The Walk Home- Would You Say Yes?

My daughter.
Oh, my daughter.
Just 6 years old, but ready to take on the world by herself.
Miss. Independent.
Her independent spirit is both a blessing and a curse. It’s been challenging as a mother to learn when to step in and say “enough- you NEED HELP” (usually when we are running late and there isn’t another minute to spare for her to figure shit out) and when to step away and let her work it out.
Another challenge I face is the “is it too soon for her to *fill in the blank*?” You see, she wants to do things that I do not feel she’s ready for at 6 years old.
There is one thing in particular that she wants to do and has been begging me to allow her to do for the past 2 weeks.

Walk home from the bus stop all by herself.

Each time she has asked me this question (every day, for the past 14 days, multiple times each day OMG.) my answer has been “No.” And her response has always been “but why not?” And my response is always “because you’re too young.” And her response has always been “but I know that I need to stay on the side of the road and watch for cars and not to get in a stranger’s car!”
My response?
“Even still… no, child.”
Her response?
“When are you going to let me grow up, mother?”
Sigh.
Today, I was sitting at my desk, working while Rhianna blasted on my iPod. It was 1:25pm, 45 before I had to leave to pick up kid #1 from school. I thought I heard the door bell ring. I ignored it at first, because I usually don’t answer the door if I’m not expecting someone. But then it rang again. And again. And again.
Ding dong. Ding dong. Ding dong.
Who the HELL?
I got out of my chair, tip toed to take a look through the peephole.
I didn’t see anyone right away.
Huh, I thought. That was weird.
But then the bell rang again. This time, I saw what appeared to be MY DAUGHTER.
I opened the door. Standing in front of me was my little girl and she had the biggest smile on her face.
I was confused for a second or 12.
“I did it, Mommy! I told you I could do it! Thank you for letting me walk home all by myself!”
I didn’t let her walk home by herself. What I had done was forgotten that it was early dismissal because of parent/teacher conferences.
I started shaking and I know that sounds dramatic but it felt dramatic. I had forgotten that my daughter got out of school early and she had WALKED HOME FROM THE BUS STOP ALL BY HERSELF.
Right after it happened, I did what any digital mom would do. I posted about it on Facebook.

My daughter has been asking me to let her walk home from the bus stop for the past 2 weeks. My answer has been “NO!” She’s only 6! Just now, the door bell rang. It was my daughter. Apparently, it was early dismissal & I didn’t know it. I feel like a horrible mother, but she is SO PROUD.

The comments kind of surprised me.
They ranged from “I would need someone to hold me.” And “I think I’d have a heart attack!” to “Free range kids, baby!” And “God took care of cutting the umbilical cord a little more today.”
Which got me thinking… is 6 really too young to walk home from the bus stop alone (the bus stop is around the corner from our street, not far at all.) Or am I being overprotective, smothering mother who is not letting my child be the independent child that she wants to be? Would you (do you) let your first grader walk home from the bus stop all alone?

100 thoughts on “The Walk Home- Would You Say Yes?

  1. Karen Sugarpants

    My 6 year old has been bugging me to do the same thing (and so has the 12 year old because it would mean he could ride his bike and not have to walk his brother), but my answer will be no until I feel they are street savvy enough to handle various situations, which we talk about. I’m thinking age 30. ;)

  2. Margaret

    I have a first grade girl, too. We live about a 10 minute walk from her school, and I cannot imagine letting her walk home alone. The way home is along a very busy street with broken sidewalks, and while I think she could manage it, there are too many things that can go wrong for a little one. Yes, danger will always exist, but at least if kids are older — 10 or 12, maybe, they’re better equipped to deal with problems that might arise.

  3. txskatemom

    Hells no. I don’t even let my 10 year-old son out of my sight, at the mall, at the skating rink, in our neighborhood. It’s not the same world we grew up in, where we rode bicycles around town at all hours of the day, miles from home, at 6 and 7 years old. No way. I’m glad she’s OK and I’m glad she feels independent enough to do it, but I would rather be safe than sorry.

