A Flight of Independence

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were pondering the upcoming four-day President's Day Weekend. Aside from our confusion over exactly when three-day weekends became four-day weekends for schoolchildren, we were torn. We both had too much work to take time off. But why should our work schedules mean the kids couldn't do something fun?

So, last Friday, my husband and I drove our two oldest children, ages 8 and almost-10, to the airport. They got on a a plane and flew BY THEMSELVES to visit their grandparents in Florida. Sure, there were other people on the plane, and my husband's kind, responsible, adoring, semi-retired mother and stepfather were waiting at the Florida airport by the time the plane took off from Washington. So, it wasn't a big risk. But it felt huge to us as parents.

Some parents in my neighborhood have let their kids walk to school by themselves since they were six because they had to be at work before the school bell rang. Others won't let their children cross the street alone. My friend Jen, who works 80 hours a week, feels she has to let go and give her kids' extra independence since she's not there to micromanage them. Another friend who stays home has vowed that she will drive her children to school until they're 18 -- even though she grew up in New York City taking the bus by herself before she was nine. A divorced friend has had to let her son fly alone since he was six due to custody agreements. I don't know how much it matters whether you work or stay at home, but the fact that my husband and I work did give us a push to let our kids take this trip. However, sometimes parents of the same children disagree mightily over how much independence to grant and when. Everyone's different.

It was empowering for my children to know I trusted them enough to fly alone. I've always valued my independence -- it's one of the main reasons I work. And it was also heavenly for my husband and me and our five-year-old to have time alone together. Independence can be good for everyone.

What do you think? Does your work status affect how much freedom you give your kids? Have your kids ever traveled alone? How old were they? How did the experience change them -- and you?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Raising Great Kids
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First!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

Posted by: First | February 21, 2007 6:58 AM

It really depends on the flight time. Letting a six year old fly alone for two hours wouldn't upset me at all and certainly I would have no qualms letting a ten year old and eight year old fly together. But anything longer than a six hour flight would give me pause.

Posted by: Denkpaard | February 21, 2007 7:12 AM

I won't let my children fly alone until 12, at least. I think it's too big of a risk.

What did your 5 yr old do while you and your husband worked? Wasn't s/he ticked about missing out on a trip to Florida? I would try to be more 'balanced' about the equal treatment of your children.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 21, 2007 7:21 AM

What exactly were you planning if they ended up in a Jet Blue situation? 10 and 8 too young. Another example of overindulging children. God forbid they have a vacation that isn't a party and God forbid the working parents have to come up with a solution for their kids. If they are old enough to fly, why not let them stay home alone while you work?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 7:28 AM

I flew alone by the time I was 7 but that was back in the olden days (70s & 80s). I think when kids fly alone you have to pay an extra fee. The airline is responsible for waiting for you until an adult arrives to pick them up. I would probably think nothing of letting an 8 year old and a 10 year old fly from DC to Fla (probably a 2 hour flight) with no connections. As for the 5 year old, I am sure a few days of being an only child was worth missing out on the trip. She will get the much deserved sole attention she has craved his/her whole life. As far as being a working mom, I actually think the kids sometimes are more sheltered than the kids of SAHPs. The reason being they move from one child care situation to another. DD will be dropped off at school through middle school and will wait at after school care till 4:30 each day for Mom to pick her up. I know the world has changed a lot. But I was walking to and from school and at lunch times by second grade. Of course everyone did. Only the geeks were walked by their parent or grandparent. And Lord knows, no one drove their kids on nice days to school. Of course communities were much more pedestrian friendly. And crime was not as common or not as publicized. But I do feel bad that DD will not have the joys of discovering the world on her own terms. Running through the woods, skinning her knees, taking her allowance money to the candy store. It is too bad. We have traded honest discovery for discovery zone. And it is not just because two parents work. It is because of increased media coverage on child crime, no sidewalks, working parents, internet predators etc....

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 7:31 AM

Airlines only let children that age fly alone for a direct flight. And they require that the adult wait at the airport until the flight takes off, in case there are problems on the ground. If there is some kind of emergency or landing at a different airport due to bad weather, I'm not sure what the plan b is.

Our five year old LOVED being alone with us, and getting to be the big kid (and only kid) for a change. While we worked she went to a series of playdates.

Sorry about all the recent tech difficulties on the blog. wpni is trying (hard) to fix them.

Posted by: Leslie | February 21, 2007 7:33 AM

For me, it's not so much my work status, but the difference in the world today vs. a LOOONG time ago when I was a child. My independence was (and is) my most valued possession. I remember being allowed to walk alone to school at age 12 and walk alone to the nieghborhood store at about age 8 or 9. The sense if freedom was so empowering to me as a child. But in today's times, I'm not sure I will let my daughter do that. One of my friends lives two blocks from her daughter's elementary school, and isn't sure if, or when, she will let her walk by herself.

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | February 21, 2007 7:37 AM

There was also a $20 per child fee, on top of the ticket, to fly as an unaccompanied minor. Our kids had to be at least six to fly as unaccompanied minors.

Posted by: Leslie | February 21, 2007 7:46 AM

8 & 10 yr old together unsupervised on a plane! NO way. This is a sure way to annoy the heck out of the other passengers who have no way out! I am more concerned about the other passangers confort and sanity than I am allowing my child to feel a bit of independance.

Posted by: Fred | February 21, 2007 7:49 AM

I live a couple of blocks from the elementary school my boys attend, and they are NOT ALLOWED to walk to/from school without an adult accompanying them. No exceptions for the age of the child, closeness to the school, or any other circumstance as far as I can tell. When I was the same age as my older son (9), I was walking/bike riding to and from school every day.

Posted by: datadiva | February 21, 2007 7:53 AM

"What did your 5 yr old do while you and your husband worked? Wasn't s/he ticked about missing out on a trip to Florida? I would try to be more 'balanced' about the equal treatment of your children.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 21, 2007 07:21 AM"

Disagree here - kids need to get used to different treatment - age and circumstances dictate treatment sometimes. This is like getting every kid in the family a birthday gift when one kid has a birthday.

Maybe Leslie and her husband thought the 5 year old was too young to travel on a plane - and that is no reason to keep the other 2 at home. Also, how nice to have one on one time with just one kid! The 5 year old probably felt very special.

I would have been worried with the weather and all the cancelled flights about sitting on the tarmac for hours.

I do have a problem with a mother that works 80 hours a week pushing their kids into independent roles because of her work schedule. 80 hours a week - do they even see their kids? Sounds like too much to me.


Posted by: cmac | February 21, 2007 7:58 AM

When we lived in Northern Virginia, we did let our kids walk themselves to school -- at ages 8 and 7. It was about one block away -- and a good neighborhood, with sidewalks and minimal traffic. But you would not believe the grief I got from other parents (and even the principal who was concerned about 'liability aspects' -- apparently no one had ever allowed their children to walk to school before).

Currently we live in a smaller town and our kids have a lot more freedom in terms of roaming the subdivision, knocking on neighbor's doors and asking if Judy can play -- just like we did growing up. I LOVE not having to schedule "playdates".
When we first moved to our neighborhood, our children were ecstatic at the freedom it offered -- out the door first thing every morning to ride bikes, in and out of friend's houses. I love the dynamics of having to work out friendships by themselves in the neighborhood (Bobby's annoying and he cheats but we have to include him or we won't have enough kids to play football, etc.) rather than constantly having moms intervene/interfere and setting everything up. I think it's really healthy for them to have the freedom to work out their differences themselves.

We used to fly overseas a lot with the military and I would see these kids literally being sent to Europe by themselves to visit divorced parents, etc. and lots of times they would be scared and crying. I don't know when I would feel comfortable sending my kids on a plane by themselves -- though my sister does it all the time.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 21, 2007 8:02 AM

Interesting post. May be a valuable excercise to get the community's view on when kids are "old enough" to do the following tasks/ be left alone to:

my attempt at conventional wisdom:

earliest
year
5 Kindergarden (see Parenting Blog)
6 Sleep over at friend's house
6 Swim without parent w/in arm's reach
8 Ride non-stop w/older sibling
9 Stay at home alone for ten minutes
9 Ride non-stop flight alone
10 sleep away summer camp
11 Stay at home for lengthy time
12 get cell phone
12 Ride bike to school/sports practice
12 Walk to town after school
12 Babysit siblings
13 pierce ears
13 Babysit other kids
16 get driving lessons/drive daylight
16 go on a date
16 get a full time summer job
17 buy condoms/birthcontrol pills
17 buy tobacco
17 drive at night
18 go to war
18 vote
18 get married/have kids
21 drink alcohol (should be 18 IMHO)

Acknowledging every child is different, what do you think?

As a parent, 16-18 looks like hell.

Posted by: Fo3 | February 21, 2007 8:04 AM

We live in a small town and our kids have always walked to school. As luck would have it, though, the older boy at age 14 got mugged once by a twenty year old delinquent. Much ado, police involved, etc.

The next day, he walked to school again. Parenting is not only about protecting but about training kids to deal with adversity.

On the other side of the coin, a friend once called to ask if it was ok to give my sons a ride home from some afterschool event. That surprised me but she is married to a physician and I guess they are litigation-sensitive.

As to the plane ride, it looks as if you are prosperous enough to have such an option but not prosperous enough to take the time to be with the children on their free day. I am not being critical of your choice, I just think you need to plan ahead a little more. It sounds as though the long weekend kind of snuck up on you.

Posted by: Dave | February 21, 2007 8:05 AM

When we lived in Northern Virginia, we did let our kids walk themselves to school -- at ages 8 and 7. It was about one block away -- and a good neighborhood, with sidewalks and minimal traffic. But you would not believe the grief I got from other parents (and even the principal who was concerned about 'liability aspects' -- apparently no one had ever allowed their children to walk to school before).

Currently we live in a smaller town and our kids have a lot more freedom in terms of roaming the subdivision, knocking on neighbor's doors and asking if Judy can play -- just like we did growing up. I LOVE not having to schedule "playdates".
When we first moved to our neighborhood, our children were ecstatic at the freedom it offered -- out the door first thing every morning to ride bikes, in and out of friend's houses. I love the dynamics of having to work out friendships by themselves in the neighborhood (Bobby's annoying and he cheats but we have to include him or we won't have enough kids to play football, etc.) rather than constantly having moms intervene/interfere and setting everything up. I think it's really healthy for them to have the freedom to work out their differences themselves.

We used to fly overseas a lot with the military and I would see these kids literally being sent to Europe by themselves to visit divorced parents, etc. and lots of times they would be scared and crying. I don't know when I would feel comfortable sending my kids on a plane by themselves -- though my sister does it all the time.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 21, 2007 8:10 AM

I'm gonna say that personally I don't know that I would trust my children to an organization that has a hard time getting an inanimate object (my bags) to a location safely. I think it might have been better before so many people were flying. With all the layoffs and budget cutting in airlines, I'd just really have a hard time trusting that they would take proper care of my kids. That said, I'm sure the 5 year old was in heaven.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 8:10 AM

Good for you for letting them fly without parents, Leslie. My stepdaughter flew alone from the time she was 9 from Philadelphia to meet us in Florida almost every Christmas (our visitation didn't start until the day after Christmas). Sometimes she had to change planes. The airlines were great about taking good care of her. When she was 16, she got grounded overnight in DC at Dulles, and you would not believe the security measures they took. It was like they were guarding the Hope Diamond.

I don't believe that the world is any more dangerous than it was when I was growing up 30 years ago. (If someone's got statistics proving me right or wrong, I'd love to see them.) I think it's scarier now because of 24/7 news and because the media makes such a huge deal out of stranger kidnappings and the like. I work hard to balance my fear of things that have almost no chance of happening with my desire to let my children experience independence. Many mothers I know won't let their children play alone in their own backyards, never mind riding their bikes alone or walking to a friends' house.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 21, 2007 8:13 AM

To Fo3

"As a parent, 16-18 looks like hell."

Yes, it is, do you have any this age yet?

BTW, I started driving fulltime at 15. Legally licensed at that age back in the dark ages.

Posted by: Fred | February 21, 2007 8:13 AM

I don't believe that the world is any more dangerous than it was when I was growing up 30 years ago. (If someone's got statistics proving me right or wrong, I'd love to see them.) I think it's scarier now because of 24/7 news and because the media makes such a huge deal out of stranger kidnappings and the like. I work hard to balance my fear of things that have almost no chance of happening with my desire to let my children experience independence. Many mothers I know won't let their children play alone in their own backyards, never mind riding their bikes alone or walking to a friends' house.

According the Crime and Victimization survey by the US census bureau, crime is actually down. The coverage is up. The internet is a fast tranformer of information (sometimes correct and sometimes false information). I can't believe parents that do not let kids play in a fenced in locked back yard. I can see tiny kids (under 5 because of injury) but 7 and 8 year olds? Good lord, do they expect to be with them every second of the day?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 8:19 AM

I would say that the working and married status of a parent greatly influences the independence his or her kid has. Both my parents worked and then divorced when I was 12. I had loads of independence. My brother and I were latchkey kids. We spent entire summers at sleep-away camp. We also visited grandparents in Florida during the summers. But my mom would constantly worry. I bet that if she didn't work, we would not have been so independent.

FWIW, sleep-away camp fosters a lot of independence. Kids as young as 8 could go for a week. Teens could stay for the whole summer. Kids have the responsibility of getting to their classes on time but also the free time to explore. They form relationships on their own. I went there for 6 years and then worked there for 4. I credit that time for a lot of my social training (I went to parochial school and moved 5 times before I was 8).

Posted by: Meesh | February 21, 2007 8:23 AM

My parents allowed me to basically roam unsupervised across a square mile of territory from age 7 onward. There were some ground rules, of course, but as long as I didn't burn down anything, let the animals out of the fields, etc, I was free to do what I wished. Walking to a small country store a mile away, along two lane country roads, picking up discarded soda bottles for the deposit, was a routine excursion. As long as my parents knew (roughly) where I was going and (roughly) what I was doing, they trusted me to not get into too much trouble.

It's a shame that such freedom can no longer be given children.

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 8:26 AM

Geez, if you don't walk your kids to school you miss out on - 1. showing off your way too big SUV, 2. having something to do in the morning besides signing on to this blog to say you are first, and 3. feeling better than those moms that *choose* to work over staying at home with their kids. People, you are raising a generation of spoiled children completely incapable of dealing with life. Get a life yourself, so your kids will have one too.

Posted by: jd | February 21, 2007 8:26 AM

Geez, if you don't walk your kids to school you miss out on - 1. showing off your way too big SUV, 2. having something to do in the morning besides signing on to this blog to say you are first, and 3. feeling better than those moms that *choose* to work over staying at home with their kids. People, you are raising a generation of spoiled children completely incapable of dealing with life. Get a life yourself, so your kids will have one too.

Posted by: jd | February 21, 2007 8:28 AM

I agree with foamgnome. People are more scared/frightened than they should be.

And Fo3: my ages were/are completely different.

earliest year
5 Kindergarden
1 (actually that started as a baby when we shared babysitters...never a problem with any of 4 kids) Sleep over at friend's house
2 (all could swim across pool by 3 or 4) Swim without parent w/in arm's reach
5 Ride non-stop w/older sibling
6 Stay at home alone for ten minutes
5 Ride non-stop flight alone
8 sleep away summer camp
9 Stay at home for lengthy time
----now some major changes---why a cell before high school?
14 get cell phone
6 Ride bike to school/sports practice (but hey, we live in a design-for-livability neighborhood...well worth it)
8 Walk to town after school
10 Babysit siblings
13 pierce ears (no girls)
13 Babysit other kids

And the 16-18 stuff just happens. My 16 year old didn't even want his permit until he was over 16. I had to force him to get his permit...and he could have had it at 15!

And Fred, my kids all traveled internationally many times as youngsters. They know their way around LAX and SFO better than most adults. Thus, they can travel on a plane. My 16 yr old, when 14, even wrangled an upgrade to 1st class the last time he traveled by himself. he's a pro. Not bragging...just amazed.

Posted by: dotted | February 21, 2007 8:33 AM

"I think it's scarier now because of 24/7 news and because the media makes such a huge deal out of stranger kidnappings and the like."

Gavin deBecker agrees with you. His number one recommendation for cutting out needless worry is to stop watching local news. All of it. It's just pointless scaremongering.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 21, 2007 8:34 AM

'such freedom can no longer be given children'

my children have plenty of freedom. they roam the neighborhood and the woods. it's the mall that I'm afraid of! half the elementary school students here walk without a parent. they need to be given some freedom to learn how to deal with situations. it depends on where you live.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 21, 2007 8:34 AM

jd

I agree. There are a number of SAHMs who limo their kids back and forth to school for no apparent reason (no after school activities issues here)- there are district school buses. The buses provide door to door service. It does seem that the SAHMs use the taxi service as a big part of their justification to stay home.

Bad example for kids, waste of energy, and giving the finger to the environment.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 8:38 AM

How the world has changed- when I was in first grade, I walked to school (after that we moved and I took a school bus). The only "protection" my mom (who stayed at home) offered me was to tell me to try and stick with another first grade friend and her brother, who was in third grade and considered old enough to take care of any problems.

Posted by: randommom | February 21, 2007 8:41 AM

I let my kids, 4 and 7, play by themselves in our backyard. I wish I could let my 7-year old walk to her friend's houses but we live on a busy street with no sidewalks. Because of that we also walk her to the bus stop. I think my working does affect this decision. I am home on Fridays and make it a point to walk to the bus stop with my daughter and wait with her and meet the bus in the afternoon. She looks forward to it and it's the only day of the week I can do it. I require the nanny to take her on the other days. I think if I were a SAHM, I might let her go herself because it would not be such a treat for her to have me there. It's very close -- I can see the stop from my house. I could watch her cross the street and then wave goodbye.

I don't know what I would do about flying. My father wants to have my daughter spend a weekend with him in NY. He has proposed flying down, meeting up with us at the airport and then flying back up with her (they can do this on the shuttle). It's an expensive proposition and a lot of trouble for my dad. I have suggested we just wait until she is older but if he really wants to do it I won't say no.


I will say that I've been very surprised at the kids who live close to our school and don't walk. We were disappointed the school wasn't closer and our kids would have to be bussed. It's not an issue of whether the parents come or not; it's that the parents drive the kids. With childhood obesity being so high now, I don't understand this parenting decision. I would support driving on really bad weather days or if there's an afterschool appointment but otherwise I think you are doing your children a disservice not encouraging them to walk.

Posted by: working mom | February 21, 2007 8:41 AM

I once got a call from the school nurse regarding the second boy. For whatever reason, she couldn't reach my wife, who normally fields such calls. He was fifteen at the time.

Nurse, "You're son is sick." Me, "What's wrong with him?".
Nurse, "He's throwing up." Me, "Send him home.".
Nurse, "Can you come get him?" Me, "No, I'm in New York. Let him walk. It's only five blocks." (At this point, I can hear him laughing in the background.)
Nurse, "I'm not allowed to do that." Me, "Then, give him a trash can."

I think she let him nap on her cot until school ended and then he walked home.

Posted by: Dave | February 21, 2007 8:42 AM

I once got a call from the school nurse regarding the second boy. For whatever reason, she couldn't reach my wife, who normally fields such calls. He was fifteen at the time.

Nurse, "Your son is sick." Me, "What's wrong with him?".
Nurse, "He's throwing up." Me, "Send him home.".
Nurse, "Can you come get him?" Me, "No, I'm in New York. Let him walk. It's only five blocks." (At this point, I can hear him laughing in the background.)
Nurse, "I'm not allowed to do that." Me, "Then, give him a trash can."

I think she let him nap on her cot until school ended and then he walked home.

Posted by: Dave | February 21, 2007 8:42 AM

How the world has changed- when I was in first grade, I walked to school (after that we moved and I took a school bus). The only "protection" my mom (who stayed at home) offered me was to tell me to try and stick with another first grade friend and her brother, who was in third grade and considered old enough to take care of any problems.

Posted by: randommom | February 21, 2007 8:43 AM

I let my kids, 4 and 7, play by themselves in our backyard. I wish I could let my 7-year old walk to her friend's houses but we live on a busy street with no sidewalks. Because of that we also walk her to the bus stop. I think my working does affect this decision. I am home on Fridays and make it a point to walk to the bus stop with my daughter and wait with her and meet the bus in the afternoon. She looks forward to it and it's the only day of the week I can do it. I require the nanny to take her on the other days. I think if I were a SAHM, I might let her go herself because it would not be such a treat for her to have me there. It's very close -- I can see the stop from my house. I could watch her cross the street and then wave goodbye.

I don't know what I would do about flying. My father wants to have my daughter spend a weekend with him in NY. He has proposed flying down, meeting up with us at the airport and then flying back up with her (they can do this on the shuttle). It's an expensive proposition and a lot of trouble for my dad. I have suggested we just wait until she is older but if he really wants to do it I won't say no.


I will say that I've been very surprised at the kids who live close to our school and don't walk. We were disappointed the school wasn't closer and our kids would have to be bussed. It's not an issue of whether the parents come or not; it's that the parents drive the kids. With childhood obesity being so high now, I don't understand this parenting decision. I would support driving on really bad weather days or if there's an afterschool appointment but otherwise I think you are doing your children a disservice not encouraging them to walk.

Posted by: working mom | February 21, 2007 8:44 AM

My apologies for the repeat post. There is considerable lag between clicking "Post" and the screen refreshing and I corrected a grammar problem.

Posted by: Dave | February 21, 2007 8:45 AM

Fred -- I was concerned too about the welfare of the other passengers, and my kids were lectured about being polite.

When my husband met the returning flight, one of the passengers took him aside and told him how polite our two kids had been during the flight. I think when unsupervised in public some children behave FAR better than at home. Both of our old kids are very responsible and I'm not surprised that they got compliments from fellow passengers.

I also had told them that if I heard ANY complaints (from travelers or their grandparents) they'd never get this privilege again.

I am amazed by how paranoid the most privileged parents seem. It is the ones who live in the safest neighborhoods who are constantly worrying about their kids being kidnapped or hurt. There are many kids in this country and the world growing up with true danger, every day, that makes our suburban worries seem like nothing.

