YOUR STORIES NEEDED! “Nothing Bad Happened When My Kid…”

Folks — As much as I literally feel my heart pounding every time I hear a story about crazy fear-mongering, or outrageous overreaction to a very small threat, I realize that there is more to life — and even this blog — than just shouting, “But they’re WRONG!” (Even though they are! They’re wrong! I swear they are!)

So hayyankyft
today, I’d like to ask you for a story that begins: “Nothing bad happened when my kid…”
And then fill in the blank with something your child did, indeed, do that other parents might consider “dangerous.” Or even that YOU , at first, considered dangerous.

Maybe your toddler climbed the jungle gym officially designated, “Age 5 and up.” Maybe your 6-year-old went to the drinking fountain outside the playground gates while you stayed inside with your baby. Maybe your 8-year-old rode her bike to the library, or your middle-schooler met up with friends for pizza at dusk and “forgot” to bring his phone!

In short: Do you have a story that can inspire other parents to dip a toe into the Free-Range world? If so, please include the age of your child and, if possible, answer these questions:

1 – What activity did your child do?

2 – Whose idea was it?

3 – Why did you permit it?

4 – What was the upshot?

5 – Would you and yours do it again?

And if your children would like to write to me themselves, they are, of course, most welcome.

At some point I hope to figure out how you can send me your stories in video form. But I’m so psyched to get started — and I am hearing from parents so starved for stories of what THEY can actually start letting their kids do — that let’s get the show on the road. (But not your kid. Your kid should look both ways first.) – L.


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229 Responses to YOUR STORIES NEEDED! “Nothing Bad Happened When My Kid…”

  1. Bernadette Noll April 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my child took the bus across town by herself for the first time. Nor when my 9 year old walked home with her 6 year old brother from school, stopped to get a sno-cone then walked the rest of the way and even, gasp, crossed a really busy 5 lane street. Nor when I sent my 10 year old downtown on his skateboard with his buddy. Nor when I gave a pack of ten 6 and 7 year old boys a sling shot and told them to shoot stuff into the creek. Nor when I let them wade in the creek. Nor when I let a pack of kids loose in our yard where there lives a 14 foot high steel playground slide that has the craziest rope contraptions hanging all over it. Nor when I let my 3 year old climb up said slide all alone.

    They love the confidence of being on their own. They love that I trust them AND the world. And they love that their mom and dad let them do stuff that others don’t feel trusting enough to let them do.

  2. LauraL April 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kids, ages nine and twelve, took the light rail line from our western suburb into downtown Portland. Our minor league baseball team was in its last season (2010) and we were trying to get in as many trips to the park as we could. I put them on the train from here, they had a cell phone and a note with what stop to get off at, and Daddy met them at that end to take them up to the game. I did call ahead and tell Daddy what train number they were on so he’d know to look for them, but there were zero issues. No one looked at them funny, no one approached them, no one bothered them, and they were thrilled and excited to be riding the train alone. They behaved and were proud of themselves!

  3. Carolyn April 30, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    Nothing bad happens when my children walk or ride their bikes to the general store in our town to buy ice cream or penny candy. It’s a rite of passage starting for most kids in our town when they are 7 or so. They truly know they are one of the big kids now!

  4. LauraL April 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my son, 14, rode his bicycle to the light rail train station, put his bike on the train and hung it from the hooks, got off at the right place and continued his ride to Portland State University for a class he takes on Saturdays. And came home.

    I admit I was at first concerned he’d not know the correct roads, so Dad when with him that first day and they reviewed how to handle a bike on the train, where to get off, the route to take. He came home by himself just fine, and this past weekend, when he got home, he popped into my office space to say, “I’m not dead!” and go take his time on his computer. Cheeky kid.

    This weekend he’ll have a new challenge: We’ll also be in town, but further along at a dance performance at the amusement park. He’ll need to take his bike across one of the bridges and access the long bike trail that will take him all the way to the amusement park and meet us there. He’s looking forward to it.

  5. Sara April 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 10 year old and her best friend discovered their neighborhoods were only separated by a wooded hillside and a creek. They could walk to each others homes and play in the woods. They have been doing this for a year now and the only bad stuff is the occasional girl drama.

    The creek and the woods have now become a favorite play ground for several kids in the neighborhood.

    The route to to get to each others houses without cutting through the woods is along a dangerous road so parents must drive or escort. This way the girls have the freedom to organize their own playtime.

  6. Dawn April 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I have a 4 year old and a 7 year old. About 2 weeks ago my 7 year old had his violin lesson on a very rainy Vancouver day. We drove to the lesson and in doing so my 4 year old fell asleep in the van. I parked about 4 houses down from the lesson and told my son to walk to the lesson on his own, and when it was done to walk back to the van. This was the first time I didn’t personally walk him there, and NOTHING BAD HAPPENED!
    As I was sitting in the van with my sleeping 4 year old, I started to feel really tired, I remembered just up the street (about 6 houses away) there was a cafe. I decided it was better for my son to stay sleeping in a dry warm van then come with me, and safer for me to be driving with caffeine in my system. I locked the van, and was probably gone for 4 minutes, and NOTHING BAD HAPPENED! 🙂

  7. Pam April 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 11 year old took the city bus home from day camp every day for a week last summer.

    I had to pick up two kids from two different day camps at the same time. I was going to have to pay extra for “after camp care” for one kid in that scenario. So I mapped out the bus route, showed him the half-block route from the camp to the bus stop, gave him bus money and his dad’s cell phone, and picked up his younger sister at her camp.

    No problem – he did great, especially when the bus didn’t go exactly the way I described it would. Oops, I misread the bus route map and it took an extra loop before turning into our subdivision. He figured it out.

    It was my idea, I knew he would be fine. Advantage for me was saving money on after camp care, and saving time driving around. Advantage for him – he didn’t have to wait for me in after camp care and of course, independence.

    The sad part is that there are some camps that won’t let kids just “sign themselves out.” They have to be picked up. This camp, fortunately, allowed kids to make their way home, either by bus or walking.

    Same kid – nothing bad happened when he took the train two hours to the city in which we used to live to go to his best friend’s birthday party. He was 10. He is now nearly 13 and has made that trip 4 or 5 times by himself.

    Big upside for this is that he has stayed really close with his friends from where we used to live.

    Would I do it again? Absolutely! We’re sending him across the country by plane this summer to see his grandparents.

  8. anonymous this time April 30, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I left my 12-year-old son in charge of his 10, 8, and 6-year-old siblings while my husband and I went out to dinner at a restaurant with friends. I gave them $50 and told them to go to the pizza shop about a block away from our house and figure out how to make that go five ways (my son had a friend along) with dinner and drinks, etc.

    Sounds like it took them awhile to decide on what kind of pizza to order, but they did not starve.

    Afterward, my son called to ask if it was okay if they all went to the playground together (two doors away from our house). I said fine and had another cup of sake and rejoined my adult conversation. Heaven.

    The phone rang again a little later and it was my 8-year-old, saying that the 6-year-old was hurt, and where do we keep the frozen peas to put on an owie. I said the freezer and said goodbye, had another cup of sake, and rejoined my adult conversation, knowing full well that if the injury had been at all serious, it would have been my 12-year-old phoning me and not my 8-year-old! How’s that for nonchalance?

    When we returned, we found them all happily playing “grounders” in the park, and they regaled us with tales of their pizza shop adventures. They ended up getting a cheeseburger pizza, complete with pickles and mustard. Ew! And Hooray! They got to experience a pizza that I NEVER would have ordered!!

    AND NOTHING BAD HAPPENED (unless you count the cheeseburger pizza).

  9. Katrina Trobee April 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 7 year old daughter, my husband and I all went to Wal-Mart. We had a large list so my hubby and I split up with my daughter going with me. After a little while of walking down boring aisles, my daughter asked if she could go find daddy. I knew he was over in the fishing/hunting aisles and we had just walked by there a few minutes before so she knew where it was so I let her go. About 15 minutes later my hubby found me and asked where she was. I said she went over to find you. He said that she had found him but had left to go back to me (I was not at the same place where she left me) Just about that time we heard our names being called over the intercom to come to the front service desk. When she couldn’t find me right away she didn’t panic but just went up to a cashier and had them page us. When we rushed up to get her she very proudly let us know what she had done!

  10. Krista April 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my five year old son get his three year old sister breakfast so I could sleep in (really busy night with the three year old and her growing pains). Afterwards nothing bad happened while they played nicely with each other.

  11. nina April 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when we let our 12 and 10 year old sons to babysit our3 year old daughter while we went to a friends birthday party. My 12 y/o called me at 8:30 to report that he put our daughter to bed. When I asked him why so early he said that his brother and he needed some quiet time. Then he called again at 10:00 to let us know that he’s going to arm our security system because they are going to sleep. He even brought a baby monitor to his room so he could hear if his sister needed anything. (They sleep on different floors) It wasn’t the first time we let boys babysit, but it was the first time they had to go to bed on their own.

  12. Laura April 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I sent my 5yo into our discount bread store with $10 and a note with what kind of bread to buy, while I stayed in the car with my other 3 children who were sleeping. When he couldn’t remember where I said the bread was in the small store, he politely asked the clerk for help. Not only did nothing bad happen, the clerk was so impressed with him, she gave him a small package of cookies for free. And still nothing bad happens now that he’s almost 7, and he takes his 4yo brother in with him.

  13. lsl April 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I left my 12 & 8 year old nieces to babysit my best friend’s 2 year old & 6 month old for Valentine’s day. It was only the 2nd day the girls were staying with us, & they had just met the younger kids. And later that evening, nothing bad happened when I dropped the 12 year old off at a church youth group party & told her to walk home with one of the neighbor girls (whom she’d never bet before that night).

  14. KO April 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 4 year old son and two neighbor kids jump on our trampoline. I know people are nutty about trampolines, but nothing beats it got get some preschooler energy out. I will admit that we’re considering the one-at-a-time rule for this summer…

  15. Irina April 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when a careless driver ran into one of our 13-year-old twin daughters, who was cycling to her babysitting address while we wereout of town giving a presentation.

    A woman saw it happen and invited both of them in, after making sure that no humans were harmed (the bike was wrecked and the car damaged, though). The girl called home and her 15-year-old sister went babysitting instead. The woman called the police, who came and made a report and drove the shaken girl home, where she and her twin decided that it was no use trying to call us because there was nothing we’d be able to do that wasn’t already being done and we’d be unnecessarily worried.

    When we got home the twin was still up, the sister was still babysitting, and the girl herself was in bed but came down to tell everything.

    The next day the driver came with a bag of sweets, a bunch of flowers, and the promise to make his insurance company pay for the bike repair. In fact the bike was beyond repair so he paid for a (second-hand) replacement, which was more than the insurance covered.

    This was the first time we left the girls alone while we were doing something in another town, and it strengthened our conviction that they could handle things by themselves.

  16. Susanna K. April 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kid went back on the monkey bars. A couple months earlier, at a Fourth of July picnic in the park, my five-year-old son had tried to swing across the monkey bars. Either his arms were too short or his hands weren’t strong enough, and he fell. Unfortunately, when he fell he landed hard on his arm and we spent the rest of the evening in the emergency room getting x-rays and a sling.

    A few months after his arm healed, we were back at the same park. He climbed up on the monkey bars and I warned him to be careful so he didn’t fall like last time. He cautiously tested out the bars and, as I said, nothing bad happened. Two years later, he loves to swing across those bars like a real monkey!

  17. Gillian April 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my four year old and two year old traipse around in the undeveloped (wooded) lot next to our suburban house. I was nervous – mostly about snakes and spider bites, as I know some rattlers have been spotted in our neighborhood in years past – but I let them disappear in there, listening to their shouts of glee from my spot on the driveway (where I was painting furniture). They did fine, climbing over the brush and attempting to climb trees (not getting very far with it). Any snakes that might have been in there hightailed it away from the chaos, and I listened to my kids play adventure for a while.

    Also, in the same vein of this discussion, I’ll tell you that my kids’ daycare has a security system on the door – but we are encouraged to hold the door for others, it’s mostly because it’s a church with high foot traffic and they want some control over strangers wandering around in there. The daycare recently had a trike a thon with the older children – the kids were required to wear helmets but otherwise were let loose to ride, pell mell, bumper car style around a cleared space in the parking lot. It was total chaos, with kids running into each other and almost into the nearby street. But the parents who came to watch helped disentangle the bikes and catch the kids who clumsily steered and went astray. Lots of skinned elbows,j an untold number of crashes, but lots of exercise and fun, too. Finally, my daycare has a no toy guns allowed rule. My kid brought a gun-like toy for show and tell that he’d gotten for his birthday – a batman toy where you shoot a suction cup at a window and then batman flies from the gun part to the suction cup, like a zip line. (It never works, but that’s the theory). I only half paid attention when he chose that as his show and tell, and didn’t really notice it was technically a gun-like toy. In any case, he wasn’t supposed to have it, so they pulled the Batman figurine out for him to take show and tell, and put the gun part up out of reach, and gave it to me when I picked him up. No detention, no meetings, no trouble, no fuss – no big deal.

  18. mighthavejoy April 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Nothing bad happened to my kid when I let him play at the playground while my walking group walked around the park — and occasionally out of direct view of the playground.

    I set my 2 3/4-year-old up with his sand toys and told him where I’d be. His 5-year-old friend was allowed to play — until his mom turned the corner, at which point she asked him to stop playing, bring his scooter over, and follow her around the track until the playground was in sight again. He sighed, she insisted, the walking group slowed down to wait, and the mom complained about how inconvenient it is to have to do it that way.

    I explained how/why I chose to let my younger son play there: this is a park he’s familiar with, he knows where I am, the park is surrounded by neighborhood houses, the community center where his sister goes to preschool is a few yards away, and even if I wasn’t watching directly (which still wouldn’t prevent an accident if it were to happen), I was close enough by to be there in a heartbeat should an incident arise. And he would be even safer with a buddy or two.

    On the second lap, with some reassurances, the other mom let her 5-year-old stay at the playground with my almost-preschooler son, and the boys played happily for an hour while the moms walked.

    Another mom arrived late and, seeing the two boys playing “unsupervised,” figured it must be OK, so she let her 4 1/2-year-old son join the group at the playground while she walked with us around the park loop.

    Every time we passed the playground, we waved and smiled, and nothing bad happened. (I knew it wouldn’t — and now a couple of my mom friends are a little more free-range than they were the day before.)

  19. Sheri April 30, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when left home early and had my 13 year old get himself too and from school (3 miles away) on his bike, even though it was drizzling.

  20. Mary April 30, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when we gave our 9 year old son the house key to walk home from a cookout less than 1/4 mile away and out of sight – with 3 younger kids in tow – to retrieve his bike so he could ride with the others. Despite our friends obvious nervousness, their sons made it back with ours just fine and probably more confident on top of it (their mom is the opposite of free range – over the top paranoia – was shocked she didn’t flip when her husband let them go).

  21. pentamom April 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Here’s a variant you might want to do at another time: Something slightly bad happened (a relatively minor injury, getting lost or separated, something like that), but my kid survived and it wasn’t the end of the world.

  22. AngieT April 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my husband lost my 5 year old daughter at the Cherry Creek Sneak race/expo. My son and daughter had just finished the half a mile kids fun run, by themselves, and the three of them were headed over to the finish line to see me cross the line. My husband wasn’t holding her hand because she is generally perfectly capable of keeping with us even in really large crowds. Well my husband and son walked to fast for her little legs and she got separated. I finished and found out my daughter had been missing for about 20 minutes. I didn’t panic because we had told the kids specifically what to do if they did get separated. 1. stay in the general vicinity 2. find an adult who worked at the expo or a police officer (the place probably had a good quarter of Denver’s officers there due to recent events at Boston) 3. Tell them your name, my name, and my phone number. What do you know but it worked. I headed back toward the finish line to start my search and there she was with 2 officers and a lady that had found her. They had just dialed my phone number as I came up behind them. Did I panic nope. She was a bit teary and held on to me for a good 5 minutes but other than that she was off ahead of us again and exploring the expo with us.

  23. pentamom April 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when we left town for two days with our two youngest kids and left our 17 year old home alone to get herself to school and take care of herself and enjoy a normal Friday and Saturday.

    Sometimes something bad happens when my 12 yo disappears for hours at a time to play with his friends in the neighborhood and I don’t even know exactly where he is. (He’s been doing it since he was 8 or 9.) The bad thing that happens is that sometimes he gets in verbal fights with his friends and doesn’t have a good time. Then the next day he goes out again and they get along better. Nothing else bad happens.

  24. Angela April 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 7 y.o. fly for two hours on a plane by himself to visit his grandparents. It was my idea. We had just moved back to the states from Europe and were living in an empty apartment and didn’t know a single person in town. I figured he would have more fun with his cousins and grandparents then building IKEA furniture all day with us. I did it because, I had flown across the country as a 10 year old, and this was obviously a shorter flight. Also, the airline had clear safeguards in place to make sure he was safe. Finally, all he’s ever done on a plane is read and play on his iPad, and he doesn’t NEED me for that. He had a great time, and the move was much easier for all of us. Not only would I do it again, but I have.

  25. pentamom April 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Nothing bad has happened all the times my 15 yo daughter (who looks barely 13) has walked or biked to the Walmart 1/2 mile away since about the age of 11 and bought herself stuff. Sometimes people have given her funny looks or made nosy comments or acted like she didn’t know how to use the self checkouts, but that doesn’t really count.

  26. Jenny April 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    This one is about my three-year-old.

    1 – What activity did your child do?
    Walked all the way across the park to use the bathroom by himself.

    2 – Whose idea was it?
    His idea.

    3 – Why did you permit it?
    I could watch him as he walked over there and I don’t want to teach him that he needs me for everything or that he needs to be terrified of doing something in public alone.

    4 – What was the upshot?
    He may not understand yet that I trust him but he was proud that he did it by himself. One day when he’s old enough to understand me trusting him or trusting in himself, it’ll be a huge bonus for him to realize he’s been allowed to do this for ages.

    5 – Would you and yours do it again?
    I would. My husband might not. I’m more free-range than he is.

    This one is about my five-year-old.

    1 – What activity did your child do?
    Went inside the local recreation center by himself, found his gymnastics classroom, and had an interaction with the teacher by himself (he was giving her the bag of gummibears he suggested we buy for her since she was almost out and he didn’t want the next class to have no gummibears), and then returned to where I was parked outside.

    2 – Whose idea was it?
    His idea to buy the gummibears, my idea to let him go inside by himself.

    3 – Why did you permit it?
    I want to generate the confidence in doing things on his own. He’s a very independent boy and I want to foster that so he won’t doubt his abilities.

    4 – What was the upshot?
    He felt brave and proud and we high-fived. He knows he can do things by himself and isn’t afraid of trying something new.

    5 – Would you and yours do it again?
    I sure would.

  27. gap.runner April 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my son (age 10 at the time) rode the train by himself. He was sleeping over at a friend’s house, which was about 35 minutes away by car. When I dropped him off, I asked him if he wanted me to pick him up the next day or if he wanted to take the train home. He opted for me to pick him up. My husband was out of town on business, so him fetching my son was not an option. The next day I woke up with a flu bug and there was no way I was going to drive to get him. I could manage the short drive to our local train station though. I called my son and told him that he would have to take the train home because I was too sick to get him. He had taken the train several times before, and he could read station signs and understand the announcements, so I figured he would know when to get off the train. He was riding on a local train and didn’t have to change trains. When I picked him up, the first thing he told me was, “That was fun! I want to ride the train by myself again!.” He has since ridden the train and bus to visit friends in other towns, either by himself or with other friends.

    Nothing bad happened when my son was 7 and sleeping over at a friend’s house. I picked him up from his friend’s house so he could get his toothbrush, sleeping bag, and a change of clothing for the next day. His friend came along. When it was time for the boys to go back, it had started getting dark. I was getting ready to drive them back to the friend’s house, when they decided that they wanted to walk back by themselves. It is about a 12-15 minute walk, depending on the pace. I figured that there were two of them and they were walking on well-lit streets. I did tell my son to call me when he got there, which he did to inform me that he was indeed alive and well. Now whenever he wants to go anywhere in our town, he walks, rides his bike, or takes the city bus by himself.

  28. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks April 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 10-month old pulled the trash can on top of him. He was pulling himself up on an object we warned him about (verbally only, because we knew it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the trashcan fell). He still tried to pull himself up on it and it toppled on top of him. We picked him up and explained why he might not want to do it again in the future. And you know what? He never did it again. Lesson learned. And yes, we’d let him learn that sort of lesson again.

    Nothing bad happened when my 22-month old climbed to the top of a 12-foot high slide (with signs “for 5-12 year olds”) and slide down by himself. He was curious what was up there and we had confidence that he could climb up on our own and use our verbal cues if he got stuck. Other parents at the playground were horrified. The upshot was he slid down the slide, had a blast and did not gain any fears of heights, climbing or slides based on the fears reflected in his parents. He liked it so much, he did it many more times during that vacation and has done it on similar tall slides. Yes, we’d definitely let him do that again.

