Every parent has a “how old is old enough to” question about her kids that keeps her biting her fingernails. And as soon as one of those questions is resolved, a new one crops up. This seems to us a parenting challenge that gets harder, not easier, as our kids get older.
So we asked our listeners: what’s the “how old is old enough to…” question you’re currently struggling with at your house?
In this episode we discuss (and attempt to decide for the rest of eternity) how old is old enough to:
- walk to school
- go home alone from school
- babysit younger siblings
- ride bikes around neighborhood
- get a phone (here we both advise what our friend Ann calls the “StarTac 3000 approach”)
- go on a date
Our listener Donna says the answer to all of these questions is probably 12, what she views as the “golden age of responsibility.” But she then adds the caveat that her kids are 6 and 7, so that’s a bit hypothetical on her part. Donna, we’re here to tell you: all 12-year-olds are not created equal.
And our Country Mouse and City Mouse lifestyles dictate different answers to these questions, as well. Margaret’s kids walk home from school alone before they’ve lost all their baby teeth; Amy’s kids have to go through puberty first.
In the end, of course the answer to any of these questions is “it depends,” and there are no right answers for all kids– only *your* kid. But in this episode, we lay out the factors that should and shouldn’t be part of your calculations (what definitely needs to be left out: what judgy moms will think of you).
Some reading on the topic:
- Marion Franck: What You Need to Know About 6-Foot Trick-or-Treaters
- Lenore Skenazy’s freerangekids.com
- Exercise From the Dark Side, Margaret’s son’s YouTube genius-ness
- this New York Times article, which argues that when it comes to smartphones, later is better.
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