his friend on the days I go into town for shopping. That way, I let him go ahead, but I'm 15 minutes behind him and can pass him in the park to see if everything is okay. I still freak out in a major way. I start seeing images of him falling off the slide or getting kidnapped.

I don't want to drive him away. I don't want to burden him with the feeling of "my mom is nuts, but I love her and live with this", but I don't know how to do this without suffering terrible anxiety and battling the voice that tells me better to protect than regret.

Have you been through this, going through this, have any advice on how to let go?

I was robbed at gun point a few years ago and it changed my life, so there is definitely some PTS. But I really don't know how parents manage to not freak out every time their kids are out of sight.

(I have read Lenore Skenazy's blog. I was the ultimate free-range kid and never thought I'd be this kind of mom. I love her ideas, but I can't do it.)

theWeedyRoad
11-21-2011, 08:28 AM
See... I think I'm overprotective as well. Go to the park alone? No frickin' way. Their grandfather lives less than a mile down the road, and we are out in the boonies. I thought i'd be willing to let ds walk there alone by now (in K I had to walk to school alone). But no, I won't. Like you, I can see 7000 bad things happening. My ds (10) is still chaffing at the web surfing block I put on his computer. So be it.

I know people have different rules, different rules of thumb. I guess I err on the side of caution, but try to do so without micromanaging my kids. Just in the last six months, I've let my 10yo cross the road by himself. The boy who comes to visit has been doing it since he was 7 (not my kid, not my rules). I know people who let their kids run completely wild (I was probably one of those kids, although not the personality to be a risk taker), I know people who hover (and would probably wrap their kids in bubble wrap). I try to find the happy medium.

If I'm being honest, I trust my kids almost completely. I trust them to be home alone, I trust they will watch out for each other and stay safe if they are visiting someone I don't know well. I trust them to use the stove, the washing machine, sharp knives. But they don't do any of those things- because even though I know they could, they could also get seriously hurt or injured (or killed) because they can't always see the danger for themselves.

So.. I don't know your situation really. But I don't think it's a matter of letting go unless you REALLY think you are over the top. Kids will test boundaries from time to time- that's just what they do. That doesn't mean your rule is too tough.

Shoe
11-21-2011, 08:42 AM
I started letting my kids go to the local public school's playground alone several years ago (well, by alone, I mean the two of them together, not actually alone), as long as they took their cell phones with them, and didn't go anywhere else without permission from me. The school is about a mile away. They were about your son's age at the time. But it's amazing how many little errands I had to run during the time that they were there...and coincidentally, I had to drive by the school to get to the store each time.

My kids go to sleepovers, but even now, only if we know the family very well. They walk around the mall alone now (keep in mind that they are now 12 and 14), but only if I am at the mall too, and they must have their cell phones. I'm quite overprotective, distrust pretty much everyone (comes from ~20 years of working in ERs and on ambulance), but recognize that I have to (slowly) let them grow and let them go. I worry a lot whenever they're out anywhere alone. Cellphones have given me a bit of peace though-they are not allowed to go anywhere alone without them.

Gabriela
11-21-2011, 08:46 AM
I actually don't think I'm that over the top, but my friends sure do. My best friend even calls me out in front of my son - all the time.
So it's really other people's opinions that make me question myself.
On the other hand, my husband, who would have been much more free range with our son, has come to see things more my way,
and he's a smart, stable and sensible man. He ran in the other day (when I let me son go to the park) saying "Are you REALLY letting them go alone?"
Funny thing is that he wasn't happy about it, as in "yes, she's coming around!", and was actually kind of nervous about it (I think he even surprised himself).

Cell phone definitely (he almost lost it at the park yesterday and had to run back for it, but dh went with him).

So glad to hear you guys back me on the paranoid front (with drive-by's and all).

ercswf
11-21-2011, 09:06 AM
Totally paranoid here. But then again I KNOW all the stuff that happened or nearly happened when my parents were not around that I simply still have not told them. I'm wanting to get my older son a cell phone so he can start to venture out on his own BUT hubby is kinda against the idea (He has seen horrible things first hand happen to kids and has had horrible things happen to him.) I'm trying to explain to him that with a GPS enabled cell phone AND only going 3 blocks away to the little milk store in a safe(ish) neighbor hood that we have eyes on all the streets he should be fine. THEN some idiots painted gang signs down the road for the store and hubby has vetoed my plans. I will have to keep working on him with it. Oh and at 9 years old my oldest has only been to a sitter 5 times his whole life including the grandma's houses alone. Hubby is that overprotective. (and he flips out if I try to leave the house at night because it's dark and I will have limited ability to assess my surroundings)

Gabriela
11-21-2011, 09:18 AM
Totally paranoid here. But then again I KNOW all the stuff that happened or nearly happened when my parents were not around that I simply still have not told them...

Oh and at 9 years old my oldest has only been to a sitter 5 times his whole life including the grandma's houses alone.

Me too! Have never hired a baby sitter. Once left my mom with him so dh and I could go out. We were anxious the whole time, came back in an hour. Didn't like the experience, haven't done it again.

And yes on the other point. I was a latchkey child and got into all kinds of stuff. My mom had been a goody two shoes and had no idea what tricks kids could pull.
She never suspected all the stuff I was doing. She was the complete opposite of how I am now. That probably has a lot to do with it.

dbmamaz
11-21-2011, 09:21 AM
I consider myself pretty laid back. I have a general sense of faith in the world, maybe because i havent been the victim of a violent crime, i dont know - but again, even when my husband left me and devestated me, I had to take him back because if I lose my sense of trust in the world and faith in people, i dont know how i'll make it through the day.

otoh, i'm going through some stuff w my middle son - the UU church youth group keeps scheduling sleep overs which are like 2 hour drives away for 2 days. there is no way i'm letting him do that - he's bipolar and has food allergies. I would LOVE for them to do a sleep over AT THE CHURCH, so that if something goes terribly wrong, I can reasonably come get him. I know my daughter did that when she was in the youth group. of course, there are also fees assocaited with these things, too, and its a bit more than we are interested in - the first 2 months there were 3 field trips each costing $25 or more and we dont even go to the movies as a family more than 2-3 times a year . . .

anyways, I think the biggest thing IMO is to think about fear vs risk. What is the actual risk? What level of risk is acceptable? What risks do you not even think about (like the old 'you are more likely to die in a car accident than in a plane line). I think if the activities are really very low risk and you are making your decisions out of irrational fear, your child will eventually resent it. I mean, driving in the car with another good driver . . . why?

But it sounds like you are starting to respond to his requests for more independence. I mean, the kids who have NO freedoms at all until 18 are the ones who tend to go to college and do nothing but party, because they have wanted their freedom so badly for so long, and have no experience with it, they go totally overboard. You need to start giving him more freedom, but at a reasonable pace, so that by the time he is legally an adult, he knows how to handle himself without you.

If you think your PTSD is getting in the way of a healthy relationship with your child, you might want to talk to someone about it.

skrink
11-21-2011, 09:48 AM
No advice here, just sympathy. We live in a neighborhood where the kids tend to be put outside at first light and called in for supper. No adult interaction in between unless someone gets hungry or blood is spilled. I could never do that. Trust is hard for me in general, and with my kiddo? Exponentially more difficult. Our situation is a little different than yours - my dd has Asperger's and simply cannot read intent in anyone. She thinks the world is wonderful place and that everyone she knows is really nice. I struggle with how much to let her get out there and get hurt. She doesn't tend to learn from those kinds of experiences. :(

On the other side of this, I had a mother who was afraid of her own shadow and who never let me out of the yard. When I was able to I ran far and fast and I did some damage to myself in the process. It sounds to me that you are gradually giving your son some chances to test himself, and that's a good thing.

farrarwilliams
11-21-2011, 09:51 AM
I have pretty strong feelings about this and I'm a big fan of Lenore Skenazy's, so my signature there definitely applies to this one.

I think the best way is to start early and structure freedom while kids are young enough to really mold them to have that sort of freedom. When they're young enough to practice the skills of freedom.

But if you don't... well, I think you have to look at it from a risks vs. benefit analysis perspective. The risks of freedom are, despite what the media would like you to think, pretty low. All the big bad scary things... they're just not that common. And the times and places that they're most common are the times and places where even the over-protective parents tend to worry the least - at home, among family, and at school. Really, arm your head with statistics and fight your brain back on this. It's much, much more dangerous to ride in a car than to play in the playground by yourself, yet few parents worry about that. The number of cases of stranger abduction or assault for kids is amazingly low. But the benefits on the other hand are potentially big - kids need the skills of independence later on anyway. It can be good for their health to get outside more, good for their sense of responsibility, and, of course, good for less fighting between the two of you over what he can and can't do.

And you can still start small and slowly work your way up. And you start by arming your kid with information and teaching them proper boundaries. I think many parents (though not all) who are overprotective actually get a false sense of security. It's shocking how many kids as old as even 6 or 7 don't know their own address or their parents' phone number. Or, even worse, how many kids of all ages don't know what to do if they are in trouble. How to assess what sort of a stranger to trust if they're in trouble, how to follow their gut and get away if they need to. How to talk to adults. That's all stuff I teach my kids. It's not foolproof, of course, but neither is having them glued to my side. I really believe in accepting risk in everyday life and then just living with it instead of dwelling on it and letting it take over and rule our lives. What level of risk a parent is going to live with may differ, but I think you're overprotective when you're not properly weighing it with the benefits and need for some freedom.

