My How Times Have Changed

August 24, 2008 by Kailani  
Filed under family topics, random thoughts

Now that Girlie Girl is getting older, I’ve been letting her play outside with her friends without me watching over her from the garage. It was a tough decision to make but I figured she could handle the responsibility.

She knows that she’s to stay right in front of our house where I can check on her. She knows that if she decides to go to her friend’s house, she needs to let me know first. She knows what to do if a stranger comes up to her. She knows to bring in my FedEx deliveries as soon as the driver makes his daily stop at our house. Hee hee.

My how times have changed.

I remember when I was a child, my sister and I would play around the neighborhood and our parents had no idea where we were or what we were doing. All they said was to come home before it got dark. And we did.

As parents in this new day and age, are we being overly-protective or just being smart?

About the author:
Kailani is the owner and founder of An Island Life. You'll find her sharing her daily life as a mother to 3 wonderful daughters, working as a flight attendant, and living a blessed life in Hawaii.


52 Responses to “My How Times Have Changed”
  1. sagemom says:

    Personally, I think it’s being smart. DS is still too young to play outside, but many of our neighborhood kids play outside w/no supervision, and I often think once DS starts playing outside I’ll be watching him like a hawk =).

    Of course, I am known to be a worry-wart…

  2. Neena says:

    Times have changed. But as the kids get older, I do give them more freedom so they can learn to judge situations for themselves.
    It is always better to be safe than sorry, but caution is a fine line.
    Too much restriction can strip children of their independence and make them fearful instead of confident.

  3. AmyG says:

    You’re just being smart! On occasion I let the girls play in the fenced in back yard by themselves. But it’s never for more than a few minutes & believe me I’m constantly listening & looking out the window & get out there as quickly as I can. Or their Daddy goes out there.

    Like you, I was able to go wherever as a kid. As long as my Mom new who I was, it wasn’t a big deal like it is now. There is just no way I could do it today. Especially after someone approached my then 5 yr old & when she went to get something out of the car, about 5 feet from our front door. I shudder when I think about what could’ve happened!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Things are very different. I am sad that my daughter can’t go play until the street lights come on. I am trying to be protective without being too restrictive but it is very hard. I still watch her when she goes outside as a mom I always will even when she is 30 lol

  5. witchypoo says:

    I remember wandering wherever I pleased, all day long too. Our parents knew nothing of the harm that could come to their children. Now the information is so readily available, that our kids have much less freedom. If our folks knew the stuff that went on, we would have been more restricted too.

  6. Melissa Markham says:

    I think you are being smart. It is sad, but it is the way it is these days. We are fortunate enough to live off the beaten path and have five acres of land. The kids can go and play pretty much as they please (they just have to remember to watch out for snakes, hunters in the fall and if they go down to the creek, they have to have at least one other person with them.

    I am now starting to leave them home alone for an hour or two at a time. that’s a toughie.

  7. Nicole (SAHM Ramblings) says:

    My mom told me that my brother walked to school with a neighbor when he was in kindergarten. Eeks! Yes, times have changed!

    I don’t let my girls out of my site. I’m just not ready yet. (Kindergarten and preschool age)

  8. Cathi says:

    Times have changed and because of society, parents and grandparents have to be more alert and protective. My kids grew up on4 acres without any neighbors within hollering distance. They played outside all day long however I did know where they were at all times. A paranoid mother I was!
    Now…I don’t even let my grandchildren play in the front yard. Any neighbor kids are welcome to come in our house and play or play in the backyard. As paranoid as I was as mom, I’m monster paranoid & protective as grandma.

  9. Jen E says:

    I definitely agree it’s being smart. Sure when we were kids things were different, but when we were kids the world of media was very different and I don’t think parents had any idea how dangerous some things really were. Sure we’re all alive and well, but we may simply be the lucky ones. I don’t think all things are worse than they were then, just much more advertised through media making us much more informed to make smart decisions.

  10. Amy @ The Q Family says:

    I think you are being smart. Sure we all have to teach the kids to be responsible as they mature. But I also think we as a parent also have to take responsibility and protect them as well. I would rather be safe than sorry.

    Just a couple days ago, my neighbor came knock on my door and asked if we saw her daughter got out from the school bus. Her daughter didn’t come home right away… I was so afraid for her. And this is not even my kids! Luckily they found her later on. My daughter got off the bus literally right in front of my house but I have to be there to see her get off the bus myself.