I'm also amazed that parents don't worry more about the real dangers for kids -- the top three are car accidents, drownings and bike accidents. All preventable to a certain degree, with use of car seats, supervision and helmets. There are only about 100 true stranger kidnappings a year (and this has stayed fairly constant for over 30 years).

Posted by: Leslie | February 21, 2007 8:46 AM

Regarding our unnecessary fears: the book "Freakonomics" discusses this in depth. Leslie, your comment on drowning being one of the top reasons for childhood deaths made me think of it. Many parents are super vigilant about not letting their children go to a house where there are guns, but FAR, FAR more children die in swimming pools each year than by gunshot wounds. I'm pretty sure I've recommended "Freakonomics" before on this blog, but I'm going to do it again. It's just fascinating reading.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 21, 2007 8:53 AM

Ditto on Freakonomics-however repetitive the writing is, the concepts are intriquing.

Posted by: dotted | February 21, 2007 8:56 AM

cell phone at 11

Now that DS gats dropped at various activities, some walking distance some not, and we have the myriad of other things going on we like being able to reach him on the phone to appraise him of our ETA, carpool changes etc. He also can let us know if he is going to another kids house after school, or has arranged a ride with a team-mate to get home from practice. There are no payphones around at all anymore so that is no longer an option. He is very responsible about the phone and since we are in network the time is shared among all handsets.

Very useful on vacation and for summer camp I might add.

Posted by: Fo3 | February 21, 2007 8:56 AM

Totally depends on the kid though I see no problem with sending an 8 and 10 y.o. on a 2 hour direct flight without parents. I'm also surprised by the comment regarding the other passengers. I bet the kids were completely well-behaved in large part because they KNEW it was a big responsibility being given to them. I think kids generally are smarter and better behaved than people here give them credit for. And I bet the other passengers were probably really nice. There is a BIG difference though between a 2 hour flight and a 6 hour flight. At those ages, I'd probably stick to less than 3 hour flights. Otherwise, what really is the big deal?

Posted by: londonmom | February 21, 2007 8:57 AM

I think I was 7 the first time I flew alone to visit my grandparents -- unfortunately it was also the only time I ever had air sickness -- all over the nice lady sitting next to me! (Who the airline gave a free bottle of wine). The only qualm I'd have about unaccompanied minor is that the flight attendants have more duties post 9-11 than they did when I was a kid and there seem to be less of them.

I have often thought that we worry more because we hear more about the worst incidents. Polly Klaas, the girl in Utah were all national news -- 30 years ago would they have been?

Off topic to NC lawyer- Yes, it is nice to see royal blue fans step away from the ledge... :-)

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 21, 2007 9:01 AM

My husband and I have thought about these same issues already even though our kids are still years away by MO County standards to be left alone. We both had very independent childhoods, taking public transport by ourselves to get to school by ages 10 and 11. But I think the times have really changed -- I am very spooked by school bus accidents, all these news reporting about predators lurking around our schools and playgrounds, and violence in schools, even in the most suburban environments. I think that we would like to expose our children to the world but prefere to do it as a family. That's the plan, let's see what life has in store for us..

Posted by: bethesda mom | February 21, 2007 9:03 AM

My husband and I have thought about these same issues already even though our kids are still years away by MO County standards to be left alone. We both had very independent childhoods, taking public transport by ourselves to get to school by ages 10 and 11. But I think the times have really changed -- I am very spooked by school bus accidents, all these news reporting about predators lurking around our schools and playgrounds, and violence in schools, even in the most suburban environments. I think that we would like to expose our children to the world but prefere to do it as a family. That's the plan, let's see what life has in store for us..

Posted by: bethesda mom | February 21, 2007 9:05 AM

To Fo3: So the kid can't swim outside of arm's reach until 6 or stay home alone for 10 MINUTES until 9, but you're going to buy birth control for the kid at 17 and encourage smoking a year before its legal??
Small kids need to get a taste of independence, and your role as parent doesn't disappear when the kid becomes a teenager. Teenagers need more guidance and protection re sex and drugs than grade-school aged kids need protection from a 10 minute unattended house.

It depends on the kid, but I stayed home alone for 10 - 30 minutes with two younger siblings by the time I was 7. I knew how to call the neighbors or 911, and my mom would let a neighbor know she was running out. And we were fine to continue watching cartoons or coloring until my mom got back from the store. Easier for everyone.

Posted by: To Fo3 | February 21, 2007 9:05 AM

It would seem to me that the appropriate age for letting a child fly alone would have a lot to do with how much flying they'd done before with family. Admittedly the first time I flew alone I was 14, pretty alert, and had a nonstop flight with family on both ends, but I'd flown internationally with my family before that and airports weren't a scary environment. I think I'd be okay with my children flying alone for a good reason as soon as the airline would take them and I was confident that they understood what was going on around them in the airport and on the flight so they'd know who to go to if the airline were to drop the ball.

Posted by: SPC | February 21, 2007 9:06 AM

When I was a kid (born in 55) we walked everywhere by ourselves, including K-6. Granted it was only 3 blocks. We came home at lunch time so it was two round trips. We didn't have school buses so we also had to walk to JR high and SR high. Each was two miles away. And that was in the good old days when girls couldn't wear pants so we had to wear the ugly ski pants and then take them off when we arrived. Of course we didn't have lockers so we had to carry everything with us all day. My mother knew how long it took us to get home and if we weren't there within 15 mins or so she was in the car looking for us (totally embarassing). She wasn't afraid anything had happened - she just wanted us home because we had newspapers to deliver.
We also went to the park and played baseball all day long, took the bus or walked downtown (this was in CT) and went to a movie and then out for pizza all alone by the age of 10 or 12.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 9:09 AM

"I'm also surprised by the comment regarding the other passengers..."

In my travels, I have run across unaccompanied children who did raise heck on flights. An 8 and a 10 together still seem like trouble waiting to happen. A 14 yr old is a different case, much more mature on the average.

I would think that children should have experience air travel at least once before placing them on a plane by themselves. A previous poster noted children being scared and crying on flights. I do not have concerns about safety because as Leslie points out, the airline personnel have very strict SOP's that must be followed concerning unaccompanied trips.

Posted by: Fred | February 21, 2007 9:12 AM

To Fo3:
You raise a good point there. It is kind of funny considering the legislation being proposed in VA to vaccinate against cervical cancer at age 9 -- when most kids that age will never even have been to the grocery store by themselves. Seems kind of illogical, doesn't it?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 21, 2007 9:12 AM

I've met numerous kids by themselves on planes and they're always fine. It amazing how well behaved children are away from their parents. If a kid has mission and feels empowered, they act the part. Sometimes I wonder if the less empowered a child is, the more they act out, and the further less empowered they become. Seems like a vicious circle.

As for getting lost, since I was small I was in charge of getting my mom through the airport, to the train, through the underground, and onto the ferry. She has an awful sense of direction.

Posted by: running | February 21, 2007 9:17 AM


We live 2 miles from our elementary school, too far to walk. But we and most parents drive our elementary age kids in the morning because the schoolbus schedule is ridiculous. For an 8 am school start the bus picks up before 6:20 am, to nominally arrive at school at 7 am (actually much earlier because most of the schoolbuses pull in nearly empty at our school; basically parents only use them if they have no car/no way to transport their kids themselves). Until our newest principal, those bus kids had to sit, mixed pre-K-5th grade ages, in the cafeteria with little supervision til they were released to go to classrooms at 7:45. Now at least there is better supervision/a play-in-the-gym supervised option in the morning. But we leave home at 7:45 to drop our kids at 7:55, saving our kids 1 1/2 hours of either sleep or evening family time, depending on how you look at it. Many poor/international graduate student families don't have the option of transporting their kids, and some of these kids are so tired and whiny from having to get up so early, to catch such an early schoolbus and still have some evening time with parents, it's very sad. I think the county school system shows a profound disrespect for young children's time and day-to-day experience by letting the children pay with wasted time and forced early risings for the school system's inability to reasonably schedule a fleet of buses. This is Dekalb county, one of the largest in Georgia with millions of residents --- they recycle the schoolbus fleet for middle and high school routes but you'd think they'd be smarter than schedule the 3 types of schools' start times within a 30 minute window, 8, 8:10, 8:30 in our area, and then just keep backing up delivery of the first group (elementary) so that they can get the last group to school on time.

Btw, the schoolbus is heavily used in the afternoon, when it picks up at dismissal time and returns the kids pretty directly home (also many kids either stay in-school or ride vans to an on-campus aftercare program, as mine do). We also have a large contingent of walker in the immediate neighborhood --- though walkers pool in the cafeteria til signed out by a parent or parent-listed adult.

So in this case parents are just meeting their kids' needs when the school system's bureaucracy fails to. We actually used 2 "snow days" last year - it's rare for us to use our snow days - when our governor cancelled school for the next 2 days (after the end of the school day, with no notice to parents) for an alleged fuel shortage. (He urged the counties to close, and they did.) We'd sure save more fuel on a day-to-day basis if just our county ran their buses at a time parents were willing to send their kids . . . (It may be that other/poorer areas in the county prefer the extremely early buses, if they leave home early on long commutes, it's enforced but free and often shoddy morning childcare. But in our area the parents pretty uniformly hate them.)

So how are the bus scheduling areas near DC and elsewhere?

Posted by: KB | February 21, 2007 9:22 AM

I should clarify - I don't think it is a good idea for young children who have NEVER flown before to fly alone. I'm just assuming that Leslie wouldn't do that to her kids - seems like simple common sense to me. But for children who have flown before, and whose parents thing they have the maturity to do it, then a short flight in my opinion is no big deal. I tend to agree with running as well. I think the less empowered a child feels, the more they act out. As the experts say - negative attention is better than no attention at all.

Posted by: londonmom | February 21, 2007 9:26 AM

I think there's a connection between working and giving more independence- because the parents have to.

First, I was horrified at the mom Leslie mentioned who works 80 hrs/week. I really don't understand the point in having kids if one works 80 hrs/week. Very strange.

Anyway...I expect more from my daughter now that I'm working. Granted, she keeps getting older and therefore, can do a lot more for herself, but I NEED her to be more independent. She needs to do the bathroom routine by herself as I'm making lunches and getting dressed myself, etc..

We live in the city, about 3 blocks from where she'll go to elementary school. I think I'll let her walk with a friend or 2 at age 8. My husband would probably follow her, though :) Definitely not alone. I think my mom walked my little brother and I until we were 10.

I still have my SAHM mentality, though, and am a little more protective of her than my always- been- a- working- mom counterparts.
I think it goes along with the fact that once I had her, I knew I had to stay home with her for at least a few years. Some moms don't get that feeling (I'm not saying it's bad one way or the other)
It's just my personality (and my husband says it's because she's a girl as well)

How about that as an offshoot topic- do you treat your boys and girls differently regarding independence/being protective?

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 21, 2007 9:31 AM

Are there any laws on the books about the age you can leave a child alone and not be considered "negligent"? I know in one case around here (NYC area), a mother left her kids--the oldest was 8 I think--and a fire broke out. She was held criminally negligent. If the oldest was 13, I'm guessing that wouldn't be the case. Does anyone know?

Posted by: Just curious | February 21, 2007 9:34 AM

i don't think it is illogical to vaccinate against cervical cancer at age 9. Kids are raped at that age and even lower. And pedophiles aren't likely to concern themselves with condoms! I think the vaccination should be given as soon as it is safe and effective. I'm sure it doesn't happen often, but the vaccination will work not just to cover those years when she is vulnerable to pedophiles, but also when she is older and even of age to give consent-- so why not? IT's not like cervical cancer fears are the only reason kids aren't having sex-- lots of other STDs out there that can harm them, plus I'd like to think that there is still some sense of morality and common sense in our youth today!

Posted by: Katy | February 21, 2007 9:37 AM

I am from a family that travels a great deal, so I flew for the first time (with my grandparents - parents stayed at home for a little child-less "vacation" time) at 8 weeks, and then internationally for the first time (with parents) at 2 yo. My sister, cousins and I flew by ourselves A LOT (to visit grandparents) from the time we were about 8. (This was in the mid to late 1990s.) We used to love connecting through Dallas because the unaccompanied minors got to ride through the terminal on a baggage cart instead of having to walk (it is a BIG airport).

Because both of my parents worked, my sister and I loved to be able to visit my grandparents for long weekends, spring break, summer vacations (we HATED those summer day camps we usually had to attend). As an adult, I truly value all of the travel experience I had as a child - unlike many of my more sheltered friends, I have no problem booking flights, flying internationally by myself, buying subway tickets in different cities, reading maps, finding transportation and lodging - generally knowing how to take care of myself in a variety of situations. I cannot believe how scared some people are of these simple tasks. I completely understand the desire to protect your children as much as possible, but I also worry a great deal that many of today's children will be too sheltered and entitled to survive as tomorrow's adults.

I know that I have said this before on this blog, but my mother asked me when I was about 16 what I thought a parent's most important job was. "To love their children?" I asked. "No," she said, "it is to teach them to responsible and independent adults." I think this is the best advice - and the best gift - I have ever received from my parents.

Posted by: scr | February 21, 2007 9:40 AM

I grew up in Manhattan in the 70's and 80's with two full-time working parents. I went to and from school by myself starting in about second grade - this consisted of taking two busses and then walking 4 blocks. The thing is, a lot of kids did that and no one thought anything of it. I was also allowed to go to stores or to friends's houses in the neighborhood by myself, and again, this was the norm. I began babysitting at age 11 - in big 5 story brownstones, all by myself!

Now I live in the DC burbs and am not sure if I would let my kids walk to the elementary school a few blocks away by themselves. My main concern is traffic, it scares me to death. I don't trust drivers on the roads to let my kids walk through the light. Otherwise, I hope my children (now age 3 and in utero) grow up to be as independent and street smart as I was at a young age. The independence I was given has helped me throughout my life and am grateful to my parents for the trust they put in me.

Posted by: CC | February 21, 2007 9:42 AM

I am from a family that travels a great deal, so I flew for the first time (with my grandparents - parents stayed at home for a little child-less "vacation" time) at 8 weeks, and then internationally for the first time (with parents) at 2 yo. My sister, cousins and I flew by ourselves A LOT (to visit grandparents) from the time we were about 8. (This was in the mid to late 1990s.) We used to love connecting through Dallas because the unaccompanied minors got to ride through the terminal on a baggage cart instead of having to walk (it is a BIG airport).

Because both of my parents worked, my sister and I loved to be able to visit my grandparents for long weekends, spring break, summer vacations (we HATED those summer day camps we usually had to attend). As an adult, I truly value all of the travel experience I had as a child - unlike many of my more sheltered friends, I have no problem booking flights, flying internationally by myself, buying subway tickets in different cities, reading maps, finding transportation and lodging - generally knowing how to take care of myself in a variety of situations. I cannot believe how scared some people are of these simple tasks. I completely understand the desire to protect your children as much as possible, but I also worry a great deal that many of today's children will be too sheltered and entitled to survive as tomorrow's adults.

I know that I have said this before on this blog, but my mother asked me when I was about 16 what I thought a parent's most important job was. "To love their children?" I asked. "No," she said, "it is to teach them to responsible and independent adults." I think this is the best advice - and the best gift - I have ever received from my parents.

Posted by: scr | February 21, 2007 9:43 AM

I began taking the metrobus by myself (short ride from home to school in NW DC) when I was in sixth grade. I was also allowed to walk or take the bus to meet my friends at the movies or the ice cream parlor. By the time I was 14, I was pretty independent and rarely relied on my parents for transportation. But we also lived in an urban area that was pretty accessible to walkers and metro riders. Most of my friends had similar privileges. I flew by myself from DC to Boston, and took a connecting flight to Cape Cod, when I was 14. It was very exciting and made me feel really grown up. And for the most part, I think I behaved very much like an adult when riding the bus by myself. But I do remember some incidents on the bus, when I was with a bunch of other kids, when we were loud and obnoxious and I am sure we disturbed other passengers.

I now live in suburbia and I have no idea whether I would let my son have the same independence I had. He is only 7, but I drive him everywhere and still try to make him hold my hand when we are crossing the street (although he is rebelling against that now). I hope I am confident enough to let him spread his little wings and do things by himself. Right now, he does play with his neighborhood buddies in the common area behind our house, and I just keep an eye on him through the window. In time, I think I will give him more independence. I think it is a wonderful gift to give a child.

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 9:44 AM

Happy Ash Wednesday everybody! today, I get to upgrade my annoying son from 9 to 10 years old. Poor kid though, we won't be able to celebrate his birthday until the 2nd week of March. On a good note, looks like only 6 more years till I get a fishin' buddy.

In 7 months my 4 year old will be going with annoying son to kindergarten. Right now, the 4 year old is way too far out of control to send him walking. I do have this suspician though, that a situation will arise that will eventually force the event.

Growing up in my house, the rule was to be home when the streetlights came on in the summer. Often my brother and I would bring home a catch of fish with us and fry them up for dinner.

At 13, I woke up every morning a little after 4:00 am to deliver the Washington Post before walking to school. Not once did my parents ever help me out with it. When I sprained my ankle, I had to hop from house to house to deliver the paper. My mother will never live it down.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 21, 2007 9:51 AM

dotted, I'm 100% with your revised age list, and I completely agree with foamgnome's and Product of a Working Mother's comments about the increased awareness of the oddball stranger crime.

In terms of solo air travel, our son is 11 and a seasoned traveler. We haven't had occasion to consider sending him anywhere by himself, but if the occasion arose, I'd support it at this point, subject to the comments other reasonable folks have made about the length of the flight and the likelihood of a Jet Blue incident (watch those weather reports).

This brings me to my relocation rant, though. We view our primary job as raising kids that, based on our values and theirs as they develop their own, have the life skills, independence, and confidence to make good decisions about life as it comes at them. Essential to that goal is developing the ability to accurately assess risk and deal with fear. You can't learn to deal with fear in increasing amounts and intensity if you're always kept physically safe by a hovering parent. The safest place for kids to be is on the couch in your living room watching tv. Is that desirable? He**, no. To that end, providing opportunities for independence was a driving force in our choices about where to live. We chose the city in which we live, in large part, because it was an environment that emphasized friendliness, neighborliness and outdoor sports and hobbies. We have not yet purchased a home that we really liked. In each instance, we purchased access to a neighborhood in which we thought our kids would thrive. Each neighborhood has been ethnically diverse, non-gated, safe, and in immediate proximity to either a large park or a creek, e.g., some sort of outdoors to explore, get bitten by a snake and/or twist an ankle. We encourage our kids to get and out explore the neighborhood, including the 120 acre park that's a short walk from the house. We teach them the difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake. We made sure they could swim as early as possible and emphasize respect for water and smart choices around bodies of water. We are not interested in raising kids that have to have every outdoor activity planned for them, or spend all their free time playing video games or watching tv.

Our parenting preference for encouraging independence hasn't a jot to to with our employment, and everything to do with what we think our job is as parents. Sure, something bad could happen, but we are not willing to raise them living in a bubble to prevent the once per year Polly Klaas tragedy. If we do, how will they accurately analyze risk when they get older and make smart risk-taking decisions? Yes, I too walked to and from school and to the grocery store and pharmacy when I was 7, but it's not about me, it's about what we want for our kids.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 9:52 AM

When my kids turned 12, they started going to routine doctor and dentist appointments by themselves. They handled the logistics of getting to the doctors' offices and the appointments very well.

My SAHM and a lot of other neighborhood mothers did the same thing their children.
Our moms handed us appointment card reminders in the morning before school and we went to the doctor after school by ourselves. All of this was done on foot - no limos.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 9:54 AM

"My friend Jen, who works 80 hours a week, feels she has to let go and give her kids' extra independence since she's not there to micromanage them."

80 hours a week! Leslie, your friend needs some balance.

Nice touch with the word micromanage by the way. That way we know working 80 hours a week isn't ignoring you kids, it's granting them independence!

Posted by: RockvilleDad | February 21, 2007 9:56 AM

When I was around 8-10 I flew the Eastern shuttle to La Guardia to visit cousins up there. The first time I went I was accompanied by my cousin, and then I was driven back by my parents. But it is only an hour flight and the stewardesses took care of me.

My dd is occasionally a latchkey kid (she is almost 11), and since 4th grade she is capable of getting herself up, dressed and out the door to the busstop. Right now she is having some difficulty getting up so I have been driving her to school (my work is more flexible than it had been).

My parents were helicopter parents before that was a phrase and I refuse to do that with my dd.

Posted by: librarianmom | February 21, 2007 9:56 AM

Speaking of helicopter parents,I work with a woman who still takes her college-aged kids to all of their doctor/dentists appointments. For some reason, this drives me nuts!

Posted by: cc | February 21, 2007 9:58 AM

cc

I know a woman who schedules & takes her HUSBAND to all of his routine doctor visits!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 10:02 AM

8 & 10 yr old together unsupervised on a plane! NO way. This is a sure way to annoy the heck out of the other passengers who have no way out! I am more concerned about the other passangers confort and sanity than I am allowing my child to feel a bit of independance.

----------

My experiences as a childless person run totally contrary to this. I have yet to see a kid given this kind of freedom abuse it. I know it is unfair to parents, but it seems like children very frequently behave better when they are unattended or with other adults. I figure in part it is because they are smart enough not to test boundaries when there is not a parent there to take care of them? Any one else notice the same thing? have a theory on why?

Posted by: to Fred | February 21, 2007 10:05 AM

cc, you've hit a nerve. How do you teach your kids either to take responsibility for their choices about their bodies, including whether to avoid drugs, including alcohol, having sex, and staying fit, or to make decisions based on information provided by medical personnel, if at some point during the teen years, you don't encourage them to go to the doctor by themselves, listen to and analyze the advice given, and either implement it or get a second opinion? If they can drive to a sports event by themselves, they can drive themselves to the dentist.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 10:07 AM

And it was also heavenly for my husband and I to...
Should read:
And it was also heavenly for my husband and ME to...