  4. Missy

    Others have probably already said this,but the first consideration would be if you can see the bus stop from your house/driveway. If yes, then I see no harm in letting her walk home while you watch from the house/driveway.
    Otherwise, no. Not alone, not at 6. If she were walking with other kids, I’d reconsider (depending on their ages). But no. Even on a school campus, kids are required to use the buddy system to run “errands” at school. I don’t like the idea of a child that young walking alone down a street with other people, cars, dogs, etc… Too many unknowns, and even though G is a very smart, capable girl, there are so many things outside her/your control on that walk home, I’d think about waiting a couple of years or so.

  5. Emily

    Yes, I would let my kids walk home from the bus stop in the first grade. It’s just around the corner, and they play up there anyway.
    Yes, you are being overprotective – which isn’t always a bad thing. Think of it as practice for when she’s sixteen and wants to hang out with douchebags.
    (Hint: I’ve said “Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD” a lot in the last few years)

  6. Beth Nixon

    Get the book “Free Range Kids”
    If it’s only around the corner, let her do it. She will be proud, learn to be self-reliant, and safe. The stories we see all the time do NOT reflect the true stats on safety. You are doing her a service by letting her do it herself. She learned she IS capable and strong. What a great thing to learn.
    My kids have to walk a mile. We are aiming for them to do it themselves by spring. They are 1st and 2nd grade.

  7. Nina

    I completely understand you here. I live in a small town (less than 200 people). The bus picks up and drops off the kids right at our house and I STILL watch them in the mornings to make sure they get on the bus, and I wait in the afternoons to see them walk off the bus. And if the bus doesn’t stop (and there have been times it hasn’t) I completely freak the eff out and start making calls and/or crying. (and my kids? they’re 11 and 8.)
    So yeah, I get you. I’m pretty much dreading the day we have to move to a city and I have to let strangers have control of them during the day.

  8. Brandi

    Mine will be 6 next month. She hasn’t asked, but I’ve seriously considered letting her since it would mean not having to drag my twin 2 year-olds along. There’s a stop in the street behind our house, so I’d be able to watch her the entire time. I still haven’t done it, though.

  9. karen

    Assuming that the bus stop isn’t across a really busy street or a couple of blocks away, i would let her walk home alone. My daughter is 6 as well, and she and her brother (8) love nothing more than to be allowed to take the dog for a walk around the block – it gives them just enough freedom to feel proud.
    When i was 6, i walked home from a bus stop way down the block and around the corner and was fine. And realistically, the world is no worse now than it was then.

  10. amber of theambershow

    Why are you even asking? She can do it! She already did it!
    I’ll second the book Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy (who is a friend and former co-worker of my husband).
    Letting her ride in a car around your town is WAY more dangerous, statistically, than letting her walk home from school.

  11. rose

    It should be old enough, but i don’t think it is. If she were walking with a group it would be one thing, but alone, no. You can be firm and tell her she needs to stop asking, that it isn’t about her, it’s about people who look for someone they see as vulnerable, and a 6 year old girl walking alone is going to be seen as vulnerable. We have all heard too many sad stories…

  12. Y

    Amber- sure, she did it. But am I ready to let her do it every day? That’s what I’m not so sure about.
    Loving the responses, but of course, now i’m more confused than ever if I should or shouldn’t let her. ;)

  13. Amy

    You know best with your daughter and your environment. We all live in such different places and have such different kids I don’t think there’s anyway we could properly advise. That being said, I would let my daughter walk because there are several kids that get off at our stop and I can see the stop from the house. But…I’m also the mother that does the car line because I don’t feel comfortable with her riding the bus (and she doesn’t either). So there’s that.

  14. Dee

    I don’t let my six year old walk home from the bus stop. That said, I am overprotective, so yes, you probably are too.
    If, and that’s a big if, I could see the bus stop, I might let her, but it is around a corner and across a street. It’s the whole crossing the street thing that makes me uncomfortable.

