Confessions of a 1000-thread count mum: how much freedom do you give your kids?

October 17, 2011

My son’s current favourite lament is ‘I’m not a baby,’ usually yelled from the top of the stairs. He has a point, of course, because I know he isn’t a baby (although he’ll always be my baby). But one thing I really really struggle with is giving him independence.

This is something I know about myself, and it’s a daily struggle. I’m not just a Cotton Wool Mum anymore. I’m a 1000-thread count mum. I want to wrap him up and protect him always. Letting my son go out with his friends is Very Very Difficult for me.

It’s not like he doesn’t have a Chaffeur (his dad, or his friends’ dads) either. He rarely has to walk very far. And yet still I can’t shake that awful anxiety I get whenever he says he’s going out (just to the cinema, for goodness’ sake) with his friends.

I’m not sure if there’s a way I can feel less anxious, or if this will carry on right until he goes to university (and beyond). But I’d love to know how much freedom you give your kids.

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  • Mummy's Little Monkey October 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I’m already dreading the time when girls are old enough to go out by themselves, and I’m terrified of the thought of them driving – they’re only 1 and 3!!!!

  • lucy October 18, 2011 at 7:59 am

    My oldest boy is 12 and started playing in the street at 4. There are lots of children his age and all the parents look out for each others’ kids. By the time he was 6 I let him go to the next few streets, by 7 to the park across the road, and to the shop. At 9 he walked to school with a friend, its less than 10 minutes away, and friends with younger children looked out for him on the school run.
    Now, he goes out on his bike for hours in the summer, and I hate it, I can’t relax at all. He goes to town with a couple of friends, to the cinema and for lots of sleep overs.
    I have a great relationship with his best friends’ parents and think this is the key. We constantly text each other with updates, his best friend Phil’s mum owns a cafe, so he’s so lucky to get free meals when in town.
    The bike thing bothers me most. I don’t worry about many things when he’s out, but getting knocked off his bike is a constant fear.
    I’ll be at my worst when he’s either driving, or going drinking in town, its so rough and fights are inevitable.

  • Sandra October 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

    We have spent the summer out and about with our 2 girls aged 7 and 9. At fun days, festivals, outdoor events etc. For most of the time we have been running the Sand Art workshops, and we’ve always taken our girls with us.

    We have always worked strictly with boundaries. Everywhere we go we say you can go from there to there. Don’t go past there, stick together, and come and tell me if you’re wanting to do different things. This includes big venues like the festivals.

    I make random checks to make sure that they are within those boundaries, never formally showing that i’m checking up, but I always make a point at the end of the day of praising them and telling that I checked so many times.

    They are very very good. And I think this is because we’ve used this kind of trusted freedom since even they were little. Where we lived when they were 3-5 there was a fenced in playpark less than 50 yards away from our house (on a very quiet estate, no busy roads etc), but around the corner, so you couldn’t quite see if from the house (but you could still hear them). And they were allowed for go for 10 minutes, with their friends etc.

    They are really good, confident sensible kids, and I know that they look after each other really really well. If one was to get hurt, the other would look after them and then be straight back to me in seconds.

    But its all calculated. When we go some places then they get it explained to that this place is different, and different rules apply

    We’ve always worked on the basis of trust, and even if they tell porkie pies over teeth brushing, or homework, then I link it straight back to the trust with them having their freedom out and about.


  • Potty Mummy October 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    We live in a compound (no garden fences but also only so far to go before they hit a high wall and security) so they can’t go far, but even so I always keep a weather eye out for them when they’re outside without me. Can’t help myself, I’m afraid. (Mine are 5 & 8, btw).

  • Karen October 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    My daughter turned 16 in June and I sometimes wonder what I did to deserve her. She horrifies me with tales of how some of her friends have sleepovers at their boyfriends (with and without parents knowledge), they drink in the local park etc. Yet so far, she has never caused me any worry and doesn’t bow down to peer pressure.
    She does go out, mainly ‘hanging out’ at friends houses or to the local cinema which is a ten min walk away and she knows she isn’t allowed to walk home alone in the dark. She is also pretty good at keeping in touch with me, sending me a quick text to let me know where she is and what time she’ll be leaving.
    Whilst I still always worry about her, between us we do what we can to minimise that and she knows that I trust her. Maybe its easier with girls and I’ll be writing a very different reply when the boys are older…..?

  • Him Up North October 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Our youngest has just started walking to school without us and that felt weird. Also both he and his older brother are allowed to go to the local convenience store (okay, corner shop) together or with their friends. The boys are 10 and nearly 12 btw. It’s all about knowing your children (and who their friends are!) and, like a chocolate bar, meting out trust in chunks.

    • Emma October 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      I’m dreading this stage! Especially with two girls 😉