Leslie needs a new proofreader.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 10:07 AM

to Fred: I notice that pattern all the time with my cousin's twins. They spent about 3.5 hours with us on Sunday afternoon primarily entertaining themselves, being read to, and generally being mellow and listening. (they are 5). It seemed the moment their mom and grandfather walked in they were suddenly little performers, looking to test limits.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 21, 2007 10:09 AM


Of the parents who are comfortable with seasoned kid travelers flying alone, is anyone uncomfortable that, in the unlikely event of a plane malfunction or terrorist act, their kids would be alone on the plane for their last moments? Or is the likelihood of such an event sufficiently low that the voice of reason in your head dismisses it?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 10:20 AM

I took my first flight when I was sixteen. It wasn't a direct flight, but as luck would have it, my Dad had a business trip that enabled him to accompany me on the first leg and see me off on the second leg. I really enjoyed the flight with him and it was years before it dawned on me that he'd probably ginned up the "business trip" to accompany me without insulting my sense of independence.

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | February 21, 2007 10:23 AM

SAHMBacktowork-

What a great point on the difference between girls and boys!

I have 2 girls and am much more aware of limits than friends with boys- I think gender plays a huge role. Boys get away with much more as far as bad behavior (at all ages), extending out through life. Sex and drinking just doesn't seem as big a deal to parents of boys- yet get parents of girls together and sex is the worst topic EVER.
My husband is already ready to stroke out at the thought of someone touching our girls.

We let our girls play in dirt, they play soccer and take karate, we don't have barbies- they love trucks and planes, i.e. "boy" things. They also love to cook and play w/ their babies.

Where we draw the line on being "like a boy" is behavior. By and large, boys can get away with murder. I'm always horrified by the aggression and blatant disrespect boys can get away with. That "boys will be boys" mentality really gets to me.

Boys have a harder and harder time in school and have more behavior problems than girls do. I wonder when parents of boys will start raising them the way we're supposed to raise girls?? To listen, respect, not runand climb when it's not appropriate, to have table manners, to not hit?

We're doing boys a HUGE disservice by allowing base behavior.

What does everyone think?

Posted by: to SAHM | February 21, 2007 10:32 AM

I grew up in the Midwest and my children have much less freedom than I did. I'd go off on my bike for many a summer afternoon, and as long as I was home for dinner nobody thought anything about it.

Some of it is traffic. With the roads and drivers (even bus drivers!) the way they are you can't let a kid out until they are old enough to be afraid for their lives.

My sons didn't get their drivers' licenses until they were 17, almost 18. I grew up in a farm state and had a provisional license at 14. Oh the fun you can have with a car!

I think that trip to Florida was probably fun for them. Often times squabbling sibs will toe the line when they are alone. I'd certainly sent them off with books, crayons, something they've picked out to amuse themselves AND some snacks because you can't count on an airline to feed you these days. I'm also inclined to send traveling children off with cash, which can get a person out of many a jam.

We're a high-travel family so going on a plane isn't something new to my kids. If your children hadn't flown before then sending off alone would probably be a different thing.

It sounds like a nice break, which is something we all need sometimes.

Posted by: RoseG | February 21, 2007 10:34 AM

As a school nurse I had to laugh a little at the Dad who wanted his child to walk home after an episode of vomiting. In the defense of school personnel we can't release children to walk home alone during the school day. It just is not safe. If I had a child that had been vomiting at school the principal would drive him or her home after school if transportation was not available. There should be an emergency form filed at school with alternates, friends or neighbors that might be able to help out.

Posted by: NURSE | February 21, 2007 10:37 AM

My parents gave us the run of the neighborhood from the time we were pretty small (probably when I was 5ish, but I have a brother four years older who usually looked out for me). I have to give them (and most of my friends' parents) credit for not freaking out when one of my friends was murdered walking to school in ninth grade. (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48342-2004Jul13.html - scroll down to the part about the 14-year-old.) They taught me that I should use common sense, but that I couldn't let the bad things that might happen dictate how I live my life.

Posted by: FutureMom | February 21, 2007 10:38 AM

FutureMom, I'm very sorry about your friend. Her poor parents.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 21, 2007 10:41 AM

Great topic today!!! I don't have experience in this since I am not a parent, but I remember flying to and from the Dominican Republic by myself when I was 8. My parents used to send me there to spend the summer with my grandparents. I think that flying is exciting to most children, and doing it without your parents adds another level of excitement....at least it did prior to all the changes at the airports.

Posted by: MV | February 21, 2007 10:47 AM

Boys have a harder and harder time in school and have more behavior problems than girls do. I wonder when parents of boys will start raising them the way we're supposed to raise girls?? To listen, respect, not runand climb when it's not appropriate, to have table manners, to not hit?

We're doing boys a HUGE disservice by allowing base behavior.

What does everyone think?

Posted by: to SAHM | February 21, 2007 10:32 AM

I think you're making a great number of gross generalizations about boys and parents of boys. The same parents who raise well-mannered girls tend to raise well-mannered boys. Well-mannered is not the same as thoughtlessly compliant automoton. Producing those, of either sex, should not be the goal of any parent.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 10:50 AM

"Of the parents who are comfortable with seasoned kid travelers flying alone, is anyone uncomfortable that, in the unlikely event of a plane malfunction or terrorist act, their kids would be alone on the plane for their last moments? Or is the likelihood of such an event sufficiently low that the voice of reason in your head dismisses it?"

Nope - personally think it is a bad idea to handicap your kids with your own illogical fears.

Posted by: bowwow | February 21, 2007 10:53 AM

I willingly concede that I am overprotective regarding my daughter's "independence." I sweat that she has a three-minute walk from the bus stop to the house after school (she has supervision once she is home). I live in one of the most exclusive zip codes in the city of Phoenix. I checked the sex offender registry before I moved into my house...none in my zip code. But I also know that crimes against children do not necessarily stay outisde of "good" neighborhoods. Elizabeth Smart, JonBenet Ramsey and Danielle Van Damme all lived in wealthy neighborhoods, and all three girls were kidnapped from their bedrooms.

I grew up in Hollywood, Florida. Just after my 16th birthday, a local boy was kidnapped from the mall where I worked while I was in high school. That boy was Adam Walsh. It left a lasting impression on me. Also, in my current professional position, I work on law enforcement issues, so I am frequently working with police officers who have worked crimes against children cases. I will be working with stakeholders to implement provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act within the state.

Leslie, I beg to differ with your statistics regarding "only 100 kidnappings per year are truly stranger kidnappings." And even so, how do you tell your child "I'm sorry" if they are kidnapped and sexually assaulted? Also, take into account that often the danger to children isn't from strangers--it's from neighbors, friends of friends...people who are loosely acquainted with the vicitms.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Juvenile Justice Bulletin, June 2000, kidnapping makes up less than 2 percent of all violent crimes against juveniles reported to police.

Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or "family kidnapping" (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or "acquaintance kidnapping" (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or "stranger kidnapping" (24 percent).

I am by nature risk averse. I would not put my child on a flight alone before she was in high school (probably 15 or 16). In my mind, the most dangerous place to lose a child is in an airport. That child could literally end up anywhere in the world...

Posted by: single western mom | February 21, 2007 10:54 AM

I plan to let my 8 year old fly across the country this summer, where he'll be met by his grandparents. Airlines have special procedures - I get to see him to the gate and on the plane and wait until it takes off; his grandparents get to meet the plane at the gate and have to show ID and sign something when they pick him up.

He has flown with me many, many times and knows how to behave.

I've gone over issue after issue in my mind and honestly I can't identify a single serious risk in doing this. Could he end up on a plane for 10 hours? I suppose there's a one-in-a-million chance, but it wouldn't kill him if he did. Could there be a hijacking? Yes, but the chances are even less, and I'm not going to live my life in fear of something that unlikely. The only "legitemate" risk that the many naysayers I've talked to have brought up is him being harassed by another passenger. (Apparently this happened to a girl travelling alone on Southwest?) I'll talk to him ahead of time about what to do if a passenger is bothering him or making him uncomfortable in any way, and trust the flight attendant to handle it.

I honestly think people obsess about how dangerous the world is today when, looking objectively, the dangers they are worrying about are tiny.

Posted by: Virginia | February 21, 2007 10:55 AM

I've been reading some of these comments, and am quite amazed at the lack of freedom some of these parents are giving their kids. I really feel that it is unfair to the child, and in the long run robs them of opprtunities to grow and gain self esteem in themselves and their abilities. Kids don't learn self esteem from adults always telling them "good job" for everything they do or giving them a throphy whether they win or lose the soccer game, but by having the freedom and space to take a chances, explore the world on their own terms and do things by themselves instead of being micromanaged.

The culture of fear in today's society has made parents so anxious and really robbed children of many of the joys of childhood. I hope that today's parents can begin to see this and give their children more freedom for the child's sake.

Posted by: not yet a mom | February 21, 2007 10:57 AM

Welcome home, KLB SS MD. Hope you had a glorious vacation! Forgive me for plagiarizing from your post above, but it's just that you said some things so well that I can't restate them any better to describe my own case:

"When I was a kid we [also] walked everywhere by ourselves, including K-6. Granted it was only [6] blocks..."

If any of our classmates had received a ride from a parent on a regular basis, they would have been mocked mercilessly by the others for being "babies." Beside our parents' individual efforts, our school system screened the movie "The Dangerous Stranger" at an assembly at the start of each year, to teach us how to recognize common come-ons from strangers, techniques for ignoring them, and not to be afraid to report these people. Of course there were more SAHMs 'way back then, so every block had a "block mother" to whose house we could run if we felt endangered (situation never arose for me, though it was comforting to know that someone trustworthy was only a few hundred yards away all along the route). We also had "traffic boys," troupes of 5th- and 6th-graders with uniform cardigans, caps and STOP signs on long poles, who manned (as it were!) the busiest intersections within a 3 block radius of our elementary school, so that we could cross dangerous streets safely. (BTW, girls wore caps in our school colors, and served as hall monitors between periods and playground monitors during recesses).

By junior high, we were deemed mature enough to cross all streets by ourselves; in high school, those who lived too far to walk used ID cards to ride the public transit buses for a mere dime. There was no school parking lot, and our high school was smack in the middle of downtown, so there were no unmetered parking spaces available if a student did want to drive (not exactly feasible to run out to feed a meter between classes).

Quoting from KLB again, "My mother knew how long it took us to get home and if [I wasn't] there within 15 mins or so..." she too started to become concerned. If I knew in advance I'd be late coming home, I was expected to phone her. If I received a spur-of-the-moment after-school play invitation, I was to phone as soon as I arrived at the playmate's house, to check in with my mom.

Like KLB, "We also went to the park and played [on the streets] all day long, took the bus or walked downtown...and went to a movie and then out for pizza all alone by the age of... 12." I started taking the public transit bus around town unaccompanied at age 10, although I'd been riding with my mother all my life, so it was no big deal. We also went to the public library unaccompanied, where we were expected to behave ourselves (unlike that recent news report out of NJ, where they've decided to shut their library during the immediate after-school hours because of bad behavior). We also roller-skated all over creation -- though I suppose our parents figured that potential molesters would find it physically almost impossible to try snatching us as we whirred by so fast!

Curiously, whenever by happenstance I've been seated on a plane beside a child (or children) of roughly the ages of Leslie's older two, I've found them to be generally polite and responsible (and definitely preferable to some adults!). Sometimes a parent is seated nearby with the youngest one(s), other times the child(ren) is/are unescorted. Flight attendants tend to pay additional attention to unaccompanied children, which tends to keep them well-behaved. Plus, as someone noted above, most likely the parents have made their behavioral expectations very, very clear to the child(ren) before the trip.

I agree with several posters who've already suggested that a child probably shouldn't take a first-ever flight without a parent, or other trusted close adult relative, in case of anxiety. My own parents refused to fly, so perforce my first flight had to be without them. Of course, by then the catlady was no longer a kitten! I was headed to a big college football weekend with friends whom they trusted, all of whom had flown before alone going to and from college. Both flights were uneventful, and our team lost (badly) so we were pretty subdued on the flight home, anyhow.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 11:02 AM

I am all for kids being well-mannered, but I also don't think that kids of any gender should be taught to be blindly compliant to all authority. I think all kids should be allowed to politely question authority, express themselves, articulate different ideas, etc. I also think that sadly, we let boys do this to a greater degree than girls. Girls are praised for being nice, for listening, for having good manners. And when they behave a little assertively, they are chided for not being ladylike. Boys are praised for expressing new ideas, asserting themselves, doing things on their own. And when they step out of line, their behavior is tolerated to a greater degree than girls. I think that instead of raising our boys like we raise our girls, we should raise our girls like we raise our boys, and give them more latitude to express themselves and assert themselves. Of course, I am not advocating throwing manners away. But I am not that impressed by the ladylike passivity that we find attractive in girls.

On another note, my son has just discovered the joys of reading the Captain Underpants book series. Talk about potty humor and boys run amuck. At first, I was appalled, but I decided to read some of the books to get a sense of what it is that appeals to my son, and I find the books to be hilarious, fun, and well-written, but definitely not well-mannered.

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 11:03 AM

Father of 4: Happy birthday to annoying son! Looks like he and I share a b-day (along with my stepbrother -- makes for a fun family day).

NCLawyer: Your question about the plane crash is the loop that runs through my head whenever I think about it. I am terrified of flying, moreso since 9/11. And if something like that is going to happen, I feel job no. 1 is to be there with my kids to provide whatever comfort I can.

But I also know I can't let my own irrational fears limit my kids' lives and experiences. I work extremely hard not to inflict my own issues on my daughter -- whether it's flying or weight or broccoli. My most important job is to keep my kids safe. But my second most important job is to give them the freedom to spread their wings and grow into responsible, capable adults. Which means sometimes letting them go, even when it scares the bejeebers out of me (when I know that my own fear is irrational).

I'm thinking about this a lot, as my daughter is 5 -- the same age when I first flew alone on a plane at 5, out of necessity (my mom couldn't afford two $400 tickets -- in 1971 money -- so it was either go by myself or not see Granny). There id no way on God's green earth I would put my daughter alone on a plane now -- and luckily, we are in a better financial position and can afford to fly with her to the grandparents. But when do I let her walk to grandma's alone (1 block, crossing a street with a stopsign)? Walk to the library (1/4 mile)? Go ride her bike around the neighborhood by herself? Walk to school (1/2 mile)?

When I think of sending her out alone, I think of all the bad things that happened to me in my too-much independence -- the older girls who jumped me on the way home from school at 7; the guy who tried to steal my purse on my way home from the orthodontist; the jerk in a pickup who thought it would be funny to smack my rear as I was riding my bike, sending me over the handlebars into a ditch; the perv who decided to start stroking my leg on a busride to my dad's when he thought I was asleep.

I so desperately want to protect my daughter from all of those bad things. But then I realize that I actually handled all of those situations, and that I was proud of the way I handled them (tie between throwing my hot chocolate on the pursesnatcher and wrestling my purse away from him and smashing the perv's hand with my skateboard -- in my "sleep," of course). Dealing with those kinds of problems showed me that I was more capable and competent than I thought. So even if I were able to shield my daughter from all the bad things, trying to do so would be a tremendous disservice to her.

But she's still not dating until she's 30. :-)

Posted by: Laura | February 21, 2007 11:05 AM

Just to clarify my comments on children flying alone:

1. If the child has never flown before, I would not recommend it.

2. If a child is 13 or above, I have no particular objection.

3. If a child is younger than 13, a parent should think about how independent the child is in general, think about how sensitive the child is to loud and strange noises and lots of people in a crowded space and about the child's general level of maturity.

4. I have no issue with the general safety of flying and I know that the airlines have strong procedures for the safe transit of unaccompanied minors.

5. In fact, my #3 has flown by herself when she was 10.

But I still have reservations concerning two or more children flying when none of them is not yet "babysitting" age.

Posted by: Fred | February 21, 2007 11:06 AM

I took my first solo flight at age 8 (Miami to chicago, not a short flight), and had no problems. By the time I was 12, I begged my parents not to put me on the unaccompanied minor list, as I thought all the supervision was too annoying and I could navigate the airport by myself. At 17, my best friend and I went to London by ourselves for spring break.

By 9, we had the run of the neighborhood with our bikes, and made fun of the kids with the crazy mom who wouldn't even let them play in the front yard. I remember fighting with my parents at age 10 that they wouldn't let me babysit other kids (I'm been babysitting for my sister for some time by then).

How can you teach your kids to be responsible if you never give them any opportunities to be? My parents were able to trust me at 17 to travel internationally alone because they knew that I'd handled all my other responsibilities so well (including saving the money to go), and, more importantly, I was able to trust myself that I could do it because I'd had so much responsibility before. The kids I knew in college who had been totally cradled before they got there had meltdowns or went crazy when suddenly given such freedom.

on another note, when I was in middle school, I got sick one day, the nurse called my mother to come get me, and my mother told the nurse to let me walk home. Which I did, and everything was fine. I was actually home sooner than if i'd waited for my mother to leave work and come get me and drive me home, and I certainly didn't need her home to take care of me just because I'd thrown up. All around, not a huge deal (although the school did think my mother was weird, but they already thought that :)

Everyone just needs to lighten up a little and let their kids grow up and take responsibility for themselves.

Posted by: Independent early on | February 21, 2007 11:09 AM

"Of the parents who are comfortable with seasoned kid travelers flying alone, is anyone uncomfortable that, in the unlikely event of a plane malfunction or terrorist act, their kids would be alone on the plane for their last moments?"

Let's apply a little risk-benefit analysis here: the risk is so unlikely (a child has a far greater risk of dying in a car crash while riding with a friend's parent), while the benefits are so great for both child and parent (both in terms of convenience and the child gradually learning responsibility and independence), that the benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks. OK, so maybe you don't want your child flying alone in Chechnya or North Korea... But this is North America, guys! And the airlines go to great lengths in their rules for and supervision of children flying solo.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 11:11 AM

"Gavin deBecker agrees with you. His number one recommendation for cutting out needless worry is to stop watching local news. All of it. It's just pointless scaremongering."

I think this is the best advice ever. It drives me a little nuts when I hear my MIL (who watches news shows constantly) go on about how things are so much more dangerous today and you just can't let kids outside. My son has recently started playing alone in the yard. He's just over two, and a few times lately we've gone out to play and then he'll say, "You go inside now, I play in the sand." It's cool to see him getting his sense of independence. Though of course I stay near the windows where I can hear and keep an eye on him, and he'll periodically call out to tell me what he's doing and check in.

We chose our house because it is walking distance to schools, the park and the library and biking distance to the little downtown area, and I intend to give my son the freedom to explore as he grows older. I know there are risks, there always have been and there always will be and we'll never be able to keep our kids perfectly safe. There's no such thing. I guess we won't know what balance we'll strike till we get there, but I hope that my child will have the chance to develop and explore and grow on his terms the way that I did.

I think a much more real problem is the lack of pedestrian or bike friendly neighborhoods - all those suburbs with no sidewalks and countless cul de sacs that keep you from actually being able to go anywhere without a car. We were lucky to land in a spot with sidewalks and a bike path to the small downtown.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 11:12 AM

I disagree with Leslie on this point. Why does she have to send her kids to FL to have some fun while on their 4 day weekend? Why couldn't she take one day off and her husband take another to cover Friday and Monday? Our local YMCA schedules special camps for certain times of the year. For example, our public schools have a week long "spring break " in April (I know, I don't know why elementary kids need a spring break either). The Y has several day camps offered that same week so people have a place to send their kids that is both novel and supervised. Frankly, my son likes to stay home and veg. He has been shuttled around to daycare and school since he was two months old, he LIKES being home.

I WILL NOT leave my child unsupervised until he is at LEAST 13. Call me paranoid. I watched a terrifying local news report that asked school kids about stranger danger. All the kids knew it was bad to talk/go with a stranger but when asked what a stranger was or what a stranger looked like, they routinely said they WOULD talk or leave with a stranger when they were shown pictures of strangers. The pictures ranged from men, women, old people, young people. Only when they were shown pictures of filthy homeless people did the kids recognize the person as a "stranger." What was truly scary was that they were also shown a picture of a KNOWN sexual predator who is currently on trail for imprisoning, torturing, raping, and killing a woman and the kids said he was a nice man whom they would talk to. The reality may be that we are just as safe today as we were 30 years ago but ask any parent who has had a child stolen and I am SURE they would tell you they would give anything to have been more vigilant. Most of us will never be victims of a crime like that but criminals take advantage of opportunity and I for one will not give them any.

Posted by: LM in WI | February 21, 2007 11:12 AM

Like many others here, I've been on flights with unaccompanied minors, and they all seem to do rather well, much more so than those who are accompanied by parents. Maybe it's because those kids are a bit older than the ones who act up. Or maybe they feel sophisticated to be flying alone and assume the attitude they deem appropriate for such an adventure. I didn't take my first flight till I was 25, but I know if I had flown as a kid, I'd have felt very grown-up and would have acted as such. But that's just me.

Independence...that's a biggie. That's something I worry about a bit as a future parent. I was given a ton of independence; my parents were largely absent during my childhood. I didn't get into trouble or anything, but I think that's because of my personality more than anything else; I was just used to being left alone. However, my mom has passed down the lovely gift of OCD (thanks, mom), and I worry about stuff all the time. Right now that worry is focused on "did I turn off the stove? are the cats inside or did one sneak out? did I remember to feed and water them?" etc, but a lot of that comes from worrying about the cats, and yes, I know how "crazy cat lady" that sounds. But I am afraid of being a smothering mom when I have kids. I'm worried that I'll hover over them all the time and cry every time they get a scrape. What's ironic is that BF thinks I'll be the opposite: removed and absent, focused too much on career and volunteer work, basically ignoring them. Which is what brings us to this blog. I'd like to strike a happy medium between the two extremes, and reading what everyone here has to say really helps. Rather than complaining about kids on a plane today, how about swapping stories of the first time you let your kids do (insert activity here)?

Posted by: Mona | February 21, 2007 11:12 AM

Single western mom, what happened to Adam Walsh, Polly Klaus and other children was horrifying in the extreme. But the chances of it happening to your child are so slim.

My neighbor has managed to scare the living daylights out of both of her daughters. They are fearful of doing anything on their own, and insist that we watch them from the front porch of our house while they walk to their house two doors down. They are 7 and 10 years old. A car slowed down once while they were playing in the front yard and the two girls freaked. Their overprotective mother called the police who showed up fairly quickly. The car drove by again and the lunatic mother was screaming at the car while the police office was discovering that it was a couple looking at homes for sale in our neighborhood.