  29. Anne Campbell April 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 9-year-old daughter got separated from me at Disney World. We were in a giant, multi-room gift shop, drifted apart to look at different things, and lost each other for about 20 minutes. She and I both knew that we wouldn’t leave the store without each other, and she did exactly the right thing: she found a Cast Member to help her look for me. They found me quickly, but if it had taken longer, they could have called my cell phone or paged me on the PA.

    Urban legends to the contrary, no one kidnapped her, changed her clothes, dyed her hair, and dragged her out of Epcot.

  30. Meg Holden April 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    When my daughter was about 3, she took off (unbeknownst to us) to walk to her uncle’s house, about 2 blocks away. This happened in the midst of the confusion of some kids arriving at our house. She knew we were going over there later, and took it upon herself to head out. We realized she was gone after just a couple of minutes and were looking for her, when a nice couple that had been walking in the neighborhood arrived at our house with her.

    She had gone around the corner, and gotten to the place where she would have to cross the street. She knew she couldn’t cross by herself, and that’s when the couple found her. They asked where she lived, she told them, and they walked home with her. I think they had a nice chat.

    And nothing bad happened, except that we didn’t know where she was for about 3 minutes. She just turned 12, and is one of the most responsible, independent 12 yr. olds you would ever meet.

  31. LisaS April 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my then- 7 & 9 year olds walk down to the bagel shop to buy themselves breakfast. They wanted bagels, I didn’t, and they asked to go so I gave them money and off they went.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 11-year-old wait for the bus by herself one morning. I had a meeting, her dad was out of town, and my friend who usually helps was also traveling on business. I still don’t like it much, but have let her do it a time or two since if circumstances demand.

    Nothing bad happened when my husband and I went to a trivia night, leaving our 13-year-old and one of his friends home alone. Well, except that they ate all the chips and salsa and drank all the Dr. Pepper – 4 liters of it!

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 12-year-old start riding his bike to school. In fact, he started taking more responsibility for getting himself out of bed and out the door. It’s now how he usually gets to school. I was a little uncomfortable after there were a couple of shootings on his usual route, so we changed it to go through a busier area with more security, and it’s all good.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 13-year-old ride the city bus to and from school. It got too cold for him to ride, so I showed him the ropes of the bus, and now that’s how he gets to/from school if its cold and//or rainy. The best thing about this one is that other parents in our neighborhood are exploring doing the same thing.

  32. K April 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when our three-year-old asked to kayak by himself.

    We live on a small pond, and the little guy was only three. He’d kayaked with me, but asked to go out alone. When he asked, his dad said “yes” just as I said “no”. On further discussion, we put his vest on him, had the rowboat ready in case of a rescue, and pushed him offshore. He paddled and paddled and loved being the “big guy”.

    Now, he is our designated “basketball fetcher”. He knows to only paddle with his vest on and a grown-up present. He handles the boat like it is part of his body.

  33. Katie April 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    1 – What activity did your child do?
    First question is “How can I choose just one activity?
    A) At 8, go to the corner store to buy gum with a friend.
    B) At 5, cross a quiet street and meet an adult on the dock. At 7, or “when you can pass the deep water swim test,” cross a quiet street and play on the dock with a buddy but no adult present.

    2 – Whose idea was it?
    A) Theirs, apparently gum right out of the vending machine is better than gum in the pantry.
    B) Mine, I didn’t want to go up and down the 2 flights of dock steps over and over, nor supervise swimming all the time.

    3 – Why did you permit it?
    A) Why not?
    B) Lets them practice road crossing in a quiet place. No dock play unsupervised unless you can swim, because the water is too deep. And everyone needs a swim buddy, including adults. Beyond that, why not?

    4 – What was the upshot?
    A) They got gum and a chance to escape pesky little brothers and boring grownups for a while.
    B) Motivation for learning to swim. I get to sleep in/make lunch in peace/read without getting drenched.

    5 – Would you and yours do it again?
    A) Of course!
    B) Every summer!

  34. Kim April 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kid walked along the beach instead of staying on the path with his family. We were on vacation in Monterey, CA and we decided to walk from our hotel into the town along the path.

    My older son was 11 and he wanted to walk along the water but I had his little brother in the stroller and had to stay on the path. At this point we could see the water’s edge from where we were and we agreed that he could until the path met up with the water again (we had a basic map with us). What we didn’t know was that the map wasn’t to scale and didn’t show the big hill that would separate the path from the water.

    After about 20-30 minutes I was beginning to worry because we were not at the meeting point yet and then my cell phone rang. My son had gone into a hotel lobby and asked to use their phone to make sure he was in the right spot. He wasn’t panicked and knew to go to somewhere reasonable to ask for help.

    I would (and have) let him do similar things since then because he normally shows good judgment.

  35. KateW April 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    My husband decided to work outside with his laptop and let our (at the time) two year old play in the yard. He got involved in something and looked up to see her trying to wiggle out of the fence. He told her not to, she said ok.

    Later the mailman rang the bell and said that she had been out of the yard. My husband thanked him and said he knew, he caught her.

    The mailmen said no, she had gone to the end of the block (suburban, three yards down) and then come back. My husband caught her coming back in, not trying to get out.

    Not a shining moment of parenting, but nothing bad happened, and our community helped us out. The mailman had an eye on her the whole time.

  36. Donna April 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I left my 6.5 year old home alone while I drove up the road a couple miles to pick up a microwave and some beach chairs I had bought from a person (a stranger to me) leaving the island. It was her idea as she was watching tv and I agreed knowing that if something happened she could run outside and yell for my coworker who lives right next door. In the year since, I have left my daughter home alone on numerous occasions while I ran quickish (less than an hour) errands.

    Nothing bad happened when we were at the local bar and I let my 7 year old walk home alone to get changed and walk back. We walked there with a friend for drinks after work and my daughter had a swim in the natural ocean pool they have. After her swim, she wanted to get on dry clothes and I wanted to continue to relax with my wine while watching the sun set over the ocean so I sent her on her way alone. This involves walking through the bar property, crossing a dirt road, climbing a stone wall (we can go around the wall but usually don’t), crossing the apartment complex and then returning. It went off without a hitch and I’ve let her go home ahead of me a couple other times since.

  37. CWH April 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 12-yo and 7yo ride bikes/scooters together around the neighborhood – not even when they were caught trespassing outside a friend’s house when the owners were not home. The mom simply emailed me with her concern, I had a chat with my kids, and I thanked the mom for letting me know and asked her to notify me if there were any further issues.

    Nothing bad has happened when I’ve let my 10 and 12-yo’s bike 4 miles to the only store in town, and play by the brook that’s nearby. Even when I let my visiting nephew join them, and my sister showed up early to pick him up – we had to go out driving to find them and they weren’t where they said they’d be. But they weren’t far – they were found huddled over a book nearby at the library. (Which is another spot where my kids often bike to, and nothing bad has happened.)

  38. K April 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my six-year-old cooked his own breakfast. I asked who wanted eggs and no one answered, so I only cooked eggs for myself. Then, a teary-eyed boy begged for eggs. I said I was done cooking, but he could make his own. I sat at the table and gave instructions, determined not to jump in. He cooked his own breakfast.

    This was a few years ago. Now, at nine, he cooks dinner about once a week. His repertoire includes grilled meats, sauteed vegetables, and even chicken parm. We’ve had the occasional mild burn or spilled whatever (just like I sometimes do), and he has learned to deal with that as well.

    He is empowered to make healthy complete meals, I don’t have to cook every night, and he gains independence. Everyone wins.

  39. Zeynep Badur April 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when i sent my son (then 7 years old) fly to Istanbul (Turkey) by himself; where he was picked up by his grandpa. I got a lot of “wow aren’t you afraid”s a long the way; and one “You are nuts” from my grandma, which a laughed off. He also walks from the bus home everyday since the second half of Kindergarden and has a key to come in since 1st grade. We leave him home to go grocery-shopping (he hates it) sometimes since 2nd grade.Now he is 10 and i left him with his sister (4) for 15-20min at home to drop off something once in while. They get their breakfast in the morning without waking me, which i love. Waiting for next year to have a not long planned date night. The recommendation for babysitting a younger child is 11 in Minneapolis.
    I lived in Istanbul and were going around the city by myself when i was 11 and walking home from school (15-20 min walk) since 3rd grade. And Istanbul is much bigger and more dangerous then Minneapolis. When i got the Free Range Kids book it was a relief to find that i am not the only one who thought these things are not such a big deal.

  40. Jeanette April 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my son, age 5, went into the corner store for milk while I waited in the truck. He knows what milk looks like & he could also get a pack of gum. There were only men in the store too, I might add. The owner helped him find the milk (they are renovating, I knew this, so told him to ask if he needed to). As the men came out of the store, they said he was on his way. He came out with a big smile, gave me the change, & hopped back in the truck to put his own belt on & chomp his gum. The upshot – OF COURSE it made him feel like a big kid! He learned to ask somebody other than his parents for help. He waited his turn on line with adults. What wasn’t good about this experience?

  41. Kelly April 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Nothing bad happened the other day when we went to the park and my boys, ages 5 and almost 2 continued on to the playground alone while I (gasp) popped in to the ladies room. I knew they’d protest if I tried to drag them in rather than let them continue the 5 feet further to the equipment, so I trusted my 5 year old, to supervise his brother for the 3 minutes they’d be out of my sight. I will probably do it again, unless they ask me not to.

    Nothing bad happens when my 5 year old cooks his own snacks (usually scrambled or sunny side up eggs) on our gas stove. He’s been doing it for almost a year now, and it was such a blessing when I had the flu around Thanksgiving!I didn’t have to worry about the kids being hungry when I was unable to move from the bed and their dad had to work. It started when I asked him one day if there was anything he’d really like to learn and that’s what he chose, to cook eggs on the stove, so I showed him how.

    Nothing bad happens when 5 crosses the street without holding my hand, or without supervision to go get the mail from our mailbox across the street. Nothing bad happens when he uses a steak knife to cut his own food. Nothing bad happens when almost-2 runs around in our backyard with his brother while I do dishes/laundry/check email/etc. inside. Nothing bad happens when 5 gets into an argument at the playground and I don’t step in to mediate, but rather allow he and the other children to come to a resolution on their own. Nothing bad happens when I allow my kids to wallow in puddles (except dirty looks thrown in my direction by other parents steering their kids away from the puddle).

    There are numerous times when I hear other parents lament that they can’t do X, Y, or Z, because they have to follow their kids around or supervise their every doing, and I just shake my head. They are small, and do require a bit of assistance with certain things, but they can also learn to do for themselves much earlier than many suppose if you give them an opportunity.

  42. Rob April 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Nothing Bad Happened three nights ago when my 14 year old got angry because we were on him about his grades and he stormed out of the house at 10:00pm to “take a walk and cool down”. It was his idea and I did nothing to stop him, even though I wanted to (because it felt like I was losing the upper hand, not because I was worried that something bad would happen). He’s like me, and I do the same thing when I get angry. The upshot is that when he came home about 15 minutes later, he walked in, apologized for his attitude, gave me a huge hug, and sat down and actually DID his homework instead of arguing about how stupid homework is. And of course I would let him do it again in the same situation.

    The next day one of our neighbors informed my wife that she had seen my son outside after 10:00pm, and wanted to let us know about it. When my wife said we let him go for a walk to cool down, the neighbor informed her that our neighborhood is very dangerous at night (we’ve lived there for 8 years, she’s been there for just over one). We live in a small neighborhood on the edge of a small town where it’s so quiet that you can hear when the trains go by, two miles away.

  43. K April 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my two-year-old got away from me at the store.

    With a six, four, and two-year-old (at the time) I had a terrible time keeping everyone together and getting my shopping done. For the umpteenth time, I saw the little guy slipping around the corner, and decided to let him go and catch him on the next aisle. I got to the next aisle and – he wasn’t there. I stood still and listened for a moment. Shortly thereafter, I heard a child crying in the back of the store.

    He had wandered back to the dessert section (in hopes I’d follow?) and I hadn’t followed. He cried for a moment, until I showed up. A grandmotherly woman was talking to him.

    After that, he stayed with me when I asked him to – win!

  44. Jill April 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 10-year-old, horse-savvy kid saddle up her pony, and then give rides to other kids, at a party at our house. I was busy with serving food and drinks, and there were plenty of adults around, but she and the pony were out-of-sight, behind the barn (gasp!). She gave many 4, 5 and 6 year olds their first pony ride, and she felt tremendously responsible. I overheard her telling them they had to wear the helmet, and everyone had a blast.

  45. Kelly April 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Oh! Got another one. Nothing bad happened when my 5 year old ran in to the grocery store to buy mustard while his brother and I waited in the car. He watched for cars in the parking lot, went in, located the mustard, asked someone who worked there to grab a bottle for him as it was too high to reach, waited in line for the cashier to ring him up, watched for cars again to return to the car, and begged to be allowed to do it every time!

  46. Kimberlie April 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Nothing bad has ever happened when my now almost 11 year old goes to look at toys or video games when we go into walmart or kmart or target… he’s been allowed to go off by himself since the age of 5 or 6 and even got ‘lost’ once or twice when he couldnt find me… he has always gone to someone with a store vest or name tag and asked them to page me for him… NEVER ever has anything bad happened. He knows that I will never leave the store without him and that anyone who tells him I have left the store is lying… He’s very self assured now.

  47. Liz Baer April 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my twelve year old started riding his bike to the library, a mile across our tiny town.

  48. Rachel M April 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 10 and 8 year old daughters walk alone from their grandparents’ apartment to meet me and their 2 year old sister in the park . It was my idea, because I knew they could do it and it would save time and energy. The 5-minute walk involves crossing 3 busy NYC avenues. They know the very direct route well, and I went over the details with the older one before they set off. Still, my husband was concerned. I asked what he was afraid of: that the girls would get kidnapped, lost, or hit by a car? None seemed likely. I almost called it off, but by the time the phone connected I saw them scooting into the park. Happy, calm, fine. Yes, we’d do it again.

  49. Nicole G April 30, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my four year old daughter go to the bathroom by herself in a family restaurant. It is place we eat dinner at nearly weekly, she knew where the bathroom was and can reach all the necessities – toilet paper, soap, sink, paper towels. The biggest issue she had was needing to get some help to open the door to get out (it was a little heavy). But she got a good amount of confidence.

  50. Nicole G April 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    I’ve got another. Nothing bad happened when I went to a Panera with my 4 year old daughter and she sat by herself at a table while i ordered and picked up her food. She even had a friendly conversation with a person sitting at the table next to her because the person was wearing a Perry the Platapus shirt.

  51. Rae April 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 6 year old go to the playground down the street while I watched my 8 year olds baseball game. In fact, she met a kindergarten classmate at the park (the girl lives in the nieghborhood) and the two came over to the game to ask if they could go play at her house. A quick phone call to the girl’s dad (a fellow free ranger so she knows her phone number!), and confirm having a friend over was ok. The girls walked two blocks, crossing a busy commerical intersection and happily played outside. I’d totally do it again. It was her idea, and that way she has fun while her brother plays ball.

  52. Matt S April 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 4 year old daughter walked up the street by herself to visit an elderly neighbor on the other side of the road. After asking permission (and after I made a quick phone call to the woman), she stopped to pick a bouquet of dandelions, then looked both ways, hurried across the street when it was clear, walked three houses up the hill, and rang the doorbell. 30 minutes later, she came home with a bag of the butterscotch cookies they had made together. Bad for my waistline? maybe. Bad for my kid? No way! I’d even go so far as to say she made someone’s day.

  53. M.H. April 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 3 year old and 5 year old ride their bikes on the walk way behind our house while I stayed in the house checking on them every few minutes.

    Nothing bad has happened (beyond muddy, wet dirty kids) when letting the boys play in the woods splash in mud, climb trees and play in streams. We do supervise that play at this point, but they have friends who aren’t allowed to do those things even while being watched by a parent.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 5 year old go into a public restroom alone. I am more ready for that one than he is, he still typically wants to stay with me.

    Nothing bad happened when my 3 year old decided to go for a walk by himself without asking permission. One of our neighbors brought him home before I even realized he was missing. The neighbor didn’t give me a hard time in any way. Just said that he noticed my son when he looked out the window and brought him home.

  54. LaShonda April 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Nothing bad happened to my 12 year old son when I allowed him to walk 10 minutes to the shopping plaza water fountain to hang with his friends for a few hours. We live in a suburban area, and I gave him the freedom to go meet up with his friends there for a few hours. He returned home in one piece. He has done this pretty often, and we’ve not had any issues with it.

    I look at it this way-he’s going to be in middle school next year. I have allowed him to come home after school alone this entire year. The apartment has not exploded and no one has broken in on us. When a neighbor came by and threatened to call CPS on me for allowing him and his 8 year to be home alone, he handled it appropriately (they only have a 1/2 day of school on Mondays).

    I want to raise independently minded children who don’t need me to hold their hands into adulthood.

  55. WendyW April 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I forced my 19yo college boy to learn the city transit system so I didn’t have spend 2 hours in the car on the days when his carpool is not available.

    Nothing bad happened when I allowed my 13yo to ride his bike 2 miles to Walmart, across a 4 lane highway.

    Nothing bad happened when my son was 8 and I let him ride his bike all over our small neighborhood, or (HORRORS!) let him LEAVE the streets and yards for the greater adventures of an adjoining undeveloped area, where none of the neighbor kids were allowed to join him.

    Nothing bad happened when I made my Cub Scout sons knock on stranger’s doors to sell popcorn, while I waited in my car.

    Nothing bad happened when I let them dumpster-dive for fort construction materials whenever new houses were being built in our neighborhood (boots and work gloves required).

  56. Julie April 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my five-year-old use the public restroom alone at Target. I had a cart loaded with stuff, a two-year-old in the basket, and was already deep into a long check-out line, so I pointed him in the right direction and sent him off. He was back just as I got to the checker, having taken care of his own business!

    Since then, I usually send him off to the bathroom alone. The only problem has ever been the weight of the door! (He’s now 8.)

  57. Ann in L.A. April 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when our 12 year old had to be at school early and couldn’t take the bus. I left the 10 year old alone for half an hour to wait for the carpool with a house key, told him to lock up on the way out, and make sure not to lose the key.

    I got home to a locked door, and when he came home from school, he handed over the key.

    Nothing bad happened when the kids were little (the boy was 5 or 6) and we let them go off by themselves to explore the caves on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. We stood around the exits to the caves, but even if they got past us, there was only one point of access to the island–they’d have to leave by the raft. They were safe as can be and had fun exploring on their own.

  58. Yan Seiner April 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Just this weekend my 12 year old son and his friend went to the store to buy some gatorade. They came out laughing….

    They got to the cashier and my son pulled out his credit card. (Our bank has child credit cards to teach kids how to manage electronic currency.) Well, he got his PIN wrong – twice. The cashier thought they were runaways with their parents’ stolen credit card. I guess they had to talk her out of calling the cops.

    Finally on the third try he got the PIN right, got his gatorade and came out to the card. A good time was had by all.

  59. Heath April 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Nothing bad ever happens when I let my 2 year-old climb tall slides or “rock walls”, without spotting him. Even though other people at the park seem to want to freak out. He’s probably more agile than a lot of 5 year-olds.

  60. Lindsey Drake April 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my child stayed home for the first time alone.
    She asked to stay home instead of go with me to a meeting. Since she was 8 and I wasn’t going far, I agreed. We laid out the rules together, located the phone, and talked through which neighbor to go to in an emergency.
    She was able to be home, comfortable and entertained, rather than sitting in the neighboring conference room with a movie. We do this still, and now she will often do chores or get ready for bed without needing supervision.

    Best call from her ever: “Mom, I need you to hurry home because I cleaned out the litter box. I couldn’t get the litter back in though (too heavy) and Morris needs to use it!”

  61. Amy April 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Nothing bad happens when my son (9) rides his bike to the convenience store 8 blocks away, across a busy street. Nothing bad happened when I let my 8 and 6 year old stay home alone while I ran a quick errand. Nothing bad happens when I let my 7 year old daughter and her friends wander around the neighborhood on a sunny Saturday, by themselves. Nothing bad happened to my 8 year old when she was home alone sick with a mild fever and I went to work (I work part-time about 6 blocks from home, so I was gone about 3 hours.)

  62. Asparagus April 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 11-year-old fly to Europe by herself to travel with a friend’s family for a week. She lost a few items, spilled a few drinks, created some fabulous memories and improved her independent travelling skills.

    Nothing bad happened when we took our kids, aged 6 and 9, backpacking around Southeast Asia for six months. We stayed in budget hotels, crossed 8-lane highways, took crazy chicken bus rides, ate everything, crossed several overland borders, and several times had to put the kids on motorcycles with strange drivers for short distances (admittedly not my favorite moments). We all had a fabulous time and they came back with a new appreciation of the world and other cultures.

