When I was a kid, I was free to wander my neighborhood and the city of Houston. By the time I was 8-years old, I walked, rode my bike or took the bus all over town. I could have gone to the moon as long as I was back before the street lights came on.
Growing up in the inner city taught me to be aware of my surroundings. Although I was a young kid exploring the streets of Houston, I always watched my back and kept an eye open for suspicious characters. My mother didn’t worry about me too much because she knew that I could handle myself. The only time she placed me on a shorter leash was when the news broke of a serial killer in Atlanta who was targeting African-American boys.
Now that I’m a dad, I struggle with my desire to protect my kids and to give them the freedom to explore on their own. The state of society prevents me as free as I was, but I don’t want them to live in a bubble either. Sadly, the recent news of an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who was abducted and dismembered while walking home from camp makes me tend towards the latter.
My kids never go anywhere by themselves. My wife even accompanies them to the bus stop which is only two blocks from our house. If they want to play with some of the neighborhood kids, my wife of I will sit in the front yard to keep an eye on them. I know that we are being overprotective, but we want to make sure that our kids are okay.
I worry the most about my 3-year-old son, X. He is so friendly and trusting that he will walk up to total strangers and give them hugs. His friendly nature could make him an easy target for a predator.
I know it’s my job to push my kids out of their comfort zone and prepare them to deal with life outside of our safe, suburban surroundings. But letting go is so hard to do. I can only trust that my prayers and the lessons on safety that I’ve taught them will be enough to protect them when they’re ready to venture out on their own.
Question: Are your children allowed to venture out alone?