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worry about children playing alone
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Paranoid Mom? Or Right On?

September 2, 2011

child playing alone

Am I the only parent who worries about my child playing alone in our very own backyard?

My daughter is becoming increasingly independent. She wants to stay out in the garage while I bring the groceries in the house or ride her scooter down to the mailbox – alone – to grab the mail. I don’t want to be too paranoid. Or too lax. I want to foster independence. But I want to keep her safe.

Samantha Runnion, Polly Klaas, Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard = all abducted from or very near their homes.

I believe we live in a safe neighborhood but we hardly know our neighbors. And I certainly don’t know the ever-present construction crews, gardeners, and door-to-door sales people.

We have a fabulous backyard filled with play toys but I summon her into the house when I need to go upstairs to do something. Is it ridiculous to imagine her playing alone and some bad person jumping over our gate, snatching her up, and driving away in the time I grab my phone or shift the laundry?

Do any of you remember the movieĀ “Savannah Smiles?”

It was an odd favorite of mine when I was little. It was about an unhappy girl who runs away from home by climbing into and hiding in the car of two idiot crooks? The crooks end up asking for ransom but never harm the girl, in fact, they take very good care of her and she is eventually returned safely to her family.

Just thinking about the movie today gives me the biggest creeps! The thought of my sweet baby in some dumpy house sleeping on a bare mattress and eating beans from a can. Or even worse.

What kind of rules do you have for your children when they are playing alone outside your home? Are they allowed to be alone? Do you go about your business but keep an eyeful watch?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica September 2, 2011 at 1:03 am

Yeah, I am so with you on this…I’m it sure if it’s helicopter parenting… I don’t care how my DD plays, or what she messes up in the process, but I want to know where she is at all times.


Wendy September 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm

“Helicopter Parenting” – I just heard this term for the first time yesterday. I guess it just was added to the Webster dictionary. Anyhow…I absolutely agree. She can make a total mess in the playroom while I shower as long as I know she’s safe inside the house.
Oh, and just wait until B wants to start answering the door and the phone. No good.


nicole September 2, 2011 at 1:34 am

O m g. Rolling with the Savannah Smiles. I can’t. You are not paranoid. I am with you in that club. Wish I could install a microchip or electic dog collar.


Wendy September 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

Microchip! Seriously! Why haven’t they developed these? Even as an “secret” accessory or something.


Sara @ Perwinkle Papillon September 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

So not alone… But not so much in ou rural backyard but the front yard?! Fuggetaboutit! I’m nutso.


Wendy September 3, 2011 at 12:01 am

See, Sara…our houses are so close together and our neighbors can see into our backyard. And our particular neighbor ALWAYS has random guys working on something over there. It just scares me to death!


Maegan (@ByndTheBandaids) September 5, 2011 at 6:25 am

Our backyard has 6 ft fences all around. And we are quiet, as in not many ppl around at all. So they (my 2 girls) are out there solo a lot. I am even in at the dining table on the computer (don’t judge) while the are out. But I always have my ears on… Out front? Another story, they don’t go out front on my cul de sac alone, ever. It’s ok to be cautious, and if you environment dictates, then that’s good. They do have be “independent” but not “unsupervised”. Great post!


Wendy September 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Judge? Never! I’m on the computer now and she’s….wait…where is she??? :-)


Fran September 6, 2011 at 12:51 am

Haha! I totally watched that movie, a lot!
Did I ever tell you the story about A answering the door for a flower delivery guy when I was doing laundry and couldn’t hear because the machine was on?! She came in to me saying “He keeps talking” what? what are you talking about? “He just keeps talking” I walked through the house to notice the front door wide open and a delivery ‘man’ just standing there!! OMG!


Wendy September 7, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I knew you would have seen that movie! Ha!
Yes, you did tell me that story. It freaks me out. I think we both need a higher door lock little hands cannot reach!


Denise September 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm

I say better safe than sorry. W is never allowed to play in the front by himself. In our backyard we have a large kidde pool so he is not allowed in the back yard alone because of that. I probably would be nervous to leave him out there anyway, even through it is fenced. A have a padlock on the gate latch but a few years ago I was having yard work done and forgot to unlock it. The guy called me at work just to let me know they had popped the lock open and were working. Nice that I didn’t have to go home but not nice that is was so easy to get the gate open. As to what Fran said about her daughter opening the door, W can do that too and I have been thinking about getting a second lock up high so he can’t open it by himself. I even make him wear a backpack “leash” in the airport or at an amusement park since he is getting big for the stroller.


Wendy September 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Yes! I told Fran the same thing…an additional lock little hands cannot reach.
Thanks for commenting!


Mama Bub September 9, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I am a total, unapologetic helicopter parent. I worry about everything. No, I wouldn’t let my kid go to the mailbox three houses down. No, I don’t let him play in the backyard alone, unless I can see him from the house (and this rarely happens because the baby wants to be wherever he is, and she DEFINITELY can’t play out there alone.) We went to a friend’s house recently and their daughters were play in the front year (ages 6 and 8) and honestly I can’t picture myself ever being comfortable enough to let them play out there ALONE in the front. Or walking to school? I mean, our school is in our neighborhood, but the idea of him walking himself seems like something I would never, EVER be able to handle.


Wendy September 9, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I’m so thankful I’m not the only one who feels this way!


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