  15. Annika

    The answer, of course, is “it depends on the first grader.” Gabby obviously can do it, so YES. Seriously, read the Free-Range Kids blog (and book if you can).

  16. Amy

    I’m over protective and I don’t trust people, so I wouldn’t let her, or I would stay some where I’m out of site but I could see her and make sure it was fine. We live off a busy street and they just put a metal scrap yard in across the street from our house that has a lot of shady looking people in and out, I caught a guy looking at my 13 yr old daughter the other day. So now I stand out side my house when she gets off the bus. We live in the hood, I hate it.

  17. Melissa @MBonn

    I’d say yes, even though my initial reaction is “6 – no way!”. She’s proven she can do it, realistically it’s not very dangerous and if you can see the bus from your house (even if it’s only as it’s pulling up or pulling away) then you can wait to see the bus and then know she should be home (or in sight) within a minute or so and know right away if something is wrong, which statistically is so so unlikely even though it feels sure to happen if our guard slips.
    I’d say the independence and pride it gives her far outweighs the tiny potentials for anything happening.

  18. eko

    Go with your true gut instinct! Truthfully, the older I get – the less I ask others’ advice and just do what my gut tells me — which I believe is God’s hand leading me… :D You’ll make the best and right choice for both of you!!

  19. mommabird2345

    I have a first grader and I would not let her walk to or from school alone. Even though we live really close to her school I won’t let her (thank goodness, she hasn’t asked). My daughter is very smart, but I don’t think she would pay much attention crossing the street if she saw other kids crossing already (most of them don’t check for cars, they just start walking. I’ve seen them do it).
    I barely let my 6th grader walk to the bus stop last year. I tell you, I was a nervous wreck about it every day. Luckily there was a group of kids that left about the same time she did, so she would walk near them (all her friends live in a different direction). This year, due to budget cuts, the buses were cancelled so I have to drive my 7th grader to school. I’m ok with this, because I would FREAK OUT if she wanted to ride a bike or walk.
    Call me a helicopter parent, overprotective, paranoid or whatever but, I would rather be safe, than sorry.
    P.S. Maybe as compromise, you can wait 3-4 houses down from where the bus drops her off. That way you can still see her, but she can walk to where you are.

  20. ambrosia

    Hell no. My five-year-old, who is quite intelligent and knows the rules and understands that if he gets hit by a car, he’ll likely die, has proven to me that sometimes his little brain just isn’t turned on and he’ll do shit like walking out into a road. It will be a long long time before I trust him to not get squished by a car.
    I do try to let him have independence with things that won’t kill him – even if he could get really hurt. It’s hard for me, but I know I have to let him grow up, so if he wants to try some crazy shit on the playground or use a knife all by himself to help me with dinner, I’ll give him that (provided we have the time in our schedule to make a trip to the hospital, of course). But definitely no walking down the street all by himself.

  21. Amy Girl

    Oh how I struggle with this. I have 6 year old twin girls. I know it’s safe for them to walk home the 100 yards from the bus stop, but what if . . . ? Would I ever be able to forgive myself?

  22. Marie Green

    We live about 6 blocks from our elementary school and starting in 1st grade, my daughters (twins) started walking home from school every day. They sometimes walk TO school too, but they are usually not ready early enough to do this w/ any regularity. On this walk, they have to cross a busy highway, but it’s staffed with a crossing guard. The fact that I live in a small town, and the fact that there are TWO of them may have influenced my decision to have them walk, but it’s worked out great for us. They are in 2nd grade now, and will be able to walk to/from school until 7th grade (b/c the Jr. High is waaaaaay far from here.)
    I think it’s very good for them to walk. For one thing, if I pick them up, they are so goddamn crabby, fighting as they enter the vehicle, wrestling over who gets to get in the van first, who sits where, who said what, who did what. It’s a nightmare. We’ve found that the walk home quiets their minds, refreshes their bodies, and when they arrive home they are SO MUCH CALMER and happier than when I pick them up.
    You also realize that your child is MUCH more likely to be seriously injured or killed in your car (which you put her in every day) than walking home, right? Our perception of safety is way off in our country.
    I totally understand you wanting to keep her safe, but I’d say let her walk. Sit on the front step and wait for her, head down the sidewalk if it seems to be taking too long, but let her walk.
    (Another good book is “Last Child in the Woods”.)

