Helicopter Parenting

Would you let your kids, 10 and 6, walk home alone from a park a mile away?

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Comments (13)

(9) Anonymous, April 13, 2015 12:16 AM

'Have to weight the situation though...

I agree this should be an individual decision among parents and their children. 1 mile = about 12 city blocks. It's really not that great a distance. The type of neighborhood one lives in, traffic, etc. needs to be taken into account too--but this isn't a "one size fits all" decision. For example: as a child living in a small city of 50,000 in WI, I lived over a mile from my elementary school, and it was expected--from kindergarten on--that I would walk there, and back, everyday--snow, rain or shine. Our school day started at about 8:15 AM--so there was never a question of walking in the dark, and there were always other kids from the neighborhood also walking to school.

Now--my own children (ages 9 & 11) are going to school in a city of about 50,000 in GA. The school day here starts at 7:00 AM--when it's still pitch-dark during the winter months. We live about 8 blocks from the school--but there are no sidewalks here. My kids are among only a handful of children in this neighborhood going to this school--so there's not much "kid traffic" (or "safety in numbers"). No way do I allow my kids to go to school in the mornings alone! However, yes, I do often let them walk home after school--with three iron-clad rules in place: they walk together, no dawdling or exploring off the assigned route home-- and they walk on the grassy areas at the sides of the street--not IN the street. I want my children to develop some understanding of self-sufficiency, and I don't want my kids growing up feeling--as so many seem to --that they HAVE to have a car super-glued to their backsides in order to "do anything." Am I always comfortable with it? No. But I also don't want to raise kids who are mentally shrouded in bubble wrap.

Late commenting on this I realize--just watched this video. I always enjoy listening to your "take on life" Rabbi Solomon, even on those rare occasions I don't completely agree with you!

(8) Miriam, January 27, 2015 6:30 PM

Completely normal in Israel

I live in Israel where it is completely normal and accepted for a 10 yr old to walk with a 6 yr old for 20min. Even in London when I grew up kids would walk home from school alone at 10 years old. Isn't this something each parent should be able to decide based on the maturity of their child? There isn't a 'law' about this. How can the social services take children away from their parents b/c of this?! Why don't they concentrate on the real issues out there?

(7) David, January 26, 2015 7:05 AM

I don’t know where this is coming from. Maybe there is something about the neighborhood or the times that I don’t understand. Living in Israel, my daughters took public transportation to elementary and middle schools. When we lived in Houston for three years, they took public buses or rode bicycles to and from school. [Flashback – when I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia, one day (when I was about 10), after classes, I decided to see how far I could travel on a school token. I rode the subways and buses to north, south, and west Philadelphia, and I rode into Camden, NJ and back. My mother was shocked when I arrived home at 7 PM instead of the expected 4 PM, but no one ever suggested that social services should get involved.] My kids flew on El Al as unaccompanied minors between Israel and the US to visit their grandparents. Is this irresponsibility? I think not. Each person and each case is different. You can’t judge every incident by a single measure. Sometimes we may have lapses of judgment, but that is rarely a justification for the heavy hand of government interference.

(6) Rachel, January 26, 2015 4:28 AM

it depends on the kids

I live in this area. I did not let my kids walk that distance alone, but I did expect each of them to walk a couple of blocks home from the school bus stop starting around these ages. Had that been developmentally inappropriate for them, I would have made different arrangements. And many frum children go on their own to shul or to visit friends on Shabbat when they cannot carry cell phones. This is a real family neighborhood where folks look out for each others children, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. And again - this is a decision that can only be made by parents about each individual child.

(5) Simcha, January 26, 2015 12:35 AM

Children Walking Home!!!

