"Mom, can I stay home today by myself?"
"No, dear you cannot."
"Why not? If there's a problem, I can go upstairs to [the neighbor]."
My son is 9 years old. Next week, in fact is his birthday and he will be 10.
When we were kids it would have been nothing to stay home for a few hours at 10 by ourselves. Many of us grew up coming home from school, fixing ourselves snacks, and hanging out with our friends until our parents came home from work.
Why is today so different from then?
Honestly, I know my boys and I feel that my 12 and 9 year old boys would be just fine for a few hours on their own. I know that they wouldn't go anywhere, and that if there was a problem, that they would go right upstairs to our neighbor or they would call their grandmother or myself. I can see it now, I'd come home to a sink full of dishes and the an open jug of milk will be left on the counter.
So, why don't I let them? Why do I instead hover over and say, "Oh, no!"
I'll tell you honestly, it's fear. Not fear of any trouble my boys may get into, but fear of losing them if I left them alone for an afternoon to watch over themselves. Fear that even though I know I need to teach them how to take care of themselves and be responsible for themselves that I am not allowed to do just that. I am not allowed to use my best judgment in raising my children.
Here we are, a society that says at 18, a child is magically transported to adulthood and needs to know, understand and be proficient at all the rules and responsibilities of being a grown-up.... yet, we are not allowed to teach our children what those responsibilities are. We are not allowed to let them be kids and learn be on their own. It's a slow process, not a fast one. And, for me, I'm not talking about leaving him home all day, he just wanted an afternoon. One afternoon to just hang out with just him and his big brother, doing brotherly bonding over computer games. I know it, and still I have to say no.
Sorry, baby, Momma isn't going to let you have an afternoon of boy-time with your brother because Momma doesn't have any desire to go to jail or risk having the state take you away.