  23. Dawn

    Sigh. Em is 12 and we JUST started letting her walk home/to school by herself Last Year. And we live 2 BLOCKS from her school.
    You know, I am big on letting kids be independent – and I don’t need a book or website to tell me intuitively what is right – but we have to balance that with Parenting. And what the right fit is for every pair.
    If we are talking a block, in the day time, in full view of the world and she has a good sense of what to do IF… Then OK. Lets try it and see how we feel.
    It is her job to push at the boundaries of her life and independence. Your job is to find ways to incorporate and nourish those urges in ways that still let you feel safe.
    And you never need to apologize for that.

  24. Marie Green

    Also, I disagree with Rose. I think we need to help our kids feel SAFE in our communities, not make them feel afraid to be alone. Teach them safety skills, but don’t do it in a scare-tactic way.
    Seriously, people, the incidents of a child being abducted by a stranger are SO RIDICULOUSLY LOW (most abductions are by family members that have been denied custody). Look at how many kids are hurt/killed in motor vehicles EVERY DAY compared to kids being kidnapped by strangers. And yet, do we teach our kids to be scared to death to ride in a car? Imagine if we used the same logic about riding in cars as we did to walking alone. We’d have to prepare our children that EVERY VEHICLE that we pass could HIT US and KILL US and no vehicle could be TRUSTED to stay in it’s proper lane so we must be TERRIFIED every time one comes near our car.
    Our kids need to learn self-reliance, confidence, and be able to taste a little freedom. Walking from a bus stop around the corner from one’s house at 6 is a perfect first step. Teaching them to be afraid of the world isn’t helping them be safer, it’s just making them more anxious.

  25. ElizabethSheryl

    So, I say YES she can do it! This is why…
    When I was 6 years old, I used to walk with my cousin and/or a neighbor the same age as me to and from school. It was in a residential neighborhood and the school was about a block and a half away (the street was pretty long and windy, though). Just the next year, 2nd grade, he went to junior high and I walked all by myself…only sometimes with my neighbor friend…and this was all pre-cell phone days! :) I was told not to talk to strangers, what to do if someone stopped in a car, given a security word in case a friend of my moms/aunt came and said they were told to pick me up etc etc. It really wasn’t too big of a deal and I lived in las vegas and this was early 90′s- so not as though it was a time we could leave our doors unlocked- but I was in a safe neighborhood. With that said, only YOU know if Gabby is ready or not. It sounds like she is, since she wasn’t scared and she didn’t go wander off to a friends house or try any funny stuff. She came right home and was excited to have this responsibility.

  26. Kristen

    I have a 6 year old too. While I usually meet her and her older sister at the bus stop, there are occasionally days I am stuck on a conference call and cannot. They walk home together. It has never occurred to me not to let them. The bus stop is not even as far as the neighbor’s house they play with most often.
    It DOES depend on the kid, and it DOES depend on the neighborhood, but she wants to do it, and she did it. Let her fly a little.

  27. nicole

    Can she? Yes. Should she? No.
    I live in your town, Y. I, too, have a six year old, first grader that wants to walk home (around the corner) from the bus. Yes, they need independence, but there is no way I’m giving him that independence by chancing that some psycho in a van drives by in that split second he walks home from the bus stop- alone or with another child! What happened yesterday was an accident (your forgetting early dismissal) but your reaction of “shaking” was your intuition that that should not have happened. Listen to it! And, I may be overprotective, not trusting, etc. but listen up people in case you’ve forgotten: Jaycee Lee Dugard. That’s all I need to know!