Working with cases involving children in your line of work must equate to having the all stranger-kidnapping channel on all the time (if there was such a thing, and maybe some day there will be). I just can't let myself be so fearful.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 21, 2007 11:12 AM

I just wanted to ad, I think playgrounds and sportsfields (where kids are inevitably out of sight for part of the time, and there are many, many "exit routes") are much more dangerous places than airplanes when there's a good "chain of custody" from gate to gate on the plane. Protecting your kids is all well and good, but people should be rational!

Posted by: Virginia | February 21, 2007 11:18 AM

"Right now that worry is focused on 'did I turn off the stove? are the cats inside or did one sneak out? did I remember to feed and water them?' etc, but a lot of that comes from worrying about the cats, and yes, I know how 'crazy cat lady' that sounds."

Oh, Mona, please don't use the word "crazy" in such proximity to "cat lady" (with or without a space between the words), OK? We ailurophiles already get such an undeserved bad rap, anyhow -- LOL!

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 11:21 AM

"OK, so maybe you don't want your child flying alone in Chechnya or North Korea... But this is North America, guys!"

Nonsense. How is your kid supposed to get her start in the lucrative ballistic missile black market unless she is allowed to fly to Pyongyang with a briefcase full of unmarked, non-sequential US dollars every so often? Damn helicopter parents.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 21, 2007 11:23 AM

catlady, I'm sorry, you're right. We all know you're not crazy. And thanks for the SAT word--you never know what you're going to learn on this blog!

Posted by: Mona | February 21, 2007 11:23 AM

does anyone else remember the story a while ago about the kid who got lost in the mountains, and hid from the search and rescue teams because he had been instructed to NEVER EVER talk to strangers? They only found him when he was weak enough that he could no longer get away. There's a flip side to everything.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 11:24 AM

"I think that instead of raising our boys like we raise our girls, we should raise our girls like we raise our boys, and give them more latitude to express themselves and assert themselves."

Emily,

Captain Underpants rocks! and my husband and I are parenting our daughter like our son, as you suggest. No hovering and extra concern, no applause for passivity, and lots of guidance on how to politely challenge authority.

I cannot recall the publication, but I read an article last week that posited that the difference in percentage of male and female CEOs might be attributable, in part, to differences in risk-taking behavior between the genders, e.g., in order to be a strong leader in a competititive marketplace, you need to take, and sell others in your organization on taking, smart risks. As you might imagine, to the extent there's anything to this theory, I believe it's about nurture rather than nature. We can't control everything, but we can control the characteristics we nurture in our children and encourage smart risk-taking in our daughters. We're not doing them any favors by joining the protect-our-daughters-from-all-injury-or-misfortune-at-all-costs league.

KLB, I missed your great post until someone else mentioned it. How was your trip?

single western mom, I'm not giving you a hard time, but having checked the sex offender registry for your ultra-safe neighborhood in Phoenix, and found none in your neighborhood, all you know is that, as of the last time the database was uploaded before the date on which you checked it, there were no convicted sex offenders who were complying with the registration requirements living in your neighborhood. The non-compliant sex offenders, and the ones who've not yet been caught, may or may not be next door.

Posted by: nc lawyer | February 21, 2007 11:25 AM

"I think that instead of raising our boys like we raise our girls, we should raise our girls like we raise our boys, and give them more latitude to express themselves and assert themselves."

Emily,

Captain Underpants rocks! and my husband and I are parenting our daughter like our son, as you suggest. No hovering and extra concern, no applause for passivity, and lots of guidance on how to politely challenge authority.

I cannot recall the publication, but I read an article last week that posited that the difference in percentage of male and female CEOs might be attributable, in part, to differences in risk-taking behavior between the genders, e.g., in order to be a strong leader in a competititive marketplace, you need to take, and sell others in your organization on taking, smart risks. As you might imagine, to the extent there's anything to this theory, I believe it's about nurture rather than nature. We can't control everything, but we can control the characteristics we nurture in our children and encourage smart risk-taking in our daughters. The protect-our-daughters-from-all-injury-or-misfortune-at-all-costs crowd cringe at the thought.

KLB, I missed your great post until someone else mentioned it. How was your trip?

single western mom, I'm not giving you a hard time, but having checked the sex offender registry for your ultra-safe neighborhood in Phoenix, and found none in your neighborhood, all you know is that, as of the last time the database was uploaded before the date on which you checked it, there were no convicted sex offenders who were complying with the registration requirements living in your neighborhood. The non-compliant sex offenders, and the ones who've not yet been caught, may or may not be next door.

Posted by: nc lawyer | February 21, 2007 11:26 AM

"Most of us will never be victims of a crime like that but criminals take advantage of opportunity and I for one will not give them any."

I understand your need to feel safe, but really, you cannot control every minute detail of life in the interest of security. You may as well just shut yourself up and not live. Do you not drive because of the risk of a car accident? There are myriad ways that you or your children could be hurt in life, and many of these risks are bigger than that of criminals kidnapping or otherwise hurthing your children. How far are you willing to go to avoid these risks? And you should also be aware that no matter what you do, you can't fully control what happens. It's just not possible. Life is full of risk.

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 11:27 AM

"How is your kid supposed to get her start in the lucrative ballistic missile black market unless she is allowed to fly to Pyongyang with a briefcase full of unmarked, non-sequential US dollars every so often? Damn helicopter parents."

ROFLOLWTIME!!!

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 11:27 AM

The car drove by again and the lunatic mother was screaming at the car while the police office was discovering that it was a couple looking at homes for sale in our neighborhood.

Betcha the couple didn't buy in lunatic mother's neighborhood!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 11:32 AM

This story is 100% true. I used to be a flight attendant one of my most memorable flights was with 4, 6, and 7 year old siblings flying by themselves from Seattle to NH. They changed planes in Philadelphia. At the time, the airline I worked for did not let kids under 5 fly without an adult (so the parents must have lied about the youngest's age) and also did not allow young kids on connecting flights. For some reason the Seattle to Philadelphia flight had the same flight number as the Philadelphia to NH flight though so it wasn't considered a connecting flight, even though 2 different airplanes and a 2 hour layover were involved. These kids fought, screamed, one pulled out a chunk of the others hair, and threw OJ and each other and one threw an entire glass of water in another passengers face. There was also a seeing eye dog on the flight which the youngest attempted to ride. They ran up and down the aisles uncontrollably. They were put in the care of a gate agent in Philadelphia who apparently hated children and was not thrilled with this aspect of his job. He handed the children to me on the second flight, carrying one by the arm and calling them all sorts of inappropriate names. One the second flight the kids tried to jump on the beverage cart. One of the kids also flushed some toy or something of the other kids down the toilet. When the parents picked them up in NH, I heard the kids screaming that they left some books on the first flight. The parents actually tried to approach the captain of the flight with outrage that we would have let their children leave a book on the plane. haha

I am not saying you can't send you children alone on a plane but you have to consider that your kids are going to be totally unsupervised. I think if you wouldn't leave your kids home alone for the amount of time of the flight, then don't send them on an airplane alone. They also are going to be sitting next to strangest. There was a case of an 8 year old kid who was supposedly molested by the person sitting next to them on the plane when flying alone.

Another thing to consider, when I was a flight attendant, I was on many flights that were diverted. What if on the direct flight from DC to FL, there were big storms over FL and the flight diverted to Atlanta and wasn't rescheduled until morning (this does happen). You kids would be spending the night at the airport? Or possibly with a child hating gate agent?

Posted by: former flight attendant | February 21, 2007 11:34 AM

But she's still not dating until she's 30. :-)

Posted by: Laura | February 21, 2007 11:05 AM


well, of course, Laura, LOL!!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 11:40 AM

"[D]oes anyone else remember the story a while ago about the kid who got lost in the mountains, and hid from the search and rescue teams because he had been instructed to NEVER EVER talk to strangers? They only found him when he was weak enough that he could no longer get away."

Is this true, or just an urban legend?

Even if true, the moral of the story is that the parents should've had a secret word they shared with their child, so he would know the rescuers were there on his parents' behalf.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 11:41 AM

"Happy Ash Wednesday everybody"

Thank God you reminded me! I was about to eat some beef jerky. I don't think I could let me kids get on a planne by themselves at that age, but I have never been in any situation to really think about it.

I think the only issue with my work status will be that they won't be able to run the neighborhood like I did during summer because I work.

Posted by: scarry | February 21, 2007 11:42 AM

"I am all for kids being well-mannered, but I also don't think that kids of any gender should be taught to be blindly compliant to all authority."

I agree wholeheartedly Emily. Every child needs to be able to say no and question the commands of authority figures, politely if the situation allows, but rudely if the situation calls for it. My son is so far good natured and well mannered (for a 2 year old), and I feel strongly about encouraging that. But I also want him to know that if someone, be it a teacher or a stranger, tries to do something inappropriate with him or instructs him to do something he knows isn't right, he can do and say whatever he needs to to get out of that situation.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 11:42 AM

The trip was ok - the weather did not cooperate so all of you who were jealous of my trip to the Bahamas can stop. We had torrential rain and gale force winds one day (the power went out) and two other days it was cool and cloudy. The last day there was gorgeous with sun and blue skies. Freeport is a poor island and if you are not into water sports or if the weather is not good enough for them there really isn't much to do. I did read alot, eat alot and drink some. It is very expensive there as most items have to be imported.
The boat trip over (5 hours) and back is nice and relaxing.

As a kid I babysat from the time I was about 10. I delivered afternoon newspapers right after school (beats the morning for sure), raked leaves, mowed lawns and shoveled snow for extra money. Of course dad's got done first and we didn't get paid for doing his.
We had our bikes and would just disappear. My mother had a cow bell and if we weren't home in time to set the table for dinner she would ring it. We knew that we had best get there quick or we wouldn't get to go out after dinner.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 11:42 AM

Lizzie, hilarious!

Mona, I have the same concerns about if I ever have kids. I am such a worrier! I think that if I had kids I would worry nonstop and let my craziness rule their lives. Of course I hope that wouldn't happen, but if the way I treat my dogs is any indication, it's a good thing I don't want kids!

Posted by: Meesh | February 21, 2007 11:44 AM

"I WILL NOT leave my child unsupervised until he is at LEAST 13."

This statement is one of the most terrifying ever to appear on this blog.

I fear the day that this cowering child who is unable to look both ways for himself before crossing a street turns 14 and is let loose on the world. He is most likely to take his newfound freedom to go to the restroom unaccompanied and become the Junior High ecstasy dealer.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 11:46 AM

""[D]oes anyone else remember the story a while ago about the kid who got lost in the mountains, and hid from the search and rescue teams because he had been instructed to NEVER EVER talk to strangers? They only found him when he was weak enough that he could no longer get away."

Is this true, or just an urban legend?

Even if true, the moral of the story is that the parents should've had a secret word they shared with their child, so he would know the rescuers were there on his parents' behalf."


No actually, I remember that too - it was in AZ or Utah, I think, in the last year or so. As I recall, the boy would hide every time he heard people coming; I suppose if they had been continuously calling his name and the secret word that might have helped but it sounded like an extreme case. It was several days before they found him, it got a lot of publicity out here. I'll see if I can track down an article.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 11:47 AM

"Nonsense. How is your kid supposed to get her start in the lucrative ballistic missile black market unless she is allowed to fly to Pyongyang with a briefcase full of unmarked, non-sequential US dollars every so often? Damn helicopter parents."

Ok, Lizzie, you rock.

Posted by: Clio | February 21, 2007 11:50 AM

http://www.annointed.net/Article902.html

Utah. Here's the link. 11 years old and he was more worried about being kidnapped than saving his hide. Sheesh.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 11:52 AM

Here's a CNN story about that kid:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/06/22/missing.scout/index.html

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 11:52 AM

FWIW the child was mildly autistic. I don't think most children would hide from potential rescuers. What does this have to do with flying alone?

Posted by: Re. lost child ... | February 21, 2007 11:54 AM

I flew alone when I was 5 [in 1991] - Washington to Raleigh, Raleigh to Orlando (no plane changes involved). No problems at all. It wasn't the first time I had been on a plane (I went to CO from DC when I was 2) but it's the first flight I remember. Is this too young? I really think it depends on the child. My parents stayed at the airport until my flight left and my aunt was at the gate waiting when I got off the plane. With adequate safeguards (i.e. making sure that there's an adult waiting at the airport to pick up the child, quiet activities provided for children, and a pack of gum to help with ear pressure issues, a child who's reasonably well-behaved at home shouldn't encounter any difficulties.

Posted by: LH | February 21, 2007 11:56 AM

FWIW the child was mildly autistic. I don't think most children would hide from potential rescuers. What does this have to do with flying alone?

Posted by: Re. lost child ... | February 21, 2007 11:54 AM

it has to do with independence and how some parents are virtually incapacitating their children by loading them up on fear of strangers. See post from LM in WI.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:03 PM

With all of the recent Jetblue mess, I don't think I will be flying anytime soon. There is no way I will get on a plane with my child and be stuck for 12 hours on a runway. People were diapering with their shirts?! I cannot imagine the horror. No, we will drive the 8-10 hours to the grandparents house. To me, there's too much risk involved with flying (and I am not worried about a terrorist attack.) If you can't have any liquids, you might not get your luggage, you might get diverted or delayed god knows how long. It's just not worth it to me. I would never put my baby through something like what the jetblue people experienced.

Posted by: Emmy | February 21, 2007 12:06 PM

Oh, I can't WAIT for the day when my son can fly alone!! Right now, he gets to see our extended family twice a year, at Christmas and for a week in the summer when I take my vacation. But he would love to spend entire summers with grandma if I could only get him out there. I can't afford to fly us both out there, me back, and then me again to get him - so I am really relating to the poster who said either take the risk or miss seeing grandma!
I think the neighborhood street configuration is a huge consideration in when/how kids should get to school (and other places). Busy streets are definitely terrifying. My son can walk to/from school alone and has since he was 8, because it's only 4 blocks in a low-traffic area. I would love for him to also be able to walk to the library and corner store - they are not much farther away, but would require him to cross a busy street ... I'm not quite ready :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 21, 2007 12:06 PM

To Lizzie

Yes, non-sequential is the key!

Posted by: Fred | February 21, 2007 12:16 PM

Re: being unsupervised at home - Maryland law says that a child under 13 cannot supervise a child under 8. That being said, although my 13-year-old daughter does babysit her 9-year-old brother at night on occasion, he goes to after-care at his school on weekdays. Two reasons: 1) he would get home about 1 hour before her, and 2) he is an ADHD kid who needs serious homework supervision. She has her own homework to worry about and I would not put her in that position. Others I know do let their older elementary kids come home alone for an hour or so. In this case, I cannot. The good news is that by the time he hits middle school, his sis will be in 10th grade and will get home first.

Posted by: Loren | February 21, 2007 12:16 PM

I think that this "the world is a different place" stuff is a bit overblown. Yes, of course it IS different but parents have been saying that since the dawn of time and still--children manage to survive the "new" dangers the world has to offer.

I was born in 1981 (to give you all a frame of reference). I was walking the mile (or so) to and from school with a group of other kids in my neighborhood by the time I was 10--in 1991. No harm ever came to me. Part of what made it so safe though, was that it required walking past the bank (they knew us), the pharmacy (they knew us there too), and past several houses of people with older/younger children in our school.

Get to know your neighbors and neighborhood and the kids will be FINE walking the two blocks on their own. This--the involvement in community and the "village raising child" thing--that's what's different. But not due to time---I think it's an epidemic of the DC area--hands down the least friendly place I've ever lived or visited.

Posted by: Cate | February 21, 2007 12:23 PM

'I WILL NOT leave my child unsupervised until he is at LEAST 13'

are you serious? do you want your child to be in the running for nerd of the year? do you want him/her picked on for being a baby? let go. teach safety.

we had a stranger approach a 6th grade boy a block from the school. he told the kid to get in his car. the boy ran the opposite direction, home, as taught, the police came with the helicopter, the stranger remains at large. the kids all still walk to school.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 21, 2007 12:25 PM

"he is an ADHD kid who needs serious homework supervision"

Will he still need serious homework supervision when his sister is in 10th grade? If so, who will provide it?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:26 PM

I think that this "the world is a different place" stuff is a bit overblown. Yes, of course it IS different but parents have been saying that since the dawn of time and still--children manage to survive the "new" dangers the world has to offer.

I was born in 1981 (to give you all a frame of reference). I was walking the mile (or so) to and from school with a group of other kids in my neighborhood by the time I was 10--in 1991. No harm ever came to me. Part of what made it so safe though, was that it required walking past the bank (they knew us), the pharmacy (they knew us there too), and past several houses of people with older/younger children in our school.

Get to know your neighbors and neighborhood and the kids will be FINE walking the two blocks on their own. This--the involvement in community and the "village raising child" thing--that's what's different. But not due to time---I think it's an epidemic of the DC area--hands down the least friendly place I've ever lived or visited.

Posted by: Cate | February 21, 2007 12:27 PM

Wow, won't leave a kid unsupervised till 13. Good golly, that seems almost trapping yourself. I think in small doses, kids can learn how to be independent. Each child is different and each parent is different. My mother is dying to have my DD, who is 3, stay with her for two days a lone. I feel given she only sees my mother twice a year, DD is too young to spend 2 nights with "strangers." But we differ on that. I have no issues at the age of 10 of popping my kid on the plane to see Grandma. It would be a direct flight and she would always have supervision during boarding and exiting the plane. SIL on the other hand, went out to dinner with her husband on the third day of bringing her only child home from the hospital. She told me her kid better get used to sitters and other forms of care. Even though, you would have had to kill me to get me away from DD as a newborn, I can admire her confidence.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 12:28 PM

I guess no one really worries about flying with terrorists? The airports really aren't that secure you know. Sure, banning liquids are the big trend now, but real threats are still slipping through.

I guess it depends on the maturity level of the kid, but I wouldn't be comfortable with sending a child alone on a plane. If something should happen, I'd never forgive myself.

Posted by: JRS | February 21, 2007 12:29 PM

One thing I'd like to suggest is a martial arts/self defense class for kids. It teaches them not only ways to get out of a potential kidnapper's embrace, but also how to keep aware of one's surroundings, assert oneself so aggressively that a would-be assailant would not pursue him/her, and alert proper authorities to the attack. Your kid doesn't need to be a black belt to fend off attackers, but a class once a week or so can really help. Often, these classes are geared towards fending off bullies, but the same rules of engagement apply.

I'm not talking about a karate school where people wear gis and sashes and do forms, but a real-world type of class that teaches common sense as well as techniques. Even if the child never has to use it, he/she will exude such confidence that it could lower their chances of ever being approached. As my Sifu once said, "it is better to have and not need than to need and not have."

Posted by: Mona | February 21, 2007 12:34 PM

NC lawyer:

Absolutely there are limitations on the sex offender registry. First, only offenders who committed their crimes since 1996 are required to register. Second, there are SO MANY absconders at any given time. And there is the issue of the child molester who has not yet been caught.

To Working Mom X:

We each must make our own decisions regarding the safety of our children; I choose to err on the side of caution.

My daughter understands that there are dangers out in the world, that she cannot give blind trust to adults and even teenagers. But she is not afraid of her own shadow and she is very independent (a necessity of living with a single mother).

To illustrate the point above and indicate how close danger can lurk...last year, I had a creepy feeling about one of my ex-boyfriend's neighbors, "J." He was part of my then-boyfriend's social circle. I checked the registry, but he was not on there. So I ran his name in the Maricopa County Superior Court online database. His name came up with a conviction for three counts of felony attempted child molestation. On my lunch hour, I went to the Clerk of the Court's Office and pulled the case file records on microfiche. In 1992, he had molested three little girls in one night (he was babysitting for friends and molested their children). These girls were 8, 9 and 10 years old. He got a plea bargain for attempted molestation and served four and a half years in prison--there was nothing attempted about the molestation.

I was horrified. I passed along the information to my boyfriend (he had no idea). I never took my then nine-year-old daughter over to his house again. She had been over there for a neighborhood barbecue three weeks earlier and was playing with the child molester's dog.

That's how close danger can be. My boyfriend and others in the neighborhood had no idea what this man had done to his friends' children. It was my own gut instinct that there was something wrong and my knowledge of the system that allowed me to identify a possible threat.

And yes, working on this issue does make me more cognizant of it. It's heartbreaking to meet people like Derek VanLuchene, a Montana law enforcement officer whose eight-year-old brother Ryan was abducted from their backyard, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender in 1987; the killer had just recently been released from prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy. But it's also why I am dedicated to working on these issues and trying to keep Arizona's kids a little safer.

Posted by: single western mom | February 21, 2007 12:35 PM

"I guess it depends on the maturity level of the kid, but I wouldn't be comfortable with sending a child alone on a plane. If something should happen, I'd never forgive myself."

Right, but wouldn't you be alive? What could you do to stop anything happening on the plane?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:35 PM

JRS: Besides reassure your kid, if you were with child during a terrorist attack, you really can't do much. In drastic situations, strangers generally help out to reassure other passengers. I was once on a flight with an unaccompanied minor. The child was told to wait in his seat till every deboarded and the flight attendant would come back to get him. I could tell the little boy was a little nervous. I asked if he wanted me to wait with him to deboard and wait till his father came to get him at the gate. He said yes. I stayed and waited till everyone but the two of us got off the plane and walked with him and the FA to his dad. He was very relieved. Could he have waited by himself? Sure but if it made him relax and not worry, why wouldn't I give him a few moments. Really, the world is not just full of awful people ready to snatch your kid. Some of us, or most of us, are decent people willing to exert a little extra effort for a person in need.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 12:36 PM

How sad that a couple of over-indulged, INDEPENDENT parents can't even scrap together an extra day off in order to turn an three-day holiday weekend into a four-day mini-vacation. Heck, I took off all-three days that the county school system (I'm the breadwinner of the house) was closed and, therefore, had six fun-filled days watching my special needs elementary-aged kid and my elderly mother. The local skiing and snowboarding was most excellent!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:38 PM

To Leslie: What instructions/briefings did you give your children in the days and weeks before their first solo flight?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:39 PM

"I guess it depends on the maturity level of the kid, but I wouldn't be comfortable with sending a child alone on a plane. If something should happen, I'd never forgive myself."

