Fortunately, she hasn’t asked yet. Yet.
But I can sense the day looming ahead of me like a dark, ominous cloud. On that day, my friends, my girl child will ask me a simple question, and the depths of my paranoia will leap up in a black, swirling vortex to terrify and astonish her.
I imagine it will go something like this—
Sailor (age 12): “Mom, can I go to the mall with my friends? Alone?”
Me: “Uh, well… OVER MY DEAD BODY.”
Merely thinking about it makes me want to run around the room flapping my hands and shrieking. She’s a seventh grader, and she and her friends are growing up, testing boundaries and craving independence. It’s a natural part of becoming a teenager. But twelve? At the mall? With strangers? Alone?
I don’t think so.
Is there a specific age at which tweens should be allowed this rite of passage? I see kids my daughter’s age roving in loud, giggling groups through the stores with no adults in sight all the time. When did their parents decide this was okay? Are they just naturally more loose and casual than me? I’d love some input here.
Ironically, I was thinking about writing about this subject last week when I came across an article in Parenting, School Years. Guess what it’s about?
New York City-based Parenting Educator Julie Ross, author of How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years, says you just go with your own sense of whether your child is savvy enough to stay safe without you.
The article goes on to list some helpful, basic rules for tweens who are out on the town without mom or dad in tow.
- Never accept a ride from a stranger or go to the parking lot with any adult other than the one designated to pick you up.
- Take a buddy to the bathroom.
- Have a meeting place with your friends in case someone gets separated from the group.
- If you lose your cell, ask to use a store phone, or ask for help from a woman with children. Ross says this is the safest type of stranger to approach.
- Call a parent or flag down a store manager if anyone hassles you or gives you the creeps.
- Stay in a well-populated place.
Great tips, but I’m just not ready yet. How about you? Any anxieties or advice to share regarding tween trips to the mall sans grownups?
Let’s talk it out in the comment section below, moms.