Shoe
11-21-2011, 09:51 AM
But it sounds like you are starting to respond to his requests for more independence. I mean, the kids who have NO freedoms at all until 18 are the ones who tend to go to college and do nothing but party, because they have wanted their freedom so badly for so long, and have no experience with it, they go totally overboard. You need to start giving him more freedom, but at a reasonable pace, so that by the time he is legally an adult, he knows how to handle himself without you.
Very well said, Cara!

camaro
11-21-2011, 10:31 AM
This is something I've often wondered about since I've never lived in this situation and still don't. We've always lived on the farm miles from anyone. The sort of place where doors are never locked and keys are left in the vehicles. The kids literally have free range. We worry a bit when we get into town/city because they might just take off running without checking for traffic, so that's one thing we try to remind them of all the time. Usually when we are at public events (such as the fair/carnival thing) we've been able to keep an eye on the boys, but did encounter and help out one mom who had lost a young child. She was so terrified! Luckily his dad found him (if I remember correctly). It made me think, that's for sure. The boys may not be stuck on the farm their whole lives! OMG, I have to actually socialize my homeschoolers!

Hampchick
11-21-2011, 10:35 AM
I am also a big fan of Lenore's and agree with everything Farrar said. I truly believe that my children are safe out in the world, still sometimes I don't feel confident in my decisions until I see them back in my sight. Do you trust the other parents of kids that have more freedom? If so then try to emulate them where you feel like you can. Steal some of their confidence, if you will. Then find ways to extend your comfort level. For me this means letting older run off to the bathroom in the store while I continue shopping, or asking him to go back to a different isle in the grocery to grab something I missed. Every time he comes back successfully it increases my confidence and his.

Gabriela - I'm really proud of you for giving your son some room to be free. That probably sounds corny, but after being robbed at gun-point it's got to be hard to let go and you deserve a lot of credit for realizing that for your son, you have to. You will be nervous for him at first and possibly for a while to come. You don't know exactly what your son is capable of on his own now because he hasn't had the chance to show you. As you find that as he comes home safely day after day you will probably become more confident in both the world and in your son to make good decisions.

Gabriela
11-21-2011, 10:39 AM
Thanks Dawn. I needed that pat on the back.

MarkInMD
11-21-2011, 01:01 PM
We had to be protective of Hurricane from early on because he had food allergies, so there were no drop-offs at birthday parties or anything like that. In fact, he only recently had his first party without us mainly because the dad in the family is an EMT and knew the EpiPen protocol through and through. Of course everything went fine, and Hurricane's such a careful kid about what he puts in his mouth, anyway (he wouldn't even use the dental floss on a recent field trip to the dentist!), and everyone who knows us well knows about the allergies, so that it's really a non-issue now. But it was hard not to be protective of both him and Tornado, because they often don't seem to get even the simplest instructions. Luckily once I was standing outside when Tornado was going to come back across the street from the neighbors' house when he didn't look for cars and one was barreling up the street right then. My shout stopped him in time, but boy, that really makes you into more of a worrywart than ever.

I think you just have to let the freedom happen in slow stages, especially by the ages our kids are now, or else there will be either 1) resentment and defiance or 2) a kid who's afraid of everything. Just take it at the pace most comfortable to you.

Brittaya
11-21-2011, 01:39 PM
I agree with Farrar. My oldest has severe health issues (he doesn't make any stress hormone) and if something happens to him like he falls off the play structure and hurts himself he needs to be able to administer his meds or he could die. So leaving him alone or with someone who doesn't know about his meds is pretty terrifying to me. The gov't pays us for respite because we have to have someone who is professionally trained on how to do his meds if we even want to go out to dinner without him so you can imagine my nervousness. This is in fact part of why we first considered homeschooling, I don't trust the 7 or so TAs they'll assign to him in public school to be able to handle his meds correctly. However I grew up free range, and I know we got into tons of trouble and did all sorts of risky stuff, but that is how you learn. I just can't see putting my kid in a bubble, especially because he has special needs. What we've done from the very start is train him how to do his own meds, to know what they're called and when he needs them. Right now he is only 3, so I'm very cautious about leaving him with anyone, but when he is older and can manage them on his own I will send him out into the world on his own. Probably with a cell phone in case of emergency, and probably with his brother so they can look out for each other, but he doesn't need me hovering around him constantly. I want him to be able to function on his own someday because I'm not always going to be around, and I don't want him to live his life in fear either.

Honestly though I know it is going to be hard for me as a mom, I have anxiety disorder (though it's under control now) and well this is my baby. Of course I am going to worry. I just know that I have to let him live and experience things or he will resent me or he won't gain his independence. Which is especially hard for a kid who is already going to be told by other people that he can't do as many things as other kids, such as drive (he's visually impaired too, all the more reason that he needs to be able to get around on his own). That's just my situation though, I think you have to do whatever works best for you. If you feel safer keeping him close, well he is your kid! As I tell my in-laws, you raise yours, I'll raise mine. :)

dottieanna29
11-21-2011, 01:43 PM
But it sounds like you are starting to respond to his requests for more independence. I mean, the kids who have NO freedoms at all until 18 are the ones who tend to go to college and do nothing but party, because they have wanted their freedom so badly for so long, and have no experience with it, they go totally overboard. You need to start giving him more freedom, but at a reasonable pace, so that by the time he is legally an adult, he knows how to handle himself without you.


Yeah, this was me. My mother was so overprotective I went to college thousands of miles away to get away from her (and drank and partied and etc.). Ironically enough, despite the overprotective, we were latchkey kids from about 11 years old (no choice, single parent). My mother grew up in a very rough neighborhood with alcoholic/disinterested/abusive parents and I think that's definitely what led to her overprotectiveness. What I hate now is that she is still this way - will call if there is an accident anywhere around here to make sure it isn't one of us - and it's making me worry about things I know in my head are ridiculous.

My oldest did sleep-overs with friends from 5 or 6 years old, sleep-overs/babysitting at grandma's from even younger but she also went to daycare from 7 weeks old and has always gone to school outside the house. She was about 12 when I would let her walk around the mall with friends while I was there, 15 to get dropped off at the mall or movies and now she's driving herself so goes all over the place by herself. She's always been the careful, well-behaved kid though. Not at all prone to crazy behavior. She has a curfew (and NJ doesn't allow 17 year olds to drive past 11pm anyway) but a lot of freedom in the limited time she's not at school or work or dance. She does have a cell phone and will text me anytime she has a question or concern. She knows basic safety rules and how to be aware and careful. I can't be too protective with her - she'll be 18 in 5 months and going to college next fall.

My younger guys are definitely more protected that she was. Besides being home with me, they are very different personalities. My son at 6 still has no impulse control and tends to rush into situations better left alone. They do play in our yard alone but only with the front door open so it's easy to hear them (this just started this fall though). They are checked on frequently and our "front" door actually opens to the back yard. We also live on a dead end street in a dead end neighborhood at least 1/4 mile from any major roads and the neighbors all know/talk to each other. Whenever we go to fairs or stores or anyplace crowded, I worry and keep them very very close (although dd did have me chasing her the whole width of Target one time because she "didn't hear me" call her back). In real heavy crowd situations I put a bracelet of tape around their wrist/ankle with my cell phone number on it (ds mostly knows it but still) but I'll usually bring someone along to help in those situations. We have one playground that I feel like I can just let them go run around while I sit and read because it is completely fenced with only one opening. Most other places I don't feel like I can do that.

They have spent time with babysitters (mostly grandmas or dd) and spent weeks at a time with various grandparents - once while dh and I were in Massachusetts, another time while we were in Greece. Ds has driven with MIL but I've told dh I don't want her coming here to pick him up anymore since she lives 3 hours away and has health problems. They can't legally be driven around by dd but that situation also hasn't come up yet.

I try to find a balance between overprotective and cautious, and I don't think I'm doing too badly. I agree with others that you need to look realistically at the risks and decide if you are reacting from fear or if there is cause for concern. This can be different for each kid though so I don't think your friends and family thinking you are overprotective necessarily means this is true. You know your kids better than anyone.

CatInTheSun
11-21-2011, 03:00 PM
My kids are still young, and my 8yo doesn't even go into the backyard without permission (and not alone in out very safe neighborhood). So far this has been a non-issue. But...

I have a question: what makes something overprotective? For those of you who grew up rebelling against overprotective parents, what made you feel that way?

I have this feeling (or maybe just want to believe) that the difference between overprotective and "strict" is more about tone/emotion than rules. I mean, less than a hundred years ago a girl wouldn't be allowed unchaperoned with a boy. Kids didn't congregate in groups, there were no malls...so the RULES of permissible behavior change, and have changed drastically in the last 50-70 years. Coincidentally I am reading "Nutureshock" right now and it goes a lot into what it calls the radical shift from parent-oriented kids to peer-orientation and all the psychological consequences therein.

My parents were STRICT, but the rules were clear and applied matter-of-fact. My mom also told us that she knew she wasn't raising kids, she was raising adults and that letting go started the day we were born. I guess I'm saying I had some of the most restrictive rules, but the tone was so....respectful of us kids as sentient beings, just sentient beings without full societal rights...I just never felt my parents were overprotective and didn't have any problem living at home when I was an undergrad. The rules were just taken for granted (no negotiations) but applied without judgement on us or feeling belittled.

What do you think? WHat makes something overprotective?

christineoc
11-21-2011, 03:04 PM
You might want to read Gavin de Becker's "The Gift of Fear". It gives a whole new perspective on things it makes sense to worry about and not to to worry about, and has great ideas for teaching your children (the kinds of things Farrar was talking about).

baker
11-21-2011, 03:16 PM
I am pretty easy-going. I arm myself with stats. Like other posters have said, the chances are so remote of something horrible happening. I want my kids (and hubby and I) to enjoy life and all it has to offer. I know people who won't let their kids out of their sight, but then let them ride in the front seat of the car, go without seatbelts, etc - it is crazy.

baker
11-21-2011, 03:24 PM
I am pretty easy-going, but I arm myself with statistics. I am constantly amazed by people I know who will not let the kid out of their sight, but then let the (too small) child ride in the front seat of the car or go without a booster seat or seatbelt.

dottieanna29
11-21-2011, 03:26 PM
My kids are still young, and my 8yo doesn't even go into the backyard without permission (and not alone in out very safe neighborhood). So far this has been a non-issue. But...