Right, but wouldn't you be alive? What could you do to stop anything happening on the plane?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:40 PM

How sad that a couple of over-indulged, INDEPENDENT parents can't even scrap together an extra day off in order to turn an three-day holiday weekend into a four-day mini-vacation. Heck, I took off all-three days that the county school system (I'm the breadwinner of the house) was closed and, therefore, had six fun-filled days watching my special needs elementary-aged kid and my elderly mother. The local skiing and snowboarding was most excellent!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:41 PM

"If something should happen, I'd never forgive myself."

You make your parenting decisions not based on what's best for your son, but what's best for you?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:41 PM

How sad that a couple of over-indulged, INDEPENDENT parents can't even scrap together an extra day off in order to turn an three-day holiday weekend into a four-day mini-vacation. Heck, I took off all-three days that the county school system (I'm the breadwinner of the house) was closed and, therefore, had six fun-filled days watching my special needs elementary-aged kid and my elderly mother. The local skiing and snowboarding was most excellent!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:44 PM

"FWIW the child was mildly autistic. I don't think most children would hide from potential rescuers. What does this have to do with flying alone?

Posted by: Re. lost child ... | February 21, 2007 11:54 AM

it has to do with independence and how some parents are virtually incapacitating their children by loading them up on fear of strangers"

Or the fact that overemphasizing a risk that is very small but particularly frightening (stranger kidnapping or flying with terrorists) is problematic because it can blind the parent or the child to more likely but commonplace risks.

We're constantly, as parents, trying to protect our children and also raise them to be functional and capable adults. And that involves constant balancing between risks, real and perceived, and benefits. Figuring out where and what the real risks are and teaching your children the skills to deal with those risks is a huge task. Personally, I think that teaching more general skills of critical thinking and good judgment is key, but as someone once said: "Safety depends on good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience, of course, usually comes from bad judgment."

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 12:44 PM

the cervical cancer vaccine is recommended at an early age because that is when it is most effective

not, as you right wing freaks imply, to encourage young girls to have sex

Posted by: to the idiot armchair mom | February 21, 2007 12:44 PM

I flew twice in the last week and the only problems were with adults who must have been living in a cave: one guy had his carry on bag full of shampoo, gatorade, mouthwash, etc and didn't want to throw it away. They had to pull him out of line. I was glad to see he wasn't on my flight.
There was a child (maybe a year old) who cried the entire 2.5 hours back from FL, cried the entire time we were in baggage claim and was still crying as we left the building.
There were twin 5 year old boys who were perfectly behaved - we didn't even know there were there until we saw one walk up the aisle (by himself) to use the restroom.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 12:45 PM

How sad that a couple of over-indulged, INDEPENDENT parents can't even scrap together an extra day off in order to turn an three-day holiday weekend into a four-day mini-vacation. Heck, I took off all-three days that the county school system (I'm the breadwinner of the house) was closed and, therefore, had six fun-filled days watching my special needs elementary-aged kid and my elderly mother. The local skiing and snowboarding was most excellent!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:46 PM

okay, okay Mr. or Ms. Breadwinner - three posts is enough.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 12:51 PM

Are there really so many paranoid people in the world or do they only post comments to the Washington Post?

I also would not leave a child unsupervised, ever. The thing is that means, for me, granting them independence in stages. Let them ride a bike, walk to school, make friends, run errands and, yes, talk to people, some being strangers, some being neighbours, some being old, some being young.

A parent has the power to let all of this happen in a supervised and understood way. The greatest compliment you can receive is from someone in the community who, unbeknownest to you, has met your child and has been impressed by his or her's cordiality, good nature and independence.

I have not let any of my children travel by plane alone. I don't see the need and like a recurring theme in this discussion, I would not wish to tempt fate.

Posted by: Dave | February 21, 2007 12:58 PM

Here's what armchair mom said: "It is kind of funny considering the legislation being proposed in VA to vaccinate against cervical cancer at age 9 -- when most kids that age will never even have been to the grocery store by themselves."

Here's how to the idiot armchair mom replied: "the cervical cancer vaccine is recommended at an early age because that is when it is most effective

not, as you right wing freaks imply, to encourage young girls to have sex"

Even an implication has to have its basis in some reality. Thanks for the teachable moment in incivility as well as failure to read what posters actually post before reacting to imagined political leanings.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 12:58 PM

KLB - welcome back! Sorry the weather didn't cooperate.
I was born in the mid-60s and seem to remember there was a "block mother" organization - if you got lost, you looked for a house with a sign in the window with an outline of a hand...does anyone else remember this?

Posted by: Missicat | February 21, 2007 12:58 PM

"we had a stranger approach a 6th grade boy a block from the school. he told the kid to get in his car. the boy ran the opposite direction, home, as taught, the police came with the helicopter, the stranger remains at large. the kids all still walk to school.


Posted by: experienced mom | February 21, 2007 12:25 PM"


We had a situation last summer where an older man approached 2 kids on their scooters (seperate instances) and asked about where to get replacement parts. Each kid was alone at the time - one ran home, the other kid's mother opened the door and questioned the man then he drove away. The boys were about 8 or 9.

There was a lot of panic in this development but my neighbors and I agreed that the main point to stress to kids was not to be alone. It was also really hot out and kids were not roaming around in the neighborhoods like they usually do in groups. We didn't keep our kids inside but we did go over talking to strangers, and I have to admit I kept a closer eye on them for a week or 2. We have several moms that constantly have their ears and eyes peeled when the kids are out - we all take turns. There is a group of 8 of them that play together all the time and I check that no one is being left alone.

Kids have to learn independence. They have to be taught how to deal with strangers. They can't do that with a parent hanging over their shoulder all the time. Most of my attitude is based on where we live. If we lived in a different area I might change my attitude. There is not one blanket approach for each kid/situation.

Posted by: cmac | February 21, 2007 1:00 PM

'the cervical cancer vaccine is recommended at an early age because that is when it is most effective'

actually, it's recommended at an early age by the manufacturer, who profits from the sale of the vaccine! See today's Washington Post.

Our doctor said it may only last for four years, they aren't sure yet, but expect that boosters will be required.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:02 PM

"had six fun-filled days watching my special needs elementary-aged kid and my elderly mother."

I couldn't take six straight days with these two. I'd rather be at work.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:02 PM

to : not yet a mom

I agree: when I misbehaved as a kid it was in situations where i believed I was being treated like a baby, not those when I was given responsibility. At 5 I was walking to school alone, and picking up my little brother (3) from his friend's house. At 8 I was flying alone & at home alone. At 11 I was sent to a babysitting course and began looking after my 2 brothers at home; at 14 I was in charge while my parents were away for the weekend.

Being trusted with real responsibility was the best possible thing my parents could have given me. I took it very seriously and it formed a great foundation for my early adulthood (completely self-supporting at 18). I'm sure not all kids would react exactly the same way but I'll bet the protective parents would be amazed at how much their kids can handle, given a chance.

Of course, I'm from Canada where a lot of things happen a bit earlier (drinking, age of consent). There's a bit less tendency to think of people 18+ as "kids". IMO 18 should be considered adult: sure they're inexperienced, raw, still in need of parental wisdom, but responsible for life decisions.


Posted by: worker bee | February 21, 2007 1:04 PM

First, lay off Leslie. They choose not to take off any time THIS break. They had a family vacation recently and probably take plenty of time off as a family. They just decided that THIS time, 2 of their kids would go see grandma and grandpa. I mean, really, people...why is this so bad?

Second, I'm of the school that says - don't fret about the stuff you can't control. I can teach my children to be alert and use common sense. I can put in place reasonable boundaries for their age, but I won't be that Mom who doesn't let their kids enjoy their childhoods because of all the potentially bad things that could happen. What about Columbine? Are you not going to send your child to school because - heaven's forbid - they may be gunned down by their classmates? Why live like that?

Lastly, Mona - don't worry about being "crazy cat person." I was super cautious about my cats pre-baby. But surprisingly am not as crazy when it comes to my child. Don't know why.

Posted by: londonmom | February 21, 2007 1:06 PM

Sorry - was at lunch or would have responded sooner to the homework question. Of course I'll have to play it by ear, but I would hope that by the time they're in 10th and 6th grade, respectively, a) my daughter will have enough time to get her homework done before her brother gets home; and b) he won't require as much supervision two years from now. If I'm wrong, I'll deal with it. Fortunately, my husband has a somewhat flexible schedule and may be able to help. We'll see.

Posted by: Loren | February 21, 2007 1:07 PM

All of you who lived in this area in the mid-70s certainly remember the Lyons girls. My sister and I were in the same grades as the 2 of them. After that, we were forbidden by our parents to go to shopping malls without an adult present. I can certainly understand my mother's fear that something could have happened to my sister or I. So, I don't think things were any safer back in the 70s or are more dangerous now.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:08 PM

All of you who lived in this area in the mid-70s certainly remember the Lyons girls. My sister and I were in the same grades as the 2 of them. After that, we were forbidden by our parents to go to shopping malls without an adult present. I can certainly understand my mother's fear that something could have happened to my sister or I. So, I don't think things were any safer back in the 70s or are more dangerous now.

Posted by: | February 21, 2007 01:08 PM

Yes, I definitely remember the Lyon girls..was the same age as the younger one. My father knew Mr. Lyon. It was a scary story - we just didn't hear about incidents like that back in those days.

Posted by: Missicat | February 21, 2007 1:11 PM

I don't have a problem with leaving children unsupervised. You have to work up to it with them.

Usually they are just dying to be left alone. They get sick of babysitters or daycare and start whining all the time, so you edge into it. Say let them come home on the day that you arrive home early to go to some lesson or sports practice or something. If they can't hold onto their key or seem to have trouble then you pull back.

My Mom didn't work, and I was alone after school sometimes. She had this or that to do and we'd let ourselves in. She didn't think twice about it and neither did we. The "good old days" of non-working Moms had a lot of kids with mothers who played bridge or tennis five afternoons a week. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we make out like those days were so perfect.

Part of your kid growing up is letting loose of them.

Posted by: RoseG | February 21, 2007 1:11 PM

"Our doctor said it may only last for four years, they aren't sure yet, but expect that boosters will be required."

Well, duhhh, then get your daughter the booster shot when it's time. Presumably you don't mind doing that with your kids' other immunization booster shots.

To missicat: Me, too! As I mentioned much earlier, we had block mothers when I was growing up -- and although I never needed their help, it was a comfort just knowing that they would be available in their houses during our morning and afternoon walks to and from school, just in case...

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 1:15 PM

I don't think that when I was a kid there was as much in the news about all the bad things that can and do happen as there is now. Kids drove drunk and died. Kids drowned or became paralyzed by diving into ponds without knowing how deep they were or if there were pipes there. We didn't call them sexual predators - they were "funny uncles" and we knew to stay away from them. Our parents had cocktail parties and sometimes someone would stumble out and drive home, thinking it was funny. Now we would all be appalled at what went on back in the 60s. On the good side, we didn't watch much tv as there was only 3 channels. We were outside as long as the sun was shining and at someone's house playing cards or barbies if it wasn't. In a way life was much simpler then. Not easier but simpler. Sunday was reserved for church and big family meals. Nothing was open, not even a grocery store. If you didn't have it by Sat night then you didn't get it.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 1:18 PM

actually, it's recommended at an early age by the manufacturer, who profits from the sale of the vaccine!

Are you implying that there is something wrong with profiting from a product?

Posted by: the original anon | February 21, 2007 1:18 PM

"The "good old days" of non-working Moms had a lot of kids with mothers who played bridge or tennis five afternoons a week. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we make out like those days were so perfect."

and even when they weren't playing bridge or tennis, they weren't hovering over the kids to protect them from every scrape, broken bone or encounter with a stranger.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:21 PM

KLB - my nieces don't believe me when I tell them I only had three TV channels. They think I grew up in a cave...

Posted by: Missicat | February 21, 2007 1:22 PM

I don't think that when I was a kid there was as much in the news about all the bad things that can and do happen as there is now. Kids drove drunk and died. Kids drowned or became paralyzed by diving into ponds without knowing how deep they were or if there were pipes there. We didn't call them sexual predators - they were "funny uncles" and we knew to stay away from them. Our parents had cocktail parties and sometimes someone would stumble out and drive home, thinking it was funny. Now we would all be appalled at what went on back in the 60s. On the good side, we didn't watch much tv as there was only 3 channels. We were outside as long as the sun was shining and at someone's house playing cards or barbies if it wasn't. In a way life was much simpler then. Not easier but simpler. Sunday was reserved for church and big family meals. Nothing was open, not even a grocery store. If you didn't have it by Sat night then you didn't get it.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 1:22 PM

I don't want to scare anyone. But when I was like in the third grade, one time I went to visit a friend after school. I was walking past my elementary school after all the kids had left. So I was dead alone. A guy came up in a car and told me he was my Dad's friend and my dad wanted him to drive me somewhere. I still remember having to think twice about getting into his car. I don't think I said anything but just kept walking. He could have easily jumped out of the car and tried to snatch me. No one else was around. But he just drove off. Years later I told my parents. I don't know why I did not tell them then. But they asked me what made me decide not to get in his car. I said I thought the guy was lying because Dad does not have any friends. My dad was really embarrassed. My point is this happened all before stranger danger talks. And you can never prepare a kid enough. At some point, you just have to let them loose and pray they care the good sense you taught them. It is still sort of scary to me. It also still makes me wonder why I never told my parents at the time. I still am not sure why. I doubt I could have ever given a good description of the car or the man. I remember just keeping my head low and continuing to walk.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 1:24 PM

We were living near Wheaton Plaza when the Lyons sisters disappeared -- so horrible for the family. And, not surprisingly, parents and neighbors in Wheaton started keeping a closer eye out for our local children's safety. After all, no one had any idea of whether it was an isolated incident or would prove to be the first in a series of kidnappings. We left the DC a few years later, so never found out if the Lyons sisters' disappearance was ever solved. Could someone please post an update, or a link to it? Thanks.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 1:26 PM

Catlady - no, they were never found. I think there had been a description of a man who had been seen talking to the girls, but nothing ever came of it. Really tragic story.

Posted by: Missicat | February 21, 2007 1:28 PM

I should give my Mom more credit - she was also visiting Aunt Mabel in the nursing home, tending to her own mother, running a Girl Scout troop, and holding down a position at church.

Prior to so many women working during outside the home there were whole lists of things that wives and Moms' did during the day before their husbands returned home.

As far as I can tell we still do all that stuff, plus we work, so a lot of it is moved around to night time and weekends.

Posted by: RoseG | February 21, 2007 1:33 PM

The Lyons girls were never seen nor heard from again. They just disappeared. To this day, I still hope that they are found one way or another.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:33 PM

"We were outside as long as the sun was shining and at someone's house playing cards or barbies if it wasn't."

KLB, My memory is the same as yours, except for the above comment, LOL. That represented half the families. The other half knew exactly when dinnertime was and they knew that they were expected to be seated at the dinner table at the appointed hour, on pain of death. In my family, it was 5:30, 7 days a week. We knew the mandated dinner time for all our friends. We went back out and play after dinner.

Does anyone anywhere eat that early now?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 1:34 PM

To 1:02 PM:

It sounds as though you are trying to offer "medical" and other excuses not to have your daughter(s) vaccinated against HPV because the truth is that you don't want to admit to the possibility, no matter how remote, that your daughter(s) could be raped -- when HPV is something you CAN protect them against -- or, even more difficult, that they might engage in sexual activity at an early age. Let's hope they don't get raped or have sex early. But in the risk/benefit analysis, the benefits appear to outweigh the risks vastly.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 1:36 PM

Leslie --

DD (8 years old) is on a track break this month (year-round school) and is returning today from a week in Idaho with Grandma and cousins. This is the second year she's had this treat and she has a ball. She loves the independence, and now that she can fly alone, she gets to visit her cousins more often. Since she's an only, DH and I get a week of pre-children quiet bliss. We cram all our date nights into one week!

We'll have big hugs this afternoon and bug her to "make noise" the next couple of days. The house has just been too darn quiet!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | February 21, 2007 1:39 PM

Does anyone anywhere eat that early now?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 01:34 PM

Does anyone even get home by 5:30 anymore? I do remember the family dinners - you had to be there to get fed.

Posted by: Missicat | February 21, 2007 1:41 PM

I truly believe that the real proble today is the lack of community and connection amongst people. We ran around all day when we were kids too, but there was a community around us that was invested in our well being. Older kids looked after younger. People knew their neighbors and would holler at kids who were up to no good if they caught them. Good luck trying to discipline a kid that isn't yours today. Parents don't seem to want to hear anything that is negative about their kids. I knew that if Grandma Jones called my mom because I was doing something I wasn't supposed to do, I was in for it. I see groups of kids in the neighborhood that I don't have any idea who they are or who their parents are. Our neighborhood is like the Truman show - perfect sunny day, $4,000 playsets in the fenced yards and not a kid to be seen. I've found a few friends for my kids to goof off with but they are few and far between. So, I think the difference is that there is no "village" anymore and that is what's frightening.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 1:44 PM

Off-topic

Two reasons not to think about the HPV vaccine (ie cervical cancer vaccine) as one intended "to prevent an STD."

1) HPV is very easily transmitted. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and does not require actual intercourse or exchange of fluids like some STDs. There are some indications that it can be passed without sexual activity, possibly even by shaking hands with someone who has it. Some estimate that 74% of Americans will have the virus at some point in their lives. Given how contagious and common the virus is, and that it may be passed non-sexually, using the sexual link as a justification to not vaccinate is short-sighted. It is like any other vaccine, it has its risks and benefits, but it is not just about sex.

2) The vaccine does not prevent all HPV infections. This means that even a vaccinated woman needs to take precautions to protect herself in other ways (such as not having sex or not having multiple partners) and to continue to get regular PAP smears. Talking about it as if it prevents an STD can be misleading to the girls who do get the vaccine and make them think they can have sex safely or do not need to get yearly exams.


2)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:45 PM

Our dinner time was 6pm sharp. Sunday dinner was 1pm. That was the big meal of the day - roast beef, etc. The best part of Sunday was the evening meal. That is when we had chocolate waffles with vanilla ice cream, pancakes, sandwiches.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 1:46 PM

I actually yelled at a bunch of little kids (ages 10-12) who were getting underneath cars. You could tell they were up to no good. Well I guess I had the reputation of being the mean childless women up the street. Well evidently the same boys came trick or treating at my house. Unlike most of my neighbors at the time, I gave out full candy bars. I was child free at the time and had more disposable cash. I heard one of the boys walk away saying, man she isn't so mean. Did you check out the full candy bars she gave us. LOL. I don't care. I still scold other people's kids. I figure it is my job as an adult member of society. I even had a mother try to bawl me out for scolding her son for spitting on another child. I just smiled and said, "lady the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree." I never verbally abuse any child, never use bad language, and absolutely never lay my hand on someone else's kid. But kids need limits. I don't care if I am the mean lady on the block.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 1:50 PM

NC Lawyer, I'm lucky -- I get home by 5:00. But I don't live in the DC area, and I'm at work between 7:30-8:00.

Single western mom -- I respect your choices with regard to protecting your daughter and feel I would probably react the same if I had your job. As I am now, I can't do it. It's so easy to make myself insane with fear that I actively will not let myself dwell on what could or might happen. We take precautions with our children and try to maintain a changing dialogue, particularly with our son who's getting to an age where he can be made aware without being scared silly.

I want to raise kids who aren't thinking that everyone is out to get them. It's a delicate balance. Another poster said something like "I'd never forgive myself if something happened". You'd never forgive yourself anyway, even if you tried every which way to protect your child from everything. I don't mean to be harsh but God forbid, if the worst were to happen, you would find ways upon ways where you could have done things differently until you ultimately came to some angle of repose.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 21, 2007 1:50 PM

I actually yelled at a bunch of little kids (ages 10-12) who were getting underneath cars. You could tell they were up to no good. Well I guess I had the reputation of being the mean childless women up the street. Well evidently the same boys came trick or treating at my house. Unlike most of my neighbors at the time, I gave out full candy bars. I was child free at the time and had more disposable cash. I heard one of the boys walk away saying, man she isn't so mean. Did you check out the full candy bars she gave us. LOL. I don't care. I still scold other people's kids. I figure it is my job as an adult member of society. I even had a mother try to bawl me out for scolding her son for spitting on another child. I just smiled and said, "lady the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree." I never verbally abuse any child, never use bad language, and absolutely never lay my hand on someone else's kid. But kids need limits. I don't care if I am the mean lady on the block.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 1:52 PM

foamgnome - good for you. I am hesitant because we have had incidents of vandalism where we knew that there was a parent who HAD to know who was culpable but never spoke up. I don't know who these people are. We are around a lot and outside a lot, but many of the people are strangers to me and I don't trust them or their kids.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 1:54 PM

What happened to the rest of the Lyons' family? What a tragedy!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:54 PM

"That is when we had chocolate waffles with vanilla ice cream, pancakes, sandwiches.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 01:46 PM

YUM!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:55 PM

I don't understand the priorities of many posters here.

Last week, many of you were foaming at the mouth about having a registered sex offender moving into your neighborhood and debating how much of a threat he would be to a teenage boy.

Today, you're blithely sending 8-year-olds off on airplanes, where they will be subject to the attentions of all manner of strangers.

This is all really skewed.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:57 PM

What happened to the rest of the Lyons' family? What a tragedy!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 1:57 PM

To 1:45, who wrote: "Talking about [HPV vaccine] as if it prevents an STD can be misleading to the girls who do get the vaccine and make them think they can have sex safely or do not need to get yearly exams."

Sarcasm alert: Well, then, by your logic obviously we shouldn't vaccinate against ANY disease if it can't protect 100% of the recipients 100% of the time, without booster shots or need for follow-up exams.

It's simple enough to teach girls who are vaccinated that they cannot expect to have sex with 100% freedom from STDs, nor that they no longer need to get yearly exams.

I believe the current chicken pox vaccine is not 100% effective, either, but it's better than nothing.

