mario montag daughter cropped

Dad Sends 6-Year-Old Alone Into Store and World Doesn’t End!

A dad whose 6-year-old wanted Nutella for her pancakes on a recent Saturday morning made a deal: I’ll drive you to the grocery if you go in by yourself and buy the stuff.

This is about a straightforward an activity as can be and I posted the dad’s brief write-up of it over at Let Grow. In ANY OTHER ERA this would seem about as weird as publishing a post like, “Dad allows child to eat sandwich.” Or, “Child manages to open door, exit house.”


Today we expect SO LITTLE of kids when it comes to real world skills that the girl’s Nutella excursion IS instructive. I hope it will inspire other parents to try something similar and see how simple it is. How expecting almost nothing of kids leaves them with almost no idea of how capable they could be.

At a conference earlier this week for P.E. and health teachers, I spoke to so many educators who have neurotypical kids in their class who can’t tie their own shoes. It was like a thing — one would mention it and others would nod along.

Our kids are EAGER to be competent, confident, and trusted. That requires us to trust them with the chance to do some things on their own.

These can involve Nutella, or not.

But maybe that’s a good place to start.


Photo of Sohpia Montag, Nutella procurer.


6 Responses to Dad Sends 6-Year-Old Alone Into Store and World Doesn’t End!

  1. Common sense November 11, 2022 at 7:31 am #

    Good for this dad. The world has lost its common sense when this story is considered a break through instead of normal . Let’s get back to normal.

  2. Jp Merzetti November 11, 2022 at 2:40 pm #

    It’s been quite awhile since I’ve commented on this topic. Newer tune applied to a same old song.
    Kids thrive on freedom for all the usual suspect reasons, and perhaps a few we’re not accustomed to thinking about, anymore.
    Just a brief side issue identified to make a point.
    As children roll through their K-12 evolutionary, academic, life-learning experiences currently, they’re getting handed a lot of stuff that didn’t used to be there when I was growing up.
    Apparently this new stuff is presented as useful, progressive, necessary and wondrous.
    Only it isn’t.
    The boy I was would have grown enough bristles to supply all the vanity brushes in England, at the time.

    So I am constantly amazed that there is so very little rebellion by the kids themselves, as would otherwise be the custom and the expectation.
    This would require kids being able to think for themselves, yea, even at so young and tender ages.
    We labor under the false impression that children cannot do this. This is false, and does them a grave injustice and puts them at some of the very risk we think we’re saving them from.

    Apparently a child of tender years is now capable of judging their gender orientation to pave the way for life changes, some of which are irreversible and can cause an awful lot of personal uproar in divers’ ways, some lasting a lifetime.
    But I didn’t show up here to gnaw that bone.

    I just point out the fact that we have learned, been trained in a weirdly Pavlovian way, to limit the autonomous and individualistic growth of our kids.
    At the tender age of 11, for various reasons (all of them having to do with exposure to artifacts, and art itself in various forms) I embarked upon the bare beginnings of a self-instructed life. The most important factor in all of it was sorting through the things I disagreed with, what they were, why I disagreed, what exactly my disagreement was, and what to do about it. Which was often precious little. I was a kid, after all. But this all paved the way toward a self-instructed life barging on and into adult realities. Which was the point.
    What I mean to say is that childhood is often where this starts. And a proclivity for it is often the byproduct of those small but ever-growing bits of freedom doled out by parents and occasionally other trusting adults in positions of authority. Learning to think for oneself because occasionally it is a thing necessary to survival, but much more often part of a process of making sense out of life out there in the real world.

    How is it that our society has gotten so very kid-unfriendly?
    And why is it that we have gotten so helpless to do anything about that?
    And why is it that in some places in the world, places chock full of dangers kids here would never face, kids there frolic independently regardless of the dangers, and very few of them fail to survive the experience.
    And how is it that our long march to civilized selves has turned us so incapable of preserving childhood experienced freedoms that every generation up until the last one and a half took for granted?

    I mean, how did we get so exalted all of a sudden?

  3. Mark Headley November 11, 2022 at 10:09 pm #

    >”they’re getting handed a lot of stuff that didn’t used to be there when I was growing up.”– I’m afraid I don’t know follow, though I probably would agree. Seems to me we also had much kids today are not handed, not trusted with. As I believe you ultimately underscore.

  4. Mark Headley November 11, 2022 at 10:44 pm #

    Are we kid-unfriendly? Are we helpless? Seems to me many parents have grown wildly dependent on their kids for parents’ own sense of selves. For parents’ own fun, fulfillment. Do we need Free Ranging parents finding independence, Free Play in their lives, before expecting them to extend proper freedoms, responsibility to their kids?

  5. ClemenceDane November 12, 2022 at 2:07 am #

    Great impulse on the Dad’s part, and I do hope this becomes so ordinary that it’s not worth reporting.

    When. I was three, my Mom told me when I could tie my shoes by myself she would buy me whatever toy I wanted. My parents didn’t buy me a lot of stuff (and I didn’t really hanker after much stuff), but I wanted to have the achievement of tying my shoes. We were on vacation staying in a little beach cottage when I finally did it. I told my Mom I wanted a robot. She somehow went out in this little isolated town and found me a robot. I was thrilled!

  6. Roger November 13, 2022 at 9:40 pm #

    A couple of days ago, I went to the hardware store with my 9-year-old boy, and he chose to wait on the bench in front. When I got out of the store, there were three policemen with him! Someone had called the police on us.