How close is too close?

@ersmommy1 (12605)
United States
January 29, 2009 2:26pm CST
How do you balance giving independence with being careful? Where's the line between being protective and overprotective? I have been accused of being an over protective parent. I don't think this is always such a bad thing. When my daughter goes somewhere to play, if I haven't known the people FOR A LONG TIME either I or my hubby stay in the yard or house where she is having the playdate. She is 5 1/2. We have a group of friends who all have kids. And we are comfortable leaving her at their homes. (One couple I have known most my life) the other I have known close to 1/2 my life. But new parents of school kids we stay. What age would you let your kids be on their own to go to a friends house?
3 people like this
17 responses
@sandymay48 (2031)
• Canada
30 Jan 09
THis is a most difficult question to answer especially in this day and age. Do we really know people just by meeting them? NO, I think not...If you do not know the people well, I see no harm in staying around to watch interactions and what goes on. There is no such thing as loving a child too much. You have stated that you do leave her with friends you have known a long time..I see nothing wrong in what you do, not at only 5 years old. If I had a 5 year old, I do not think I would leave her with strangers to play either.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Jan 09
I know I'm overprotective! I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old, so I'm not sure when they'll be heading out to a friends house. I don't let anyone babysit, not even my family, so I'm not sure how I'm going to do on leaving them to play. I'm sure it'll get better the older they get. You can never be to careful because I've seen a lot of stories where these kids get hurt because a person just can't handle them. I've even seen it where it's been a family member or someone the family has known a very long time.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13207)
• United States
30 Jan 09
If it's somebody I know well, then I don't worry too much. The only place my daughter has stayed for a majority of a day or overnight is with my best friend at her house. We are over there all the time anyway so it's a comfortable familiar place for her - plus HER daughter is her best friend. I have a few other friends with little girls who are also my daughter's friends and I would let her go over to their houses to play without me there, for a time but maybe not overnight. For me it is a combination of how comfortable I am with the mom and/or dad, the safety of the house, and how friendly my daughter is with the little girl or boy. There are some kids that I just absolutely love, but I wouldn't feel comfortable not being there in the house. I don't have a problem if the kids are playing in another room while I chat with the mom, but sometimes I just like to be there. My daughter just turned five... I'm sure this question is going to come up more often after she is in kindergarten. It will just depend on how I feel I guess. I have always been interested in meeting parents and making sure a parent is on the property, even with my older kids. Sometimes they have gotten irritated because I always have to talk to a parent or make sure an adult is present, but I KNOW what happens with teens who are unsupervised lol. There is a big reason I did not allow my older kids to have friends over at the house when I was gone ... at least not until they were 17ish. I still am careful who of my son's friends I allow at the house, even if i'm just running to the store because I just don't want to deal with any trouble.
1 person likes this
@mtdewgurl74 (18122)
• United States
23 Feb 09
Probably not until they were like 8 maybe. It can be a frightening thing to leave a child with unknown parents because as they say most abuse starts right in a home. SO there is that never knowing thing that can put you on the defensive about leaving a child at no matter what age with unknown families.
@kezabelle (2985)
30 Jan 09
My daughter is almost 5 I will not allow her to play at a friends unless I know the parent, she went on her first play date just the other day I know the boys mother and had spent that morning at her house and our little children got to know each other her mum also babysat my youngest today while we went to the school for a play date of our own with our children at school her mum is amazing I havent known her long but I trust her and my daughter took to her straight away thats really important in my choices as I think children can sense things we cant sometimes! I wouldnt just drop her off at someones house though without speaking to the parents first and getting to know them.
• United States
30 Jan 09
I think you are on the money. Being protective and over-protective can be a fine distinction. In many cases, however, I feel justified in suggesting that it is entirely dependent on the child in question. Some children can display a responsibility which lends trust. But, I think it is a good idea to keep close tabs on your children for as long as they will allow. There are bad stories which come from a child being in a bad situation or exposed to a bad crowd. You can never really know people just because their children seem nice. I think keeping a vigilant eye is a good idea.
@Jenaisle (3803)
• Philippines
30 Jan 09
I have to agree with your observation. I would feel the same way. I won't allow my kids to stay with a family whom I barely knew. I have to know them well before I do so. We are living in dangerous times and we should be extra careful especially with the people we love most. Cheers and happy mylotting.