    Nothing bad happened when our kids started walking by themselves to and from school at ages 7 and 10 (grades 3 and 5) respectively. After learning how to cross streets in massive Asian cities, walking around their own neighbourhood was a piece of cake.

    Nothing bad happened when we started leaving our 10-year-old alone at home for short periods in the day time. He learned how to entertain himself, who to call in case of emergency, and how to solve small problems and make decisions and judgment calls for himself. By the time he’s 12, he’ll be a great babysitter.

    Nothing bad happened when we let our 11-year-old go out for Halloween in a group without parents for the first time. They had a blast and came home on time with a sense of achievement after this taste of freedom and responsibility.

    I could go on, but I’m being a bit of a space hog here 🙂

  63. Amy April 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I sent my kids, aged 6 and 8, on the ferry from Long Beach to Catalina by themselves to visit their grandparents. It’s about an hour ride.

  64. Mary Zyk April 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kids played in the “creek” (actually a storm drain gully-type creek). This creek is at the end of our street, and all the kids in the neighborhood loves playing in there, especially after a rain when the water could get as high as over the ankles. A neighbor whose yard backs to the creek actually called the police, apparently worried that the kids were in grave danger. The policeman rang my doorbell, and explained there had been a complaint. The very kind policeman said the kids were not breaking a single law, and he saw no danger. Then he showed the kids where to access the creek so the busybody neighbor wouldn’t see them 🙂

  65. ks April 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 10 and 7 year old sons go trick or treating by themselves in our neighborhood last year. The older one felt like he was old enough to go alone, but since I didn’t want to go out (it was drizzly and cold), I made him take his brother with him. Their dad was hard to convince, but he’s a worrier in general, and in the end I won that battle. The boys came home two hours later, a little wet but jubilant, going on and on about how they had the best time ever and it was “epic.” Meanwhile, I stayed warm and dry giving out candy and every so often one of the other parents in the neighborhood would come by with their kids and tell me they saw mine and everybody was fine.

    And now I don’t have to go out trick or treating anymore–they can go themselves.

  66. Crystal April 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 5-year-old casually walked into the office on a sunny day and asked, “Hey Mom, can I go running?” My husband and I are both marathon runners, so he sees us running all the time and even comes along in the running stroller most days.

    So I said yes and helped him strap on the GPS watch. He took off out the door, operating the watch like a pro and shouting that he would be back in “10 or 12 miles.” It was adorable — obviously I knew he couldn’t go that far, plus he knows his boundaries in our neighborhood (no crossing streets….so hence, only around the block).

    3 minutes later, he came tearing back, then looped out of my sight again for another lap. He was SO proud when he checked the watch at the end and saw that he ran at a sub-10 pace!

    My mother-in-law, however, went nuts when she found out. “It’s not the 1950s anymore,” she said. “Anyone could have taken him!” My husband and I smiled, thanked her for her concern, and promptly sent out our happy kid for another solo run. Our neighbors love seeing the little guy out for a jog, and we couldn’t be happier knowing he’s learning a lifestyle of fitness, personal discipline, and most importantly — COMMUNITY!

  67. hineata April 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Nothing bad ever happened when my then 6 year old used to go downstairs from our shop house and get lunch or dinner for us when the girls – toddlers at the time – were sick or asleep. He was better than I was in bahasa Malay anyway, and got good quickly at remembering who he could ask for roast pork from, who sold the good rice dishes, how much everything was etc. In spite, or maybe because (who knows) he was a curiosity, nobody ever waylaid him or cheated him. Everyone was helpful and friendly, as most Malaysians of all races, and I think most human beings really, naturally are.

    He even got good at hailing taxis and telling the driver what the price should be, thank you very much, which was harder at that stage than just buying dinner, lol!

    That experience, particularly with other religions, stood him in good stead a few years later when we had a refugee family start at our local school, and the other kids couldn’t work out why Ahmed wasn’t allowed ham or, why his sister was only a few months younger (two wives, which was a hard thing for some of the teachers to deal with, let alone the kids). Boy ran interference for him for the first few weeks, and they became great mates.

  68. anonymous this time April 30, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Pentamom said: “Here’s a variant you might want to do at another time: Something slightly bad happened (a relatively minor injury, getting lost or separated, something like that), but my kid survived and it wasn’t the end of the world.”

    So many of these are exactly that. I think it has to do with our acknowledgement here as a community that it is precisely when things DO go a little bit awry that our children benefit the most from their solo adventures. Where is the learning otherwise? It reminds me to savour and appreciate my own setbacks, delays, and screw-ups. We never stop learning, after all.

    How sad to imagine depriving or forbidding children the very thing that human beings are here to do: learn.

  69. Jenny Islander April 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 9-year-old decided that the after-school enrichment program was boring, walked the quarter mile home with my keys, got her bike and helmet out of the shed, relocked it, and biked back up to meet her siblings and me.

    Nothing bad happened when at her request I dropped her off at the local park all by herself and let her make her own way home, about a mile each way. Except for the last time, when she came down with sudden-onset norovirus and had to wait for me there until I could get away, about 20 minutes after she called me.

    Nothing bad happened when my six-year-old convinced me that she could go to the corner store all by herself. Or further than that. She now knows her way all around downtown, including every public bathroom and where to get free cups of water. I even call places she’s been to check on her manners and she is always well behaved.

  70. Taradlion April 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Nothing bad ever happened to my then 10 year old (born and raised in NYC) daughter when she walked several city blocks and crossed streets to my office from her school or when she walked to Whole Foods and did homework for an hour while waiting for me to arrive with her brother. WEEKLY. For an entire year. Nothing bad has happened this year (11) when she has taken the subway to and usually home from school. Not even the day she decided to get off a local train and wait for the next one because “all the other grownups got off at 125th for the express and there was a weird guy taking pictures.” She switched trains even though I had told her she should get on the local and stay on until her school stop.

    Nothing bad has ever happened to my 8 year old when he has made eggs, French toast or waffles on a waffle iron. Nothing bad happened when he crossed Broadway by himself to buy coffee for our super or when he runs from the bus stop to his wrestling practice. Nothing bad happened when u gave him and taught him to use a Swiss Army knife and he stripped the bark from sticks to make a spear. He got a blistering burn from a glue gun on the same project, but it healed and he used it as “evidence” that he was “allowed to use a glue gun when his teachers wouldn’t let the kids touch them while making drums the same week.

    Nothing bad has happened to my son or the other 7-12 year old boys who play touch football, or gaga, or kick ball weekly, unsupervised outside of our synagogue after services….well nothing bad except we are having a meeting this week with said boys’ parents and Rabbi/board members to discuss how it is a liability to not have a parent supervising. Nothing bad will happen when we send them as a group to the NYC playground down the block instead of “participating.”

  71. Taradlion April 30, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    As to my post above, generally the idea to do things is my daughter’s or my son’s. Sometimes I “help” them get the idea. I allow them (encourage them) to do these things to build confidence and competence. I especially love the pickup games outside of our shul and will fight for the kids to be able to continue playing- working out their own problems and deciding what is fair. I want my kids to have negotiating skills.

    I have several moms (moms of my daughter’s same age friends) who balked at my daughter’s traveling from school on her own last year, ask if their daughters could go with my daughter this year. Absolutely, she loves the company.

  72. Jessi April 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 10 year old and almost 5 year old walk to the library by themselves(their idea).
    Nothing bad happened when I let my two 11 year old girls take their 5 year old and 1 year old brothers on a picnic at the local schools playground(their idea).
    Nothing bad happened when I let my 11 year olds start their own dog walking business, complete with email, webpage, door to door flyers and early morning walking appointments without an adult. I also let them handle their business and money interactions on their own.
    They hope to reopen their business this summer as well.

  73. katrin April 30, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Nothing bad happened to my fourth grader when I had to leave for work 15 minutes before bus time. I told him to keep an eye on the time and be there early. He was on time every day.

  74. Lisa April 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    Nothing bad happens when my now 10-year-old, then 8-year-old walks the one block and one house to and from the bus stop in a safe Long island suburb. I’ve seen middle school parents waiting with their kids! What’s up with that???

    It was his idea in October of 3rd grade when he asked to be able to walk home. (Mom, I KNOW where I live!) I had planned to let him in 4th grade. Nobody else, not even the kids who live in from of, next to and across from the bus stop goes without a parent. UGH. He shows up at 3:50 every day. I don’t wait at the door. On Mondays he has an after school club, and in the winter it’s dark when he gets off the bus at 4:50, yet he still makes it home every day!

  75. hineata April 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Oh, reading everyone’s stories is fun! Another one along Pentamom’s lines –

    Nothing bad happened the afternoon hubby and I were in one part of our very small house, and we realised the place was ominously quiet (you all know those moments, LOL!). The kids had been playing in Boy’s room. There is a piece of wood ( a 4″ by 2″) that carries the stormwater pipe from the garage along above the top of the fence to just outside Boy’s window, around 8′ off the ground.

    On investigation, we found Boy (7) up on the garage roof (flat), Midge (4), being hauled up onto it by him, and the 3 year old halfway along the pipe/wood, being whispered encouragement by the other two brats! It’s only about 10/12 feet along, but above a concrete path and a bit hair-raising the first time you see it….

    Since then the garage roof has become another (carefully used) ‘play’ area, and during summer the now-teen girls use it as stadium seating when they want to watch their brother and his friends play violent forms of basketball/driveway cricket.

  76. Debbie Nathan April 30, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 11-year-old daughter accidentally got left by herself for a few minutes at a Mexico City subway station, after the doors of the crowded subway car closed subsequent to her brother and parents getting on–before she had a chance to. She looks pretty gringa and, at the time, spoke little Spanish. The subway station was full of hubbub. But that was OK. We rode back a stop and found her standing calmly. She assumed we’d return soon. With that in mind, she stood and took in the sights. She got on the train with us; case closed; the subject never came up again.

  77. Debbie Nathan April 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 11-year-old daughter accidentally got left by herself for a few minutes at a Mexico City subway station, after the doors of the crowded subway car closed subsequent to her brother and parents getting on–before she had a chance to. She looks pretty gringa and, at the time, spoke little Spanish. The subway station was full of hubbub. But that was OK. We rode back a stop and found her standing calmly. She’d assumed we’d return soon. With that in mind, she’d stood and taken in the sights. She got on the train with us; case closed; the subject never came up again.

  78. Leanna April 30, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I trusted my 6-year old daughter to cook at the stove by herself. I showed her how to make pancakes from scratch, and the next time she said, “Mommy, I can do it.” So I let her. Now she does it all by herself… from recipe to plate. She climbs on a chair to get ingredients off high shelves and she cooks at the stove. She also cooks fried eggs and omelets.

    I don’t feel the need to be anywhere near the kitchen. My 4-year old son was inspired so now he makes pancakes with my daughter’s guidance. I know people who still have GATES up so their children this age will not go near the stove. My children are capable and proud instead of helpless and fearful. Best of all, my husband and I get breakfast served to us about twice a month!

  79. Becky April 30, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when our 12-year-old son rode his bike to and from the half-day cooking camp he took at the university in our town (about a mile and a half each way). It started at 9 (an hour and a half after I had to be at work) and finished at 1 (long before I would be done). His father would be home in the afternoons, so we had him ride.

  80. Kathy April 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 12-year-old son went to the library for the evening to join a weekly Yu-Gi-Oh group that he’d heard about at school. Nothing bad still happened when it turned out to be mostly grown men in the group, not all kids. He came home hours later, bubbling with excitement and telling me how he’d played a few games with the other middle-schoolers who were there and spent the rest of the time watching the grown-ups play. (“They know a lot more strategy than I do.”) He can’t wait to go back.

    Nothing bad also happened when my 17-year-old daughter stayed home alone for a weekend while the rest of us went to visit family. The first night, she made herself a full-course gourmet meal (she loves to cook). The second night, she ended up at a national act rock concert at the local college; a friend had called at the last minute to say she had an extra ticket and would my daughter like to come. She called for permission, and I was perfectly fine with it, albeit with the reminders that the two girls should stay together and they were not to go to any fraternity parties afterwards. 😉 She was so happy afterwards and told me that she was a lot less nervous to go off to college herself next year because she now knows she can handle being on her own. 🙂

  81. Gina April 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Nothing bad has happened in the 29 years my 5 kids have played in mud, eaten food off the floor (no 5-second rule in my house; in fact, I used to PUT the cheerios on the floor when they were crawling), walked barefoot all over the neighborhood, not washed a cut or removed a splinter till bathtime (AND we rarely used bandaids), forgot to wash their hands, didn’t wear jackets in the cold weather, swam with ear infections and snotty noses, had no curfew, drove at 16 with friends in the car, spoke to whomever we happened to meet (strangers!!!)……
    I would venture to guess that my kids have amazing immune systems and a very good sense of themselves.

  82. ank April 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Nothing bad happened to my 4 1/2 year old when she was riding around on her bike (a two wheeler, no training wheels – not that I’m bragging 😀 ) in the park for almost an hour when I realized I hadn’t seen her in about 20 minutes (I was watching the 2 year old ) and we needed to go home. It took me a few minutes but she had taken herself to the baseball field, plunked herself down on the bleachers and was watching a little league game. As she put it “I watched a REAL baseball game, all by myself. She was so proud. I hope she gets to do that again soon!

  83. Amy April 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 8 year old started biking by himself the 1 mile to baseball practice. He is the only kid on the team that gets himself there and back, which leaves me free to get started on dinner, and gives him a HUGE confidence boost. The other parents think I’m crazy and ‘brave’. He is 9 now and bikes this year too. The first day of the season that he does this, I’m nervous and listening for distant sirens that signal that he is going by ambulance to the hospital. But after doing it a few times, I just wave goodbye and don’t think about it again until he shows up ready to tell me about his practice.

  84. Farrar April 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 8 yo twin sons stayed home by themselves. Nothing bad happened when they went to the park by themselves either. Nothing bad happened when I let them go look at Legos in Target while I did the shopping. Nothing bad happened when I dropped one of my sons off on his own a block away from his ballet class and let him walk himself up. Oh, and nothing bad happened when I let them go five blocks away to get milkshakes. In fact, something good happened. They brought me a milkshake. Actually, something good happened in all those cases: I got things done or managed life in a much more expedient way, not paying an arm and a leg for a sitter and making sure everyone got where they were going on time. My kids aren’t natural free rangers. Most of these things are my idea and they need some structuring and a gentle push and some encouragement. But they feel good about themselves when they go these things on their own and I’m proud to be raising capable, independent kids.

  85. catherine April 30, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when, driving to theater class in downtown Minneapolis, we got stuck in a hopeless traffic snarl and I told my 13 year old daughter and her friend to get out of the car and walk the rest of the way, maybe 3/4 of a mile. I would do it again and so would they; I only wish I’d thought of it 30 minutes before I did.

  86. Alicia April 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 2 year played in the backyard by himself. It was my idea, kind of, as he was playing happily back there and I needed to get some stuff done inside (but now that he can unlock the door, he goes out there a lot, many times without me noticing right away). The backyard has a fence, so I figure he can’t escape or get into too much trouble. The upshot: he plays back there all the time. He plays in the sandbox, on top of the sandbox, on top of old tree trunks, climbs the fence to look over the top into the neighbor’s yard, drives his toy trains around the plants in the garden, hidden under the bushes with the dog. He has cried for me twice (in a year, give or take a few months) and both times because he stepped in dog poop, in barefeet, and guess what? Nothing bad happened after that, either, he didn’t get sick or anything.

  87. CrazyCatLady April 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 12 MONTH old, climb to the top of the 8 foot ladder at the park. This was a vertical ladder that ended with just a rung, about 8 feet up in the air. My son was an early walker, and early climber. He LOVED climbing to the top of that ladder, lean against the top rung, then release one hand to wave at the kids below.

    Now, I have to admit, my heart did stop at one point. A mother of another child came over to the ladder and started talking to him. His response was to lean a little farther forward, and wave with BOTH hands! I had to call the mother away – he was showing off, and I knew if she didn’t pay attention, he would put his hands back on! (It took a bit of convincing – but I did get her away, without my son falling!)

  88. Jen April 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Nothing happens when I let any of my four kids (currently, 10, 7,7, and 4) climb to the roof of my house to: get a ball, watch workers tear down a tree (multiple times), or watch a contractor break up and pour a new cement driveway. Always their idea. And it keeps the out of the way of the men working. Other things they also do on their own: Wait in the van by them selves, fill my van with gas, wash the windshield, do their own laundry (the 10 year old at least), clean the bathroom completely (the 10 year old again), go to grandmas (3000 miles away accompanied by my mother), go on overnight field trips without me, cook, sleepovers, go around the block and walk the dog, all sorts of things. I’ve got kids with good heads on them. Earlier this afternoon one of my 7 year old daughters was helping me cook in the kitchen. She accidentially set fire to a pot holder. She calmly took it to the sink and put it out. Go her!

  89. CrazyCatLady April 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my then 4 year old, with speech issues, decided to walk home from the park (5 houses away from the park.) I DID rather freak out – my son is known for hugging everyone, and it has been a fear that he would leave with anyone as well. I put my other two kids in the care of other mothers, then ran home, hoping that he was there.

    He was. He needed something from the house, he said. All the doors were locked, so he came around back to try to climb through a window. My elderly neighbor was hanging out clothes and saw him, and got him to come to her (instead of breaking the screen) and got her husband to go get the phone to call me. I showed up at about that time. We all had a laugh, and as I recall, my son got a cookie from the neighbor.

  90. ChicagoDad April 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when our 4 year old went into the drug store in our Chicago neighborhood by herself to by M&Ms while I waited outside. 1 week before, she fell down in the living room, under supervision, playing with nice safe toys, and broke her elbow–it was a case of falling at the exact wrong angle at the exact wrong time. Her confidence was shot, she was feeling down, timid, and defeated. We walked to the drug store, I gave her $5 bill and sent her in to buy M&Ms, while I waited outside with our son and the dog. She talked to the clerk, picked out M&Ms, bought them (the clerk put the change in the bag) and walked out positively glowing. She regained some confidence and felt like a million bucks.

  91. CrazyCatLady April 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 12 year old daughter take her 7 year old brother to a school meeting that I was supposed to go to.

    My middle son had been riding his bike with friends when he crashed – and got a handbar in his gut. He cried for much longer than usual, and to be on the safe side, I ended up taking him to the doctor, then the ER. Brother and sister got dropped off at the ER by the friend’s parent.

    The hospital wanted to be VERY careful, a boy had died the year before from the same injury that ruptured after they had sent him home. So it was my lot to stay with my son.

    But, there was an important meeting that I was supposed to attend with my daughter for the STEAM program that she is enrolled in. I ended up giving her $10, outlined the mile long route, and told her to get some pizza for herself and her younger brother and go to the meeting. Dad was occupied with an important meeting of his own at that point and couldn’t get there.

    So they walked, got some pizza and soda, and went to the meeting and ate cookies and my daughter took notes. Half way through, their dad was able to get there.

    I on the other hand, had to stay overnight at the hospital with my then feeling much better middle son. And, nothing bad happened with him either, except some nasty road rash.

  92. Alicia April 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    To add another one:
    Nothing bad happened when my 2 year old son ran away from my at the park. He has actually done this several times, and we are at the point where we avoid this park now. He has gone all over the place: into the nearby grocery store, into other nearby stores, into an employee parking lot, down a hill to a pond, up a hill to a large climbing tree, etc. I was mildly embarrassed when he disappeared into the grocery store, as employees brought him back out to me. I was more worried when he was down by the pond. And part of the reason why we don’t go there so much anymore is that the playground is equi-distant to all of these things and when he disappears I am usually at a loss for where to look for him first. BUT, for all my worrying and all his daredevil running off, nothing bad has ever ever ever happened. He hasn’t even gotten muddy down by the water or scared when he couldn’t see me.

  93. Linni April 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Noting bad happened when my kid rode the water slide alone. My two year old daughter is a bit of an adrenaline junkie. We’ve been riding the small water slides at the pool since she was about 16 months old. Then a few months ago she started asking me to go on the full-sized adult water slides. These slides start about 30 feet high in the roof of the pool centre and splash into a shallow splash pool.

    I eventually gave in and spoke to the lifeguard who told me she could ride it with my consent, but that she would have to ride it alone. I was by myself so had to go down first to make sure she didn’t go under the water at the bottom, meaning I had to leave her alone at the top of the slide. Out of sight, at least a minutes run up five flights of stairs away. I was really terrified but had a serious conversation with her about listening to the lifeguard and not running off. And off I went. And left her alone under the care of a lifeguard and a little girl of about seven who said she would tell my daughter when to go. I waited with my hands over my mouth in terror for her to come down, and then saw her tiny little body plummeting down the slide.