I have a question: what makes something overprotective? For those of you who grew up rebelling against overprotective parents, what made you feel that way?

I have this feeling (or maybe just want to believe) that the difference between overprotective and "strict" is more about tone/emotion than rules. I mean, less than a hundred years ago a girl wouldn't be allowed unchaperoned with a boy. Kids didn't congregate in groups, there were no malls...so the RULES of permissible behavior change, and have changed drastically in the last 50-70 years. Coincidentally I am reading "Nutureshock" right now and it goes a lot into what it calls the radical shift from parent-oriented kids to peer-orientation and all the psychological consequences therein.

My parents were STRICT, but the rules were clear and applied matter-of-fact. My mom also told us that she knew she wasn't raising kids, she was raising adults and that letting go started the day we were born. I guess I'm saying I had some of the most restrictive rules, but the tone was so....respectful of us kids as sentient beings, just sentient beings without full societal rights...I just never felt my parents were overprotective and didn't have any problem living at home when I was an undergrad. The rules were just taken for granted (no negotiations) but applied without judgement on us or feeling belittled.

What do you think? WHat makes something overprotective?

I think it's all in the attitude. Being treated like a person with opinions and thoughts of your own. Feeling like you have some say in things (especially as you get older) and the rules aren't just arbitrary.

But I also think to be raising adults means that you give increasing amounts of freedom and responsibility as kids get older. A 10 year old will be able to do more and expected to do more, than a 7 year old. A 17 year old is so close to being an adult they need to have some of the freedoms and responsibilities, within boundaries that help catch them if they screw up. It's a gradual increase in freedom so that they aren't suddenly 18 years old, on their own with no idea how to handle even the most basic things.

An example would be my oldest - she HATES talking to strangers including clerks at stores or other service personnel in public places. She would avoid ordering her own food at restaurants, including fast food places, not want to ask cashiers questions or even go up by herself to pay for something. She had to get over this attitude to be able to survive as an adult. If I never let her go out anywhere by herself, she'd have a harder time picking up these "skills".

Stella M
11-21-2011, 03:46 PM
Just lost a page long post, grrr.

Hugs to you Gabriela, I have complete empathy for your anxiety.

I will PM you.

Hampchick
11-21-2011, 03:50 PM
My parents weren't overprotective. Yes there were some things I wasn't allowed to do that I thought I should be allowed to do - usually involving overnight trips and cars, but for the most part I grew up when kids were left to their own devices. But also from a young age I was expected to play outside most of the day, often out of sight of my parents, so I had lots of practice being in the world. We spent summers playing in the woods, taking off on our bikes etc. and as long as we were home for dinner no one cared what we did.

*disclaimer, this is my own opinion and I don't expect anyone to agree with me*

I think anything that a child is capable of and that is reasonably safe that we don't allow them to do is over-protective. I don't worry too much about the outside world because I can't control it, and because I know the statistics. But if my child can actively apply any safety rules I have taught him, and I have witnessed responsible behavior then I think it is over protective to not allow them that particular freedom. My kids 5 & 8 are allowed to head out into our neighborhood on their own because I have witnessed them being responsible about such things as crossing the road, being home when I tell them to be home, and because I know approximately where I can find them if I need to. OTOH, they aren't allowed out of the neighborhood because 1. there's no where for them to go, and 2. because the main street is 45 MPH with no sidewalk. I believe one of the ways we build trust and competence is to give our kids some space and see how they interact with the world, but it has to be done in increments throughout their childhood.

dbmamaz
11-21-2011, 03:52 PM
Fwiw, my parents were so hands off it felt rather neglectful or irresponsible in hindsight. We were left alone after school starting when I was in 3rd grade and my sister was in2nd. We were left alone over the weekend while we were still in middle school. I was in charge of all grocery shopping, sisters medical apts, vet spats, home repair apts as soon as I could drive. Most of my mothers ex talks were "if it feels good, do it.". I am MUCH more cautious than my parents were. And my kids need a lot of supervision. But in some parenting book I remember reading about the concept of trying to say yes as much as possible. So if my kids ask to do something, I have to have a good reason to say no. If there is a way I can give them at least part of what they want, and feel ok about it, I try to do that. Saying no is easier ESP if we were raised strictly or are control freaks (guess which one applies to me!) but I like to try to give my kids as much control over their lives as I can

CatInTheSun
11-21-2011, 05:24 PM
I think it's all in the attitude. Being treated like a person with opinions and thoughts of your own. Feeling like you have some say in things (especially as you get older) and the rules aren't just arbitrary.

But I also think to be raising adults means that you give increasing amounts of freedom and responsibility as kids get older. A 10 year old will be able to do more and expected to do more, than a 7 year old. A 17 year old is so close to being an adult they need to have some of the freedoms and responsibilities, within boundaries that help catch them if they screw up. It's a gradual increase in freedom so that they aren't suddenly 18 years old, on their own with no idea how to handle even the most basic things.

An example would be my oldest - she HATES talking to strangers including clerks at stores or other service personnel in public places. She would avoid ordering her own food at restaurants, including fast food places, not want to ask cashiers questions or even go up by herself to pay for something. She had to get over this attitude to be able to survive as an adult. If I never let her go out anywhere by herself, she'd have a harder time picking up these "skills".

I think what keeps hitting me is this idea of parenting out of fear or worry. I don't. It doesn't occur to me to make decision on what my kids are allowed to do based on fear or worry. Maybe that's the attitude difference between strict and overprotective? Maybe they can sense that we're not weighing whether we think they are competent to handle situation X, but rather whether situation X is likely to be worthwhile or beneficial. I'm not trying to keep my kids "little", I'm trying to give them the tools to be successful adults. Our rules are based on neurobiology (what their brains can and cannot do well, especially as it relates to predicting long range consequences) and personality, not concerns about the boogeyman hiding behind a bush.

If I'm worried about anything, it's not the abductor, but the 7yo girl trying to force my 5yo to eat dirt. Especially since my kids ARE introverts, I think fewer supervised activities are better, but I still leave room for them to find their own way.

For example, in our old neighborhood my then 6yo was friends with 4 other girls. Two of the girl (alpha types) didn't get along, and the meaner one (7yo) would often exclude the other girl (8yo) and make her cry. The other 2 girls were sheep and just followed along. I was "around" close enough to observe this and later asked dd what was going on. She told me and said she didn't understand why they couldn't just play nice. I gave her a little psych 101 lesson (using socratic method mainly) discussing dominance and spite coming from insecurity, I'm big on explaining why we should pity the bully for their impotence (lol). I never told her what to do, but was proud of her the next day when the one girl told the other she couldn't play with them, my dd just said calmly that she was going to go play with the other girl and that she wouldn't play any games where other kids were excluded. She said it in such a matter-of-fact, non confrontational tone, and sure enough that was the end to exclusions and my dd became the favorite of all the girls there. Did I over parent by being in earshot of the interactions in the first place? Or did I take advantage of a learning opportunity?

Another example might be riding their bikes. The 8yo has just started riding in the street with dh. I'd tried to get her off the sidewalk earlier, but didn't push it since her siblings are younger. But the rule if they are riding on the sidewalk is one of us parents are by the curb to sight traffic, otherwise they have to stop at every. driveway. before crossing it. The girls know about looking for signs the car might start moving, but if cars are in the driveway, there's not much room for error. I also understand the ability to judge distance and rate of travel is severely limited until around age 8 (6yo will step in front of a car because their brains cannot judge how close and fast it is). Lots of teens drive thru our neighborhood at 35 mph, so when school lets out, we just don't take the kids bike riding. Same things when parents are getting home from work (amazing how fast they pull into their driveways) :p Of course, if the kids ask to go biking at 3pm, we just say, "maybe a little later," and so far they're fine with that.

Maybe these examples are innocuous, but my kids don't have cell phones, so the neighborhood park alone is out, mainly just because there aren't any people around to help if one of them was hurt (more worried about falling than strangers). I think the big ones to come will be about dating (right now we're thinking the evangelicals might be on to something in viewing dating as something you do when you're ready to get married; esp after watching our teenage niece start dating, LOL). I think it distracts from learning about self (being an introvert I don't think you need romantic love to learn about yourself), and it occurs to me that teens have a dangerous mix of feelings as real and intense as adults but lacking a developed frontal lobe necessary for making good decisions. Maybe we'll relent at 16yo, and fortunately my 8yo hasn't noticed all the boys lining up to be her partner in martial arts class. Ugh.

I say all this with the humility of knowing I have yet to have kids old enough to challenge our beliefs in these matters. ;) But I hope our kids give us some slack knowing when we look into their eyes we see them, not our own fears...even if we are saying, "no". LOL

ETA: I do find this interesting juxtaposed with the "Overcoming emotional scars" post going on now as well.

Avalon
11-21-2011, 08:10 PM
Sorry, I didn't have time to read every post. I'll have to come back to this thread, because it's a good one. I tend to look at it this way: my sister left home at 15. FIFTEEN. I left at 18. I want my kids to have some basic common sense and life skills and be able to make good judgements about people and situations long before then, because one day, they will just walk out the door and they won't come back.

My mom knows a lady whose 13yo daughter has never been alone by herself. Ever. Not at home, not walking to school, not at the mall. Nowhere. Never. She has never had to face a situation all by herself and decide what to do.

