At what age are children old enough to be allowed to wander off in the neighborhood to play with their friends? I wish the answer could be never. I'd prefer to keep my children in a bubble and follow them around wherever they go to help them, shield them, guide them and teach them. I know I can't do that forever. But I'll sure try!
When I was a kid, my brother and I were allowed to hop on our bikes and ride off pretty much wherever we wanted to go as long as we returned on time. But times have changed. Or at least the awareness of the potential dangers out there have changed.
Our older daughter will be seven in just a few months. While some of her neighborhood friends seem to be allowed to play without being under the direct and obvious watchful eye of a parent, we've tried hard never to let our kid out of site while she's outside playing. We've always been highly protective of her. Whether that's because she had an unfair share of medical procedures early in her life, or we're just protective people in general, I don't know.
We've been okay letting her play at other kids houses as long as we know and trust the parents. And we were slow to accept the concept of sleepovers. In that case, we really, really need to trust the parents. In fact, the first time our daughter slept over at friend's house was just a few months ago, and out of necessity, when her baby sister was born.
But now she's coming upon an age where some of her neighborhood friends are asking if she can ride off with them and play on their own. I'm just not ready for that yet. And I don't know if I ever will be.