    She, of course, loved it. And did it again twice more. Each time her confidence and mine grew. Since then I’ve been much more willing to leave her at the top of slides while I go down first, knowing she can be trusted to come down safely.

  94. Caroline Chavasse April 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    I took my 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son to ride their bikes around a reservoir near our house. Lots of people were out jogging, walking and biking in a path around the lake. My 8 year got going pretty fast on his bike but my daughter was still struggling and I stayed with her. Soon he was out of calling range. I saw him grow smaller as he faded into the crowd, pumping furiously. At one point I caught a glimpse of his sweatshirt across the water about a mile away. After about 15 mins he caught up with us, smiling and ready for another lap, and NOTHING BAD HAD HAPPENED TO HIM.

  95. Mandi April 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Nothing bad happens when my children (3-8 years old) play outside by themselves.

    We intentionally built our home in a rural area surrounded by acres and acres of land so that they’d be able to run and play and explore, and we’ve allowed our girls outside to play by themselves since our oldest was 3 or 4 years old.

    We take reasonable precautions — opening windows so we can hear them, defining the boundaries of where they’re allowed to play and establishing rules for what they should do if a car comes up the driveway (not because of strangers but to avoid the possibility of someone being hit in the driveway).

    Most of the time they play outside together, but occasionally one of them will go out by herself (even the 3yo). We’ve had plenty of bug bites, ticks, scrapes and splinters and the occasional bee sting or slight sunburn, but I don’t even consider those “bad things” — just normal parts of childhood.

    It’s absolutely the way I imagined their childhood to be, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

  96. Jenn April 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kids walked home from school. My kids were 8 and 6 and usually they walk home with a neighbour who is 13. Since the neighbour will be in high school next year, I had told the kids that next year they will have to walk home alone and I will be home from work momentarily. My 8 year old is a little nervous about the walk (it’s almost 2 km) but has enjoyed the taste of freedom of playing in the neighbourhood on his own.

    One day in March, I was home from work waiting for a furniture delivery. I had received the call that the delivery would be there within the hour. Right after I hung up, our neighbour texted me to say that he had gone home from school early since he was sick. I figured that I would likely miss the delivery if I went to the school to pick up the kids. My husband has an hour commute so he wasn’t a possibility and my mother was at an appointment. I decided that it was a perfect day to test out walking alone. I called the school and asked the secretary to let the kids know that they had to walk home together. They usually take about 25 minutes to walk home so I waited for the delivery and the kids. Delivery came and went (I was right that they would come right as I would be out picking up the kids), and I waited for the kids. I was getting panicked when they burst in the door. My son was so excited that he was responsible enough to help his sister get home safely. If I had told him in the morning that he was to walk her home, he would have worried about it all day. This situation worked perfectly for us and now my kids are eager for the next time the neighbour can’t walk them home.

  97. ks April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    And to add another…

    I expect that nothing bad will happen when we let the (now) 11 year old fly to England by himself in August to visit his aunt and cousins for a month. I was also willing to send the (will be) 8 year old along with him, but the husband doesn’t think he’s old enough yet (I disagree, but I did lose that particular battle).

  98. Lucy April 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my then-17-year old daughter went out with her boyfriend on a Thursday night during spring break. My husband went to bed early, as usual, while I stayed up waiting for my daughter to get back. It got really late and I almost went to bed, but it’s a good thing I didn’t, because at 11:30 pm the phone rang, and it was the police. It turned out the kids had gone to a city park, and even though both of them have lived in this town all their lives, they were unaware that the city parks close at night. The cop asked them for ID, and when he saw that my daughter was a minor, he was required by law to call me. The cop was just as nice as he could be, and when I assured him that it was okay for my daughter’s boyfriend to just bring her home, he let them go. I thanked the cop for calling, and about twenty minutes later the kids got back. I was laughing so hard, remembering what it was like to be 17 years old and in love and to completely lose track of time. My daughter’s boyfriend apologized to me, but I just told him not to worry, no damage done. In the morning I told my husband about it and we both had a good laugh over it… although we both shuddered to think what OUR parents would have done if they had ever gotten a call from the cops about us — even though NOTHING BAD HAPPENED!

  99. zinkemom April 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I left my infant twins locked in the car while I ran into the little corner store to buy 3 gallons of milk. (Who could carry 3 gallons of milk and TWO infant carriers? This store had no carts.)

    Nothing bad happened when I left them sleeping in their beds at 3am to go pick up daddy from work 6 minutes away. Both at age 4 and again at age 6.

    Nothing bad happened when I left those same twins home alone at age 6 for 7 minutes while I drove to the store to buy yet more milk.

    Nothing bad happened to them at 7 years old when I let them ride their bikes around the block alone.

  100. Elisa April 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    1 – What activity did your child do?
    Play in the 3 and above only climbing area, jump off the couch, try to pet a duck, play in the 5 and older play area, walk on the sidewalk without holding my hand
    2 – Whose idea was it?
    totally his
    3 – Why did you permit it?
    He was having fun and could handle it
    4 – What was the upshot?
    He had fun and I gained confidence that he could do much on his own
    5 – Would you and yours do it again?

  101. Sky April 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my nine year old and six year old decided to sell lemonade door to door.

    Initially, I thought the kids were just setting up a stand on the sidewalk about four houses down from us, while I stayed inside to do some work of my own. I was content to let them run the stand because I thought it expressed an entrepreneurial spirit and gave me some uninterrupted time to work. Yet after failing to garner business, they simply decided to drum up their own. Had they asked me first, I probably would have said no, primarily for fear that they might annoy the neighbors. However, they did not ask me. My daughter reasoned that she was not going IN to any houses and that she was staying in the designated free-range, two-block parameter, and that parental permission for her plan was therefore unnecessary.

    The upshot was that they made $3.25 and got to know some neighbors whom they didn’t yet know, including a man who’s wife had died, and with whom I gather they had a brief, sympathetic chat.

    I would let them do it again, but not more than twice a year, so as not to depend too much on the goodwill and tolerance of others.

  102. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt April 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    At one point during a recent bike outing, my five-year-old zoomed ahead, out of sight. By the time I caught up with her, she had dropped her bike by the trail and started across a creek on a tree bridge about ten feet above the ground and fifty feet across to the other bank. She crossed over and came back, proud of herself for having done it on her own, without anyone helping her or providing any kind of safety net. Would I “let” her do it again? Of course — I wouldn’t be able to stop her anyway!

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    A dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  103. Grace L April 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    I know this is a century earlier than what you are looking for (which is largely your point, in many posts – the way that perspectives have needlessly changed) but I can’t resist. Nothing bad happened when my great grandfather, driving the mail coach from eastern Oregon to California in 1907, stopped to let my 8 year old grandfather out, handed him a gun and a shovel, and said the road needed fixed and he’d be back in a week to pick him up.

  104. Brooke Brandt April 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 3 year old take the elevator down to our lobby by himself. He walked out our door while I continued to get my stuff together, pushed the button and went downstairs. I heard him talking to people when they got on telling them he was going to the lobby. This was totally his idea and he feels so responsible when he does it. I let him do it because it built his self esteem and he encountered situations that we hadn’t talked about. Encountering new situations are the best part! He figured out what to tell people that got on the elevator, he figured out what was happening one time when he went up instead of down.
    We continue to let him be free with his elevator use. The only question is when will his sister want to join him.

  105. Eliza April 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my then 12 year old daughter catch a taxi at night to a birthday party by herself. That morning I was carrying and doing too many things at once and ended up scratching my eye with the car keys. Thinking it would get better, I started driving home in the car with my daughter. I ended up losing sight in that eye and couldn’t see the road properly, very scary. Ended up going to the hospital, and left with a patch over my eye and vision very blury. That night my daughter was going to attend her very first teenage, mixed gender, night party. It was too late to organise a lift, I ended up calling a taxi to take her and pick her up. Very nervous as we had just heard a story about a girl being attacked by a taxi driver. Guess what, my daughter had an uneventful trip to the party, I even got a phone call from the dispatcher to tell me she got there safe. My daughter had a fantastic time at the party, and arrived home safe after another uneventful taxi ride home. Parents were happy to ring and tell me how bad an idea it was for my daughter to get a taxi by herself, but not happy enough to offer her a ride. I told the parents how bad an idea it was for me to drive my car in the dark and rain with very blurry vision.

  106. Lisa April 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I put my 5 year old on a plane alone to visit her dad. It was my idea; I was tired of every trip costing three plane tickets (hers, plus one for someone to accompany her there, and one for someone to bring her home).

    Nothing bad happened when I let her start walking to school alone (.8m) in 2nd grade. Her idea; she kept asking me to drop her off further away, until she was walking the whole way.

    Nothing bad happened when my 7 year old went out on Mother’s Day morning to buy breakfast at the bakery on our corner, then crossed a busy street (with a pedestrian light) to get flowers at the grocery store, all before I got out of bed. This was her idea too!

    Nothing bad happened when I went on vacation alone and left my 9 year old to stay with various friends and family (5 nights, 4 houses). She kept track of her schedule, knew where she needed to go after school each day, and managed to have everything she needed at the right times (soccer, rehearsals, school, etc.). I suppose this was my idea, but we talked about it a lot before it happened, and she had a list of contact numbers for everyone involved.

    Nothing bad happened when I called my 10 year old and told her that a friend had invited me out after work, and asked if she could take care of herself for the evening. She went to the grocery store, bought a microwavable dinner, came back home, ate, did homework, watched TV, and was asleep when I got home.

    Nothing bad happened when I left my 10 year old at the school science fair planning to walk home after dark so she could stay longer when I was leaving to go hear Lenore speak!

    Nothing bad happened when she woke up on a Saturday morning and I told her to get out of the house. She went jogging, ended up a mile and a half away, and walked home.

    Nothing bad happened when she and a friend decided to go to the library over school vacation week. They walked there (less than a mile), browsed in a store afterwards, and went out for ice cream on their way home. They were approached by a couple of teenage boys trying to pick them up, but walked away because they weren’t interested.

    I let her do all of these things because I want to foster her independence, and also to be honest because our family functions better if she can be a full participant instead of me being her servant. I would not hesitate to do any of these things again. She’s one of the most independent 10 year olds I know, and I am so proud of the young lady she’s growing up to be!

  107. Jynet April 30, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    I’m proud to say I wouldn’t even know where to start. My 15 year old shopping alone in a foreign (to us) city (Seattle) for 6 hours?

    Or that she did the same thing in Toronto at 14?

    Or that she did the same thing at 12 in Edmonton (close enough to home to take public transit home)?

    Or that at nine she took the bus to and from school in Edmonton when we lived in one of the suburbs. An hour each way and three buses in each direction?

    Or that she has done all of the family grocery shopping since she was 16? Cooked her first Christmas dinner (with minimal help) when she was 12? Or cooked dinner for me for the first time when she was 9?

    The bus to school was my idea. The rest were her idea.

    I permitted them because she had been learning the skills that she need to be safe and successful for some time and she was ready to test her wings. (ie. the dinner at 9 was beans and toast, not something fancy… the shopping trips were only slightly longer than the one before, first in local cities, then in more distant ones, and always knowing how to get a hold of me).

    The upshot is that I have a very worldly daughter who can feed herself and travel alone in any city in North America with no problem. She knows her way around almost every major Canadian city and a good selection of American ones too.

    Yes. I would do it again. Exactly the same. She is an amazing young lady, and some part of that is because I trusted her to let me know when she needed a bit more room to prove herself.

  108. Tamara May 1, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Nothing bad happened when a stranger offered to hold my baby, so I could ride the pirate ship ride at a small amusement park with my other two kids. The stranger’s child was going on the ride, so I figured she wasn’t a kidnapper. She held my baby, and she gave him back afterwards.

    Sometimes, I think that I cannot believe I did that. If she was a kidnapper, I would have been stuck on that ride while she took off with my baby. Then, logic kicks in. I would do the same thing as that nice stranger. I would offer to hold someone’s baby. Being nice should not be considered suspicious.

  109. Karli May 1, 2013 at 2:56 am #

    1 – What activity did your child do? since she could sit up I’ve let her sit on the kitchen counter. and often the checkout counter at stores. She has Never fallen off, has great balance and then she could see and be apart of what was going on! I would absolutely do it again. and all the people freaking out at me that “she’s going to fall!” can just settle down! It’s not her first rodeo 😉 She’s now 4 and is too big for counters when we’re out, but she sits and stands on the counters at home to help me bake and cook and clean the cupboards.

    2 – Whose idea was it? Mine!

    3 – Why did you permit it? It made sense.

    4 – What was the upshot? umm upshot? lol idk!

    5 – Would you and yours do it again? Absolutely!

  110. Ben May 1, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    When I was about 9, nothing bad happened when me and my younger sister went to buy bread in a campground store all by ourselves every single day of a 3-4 week holiday trip around Europe. In fact, not only did nothing bad happen, we actually learned how to place the same order in roughly 5 different languages. 🙂

  111. Michelle May 1, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    1 – What activity did your child do? My 4 year old rode the elevator at the rec center by himself 1 floor while I took the stairs.

    2 – Whose idea was it? Mine.

    3 – Why did you permit it? We always ride the elevator the 1 floor since he loves the elevator, but I really wanted to take the stairs. He begged me to take the elevator, so after quizzing him on which number to push, I let him do it himself.

    4 – What was the upshot? The huge smile and realization that “I can do it myself” I saw on his face afterwards was great. We ended up doing the same thing when we were done swimming. He was super excited to be able to do it again, and asked if he could ride it himself when we were done.

    5 – Would you and yours do it again? Yup.

  112. gap.runner May 1, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    A couple more…

    Nothing bad happened when we took a vacation in northern Italy in 2010 and went to Gardaland, a large amusement park. My son was 11 at the time. My husband and I wanted to ride the roller coaster with a loop, but my son absolutely refused to go on it. He wanted to go on the teacup ride (just like the one at Disneyland) that was next to the coaster. We decided that he could ride the teacups, my husband and I would ride the roller coaster, and we would meet at a designated spot between the two rides. When my husband and I got off the roller coaster, my son was waiting for us at the meeting point. The upshot was that my son invited my husband and me to ride the teacups with him to show us how fun they were.

    In February 2011 the Alpine Skiing World Championships were in my city and we (husband, son, me) went to one of the races. We were sitting in the stands. My son was one month shy of his 12th birthday. After the race ended, my son got bored waiting around for the award ceremony and asked to go to the stadium exit to get autographs from the skiers who did not win medals. We let him go, then watched the award ceremony. After the award ceremony we met our son by the exit. Nothing bad happened. In fact, he had filled his autograph book and had a large stack of skiers’ photo cards along with a huge smile on his face.

    In both of those situations, nobody thought that it was strange to see an 11-year-old boy by himself. Nobody asked him where his parents were or threatened to call the European equivalent of CPS to report my husand and me for child neglect. When he asked the ski racers for their autographs, nobody scolded him about “talking to strangers.”

  113. katrin May 1, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 6 & 8 year old went into the store to buy candy and a stranger paid for them, because they were such well behaved kids.

  114. Teressa Glazer May 1, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    I’ve owned a resale clothing store for the past 26 years. Both of my daughters grew up in the shop, staying there with me full-time until they started school. When my daughter Molly was about four, I had her at the shop with me when I discovered I was about to run out of one dollar bills. There was no bank nearby and I didn’t want to close up to go get change. Since it was almost closing time I knew I only needed a few bills to get me through the day. I gave Molly a $20 bill and told her to go to the Subway three doors down and order a cookie. The change would give me the ones I needed.

    I watched as she trekked off on her mission and then started run through all the awful things that could happen to her. My worst fears were realized when she returned a few minutes later, in tears. I flashed through all the awful possibilities…until she held out the $20 bill and sobbed, “I’m so sorry, mama. They GAVE me the cookie!”

  115. Kenny Felder May 1, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    Lenore, this is the best idea you’ve had in a long time–and that is really saying something. People need to hear these stories–stories of *reality* not just “when we were kids” but right now. I hope this forms the nucleus of your next book!

    My youngest daughter Shannon is in fifth grade. She loves to go out with her friends. They take their scooters and bikes down the road to the lake, where they splash about in the water. (They know they are not allowed to go into deeper water without a grown-up or life guard around.) Or they go on a much longer journey in the other direction–down the road, through the path, down some other roads, and then across the big street (Franklin Street) at the light, to get to the strip mall where there is a “10,000 Villages” store (the clerks know Shannon by name she spends so much time there) and of course an ice cream shop. I wish I could show you a map of all this.

    Anyway, Shannon has been taking such trips with her friends since she was in second grade, if I remember correctly.

  116. Molly May 1, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I didn’t stay at my kid’s practices!

  117. Taradlion May 1, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Nothing (so) bad happened when I let my tall 8 year old ride the Nitro roller coaster by himself while we went on another ride…I say “so” because when he hadn’t emerged with the first 5 or 6 sets of exiting adults (there was almost no line) I went in the exit. I asked a group of college aged young me. if they had seen a boy…” You mean Josh?…he’s awesome. He convinced the operator to let us all stay on, but we had to go after 2 rides. He’s still on.”… SEVEN times without standing up. He was a little dizzy for about 15 minutes.

    I often ride with him (I like roller coasters) but he has been figuring out how to get extra rides. When he was a hair short for full height clearance at Hershey Park at 7, HE went to guest services and got a height band so he would be turned away. He rode everything. That year he looked in line, saw a man (dad?) with 2 kids and said, “hey, I can ride with them because the seats are in twos.” He got in line, asked them, waved to me, waited with them, and rode.

  118. Taradlion May 1, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    * wouldn’t be turned away. (If you’re close they will gubernatorial you a band).

  119. JJ May 1, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my husband and I started leaving out kids (9 and 12) at home from 5:30 to 7:15 am 3 days a week so we could hit the gym. In fact now we come home to teo kids who are up, showered, with packed lunches and bags. Just in time to kiss them goodbye for the day.

    Nothing bad happened when we let the same kids at 7 and 10 walk to the ice cream place a few blocks away (this was our first act, after reading Lenore’s book).

    Nothing bad happened when we let out kids at 9 and 12 walk to and attend a movie 1.5 miles away, by themselves.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 12 year old take the city bus with his friend to the mall in the suburbs.

    Nothing bad happens when we let out kids walk to Rita’s, 1.5 miles away, for water ice unless you count the fact that if they bring me something it’s melted by the time they get home.

  120. TM May 1, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I left my 8 year old son in the car while I ran in to a store for about 25 minutes. He is well able to know that he should stay there and not touch anything. No one tried to break the windows to steal him. The car didn’t spontaneously turn on and drive off with him. It wasn’t a bitterly cold or stiflingly hot day. He was THRILLED to stay in the car and read while mom went into HomeGoods – not an 8 yr old boy’s dream store! I’m sure someone saw him in the lot and may have been watching for me to come out. Whatever. Luckily, no one called the cops on me. Maybe they just had the sense not to.

  121. Natalie May 1, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Wow, this was a great idea. It seems like this site centers on negativity so much, that it doesn’t help me move forward. I can always say to myself, “at least I’m not THAT crazy.”

    But these stories give me ideas for things that I can have my kids do which they haven’t yet.

    Keep up with the stories everyone!

  122. Sharon May 1, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 11 year old and daughter and her 10 year old friend were dropped off at the mall, had lunch, and saw a movie. I ran a couple of errands, came back before them, and met at the preassigned spot.

    I asked them to stay together. The ten year looks 13 and acts like well ten. The 11 year old looks like she 8 and often acts likes shes 13. It is a good combination if they are together.

  123. lollipoplover May 1, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my son(5) explore the creek by the golf course with his friend to look for golf balls (he liked to collect them). Two years later, his collection grew so big that he asked to sell some off at a stand. He’s been operating his business (with 3 of his “employees”) for 5 years now and even has displays at local courses during his off season.

    He makes more money than me.

  124. amanda May 1, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 5 yr old son leave his swimming class to go to the bathroom- all the way on the other side of the YMCA- by himself. I let him do it because I didn’t feel like chaperoning him there and back, especially since I was enjoying watching my other son during his lesson. My five yr old knew where the bathroom was located and I felt confident that he could tackle the enormously daunting task of walking to the bathroom, using the toilet, and walking back to the pool without me being there to supervise. And in case you couldn’t figure it out already, despite horrified looks I got from some parents, he did in fact accomplish the task- he did not end up in the middle of the freeway, he did not suffer any injuries and he was not kidnapped or molested.

