One thing I struggle with as a parent is giving my child the same level of freedom as I had as a child. My parents were on the stricter side and I was the first of five (things got laxer for my younger siblings). A big change for me though was that when I was 9 we moved house to the road that we currently live on. For myself and my sister (then aged 7) this made a real difference to our freedom. We were now allowed to go to the park together (no road crossing required) and we could walk to and from school on our own. Prior to that we hadn’t lived that close to a park (and my parents would never have allowed us to play out on the road even though it was quite quiet). As regards the school run, I think my parents considered the road we had to cross on the way home from school to be too dangerous. H is now older than I was then and I am still walking him to school and I am not letting him go to the park on his own. To be honest I would consider allowing him to go to the park if he had a friend to go with, but the road H would have to cross on his way to school is a busy dual carriageway which makes me too nervous to allow him to go to school on his own.
On our recent trip to visit my sister in Scotland though, H got a real taste of freedom. My sister lives in a small village: it has a school and a church, but no pub and no shop. You can see the playground from their house and the roads are quiet. My sister’s children go out without any adult accompaniment in the local area – they either go to the playground or a friend’s house. They just say they are going and as long as it isn’t nearly tea time or something, they are allowed to go. When we went to stay with them, H slotted into those rules. Obviously, when we were there H had his cousins to go with and that addressed one of my major concerns – I would happily let H do a bit more if he had a sibling or a friend to go with. I loved giving H his freedom and he clearly relished having it. H is now in Year 5, so we have to work at increasing independence and self reliance as he gets closer to secondary school.