    Kudo to you for a big step. I know it must be hard to let go and allow her to do so. I don’t know when I will be brave enough to do that yet. :)

  11. Jen @ One Moms World says:

    I know.. we were just talking about this not too long ago. When I was a little girl, as soon as I got home from school, I would be off on my bike until dark.

    There is no way I would let me girls do that today. I am too much of a worry wart and have to be right there with my girls hehe. Now I do let them play in the front yard, but I am usually working right here in the living room to watch them or hubbs is out with them.

  12. Dawn says:

    I feel the same way. It’s not like bad things didn’t happen back then…but NOW I just get so scared. I have slowly loosened my grip, and mine are 11 and 8!

  13. Desert Songbird says:

    I remember when I finally let my kids play outside on the cul-de-sac without my being outside constantly. It was a difficult decision, but eventually have to have some faith that they will be safe. I don’t think you’re being overly protective; things are definitely different than when we were growing up. You can’t be too careful.

  14. Summer says:

    Definitely smart!

  15. Rhonda says:

    You’re being smart. Times changed, but they changed many years ago. I too remember leaving my house and returning before dark. My parents never asked where we were, we just went where we wanted as long as were home before dark.

    I would never have allowed my daughter, now 30, to roam they way we did. She was 6 or 7 before I allowed her to play in the yard without me. Over protective, no. Just a cautious mother.

    I’m a grandmother now. I’ve already selected my spot in the yard to watch my grandson when he’s outside playing. He’s a year old, lol.

  16. Pamela says:

    No you aren’t being over cautious.
    There are too many ill people running around preying on children.
    And maybe not as many neighborhood friendly families helping to watch over the neighborhood kid-dom.

  17. tracey says:

    Times really haven’t changed that much. There have always been psychos and crazies roaming the neighborhoods. It’s just that nowadays, people TALK about it, and take action. If you were molested 50 years ago, chances are you were told to keep it quiet, so as not to upset the balance of things. And it wasn’t always considered normal to tell girls that rape isn’t their fault. So, really, we’re just acknowledging what’s always been normal.

    There will always be people that are social deviants. Sadly, it’s part of the normal make up of society…

  18. Renee says:

    DD is older than yours and we have the same rules. I let her go to the mailbox but I still get antsy if she takes too long. Course it doesn’t help at all that we have a Registered Sex Offender living about a block away.

  19. Kelly @ Love Well says:

    It sounds like you’re striking a good balance, to me. I started to let my kids play outside unsupervised this summer. They have similar rules to your girls, and while I am almost always watching or listening, it’s good for them to gain some independence.

  20. Muthering Heights says:

    I think moms these days are smart, because the world is certainly a different place than it was back then!

  21. Arizona says:

    When I was little we were all over the neighborhood, too. My mom would whistle out the front door and that was our signal to come home. But we lived in a community where so many families knew one another and everyone seemed to look out for you. Not so anymore. We live in a city now and there’s no way I’d let my kids play outside unattended until they are about 12 yrs. old.

  22. Natalie Plummer says:


  23. Spice says:

    My brother and I used to be all over the neigborhood too growing up. I’m just now leeting my 10 year old outside by himself BUT has strict rules to not go anywhere beyond our neighbors house and he follows them to a T. It’s nice because our neighbors have kids my kids ages so they basically all play together in our yard or theirs or right out front. I do not let our 6 year old outside by himself though just yet. He can play out back by himself but that’s it. He’s not allowed to leave the yard. I’ve seen 4 year old wandering aorund our neighborhood with no supervision and I just don’t get it.

  24. Melissa says:

    It’s sad, but I think it’s smart. I remember the same things as you…. we checked in with mom every once in awhile, but as long as she knew our general location, everything was fine. The thought of doing that with my kids now makes me break out in hives…

  25. Holly Schwendiman says:

    It could be both but I like thinking it’s more being smart with changing times. It makes me feel better.


  26. Kim says:

    I think you have to be this cautious. It’s too easy for something to happen. With so many things that can lead our children away from what we want for them, a parent has to be involved and vigilant. It’s sad, but I think there’s no other way.