  125. Becky May 1, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 8-year-old son rode his bike to the highway overpass (he calls it “the bridge”), almost 1/2 a mile away from home. We don’t live in a traditional “neighborhood,” so there’s really nowhere to “safely” ride his bike. So he rides on the sidewalk of major roads. (But we live in a small town, so a major road is still not busy like in a city.) He rode all the way up there and all the way back. Unharmed. Unbothered. Free as a bird. He loved it. It was his idea – he LOVES to ride his bike, and riding around in circles is not very fun. lol! So I let him. Because I trust him to make good decisions. He stayed on the sidewalk and didn’t go with anyone he didn’t know. He came straight home. And had the time of his life! 🙂

  126. Tana C May 1, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my kid (6 years old, now 8 because he survived) went into the men’s room alone at the Atlanta zoo. Yes, I aged 5 years in an instant when he started screaming, “MOMMY!” at the top of his lungs, but it turns out he had gone to the wrong door and thought he was locked in. We talked about how he did the right thing to call for me loudly when something goes wrong in a public restroom, and he still goes into mens’ restrooms with confidence.

    Later in the year, nothing bad happened when my 9 year old niece got separated from our group at the same zoo. We split up (yes, I sent my then-7-yr-old to look for her, too, and nothing bad happened to him either), we found her, and we asked her to stay where she could see my son, since I knew he wouldn’t get lost in our zoo (we go a LOT).

  127. Beth May 1, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 4 almost 5 yr old went to the men’s room alone at M&T Bank Stadium during a Ravens Fan event. My hands were full of food and my husband was somewhere else in the stadium. I stood outside in view of both doors while he went in. After a few minutes I got nervous because he was taking to long. I peeked in, called his name and he told me he was in the stall because the urinal was too high. I was proud that he felt comfortable enough to do it and solved his own problem when the urinal wasn’t available.

  128. Amy May 1, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Nothing bad happened to my kids (ages 13 and 10) when they made their own way home from camp every day in Beijing, China last summer even though this was a new city and country for them. Some days they did the 40-minute walk along this super-busy street. Some days they took a cab, even though they didn’t speak Chinese and could only show the driver the address on a piece of paper and then point and gesture on various tricky turns, etc.

    The idea was my husband and mine and we permitted it because it was the most efficient and economical way for them to get home.

    They learned how to manage themselves in crazy traffic, how to be at ease as international travelers, and gained confidence in managing their own affairs.

    Now back in our small city in West Virginia, we still encourage them to manage their own transportation when possible and to solve their own problems.

  129. Maggie Conran May 1, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 7 year old ride his scooter around the block all by himself for the first time. Or walk home from the park ahead of me. Or run (with his almost 3 year old brother) two doors down to his friends’ house to see if they could play. Nothing bad happens when I let the boys play in the backyard alone for long stretches of time. Or “be in charge of the house” while my husband and I sleep in on a Saturday. The more freedom I give them, the more confident, helpful and happy they become. Even the 2 year old loves his independence. I am always surprised when their friends come to play and need their hands held for every little thing. My kids just look at me like, “why are they asking for help?” and then step in to teach a man to fish. ; )

  130. Cindy Karlan May 1, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my son took the MetroNorth train from NYC (Grand Central) to Stamford, CT at 10pm. My son was 11 years old. My husband allowed it, and I agreed. My husband and son went to NJ to see a NJ Redbulls soccer game, but my husband had a flight to catch to Ghana from NYC while my son needed to come home to New Haven. The plan was that our son would have my cell phone and I’d pick him up at a certain time from the New Haven train station. However, my husband and son got to Grand Central too late and missed the train. My husband couldn’t sit with my son and wait for the next train, so they reviewed their options: Our son could wait an hour — with a magazine, a snack, and $20 — for the next train to New Haven or get on the train to Stamford in 20 minutes and ask mom (me) to pick him up there. Our son opted to take the sooner train to Stamford. I borrowed a friend’s cell phone and met him at the train station at 11:00. He was fine. Since then, he’s been taking the London Tube all over the place by himself. We haven’t had a need for him to ride the subway or Metro North by himself since then, but we wouldn’t hesitate to do it in the future. Our son has thanked us several times for trusting him to go places on his own.

  131. amanda May 1, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my family was staying @ a house in Maine this past summer and once the little kids were asleep me and my husband would leave our 11 yr old in the house w/her sleeping younger siblings so that we could enjoy a quiet walk on the beach, alone, like two grown ups. There wasn’t even cell service there- omg!!!

  132. Rachel Mariner May 1, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my seven-year-old son started going to the park on our block without me. Although believe me I was nervous, I am convinced that his freedom makes him more responsible. Nothing bad happened when he turned eight and would walk down the street to invite his friend Oliver to the park. (Although Oliver’s mom didn’t let him go without her). Nothing bad happened when I let my four-year-old daughter play in her room with her friend and design a “fashion show and play” without me.

  133. Wester Wuori May 1, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Nothing bad happened when we dropped off our 8-year old son at a park for soccer practice, not realizing that the coach had cancelled practice a few hours earlier. We left the park, as there were other teams practicing there. About 30 minutes later, my son called my cell phone to tell me that his team wasn’t there and there was no practice. I was more upset than he was but he was calm and totally mellow about the whole thing and had been waiting around to see if the team would show. He then asked a stranger (!) to borrow her cell phone, knew both our cell phone numbers and called me. Was not upset at all when my wife picked him up. It was a proud free-range parenting moment!

  134. emandink May 1, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 9 year old walked by himself from his friend’s house to the restaurant where we told him we would be eating, but which had too long of a wait. He stood outside and calmly waited until his dad brought him over to the one where we ended up (he left the friend’s house on his own to meet us, rather than waiting for his dad in the first place).

    Nothing bad happened when I left the 9 year old and almost 3 year old (happily sitting in her wagon chewing on an apple) outside the local hardware store while I ducked in to pay for our garden plants.

  135. Erika May 1, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I got my then-5-yr old daughter to a swimming lesson, only to realize I’d left her suit at home. Our house was about 5 minutes from the pool. If I brought her home with me, I knew that it’d take a lot longer than 5 minutes–getting her out to the car and in the booster, getting her back out of the car and into the locker room after we returned (and I think she was already semi-undressed).

    The session had been going on for a few weeks, and I’d chatted w/ another mom there a few times. This other mom was in the locker room when I realized I didn’t have the suit. I can’t remember if I asked her to keep an eye on my daughter, or whether she volunteered, but I do know that I left my daughter there w/ a relative stranger, forgot to get the woman’s name, didn’t even give her my cell#, and zipped home & back fast enough that we were only a few minutes late for class.

    My husband was horrified when he found out–but I knew how to find the woman if anything happened, she knew how to find me, since the life guards had the registration list, and her own kids were at the class, so I wasn’t all that worried about her running off w/ mine & leaving hers there…

  136. Brenna May 1, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 7 year old asked if she could cook dinner all by herself. I had some things I needed to get done, and she was hungry and didn’t want to wait. It involved both knives and boiling water. She was so proud of herself she could barely contain it, and I got everything else I needed to get done finished, and we still had time to go outside and play before bedtime.

  137. Catherine Lazen May 1, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Children love fire…..and any activity that isn’t at least sort of dangerous is just no fun. We learned that Mexicans know and appreciate this more than Americans do when we moved to San Miguel de Allende in 2008. Our children were 7, 10, and 11 years old then. Before we left New Jersey, they used to get in trouble for running on the playground. Or chasing. There was an episode of harmless pantsing at recess, and Jacob thought it perfectly fitting that the perpetrator was subsequently suspended. After all, Jacob’s butt had been exposed for all to see.

    Imagine my surprise, when during a visit to their new Mexican school, the PE teacher decided to liven up recess with a group “jumping activity”. He pulled a long piece of chain link out of a shed and proceeded to tie rags along its length. He then put on some gloves, took out a rusty can and haphazardly saturated the rags and the ground below it with kerosene.
    The children roared with delight when, with a flourish, he tossed a match onto the rope and it burst into flames.
    Jacob, Max and Evelyn rushed to join the line forming behind it and I watched in shock as each child after another leaped over the rope. The teacher raised it ever higher to raise the level of difficulty. Sparks fell from the rope and ignited the splashes of kerosene on the ground to create even more drama.
    Paroxysms of unbridled ecstasy.
    Until a 1st grader fell on top of the rope and burned his stomach.
    I watched as he was led into a nearby classroom by a teacher holding a freshly picked stalk of aloe and I assumed that the activity had come to an end.
    It hadn’t.
    The jumping continued… until the last bit of fire had consumed the now charred remains of the rags, and the blackened chain dropped to the ground in a diminishing cloud of smoke.
    Danger. Risk.
    It’s our job as parents to eliminate it. To protect our children from harm. Right?
    I wondered. I wasn’t so sure anymore. And I considered the possibility that music lessons, sports, and “enrichment” classes I schedule at home in the United States are leaving no time or space to learn how to assess risk and manage dangerous situations.
    One thing is for sure. When they looked around and saw the other children running and leaping and even falling onto the fire, they weren’t afraid.

    And that’s good.

  138. Emma W. May 1, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I rode on a plane when I was 6. I went to Chicago from Arizona to visit my grandparents. I was seated next to a really nice old couple. My mom flew alone all the time when she was a kid and she thinks that I should have the same freedom that she did.

  139. Nothing bad happened when I let my 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old play alone in our backyard. It was the product of necessity as I had to use the bathroom. When I was done I looked out and they were still playing so I threw in a load of laundry. I looked out again and they were still going strong so I ran a sink of water and started doing dishes! I love it because it let’s them explore their relationship without me butting in. They are learning to resolve issues on their own without me standing up for whoever I think is right! As soon as it warms up a little they’ll be out there again! I love going out to play with them, but I also love giving them the freedom to play on their own!

  140. Laura May 1, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    Nothing bad happened when we let our 10 year old twin boys have dinner at a restaurant in EPCOT while we took their little sister to a princess dinner they had no desire to attend.

    We paid for their food, gave them money for ice cream and let them know where we would be eating. After they ate, they checked in with us and then went and had a blast discovering Innoventions while we entertained their sister.

    They were thrilled with themselves and happy to escape the princesses. My husband had been a little nervous but when he saw how well they did and how much confidence it gave them, he agreed that it was the right thing to do.

  141. Rebecca May 1, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 4 year old took himself to the bathroom by himself at a very crowded Chuck E. Cheese. We were at a birthday party and I was nursing my youngest. The 4 year old had to go to the bathroom but I obviously couldn’t take him. I sent him by himself, OUT OF MY FIELD OF VISION!!!11!!!, and he used the bathroom, washed his hands and returned unharmed.

    I will definitely do it again because everyone needs privacy.

  142. Kate May 1, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 9 year old stay at home while I dropped the dog off at the groomer, and took my 10 year old to the orthodontist. The appointment ran late, so I called to check in. Not only was my nine yer old not scared, he was excitedly watching a man get eaten by grizzly bears on Animal Planet. So, we stayed out for awhile, picked up the dog, and didn’t return until 4 hours later, and he was FINE.

  143. Jeanne May 1, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Nothing happened when I allowed my 4 year-old stay home by himself while I walked the dogs. It was time to get the dogs out for their mid-morning walk and my son was engrossed in the PBS Kids website. I asked him if he wanted to stay home to play on the computer or join me. The chances were good that he would want to come with me since he is a pretty cautious child, however he chose to stay home!

    Having walked the dogs with me many times before, he knew the names of the various routes we normally took… around the block circle, around the block figure-8, the alley-way and the long school walk. So, assuring him that I would lock the door as I left, I told him I was doing the figure 8, which would take approximately 20 minutes with two dogs stopping, sniffing, and doing their business. Knowing it was shorter, he requested that I do the alley way, but I insisted the dogs needed the longer walk. He was okay with that and was quite proud when he told his dad later that day that he stayed home all by himself.

    Fast-forward a couple of years and nothing bad happened when my son was six and got himself something to eat for breakfast. It was summer break, so I was inclined to sleep-in a little. My son woke me up and said he was hungry. I reminded him that he knew where the yogurt, fruit and spoons were located and suggested he could have a light breakfast while I slept a little more. Imagine my surprise, and subsequent pride, when I came downstairs about 30 minutes later to find him standing over the stove. on the stool, with spatula in hand and making eggs over easy! He matter-of-factly told me that he really wanted eggs for breakfast, but was having trouble keeping the yolks from breaking and asked if I could help him. Of course, his confidence at the stove was due to the many times my husband and I had him help us make simple things like soup, cookies, hot cereals and, yes, eggs.

  144. Rachel May 1, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    My two-year-old ran around the yard while I trimmed back brambles. She said hi to the neighbors as they came home from work. Other than me getting poison ivy on my arm (the weeds types are ganging up on me!) nothing bad happened. I did go check on her when the next door neighbors started using power tools in their driveway but just enough to tell her to only watch from a distance.

  145. Jennifer May 1, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Something bad happened. . .and it wasn’t a big deal. My (then) 11 year old flew alone from the west coast to Washington DC for a week-long youth leadership conference. We were worried about him getting scared or lost at the airport, having roommate trouble at the student housing, getting hurt or scared during the conference, etc.

    Well, he ended up somehow getting a skin infection. He notified the staff nurse, who took him to the emergency room. He was admitted to the hospital and a member of the leadership conference staff stayed with him until my husband could fly out there to be with him. My kid was uncomfortable, but it could have happened here at home, too, and honestly, we might have told him to just put ice on it, whereas the hyper-vigilant nurse knew it was an infection, got him the medical treatment he needed, and everything was fine. He even got to go back to the conference for the last day, and now has a cool story about how brave he was. The adults in charge did what they were supposed to do, possibly better than we would have, and everything was fine.

  146. Gina May 1, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my not-yet-eight year old daughter stayed home by herself for an hour. She was sick and I had to pick up my toddler. She was in fact so sick that she couldn’t do the walk (it’s only five minutes away). So I gave her a phone and my cell number and told her to call me if she needed to. I was gone for about 45 minutes. She was watching a movie and barely noticed I was gone. Since then, I’ve left her at home a few times for similarly short durations. Now I’ve typed up a list of what to do/who to call/how to handle an emergency that she can refer to.

  147. Denise May 1, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Nothing bad happened to my 7 yr old son on two occasions:

    1) we were both hanging out a large Barnes and Nobles store, we love to do this on bad weather days. We were together in the cafe for awhile and then I wanted to look at books for me, and he wanted to go downstairs to look at the comic books. I felt like he was old and mature enough to go by himself, at first he was shocked that I suggested he go by himself, but then he was so excited by the idea, and he happily went downstairs, he looked like he felt 10 feet tall. He cam back about 10 minutes later with several comic books and Mad magazine, and he sat happily reading while I browsed cookbooks. Seeing his confidence made me feel so happy for him. I will and have done it again.

    2) Yesterday it was a gorgeous warm spring day and after school on our way to piano we usually stop and have a snack at the coffee shop down the street, since it was so warm he wanted to stop at the italian ice shop next to the cafe. We were pressed for time, and did not have time to go to both places which were very busy, so I let him get his treat and he sat on the patio of the italian ice shop by him self, while I went next door and got my iced tea, which took about 5 minutes and then I joined him. And he was fine, and he is so happy to be able to do things like this by himself now, and this makes me happy too.

    Now he has started asking me if he can stay in the car and read while I run into Trader Joe’s. And while I would love to do that, and I feel that he would be fine if I did, the sad thing is that the only reason I don’t do it, is not because I feel like he would not be safe, I am worried that someone would call the police and I would be arrested. That is sad.

  148. Sandi May 1, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Nothing happens when my 8 year old son (grade 2) walks home from the bus stop and no one is there to meet him. He calls me at work to let me know where he’s going (outside to play, to the neighbours) and someone usually gets home a half hour or so later.
    Nothing happened on the couple of occasions I took my 12 year old daughter and a friend to the amusement park, and left them there with a cell phone while I went to work. The only bad thing I was I didn’t have the cell phone number, so I had to wait until they called me to make sure everything was okay. It took a long time for them to call, but that’s because they were having fun and didn’t need anything.

  149. Jennifer May 1, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 10 year old wanted to run on his own in a 5K. He runs faster than I do, and wanted to see how fast he could finish, so I let him take off. He ended up finishing about 15 minutes before I did, winning a medal for his age group and feeling very independent!
    Though, to be honest, I improved my 5K time a little, too, as I felt a little anxious about my son waiting alone at the finish line, so I hurried to get there as fast as I could!

  150. AnotherAnon May 1, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Nothing bad happened yesterday. My kids and I are all slowly convalescing from a nasty flu, and yesterday they stayed at home from school even though they were definitely on the mend, just not 100% yet. I was writing a paper for one of my classes and pretty much ignored them all day other than to feed them and make them get dressed.

    At one point in the afternoon, I went looking for them upstairs. They weren’t there. I found that my children, ages 6 1/2 and 4, had let themselves out of the house!!!!!

    ……and were happily blowing bubbles in the back yard. AND NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. I offered my daughter a hoodie because I thought she might be cold, and I went back to writing.

  151. Kim Ladin May 1, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    At the age of 3, my son used a public bathroom alone, used a hammer and saw, and answered the door by himself — naked. Nothing bad happened.
    At 4, he walked to the neighbor’s house by himself and made toast. Nothing bad happened.
    At 5, he made scrambled eggs on the stovetop, ran around the neighborhood with a pack of other kids, and spent time alone in the kid’s room of a bookstore while I was in the adult area. Nothing bad happened.
    At 6, he walked home from the park alone, used his own glue gun, and flew with his 8-year-old cousin on an airplane. Nothing bad happened.
    All of his life, he has played no video games, watched very little television, and had plenty of time to be bored. Nothing bad has happened.

  152. Frau_Mahlzahn May 1, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Oh my God, I wouldn’t even know where to begin, *lol*….

    Nothing bad happened when my youngest one (then 3) got lost in Legoland… (other than people being kind enough to help her).

    Nothing bad happened when my youngest one (a few months after that Legoland incident) got lost at Ikea — other than us talking about how people where kind and helped her)…

    Nothing bad happened, when my husband suggested to my son (then 10) to ride his waveboard down a steep and very deeply curvy bridge or up on the tower of the Cologne Dome (see pictures here:

    Nothing bad happened, when my youngest one (then a toddler) fell off a play equipment on the play ground — other than that she know is a very good climber (see pictures here:

    Nothing bad happened when my youngest one (now 6) took the bus home all by herself for the first time…

    Nothing bad happened when my oldest one (9 at the time, now 15) went downtown to go shopping with a friend all by themselves for the first time…

    Nothing bad (and I am knocking on wood three times) happened so far when my kids took their bikes to school or to go to see friends…

    We knew what we did when we _did not_ tell our son that kids his age are not allowed to ride their bikes themselves until they are either 12 or passed a bike riding test… Now that he is studying for the test, he found out… Too bad, if you ask me, ;-).

    Let me think about it some more, and I sure come up with more stuff, ;-).

    So long,

  153. AlanaM May 1, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Well it hasn’t happened yet but my two sons, 13 and 10 are planning a giant Nerf battle around the neighborhood. Starting at our house and going to two separate schools. They are planning this all themselves and I told them I will not be supervising any of this. They are inviting 15 others boys and I am curious to see how many will be allowed to come when they find out there will be no supervision. I have better things to do, I would be bored out of my mind, and it would be embarrassing for most involved. They can figure out any conflicts/problems themselves. It is planned for the 18th, so I’ll let you know how it goes then.

  154. Kim Z. May 1, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Nothing bad happened when…I let me child
    1 – What activity did your child do?
    Cook using the oven with her friends while I wasn’t home.
    2 – Whose idea was it?
    My 11 yr old daughter phoned to asked me if she could make “pizza cupcakes” with her friends. I suppose it was my idea to allow her to continue while I wasn’t home.
    3 – Why did you permit it?
    We have gone over the use of the oven in the past. She has helped me cook and bake and knows “the rules” as we’ve laid them out. I knew I would be home soon to assist or supervise.
    4 – What was the upshot?
    She bonded with her friends. They all had roles; from making the dough from scratch and cutting pepperoni to grating cheese. They got the instructions from the internet. I think they were all so pleased that they made themselves lunch…from scratch! The confidence and independence they gain from these activities is a stepping stone to preparing them for life.
    5 – Would you and yours do it again?
    My daughter has shown us remarkable responsibility in how she does things. It’s been a work in progress as we guide her. As she becomes more independent we allow her to do more things on her own. I would let her do this again.

  155. Barak A. Pearlmutter May 1, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I’m divided about whether this sort of “nothing bad happened” list is a good idea. It is true that people are scared of letting their kids do innocuous things, and that’s a big problem. But the root of the problem is this: people are bad at estimating probabilities and evaluating risks. People tend to reason by anecdote. But this cuts both ways. There are things we should *not* let kids do that they will almost certainly survive. “My thirteen-year-old has been smoking a pack of Camels a day since he was five, and nothing bad happened.” “My eight-year-old played a round of Russian Roulette last Sunday, and nothing bad happened.” The thing is, we should be *rational* about risk. Five-year-old going to the toilet alone? Not risky. Sword fights with 18in kitchen knives? Yes risky!

    The mother whose girl’s bike was totaled by a car? It is not rational for her to be sanguine: her daughter was almost killed! Being hit by a car badly enough that your bicycle is totaled is *really dangerous*. It would be a pretty darn good idea to figure out if anything can be done to reduce the chance of it happening again. Reflective vest? Lights or flashers? Maybe a little bicycle safety training? It would be a shame if “free range” become synonymous with “stupid and lazy.”

