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Do you let your children roam?

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At what age should my daughter be allowed to become a mallrat or venture out on her own?

This week, Katie, my 14-year-old, asked if she and a friend could be dropped at the mall on a Friday evening to see a movie. This is not the first time this discussion has occurred at our house. And, once before, my husband did let her see a movie with friends without supervision, but it was during the day.

The first time I let Katie even walk the mall alone with friends was at her 14th birthday party. But I stayed and pushed her little brother around in a stroller while they “did their own thing.”

Lenore Skenazy has received support and flack for letting her young son ride a subway by himself. She is the author of “Free-Range Kids.”  

Skenazy encourages parents to let their children roam and experience new things by themselves, empowering them to be individuals and not live in fear.

I admit this is just the opposite of how I continue to raise my children. I know I’m “too” protective by some standards. Yes. I used to roam all over our 200-acre farm when I was younger. I would go fishing and exploring by myself. And, although it wasn’t my choice, at 14 years old I walked the streets of Washington, D.C., when I was separated from my Close Up tour group. The next day, about five of us (without adults) rode the subway and toured our nation’s well-known monuments and museums.

I loved the experience. 

So, why do I try so hard to shelter my children from their own adventures?

I live in fear of ”what if.” I read the newspaper. I watch the news shows. And I’m appalled and scared by what might could happen.

Is there maybe a happy medium? But what would that be?

Share with me your stories of letting your children experience independence. Do you let them walk alone to school, the grocery store or snowcone shack? What are your limits on your children’s independence?

– Linda Lynn

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Linda Lynn

Linda Lynn was born and raised in rural Oklahoma. A graduate of Purcell High School, Lynn began working at The Oklahoman in 1987 as a reporter after earning a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She has served as both a... Read more ›