I'm definitely not completely laid back. My sister has dropped my niece off at the craziest places, with a plan to pick her up at midnight. No way would I do that. On the other hand, I had a doctor's appointment last week. The office happened to be in a shopping mall. I let my eleven-year-old walk around by herself for one hour. She had to meet me back at the office in one hour. It was fine. She loved it. It's just an example of a semi-controlled situation where she can start to experience freedom.

farrarwilliams
11-21-2011, 08:58 PM
What do you think? WHat makes something overprotective?

You raise some interesting questions about the differences between strict and overprotective. I see what you're saying about things like, say, people getting chaperoned and so forth. I think you're right that a lot of parents were a lot more strict generations ago. However, a hundred years ago, kids also had a lot more freedom within that strictness. And certainly 50 years ago, they had a huge amount more freedom within the strictness. Just 20 years ago, I certainly didn't know of anyone as a child who wasn't allowed to go play in the yard unsupervised at age 8 or 9. I didn't even know anyone who wasn't allowed to walk up to the store at that age, honestly. But now there's lots of kids for whom that's the case.

For me, personally, overprotective is never allowing your kids to have a sitter, never allowing them to sleep over and not allowing them to be on their own in any circumstances. I know I'm being judgmental, but hey, you asked. To me, barring special issues, those things are overprotective.

I was raised almost totally by my mother. She wasn't really strict. And she did give us a huge amount of freedom. And while there are some things I did with that that make me cringe when I think of my own kids doing them... I still think the trade off makes it worth it. There was a lot more good that came out of that.

When I was teaching middle school, sometimes we would deal with parents who treated their kids like they were still babies or were shocked when their kids were suddenly rebellious teens. One of the other teachers, who was a little older than me said to me, "I think they never realized their kids would be teenagers. I always assumed my kids would grow up and change, but some of these parents seemed to think their kids would be 8 or 9 forever." I try to keep that in mind. Because the freedom will eventually come and if it doesn't, then the resentment will come (resentment will probably come too... but I can only believe overprotection makes it worse). I'd much, much rather have built up to that freedom, with slowly expanding but clear boundaries, to have learned slowly how to trust my kids with freedom, than to have it explode in my face.

Gabriela
11-21-2011, 09:21 PM
For me, personally, overprotective is never allowing your kids to have a sitter, never allowing them to sleep over and not allowing them to be on their own in any circumstances. I know I'm being judgmental, but hey, you asked. To me, barring special issues, those things are overprotective.

I remember visiting my cousin (we were 9 or so) and being totally shocked that her father, my uncle, never let her go to sleep-overs.
I used to have sleep-overs every weekend, but we didn't have earthquakes where I grew up.
The reason I just can't do it with my son is because of earthquakes. They scare the crap out of me.

When we traveled to visit family this year, there was this really awkward moment when someone was organizing who would go in which car.
My son was to go in one car, and I in another. So, I had to say it. "We don't travel in separate cars." Silence. Funny looks. But we went together.
Afterwards, I mentioned it to an older cousin and she said something along the lines of "is it a if we die, we die together thing?"
I'd never said it like that, and it was shocking to hear, but, yes.
And I guess the same thing applies to earthquakes.

So Farrar (or any of the other free rangers here), how do you deal with this? Is it about staying positive, trusting statistics, or just deciding not to be afraid?
I remember a woman saying that she wouldn't give birth in a hospital, even if it meant the baby died, because she trusted that nature would make the best decision.
Is it something like that? Is it about accepting that death can come at any time, and just being open to it? Or is it about not thinking about death in the first place?
Sorry, don't mean to ask you for free therapy, but I think it would help me if I could understand how it works in other people's heads.

dbmamaz
11-21-2011, 09:39 PM
See, that fear of death thing, i think thats some sort of basic personality function. My sister was always afraid of death, and it just baffled me. I just never think about it. I mean, on occasion when driving i have a sudden image of the car carreening off somewhere, and the phrase "it only takes a second for an automobile to become a projectile" comes to my head, but i just change the subject. I also accept that death is something that just happens, i've had ppl i love die and acceptance is the only response that works. And i also think of the song the rose "those afraid of dying who never learn to live". but really, i think its just my personality. i dont want to make choices based on fear. I want to make choices based on joy or logic or laziness maybe, but not fear.

sorry, i know, you didnt ask me.

farrarwilliams
11-21-2011, 10:51 PM
I really think it's accepting living with risk. And not making decisions based on bad things. To me, a bad thing happening on the news may remind me to hug my kids or remind them of basic safety precautions... but it doesn't make me want to remove risk. I see risk as a positive thing.

That's interesting about the earthquakes... We don't have them here (well, we did have that one, which was totally weird)... and there are tornadoes, though I guess you get more warning for those. I guess... I still wouldn't be bothered. I mean, my boys sleep over with friends - all the friends they've slept over with, I would trust those parents 100% to deal with anything that came up as well as I could. If there was a tornado, it could just as easily hit our house as theirs, you know?

Maybe it's just something innate in one's personality? Except that can't be true - at least not completely - otherwise it wouldn't be true that kids are less free range now than they used to be.

lakshmi
11-21-2011, 10:59 PM
I have no idea what to say.

I like the idea of being free range. But, I am sure that our kids do NOT know any phone numbers. They did until I disconnected it. They don't know our address either, I think. My 13 ss has lots of freedoms at the other house but not here. Not sure why we're so over protective. Maybe has more to do with me, and how I want to be in control of all situations at all times? More about making sure I can "know" what is going on and being involved in all interactions. Because I don't want any negative influences without being able to explain them. Or I don't want the kids to say anything to anyone because I never know what they're going to say that could be misconstrued. We live in a very small town where gossip and the like can make or break ya. Less about getting hurt, I wouldn't like that to happen of course, but most folks know how to handle that stuff.

I do let them be outside playing and I can't hear them, or always see them. But they are in the yard, but if someone came up... see...

Now I am going to go think about this some more. And set up some situations for them to learn independence. Someone make a list of suggestions for setting them up to learn to be indpendent.

dbmamaz
11-21-2011, 11:12 PM
(btw, I do remember on 9/11 the first thing I tried to do was call my kids school, but of course I couldnt go through. I was 45 minutes away from them and was meeting someone for lunch, but i just wanted to TOUCH them! And by the time they came home from school, i was glued to the tv and they just kept saying 'is that still on?' so i guess I can kinda understand the wanting them near you thing. but really, not all the time . . .

oh, and that weird earthquake? at first I thought it was a loud truck, and then I think Orion suggested earthquake, but i looked outside and a neighbor was mowing the yard with headphones on like nothing was happenning, so I came back in the house to see if it was something inside the house

and once I realized it was an earthquake i felt like a total awful mom cuz i didnt think to get the kids out of the house!! maybe they are safer away from me!

farrarwilliams
11-21-2011, 11:16 PM
Now I am going to go think about this some more. And set up some situations for them to learn independence. Someone make a list of suggestions for setting them up to learn to be indpendent.

So, my kids are 7. Some things I let them do in the last year or so include...

* asking for help on their own at the library
* go in the correct gender bathroom alone
* go in the correct gender dressing room alone
* playing the yard without asking to go out
* going to the corner park on their own if they ask (this park is literally yards away from the house, fyi)
* go on a short walk in the woods on a path they know well by themselves and come back while I waited for them
* play out of my sight at the larger playgrounds
* walk or ride scooters around the block alone if they ask
* stay in the house while I'm out and dh is sleeping (he works nights) - sometimes for a long time
* stay in the house alone for a short time (I'll run to the store and back for less than half an hour)
* go to the toy section in the Target by themselves
* make purchases with their own money by themselves (though I'm in the store, I let them manage the transaction alone) at Target or the toy store
* make their own breakfast and lunch (cereal and sandwiches sorts of things)
* cook things with minimal help (they're still too small to appropriately use the oven, but Mushroom will set the oven, follow directions and then call me when he's ready for something to bake)
* use tools without my help (we keep wood and nails and hammers for them in the backyard - a couple of bruised thumbs, but no real accidents yet)
* cut easy things with a knife (like, say, cheese)

ETA: We're working our way up for them to be able to cross the street alone at the big 4 way by the park. Then they'd be able to go to the coffee shop or the little corner store on the next block for a treat or something by themselves, which would be kind of cool. Probably in the next year at some point. So, around the time they turn 8. Oh, and if they can do that, then soon thereafter, they'll be able to walk to the library alone, which I greatly desire as an excellent mark of independence. So, that by age 9 at the least.

dbmamaz
11-21-2011, 11:25 PM
see, i WISH raven had interest in doing half those things. honestly, I do want to know if someone goes outside, just so if i need them i'm not running aroudn the hosue trying to figure out where they are. so i guess part of it is knowing your kid and where they are and are not ready for independance. i'm also really bad at making them memorize phone and address. like about every 6 mo i realize we havent worked on it in a while so I go over it for a few minutes in the car with Raven whining the whole time and then i get tired of it.

CatInTheSun
11-22-2011, 12:39 AM
Farrar: we must not be as far apart in practice, since little on your list would bother me. :D

My girls (6,8) haven't been on a sleepover simply because in the year since we've moved here, they don't have friends. Yeah, I know, gotta work on that. :p At our old neighborhood, they had the same friends and at that time it just wouldn't have work for our younger girl, but we had their friends sleepover at our house (tho the 8yo neighbor usually ended up going home at bedtime because she missed home too much).

I'd love to get them more independent on breakfast/lunch, but our dishes are heavy and high in the cabinets. We do set out bowls on the counter with snacks for them to get when they want, and they'll take fruit, nuts or a cup of yogurt. Hmmm.