  156. lollipoplover May 1, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    The “Nothing bad happened” comments are awesome but I lean towards “Something good” when kids take risks. If we concentrate on the negatives NOT happening, maybe we lose sight of what good DID happen.

    Something good happened when something bad happened. My daughter (7 at the time) wiped out on her bike on the way home from school and completely busted her chain. She had scrapes and cuts but was fine (she had bandaids in her backpack) and decided to run her bike home while doing a coasting move downhill where she jumped on her bike and glided. She also learned the fine art of bike repair and loves to fix things.
    Her younger sister (6) wiped out on her way to school yesterday. When she came home I asked her what was all over her pink pants. It looked like she dropped 4 meatballs on her lap. “Oh, it’s just blood” was all she said and let me know she tried to wash it out but it just made it worse. She also put on her own bandaids at school, too.

  157. renee May 1, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Oh where to start? First, I have twin 14y boys and an 11y girl. We also have a 17y German exchange student. She has found the US highly restrictive for her (but she knew that coming here).

    My kids all got pocket knives for x-mas when they turned 5. My girl at 3 knew how to light the camp fire and use a match. The lighter was too hard. The boys at 8y started riding dirt bikes. They ALWAYS walk through the woods with machetes and have since they were 6. My dd cut herself with it when she was 7 because she was swinging it around her body. Never happened again. She was cutting a full watermelon at age 8 with an 8 inch butcher knife (my idea. Dh came home and saw her and flipped out! She was fine). All kids can use stove and oven without fear (mine or theirs). Boys go on roof since age 9 to clean gutters (NOT my idea. Totally freaked my out. My dh over ruled me.) Dd walked several blocks with gf to candy store during a sleepover. Mom called me first to see if it was ok. Kids are allowed to stay home alone from about age 11y. We have talked about possibility of fire, strangers at door, home invasion, etc. They go off into the woods (especially one son) for 2-3 hrs at a time. The boys know how to drive the 1/2 size tractor, pick up a load or dig a ditch since they were 10y. They started using the mower at 12y. They were thoroughly briefed! I was really nervous about that. We have friends who family member’s 4y lost arm to mowing accident. And when they started mowing a 15y in local area rolled mower down hill into pond and drowned. They go on-line unsupervised all the time. They have been briefed about cyper predators. A friend of dh was internet cop who lured pedophiles. He gave them a talk. We have never had an issue. Guns. My dh is ex-military and likes guns as a hobby. My dd was darling of the shooting range at 8y for having natural talent at target shooting. They all own .22 rifles (boys were 11y and girl was 8y). We have guns in closet and in basement. I have NEVER had a fear that they would harm themselves or each other or another person. They were raised with them and always instructed in proper safety. But I have lectured them severely about guns and any visiting friends! I trust MY kids. I do not trust any one else’s kids. I have gone so far as to say that if a kid finds the guns (shouldn’t be in our bedroom anyway) , touches the gun and won’t leave it alone immediately my kid has permission to call the police! Of course there is only one set of friends I allow to be here unsupervised and I know those kids have had the same training as mine. I actually though long and hard about telling you about the guns. It is such a hot topic with so many people. But it is a part of our life and fits with what you are asking.

    My dh was allowed to do all these things when he was a kid (also lived in the country) and when he started letting the boys do something I though dangerous I was somewhat mollified with the thought that he and his siblings never died or had serious injury. So odds are good mine will be fine too.

    I have taught my kids the philosophy of Gavin DeBecker regarding strangers and danger. Basically that %99.9 of people are good and decent and will help you if in trouble. If someone gives you the creeps-stay away from them. Your body is trying to tell you something is wrong. This is very hard given the opposite training we give our kids about being polite to adults. I have given them permission to trust their instincts and I will always support them. They and I have no second thought about leaving them at the ice rink, or gymnastics, or gem club while I have to run and get another kid. They have a cell phone, they know to stay in a public place, and they know who to go to for help. Do I give a pause? Sure, especially with my 11y girl. But we cannot live in fear and fear will not keep us from doing the activities they want to do.

    I think my trust of my kids mostly comes from the fact that I have good kids. Were they born that way? Have I made them that way due to my child rearing? I don’t know. But I have always trusted my kids to make good decisions. And they have never disappointed me. My fears of their safety comes from outside the family. You can’t control other people or their actions. But I cling to the FACT that I, my dh and all our family members have never been abducted or attacked. We don’t know anyone who has. So odds are really good that my kids will be fine too. Hope for the best, prepare them for the worst and get on enjoying life!

    You wanted the upshot of all this. Easy – my kids are practicing being responsible adults by being given increases in responsibility and decision making every year they get older. How can a parent possibly expect a 20y to make good adult decisions if they have never practiced? We don’t expect them to know how to do laundry without instruction and practice. Being a responsible, trustworthy, self-sufficient adult requires that those skills were practiced in an incremental fashion while young. My kids are learning to cook, clean, do laundry, call on the phone, banking, investing, laundry, driving, interpersonal skills, nutrition, health, vehicular care, etc. I hope it is enough for them to make a smooth transition into adulthood. That is the dream of every parent, right?

  158. Debbie May 1, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 4th-grade daughter decide to abandon our daily homework routine and devise her own plan (read: play instead of doing her assignments). Her plan failed, as I knew it would: she left it all to the last minute and stayed up wicked late to complete everything (badly). Therefore, she decided on her own that doing some homework every day is the best way. Similarly, nothing bad happened when we decided to let her grow her hair as long as she likes. She’s athletic and impatient; hates brushing it every day when she could be on her bike. She has just asked whether she could get it cut. WIN!

  159. Taradlion May 1, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Lots of these stories I read and think, my kid does/did something like that too!

    I didn’t even think about the “nothing bad happened” when my son showered and changed in the men’s locker room at the pool or used the men’s room (for years now). He started doing that solo when he was 4. In fact, when I read the older boys in locker rooms/bathrooms, I always find it weird. My (soon to be 12 year old) daughter is always mortified with boys in the women’s locker room and really doesn’t get it since her brother is on his own in the men’s.

  160. Anne M. May 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Nothing bad has happened when my 6 and 8 year old daughters walk our cockapoo around the block everyday afterschool in Chicago.

  161. Warren May 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Used to work the overnight oncall shift, for awhile. My then 8 yr old daughter wanted to go to her friends place around half a mile away, but she didn’t want to wake me up to see if she could go.
    Her solution……in green crayon, on a piece of lined paper was a note, “at ‘friend’s name here”. She laid it on the floor infront of my bedroom door, where according to her I couldn’t miss it. I saw the note, gave her friend’s mom a quick call, and sure enough she was there having fun.
    It became a regular thing that summer. She left the note, and when I got up, her and her friend would come down for lunch.

  162. Michelle May 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Another one which was just on Saturday, but which I was the receiving one of.

    Nothing bad happened when I asked another mom during soccer photos if she needed help and she handed me her 6 month old to hold. My son was getting his group photo done, and she was standing next to me holding the 6 month old, and trying to fill out the paperwork and pay. I asked her if she needed help. She hesitated for about 3 seconds before saying I could help if I wanted to hold the baby, so I did. I made him laugh and smile while holding him, and I noticed her visibly relax while she filled out the paperwork with free hands.

  163. Rebecca May 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 3 year old play in the front yard by herself(I live on a farm no stranger danger or risk of cars). She and her best friend Bevis the Rotti stayed in front of the window sliding on her play structure. She was so proud of herself for listening to the rules and having some independents that it showed me my fear was silly.

  164. Manda Monette May 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    I’ve been a free range parent from the beginning. I raised my girls to be smart and independent. They walk from the school to the library to hang out until their father or I gets off from work to pick them up. They have been doing this since 3rd grade. We like it because they have time to socialize (after homework gets done) and they have a safe warm place to be. They know how to behave and have never failed to meet my high expectations for proper library etiquette. This year was the first time that they don’t walk to the library together, as my oldest started Jr. High. So after school on her way to the library she decided to take a back way by herself. She was walking through a small residential neighborhood with her headphones on, walking with traffic when a truck came up from behind, tried to run her off the road and a man jumped out. He yelled at her to “come here” and tried to grab her. She bolted, he drove away. She called us crying and terrified as she was running to the library. We filed a police report and then spent the rest of the night thanking god that she got away. I admit, for the next few days, we made arrangements with grandparents to pick her up, as our emotions were just too raw. But by the next week, she was walking to the library again. Why? Because lightning can’t strike twice? Because I don’t care? No. Because it is still safe for a young girl to go for a walk in town. Because there will be a time when she won’t be able to get a ride and she needs to have the skills and intelligence to navigate this world on her own. She got a good reminder to walk against traffic, to keep her wits about her (no headphones) and to be aware of her surroundings. I am so proud of the young woman that she has become. And as much as I want to kill the man that even thought of harming my little girl; as much as I want to be able to protect her from any and all harm; I know that she is strong, she is smart and she is more than capable of independence. And I know that smothering her and sheltering her will prevent her from becoming the woman she is called to be. That I would be doing nothing but handicapping her. So, against every mamma-bear instinct that overwhelmed me after that incident, I did what I know is best. Rather than shield her from every danger (which is impossible) I armed her. I’ve thought long and hard about how I would feel about free range parenting if things had happened differently that day, and I know that despite the terrible things that can and sometimes do happen, that good parenting is not about prevention, its about preparation and education. Its about reassurance rather than shelter. Its about guiding rather than leading. And I know that raising my girls to be brave, independent and knowledgeable enough to assess and respond to whatever situation may arise, is far better than stunting them through helicopter parenting.

  165. Leppi May 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Actually something did happen to my 4 yo today, he was outside riding his bike alone. He got bored, drove over to his friends house (1 block way), got invited on an outing (his mom called me) ate cakes, candy and hot dogs, played with his friend, got home really tired and happy, and went to bed! And he was reminded to tell me that he is going to his friends house BEFORE he leaves. And I had a really nice day doing all my mommy things without my 4 yo.

  166. Jen May 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    please include the age of your child and, if possible, answer these questions:
    1 – What activity did your child do?
    2 – Whose idea was it?
    3 – Why did you permit it?
    4 – What was the upshot?
    5 – Would you and yours do it again?

    Nothing bad has ever happened any of the times I’ve let my only child, since age 7 and at her request, hang out in the kids’ DVD/books section of Target while I go do whatever shopping is required in other parts of the store. Nobody approached her in any manner, nor did she have any cause to come looking for me or to seek assistance (which I’d told her she could do in a pinch) from the employee at the department register. All that happened was that she read 2 books, decided to spend her allowance on a Barbie DVD, and didn’t get bored watching me comparison shop for scotch tape and athletic socks.

    Nothing bad happened when, having begun skiing lessons at a small mountain at age 8, my daughter asked after her very first lesson if she could keep practicing by herself for the rest of the afternoon, since she had a lift ticket, anyway, and she thought it was hugely fun. What did happen (according to her, because I wasn’t there with her) was that she fell down a lot, and learned how to get up. She also fell off the rope tow…a lot! She got tons of exercise. She made several little friends her own age. She got to report to me in total excitement, “Mom! I had TWO spectacular wipe-outs!!” Meanwhile, I got tons of reading done in the lodge while sitting by the fire. This was repeated every weekend for two months, during which time she mastered the chair lift and the intermediate slopes. The final weekend of the season, we drove several hours north to a “big” mountain (a proper ski resort), crammed with many hundreds of skiers and huge, fast lifts. In this case, my friend who skies accompanied her up and down the first run. Back at the base, she told him of the day, after which she said, “okay, thanks, I can go by myself now.” And off she went. At one point, she came back to the lodge a bit tearful, having had a big fall. The situation was quickly ameliorated with a hug and a snack, and she couldn’t wait to hit the slopes again.

  167. LauraO. May 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 12-year-old son decided to walk the 2 1/2 miles home from school with his friend instead of riding the bus. It was raining and cold, and he was not dressed properly to be out walking, but he had a great time.

  168. Emily, Mom of Independents May 1, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    Nothing bad happened to my boys, 5 and 7, when they walked to the park across the street from our house. They, stuck together, crossed at the light (no where else is safe on our street, played nicely and came back at a reasonable time. My 7 year old even exclaimed that ir was a no-brainer because they’re reasonable people.
    Nothing bad happened as when my 5 year old tried to climb on top of the fridge to get some cereal. He couldn’t climb, told me it was because there was nothing to grip onto, moved the chair over, tried again and got the cereal. This was the same child who less than a year ago was fearful of everything in his world (he suffered a femur break at three and was a fearful mess for a long time afterwards).
    Nothing bad happens (except a mess) when my boys play at home while I work and my husband (who works 3rd shift) sleeps. They’re even figuring out if they clean up their mess BEFORE I get home, they can go outside AS SOON as I get home.
    Nothing bad happens when my 7 year old cooks dinner. He made meatloaf almost completely independently a few weeks ago while I had a migraine. He’s too nervous to put it in and take it out of the oven yet but tells me that it’s because he feels too short. Something GREAT happened a couple of months ago when he devised his own recipe for sloppy joes when we were missing an ingredient. He wants to see if he can get it published now.
    Nothing bad has happened as I am teaching him knife skills.
    Nothing bad happened when I had an allergic reaction of the anaphlyactic variety a month ago and we decided it was time to review 911 calls. Both boys were able to tell us when to call, what to say, and even what to do if my cell phone were missing (run to a neighbor and yell while knocking that there’s an emergency). It appears that this is going to be an ongoing issue and involves being allergic to other things we don’t know yet. The 7 year old suggested getting a pay as you go cell and affix it to the wall so it could always be found.

  169. Jon Daley May 1, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Nothing bad has happened…

    … when my kids (ages 9,6 and 4) walk 5 or 6 blocks to the playground by themselves.

    … when my 6 year old walks or bikes to and from his piano lesson a mile away.

    … when my children climb all over the fire trucks at the station and investigate the compartments.

    … when we walk instead of drive in places that clearly no one has ever thought of walking before, because everyone drives the 20 feet from store to store.

    … when my children return the grocery cart to the cart stall (and they especially clamor for it at ALDIs, where they get the quarter deposit back if they do so).

    … when my oldest made his own bow and arrow out of various materials and has a target practice in the backyard. (Those plastic coat hangers can fling a stick at surprising speed)

    … when the kids built their own downhill ski slope in the backyard and tried to charge admission to go down it. (Siblings were allowed to go for free, and no one else came to pay for it, despite the advertising out by the road).

    … when the kids made a lemonade stand, and made quite a bit of money because people thought the different sizes were so cute, so the always buy the biggest one, and give a tip on top of it…

    … when the kids (5 and 8) walked down to the gas station to buy some milk on a semi-busy road, where people don’t usually walk that much.

    … when we left the kids in the car while we ran into do some shopping. Well, okay, that one did have a bad thing happen – someone called the cops, and they came and treated like we were criminals and threatened that we should expect a visit from DYCF to see about how terrible we treated the kids.

    … when we send the kids off to find items in the grocery store. (one time a kid came back to the spot where mom was, and didn’t think to look in the next aisle, so walked to the deli and asked them to help find mom, and so they paged her over the intercom).

    … when we leave the kids home alone for a couple hours. (they did eat a warmed up frozen pizza once — ie. they didn’t cook it completely, but just warmed it up because they thought it was already cooked. they did mention it tasted a little strange…)

    … when the kids make us breakfast in bed (they do often forget to use oil when making scrambled eggs, but that just means less eggs, and more washing).

    … when my 2 year old cuts the vegetables for the salad. (my wife says that once they cut themselves as infrequently as she does, then they are ready to cut without supervision).

    … when the kids (6 and 9) mow the lawn by themselves (we do have a reel mower, I’m not ready for a power mower yet…)

    … when all of the kids (2,4 and 6) come to watch their older brother get stitches (the 6 year old did pass out, I didn’t expect that one). PS. the older brother needed stitches due to playing hide and seek in a neighbors yard, and tripped — that’s it – let’s ban hide and seek – far too dangerous…

    … when the kids come with various requests for hammers and nails and want to make additions to their swingset.

    … when the kids wire up the circuit panel and electrical outlets by themselves.

    … when the kids cut and prepare the copper pipe for soldering (no torches yet, just the preparation so far).

    … when the kids cut, sand, and glue the PVC pipe for plumbing.

    … when my six year old changes the oil in the car mostly by himself.

    … when the kids (starting at age 6 or so) wash all of the dinner dishes by themselves.

    … when the kids (starting at age 4 or so) can do the laundry on their own.

    … when the kids walk to the library and end up staying until closing, or being called to come home for dinner. (The librarians love them)

    … when the kids (starting at age 2) operate, with supervision, the drill to help work on whatever wood project I’m working on.

    … when the kids (ages 4 and up; 2 year old helped some, but with supervision) painted most of the interior of our house (including their own room, which was highly customized with an underwater sea scene).

    … when the kids (ages 6 and up) going downhill skiing by themselves. I did “lose” one for a bit, but found him in a bathroom eventually.

    … when the 1 year old didn’t seem to need as much sleep, and so would stay up after we went to bed, or while mommy was napping in the afternoon.

    … when the kids (2 and up) sit by themselves at church when we are away, or are playing music, taking care of a baby, etc)

    … when my 5 year old got a pocket knife for Christmas. He did end up having it taken away from him a couple months later because he chopped his jeans into a bunch of pieces… But, he’s probably ready for it again now, I should go find it.

    … when we left the kids home (baby, and a 4 and 6 year old) while we went biking on a tandem bike for a couple miles (and got a flat tire, so it took longer to get home than we expected). We were out of cell phone range, and so when we got back in range, there were messages saying, “the baby has a dirty diaper, please come home soon…”

    … when… there are probably tons of other examples – people always seem to be amazed that they don’t let their teenager do the things our kids do.

    For the rest of the questions:
    2. whose idea was it? Sometimes the kids, sometimes ours.

    3. Why did we permit it? I’m a big fan of independence, and so giving them small chances to show if they are ready or not, is a good thing. Letting them experiment and see what things they can and cannot do, is good. Plus, it’s great having them able to make their own meals, cook dinner, wash the dishes, do laundry, make us breakfast while we’re still sleeping, and have the whole thing be a lot of fun is great.

    4. The upshot? I guess a lot of what I said for why we permitted it. There are downsides – occasional accidents, but nothing too serious, some broken dishes, some wasted food, some extra bandaids, etc.

    5. I think there are very few things that we wouldn’t do similarly, maybe some more explaining here and there, some paying more attention to the individual – that some kids are ready at age X, and others need a little more time to mature.

  170. LegalMist May 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    I am (or at least, I was) apparently the world’s worst babysitter.

    Before I had kids, when I was in my late 20’s, I babysat for a friend who had two kids, a boy, age 4, and a girl, age 8.

    I had babysat lots when I was a teen, for a few hours at a time, and never had any problems at all, and I had been around plenty of my friends’ and relatives’ kids since that time, so I felt well-qualified.

    My friend asked me to keep her kids at her house for a weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

    I showed up Friday evening and brought the kids happy meals. First mistake — I thought I should get a “boy toy” for the boy and a “girl toy” for the girl, or at least two different toys so that they would, together, have more cool toys to play with. Turns out I was supposed to get two identical toys so no one would have to be jealous that the other kid got a “better” toy.

    Despite this “disastrous” start, the parents left me in charge anyway and took off for their destination, reminding me not to feed the kids too much junk food, and telling me to “have fun.”

    Saturday morning, the boy had a pee-wee league tee-ball game at a local park / recreation center, so I took the kids to it. The little boy had to go to the bathroom, so I walked him to the restrooms. He assured me he could handle the bathroom by himself, so I waited outside the men’s room door while he went in. No one else was around. After a while, I heard the toilet flush and then the sink running, then heard “scuffling” on the other side of the door. I pushed it gently to help the little guy open it, and he came out, smiling / happy.

    Saturday afternoon, I put the little guy’s booster seat in my car and took the kids to the zoo, bringing healthy snacks in the form of carrots, grapes, and mixed nuts. The kids loved the snacks and had a great time at the zoo.

    Sunday morning, the kids asked if we could ride bikes to the neighborhood park near their house. I asked if they knew how to get there and they said yes. We set out with me walking, the girl riding her “big kid bike,” and the boy riding his bike with training wheels. The girl would ride ahead and then wait for us at each stop sign. Sure enough, she knew the way perfectly. They wanted me to go get the car and drive them home, but I refused to leave them alone at the park in order to walk home and get the car, and so I made them ride their bikes the whole way back home. They complained that they were tired, but we made it. It was probably half a mile each way. The kids were pretty tired after that, and sat and drank water and watched TV while I fixed them some dinner. But they were happy and said they wanted me to come visit them again some time.