And who among us hasn't had to have a tetanus booster following some minor incident -- with the upshot (groan) being that one's arm hurts worse than the event that precipitated its need?

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 1:58 PM

Ever had belgium waffles with milk chocolate chips and skor bits - like a big fluffy cookie... so goooodddd.

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 1:59 PM

I can't imagine not doing the HPV vaccine. Just because your DD always makes good choices, doesn't mean that the man she marries will have. How you could not want to prevent cancer is beyond me. I believe that the fatality rate for cervical cancer is very high as well.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 2:01 PM

"And who among us hasn't had to have a tetanus booster following some minor incident -- with the upshot (groan) being that one's arm hurts worse than the event that precipitated its need?"

Well, at least you don't get 'em in the butt anymore.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:02 PM

foamgnome - good for you. I am hesitant because we have had incidents of vandalism where we knew that there was a parent who HAD to know who was culpable but never spoke up. I don't know who these people are. We are around a lot and outside a lot, but many of the people are strangers to me and I don't trust them or their kids.

When people ask what is the matter with kids today. Answer: Their parents!!! I swear if DD ever does stuff like that, you better be sure we want to hear about it and that she will in return HEAR about it LOUD and CLEAR.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 2:03 PM

"And who among us hasn't had to have a tetanus booster following some minor incident -- with the upshot (groan) being that one's arm hurts worse than the event that precipitated its need?"

Well, at least you don't get 'em in the butt anymore.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:06 PM

Hi, "s"! Is the weather a bit milder for you this week, too? Hope so!

Mmmmm, those Belgium waffles sound wonderful -- although I think I might prefer mine with bittersweet chocolate chips (not that I'd actually turn down milk chocolate chips). Maybe for a special treat this weekend...

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 2:08 PM

Catlady, had you read my post more carefully, you would see that I gave that as a reason not to talk about the vaccine as one that is strictly related to sex.

My points are not inconsistent with what you say in your sarcastic response.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:10 PM

"I believe that the fatality rate for cervical cancer is very high as well."

Actually, if you catch it in time (which you should, since you should have an annual pap smear), cervical cancer is very treatable. As I've mentioned before, though, my sister had it, and it was no fun: basically, they laser the cancerous portion out of your cervix. It wasn't something she enjoyed and it would have been much better had she been able to be inoculated against it.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 21, 2007 2:11 PM

Catlady, had you read my post more carefully, you would realize that I made that point to say that's why the vaccine should not be considered as one that prevents an STD. Nothing in my post discourages giving the vaccine, my point was to be about the risks of getting HPV, which would generally favor getting the vaccine but also doing all the things you say.

Your sarcastic response is not inconsistent with my points.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:13 PM

I don't think that anon poster meant we should raise our girls to be compliant sissies who can't take care of themselves.
I think she mentioned that her girls take karate and such as well.

I think boys are falling behind in school because of this thinking as well. There's nothing wrong with raising boys to be able to SIT still and listen during school. Girls out test boys on everything now (yes, even math), there are more girls in college. We may not see more women as CEO NOW, but as these generations move up and boys keep falling behind, that will change.
There have been many articles highlighting boys' crisis in schools.
I was born in 1979 and know that my generation of women has, by and large, no problem taking risks and acting like "men".
I have a daughter who will start karate this summer, I've always been extremely self assured and have no problems protecting myself (and I have).
Yes, I focus on raising a child with manners and to behave appropriately in the right settings, but that doesn't mean she should be thrown to the wolves while I hope for the best. What's the point in being a parent if our onyl job is to let them find everything out for themselves?

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 21, 2007 2:16 PM

"Our neighborhood is like the Truman show - perfect sunny day, $4,000 playsets in the fenced yards and not a kid to be seen. I've found a few friends for my kids to goof off with but they are few and far between. So, I think the difference is that there is no "village" anymore and that is what's frightening."

Moxiemom, you may want to check out cohousing, a less-known model of creating community. Neighbors choose to live near each other and the neighborhood is pedestrian-oriented, with an emphasis on folks knowing each other. We live in one of these neighborhoods and it's wonderful. Our motto is "Yesterday's Neighborhood Today."

Not a solution for everyone, but it's nice that it's out there.
http://www.cohousing.org/default.aspx

Posted by: Neighbor | February 21, 2007 2:19 PM

One thing I find is that when my gut tells me that something is a bad idea and my brain says "what's the worst thing that can happen", I inevitably find that my imagination is seriously lacking. If you want to send your young ones on a plane, that's OK, but I wouldn't.

Posted by: soccermom | February 21, 2007 2:20 PM

The kids are fine flying direct flights. Mom and Dad see them off at one end of the flight... grandparents get them at the end of the flight. The only thing is the kids need to behave on the plane and everyone should know if their kids are capable of that type of behavior.

My kids were driven to school because their behavior was awful after being on the bus. The kids on the bus behaved so badly and used such poor language. The bus drivers now a days are very limited to what they can do to control the kids on the bus. (my dad used to make you walk home if you misbehaved on his bus - he actually gained respect that way - but you can't even think about even think about suggesting that to a kid).

Posted by: C.W. | February 21, 2007 2:21 PM

To 1:45/2:10 PM: My bad (blush)

Admittedly I haven't heard anything about non-sexual transmission of HPV, but if what you describe is true, then it's all the more reason to vaccinate against it.

BTW, has anyone heard anything further re the possibility of someday vaccinating boys against HPV, too?

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 2:21 PM

"There have been many articles highlighting boys' crisis in schools."

SAHMbacktowork,

Yes, and the point of those articles (since it appears you've not read any of them) is not that boys are not well-mannered, it's that the public elementary schools are run by women who want all children to learn in the manner of compliant, obedient girls who willingly sit for long periods of time and never ask, "why?"

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:22 PM

It seems like anonymous persons two points about the vaccine are aimed at the critics who say protecting against STD promotes promiscuity, although the connection isn't totally clear. But I think I see the point; in reality it's not like other STDS and it's not total protection, so talking about the vaccine that way is unproductive. In reality, like catlady says, it's just like other vaccines that provide partial protection against illnesses.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 2:25 PM

Posted by: Neighbor | February 21, 2007 02:19 PM

Sounds awesome!!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 2:25 PM

Agree with CC -- traffic terrifies me. In our neighborhood, which is filled with young kids, elderly people and pets, there are lots of four way stop signs. forget about stopping, many drivers barely slow down. It is going to take someone getting killed before people start driving responsibly again.

Three women were killed in the past week in DC by speeding Metrobuses. I regularly see Metrobuses speeding through yellow (and red) lights. You know traffic control has gotten too lax when public employees are breaking traffic laws.

Single Western Mom -- I agree with your concerns. I have a lot of sympathy for parents' worries, and I think that anyone who has lived in an area where one of the 100 kidnappings/year is especially vulnerable. Even 100 kidnappings/year is 100 lost children -- 100 too many.

But my point is that thousands of children die each year in other, more preventable ways, and parents should worry about these risks too. Like making sure every time your child gets in a friend's car, they use a car seat or seat belt. Like teaching your children to swim at an early age. Like enforcing the helmet rule even in your own back yard.

Protection is fine, but I think paranoid parents damage kids in very lasting ways. The ultimate message is: the world is so unsafe, and you cannot possibly protect yourself, so you need me to do it for you. This attitude reminds me of people who put leashes on their kids in malls and airports. Yes, you are keeping your kid physically safe. But mentally? That is a whole 'nuther story.

Posted by: Leslie | February 21, 2007 2:25 PM

"Well, at least you don't get 'em in the butt anymore."

I like it in the butt, from time to time.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:26 PM

And there have been later studies refuting the theory that boys are really falling behind, etc.

Posted by: To 2:22 | February 21, 2007 2:27 PM

The P in HPV stands for papilloma, a fancy name for warts. Remember, those things we used to think you could get if a frog peed on you? Of COURSE you can get it through non-sexual contact. I have one on my knee, have had it since I was a kid. My mom used to have them on her finger. Dr. Scholl's (sp?) has a product with which you can freeze them off. It's true that there are different strains, and the genital strain is different, but yes, it can be passed non-sexually, much like HIV, Hep B and C, herpes, mononucleosis, or any other disease. The main difference is it does not necessarily need to spread via fluid exchange, and therefore can more easily be transmitted despite condom use than its fluid-exchange counterparts.

Posted by: Mona | February 21, 2007 2:28 PM

The weather has been lovely lately - chinnok came in last week and we were out in t-shirts! Gotta love the chinooks!

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 2:29 PM

"One thing I find is that when my gut tells me that something is a bad idea and my brain says "what's the worst thing that can happen", I inevitably find that my imagination is seriously lacking."

LOL. Let's hear it for gut instincts!

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 2:30 PM

My kids were driven to school because their behavior was awful after being on the bus. The kids on the bus behaved so badly and used such poor language. The bus drivers now a days are very limited to what they can do to control the kids on the bus. (my dad used to make you walk home if you misbehaved on his bus - he actually gained respect that way - but you can't even think about even think about suggesting that to

My colleague's kid got suspended from riding the bus for a week. She was 8. Basically being naughty; not an out right menace to society. Her punishment was her parents drove her to and froms school for a week. Each trip, they played old people goofy music, lectured her on the importance of civic responsibility and embarrassed her by walking into her class room each day. Needless to say, it was never an issue today. This could still work today. Problem is Johnny's parents and Suzie's mommy won't suck up losing time off from work or at home. They come screaming at the principal's office that little Johnny or Suzie couldn't possibly done anything wrong and don't you know their child has a consitutional right to ride the school bus.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 2:32 PM

"I think boys are falling behind in school because of this thinking as well. There's nothing wrong with raising boys to be able to SIT still and listen during school. Girls out test boys on everything now (yes, even math), there are more girls in college. We may not see more women as CEO NOW, but as these generations move up and boys keep falling behind, that will change."

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 21, 2007 02:16 PM

and we wonder who the numbskulls are who push ADHD diagnoses and medications on every little boy that gets the wiggles after 2 hours

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:32 PM

The Anna Nicole Smith corpse trial - brought to you by Ringling Brothers!! Is anyone watching any of this? Crazy. Put her together with Brittney and Lindsey and you have one large bowl of crazy soup!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 2:33 PM

"The kids are fine flying direct flights. Mom and Dad see them off at one end of the flight... grandparents get them at the end of the flight."

Well, that's a nice arrangement for mom and dad. However, on a four- or six-hour (or even two- or three-hour) flight, who is responsible for making sure the 8-year-old behaves...and isn't scared...and isn't lonely...and is occupied...and can get to the bathroom...etc.?

No kid that age can be on his/own for that length of time. So, the parents must be assuming that the flight attendants will take care of their kids. Or that other passengers will pitch in.

Yet another aspect of parenthood entitlement. Someone else can look after my kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:34 PM

One thing I find is that when my gut tells me that something is a bad idea and my brain says "what's the worst thing that can happen", I inevitably find that my imagination is seriously lacking. If you want to send your young ones on a plane, that's OK, but I wouldn't.

Posted by: soccermom | February 21, 2007 02:20 PM

bringing home the message that what is common sense to one parent is helicoptering to another.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:35 PM

"Three women were killed in the past week in DC by speeding Metrobuses. I regularly see Metrobuses speeding through yellow (and red) lights."

Were they all speeding? I seem to remember a WaPo article that described one of the incidents, and I'm fairly certain that it said the driver was going about 27 mph. It's possible the bus slid on the ice (as we were all doing last week!). I didn't read about the other two incidents. But I don't think Metrobus drivers are any more or less responsible than the other jerks (myself included) on the road.

Posted by: Mona | February 21, 2007 2:35 PM

Yes, Leslie. What you said at 2:25. Right on the money.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 21, 2007 2:38 PM

ADHD is the product of parents over tasking their kids. Let a kid be a kid a little while instead of trying to put them into every after school activity on the planet. How is a kid supposed to focus if you parents are always changing it?

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 2:39 PM

catlady, my post could have been clearer, so my bad too. I was trying to make a point similar to what Megan guessed at - we shouldn't be using the sexual aspect of HPV as a reason to not get the vaccine, and on the flip side we should be very careful not to mislead women and girls about the level of protection. It is estimated that the vaccine will prevent about 70% of cervical cancers (and 90% of genital warts), which is excellent, but given the importance of catching cervical cancer early, it's important not to overstate the effectiveness of the vaccine.

As to non-sexual transmission, it is not something that has been extensively studied and is hard to pin down. The warts on your finger are not necessarily of the same type; there are multiple viruses that cause warts and they will not necessarily spread to the same places in the body. Some studies have shown that people with genital wart infections carry the virus on their hands, and the virus does spread through skin to skin contact, but the study did not actually show that the virus is passed that way. Similarly, it is theoretically possible for the virus to pass through inanimate objects (the dreaded public toilet seat, for example) but not confirmed. So it's not really well understood. But it can definitely pass through sexual activity other than intercourse, so even some early explorations by adolescents can be a source of infection.

Posted by: the anonymous poster | February 21, 2007 2:41 PM

First, my son is VERY independent, thus the need to constant supervision. He has no fear and would be happy charge boldly into life without regard for the consequences. He's 5 folks, you can only set the bar so high. I don't know how anyone would get the idea I, as his mother, stand over him 24/7. The big event of last week was when he walked into school by himself. I watched as he walked that block alone, not because I feared someone would snatch him, but because I was worried he would choose to skip going to school in exchange for playing on the nearby playground. Bottomline, I supervise my kids not JUST out of fear for their safety, but out of fear for the dumb things kids do. Case in point, he loves to race his bike down the street. The danger is that he isn't stopping his bike at the ends of driveways and certainly isn't going to move to avoid our elderly neighbors who walk. Now, I could let him ride his bike around the block unsupervised and hope he would remember to stop for driveways and to steer around the neighbors. Better yet, I could follow him on my roller-blades and makes SURE he does those things. Or I could wait for a frantic neighbor to run to my door to tell me that my young son has been hit by a car or that he broke some little old lady's hip when he hit her. By teaching him skills like thinking before acting, being thoughtful, being considerate, while he is young, I can be more confident that at 13, he can make smart and safe decisions.

The point of this discussion seems to me about more than what age a child can become independent of a parent, but it is also about preparing a child for such independence. For me, I would rather equip my child first, then give him independence. For now, I simply cannot trust him to make appropriate decisions without parental input. And yes, I realize all children are different and that some are ready for more responsibility at a younger age than others so please consider that my son, whom I clearly know better than any of you, is not, at five, a child I can envision leaving unsupervised anytime in the next few years.

Posted by: LM in WI | February 21, 2007 2:42 PM

John,

Your comment is unsupported by any research. The last thing parents of kids diagnosed with ADD or ADHD need is another parent saying it's the parents' fault, particularly when the science runs counter to the comment.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:42 PM

In 18 months I will drop my 17 year old twin girls at colleges, where they will be more or less on their own. We have tried to gradually increase the freedom (and responsibility that comes with it) so that they are ready. I can't tell them to find a way home from college in Chicago if they haven't been on the metro (never mind a plane) alone. FWIW, they flew alone Baltimore-Hartford starting at 11. Southwest Airlines was great - kids were embarassed by all the attention.

Posted by: Kirsten | February 21, 2007 2:44 PM

Sounds awesome!!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 02:25 PM

It really is awesome. I thought of that last night, when I came home with my girls (5 and 3). About 5 older kids were running around in the central green (no cars), but they all said hi to us by name as they ran by. One of them stopped to make sure my daughters received the invitation to her birthday party. She's turning 10 this week.

If anyone in the DC area is REALLY curious about cohousing, there's a bus tour in May that will give folks a tour of neighborhoods in Silver Spring, DC, Vienna, and some other places in the area.

Posted by: Neighbor | February 21, 2007 2:45 PM

Preventable deaths: Yesterday, a woman in my area left her two children alone in the car while she ran an errand. The older child unbuckled the two year old who then somehow became stuck in the power window and later died. Very sad and preventable.

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 2:45 PM

In 18 months I will drop my 17 year old twin girls at colleges, where they will be more or less on their own. We have tried to gradually increase the freedom (and responsibility that comes with it) so that they are ready. I can't tell them to find a way home from college in Chicago if they haven't been on the metro (never mind a plane) alone. FWIW, they flew alone Baltimore-Hartford starting at 11. Southwest Airlines was great - kids were embarassed by all the attention.

Posted by: Kirsten | February 21, 2007 2:46 PM

Posted by: | February 21, 2007 02:42 PM,

I'm not going to post the research here. Go find it yourself.

Yes, parents are to blame for ADD and ADHD. When kids were allowed to be kids, there was no such thing as ADD or ADHD.

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 2:47 PM

To 2:34 PM who wrote, "So, the parents must be assuming that the flight attendants will take care of their kids. Or that other passengers will pitch in. Yet another aspect of parenthood entitlement."

Airlines are normally prepared for children traveling without an accompanying adult. They have rules, policies, necessary provisions, and appropriate arrangements. It's all part of our free-market system for airlines to offer services that its customers want/need.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 2:48 PM

I haven't read all of today's postings, but I don't think anyone has asked this yet.

Re the question of putting small children on airplanes to travel alone --

In the unlikely event that the plane went down, would you not want to be with your child during those final panicked moments?

As many of you know, I don't have children. But I cannot conceive of putting a small child in a situation in which there was the slightest possibility of the child dying alone, without mommy or daddy for comfort.

Do any of you wrestle with this?

Posted by: pittypat | February 21, 2007 2:48 PM

Preventable accidents? I was in Fort Lauderdale yesterday and on the news was one woman who accidently ran over her child as the car was moving WITH THE CHILD IN IT! Somehow the child opened the door and fell out. They did not report if the kid was in a carseat or not. The same news report talked about a woman who ran over her kid in her driveway as she was cleaning the car.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 2:49 PM

"I'm not going to post the research here. Go find it yourself."

That is so classic. You're full of it and you know it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 2:50 PM

When kids were allowed to be kids, there was no such thing as ADD or ADHD.


You are full of hooey. I am almost 40 years old, and kids were allowed to be kids back when I was growing up, and I was diagnosed with ADHD. Or are you referring to a time further back in history, like when kids who acted out were beaten to a pulp instead of being put on medication to help them?

Posted by: to John | February 21, 2007 2:51 PM

Yes, and the point of those articles . . . is not that boys are not well-mannered, it's that the public elementary schools are run by women who want all children to learn in the manner of compliant, obedient girls who willingly sit for long periods of time and never ask, "why?"

AMEN!!!! Can I get another one?!

Yes, it is unnatural to teach anyone (let alone boys) to sit still for significant periods of time if they're not wired that way. And if a child can't sit still period, then he or she is not a "problem child."

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 2:54 PM

Does anyone else think that this extraordinary and constant concern with supervising and preventing every tragedy, no matter how remote, is an unintended side effect of parents limiting their families to 1 or 2 children and having more leisure time than our parents? Neither my parents nor my husband's parents could have watched over the every move of each of their kids, been at our side for every street-crossing, yelled from the sidewalk to prevent the possibility of a ball being chased across the street, met the school bus each day, without cloning themselves. Mine had 4; DH's had 8, and at the time his dad died, the ages of he and his siblings ranged from 5 to 23. I know we work more hours, but we don't spend the time scrubbing floors, repairing our own cars in the driveway, etc. that our parents spent and thus have more time to hover and instruct and caution. Is this good? bad?

My parents perpetually raise their eyebrows at what they consider the absurdity of summer camps and paid supervision for our 11 year old.

What do you think?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 2:54 PM

Posted by: | February 21, 2007 02:50 PM,

I'm supposed to post years of research here? It's not hard to find. Go look. Maybe you can stop at the library on you way to your child's third language class.

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 2:54 PM

John,

"You are full of hooey. I am almost 40 years old, and kids were allowed to be kids back when I was growing up, and I was diagnosed with ADHD".

When were you diagnosed, when you were 20?

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 2:59 PM

I was 9. I like to think of myself as a pioneer.

Posted by: to John | February 21, 2007 3:01 PM

"But I cannot conceive of putting a small child in a situation in which there was the slightest possibility of the child dying alone, without mommy or daddy for comfort."

Pittypat, I totally know where you are coming from, but the fact is that this is true anytime you are not with your child. Freak accidents (or not-so-freak accidents, for that matter) can happen at daycare, at the neighbor kid's house, when anyone else drives your child anywhere. And many of those accidents are more probably than a plane wreck. That "slightest possibility" is ever present in our lives. It breaks my heart anytime my child has to suffer without me there to comfort him (even through the minor ups and downs of his day that I hear through the door of my home office) but unless I am going to be at his side 24/7, that is always going to be there. I think that's possibly the hardest part of parenting for me. I remember the first few times we drove anywhere with him, and he HATED his car seat and would cry and cry and realizing that even so early in his life I couldn't fix it all - I couldn't stop every five minutes to nurse and soothe him. I know that's a far cry from what you're talking about, but somehow it all seems the same in some ways. You want desperately to protect your child from everything from sadness to death, but you just can't.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 3:01 PM

I am not going to say that ADD and ADHD are not true conditions, but I will say that ever since they have become the routine vocabulary of parents with boys, I have seen a trend to label boys with these conditions in a very cavelier way, and this disturbs me. I remember one day care worker who had no credentals to make such a diagnosis telling a mother with a particularly active child that the child might have ADHD. Based on what? IMO, it was based on the fact that the day care worker did not know how to deal with this little boy and wanted an easy way out. The other thing that bothers me is the assumption that ADHD is somehow a disability, rather than perhaps a different learning style. Perhaps the educators in our school need to learn to adjust their teaching style to be more in tune with the way boys learn. Not all children learn my sitting still and passively listening.

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 3:05 PM

"My parents perpetually raise their eyebrows at what they consider the absurdity of summer camps and paid supervision for our 11 year old.

What do you think?"

I think that your parents are full of it. They never needed babysitters because they never went anywhere (probably had no friends). I grew up in the '50s and I know that the present world is far, far different.

Do you really give a damn about what other people think? Can you think of a polite way to tell your folks to mind their own business?


Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:06 PM

Yes, parents are to blame for ADD and ADHD. When kids were allowed to be kids, there was no such thing as ADD or ADHD.