So I believe in giving them all the freedom they can handle, but not pushing them, either. Oh, and funny you mentioned about parents not worrying about putting their kids in cars -- when our first dd was born I thought it was funny that folks were so nuts over SIDS and warnings because our dd liked to sleep on her side, but would haul their kids around town all day. Even to this day our kids only go in the car when they actually need to. Shocking, I know, but we don't take them grocery shopping or on errands -- much faster for dh or I to do it without the kids (usually dh does them on the way home from work). Mind you, we don't WORRY about taking 2,000 mi road trips or driving them to the Zoo or the park -- it's simply risk-benefit analysis and if the benefit is there the risk is minuscule. And yes, on rare occasions I'll take them with me to the store (to look at the pet store or toys or such). LOL

I think you have to look to pre-WW2 society to get a good baseline. After WW2 we had the birth of "teenagers", a previously nonexistent stage between child and adult. You also had a lot more free time. Pre-WW2 I think kids had responsibilities commensurate to their freedom. They didn't have a lot of free time to get into trouble, either. I think the strange thing is the current tween/teen model where kids think they should be treated like adults and have all the freedoms and rights of adulthood, but have neither the responsibilities nor the capacity of an adult. Most teens I know have LESS responsibilities than most octogenarians had at age 7yo. I think that is a sign of the generational disconnect and unhealthy "peer orientation" of our current society, and something I hope to avoid by homeschooling.

So, I still hold on to the hope that it is a matter of attitude more than anything. ;) I am a privileged observer of my kids' growth. I have no desire to control them. I do, however, try to control when and how the outside world impinges on them and to what extent it influences them. Why should I let big corporations like the media outlets decide what my child should see/experience rather than me? If I see a benefit of hs'ing removal of the unnatural environment of ps then why would I not keep an eye on their interactions with that world (ps kids) outside of school? I keep replenishing the stacks of books about all sorts of nonfiction and science and classic writing and poetry. But I cull lots of contemporary badly-written books out (no Ken rescuing Barbie here please). I also try to be sensitive to my kids -- I felt like crap when my dd came with tears because a beloved character died in the middle of a book. Might not bother some other kid, but it bothered her. Slowly she's "toughening up" but I don't want to push her. I'll preview a book and say, "Now, I want you to know some bad things happen to this character early on and you don't have to read this book if you don't want to" and now she usually smiles and reads it, and sometimes a book she puts aside and says maybe in another year. LOL So I guess I'm protecting her, but I'm not limiting her.

I'm here to facilitate my kids, not smother them. But to me facilitating them also means ensuring the environment is a good place to grow and learn. So far they are rarely aware of the things we limit, because in their world those things are small and insignificant. They think it's crazy that some kids eat more than one piece of candy on Halloween. And yes, they each still have full trick-or-treat bags -- they just rarely think to ask for them. LOL

theWeedyRoad
11-22-2011, 01:38 AM
You know.. I think a lot of this might depend also on the society where you live. Here's an example: When ds was 8, I left him alone for about 10mins while I drove dd to (public) school. I knew ds would be fine- he knows to keep the door locked and not answer it. He stayed on the couch the entire time. BUT it isn't really something I can mention to anyone besides my dh because people around me would freak out.

My father left my sister's 9yo dd and 7yo ds alone for a 5 minute run to the store. My sister was ALL OVER him when she got back. Then again, her ds is the opposite of mine and really a thrill-seeking kind of kid, so maybe that feeds it as well? I told my father I would be absolutely fine if he needed to do so when my kids were there and he said no way, he wouldn't. People just don't leave kids home alone here until 12-ish (or if they do, they don't talk about it at all). That strikes me as something hilarious... I remember my mother leaving me home alone at 4 to walk my sister to the bus stop, and I was a latchkey kid from 9 until I moved out (my mother once forgot my sister and I at the factory where she worked, and my sister was quite capable of walking us to a friend's house so we could call home). At the ages they are at, with their personalities, I trust them much more than I'm 'allowed' to, in a sense.

I once let my dd go into a bathroom by herself. It was maybe 6 months ago or so. She's 7, and I didn't feel like she needed me to hover. My dh was furious at me, even though I had been standing right outside.

I agree with giving more freedoms, but I also think a LOT of it must depend on the personalities of the kids involved.

Mum
11-22-2011, 08:43 AM
There are kids all over our urban neighborhood. A lot of them come over to our house on their own. I have never met some of their parents. These kids are a lot more street smart than 9yo DS but I chalk a lot of that up to his Aspergers. He is allowed to go to any friend's house in the neighborhood under these conditions:

*I know the parents and know a parent or grown up is home.
*He tells me he's going there first.
*He checks in with me before going somewhere else.

He's allowed to go to the park with a friend or older brother (2 blocks away) so long as they agree to come home at a certain time.
I've drilled my kid so much on stranger danger that he's actually a little nervous about going places by himself. That's probably not good but I'd prefer that over him not being aware of his surroundings and the people who would take advantage of him.

My two year is very independent. I can see myself giving him more freedom at an earlier age if he's not on the autism spectrum. That's a confession, not boasting. I'm not sure it's a good thing. I should be working even harder to help my Aspie know how to navigate himself through the world independently. I'm just not always sure how to do that.

Mum
11-22-2011, 08:47 AM
...and Gabriela, tell your gf to STOP calling you out in front of your son. That's a huge no-no. Tell her if she doesn't quit it she's gonna get a visit from Mama Slambino. I've got a booty block that will knock her into next Tuesday. ;)

Gabriela
11-22-2011, 08:50 AM
I wonder how much free-ranging depends on having a hospital nearby.
We are four hours away from the nearest hospital, and have no insurance.
Do you think you (any free-ranger) would feel differently if this was the case for you?

Thanks Mum, I'll tell 'em!

dottieanna29
11-22-2011, 09:00 AM
I don't think about big disasters like earthquakes or tornados but we don't get them here either. Blizzards and hurricanes we know they are coming and the damage, while annoying, isn't of the massive life threatening kind. I do have crazy thoughts pop into my head with the little guys all the time. I basically just attempt to ignore it. Like, we are going to the science center today. I know that the upper floors have a glass railing over a drop down to the first floor. I'll have pictures pop into my head about them climbing up the wall and falling over. Or ds running ahead to the elevator and the doors closing before I can get there (we came very close to an elevator incident with him when he was 2). But I know these are unlikely and crazy scenarios and I'm not going to let them stop me from doing things with them. I also know they come from my mother constantly worrying and feeling the need to share it with me.

The hospital thing never occurred to me but we do live less than 15 minutes from 2 different hospitals and less than 30 minutes from two major trauma centers, both with great pediatric departments. I don't consciously think of that but maybe it does have an effect subconsciously.

Hampchick
11-22-2011, 09:04 AM
So Farrar (or any of the other free rangers here), how do you deal with this? Is it about staying positive, trusting statistics, or just deciding not to be afraid?
I remember a woman saying that she wouldn't give birth in a hospital, even if it meant the baby died, because she trusted that nature would make the best decision.

For me it's about being knowledgeable about statistics and refusing to live a fearful life (nothing truly traumatic has ever happened to me, that might change my outlook), because there's a load of fear-mongering that goes on in our culture. Not freaking out when my kid DOES get hurt; my 5 yo was smacked in the face with a baseball bat and needed 10 stitches this spring, it was awful but it happened and it's not worth dwelling on or changing my philosophy for. Eventually they will get hurt and there's nothing I can do about it. Knowing that they will come into conflicts with other kids and that they will have to find a way to work through that even if it means coming home, going to another parent, or just discussing it later. Feeling confident that the message I'm sending to my children is "you are competent individuals" who don't need mom/dad all the time. is so worth it to me even if at times I question my decisions. I just wanted to say that this is different from just throwing them out there in a neglectful way because we talk to them about their play time out of the house, we do instruct them in being safe, in working out conflicts and all of that.

I wouldn't trust "nature" to make the best decision in the way the woman trusted nature in her baby's birth (although I'm perfectly okay with home births in general). That sounds an awful lot like trusting God, and the notion that there is a grand plan. That makes me feel, icky. I know I'm not in control of everything that happens with my kids but nor do I think there is something omnipotent out there making decisions for them that they have to learn to make sound decisions for themselves (as is appropriate for their development). It's the cycle of instruction, feedback, instruction, and repeated outings where nothing bad happens that adds to my confidence.

Hampchick
11-22-2011, 09:08 AM
I wonder how much free-ranging depends on having a hospital nearby.
We are four hours away from the nearest hospital, and have no insurance.
Do you think you (any free-ranger) would feel differently if this was the case for you?

Haven't been in that situation so I can't say for sure. But no, I don't think it would make that much of a difference because it's so rare that anything bad enough to need a hospital visit has happened. We did have to take DS to the ER for the baseball bat incident I mentioned above, and it would have been terrible to have to drive him that far to get to the ER, but with two kids and a year and a half in our "free range neighborhood" it's the only trip to the ER we've taken.

hockeymom
11-22-2011, 09:32 AM
I would give DS a lot more freedom than he'll actually take.

Both DH and I grew up free range--he played all over his suburban neighborhood until dinnertime and I ran around the hills all day long well out of sight and earshot of anyone. At 7 my parents were leaving me home alone so they could go out to late dinners, by 8 I was walking a mile by myself to the bus stop to take the bus downtown then transfer to another one to get to the mall. My mom didn't drive me many places, it was up to me to get there.

I would love it if DS would take the freedoms we give him. As it is, the list of what he does alone looks a lot like Farrar's, and he's free to ride his bike around the neighborhood or ride the several blocks to the park to play if he wants to. His own comfort level isn't quite there yet, so I try not to push it. But I'll leave him home alone while I run to the grocery or a quick errand, especially if he's immersed in a book or in Top Gear.