    When the parents returned that evening, I I found out I subjected both kids, but especially the four-year-old, to many incredible and unacceptable dangers:

    * pedophiles in the bathroom! (“he’s NEVER been to the bathroom by himself before!! What if someone else had been in there?!? What if he got stuck in the stall?!?”);

    * potential choking hazards! (“admittedly somewhat unlikely but you could have at least cut the grapes in half!”);

    * potential deathly allergic reaction to peanuts (“the kids have never had nuts before!!”) [as an aside, you’d think the parents might have warned me if they were worried about that one!];

    * risk of getting impossibly and irreparably lost! (“How did you even find the park? How were you sure you’d know the way home?!?”) [As if their 8 year old were completely incompetent to find her way home, and as if there were no other persons in the entire neighborhood to ask, if we did get lost…]

    * risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion (“But it’s so far to the park! They rode the WHOLE WAY there AND BACK?!?”);

    * risk of dying by being run over by a car! (“you had to cross three streets to get to the park!!”) [note: they were neighborhood streets, with one lane in each direction…].

    Geez, I thought the kids and I had enjoyed a great fun weekend, one that would be the envy of any kid anywhere, but it turns out that, in fact, I am a horrible child endangerer!

    They never asked me to babysit again…

  171. Carolyn May 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my brother, my friend, and I went a few blocks out of the nieghborhood to a small store to get candy. Except the store was closed! We are 7, 7 1/2, and 9 years old.

  172. Carolyn May 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    No bad things happened when my brother, my friend, and I went a few blocks out of the nieghborhood to a small store to get candy. Except the store was closed! We are 7, 7 1/2, and 9 years old.

  173. Renee and Luc May 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kid got off at the wrong bus stop. My son was a kindergartner, and 5. The school district in its infinite wisdom had a single bus stop for the entire neighborhood about 1/8 mile from my house. School district rules said someone had to be there to meet him, but I generally ignored this (and it was almost never enforced) as my kid was perfectly capable of walking down the road by himself. One day, 10 minutes before his bus was even due to arrive, my phone rings, and a strange, hesitant voice tells me “I have your son….” in a low voice… I can’t tell if it’s male or female even. My heart leapt to my throat as I thought of all sorts of kidnapping scenarios (He was my first child), and I blurted out “Who is this?!” in a half panic. I think she realized then what she had said, because she quickly corrected in a stronger and clearly female voice “No no no, I mean he’s WITH me! He got off on the wrong bus stop, but he knew your phone number and asked me to call you!”

    PHEW! So, my insistence he learn my cell phone number paid off! But then they told me the story…apparently, Luc had been reading on the bus. When it stopped, he’d rushed to get off thinking it was his stop. As soon as his feet hit the ground he looked around and realized this wasn’t the right stop….and the bus doors closed after him. He turned around and banged on the bus doors, starting to cry and calling the driver by name, but in front of several witnesses, the bus driver ignored this and pulled away, leaving a little boy crying on the sidewalk…and pulled away WHILE HE WAS IN CONTACT WITH THE BUS. My son was frantic, but then turned to one of the moms and asked her “Will you please call my Mom, her number is….” Exactly what I’d told him to do. If he’s ever lost/alone/in trouble, talk to Police, Firemen, and OTHER MOTHERS!

    I went off on the school district, though mostly because of the conduct of the bus driver in IGNORING this kid banging on the door and pulling off anyway. You’ve gotta be pretty cold hearted or not paying attention to not notice this. Either way, not someone who should be a bus driver.

    Luc getting off at the wrong stop…that was all him, an he owned it and pulled through! He really proved that he could handle himself, even if things didn’t go exactly according to plan. But then the school board came back and retaliated at us, and forced me to be present, OUT OF MY CAR standing at the bus stop (When I had an infant, in Las Vegas, in 100 degree heat often) for the bus driver to ‘release’ him. Luc became a special case, and was no longer allowed to sit where he wanted. He had to sit by the bus driver in the front seat, and they could only release him to *me*, no one else, even if I couldn’t be there…. So one day when I was in a car wreck and couldn’t, they kept him on the bus and took him to the bus yard instead of with the mother of one of his friends who said ‘she’s on the phone with me now, I can take him, do you want to talk to her?”. At least that went away when he started first grade.

    But that’s not all…. Nothing bad happened when I noticed my son was 15 minutes late home from school. I started calling around, but quickly learned that he hadn’t been on the bus at all. I called the school, but everyone was gone and no one knew what had happened to him. I quickly grabbed my infant daughter and 2 year old and began to rush out to find him, only to find him, sweaty and disheveled, walking up our driveway as I bucked the baby in. Come to find out that after school was over, this little adventurer decided to walk home (1.5 miles), so he had slipped away from his teacher on the when they were getting everyone on the buses, went BETWEEN the buses (somehow unnoticed), and walked away from the school… and came all the way home. Including crossing a 6 lane VERY busy street. But, Nothing bad happened. Except he fibbed to me about it and said he missed the bus and had been left in his classroom…. which I found out on Monday when I went in to find out the truth of what happened….but he was fine.

    Still, in both instances, Luc more than proved that at 5 and 7, he can handle himself when things go wrong! Even if he causes it. He can walk home, across busy streets, and knows what to do when he is in over his head, and approaches other mothers. He has his address and phone number memorized, the garage code so he can get in, and my phone number (as well as my husbands, now). We tell him that he shouldn’t do these things, but he’s an explorer and bound and determined to do them anyway, so we give him some space and see what happens.

  174. Isabel Kraut May 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    My son is 11. He and his 2 friends were walking home with me through Prospect Park last weekend from the Botanic Garden. Approximately 3/4 mile, bright daylight, Saturday afternoon.

    We came to an arch under a roadway and I started under the arch, but he and his friends climbed the hill up to the road. I figured they would cross he road and come back down to join me, but when I got to the other side of the arch I realized there was a chain link fence separating me from them. I waited around for many minutes for them to come down and join me, but they did not. I called their names, but no answer. My son’s phone was out of battery, so no recourse.

    I figured, OK, so they didn’t see me when I was under the arch, they knew their way home, and they just followed the road. So I went home alone. I figured, if they are not there when I get home I will wait 1/2 an hour and if they don’t come I will go out on my bike and find them.

    I walked home through the park, and when I came home the three of them were playing basketball outside our house. None of them had any idea they had done anything wrong.

    I took my son inside and explained to him that it is wrong and very rude to just leave someone behind and not tell them you are going home another way. But he said he couldn’t find me so they just figured they should go home.

    He apologized and I forgave him.

  175. Linda Wightman May 1, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Something good happened when we lost our three-year-old on Key Largo. It was our first visit to the Keys, and we’d stopped by a waterfront hotel to ask some questions. One moment our daughter was hanging by her hands from the counter; the next she was simply gone. For a true picture of our panic, you should know that this was in the early 1980’s, only a couple of months after we had seen the movie Adam, which depicted with terrifying detail the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh–in south Florida. It could have been every parent’s worst nightmare.

    My point is that it wasn’t. After a frantic search, during which she had apparently found time to leave the lobby, wander down around the docks, check out the boats, come back up to walk by the swimming pool, and climb up and down some stairs, she was found by a motel guest, wandering around on the second floor.

    We nearly died before she was found, but she was fine, and happily let the motel guest lead her back to us. She wasn’t even worried; she had thought we were right behind her….

    Would I want to go through that again? Ten thousand times, no! But nothing bad happened, and it was heartening to see how many people reached out to help us in our hour (okay, 15 minutes) of need.

  176. Emma May 2, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 3.5 yr old son go play on the sidewalk with a 6 year old boy (Max) from down the street, while I stayed in the kitchen & prepped dinner with my 2 year old daughter. It was his idea, as he’d played with him a few days earlier while I raked leaves in the front yard & kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t go onto the street. But this time Miss 2 was starving & cranky, so I didn’t have time to go outside with him… we needed dinner on the table, stat! So I explained that he was not allowed on the street or to cross the street, and that he could go into Max’s house or yard, but not anyone else’s. If Max went somewhere else or crossed the road, he was to come home. He went, he had fun, he even got chicken nuggets from Max’s mom (who I’ve only ever talked to on the street maybe 10 times).
    It didn’t even cross my mind to warn him about “strangers”!

  177. Jenny May 2, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 9 year old go into CVS by herself to buy nail polish — in the Boston suburbs 2 days after the marathon bombings. I went to the bank and sent her to CVS herself with her own money. That day she also went into the library alone (little brother was refusing to get out of the car), returned books, and picked up holds she had placed on her own library card without my knowledge. No one even questioned her right to by there alone.

    She also walks to and from school (just .4 mile) every day alone and walks .7 mile to the local Dunkin Donuts/convenience store whenever she wants. This weekend I kicked her out of the house due to great weather. She decided to buy lemonade supplies, set up a stand, and stayed out selling for 3 hours. Her brother (4 1/2) joined for the 3 hours, around a corner, out of my sight. Nothing bad happened except they earned some money to buy more junk food and I got a lot of work done in the house!

    Nothing bad has ever happened either letting my son play outside alone or walk 3 houses down to check if there are neighbors around to play with. If he gets bored or no one is around, he just comes home.

  178. Kelly Hunt May 2, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Nothing bad happened when we decided to display all of my 2 and 1/2 year old daughter’s art supplies (including kid scissors) in her room, accessible to her. I liked they way they looked in their cute little holders and I wanted to let her know she was free to create art anytime she wanted. She knew she needed to ask me to help her use the paint.

    I believe it is because we were so non-chalant about having markers etc. out, she never acted like they were a big deal. She used them appropriately and never drew on things that weren’t paper, as she had been told. She recently had a friend over and the mother acted really worried when she saw my daughter’s supplies within reach of her child. She immediately grabbed the scissors and steered her child away from the table. My daughter is now just 3 and will sometimes walk casually into her room, grab the cup designated for her water colors, walk to the bathroom, step on a stool to fill the cup (half way) in the sink, carry it back to her room, grab a brush and start a water color project on the scrap paper we always leave next to her art supplies. It is so adorable to watch. And gives me a break!

  179. JLR May 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Nothing bad happened, when my son, age 8 rode his bike from our house the 1 mile to the local hardware store where he wanted to buy some gumballs from the gumball machine! He also returned DVDs to the video store in the same strip mall.

    He wanted to do it, and I was nervous at first because he had to cross a busy road in our small town (only 2 lanes, but lots of cars) – but he’d done the ride with his dad several times before and they both convinced me he’d be fine.

    In part this website and the idea that an 8 year old needs to start feeling independent and confident in himself were the reasons I let him do it.

    He did the ride, and did actually have a grown up ask him “if his mom knew where he was” which he said yes and made his way home. I was a bit nervous, but he did great – and brought home gumballs for his 5 year old sister too!

  180. JLR May 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my two children (8 year old boy and 5 year old girl) were with me at BJ’s Warehouse store and went up to the snack bar by themselves to buy something to eat. It was my idea because I was in the middle of shopping, they were hungry and I just wanted to finish up and they needed to eat. I gave my son the money and they took care of ordering and getting pizza and drinks and then sat down to eat them at a little table by the registers.

    They did great. I was so proud of them when I came to the registers from the back of the store (again, a warehouse store so I was wayyyyyy in the back!) and I saw them sitting and munching side by side!

    They were proud too and it was a great experience that we’ve repeated since. Why should they deal with the boring shopping trip when there’s another option?

  181. Cindy D May 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my son, 12, walked 4.5 miles from my workplace to home. He was rude to the bus driver and got thrown off the bus.

    He walked from the school to my job first which was only about a mile and he had done that many times. What he didn’t know was that the bus driver called me and told me what was up. So when he got to my office, and tried to tell me he “chose” to walk, I told him to just keep on walking.

    He was forced to walk the rest of the way home, without getting rides from friends or relatives (several of whom live on the same route). I will admit to being a little nervous as it is a fairly busy road with a 60 mph speed limit. But there is a very wide area to walk in so I knew he could stay away from the road. And yes he was required to cross the road too.

    As I drove home I saw a close family friend stop and offer a ride and he promptly turned it down and kept walking. I drove on past and waited for him at home. He came in and said, “I will never ever ever be rude to the bus driver again.” As far as I know he never has either.

    I feel I was right in my decision and would do it again.

    Also nothing bad happened to any of my boys when we would go to the grocery store and I would allow them to go ahead and look at toys and things while I shopped. We occasionally had trouble finding each other, but only because we kept passing each other on opposite ends of the aisles. So we started playing Marco/ Polo to find each other. It worked great, I did it with all my boys. It made shopping more enjoyable for them and for me.

  182. julie May 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    We live about 1 mile from my daughters martial arts studio..My other daughter had a concert across town.. She didn’t want to miss practice because her belt test was coming up so she grabbed her bike and road…and then road home…she made it safe and sound though before she took off a mom asked if she was alone and did she need a ride home…she said ” No I am fine My parents have raised me right”

  183. Fuingala May 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Nothing bad happened the many times when I was 9 years old and my Mom sent me into the grocery store with a list and a blank check while she waited in the car with a back so bad she could barely pry herself into and out of it once, let alone twice with a walk around the store in between.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my then-two-year-old wander around the CSA farm petting cows and sheep and chasing chickens while I selected our food for the week in the farm market.

    Nothing bad happens when I let my now-three-year-old wander around the boarding stable where I keep my horse while I do chores, after spending the last year and a half teaching her basic horse safety.

    And nothing bad happens when I let her play on the playground in the city park near our house while I read a book on a bench and sometimes even *gasp* go to the nearby bathroom without her.

  184. Earth.W May 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when two of my girls aged 11 and 9 years old walked into the city together with anybody else with them. They walked, looked around the shops and came home. The walk would have been about 60 minutes in each direction.

    Well, something did happen. They came home happy to have explored the city alone without having to be watched the whole time. And, they feel trusted.

  185. Michael F May 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my then 2 year old (he is now 3) decided it would be more “fun” to climb up the big boys corkscrew slide by himself. This is one of those corkscrew type, plastic slides that rises about 15 feet off the ground. He saw some other kids do it on some smaller slides then climbed on the big one. I figured he would get nowhere, so let him go.

    I was wrong.

    He at first made it up halfway, looked over the edge at everyone and laughed himself silly until he lost his grip and slid down. He kept trying and eventually made it all the way up.

    He still survives to this day, and continues climbing up slides the wrong way, he is rather reluctant to go down the “right” way. He loves doing it, has fun with it and I have no problem watching him enjoy himself.

  186. Andrea May 3, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my two girls, ages 9 and 7, walked about two blocks to the park, and then to their friend’s house by themselves, and then back again. (Even though the mother of the friend they visited nearly had a heart attack when she saw them show up at her door without an adult and called me immediately! And then had the nerve to drive them home.) They’ve since gone to visit said friend dozens of times without an adult holding their hand the whole way, or driving them anywhere.

    The upshot is that they feel independence and get to try out some responsibility and trustworthiness. They also get to go over and visit more often than they would otherwise because no way am I going to stop in the middle of cooking to walk or drive them two blocks away.

  187. Lea May 4, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I taught my twenty-two-month-old to use a chef’s knife. He wanted to help me in the kitchen, so I decided that learning knife safety was much better than forbidding something he would eventually have his way about doing anyway. I showed him, with a properly-sharpened knife, how to hold it correctly, how to bend his fingers so he wouldn’t cut them, and how to handle a knife when not cutting. Not only did nothing bad happen, but I actually got some benefit out of it. By two-and-a-half, he was able to chop up an onion for dinner, and now, at four, he can peel vegetables and dice them up for me. Help with dinner AND keeping him out of trouble? Bonus!

  188. JillO May 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 3 year old used the restroom at the mall by himself. As you know, when a 3 y/o says he has to use the potty, there is little time to spare. There was a long line for the ladies room and (of course) none for the men’s. I told him he could wait in line or use the boy’s room, but I couldn’t come in with him. He chose the boys. It had an open doorway, no door, so I could hear him just fine. He ran into the restroom and a second later I heard “MOMMY, THERE’S A URINAL! COME SEE!” followed by the laughter of the other guy in the room. I reminded him that only boys were allowed in that room and he could go ahead and use the urinal. I doubt his hands got washed, but that’s still better than having an accident in the mall.

  189. ldev May 5, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 3 year old daughter stayed in the car to keep an eye on my 1 year old son for 2 minutes. I ran into my apartment to grab the phone I left behind. The car was unlocked, windows down in our buildings locked garage. I was nervous that a “helpful” neighbor would walk by the car before I got back. I returned to find the kids both giggling. My daughter gave a full report on the events that I missed: “I screemed a few times to make him laugh and he did.”

  190. Librarymama May 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my kindergartener, due to a miscommunication on my part, got off the bus with no one there from her day care to meet her. She just walked there, opened the door and said to the teachers, “Uh..hello!”

  191. Kris S. May 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 9 year old son decided to walk from our new home building site to our current house across the frozen lake. He and I had walked the route during daylight 2 days before. It was about a 45 minute walk. My son was out for a walk on the lake with his dad a few evenings later (after dark), but when they headed up to the car to go home, my son started dawdling. Since my husband was cold, he told our son he would meet him at the car. Nine year decided to walk home. He showed up at our back door safe and sound. His father was upset and had been frantically looking for him the past 25 minutes. My approach was to recite basic lake ice safety, which is that adults and children should all treat the lake with respect and not travel on it without notifying someone of the plan. However, he traveled the route safely and quickly, even in the dark after only having walked it once before. He has always been extremely independent and I admire that in him.

  192. David May 6, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    Nothing bad happened when we let our son, beginning at age eleven, fly unaccompanied across the country to visit his grandparents each year for the next six years. Nothing bad happened when we let him stay on his own when we left town, from time to time, over the weekend or a little longer, also starting at age eleven. Nothing bad happened when we let him meet other kids or even adults who we didn’t know but who HE trusted. You see, we equipped him as best as we could with important decision making skills and then trusted him to test those skills the only way possible, by using them. Thank you.

  193. Liz May 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 5 1/2 year old daughter went to the front desk of the hotel by herself. We were running late for church, I was only half dressed, my husband was getting the baby changed, and I couldn’t find my deodorant anywhere. Our room was right across from the elevator, which opened in the lobby less than fifty feet from the front desk (there were only two floors). We propped the swinging security latch out so that the door didn’t lock when she went out, she took the elevator down, politely asked for ladies’ deodorant, and brought it directly back. She was fine, I didn’t smell, and we actually managed to arrive just before church began.

  194. TaraK May 7, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my two middle children walked 6 blocks to the grocery store for no particular reason. They are 8 and 9. They took a few dollars and came home with pockets full of sugar. The older one was proud that he was allowed to watch out for the younger one. The younger one was proud to be set off on an adventure with just an older brother! (The younger one tends to be an Eeyore sort of personality, loves to stay home and be with Mom or Dad. It was his idea to go in the first place. When he gets an idea to stretch his comfort zone I jump on it!)

  195. MotherT May 7, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Wow, where do I start? My sons are 7 1/2 and about to be 12.

    NOTHING BAD HAPPENED walking to or from school together all this year. There was some serious dog-petting related tardiness but no lives were endangered.

    NOTHING BAD HAPPENED on any of the many occasions my older one walked to and from his taekwondo class alone. We have some scheduling issues so that was the only way he could get there. The walk involves crossing a couple of very busy, difficult, streets and there is currently some major construction but he does it. He was stopped once not too long ago by some “well-meaning” stranger who questioned whether he was old enough to be out on his own. The guy got an earful about the real risk level! I did tell him that, actually, that’s the very sort of stranger I don’t want him talking to any more than necessary so in future he is simply to say something like “my parents know where I am and I need to go, they’re expecting me”.

    On Saturday scheduling issues combined with me being away for the weekend (cause, yes, moms are allowed to do that *g*) made it impossible for my husband to pick younger one up from his pottery class. NOTHING BAD HAPPENED when older one walked to the community centre to meet him and wait for dad.

  196. MotherT May 7, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I just remembered a couple more:

    NOTHING BAD HAPPENED on Sunday when my husband sent younger (7 1/2) one to the park on his own. Actually, I’m sensing a theme here. My husband allows more independence when I’m not around and he has no choice about supervision. Maybe I need to go away more often!

    NOTHING BAD HAPPENED last summer when we were at a rather large (by our standards anyway!) shopping mall and I had some errand to run that wouldn’t interest them so I sent them ahead to the food court with instructions to start scoping out the place and decide what they wanted for lunch. They’re not very familiar with this mall and got lost a bit but eventually found it and they had followed rule 1 (always stay together).

  197. HRu May 7, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 4yo daughter accompany her 6yo brother to the men’s bathroom at a Costco warehouse.

    He really needed to go badly and someone (me or the 4yo) had to wait at the food table so their grandmother could find us.

  198. ifsogirl May 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Nothing bad happend when my daughters joined a few neighbourhood kids for bible stories with a young man I’d never met.