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 02:47 PM

Wow, John. ADD and ADHD are neither child-specific syndromes or specific to boys. I'm glad no one in your immediate family, including your spouse, suffers from it, since it has taken a significant amount of counseling and behavior modification work for our family to cope with multiple members who have been diagnosed with ADD. Our kids are allowed to be kids, and then some. Heck, my husband is allowed to be a kid, too, but that has nothing to do with addressing the challenges he faces on a daily basis, in his relationships and at his job, as an adult with ADD.

In light of the strong correlation between ADD and substance abuse, a parent is ill-advised to brush off ADD as just so much parental failure.

Again, I'm glad for you that ADD hasn't touched your world personally, but am saddened by your purposeful ignorance.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 3:06 PM

"Yes, parents are to blame for ADD and ADHD. When kids were allowed to be kids, there was no such thing as ADD or ADHD."

John,

You really are wrong about this.

I grew up in the sixties, and all the adults in my family were teachers. A frequent topic of discussion (mind you, this was, like, 1965) was whether Ritalin was effective in calming down "hyperactive" kids.

Ritalin was developed in the '50's, and its use was widespread through the '60s and into the '70s. "ADHD" as a name didn't exist at that time, but the same behaviors were lumped under "hyperactivity."

And I promise you, my midwestern hometown was not one in which kids were pressured to achieve or over-scheduled with activities. We had two long recesses plus lunch recess every day; we got MORE time outside when it was snowing. Up through 6th grade, we almost never had homework, so after school kids went out and played in their neighborhoods.

We were "being kids" -- and still, what we now recognize as ADHD was there and quite common.

Posted by: pittypat | February 21, 2007 3:07 PM

DD's teacher told me she has a short attention span. I actually watched my DD this weekend. She does not have a short attention span. She has a short attention span on seat work at school. But she can spend a long time doing craft projects or playing with other items. Maybe it isn't that boys can't sit still. Maybe they don't like the activities provided them by the school. I don't really understand the difference between learning disability, learning styles and special needs. It seems as if schools like to lable kids with learning disabilities a lot now. But that may be my perception.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 3:09 PM

Boys have a harder and harder time in school and have more behavior problems than girls do. I wonder when parents of boys will start raising them the way we're supposed to raise girls?? To listen, respect, not runand climb when it's not appropriate, to have table manners, to not hit?

We're doing boys a HUGE disservice by allowing base behavior.

What does everyone think?

As a mother of a boy, here are my comments:

1. I teach my son all of those things, praise his compliance and provide consequences for his non-compliance.

2. Does he still exhibit some "base behaviors?" Yes. In school more so than home.

To be fair, my son is mildly autistic and ADHD. And no, John, he's not shuttled from one activity to another. And neither was my brother, who was ADHD, nor his kids, who were ADHD, nor his grandkids, at least one of whom is ADHD. It's a neurological thing and a gene thing, not a parent thing.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 3:09 PM

I am blown away by what my parents let me do as a kid. I was in jr hi in late 80s and was totally into horses. We lived in the middle of the arizona desert. My close friend lived about five miles away (she also had horses). What we typically did was on the weekend or during the summer go horseback riding over to one anothers houses and then ride out into the desert for hours. And when we rode, we would be pretty hardcore: run the horses in the washes, play hide and seek, race, etc. We'd generally tell our parents were we were going riding (i.e. North or West of the house)and be back before dark, and with no cell phones or any other way to get in touch. A couple of times my horse made it back home before I did. I often wonder what would have happened had something serious happened, but I had soooo much fun during that point of my life...

Posted by: Columbia | February 21, 2007 3:09 PM

To "the anonymous poster" at 2:41 (and earlier):

Excellent points all around. It sounds like you, Megan and I (and probably a good many other posters on this board) are in general agreement on the value of immunizing against HPV, even if the current vaccine doesn't provide 100% protection.

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 3:11 PM

pittypat,

Just like a liberal/democrat to blame the problem on something other than yourself.

I'm not a doctor so I can't say either way. What I can say is some studies show that it is easier to medicate a kid that to deal with him or her. ADHA and ADD fall into this category.

Posted by: John | February 21, 2007 3:13 PM

"It seems as if schools like to lable kids with learning disabilities a lot now."

There is a financial incentive to labeling kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:14 PM

To be fair, my son is mildly autistic and ADHD. And no, John, he's not shuttled from one activity to another. And neither was my brother, who was ADHD, nor his kids, who were ADHD, nor his grandkids, at least one of whom is ADHD. It's a neurological thing and a gene thing, not a parent thing.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 03:09 PM

Good Lord - as I asked last week, why are so many kids being diagnosed with one or a combination of disorders these days? I'm sorry, I just don't remember those sort of problems and issues in the 70s. I mean, what is considered "normal"? Are you ADHD or autistic or on the spectrum (huh?) if you deviate 10% from normal? or is it 15%? Just seems like we are burdening kids with all these "labels".

Posted by: Me | February 21, 2007 3:16 PM

NC Lawyer, I've read some arguments that this generation of parents is both hyperinvolved and overindulgent because we spend so much more time away from our children at work, and therefore are both more invovled and more reluctant to discipline when we are with them because we want to enjoy the limited time we have. I guess both could be true - what you are describing is more time at home but busy; what we seem to have now is less time but also less busy.

I think there's something to be said for being home and busy together - I find some our best family time is when we are cleaning or doing yard work or whatever, working on a common project, which usually evolves into my husband and I working and our son playing nearby. It's a different type of togetherness and I really like it.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 3:16 PM

"It seems as if schools like to lable kids with learning disabilities a lot now."

There is a financial incentive to labeling kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:16 PM

"Just like a liberal/democrat to blame the problem on something other than yourself."

John,

I don't know what this comment has to do with anything.

My point to you was that you're wrong in saying that, back when kids "were allowed to be kids," no one had ADHD.

Your claim is simply not factual, and I was refuting it.

As to blame, liberals, democrats, etc., dunno what you're getting at.

Posted by: pittypat | February 21, 2007 3:17 PM

"Just like a liberal/democrat to blame the problem on something other than yourself"

Huh? How is ADD and ADHD Pittypat's fault? Or even the liberal/democrat's fault?

Posted by: to John | February 21, 2007 3:19 PM

John, are you the same John that has posted frequently before (the one who is married with no kids but thinking about it)?

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 3:22 PM

Whoah, John!! Why so snarky today? You are usually such a pleasant person.

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 3:24 PM

"I've read some arguments that this generation of parents is both hyperinvolved and overindulgent because we spend so much more time away from our children at work, and therefore are both more invovled and more reluctant to discipline"

Dad came home to dinner at 5:30 sharp M-F; then spent the rest of the evening watching TV and scratching his privates in his easy chair until he fell asleep.

No interaction, no discipline, no indulgences, no nothing. A big zero.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:25 PM

Megan,

Thanks for commenting on my question.

I understand what you're saying, and I think it's absolutely true. As a parent, you've got to be able to let go and put your fears into perspective. You owe it to your children.

I guess the reason this example is compelling to me is that it wouldn't be like a freak accident -- being hit by a bus, for example. Something like that happens in an instant; the child is literally dead before he knows he's been hit.

With a plane crash, though, there would be those horrible minutes -- or moments -- beforehand, when the child will know real fear. I think that knowing my child had endured those moments would haunt me for the rest of my life.

Posted by: pittypat | February 21, 2007 3:25 PM

Could not read all the posts, but wanted to beat the dead horse (why not?) and say WOW have times changed. I walked about a mile to kindergarten in San Diego by myself at age 5 once my mother (SAHM) walked me there (I am female). Was also left home alone for 2-3 hours at a time at the same age.

I bus it to work, and was surprised one day to find some kids at the bus stop, ranging in age from about 6-8, waiting with their PARENTS to catch the school bus. I fully expected the parents to get into a nearby car, assuming that they had to drive their kids to the bus stop. Imagine my shock when said parents lived about 3 doors away from the bus stop. Mere feet away, and kids still need to be watched over? WOW!

Posted by: ALP | February 21, 2007 3:28 PM

"To be fair, my son is mildly autistic and ADHD. And no, John, he's not shuttled from one activity to another. And neither was my brother, who was ADHD, nor his kids, who were ADHD, nor his grandkids, at least one of whom is ADHD. It's a neurological thing and a gene thing, not a parent thing.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 03:09 PM"

Is it a genetic thing? I haven't done the research but I know people, including my SIL, that have used the genetic excuse to put their kids on drugs. My SIL used my husband (her brother) as her genetic link to ADHD. My husband was diagnosed in the 70's as ADD but we doubt the diagnosis now. His mother does too. I think at times the genetic thing is thrown around as an excuse for behavior. I am not saying that is the case in your family - which is why I asked about specific research.

My brother was also diagnosed ADD in the 60's - and my SIL was always asking doctors about an ADHD or ADD link with her kids - like she was willing the doctor to say "YES! Your kids are ADHD - it is not you or your parenting!" In her case she never got the diagnosis and the kids were not put on drugs.


Posted by: cmac | February 21, 2007 3:28 PM

Pittypat -- same thing can happen in a car accident, bus accident, train accident, fire, etc. What if someone else is driving your kid(s) around and gets in an accident or you child's at a friends house their house burns down or they don't have a CO detector and there's CO in the house that kills them? Accidents happen, people die. It's unfortunate.

Plane accidents are rare, it's that they kill a lot of people at once, so they're bigger news.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | February 21, 2007 3:29 PM

Pittypat - but what if your child is in a car crash (you let him ride with his friend's mom) and it takes him a few minutes to die? Sorry freak accidents don't automatically mean instant death.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | February 21, 2007 3:30 PM

I think that your parents are full of it. They never needed babysitters because they never went anywhere (probably had no friends). . . . Do you really give a damn about what other people think? Can you think of a polite way to tell your folks to mind their own business?

Posted by: | February 21, 2007 03:06 PM

for an anonymous responder, you sure have some interesting opinions on my parents, LOL, and seem wound just a little too tight. They had plenty of friends. I have never had a problem doing what I thought was right. It's just a conversation, not my finger to the wind to determine which way to go. I don't need to tell my parents to mind their own business. If you're confident in your choices, there's no real call to act defensively and tell everyone, including one's parents, to shove off.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 3:30 PM

continuing my total procrastination day...

"I think that knowing my child had endured those moments would haunt me for the rest of my life."

Absolutely true Pittypat. Again, I think that could be the case in other situations too, but you're right, those are the things that keep you up at night.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 3:32 PM

"I think that knowing my child had endured those moments would haunt me for the rest of my life."

Only if you let it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:34 PM

Megan handled Pittypat's question perfectly. Let's please STOP listing all the possible freak accidents and horrible things that can happen to our children while we are not with them, okay?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | February 21, 2007 3:34 PM

"Megan handled Pittypat's question perfectly. Let's please STOP listing all the possible freak accidents and horrible things that can happen to our children while we are not with them, okay?"

Yes! Question has been answered! Y'all can stop now!

Many thanks.

Posted by: pittypat | February 21, 2007 3:36 PM

Let's please STOP listing all the possible freak accidents and horrible things that can happen to our children while we are not with them, okay?

Do you suppose some of them check this blog???

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:39 PM

Let's please STOP listing all the possible freak accidents and horrible things that can happen to our children while we are not with them, okay?

Gee, they may actually grow up to be adults!

Posted by: the original anon | February 21, 2007 3:39 PM

For the most part, I don't allow myself to think about all the freak accidents that can happen beyond my control. What's the point? I do think about safety issues, like car seats and bicycle helmets. This past week, I did not let my little one sled down our backyard hill because the snow was really hard and icy and I thought that the landing might be too hard and hurt him. Other than that, I try to put such thoughts out of my head. Why torture yourself unnecessarily?

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 3:40 PM

Hope there is a more interesting topic tomorrow............

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 3:46 PM

Regarding autism: There is not enough significant data to show that there is a rise in autism since prior to 1996. The belief is the increase is due to early diagnosis and the major cause is the change in the definition. DDs teacher thinks DD might be on the spectrum because she does not always make eye contact and does not play well with others. I am taking her to see a neurologist and a developmental pediatrician. The current description of autism includes socially awkward individuals. That describes myself and about 1/2 the people I know.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 3:56 PM

No, the person masquerading as "John" is not me. I've not made any comments on this topic today, other than the one where I said I wandered around a square mile of territory unsupervised as a child.

Posted by: The REAL John | February 21, 2007 4:02 PM

cmac, Scientists suspect there is a genetic component to ADD, in the same way that there is a genetic component to bi-polar and other neurological syndromes, and the anecdotal evidence is pretty strong. This is a fairly hot area in ADD research, but the studies are not complete or the sample sizes have been too small.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 4:03 PM

Hi, foamgnome: Did you see Lesley Stahl's piece on autism on the latest "60 Minutes"? You're right that some kids are borderline, in that sometimes they make eye-contact, but other times not -- and that un-autistic people also sometimes don't make eye-contact, either. I'm glad that you're getting DD medical attention, so she has the best possible chance of receiving a correct diagnosis (and whatever treatment or therapy might be appropriate, if any).

Posted by: catlady | February 21, 2007 4:04 PM

Wow, I never make eye contact (always thought that was just a bad habit I developed) and as an only child, sometimes had problems "playing" with others! I was also considered shy (per my report cards). Heck, the first time I had "roommates" was college and that took a couple of weeks to get used to. No "spectrum" issues here. Sad that we have to run right to the specialists when a teacher says things like that.

BTW, anyone else see on the news Monday that autism may be a chromosomal "defect"?

Posted by: Columbia, MD | February 21, 2007 4:05 PM

foamgnome, I guess that means that I must be on the spectrum too!

I find it very interesting and slightly ironic that diseases that previously were thought to exist only in one's "mind" are now being taken more seriously because they have some physiological component. Bipolar disorder is commonly recognized now but wasn't a couple of decades ago even though it was just as real then.

Not really on topic, but just wanted to say...

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 4:09 PM

Yes, I saw the piece. I am trying not to get myself all uptight about it till DD gets an diagnosis. Since my DD is talking and interacting with adults, I am not as concerned. But as a mom, you get yourself all worked up about the possibilities. Even if DD does have it, she clearly has a very mild form of it. And frankly, by their description, I think I probably fell into that category and I clearly have led a productive life. My cousin who is on the autism spectrum has gotten married, gone to college and graduate school, and is awaiting her first child. I really don't chock up too much to their mild diagnosis. But it does mean, DD will be in more intervention therapies. Not too bad. I think she has a bright future. But it did make the adoption social worker pause about giving us a green light on adopting another child. Seems silly to me but what can you do?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 4:10 PM

I want my kids to be independent just as much as the next person. I'm not sure that flying by themselves would contribute much in that direction. Both my kids have traveled by air a number of times and are very comfortable with it.

I'm using the time off for the holiday to teach them to cook some of their favorite foods. They're also both rearranging their own rooms. We also can't get away because of work as well as the kids both have sports going on.

I can just imagine what my kids would say if I told them they had to leave their friends and game consoles to visit Grandma for a few days. I bet I'd get some independent comments coming my way!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:10 PM

Foamgnome, not wanting to pry, but did you get the green light for the adoption?

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 4:15 PM

"Just like a liberal/democrat to blame the problem on something other than yourself."

I used to think I lived, ate and breathed politics until I started reading this board regularly and realized that there are some people who are incapable of distinguishing between political topics and non-political topics. It amazes me how some people can twist absolutely any comment on any topic into an expression of political leanings. What a weird way to approach disagreements with other adults.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:17 PM

We haven't yet. They want to read the report from the neurologist and the developmental pediatrician. The truth is that if DD has it, it is very mild. And you won't know your child's true prognosis till years down the road. But you have to jump through many hoops to adopt and this is just one of them. I can't imagine any Dr is going to tell her that DD is so disabled that she can't have a sibling.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 21, 2007 4:18 PM

"Airlines are normally prepared for children traveling without an accompanying adult. They have rules, policies, necessary provisions, and appropriate arrangements."
Airlines don't have babysitters or anyone working for them who wants to watch your kids. You kid is taken to the his/her seat and then they are supposed to wait there after until someone comes and gets them. There are no rules, policies, necessary provisions, or appropriate arrangements when your kid is sitting there alone at the mercy of strangers. If the kid has a connection they are left with a random gate agent. They just pick anyone available.

Posted by: former flight attendant | February 21, 2007 4:18 PM

I think a lot of this depends on the personality of the child. The #1 thing I learned while pregnant, and now continue to learn as teh Mommy of an almost 1 year old is just how different each one of us is. I think we're taught that a lot as children, but as adults see "diversity" as a political buzz word and foget how it impacts us day to day. When I used to teach sixth grade I could see myself trusting some of the kids to take a plane ride by themselves, others no way. LIke most pareting decisions, it seems to be case by case... no black and white answers... rather managing each situation based on the circumstances.
Leslie, I hope you had a great weekend with your 5 year old (I'm sure it was wonderful to have the one on one time for all 3 of you!), and I hope your older ones relished their new independence!

Posted by: Bad Mom | February 21, 2007 4:19 PM

"I can just imagine what my kids would say if I told them they had to leave their friends and game consoles to visit Grandma for a few days."

another case of woefully misplaced priorities and values. you ought to be ashamed of your kids and yourself for raising them to be this way.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:20 PM

Well, I'm keeping my finers crossed for you and your family!

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 4:23 PM

Thanks you, former flight attendant, for clarifying things for these parents.

Clearly, their kids are not being "looked after" on a plane flight. Who has the time?

They're deluding themselves if they think their kids are safely tucked in with an attendant "keeping an eye on them."

Who has the time???

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:26 PM

I'm pretty sure I meant fingers... and might as well as add toes too :)

Posted by: s | February 21, 2007 4:27 PM

To the "former flight attendant". I don't know how long ago you flew the friendly skies but this is simply NOT TRUE. There are policies and procedures in place when unaccompanied minors fly and the airlines only allow a certain number on each plane. I don't think parents feel their children will be "babysat" by anyone. It's simply getting from point A to point B, and ID needs to be shown, signatures on the dotted line, etc., when a transfer takes place. Where do you get your information?

Posted by: Righto | February 21, 2007 4:29 PM

Thanks you, former flight attendant, for clarifying things for these parents.

Clearly, their kids are not being "looked after" on a plane flight. Who has the time?

They're deluding themselves if they think their kids are safely tucked in with an attendant "keeping an eye on them."

Who has the time???

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:30 PM

I worked at a sleepaway summer camp for girls age 6-17. There was a family from Columbia with several daughters who sent them there for the entire summer (language learning was a huge factor in this decision). When I worked there there were 3 girls from this family aged 6-14 or so. It was great for the girls--they all loved it and continued to come to camp as CITs and counselors.

Children are capable of handling much more difficult/"scary"/independent situations than today's parents seem to think.

I'm not saying that you need to stick your kindergartener on a plane headed to a foreign country for 8 weeks but protecting them from walking two blocks to and from school is not doing them any favors---it's stifling them!

Posted by: Cate | February 21, 2007 4:34 PM

"It's simply getting from point A to point B, and ID needs to be shown, signatures on the dotted line, etc., when a transfer takes place."

You make the kids sound like cargo.

Do you really think that, during a four-hour flight between point A and point B, a six- or eight-year-old kid won't need some kind of attention?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:35 PM

Wow, foamgnome, I'm keeping my fingers crossed too, on all counts!

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 4:36 PM

Hypothetically speaking, on a two-hour flight, other than placing and getting your drink order and a bag of pretzels on your recent flights, explain to me what kind of attention a six- or eight-year old needs?

Posted by: Righto | February 21, 2007 4:38 PM

Lack of eye contact is only one symptom of autism, and problems getting along with others can range from not reading social cues to ignoring others to being aggressive towards others. Are there children out there with undiagnosed autism or ADHD who are able to function without services and supports (or at least are lucky to have supportive school environments)? I'll bet there are.

Cmac, I don't know of any parents who use ADHD (or autism for that matter) or the genetic link as an excuse. There is a lot of discussion in the medical field about heredity and ADHD and bipolar, but I haven't heard as much about inheriting autism. Several boys on my side of the family have ADHD, heavy on the hyperactivity and impulsivity. I've been told that my son acts the way my brother used to act, the way my father used to act, the way my nephew used to act. But my brother (and father) didn't have any medication or special services. They all grew out of the hyperactivity, but my then some of them had made some errors in judgment.

Schools often will treat behavior-related issues (and the misbehavors) less than charitably, regardless of their talents and achievements. The child with issues becomes a "problem child" who can do no right. And if you don't step in and advocate for your child, the school will provide its own label -- such as emotionally disturbed.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 4:41 PM

What's so horrible about parents walking their young children to the bus stop?

Posted by: chausti | February 21, 2007 4:42 PM

"Hypothetically speaking, on a two-hour flight, other than placing and getting your drink order and a bag of pretzels on your recent flights, explain to me what kind of attention a six- or eight-year old needs?"

Well, I said four-hour flight, but ok. Let's use your hypothetical.

The answer? I haven't the foggiest idea. Children aren't one-size-fits-all; each has different likes, dislikes, abilities, tolerances, fears.

But I do know that you can't just park a kid like he's a Fed Ex box and expect "it" to stay put and silent and still for two hours.

Have you ever actually been around any kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:43 PM

I was a flight attendant until right after 9/11/01 for a major US carrier. Yes I signed for kids on the dotted line then they were put in the seat and left alone for the duration of the trip. If there was a connection, they were handed off to a random gate agent to be watched who signed on another dotted line. The policies (the one that said you signed on the dotted line) were given in flight attendant training when you began working for the airline. If you worked there 30 years, the policies you were trained on were 30 years old. I posted before how I was handed 3 kids, which I signed for, by a gate agent who was carrying one child by the arm while calling the kids all sorts of profanity. He signed on the dotted line though so he was following procedure. Not all gate agents were like that, some were great. But if you send your kid on a plane alone you will be trusting your kid with people you don't know and have never met. The kids wore big red cards on a string which they sometimes ripped off, shoved in there bag, and walked off the plane. A couple of times when I landed, when the gate agent came up to me to fetch the kids, I was like what kid. I didn't remember which kid belonged to someone or was alone and kids did occasionally walk off the plane. They also wandered up and down the aisles among random strangers. Most of them were fine. A lot of them just sat in the seat. But I couldn't really tell you what they did because honestly I didn't pay attention to them and neither did anyone else except for perhaps a random stranger.