I see a lot of kids riding their bikes or walking alone here in town so I'm not too concerned "what the neighbors might think". I think it's been pointed out here before that as homeschoolers we might ought to be a little extra concerned about that, but here homeschooling is common and I see many free range kids so I don't worry too much.

speech mom
11-22-2011, 09:43 AM
Overprotective is a hard one around here too.
From the time my youngest walked, she walked by herself. I had to hold my son and nephew's hands, so there was no hand left for her. So, she was taught/had to learn how to walk in a parking lot, cross a street, stay close enough in a store, etc. People gave me some dirty looks and unasked for parenting advice when they saw a one year old walking independently. (not alone, but next to or near me.)
I know a mom who still holds her daughter's hand in a parking lot at age 12. When I do things with her child and mom isn't around, she does just fine, so I am not sure what mom's concern is. I would call her overprotective. But maybe she knows something I don't. Maybe her daughter has some impulse control or vision problem that I don't know about. Maybe mom saw her almost hit by a car or something.
So, I try not to judge.
IF you are wondering if you might be overprotective, I feel like it is similar to other parenting concerns. Go with your gut. If you think you might be, then look at the situations you wonder about. You may make some changes, you may just reaffirm your beliefs. But going through the process of reexamining what you are doing will help you explain how you feel to your child.

Busygoddess
11-22-2011, 11:45 AM
I have not yet read all responses, I wanted to get this out first.

I think that the big problem with this topic is the idea that there is a level of protectiveness that is appropriate for all kids and anyone more protective than that is over-protective. There really are so many variables.
One variable is location. A person living in a bad neighborhood, where there are regularly drive-by shootings, gang fights, abductions, or other crimes is likely to be a bit less likely to allow their child to roam the neighborhood alone than a parent who lives in a really nice, safe neighborhood. If the only way to get to school is to walk past the local crack house, maybe driving them to school is the best option. Life in a small town, the boonies, or even the upscale area of a larger city is safer than living downtown in a big city or near the ghetto.

There's also distance from things. When I was a kid, we lived 2 blocks from the park and about 3 blocks from the corner store. I was allowed to walk to either, completely alone, by age 8. However, we don't have a park in walking distance and the nearest store is about a mile away & requires crossing 2 very busy 4-lane streets. My daughter has asked to walk to the nearest gas station with friends, but the gas station has a sign in the window asking people to not do their drug deals in front the building. So, I don't really feel comfortable letting her go there without an adult, even at 13.

Of course, the biggest one is probably a person's perspective on other people, which is often sculpted by our experiences. A person who is trusting, believes people are inherently good, or believes that bad things just won't happen to them, is more likely to allow larger amounts of freedom at a younger age. However, those who aren't trusting or have been the victim of crime & therefore can't have the "it won't happen to us" mindset, are more likely to be a bit more protective. When I was around 11, I saw a guy cross the busy street in front of our house (not as busy as the one we live near now), get hit by a truck, and die. His eyeball was hanging off the bumper of the truck. When I was 14 or 15, we lived in a decent neighborhood. One night, I woke up to a strange guy standing in my bedroom doorway, with the light on, asking me where stuff was that he could steal. That same year, in that same neighborhood, my boyfriend was walking me home and we were held up at gunpoint by 2 jr high students. Two years ago, our garage was broken into the night before Halloween. A child in my family was abducted from her front yard. There are more stories I could tell, too. I know that there are plenty of bad people out there. I know that bad things can happen to us. I've seen too much proof of that, too close to home, to have the "it won't happen to us" mindset.

Another variable is the maturity of the child. My kids both have severe combination-type ADHD. That means they have no impulse control. They act first, think later. That means that they aren't ready for the same amount of freedom I might be willing to allow if things were different. My daughter, now 13, has improved over the years and has been given more freedom as she shows she can handle it. My son however, still doesn't look before darting into the street or parking lot. This summer, we tried letting him walk around the block, as long as he was with dd & he held her hand the whole time, and he kept letting go of her hand & running ahead. So, now he isn't allowed to go around the block anymore.

So what it comes down to is figuring out how much freedom the child can handle, how much freedom you're comfortable with, and how much freedom is safe where you live and then coming to some kind of compromise that you, you SO, and your child can all agree on. Then, you give more as he proves he can handle it.

Just my opinion.

Now, I'll try to read all the responses, if my sick little boy will let me.

Gabriela
11-22-2011, 12:16 PM
I hear you Busygoddess, it sounds like we've both seen our fair share of horrible things. I'm sure it does make a big difference.

Busygoddess
11-22-2011, 12:57 PM
I hear you Busygoddess, it sounds like we've both seen our fair share of horrible things. I'm sure it does make a big difference.

Yeah, every time I hear or read someone say that they "just don't believe that bad things will happen to us" there is a part of my brain that is screaming. I had huge amounts of freedom growing up & would like my kids to have some of that (not all, because some of my freedom was due to neglectful parenting). So, I try to balance it by slowly adding freedoms as they prove they can handle them and making sure that they know how to handle potential problem situations.

Hampchick
11-22-2011, 12:58 PM
I think that the big problem with this topic is the idea that there is a level of protectiveness that is appropriate for all kids and anyone more protective than that is over-protective. There really are so many variables.

Of course! That's why I don't talk about ages so much but stress ability or capability. I let my 8 yo stay home by himself because he is not impulsive and I can trust that he won't do something out of character just because we are gone. Other 8 year olds might not be ready for that. OTOH, my kids can't go alone to a playground yet because the nearest one is about 3 miles away and they would have to travel on roads with no sidewalks. When Farrar says that her boys go to the playground I sigh and have a moment of wishing we that kind of access but we don't. So I think, of course, those of us that are free range understand that not all circumstances are the same. I however believe that we have grown as a culture to be fearful and very much underestimate what children are capable of which leads to over-protectiveness.

CatInTheSun
11-22-2011, 01:25 PM
Overprotective is a hard one around here too.
From the time my youngest walked, she walked by herself. I had to hold my son and nephew's hands, so there was no hand left for her. So, she was taught/had to learn how to walk in a parking lot, cross a street, stay close enough in a store, etc. People gave me some dirty looks and unasked for parenting advice when they saw a one year old walking independently. (not alone, but next to or near me.)
I know a mom who still holds her daughter's hand in a parking lot at age 12. When I do things with her child and mom isn't around, she does just fine, so I am not sure what mom's concern is. I would call her overprotective. But maybe she knows something I don't. Maybe her daughter has some impulse control or vision problem that I don't know about. Maybe mom saw her almost hit by a car or something.
So, I try not to judge.
IF you are wondering if you might be overprotective, I feel like it is similar to other parenting concerns. Go with your gut. If you think you might be, then look at the situations you wonder about. You may make some changes, you may just reaffirm your beliefs. But going through the process of reexamining what you are doing will help you explain how you feel to your child.

See, I would respect the mom's wishes, even if I didn't agree. We met a man whose 12yo was hit and killed in a parking lot. The 4yo jerked free from the parent and when the parent turned to grab the 4yo, the 12yo stepped into the street and was killed. I don't think you could look into that man's eyes and be left unchanged. ETA: I don't mention this story to "scare" folks who don't hold hands in parking lots. I just mention it because there IS risk and each family has to weigh their risk tolerance. AND because as the man told his tale I recalled reading the story about the accident in the local paper and (as I read it) blithely thinking the parents must have been irresponsible. These were real people who lost a real child and I haven't been so quick to judge parents (even those in news stories) since.

I [try hard to] refrain from judging parents' choices as overprotective or negligent. I look for the intent and thoughtfulness about the choice. I think it is easy to assume much, but all I really care about is making the best choice I can for my own kids. My musings on the board are usually more about thinking things through for myself than trying to convince someone else I'm "right". :_lol:

Busygoddess
11-22-2011, 01:37 PM
Farrar's list is actually pretty similar to what I let my 7 year old do to build independence.

He can:
use a public bathroom - but one of us has to wait outside the bathroom, unless it's the bathroom in the children's section of the library
use a butter knife & steak knife without supervision
use a paring knife or my santoku knife with supervision - he is not yet allowed to use the ceramic knives, bread knives, or large knives like my chef's knives
use some tools - no hammers or saws, though because I've seen him use a hammer before and it's very dangerous
checks out his own books at the library, including asking for help and asking for the things he has on hold
making purchases with his own money
play out of my sight on the playground - as long as he responds if I call & he stays on the playground
walk ahead on hiking trails and take short walks down side trails
get his own breakfast, lunch, and snacks - cereal, toast, sandwiches, instant oatmeal, fruit, veggies, yogurt, etc.
play in yard and ride bike in parking lot across from alley as long as someone is outside with him (an adult family member, dd, or one of my sister's oldest girls) - our yard isn't fenced & we are near a very busy street and an alley that people speed down, and as I mentioned he has some impulse issues
has his own email & his own sign in on the main computer, uses the computer alone unless we're doing a lesson in computer programming
has helped work on the car
chores - loading & unloading the nonbreakable dishes from the dishwasher, cleaning his room, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc.

There are some things I won't let him do. I won't let him wander around a store without one of us with him, this is why one of us waits outside the bathroom for him. I won't let him play outside alone. There's no place in walking distance for him to go, and I wouldn't let him go alone if there was. However, if there was a park close enough, I would let them go together as long as he listened to her.

As for my daughter, there are some things that many 13 year olds are allowed to do that I won't let her do. I won't leave her home alone. She doesn't have a cell phone of her own. She is not allowed to leave the house without talking to us first. She has an early curfew (8pm). She cannot hang out at the mall with friends unless there will be an adult there (not necessarily with them the whole time, but at the mall. I'm not ok with her being dropped off at the mall with just some other kids). There are no sleep-overs unless I know the family well enough to know I can trust them with her. Now, you have to keep in mind that this is a 13 year old girl who has combination-type ADHD and Bipolar, who will skip her meds whenever possible, has anger management issues, can have violent rages, and has almost set the house on fire more than once.