@Debs_place (10551)
• United States
30 Jan 09
What you are doing is perfectly reasonable and not overprotective and don't let people tell you otherwise. I was always told that I was overprotective and too strict with my son...well, he turned out fine, he learned to make decisions about trusting people and what is right and wrong very watching. I remember when I first let it out on his own to hang with friends in a different neighborhood..I would tell him I trusted him where he was going and what he was doing. About the 3rd time he was would go visit those friend, I would pull the sneak check...hey Matt, going to the store what do you want for dinner or ordering a pizza for dinner, what do you want on it. As long as he was where he said he was going and doing what he said he was doing (and he always was good) there was no problem. One time, he was at a friends house when I did my check, he told his friends he had to go and jumped in the car and thanked me for coming by - his friends were smoking and he was an athlete and did not want to get involved-- I was his easy out, Be overprotective - but as they get older - be discreet. They will appreciate it.
@cripfemme (7719)
• United States
30 Jan 09
That's fine, but make sure she knows that she isn't being punished by you being there. That's what I would thought as a kid, that I wasn't as grown up as the other kids because none of their parents stayed and would have felt not trusted to act well. I'm sure that's not the message you want to convey.
@lynnemg (4540)
• United States
30 Jan 09
I am also called "over-protective" a lot of times. I will not even allow my 11 year old to go to a friends house unless I have an address, a phone number, and know EXACTLY what the kids plan to do. Just thins year did I start allowing him to go to friend's houses that are not on the same road that we live. I allow my eight year old son to go with a friend if I know the parents. I also insist on having a phone number. He has yet to ask about going to a friend's house that is not on our street, but I would have to know and trust the parents before I would even consider it. My daughter, who is 6 is normally restricted to our house, or occassionally the neighbor's house. I think that the proper age to let your kid go to a friend's house is entirely up to you. You are the one who needs tos be comfortable with the situation and idea before you let it happen. Trust your own instincts, you will know when the time is right.
@deanna2 (159)
• United States
30 Jan 09
i was a very protective parent to the way things are changing today we need to protect our lovedones after all sometimes the ones we trust can deceive us i would let my child go on their own when they are 11 years old and have a cell phone
@spalladino (17927)
• United States
30 Jan 09
I don't think you're being over protective at all! At your daughter's age she's not old enough to even realize if someone is doing something they shouldn't...either to her or something completely unrelated to her. There are too many unstable people out there who put on such a lovely face to the public so I wouldn't let my child play at anyone's home unless I knew them well or until I felt they had the maturity and self awareness to notice when something isn't right. I would say 7 or 8 would be the magic number for me.
@oyenkai (4399)
• Philippines
30 Jan 09
Hi! First, there's some cultural differences in our case as I'm from the Philippines. I don't have a kid of my own but a nephew lives with my family and we take care of him. I don't think he's ever been to any play dates because he has his own set of friends apart from his classmates. But when a children's party is held, one of us has to stay with him through out the party - he's 5! I think it's but normal that we look out for them, it's not like we could replace them if they get "damaged" or anything, right? I think that the precautions you're taking seem reasonable :) Thanks for the response on my discussion!
@katsmeow1213 (28821)
• United States
29 Jan 09
I lean towards the opposite direction. I don't really have to know someone for very long until I feel comfortable enough to leave my kids with them for awhile. It's a nice break when I'm able to do so, and I never think twice about it. A neighbor invited my son over for a playdate, although I haven't gotten back to her, I'd have no problem leaving my son with her.
• United States
29 Jan 09
Well, it all depends on the maturity of the child. Each case is different. In my case, I feel that my son will be at least ten years old before he starts going to visit his friend's houses by himself, and that's only after I establish good contact with the parents and feel comfortable with them. I don't think you're being overprotective er, you're just being careful. You don't let your child go over everyone's house. There are too many weird things that go on in other people's houses that you'd never dream of. So its great that you want to know the people somewhat intimately before you trust your child being over there without your presence. Its just natural being a mother.
@krupesh (2603)
• India
29 Jan 09
Its always better to have a glimpse of ya child when he/she at that age of 5 1/2 yrs is out playing with his/her frds. We wont know whether they are playing are quarelling. You may leave ya child at your frds place but do they watch the children what they do?
@lilybug (21182)
• United States
29 Jan 09
I don't think there is anything wrong with being cautious like you are. I think around 6 is the age where I would let a child go play with someone from school and not feel the need to stick around and supervise. As long as you feel comfortable leaving them there that is.