  27. Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family says:

    No, you’re not crazy! Thankfully we live in the country so the children can run wild. But when we’re in the city they ahve to stay inside of a fenced yard. The nearest largest city only has around 1 million people in it, but it’s a dangerous place. A little girl was raped there between where the school bus dropped her off and her own door – right in her front yard :( . Scary….

  28. Sher :) says:

    Definitely smart! Times have really changed and not necessarily for the better. If you ask me…you can’t be to careful! :)

  29. Kristi says:

    I have struggled with this decision all summer. Since Aaron still needs a bit of supervision, but I wanted to give Noah a little freedom, I have had a hard time finding the happy medium. I hate the idea that I have to give up that control…which is the same reason I am struggling with school starting next week.

  30. kelleythejewelrylady says:

    I guess it is smart…. but it sure does stink for them! In the summers we had such adventures running and playing…just time, sun and immagination was all the ‘neighborhood’ needed for a great summer. At dinner, my mom would ring this giant bell and we would all come running.

  31. Dee says:

    I think we’re both! I remember going to Bellows and my parents, aunts and uncles up under the trees and us kids in the water for hours. You know at Bellows you have to go way out for it to be deep, so anyway maybe once every hour my parents would come out and do a head count. ( in their defense we never swam alone we always had to be with older cousins.)

    Me? no way, I am right there watching the kids in the water or at the park, you know public places

    Now something like what your talking about, I let Noah play with his friends but I am constantly checking on him and he knows that he needs to ask to go into his buddys house, or anywhere. Our back yards butt up against each others so him playing with the neighbor is pretty safe.

  32. Common Mom says:

    A little of both :-)

    My kids have the same rules as your girlie girl does.

    I had the same rules as you did as a child.

    My kids live in a city of over 750,000 residents, in the woods, where there are mountain lions and coyotes and and and. No family lives near us.

    I grew up in a small town of 700 residents (500 students K-12) where everyone watched over you, especially the old lady in the house on the corner ;-) My mother knew if I swore before I actually swore. So we were ALWAYS being watched, whether we knew it or not.

    Times ARE different . . . we need to treat our children a little differently than we were treated. Would I love for my kids to have the freedom I did? Absolutely. Is that possible where we live and in the times that we live? Nope.

  33. UptakeInOH says:

    DH and I talk about this ALL THE TIME. He literally ran the streets in his neighborhood, and I remember staying out past dark in our development playing kick the can as early as about 10. And yet, there is NO WAY we’d go for that with our son now! I think it’s a combination of many different things, but the bottom line is we decided long ago that people can call us overprotective if they want–we don’t care!

  34. Jenni says:

    I think it is being smart! I try to give them more and more freedom as they get older but it is VERY hard to let go. I watch too much Dateline.

  35. Kila says:

    When I was young, kids would play out around the neighborhood all day, only going home for meals. These days, I watch my own kids like a hawk, and hardly let them leave the yard, much less the block. It’s unfortunate all around, but necessary it seems.

  36. Sharon says:

    I’m on the “this is smart” boat.
    I was just writing a post on stranger-issues (still working on it).
    It’s such a sad situation, yet true.
    Heck, even in the mid 80’s I was allowed to ride my bike alone around the block (I was born in 1980). No way would I allow my son today-probably not until he’s at least 2 digits. ;)

    Actually I just bought a DVD for my kiddos that had good reviews & I’m hoping will help get the message across: it’s Stranger Safety-made by the creators of Baby Einstein and America’s Most Wanted. Are you familiar with it?

    Sorry for the long reply. Just a topic dear to my heart lately!

  37. Amy-Happy Momma says:

    Unfortuantely, times are different now than they were even 30 years ago. Now it is hard to even feel comfortable in trusting our neighbors, and we can no longer tell our children that a “person in uniform” is always a safe choice when in need.

    We must teach them to use their God given wisdom and be responsible for themselves. Although, I do think this leads to them growing up sooner than I would like.

  38. Karen MEG says:

    It’s the reality of today’s world, Kailani. Just this past sumer we’ve started to let the boy run across the street to play with the neighbours; and he’ll be either at their house or outside on their driveway, so I can still see him if I pop out. He turned 8 this year.

    He started doing this, and going up the street on his bike as of last summer. I still get pretty nervous if he’s not within eye sight, but I know who he’s with (and they’re older kids) so it’s getting easier … just a little.