Busygoddess
11-22-2011, 01:50 PM
Of course! That's why I don't talk about ages so much but stress ability or capability. I let my 8 yo stay home by himself because he is not impulsive and I can trust that he won't do something out of character just because we are gone. Other 8 year olds might not be ready for that. OTOH, my kids can't go alone to a playground yet because the nearest one is about 3 miles away and they would have to travel on roads with no sidewalks. When Farrar says that her boys go to the playground I sigh and have a moment of wishing we that kind of access but we don't. So I think, of course, those of us that are free range understand that not all circumstances are the same. I however believe that we have grown as a culture to be fearful and very much underestimate what children are capable of which leads to over-protectiveness.

See, most of the arguments for free range that I see are trying to convince people that there is just no risk at all. It's like these people have just stuck their heads in holes & refuse to admit that it is possible. They seem to equate low chance of it happening to no chance at all. That's why I generally am not in favor of the free range movement.
However, I do agree that people underestimate what kids are capable of doing. I also believe in providing them with the freedoms they can handle, starting small and building as they mature. So many don't see that it has to depend on the specific child, there isn't just some checklist of what you should let them do at each age. However, this thread seems to have more people who understand balance and tailoring your parenting to each child. I wasn't frustrated and restraining myself from yelling at the computer screen as I read through the thread, both of which are common when I read conversations of this nature.

farrarwilliams
11-22-2011, 01:52 PM
...

I think that the big problem with this topic is the idea that there is a level of protectiveness that is appropriate for all kids and anyone more protective than that is over-protective. There really are so many variables.
One variable is location. A person living in a bad neighborhood, where there are regularly drive-by shootings, gang fights, abductions, or other crimes is likely to be a bit less likely to allow their child to roam the neighborhood alone than a parent who lives in a really nice, safe neighborhood.

...

Another variable is the maturity of the child. ...

I wanted to address those two, for slightly different reasons. Obviously they're both true. And there's not a blanket right way to do things - you have to take your environment, experiences and kid into account. Absolutely.

However, I hear the first one as an excuse all the time. Like, from people who live in happy little suburban enclaves. Not that the suburbs don't get their share of crime and that there aren't bad parts, but still. There really is drug violence and a pretty active ms-13 presence in our neighborhood. There are homeless guys on our corner. There are robberies. Dh was once mugged. But really... if I said those were reasons the kids couldn't play in the yard, that would be an excuse. Because no one wants to hurt my kids. Now, there are neighborhoods a lot worse than this one - drive by shootings here are a thing of the past, for example. There are all these young professionals everywhere along with the gang guys and the homeless guys. So... yeah.

The second piece, I think is true too - but I also think it can become a self-perpetuating cycle. The less responsibility you give your kid, the less responsible the kid will know how to be, so the less comfortable you feel giving him any responsibility... and so forth. Again, some kids really do have more trouble with responsible behavior, but in some ways that makes me want to structure appropriate ways for them to learn it even more.

But as a practical thing, I agree that a lot of the things aren't that far away in practice... though I'm all about babysitters, sleepovers, lots of Halloween candy (I'd be hypocritical to limit the kids since I'm eating way more than one piece) and not bothering to wait while they run to the public bathroom. In general, I'm always sending the kids off on their own. "You know where it is."

Busygoddess
11-22-2011, 02:07 PM
I wasn't saying give them no responsibility, just not to allow levels of freedom that they aren't responsible enough to handle.

I have no problem with babysitters in general. I was a single working mom until dd was almost 6, so we did home daycares and daycare centers. Though, I have found that very few people are able to handle my kids together. So, getting someone to watch them can be difficult. DD's sleepovers have been mostly limited to family, but sleepovers outside family weren't a possibility before her Bipolar was diagnosed and her ADHD meds made her mania worse & more violent. My son wasn't ready for sleepovers even with family until recently. He wasn't comfortable with the idea of being away from home over night. I wasn't going to force it. I prefer to allow them to reach that point on their own.

zcat
11-22-2011, 04:22 PM
My 11 year old dd holds my hand when we walk through a parking lot usually. I don't force her to hold my hand but if she wants to I don't tell her she can't either. I don't really care what other people think when they see us. In my case I see it more as offering a few moments of affection and reassurance rather than guarding her. I don't feel she is in danger walking beside me without holding my hand.

My dd does some things alone that others have listed but does not do others.

My dd has poor impulse control and that definitely impacts her freedom to a degree as pp have said. It doesn't mean that she won't ever be running around in the world alone but it will be a slower journey.

I guess to the op I would think about your ds's capabilities and personality. Does he know what to do if something happens? Does he know how to get help? Does he pay attention to his surroundings? Is he a rule follower?
When you know that he has a grasp of what to do then I would agree on increasing his freedoms in increments with agreed upon conditions. After things go well for shorter periods of time and you see him handling the situation you might feel more comfortable with longer periods or different freedoms.

dragonfly
11-22-2011, 04:51 PM
I read about a mother of a young child who gave the child a sort of test. The child had been taught what to do if they got lost or separated from mom when out in public. Well, they were at an event--like a craft fair, but different, and a place where the mother felt very safe and knew a lot of people--and the mom purposely hid a few feet away from the child. Close enough to see and hear, but enough so the child thought she was gone. She just wanted to see what the child would do, and sure enough, the child approached a nearby vendor and asked for help, as he had been taught to do. Mom then let him "find" her.

When I moved to my current apt., my son was almost 8, and had been used to a very rural home with few neighbors. Although we are in a safe area with little traffic nearby, it is still an apt. complex, and I was concerned about letting him play outside alone. At first, I went with him. Then, I let him out for a short time by himself, and he would come back after a set time. Gradually, I felt comfortable letting him out with few restrictions (don't go past certain points, e.g.). He also has a cell phone, so I can call him if it's getting late or I can't find him.

I still worry, but there's really only so much I can do. If I don't teach him how to get by on his own, he'll be pretty helpless when he's 18.

Avalon
11-22-2011, 06:05 PM
Farrar, I love your list! My kids are very similar. They like to walk to the convenience store that's 3 blocks away to buy a slurpee, which I've been okay with since they were around 8yo. We often go to a very large park for "park day." Most of the moms hang out near the playground with the smaller kids, but all the older kids go exploring. There is a small pond, several big treed areas, and various spots that are perfect for different games. They are allowed to go anywhere within hollering distance (and I can yell really loud), or they have to tell me where they're heading so I know where to start looking.

One thing I WISH they would do is get on the bicycles and start exploring. Sometimes I joke that life is much too nice at our house, because the kids never want to leave. When I was a kid, I could hardly wait to ESCAPE on my bike. I really thought my dd would be all over it, but she doesn't seem to have that need for adventure that I did.

Stella M
11-22-2011, 06:22 PM
It's all about risk assessment really. Weighing up the risks in your particular environment as against the risks of confining a child. Your assessments will differ based on the issues where you live, on your child's temperament, and on your own temperament and life experiences.

I wait until the urge for independence comes from my kids; I can't see the point of imposing it on them. Ds, for example, doesn't likes sleepovers. That's fine. I'm not going to fret that he isn't getting essential sleep over experience. I know from raising the girls that the desire for independence will emerge, sooner or later.

I read Lenore's blog because it keeps me challenged...like all issues though, nothing is black and white...every family's mileage will vary and that's OK.

As long as we, as parents, do our best to stay aware of and flexible towards our growing childrens' needs, I can't see a problem.

Sometimes we will make compromises; of our own emotional comfort and tolerance on the one hand, allowing children freedoms we may find uncomfortable. Other times our children may need to compromise with us. based on our more mature assessment of risk. I don't find that problematic.

As far as developing responsibility, I find it happens so steadily and incrementally anyway, I don't really see it as totally connected to the ability to free range. Obviously as a child enters their teens they need to be able to take some responsibility for things like transporting themselves to and from activities etc, but I find that ability grows fairly naturally out of the development of daily life responsibilities.

Pefa
11-22-2011, 07:51 PM
ES went to a public high school. His observations about his peers still crack me up. Apropos to this situation "Mom, we sure don't ask much of our teenagers and they sure are good about living up to it."

I'm not adding anything new here, just casting my vote for educating your kid about their surroundings and letting them go.

My kids refer to the horrible visions I have about them lying in mangled heaps as my "mama imagination". M.I. always jumps to the worst possible scenario, it's my responsibility to reel it back. BOO once made a lego skateboard park complete with a mother who could either smile or look horrified at her child's stunts. (Which is funny because glaciers move faster than he skis.)

lakshmi
11-23-2011, 12:11 AM
Farrar, thanks for that list, I didn't realize that some of those things didn't just fall under parenting. So was surprised by a couple.

We live in the country, sort of, so no sidewalks. And the requisite fast driving that accompanies said country roads. Up until about May of this year, I wouldn't let my youngest out sight because she had a bleeding problem, amongst other things.

I am not comfortable with the girls out by the road to play, when I am inside. Our house sits about an acre back from the main street.

But omg, my daughter's have been cooking for nearly three years. LOL... reminds me a fruit salad story my husband just told me about the youngest... the chef!


I wonder how much free-ranging depends on having a hospital nearby.
We are four hours away from the nearest hospital, and have no insurance.
Do you think you (any free-ranger) would feel differently if this was the case for you?

Thanks Mum, I'll tell 'em!

Lots.... no insurance is a kicker. I can't imagine being four hours away from anything, I would definitely be taking a emergency first aid course. Most of the cities I've lived in have a poor persons payment type plan, but still expensive.

