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    I have an 11 year old and I live in NYC. So pretty busy to say the least. We were adamant about our daughter not going anywhere by herself. But a very close friend of ours with a child the same age was letting their child make very small trips out by herself. Tiny gestures lead to very very small ones then to very small ones and well you get the drift. That made sense to us because this is how they learn and gain confidence. We started by shadowing her two blocks to the bus stop, home from the grocery store etc. she gained confidence and so did we. Baby steps. Then we let her and a very close friend ride the bus together to school. Yikes. All went well. I spoke to the bus driver and they had to sit beside him. So to make a long story shorter, we are moving in that direction in very small ways so that we are all confident that she is maturing and gaining independence at the right pace. But she is not responsible for a 7 year old on top of herself so I think that is a key difference. F
    She can focus on looking both ways etc.


    This is going to be my guide with Hedley — oh my Lord can’t image this is only 3 years away. He is 8! I cannot even imagine letting him out alone at this point in the city. xo M


    In Wash. DC, My grandma rode the bus with me through 1st grade. Then I rode the bus, (a public bus, not a school bus) to school by myself starting in 2nd grade, at 6 yo. By age 12 I was let loose to roam the Washington Square / Greenwich Village area of NYC, when we visited the paternal grandparents. When I got my 1st bicycle, in 6th grade, I rode far & wide! By the time I was 12 ir maybe 13, I would pack a lunch & ride around ALL DAY, returning home for supper.

    I was just a little more conservative with my kids. We live in a small town, not a big city. The school was 2 (quiet, residential) blocks away. I walked my kindergartener to school for the 1st few weeks, then let them go by themselves. After the 1st one, I just let the older sibs walk with the younger ones. Being in a small town my kids could walk or ride their bikes anywhere in town they wanted to go, as soon as they were able to ride a 2 wheeler. None of my kids rode for the sheer joy of it like I had, they just went to friends houses & back. One of the great thiings about living in a small town is that I didn’t have to play chauffeur all the time with my 7 kids! If I had still lived more urban, I think I wouldn’t have let them be quite so free!
    So, yes I had “free range” kids. Sure, they could have gotten hurt, but being with a parent doesn’t necessarily prevent harm. They knew safety rules, & had a buddy system. What if I was driving them & we were all in a bad accident? My friend had her toddler choke TO DEATH while standing right next to her in the kitchen. Another friend was pulling a camper when her son died falling out of the back. Another’s son died in his sleep, from a previously undiagnosed heart problem. Another’s car went off a bridge, She got 4 kids out safely, except for one daughter who drown while she was trying to get her out. And these happened to responsible moms, not some druggies!
    Someone once said, “a mothers job is to become obsolete” So true. You raise your kids to be responsible, independent, productive members of society. Raising them to be dependent on you, for rides, meals, laundry, etc. Is not doing them any favors.
    You just have to trust that God is watching over them, even when you’re not!


    When I read your comment, it reminds me a lot about my upbringing. I grew up in a small town and we pretty much came and went as we pleased. We rode our bikes down the street and to neighboring towns, and played outside, and someone we always wandered home in time for dinner. Now we live in the city and I am dealing with a different reality largely because of the traffic! I always so enjoy reading your comments so thanks so much for commenting – you are one of our first CloudMoms! xo Melissa


    I live in Albuquerque New Mexico. I am a single mom. I saw that news feed too. It had me questioning when is the right age to let my son 6 go out alone. I chose an apartment complex right in the middle of a decent school zone. All three levels are within walking distance. All of which cross traffic areas. I decided around fifth grade about middle of the school year would be best. Mostly due to the fact that by that time he will have a better idea as to whom he’d like to travel with. As for now I take and pick him up everyday. He is bright enough already that he asks if he wants to even be near the residential streets. He does look both ways but that still doesn’t stop me from worrying and watching. He is also at this point only allowed in our section of the complex. I call it within yelling distance. Lights on and he is to be inside. Never talk to strangers and little techniques in case someone tries to grab him. I’ve always believed that being prepared for anything gives you a bit of an edge. So 12 or 13 is our target age and he knows that already. Thanks for posting and hopefully this helps.


    I’m definitely over an protective helicopter mom, but I’m really working hard to break myself of it. 🙂 My short answer to your question is, any age under 13 is too young to be outside “alone”. The long answer is below.

    My son is 9 (and a half – he’d be disappointed if I didn’t add the .5) and I don’t want him to live in fear; however, I do want him to have a sense of the danger that’s out there and how to be safe when’s he’s outside playing. I also don’t want to have have my blood pressure & anxiety sky-rocket just because he wants to play outside. So he and I talk. We talk frequently about those dangers and how he can be safe. He checks in often and is usually playing at someone’s home or at the park across the street…with a group friends.

    We live in a small community but that in no way puts my mind at ease. I’ve checked the offender list at for our area and we have 4 registered sex offenders in our community – all convicted of crimes against children. This concerns me.

    I grew up in the 80’s in a very large city. By the time I was 5, I was taking public transportation to school with my older siblings that were just 2 & 4 yrs older than me. We were all under 10 and on our own (mom was a single parent & had to work full-time). We knew to stay together and stay alert. There was real danger; however, that didn’t stop us from being latch-key kids or playing outside sun up to sun down on the weekends. These day’s it’s very different. Our kids can’t experience that kind of free-range play, which puts a burden on parents for play-dates and paying for indoor activities or babysitting services.

    So again, I feel that any age under 13 is too young to be outside alone. Hanging out with a group of friends should be encouraged for children between the ages of 9-13. Children between 5-8 definitely need constant supervision.