    I know this sounds really dangerous but hear me out. We had just moved to a new neighbourhood and my girls aged 5 and 8 had befriended the other kids quickly. One day a young man came to my door with all the kids and explains that he teaches the kids bible stories on Sundays on an empty patch of grass across the street. He said if it was fine with me I could send my kids over in an hour.

    Being that we had just moved in two weeks ago and I’m an athiest most people would assume I’d say no. Instead I talked to a few of the parents in the area and found out he’d been doing this for a while and everyone felt comfortable, so off my children went. He also took all the kids to the park on the next block over.

    We were apartment dwellers before this so my kids had never had the experience of even playing alone outside. I was nervous to begin with and kept peeking out the window, but over all it was a great experience for us all.

  199. ifsogirl May 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh I have another one!

    Nothing bad happend when, as a newly single mother, I was now faced with transporting two children alone. Many times I would get home with my 2 and 5 year old sound asleep in the backseat. I would have to take them one at a time up to my fouth floor appartment, leaving the other locked into a van with tinted windows in a locked underground parking garage. Yes at one point both were alone for about 10 minutes tops, and NOTHING HAPPENED, not even cranky kids.

  200. Erica May 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    NOTHING BAD HAPPENED when my 6-year-old went walkabout in the middle of the night, in an inner-city crime-infested neighborhood next to a railroad and a freeway.

    We woke up at seven one morning to a parent’s nightmare: the door slightly open and our younger daughter nowhere to be found. We scoured the neighborhood, yelling her name and getting the neighbors (strangers, all of them; nobody around here talks to anyone) to help look for her. After a few minutes of frantically checking nearby blocks and realizing she wasn’t in earshot, we called the police.

    When I described her outfit from the night before–tie-dye t-shirt and yellow sweats–they said “we picked her up a few hours ago; since she didn’t know her address or phone number and nobody called in right away, we sent her to social services.” She’d been found almost 6 blocks away, near the shopping center (near two sets of train tracks, near a freeway entrance and a bridge).

    We called social services; it took us a while to get anyone (Saturday morning on a holiday weekend) but we eventually got through; the weekend on-call worker came to our house, questioned us about what had happened (our little girl had figured out how to operate locks that we’d thought were out of her reach), confirmed that we hadn’t abandoned her and changed our minds, had us fill out some forms and go through some incredibly invasive questions, and… she was back.

    NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. She thought she was “exploring, like Dora.” She wandered around at 3 in the morning in a neighborhood known for mugging and riots and car wrecks, and nobody could be bothered to attack a little girl walking around on her own. As soon as she was spotted, someone called the people we pay to protect our streets, and they turned her over to the people we pay to watch out for children in our community, and very soon, she was back with her family. No harm done except several hours of parental panic. (She thought she had an “adventure.”)

    Even in very “bad” neighborhoods, people watch out for little kids.

    I do know how much worse it could’ve been. But I remind myself… she knew to walk on the sidewalk because we’d gone out together. She knew where the shopping center was, and went there instead of the unfamiliar freeway. And she knew not to hide from or fight strangers who approached her to help.

  201. Bob Davis May 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    This story is from the Los Angeles area in the early 1970s: Nothing bad happened when my younger daughter and a middle school friend took the local transit bus from Duarte to Glendale to visit the Galleria. The bus route was over 20 miles and went through some rather sketchy parts of Pasadena. Unlike many suburban children, my daughters were no strangers to transit buses, having ridden them with me many times in their younger days.

  202. Alia F May 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Nothing bad has happened when I let my four year old son get a place at McDonalds. He started it and at first I was worried because I couldn’t see him but then I calmed down. I could hear him if he made significant noise and I could see the two exits. Now he tells the cashier what he wants and goes to find a place to sit while I wait for the food. It has made my life easier because I’m not trying to distract a hungry and board 4 year old while waiting for the food and he is happy because he feels special getting to pick out a seat.

  203. Shaby H May 8, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 4-year-old go to the kitchen to “cut up an apple for snack time” by herself. I did not go in to help or check on her (nor was I a nervous wreck about it). An hour later I found her mixing up a bowl of nuts, yogurt, lemon juice, water, pretzels, popcorn and green tea (gross). She beamed with pride as she told me she was busy “baking”.

    Something bad DID happen when I allowed my 2-year-old unfettered use of the “age 6 and up” playground equipment (complete with rope bridge and tall, scary slide). He was fine and had the time of his life, but I got the stink-eye from the other parents at the park! The one downside of being a free-range mom is the judgement from other parents who decide you are either lazy or reckless. But I have to do what’s best for my kids, even if that makes me a playground pariah. So be it. 🙂

  204. Iain D May 8, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 8 year-old son rode the streetcar to school. It was my idea, encouraged by his enthusiasm. The idea did make me nervous, but after a few dry runs where we pretended I wasn’t there (and he did a very good job of ignoring me) I decided there was no point in waiting any longer. He had shown himself to be capable of riding for half a dozen stops and letting the driver know he wanted to get off.
    The upshot is I arrive at work 20 minutes earlier, which means I pick him up from the sitter 20 minutes earlier, giving us more time together to work on homework or our latest Minecraft creation. He also has more confidence in himself, and is more willing to take something on without an adult hovering over his shoulder.

    I would definitely do it again, and intend to do so this summer.

    The only negative is I haven’t told mom yet since I think she will flip out. (we live separately) I’m planning on telling her once the school year is out.

  205. Sarah May 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 6-year-old sister woke up early and cooked pancakes while the rest of the family was sleeping.

  206. Dusty May 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my children (ages 9, 7, and 5) climbed 30 feet into pine trees. Walking from the barn to the house I heard, “Hi, Mom!” I looked around and couldn’t find anyone. I shouted back, “Where are you?” They giggled and said, “Up here!” I looked up, way up, and there they were- in the tree, smiling and waving. I waved back, told them to help each other get down when they were done, and went in to the house.

  207. Sarah May 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my 5-1/2yo ride his scooter numerous times around the park by himself – even though the park is almost a square block with a hill in the middle, so I couldn’t see him most of the time. He even stopped by the pond to watch the ducks several times and – gasp – didn’t fall through the guardrail and drown. He also struck up a conversation with an unknown man on the basketball court, and was not kidnapped!

    On the other hand, he won’t be riding either his scooter or his bike around my actual block until he believes me that one needs to fully stop at alleys every. single. time.

  208. DAWN ZAMANIS May 10, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    Hi L.

    “Nothing bad happened when I let my twin sons sell grapes on Kings Highway on a Friday eve at 9 p.m., (they made $10 bucks each!!!) or when I let them hang out on Brighton Beach at 9pm, or take the subway there and home.
    My new thinking is once we instill our own adult fear(s) or project ineptness or project worry toward a perfectly capable 15 year old boy he starts to doubt himself.
    I am PROUD NOT to have done that.

  209. Denise Diaz May 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my 9-year old son walked the neighborhood to take photos for a school project.

    On a spring evening, my son told me if he does not do a poem about his neighborhood, he will get an F. His 3rd grade teacher told him so. When was it due? I said, and he replied “today” while jumping gleefully on the bed. Typical.

    The assignment, I finally pried out of him, involved taking pictures around the neighborhood, then pasting them to paper and writing a poem to accompany the images. Fine – I handed over my camera and told him to stay within his boundaries, which, as a somewhat Free Range kid, were limited to the sidewalks on both side of our street in the city of Chicago.

    Ten minutes later he was back, unsatisfied. “Mom, I’m supposed to take pictures of stores and stuff, not just houses. I’m RESPONSIBLE. I can go to Southport”

    Southport is the main drag, 3 blocks away, where the train station, stores, salons, a car wash and restaurants are. It was still light. I was exhausted from work.

    “Go,” I said. “Be back in 30 minutes.” And off he went.

    Twenty-nine minutes later he was back, panting, with sparkling eyes and a camera full of shots: dogs, people, candy at the candy store, scrawls on a dumpster. The poem was not only colorful, it was the first time I have seen him having fun on a writing assignment for school.

    Which, believe me, is an accomplishment on its own. Would I do it again. Already have.

  210. Melinda Johnson May 11, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Nothing bad happened when I let my then 6 year old high functioning autistic son walk around the block by himself (or, as he calls it, The Island.) He came home super excited and proud and made an art book depicting the different experiences he ran into (seeing a yapping chihuahua in a car, a man mowing his lawn, a big stick in the gutter, etc) and then shared it with me.

    Also, nothing bad happened when I taught him, at 8, to make his own oatmeal in the microwave. He’d been making his own breakfast for several years (yogurt, granola and strawberries and bananas cut up with a butter knife) and, the morning after I explained the steps to him, I left him a note with the basic steps outlined as a reminder. He did a perfect job and I woke up to a note slid under my door of a blissful face saying, “MmmmMmMMM!!”

    Also at 8, nothing bad happened to him when I needed to pick something up at a store that I’d ordered online to ship to the store and couldn’t find any parking. After ten minutes, I drove over to the side of the store, gave him the email saying it was ready for pick-up and told him to go to the cashier and tell them he was picking up the package for his mom. He was in and out and was very proud that he was able to help!

  211. Jennifer Keane May 13, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Nothing bad should have happened when I let my 6-year-old daughter walk around the block of our neighborhood by herself. She earned the privilege after months of following the rules (never go in the street, stay where I tell you, be home at this time and be in this place if I need to come get you for whatever reason).

    She had done so well, and her reward was a bigger area to ride her bike, walk the dog, and just run. She was restricted to the big sidewalk loop of our block and taught how to look both ways before crossing the cul-de-sacs. We live in a quiet subdivision with no stoplights or busy streets.

    On her second day of enjoying her new privilege, she came home at about 3 pm, proud as can be after running around the block twice (checking in at each loop). About 3:30 pm, the police knocked on our door. One of my neighbors called 911, because they saw my daughter running and thought she might be hurt. She was just running by herself, not crying or being chased, just running on the sidewalk like she had done many times before with her older sisters.

    All of my kids had to come to the door and ensure that they were unharmed. The police were very kind and explained that she had done nothing wrong, but she won’t go around the block anymore. I mentioned this to some family members, and they all agreed with the 911-dialing neighbor, because “you never know what can happen.”

    Except that I do. I survived several unfortunate (and some quite terrible) incidents as a child, mostly because my single mom worked long hours and was not often home. This made me a target. I survived, I met and married a wonderful man, and we have three beautiful girls. I still believe the world is worth exploring and that it is filled with mostly good people. I will not always be able to protect my kids from those who are determined to do harm, but I can give them tools to make them less likely targets. These tools include knowledge (being outside alone requires navigational and directional skills that you take for granted when someone else is helping), confidence (being able to find your own way is empowering), and trust (kids who can identify possible dangers on their own, whether it’s open water or a weirdo in a van, will learn to trust their instincts so that when real danger is imminent, they don’t doubt themselves).

    I am a paranoid mom. I worry about everything from vaccines to television time. But I cannot let my worry backfire on my children. They deserve a hopeful, if imperfect, world. And I intend to give that to them, as best I can.

  212. Mel May 13, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Nothing bad happened when…
    … my second child was an infant and I didn’t childproof my house with outlet covers, cabinet and drawer locks, or anything else.
    … my 2.5 and 5 year old play outside, in our backyard with one acre of flat land and five acres of hillside in the country, with me only occasionally checking on them, and a sighting by my daughter of a bobcat.
    …my children jump on the trampoline alone.
    …my children play alone quietly for a great deal of time and I don’t check on them (because I used to do this, and they were always fine, except upon seeing me they suddenly realized they needed something:)

  213. Kelly May 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I turned my 9 and 11 year olds loose in a 100-acre section of an arboretum while I was working in the office. That section has a fence around the perimeter, so I told them to stay inside the fence, gave them a trail map, some suggested things to go look at, and instructions to return at a certain time. They came back, with cameras full of pictures of odd little fungi, rocks, tree bark, and other things I would have never stopped to look at. They had a great time, and great stories to tell. Had I led them around I’m sure they would have said it was boring.

  214. Tara May 14, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    About a year ago, my husband, daughter (who was 6 at the time) and I were preparing to move, from Texas to Arizona. I was on my way to pick my daughter up from her last day of school when I stepped off the curb, rolled my ankle & fell. My foot instantly swelled, turned blue & purple & just looked horrible. But, luckily, it was my left foot so I could still drive to pick her up while my husband oversaw the movers. I hopped (literally) into her school, the nurse saw to me while my daughter came down from her classroom & the nurse convinced me that my foot was likely broken & I should go to the hospital. So, once my daughter & I got loaded up, we headed to the emergency room. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hop all the way into the ER from the parking lot so we started rehearsing what my 6 yo would do & say. When we got to Brooke Army Medical Center, the largest Military Hospital west of the Mississippi, she marched her little 6yo self into the ER, found someone with scrubs & a badge on (like her Papa, who is an anesthetist, wears) & said, just like we practiced, “My mama fell & hurt her foot & can’t walk. She needs a wheelchair. Can you bring one, please?” She did awesome, everyone in the BAMC ER was amazed at how brave & smart she was.

    And nothing bad happened…

    To her. I broke my fifth metatarsal. 😉 But my little girl is my hero.

  215. Sally May 14, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    My daughter starting riding her bike to school when she was eight years old (weather permitting). It was her parents idea because a monthly public transportation ticket costs money and riding a bike doesn’t.

    We permitted it because my daughter was able to ride her bike well enough and the journey is quite safe: She only has to cross the street twice (it’s actually the same street, which she has to cross back over once she gets down by the school), at traffic lights with well designed crosswalks, and otherwise she is on a bike path with no cars the whole way.

    The upshot is that although it was her parents idea initially, my daughter loves riding her bike to school because it’s a fun, cool way to get to school. I also believe it has given her a sense of pride and accomplishment and – who knows if it’s actually connected (or how long it will last! but) – she’s gone from strength to strength in her school work, which she “owns” now, like a big girl.

    Would do it again. We all gain confidence, build ambition and strengthen our skills (or learn new ones) by stretching ourselves. Children are no different.

  216. Annie May 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my nine-month-old daughter was given her own hand tools and bucket of bolts, nuts and washers to play with.

    I was initially a fussy parent. I couldn’t let my daughter cry in her crib. I washed her every time she got the slightest bit dirty. I worried that she didn’t eat enough.

    Enter my wonderful husband. He had her for the day while I was at a long Saturday work day (meaning, I wasn’t home to stop him), shortly after she had started walking, and took her out to the garage to work on a car with him. He gave her a few hand tools (wrench, screwdriver, a small hammer) and a bucket of hardware to play with. She played with that stuff for hours, quietly and on her own, and he was able to do some work in his truck.

    By manipulating the tools and the hardware, she learned fine motor skills and coordination, not to put small things in her mouth, that sometimes we get hurt and it’s not a big deal, and that her company is valued and desired by her daddy. He never works in the garage without her, and she is now 2.5. She still plays with her tools and bucket of bolts. Her little brother is now almost 3 months old and will undoubtedly be allowed to play the same way–not only would we do it again with her, we will do it again with him.

  217. ank May 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    nothing bad happened when my five year old daughter and her five year old friend went to the bathroom by themselves. I also had my 2 1/2 year old and she was still eating dinner. They did their business and came back!

  218. Kelly May 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when I let the neighbor girl (age 7) play with my 2.5 year old son in the front yard by themselves while I went inside to fold a load of laundry.

    Nothing bad happened when I let same neighbor girl push my son down the street and back in a stroller.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my son (2.5) figure out how to climb the rope web at the playground by himself, falling off the bottom ropes onto the rubber chips multiple times before getting the hang of it. He was so ecstatic to have figured it out on his own.

    Nothing bad happened when I let my son (2.5) use a butter knife to slice his own cupcake, unless you count a sticky mess. 😛

  219. Rebecca May 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Nothing bad happened when my mom made me walk to school when I missed the bus back in the mid 1990s.
    1 – What activity did your child do?

    She let (made) me walk 2.3 miles down a 4 lane then 2 lane highway to school when I was in junior high (7th or 8th grade) because I missed the bus.

    2 – Whose idea was it?

    Definitely mom’s!

    3 – Why did you permit it?

    She was teaching me a lesson because I was always late and she wasn’t going to drive me to school again.

    4 – What was the upshot?

    Well, I had several people stop and ask me if I wanted a ride, and I declined every single one of them. I was embarrassed as each person stopped as I had to explain why I was walking. Also, I got to school sweaty and stinky and almost didn’t make it in time (it takes a lot longer to walk than to ride the bus). I had to stay that way all day until I had a chance to clean up during gym class…but I still had to put on the same stinky clothes! Needless to say, it’s a lesson that I didn’t soon forget.

    5 – Would you and yours do it again?

    My mom would probably do it again if she had school aged children (we’re all grown and married with kids of our own). I’d do it to my kid if it was age appropriate (and appropriate for said child’s maturity level…ie: had we walked to school before, do they know the safety rules of navigating the roads, etc.). However, my kids are 5 and 3, and my 5 year old starts kindergarten next year and we will be home schooling, so this probably isn’t something that will come up. However, things like walking down the street to a friend’s house or riding their bikes to the library or park are all things that I plan on allowing them to do after we are able to teach them the route and how to be safe riding in the street and how to watch out for cars. It’s probably within the next couple years for my 5 year old…maybe a little sooner. Just depends on how he acts when I start giving him a little more independence leading up to it!

  220. Molly June 16, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Nothing bad happened when my 12 year old son met a stranger, contacted him on-line and arranged to fly along with him in his stunt plane doing aerial acrobatics.

    My son was attending a week long aviation day camp. One morning, we got to the airport early and while we waited for camp to start, we walked the tarmac to look at all the small planes parked there. We happened to meet one of the pilots, who invited us into his hangar to look at the stunt plane he had designed and built himself.

    The next day, my son took his own initiative and found the pilots email address. He sent the pilot an email, politely asking if he could have a chance to fly with him. (Many of the pilots participate in a program call Young Eagles, where they give children a chance to take a short flight for free in their private planes. My son wasn’t aware that the stunt pilot didn’t participate in this program because he doesn’t like having to fly upside right.) The pilot responded that he would be happy to take my son on a flight.

    When we arrived at the airport at the arranged time, the pilot asked if it was okay to try to acrobatics. We gave our okay, and our son was off – doing loop-de-loops, barrel rolls, dives and other stunts you normally only see in an airshow. The pilot even let him take the controls during the stunts.

    Why did we permit our son to take part in a high risk activity like stunt flying? Because it was the opportunity of a life time and an experience he will never forget. He talked to a stranger, found him online, sent him an email and wound up doing something most 12 year old boys can only dream about! In the process, he gained a mentor who shares his passion for flying, engineering and all things related to aviation.

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  222. Allie July 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm #


    My name is Allie and I came across this blog today. I read many of your inspiring stories of “nothing happened when…’

    I’m working with an award-winning production company and a top-rated national cable network to cast a new docu-series that will explore unique perspectives on parenting.

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  223. Heather July 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    1 – What activity did your child do?
    My 11 and 7 year old sons stayed home with a new puppy while I took my 14 yo to the doctor’s office.

    2 – Whose idea was it? It was both of their ideas.

    3 – Why did you permit it? They are used to staying home with the 14 yo brother and I knew they would not do anything stupid. Also, I hate taking extras to the doctor’s office.

    4 – What was the upshot? Nothing happened… except they did take the puppy out and discovered he has an upset stomach. I’m glad I’m not cleaning that mess up!

    5 – Would you and yours do it again? Absolutely!

  224. Anna July 31, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    A few months ago, I needed to attend a session with my son’s counselor–without my son–so his father and I could talk openly with his therapist. My husband planned to come home from work early, but there was a work crisis and he couldn’t. My 8.5yo son’s older friend was busy that day at camp. With an hour in the session and 20 minutes driving each way, it was too long to just leave him at home (yes, I leave him at home sometimes and the world doesn’t end).

    I could have brought my son and had him sit in the waiting room for an hour with an iPad, but that much game time isn’t good for him. Plus, I know he would’ve been tempted to listen through the wall and we needed to not be overheard.

    In the end, after talking with my son about it, I took him to the local library that is five minutes from the therapist’s office. We found a good spot for him to park, located the shelves where his sort of books can be found, and reviewed rules of the library (be quiet, be polite, if you have a problem you can’t solve go politely ask the lady behind the desk for help) as well as bathroom locations. He knows my phone number and I left my phone turned on.

    I was a little nervous, but he’s been on his own in our usual library for 20-25 minutes a bunch of times and he likes to be independent. So I just breathed and let go.

    But then our session ran over by half an hour, and by the time I got back to the library he had been there an hour and 45 minutes. I was a bit worried, because sometimes he watches the clock and I was afraid he’d be afraid.

    I found him in the designated spot, surrounded by books. He was fine, calm, and happy as a clam. We took out a bunch of books and came home. I asked him if he felt proud of being on his own so I could go to the meeting, and he said yes.

    I would definitely do it again. It was good for him, and for me, and for us.


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