We had to go two hours north for cancer treatments and I was very different when she was sick than now. We even share drinks sometimes....

@busygoddess thanks for the reminder that things can happen. Just because we let our kids go somewhere alone doesn't mean that they are using their spidey sense.

That is something that has to be taught and learned in action...

I know that kids from the streets have more street smarts, and kids that are from the suburbs can get the streetsmarts on their own, without the parents.

So my final vote is.... go with the kids so that they don't have to learn the street smarts on their own.

kailuamom67
11-24-2011, 01:40 PM
I love the deep thinking that goes on on SHS! What a breath of fresh air.

I look at this issue as objectively as I can, what skills do my kids need if they move out at 18? What do I need to do to safely get them there? The examples of driving in others cars and earthquakes, make me think about how much power do we want to give our fears? Fear serves a purpose, but if let out of control can be unhealthy. So.... Let my kids in a car with someone who regularly gets in accidents and has a history of DUI, um no. Let the kids get in the car with a relative who doesn't get in accidents or tickets, well even if I feel scared, refusing may not be helping get the kids ready for 18. Teaching them judgement is my job. If the reason why doesn't sound strong, then where's the lesson? I'm in CA, so earthquakes are something I should think about(I don't as much as I should!) but perhaps the fear should turn into a lesson to be sure the kids will be ready at 18?

I did stop riding on the back of DHs motorcycle when the kids were born. I can't live with the idea that someone's bad lane change could make my kids orphans. I think this is fairly reasonable though. I won't let the boys drive motorcycles until they are adults and can make their own decisions.

DS2 cant be let out to play with the other kids, because he doesn't get social navigation and it goes wrong, very wrong. I can't use teen babysitters with him, because again, it goes wrong. I am worried about how to get him to 18. My totally neurotypical guy is easier. I have had to push myself and DH to examine ourselves and our reasoning to see if we are building his skills, or keeping ourselves comfortable.

Thanks for being here and happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Gabriela
11-24-2011, 02:39 PM
I like how you put it Colleen.
I think being careful about using fears to keep me comfortable is definitely something I need to watch.

Big time with you on the motorcycle thing, even told my dh that I'd leave him if he ever got on one again.
But, there again, past experience makes me radical - a young uncle of mine died on one.

I know my car thing is weird, but there I will say that it's very much about the country we live in.
I'd probably be different about it in a country with more developed highways and roads.
This thread's been great in helping me figure out how much of my paranoia has to do with where we live, and how much of it is irrational.

Shoe
11-24-2011, 05:17 PM
Big time with you on the motorcycle thing, even told my dh that I'd leave him if he ever got on one again.
But, there again, past experience makes me radical - a young uncle of mine died on one.Strange, that's what my wife said to me...and for the same reason.

lakshmi
11-24-2011, 05:26 PM
Fwiw gabi. I would be inclined to hang, if not at the place where my 9 yo was playing, then very near.

ercswf
11-28-2011, 03:46 PM
My boys have abilities similar to Farrar's but their cooking abilities are brag worthy. We can't let them go to the park because it is about 2/3 a mile away AND they have to cross one of the busiest streets in addition to walk through one of the worst neighborhoods in our town. Our town actually took out sidewalks on many roads leaving not much space for kids to travel safely on their own. I remember growing up my little brother got hit 4 different times by a car going to school and if the drivers of the cars did not insist on taking him to the hospital and talking to our mother we would have never known about them because my brother was ready to get up and continue on to school.

I don't allow sleep overs due to my older sons asthma and my younger sons umm, quirks. All the parents of the kids my older son wants to have a sleep over with parents Smoke in their houses (and not just tobacco products) my son can't spend more then 30 mins in those houses before his asthma is acting up. But these parents think he should be allowed to stay the night and just keep using his rescue inhaler and tough it out. Younger son well when he melts down he melts down to the point I have nobody but my sister that I can trust to keep him. She does awesome but she also has researched Aspergers and Autism to the point I think she knows more then me :) Rest of the relatives refuse to believe there is nothing wrong with him and we should just beat his butt more so he learns how to act normal.

Gabriela
11-29-2011, 07:02 PM
Hey ercswf, just wanted to mention that I had asthma all my life as well.
Maybe you've already heard this, but I have to say it because it changed my life.

My son started showing signs of asthma in his first months, so I took us both to a homeopathic doctor, and we did the treatment for about a year.
At the same time, an alternative nutritionist advised me to cut down on bread, milk products, citrus fruits, bananas and sugar.
We didn't completely cut these things out of our diet, but we do stay away from them when we feel weak, sick or especially tense.

One of the two (diet and homeopathic treatment), or both together, have given us 7 asthma-free years now.
I still get the occasional breathing difficulty, but it doesn't get out of hand like before.

Also, I just found out this year that I have a deviated septum (like a lot of people), but that - had I had it operated - my breathing problems would have been far fewer.
So, if you haven't, you might want to get him checked out for that. Sorry if I'm giving unwanted advice that you've already heard and tried.

tamitakesphotos
12-02-2011, 10:47 PM
I'm late to comment, and really don't have much to add. But, I wanted to say thanks to the posters early on that mentioned the Free Range Kids blog. I've been reading through it and got the book from the library. There have been a lot of things in there that made me think and rethink. And a few tidbits of info that will come in handy when grandpa is feeling overprotective ... I can tell him to back off with statistics! Also, thanks to whoever had the line about not saying no to your kids without having a good reason. I let my son ride his bike quite a bit more since reading that. Sometimes he asks as we're pulling into the driveway, and I just say no, probably just because it wasn't my in my plan and I hadn't had time to give it thought. (control issues? maybe) So, I've now been saying yes more often.

One of the most important things to me about the FRK movement, is the focus on community. That's definitely something we're lacking around here. Some of it is my fault for not being all that outgoing, but we really don't know many of the neighbors. We live in s small subdivision that is completely surrounded by farmland. So, you'd think we'd be tight-knit. I had joined the welcome/social committee for our HOA a while back, but it's just me and 2 others. We tried to plan one event for the end of summer, but it got cancelled. After reading this stuff, it's making me want to be more active and get our community together again. I think a cool goal would be to organize enough neighborhood events so that by next Halloween, we can all feel making, receiving and eating homemade treats from others here.

Sorry if I've gone a bit off topic. But, I'm sure we'd all feel a little better about our kids' independence if we had a better sense of community.

ercswf
12-02-2011, 11:14 PM
We are always looking in to ways to help him. All you have suggested has already been checked a couple times over. :) Most of his issues are a mix of problems. He was born at 33 weeks, is allergic to mold, and has issues with humid weather and smoke. Mold is big in my area, it gets humid in the summers, and everybody burns their leaves on my street or tries to smoke around him.

Lak001
12-06-2011, 11:23 PM
Just as I'd read and heard from others, my boy turned 9 and the changes started like clockwork.

I've always been overprotective = no sleep-overs, no going to the park by himself, no getting in a car without me... and many other no's.

For the first eight years, it didn't really represent any problems. It was just the way, and my son didn't question it. I got plenty of crap over it from friends and family, but he was fine and didn't complain. He even thought that other kids were allowed to do those things because their parents didn't take good enough care of them (I swear I didn't put that in his head).

But now, he's starting to see through me. He rolls his eyes, wants to know why or what I'm afraid of. I can tell that he's analyzing me and concluding that I'm too over the top about it. He doesn't say it with words, but his facial expressions are clear. "My mom is a paranoid freak, and I'm going to have to live with this until I'm 18".

So, I started letting him go to the park with his friend on the days I go into town for shopping. That way, I let him go ahead, but I'm 15 minutes behind him and can pass him in the park to see if everything is okay. I still freak out in a major way. I start seeing images of him falling off the slide or getting kidnapped.

I don't want to drive him away. I don't want to burden him with the feeling of "my mom is nuts, but I love her and live with this", but I don't know how to do this without suffering terrible anxiety and battling the voice that tells me better to protect than regret.

Have you been through this, going through this, have any advice on how to let go?

I was robbed at gun point a few years ago and it changed my life, so there is definitely some PTS. But I really don't know how parents manage to not freak out every time their kids are out of sight.

(I have read Lenore Skenazy's blog. I was the ultimate free-range kid and never thought I'd be this kind of mom. I love her ideas, but I can't do it.)
I don't know how to put this, but this post is like a déjà vu to me. I am you in this post. I'm so fearful of losing my child that sometimes I'm paranoid. I have never left my child with any babysitters till now. I don't even trust my mom to care for my child like the way I do. Part of my insecurity comes from the fact that my daughter was born with a birth defect which sent me into a depression and paved the way to me becoming an overprotective mother.
I don't know how to let go either. I struggle with it everyday.

Gabriela
12-07-2011, 08:13 AM
That's funny Lak 001, I'm literally just coming from another thread where I read something you wrote that made me feel the same way. Maybe we're cosmic twins or something.:)

Anyway, lots of good advice for us on this thread. Read through it when you can.
After reading what people had to say, I'm being a lot easier on myself about the whole thing.

I'm going to take it slowly, because I don't want to put myself through too much anxiety by trying things I'm not ready for. It is what it is, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it. It's baby steps for now.
The thread has also helped me realize that some of my over-protectiveness is rational and I'm sticking with it. I do need to learn to identify the irrational over-protectiveness though.

Lak001
12-07-2011, 07:31 PM
I did really feel you are like my twin when I read this post first. I was thinking I'm the only crazy overprotective paranoid mom in the whole universe, and then I read your post. I was so glad I'm not alone :D
Thank you for this post. Gave me a validation for my own behavior. I will sit and read all the comments now. I hope its going to help me just the way it did to you.

Gabriela
12-07-2011, 09:37 PM
Yay! Big hug.