I read a news article the other day about an 8 year old girl who was abducted by a sex offender. The ending wasn’t happy, but the way that the news reported it, it sounded like the mother allowed the girl to go with this man. According to the news, the man befriended the mom and girl and then offered to take the girl up front to buy her a snack. Some people are very persuasive and believable, so what happened in this case is not entirely unheard of. Obviously, I was not there, so I don’t know exactly what happened.
My children are older, but I still watch out for them. Even at 10, my son still needs me to watch him especially closely because of his Autism Spectrum symptoms. He knows no stranger. Even though we have drilled into him that he needs to be careful around people he doesn’t know. One of our favorite teaching methods is the Stranger Safety video. It discusses stranger safety in a fun way. We purchased this video several years ago, and it has been used many times. It teaches the difference between people we know well, people we sort of know, and people we don’t know. It also teaches how much leeway we should give to each category.
Now, even though we have taught him these things, we still have to watch him closely because he still trusts people he doesn’t know. Will he grow out of this or will he learn? We don’t know. We truly hope so. However, at this point, we have to keep a close eye on him whenever we go out. But it is a balancing act. He constantly tells us that he is 10 and can take care of himself. Wow! I couldn’t have taken care of myself at 10.
So, as parents, how do we balance this when parenting becomes tough? When we go out to the amusement park, I let him walk ahead while I keep watch from behind. His sister helps me watch him, too. At times, they will go ahead together while I walk and watch behind them. That way he gets a taste of freedom while I still get my chance to be ever watchful.
I can’t stress enough how much we have to watch out for our kids. This doesn’t mean having to smother them and not allow them any freedom. It means being watchful as they spread their wings.
How do you watch over your kids while allowing them some freedom?