I agree with every word of Rabbi Salomon. The parents were wrong in allowing their children to walk such a long distance by themselves but that is NO reason to take the children away from their parents. The parents should be warned not to do it again due to the danger. The parents should also explain to their children the dangers of going with strangers and even someone they know. When I was in elementary school from '66-'72, I walked seven minutes either by myself or with a friend to school except for the first day of first grade when my mother (may she rest in peace) walked me to school. I remember very clearly that my first grade teacher, a lady approximately 60 years old, hugged me in front of the whole class because I was the best reader and speller in the class. These days, the teacher would go to jail for that. Times have certainly changed!!!

(4) Fred Campbell, January 25, 2015 5:18 PM

It depends.

First, this is an example of over-reaction (even abuse of power) by CPS. As "Anonymous" noted, CPS should devote themselves to actual cases of child abuse and endangerment. In this case, they are close to endangering a functional family by abuse of power.
Second, Simple standards are not applicable. I do not know the neighborhood. There are places where I would not let my child out of my sight. There are other areas where I would let my children roam from dawn to dusk.
This era of cell phone communications also allows children to roam while still being under reasonable parental surveillance. Such roaming is a valuable maturing experience.
Like many such situations the only reasonable standard (and reaction) is "it depends".

(3) chava, January 25, 2015 4:47 PM

10 years old is most likely old enough

Each child is different, and the amount of responsibility they can be given must be adjusted for appropriateness to each child. There are plenty of 10 year olds who act responsibly, & can be trusted to walk home from a park along with a younger sibling. I assume the parents had been sure that the boys knew the way, & knew what to do in case of various emergencies. Perhaps they had a cell-phone -- I don't know. Perhaps they knew some of the neighbors along the way. But a mile is a 20 minute walk. If the neighborhood is such that kids can't be outside alone for 20 minutes, I think there's a big problem that must be solved --- not by CPS.

(2) Felice Eisner, January 25, 2015 4:39 PM

What were the circumstances?

Not enough information is given for anyone to rush to judgment. My eyebrows went up when I saw the headline, but I would like to know what the situation really was. Were the children familiar with the area? What type of neighborhood is it? Did they know what to do if they were lost or frightened? Did they have a cellphone or money? After all the facts are in is the time to comment on the "inappropriate" (or not) actions of the parents.

(1) Anonymous, January 25, 2015 2:02 PM

Child Protective Services should NOT have been called

While the CPS workers are investigating these parents, many other children are suffering from genuine abuse and/or neglect. I am furious about the fact that CPS is involved at all. As a social worker, I have witnessed abuse/neglect/terrible judgement on the part of parents. Believe me when I say that this incident should not be on the CPS radar. Let's leave these parents alone and help the children who REALLY need our assistance!

Keren, January 25, 2015 4:43 PM

These children were in danger

I lived in that neighborhood of Silver Spring for a number of years. That park abuts a six-lane major traffic artery to Washington, D.C. A six-year-old child could be scooped up by any person driving by & the 10-year-old sibling would be helpless to stop an abduction. CPS would not have been called had those parents not insisted to the police that they were within their parental rights to endanger their children's lives. This is NOT a quiet, safe, suburban area. The law requires the older child to be 13. Common sense, which these parents clearly do not have, would tell anyone that a 10-year-old is just too young & probably too small to be an effective guardian.

Canuck, January 26, 2015 12:25 AM

Excellent point.

Your very informative comment says it all. Thank you on behalf of all readers!

Anonymous, January 25, 2015 5:39 PM

One mile is ten blocks

Absurd to interfere with this family. One mile is only ten blocks. This is the same distance I walked to grade school. Shame on the fear mongers. Perhaps we prefer obese children with lots of chronic health problems. Stop it already.

THEO, January 25, 2015 6:03 PM

Irresponsible parents

Dear Rabbi
I find your view too cavalier Where police are coming from is that so many kidnappings or abductions take place that the authorities have to come down strongly in order to make a point
We are living in dangerous times Your soft peddling of this is so wrong There are ,as you admit ,other ways of teaching independence This is not one of them
I fully understand the questioning of the worthiness of the parents to be - well ,parents


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