Posted by: former flight attendant | February 21, 2007 4:44 PM

I cannot wait until my child hits the age where she can travel alone by plane... it is a short/direct flight to my parents, and I always thought it would be great for her to spend a couple weeks there every summer and go to camp (they live in the country as well). As for overseas flights, well that all depends... even I have a hard time figuring out the large airports and connections. Her first flight was at 8 weeks, and flew tons before turning 2 (now it is expensive and we drive more).

Depends on the child, their comfort being away from their parents, and how well behaved they are. If I had a clingy brat with no sense of independence, I would wait longer... kids really do need to learn how to be independent, and I have met some lovely kids traveling along (I sit next to them with my lap child, because you always get the evil looks from adults when you have a baby).

Posted by: single mom | February 21, 2007 4:45 PM

"Hypothetically speaking, on a two-hour flight, other than placing and getting your drink order and a bag of pretzels on your recent flights, explain to me what kind of attention a six- or eight-year old needs?"

Well, I said four-hour flight, but ok. Let's use your hypothetical.

The answer? I haven't the foggiest idea. Children aren't one-size-fits-all; each has different likes, dislikes, abilities, tolerances, fears.

But I do know that you can't just park a kid like he's a Fed Ex box and expect "it" to stay put and silent and still for two hours.

Have you ever actually been around any kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:46 PM

Driving me to school was something that my parents did for me the first day of the school year, so that they could make sure I knew where it was. Problem was that I didn't know which bus to take home! I had to run around frantically asking teachers which bus I should get on. But, hey, I'm not afraid to stop and ask for directions ;-)

As soon as I had a bike and knew how to ride it, I had free reign to go wherever I wished in town. Swim lessons, local library, baseball practice, candy store. I even had to walk to (magnet) school when I missed the bus. It was about five miles and the only way I knew how to get there was to follow the circuitous bus path.

Posted by: Working Dad | February 21, 2007 4:46 PM

""I can just imagine what my kids would say if I told them they had to leave their friends and game consoles to visit Grandma for a few days."

another case of woefully misplaced priorities and values. you ought to be ashamed of your kids and yourself for raising them to be this way."

It's not their fault that Grandma is a monumental bore. It's not my fault either. They visit at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. My kids would never speak to anyone as rudely as you do.


Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 4:46 PM

I'm more of a lurker than a poster here...but an interesting fact about Asperger's (highly functioning Autism) is that the "abnormal" condition known as Asperger's syndrome is remarkably similar to the "normal" functioning of an engineer's mind. It has been written that you are more likely to encounter someone with Asperger's than without upon walking in to an engineering school.

Posted by: Engineer | February 21, 2007 4:56 PM

Here is an interesting story from 2001 about a 10 year old girl who was molested by a passenger while traveling alone on a plane: http://archives.cnn.com/2001/TRAVEL/NEWS/08/08/northwest.molest/index.html

Here is one about a 13 year old on a United flight: http://www.insideedition.com/ourstories/print/story.aspx?storyid=192

Here is one about an 8 year old on a Southwest flight taken off at the wrong place:
http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=46029

I am sure Northwest, Southwest, and United had policies too.

Posted by: former flight attendant | February 21, 2007 5:06 PM

Are there children out there with undiagnosed autism or ADHD who are able to function without services and supports (or at least are lucky to have supportive school environments)?

ADD isn't about school. It's about life. It's about impulse control, difficulty in engaging in healthy relationships, and, in some instances, difficulty with anger management (see impulse control). Undiagnosed persons who suffer from ADD are at high risk for developing substance abuse problems and for depression. As you might imagine, problems with depression exacerbate the tendency towards substance abuse.

There are no extra points in life for functioning without supports or services when supports and services are available. If someone had post-partum depression, you wouldn't ask if she can function without support and services. Don't ask it of the ADD sufferer either.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 5:13 PM

"It's not their fault that Grandma is a monumental bore. It's not my fault either. They visit at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. My kids would never speak to anyone as rudely as you do."

This, plus your disbelief that an 8 year old (3rd grade, people!) cannot behave himself/ care for himself/ask for help over the course of 4 hours in a small, enclosed environment just shows that your kids have no independence whatsoever and worse, never have to take any sort of responsibility for anything--you go out of your way to keep it from them.

3rd graders can handle a few hours on an airplane if they've been taught to behave in public, use the bathroom by themselves, and ask for help from a responsible adult if they need it.

ALL children should have the respect for their grandparents, boring or not. Fine job you're doing teaching them this...you don't even display it yourself. And (this is the responsibility part of it)....their rudeness toward their grandmother is not little Precious's fault...it's grandma's! Good job.

And the C on the report card was because the teacher doesn't like you, right? Nothing to do with Junior's behavior in class or attentiveness to lessons?

Posted by: to anon above.... | February 21, 2007 5:18 PM

"I'm more of a lurker than a poster here...but an interesting fact about Asperger's (highly functioning Autism) is that the "abnormal" condition known as Asperger's syndrome is remarkably similar to the "normal" functioning of an engineer's mind. It has been written that you are more likely to encounter someone with Asperger's than without upon walking in to an engineering school."

It find this very interesting. Back in another life, I had a long term relationship with a man who I am convinced (in hindsight) had Aspergers. He was a brilliant engineer, and a nice person, but very quirky. Over time, I also found that communication with him was incredibly difficult. He took everything very literally and did not pick up on social cues and nuance very well. He was also very much a loner, and did not like social situation except with a few close people. But man, was he good at his job. But as far as I am concerned, he was a normal person who is just wired differently from the rest of us. It has its pros and cons. We all can't be social butterflies who are finely attuned to social nuances, as we all can't be brilliant engineers and scientists. Thinking tha one way of being constitutes a disability, I think, is a bias that does such people a great disservice.

Posted by: Emily | February 21, 2007 5:19 PM

It's not their fault that Grandma is a monumental bore. It's not my fault either. They visit at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. My kids would never speak to anyone as rudely as you do.

Posted by: | February 21, 2007 04:46 PM

Holding up a mirror in front of you is not rude. Lacking all respect and love for the elderly is.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:20 PM

NC Lawyer, I appreciate your comments. No offense, but I am very aware of what ADD/ADHD is about. A major, major part is school, because if ADHD significantly impacts one's learning, then special services are very likely needed. Poor impulse control, inattentiveness and hyperactivity are all traits that can negatively impact the classroom experience. An ADHD-inattentive child's needs are likely to be different from and ADHD-combined type child's needs. Again, my son is ADHD and mildly autistic, so I've been through it. I'm not saying that anyone with these issues should or should not have supports or services. The point I was trying to make is that it depends on the specific child; the needs are individualized.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 5:24 PM

"3rd graders can handle a few hours on an airplane if they've been taught to behave in public, use the bathroom by themselves, and ask for help from a responsible adult if they need it."

The "responsible adult" should be the parent. Just by teaching your kid to ask for help on the plane from a responsible adult, you're abdicating your own responsibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:24 PM

If someone had post-partum depression, you wouldn't ask if she can function without support and services.

NC Lawyer, meet Tom Cruise.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:25 PM

Tom Cruise? I'm not his biggest fan :>)


originalmomof2, I'm sorry and I know you do. I get weary of the uninitiated -- certainly not you -- reducing ADD to a school issue ("why do you give him his medication on the weekends?"), and suggesting that if they ignore it they are somehow benefitting their family member. I'm not pro-medication. I'm pro-understanding how it impacts someone's life and getting appropriate help. Neither family member in our household has the hyperactivity component. It's everything else that makes life interesting, LOL.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 5:33 PM

The "responsible adult" should be the parent. Just by teaching your kid to ask for help on the plane from a responsible adult, you're abdicating your own responsibility.

Parents cannot be the "responsible adult" in every situation every second of the day. Or, well, they could but that would be smothering and the child will never learn anything. On the schoolbus, it's the driver, at school, it's any teacher, at friends' houses it's the parent, in public it's a police officer. On airplanes, it's a flight attendant.

And it's not just children who need help in certain situations. Any one of us at any time may need to approach the Strangers In Charge (grocery store managers, police officers, flight attendants) when there's a problem.

When you're 30 and you need a glass of water on an airplane, do you turn to your mother to ask her to get one for you?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:36 PM

Just by teaching your kid to ask for help on the plane from a responsible adult, you're abdicating your own responsibility.

Extending this logic, parents are abdicating their responsibility by sending their child to school instead of home-schooling, to Sunday School instead teaching the Bible themselves, to music lessons instead of teaching the instrument themselves, or any time they entrust their child to a professional who is not a family member. Flight crews with the attitude of the above former flight attendant are better off being former flight attendants.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:36 PM

Not a chance in hell that my kids at that age would travel like that. I think some people are just compelled to show how hip and independent they are from society and common sense.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 21, 2007 5:40 PM

pATRICK, I wouldn't want your kids on the same plane as me, with or without you there with them

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:46 PM

"Just by teaching your kid to ask for help on the plane from a responsible adult, you're abdicating your own responsibility."

Hmm, what was it moxiemom was saying about lack of community? Can't imagine where she got that idea.

Posted by: Megan | February 21, 2007 5:46 PM

i'm the first 5:36 poster--forgot to keep my name....and yeah, i agree with the other 5:36 poster!

Posted by: to anon above | February 21, 2007 5:46 PM

maybe s/he's the parent of the kid in Utah

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:49 PM

Kids should be able to engage in a conversation with an adult they do not know without being fearful. Instilling widespread stranger phobia results in kids that are uncomfortable talking to adults they don't know. You think this is a good thing. I disagree. In order to avoid the possibility that your child might be a victim of crime (what are the odds they'll be a crime victim?), many of you are intentionally raising kids who are afraid to have a conversation with adults they do not know. If the child is alone, this makes sense, but even when children are accompanied by their parents, or plenty of friends, they are taught to be afraid and not speak to strangers. The way I see it, kids need to develop this life skill in order to survive (what are the odds they'll live to adulthood?), get that first job, be liked by teachers, coaches, and other adults, deal with a new pastor or coach.

Our 12 year old can not only ride his bike to Eckerd's Pharmacy, he knows what to do if he has a question while he is there. He will go up to the counter or find a manager, wait his return, make eye contact, ask a respectful, clear question, LISTEN to the answer, and thank the adult for his time. We are not raising a child of fear, but a child of confidence.

I do not mean this to be snarky, but if you are this scared in your community and neighborhoods, and if you can afford to move, why do you not move somewhere where you are less fearful for your children or where you do not feel compelled to raise them to be fearful?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:52 PM

Now children, I know it is getting late in the afternoon, but let's play nice with each other.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 5:54 PM

About 2 weeks ago, I mentioned the passing of my brother in law and you all gave me overwhelmimg support. thanks! I wrote a few words on the guy and figured I should share if anyone is interested:

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze35fvj/Mark.htm

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 21, 2007 5:57 PM

"Hmm, what was it moxiemom was saying about lack of community? Can't imagine where she got that idea."

Exactly, Megan. People must live in a lonely and scary worlds if they see themselves as little islands, unable or unwilling to get or give assistance to those around them.

This is a large part of why I don't like the DC area in general--so many people like this. I have found a little niche neighborhood where neighbors act neighborly and people say hello to each other on the streets, offer hands getting cars unstuck from snow etc. But it took a while for me to get there.


And also, on the hovering parent front---seriously people, kids have to do things themselves! It instills a great sense of pride and accomplishment and takes the fear out of growing up--it become something to look forward to. Each child is different and can take different stages of independence at different ages, but THAT'S what your job, as a parent, IS....help them find their way, not do it all for them and protect them from every possible imaginable negative experience until they're 18!

Posted by: Cate | February 21, 2007 5:57 PM

Not a chance in hell that my kids at that age would travel like that. I think some people are just compelled to show how hip and independent they are from society and common sense.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 21, 2007 05:40 PM

helicoptering is not a family value.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 6:00 PM

what is helicoptering?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 6:03 PM

Thanks for sharing, Father of 4!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 21, 2007 6:03 PM

helicoptering = hovering and swooping in so kids don't have the opportunity to make mistakes or get hurt or have any real freedom to mess up.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 6:09 PM

A helicopter parent is one who pays extremely close attention to her child or children, often hovering in view. The goal is to prevent any possibility of harm, including the stray germ that might permeate the air the child breathes.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 6:12 PM

I flew alone for the first time when I was 8 or 9. It was fine-- a small flight and I had relatives with me at both ends. The only traumatic part was when my aunt was filling out the form for me and said out loud in front of the attendants, "Sex? Not yet." Mortifying.

Posted by: Neighbor | February 21, 2007 6:13 PM

F04 - lovely, wish I could have met Uncle Mark. His daughter will be lucky to have you in her life. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 6:20 PM

I flew for the first time when I was 11. We actually had to make an unscheduled landing about halfway there. They said it was because the headwind was much stronger than they'd anticipated and we wouldn't have enough fuel to get where we were going. I took it in stride--asked if I needed to call my parents or relatives on the other end and they said no--the delay would be reported. No biggie.

I was also put on the train to-from DC to Philadelphia to visit relatives when I was as young as 8 or 9. That's actually one of the reasons I think my cousin and I are still so close (we live near each other and are very good friends)--we saw each other all the time growing up. No big deal--just teach your child how to behave, what they need to know to get from point A to point B and what to do/who to ask if they need help.

Posted by: Cate | February 21, 2007 6:21 PM

When DD was 7, she and I got separated in a large, crowded theater. She needed to go to the bathroom, slipped through the crowd of adults like lightening, and I couldn't see her anymore. I didn't worry right away, but got nervous when she wasn't in the (long) bathroom line. I pushed my way into the bathroom and shouted for her in there. No answer. I quickly went back to where we had been seated in the lobby, then to our seats in the theatre. She wasn't in either place. A bit frantic by now, I approached an usher and told her my daughter was missing and described her. Just as I finished, up walked the House Manager, DD in tow. She had looked for me in all the same places. We must have just missed each other in the crowd. When she realized she was truly separated and couldn't find me, she said "I took a deep breath and told the usher I was lost." I'd taught her that if she was ever lost, to find an employee with a uniform and/or name badge and ask for help. The usher got the house manager, and we were reunited. I was proud of how she handled it, but we both stick closer now in crowds!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | February 21, 2007 6:37 PM

Is anyone else really having lots of trouble with this blog? There are times I can't even read the comments.

I am so glad my parents gave me the freedom they did (even tho I think it wasn't by choice most of the time). All three of us were pretty much on autopilot as they had their own agendas. My sister and I have marveled at how well we have turned out considering how emotionally absent our parents were.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 6:52 PM

I have to apologize to all the people who gave me drink orders last week for my vacation. I had margaritas, crown royal, corona, Kalik(good bahamian beer), bahama mamas, bloody marys and white wine.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 21, 2007 6:55 PM

Vegas Mom, you might want to try designating a spot beforehand where you will meet should you get separated.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 6:56 PM

Anon at 6:56, yes, should have mentioned that we do that now as well. That happened about a year ago, and we've been in several crowds since then and have managed to stay together.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | February 21, 2007 7:02 PM

I'd taught her that if she was ever lost, to find an employee with a uniform and/or name badge and ask for help.

Probably too late, but another good tip I got was if your children couldn't find someone official, find a mother with small children to ask for help. The likelihood that she's interested in more children is slim and they are often easier to find than an employee or police officer. Stranger danger is important, but it is also important to tell them who they CAN talk to in case they need help or they are helpless if surrounded by strangers.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 21, 2007 7:22 PM

"originalmomof2, I'm sorry and I know you do. I get weary of the uninitiated -- certainly not you -- reducing ADD to a school issue ("why do you give him his medication on the weekends?"), and suggesting that if they ignore it they are somehow benefitting their family member. I'm not pro-medication. I'm pro-understanding how it impacts someone's life and getting appropriate help. Neither family member in our household has the hyperactivity component. It's everything else that makes life interesting, LOL."

Thanks, NC Lawyer. While you're at it, hand me a tissue as I'm boo-hooing while I'm writing this. My son just got kicked out of yet another aftercare. At least school is going well, but will the misbehavior ever end? It's time to seek out a special care nanny. Sigh.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 21, 2007 8:25 PM

I let my kids fly alone last year (they were 9 and 11) and it was similar to letting my BUSINESS fly alone - the first time I went on vacation and didn't call into the office!

Posted by: ParentPreneur | February 21, 2007 10:00 PM

Thanks Megan and S. We truly believe if it was meant to be, it will happen. Actually DH is an engineer and I am a statistician. I don't think social awkwardness is limited to engineers. I actually think most people in the math/science fields have a large number of socially awkward people. I do not believe they all have Asperger's Syndrome. Some are simply less social and some lack social training. We are trying to assess if DD is in the less social area and just needs social training or she has a deeper neurological condition. She seems to have less need for social interaction. But her more disturbing trait is she is deathly afraid of strangers. Even as a brand new three year old, if someone new walks into day care or school, she runs and hides. She has never had a bad experience with strangers, so I don't know why she does this. Since all of her relatives live far away, she reacts the same way when she is first met by them. So of course they feel all offended and want to know what is wrong with her. Even as a toddler if she was in a fenced in play room with her cousin, if I walked away. DD went right up to fence and watched me. She just feels very insecure that way. Thank God she goes to school and day care, because I truly think she would be worse if I SAH. In stores, if a stranger talks to her, DD turns her back and sometimes cries. It is like extreme shyness to the nth degree. When she gets to know someone, like at school or day care, then she is fine with them. She does have a lower interest in social interaction with people except me. She just can't get enough of the Mommy. But it is a bit peculiar and a tad disturbing.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 22, 2007 7:45 AM

Father of 4,
I was really touched by your essay on Uncle Mark. It is a lovely tribute to a life well lived.

Posted by: Emily | February 22, 2007 9:26 AM

Father of 4, what a lovely tribute.

Foamgnome, I think you are approaching your concerns about your daughter wisely, it seems like you have a very good perspective on things. I hope that all goes well. I also was chuckling about what you said about relatives being offended when she runs away. Our son does not react quite as strongly to strangers, but he does get very shy and will cling to me in a new situation or around new people, including distant relatives of course. I have never understood why our relatives who live far away don't understand that they ARE strangers to him - how is a 2 year old supposed to understand the concept of relatives? He rarely sees them, why would he NOT treat them differently than other new people? People have such strange expectations of children. And of course the more they try to draw him out by getting in his face or trying to hug him the more shy he gets, it's so frustrating. So I really sympathize on that point. And really, while I understand concerns about profound levels of shyness being indicative of another problem, I don't understand why we so often treat shyness as a bad quality in general. I hate it when I see a parent chastising their toddler for being shy or cautious in a new situation (I don't mean just encouraging him or her to go play, I mean half-yelling at the kid "Why are you being so shy? What's wrong with you?" kind of thing). I think it's kind of sensical for a child to be cautious until he gets a sense of who the people are and what the lay of the land is - I mean, isn't that what we're talking about wanting our older children to be able to do? Assess a situation and make a judgment about what's the safest/best thing to do? Not jump into a car with someone unless they know the secret word?

Oh, and I'll also add that there are an awful lot of lawyers and law professors that are profoundly socially awkward as well - definitely not limited to engineers!

Posted by: Megan | February 22, 2007 10:33 AM

Megan and Foamgnome,
Just another 2 cents on the shyness issue. I also find it difficult to understand why friends and relatives are offended when little kids react shyly to them. And I think it is a terrible idea to scold the kids for that shyness for a couple of reasons: First, kids who are naturally shy will not be put at ease by scolding. It will only exacerbate their anxiety. Second, kids should feel empowered to deal with strangers in a way that seems appropriate and comfortable to them, and not be forced into feigned friendliness when they are not up to it. We constantly warn our kids that they should not talk to strangers, etc., but then we scold them for not being friendly enough to other people who to them seem to be perfect strangers. What a contradition. I think that while kids should be taught to be polite in social settings, they should not be forced to kiss great aunt Shirley whom they have never met before in their lives. Their feelings count too, and they should not be forced to act contrary to them.

Posted by: Emily | February 22, 2007 11:55 AM

People seem to have given up attacking Leslie's friend who works 80 hours a week, but I still have a point to make. Everyone seems to assume this is a professional woman with enough money to cut back on her hours, which is probably true given the context. However, at a time when the government is cutting benefits, what do you say to the woman who is forced to work two minimum wage jobs, just to make ends meet. She probably has to work additional hours just to make sure she can afford childcare. Don't get so caught up in your own economic bias that you assume those extra hours are because of ambition or the desire for a home theater system; sometimes it's just about covering rent and making sure there's food on the table.

Posted by: elsa | February 22, 2007 12:02 PM

Helicopter posters, we will see what you say when your child gets molested, hit by a car, kidnapped, raped or disappears. We will all mourn your child but it will be of no use because it won't undo the damage, but hey you were just trying to teach independence right?

Posted by: pATRICK | February 22, 2007 1:35 PM

Helicopter posters, we will see what you say when your child gets molested, hit by a car, kidnapped, raped or disappears. We will all mourn your child but it will be of no use because it won't undo the damage, but hey you were just trying to teach independence right?

Posted by: pATRICK | February 22, 2007 01:35 PM

even for pATRICK, this comment is beyond the pale. Is it not possible for him to disagree with another parent without suggesting that their children will die because the parent does not agree with pATRICK?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 24, 2007 12:57 PM

Defending Leslie's friend.

I don't think "80 hours per week" is rare in DC-metro. It doesn't mean literally 80 "billable hours." It is likelier to mean about 13 hours per day M through Sat. Maybe leave home at 6:30am to get to work by 8:00am then leave work at 7:00pm or so. Get home around 8:00pm if traffic is good. That type of schedule is probably what people mean when they remark offhand "I work 80 hours a week." Such a person probably bills between 40 and 55 hrs per week if you average out all 50 work weeks of the year.

By the way, this is my first post here! I've been a longtime reader though. I'll start to post more often. I feel like I already know many of you.

Posted by: Childless Masha | February 24, 2007 6:53 PM

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