    When I was his age, I used to go blocks and blocks away from home and my parents wouldn’t blink an eyelid when I popped back in for supper. How I wish we still had the innocence of those days.

  39. diana/sunshine says:

    of course, there are those over protective parents, but for the most part, i think it’s being smart. times have changed so much. we live in a world where we can’t trust those around us. there’s too much evil and depravity. young children seem to be targets for such. and we as parents have the responsiblity to protect them.

    it bears repeating though… some parents are overprotective (in my opinion).

  40. melanie says:

    I was just talking about this with my husband this weekend. It is so different now than it was for us as children. This is the first year I have let my son out front without me. He knows what his limits are on how many houses he can ride his bike to. It’s wild how times have changed.

  41. Dana says:

    Oh, we are definitely being smart. The world today is soo different. I’m with you – when I was a kid – we went everywhere on our bikes. We had woods and a creek by our house . We would play for HOURS in there – with no parental supervision and nobody thought anything about it. Today – no way!!! The times have changed and warrant extra protection!

  42. matt says:

    I get worried letting my dogs be alone, I couldn’t imagine how over protective I’m going to be with my children. Things just aren’t what they used to be.

  43. VeRonda says:

    I definitely think the answer is “being smart”… You have to be. I also remember staying out side all day, but that just isn’t the case anymore. I’m not a fan of scaring children into staying on the steps with informing them of all that’s going on in the world, but they’re intelligent enough… They know it’s for their own good.

  44. oh amanda says:

    I think you and I might have talked about this in OH. We live in a different world. I would never let my daughter ride her bike across the n’hood the way I used to.

    It’s sad but true.

  45. Lisa in CA says:

    You are being smart. I always measure my actions by this: if something terrible were to happen, what would I say – “I should have …” or “If only I had…”

    For example: If I’m bathing a toddler and someone comes to the door, my first instinct is to check the door (I’d only be gone a minute, right. BUT, I think, if something happened to my child in the tub I would later say, “If only I hadn’t answered the stupid door”. So, that reminds me that the door can wait and staying right there next to my bathing toddler is what is most important.

  46. Kelly@SHE-POWER says:


    I wrestle with this, I really do. Australia is a safe place, despite what the media would have us think. Statistically speaking crimes against children have dropped over the past 3 decades and children are much more at risk from a relative or close family friend. As for accidents, well we can’t wrap them up in cotton wool and lower their confidence that they can’t handle anything. But I won’t be letting my son have the freedom my parents gave me. I’m going to try for happy medium if that’s possible.

    Luckily Bunny is still only 4 so no need to worry yet. For now I’m focusing on surviving the learnign to ride a bike phase. The possibility of falls and grazed chins freaks me out enough – I hover like a cloud and think I’m driving him nuts. So, I can;t imagine how I’m going to cope with the coming years. I just will I guess.

    Kelly :)

  47. Mozi Esme's Mommy says:

    Smart – definitely smart! I think we are a lot more aware of tragedies these days. But the primary factor is that we don’t know our neighbors anymore. Our towns aren’t small families any longer. And so it isn’t safe to trust . . .

  48. Busymama Kellie says:

    Isn’t it sad how much times have changed? Like you, I remember playing in the neighborhood until dinnertime and my mom had no idea were I was or what I was doing. And I was only 6! I can’t imagine ever doing this with my kids now!

  49. Laarni says:

    I think both protective and smart. Anyway, It’s just the world has really changed. aww.

  50. Baby Clothes by Ambajam says:

    I agree you are being protective and smart. I mean if your mom knew the dangers out there she would’ve been the same. It’s a different time now, but you do need to let them grow up. It’s hard, but baby steps right?

    If you haven’t already entered, this is the last week of our contest. All you have to do is guess. :)

  51. basement flooring says:

    Smart Move!

  52. 1stopmom says:

    My hubby says it’s being over protective but I think you have to be that way nowadays. I am starting to let up though. I have started to let my 10 year old ride around the block with her 6 year old sister. I even let her go do to her friend’s house which is around the corner. My main rule is you must check in every 30 mins. I have gotten much better letting them play outside in front of the house without me watching their every move. Luckily we stay on a dead end street. It is still hard though, you don’t want to make a decision that has horrible consequences.

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