Post # 1
My fiance is battling with his son’s mother right now, and I’m trying to not overstep my boundaries…
His son, who is 11 and will be in sixth grade next year, has a “fun fest” carnival at his school this Friday afternoon/evening. At last year’s event, his son wanted to run around with his friends (whose parents weren’t there), and we allowed him to, keeping an eye on him from a distance. This essentially led to us being the only adults in the carnival/ride/game area and we were bored to tears.
This year, I asked fiance if we could volunteer at this thing, at least give us something to do while supporting the event, and still be there in order to keep an eye on him.
His mom freaked out — she wants one of us to be with him at all times.
To me, this is ridiculous. He’s 11, it’s a school event. There are volunteers all over the place, and the spot we’re volunteering in allows us to oversee and watch what he’s doing. My parents trusted us to be with our friends at a school sponsored event when we were much younger than 11; I’m aware the world has changed, but us even being there in the first place would be classified as “over protective” by many parent’s standards.
Thoughts?? At what point do you allow an 11 year old to grow up and be independent?
Post # 3
I think if you did it last year, and you could see him the whole time, I don’t see why this year is any different. I don’t recall doing anything by myself like that until I was about 13, but then again it was being dropped off at the mall or something…not being watched by anyone. Did his mother freak out last year too? Or is it just this year? Can you tell her that you’ve already committed to volunteering, but she’s welcome to join her son and stand by his side while you and Fiance work? It might not be comfortable, but if she wants him to be constantly supervised when he’s already done it ‘alone’ he’s going to be miserable…so maybe let her deal with that part?
Personally, I’m crazy protective of my nieces, but if I could see my 12 year old niece the entire time I think I’d be OK with it. She also has a cell phone (for emergencies, but it came with texting) and could text to ‘check in’ without looking like a baby in front of her friends. Could he maybe borrow your cell for the evening if he doesn’t have his own?
Post # 4
I have a 10 year old and at the school picnic last year a couple of her friends had parents volunteering and the kids ran around. We still keep an eye on her though, from a distance. This year we will still do the same. We are “over protective” and pretty strict with our kids and that is a decision we as parents make on a daily basis. My thought is, is there any harm in watching them a little closer? In this case no.
Post # 5
I would feel okay about being present but not next to my child at all times for something like this – I personally think your suggestion of volunteering would be appropriate. I’m a fairly protective parent (my daughter is almost 8 and a half, so younger than your stepson) and like to be able to have her in my line of vision at all times, but I don’t necessarily think I should be right with her. Kids need room to grow and learn to make decisions, and doing so in a controlled environment (like a school event where you and other parents can supervise) is a good first step, in my opinion.
Post # 7
I don’t think anyone can say an exact age and be honest with you. Every child is different, so they handle these situations differently.
I know I was a latch key kid by 3rd grade, walking to and from school on my own (about half a mile), making myself snacks, and going out to play with neighborhood friends until my mother got home after 6:30pm. On the other hand, I wouldn’t trust my nephew who is nearing his 12th birthday with half of that responsibility. He’s not responsible at all, even factoring in his age. With the paths he’s taking, I’m not sure that I would trust him even at 15. By that time, he’ll obviously have to be somewhat independent, but I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. But his sister who just turned 4 shows every sign of being ready to handle responsibility at a much, much younger age. If she keeps it up, I’d trust her even during the most rebellious teenage years to make at least somewhat reasonable decisions.
In that kind of environment, I’d let a 12-year-old version of my neice run around with her friends all she wanted. I would keep an eye on my nearly 12-year-old nephew. It’s not because I’ve overly cautious for his safety, but because I know he’d be likely to act up in a very bad way and it’s not another volunteer’s place to have to punish or find a time out type corner for someone under my watch.
Post # 8
My future step son is not the brightest in the bunch, but he loves the fun part of school (the work he doesn’t so much care for). He’s also “the nicest, sweetest kid on earth” according to all of the teachers and school volunteers, and his friends are of the same ilk. He’s only devious when it comes to video games.
I guess our biggest concern is that we don’t want him to be an outcast, or have his friends not want to hang out with him that night because his dad has to hold his hand. He had problems in 1st and 2nd grade making friends, and now he has a good group of kids to hang out with, and my fiance doesn’t want to alienate him from those friends.
I think my biggest frustration is with his mom, who has the need to control what her son does even when he’s with his dad. He’s had the conversation with her before — when she has him, she makes the rules, when he has him, he makes the rules. But my fiance also doesn’t like to rock the boat.
This is the toughest part of being with someone who already has a kid. Caring, but not caring too much because you have no control or say in the situation.
Post # 9
If your FI’s gut instinct is to give him some freedom, but he’s only willing to cave to avoid rocking the boat, then encourage your Fiance to follow his instinct. As a boy, he would benefit from a male role model to give him cues on socialization with other boys.
Like you said, there’s not really anything you can do directly. But, you can encourage your guy to do what he thinks is best for his son while he is in his custody.
Post # 10
I think 10 is a good age. I was babysitting at 12. I think the problem with a lot of kids these days is that parents feel like they need to be on top of them at every moment. What happened to letting your kids play outside by themselves? lol