  28. Christins

    Nah at 6 my second oldest would walk home from school it is about as close (though she walks across the field over a tiny wooden walkway and into the parking lot of the complex we live in. Oldest has been getting herself home from school since the end of second grade (my kids go to two seperate schools and I can’t be in two places at once) I review over and over the rules make sure they know where to go (for us a couple friend’s live on route to the oldest’s school.) Yes I still cringe but it is life for us (I am just getting my license)
    Oldest was walking home near the end of second grade(or biking) and then the twins pregnancy came along and I could not walk/ push the baby back then so it was our only option.

  29. Leeann

    Y, this is something I wrestle with all the time. I do let my kids have more freedoms than other folks in my area do- that being said, I feel like they don’t give their poor kids any freedoms at all. Very few kids here play outside unless their folks are right there watching.. and because adults don’t really want to do that, the kids are instead hooked up to TV or video games in the house.
    I agree with the Free Range concept, within reason, and I live with some degree of guilt that I try to talk myself out of all the time. I think what I am doing is right but I also realize many folks in my area don’t give their kids the freedom I do and that makes me question myself at times.
    It’s a difficult thing, sometimes, to be a mom. Especially when you are sensitive to what other folks think about your decisions.

  30. Lex

    Can you see the bus stop from your house if you stood in your yard? Or maybe you could walk to the corner and meet her halfway?
    I would have a heart attack too, if I answered the door and found her there. Also? forgetting early dismissal is totally something I would do… (have done?)
    My oldest (8) would never think about walking by herself. My 4yo is like your G. With the same name, too. She’s the one who gives me all the gray hair.

  31. Catootes

    That’s the question isn’t it? When are our kids old enough to….? It doesn’t matter what the particulars are. When do we let them grow up and take those little independent steps away from us.
    I’m still trying to figure this out, not the bus stop thing, but the WHOLE thing and my kids are 15 & 12.
    Sigh…

  32. Leah

    I think your reaction was your mom meter letting you know that you’re not ok with her walking home. I am all for kids being independent and all but I wouldn’t let my daughter walk home alone from the bus stop at 6 years old. No matter how much they know or how grown up they seem they just are not ready if an adult situation came up. They are children. For me it’s just not worth the risk. I have 19 and 9 year old daughters.

  33. Michelle

    My daughter started walking to and from school last year when she was in first grade. I think it depends on the kid and where you live. When I realized my primary concern was what OTHER parents would think, I decided to encourage her to walk. She could take the bus from our doorstep if she wanted to, but I think she likes the independence.

  34. Corina

    I’m not a mom, and this is just an anecdote but I’ll tell you that when I was in first grade (oh, twenty some years ago), after school I would walk, by myself, the few blocks to the restaurant where my mom worked as a waitress. Of course, that was only when it wasn’t ski season. When the ski hill was open my friends and I would ride the school bus to the (tiny) hill and ski all afternoon until our parents got off work and picked us up. I’m sure there were adults kind of watching out for us on the hill (it was a ski area only for kids) but it felt gloriously independent.
    YOU know what is best for your family. I have great memories of my childhood freedom, but looking back on it I know it existed at least in part because my, very poor, working outside the home, parents didn’t have any other reasonable options. This post makes me want to ask my mom how she felt about it. I’m glad that you aren’t forced by circumstances to give your child more freedom than either of you are ready for.

  35. Jami

    NO WAY! I think I will walk mine to all of their college classes. Smothering or not, there are creepy people out there. I KNOW she is responsible enough, but it only takes a second for something to happen. Not trying to scare you, but you would never want anything to happen to that sweet girl!

  36. Cincy

    Do you have sidewalks where you live? Because if you don’t, I wouldn’t even begin to to think about letting her walk alone. People drive like idiots.
    She’s got the rest of her life to walk around by herself. Why is everyone in such a hurry for their kids to grow up? Believe me, it happens before you know it.

  37. bethany actually

    I definitely fall more on the side of free-range kids than overprotective. That said, it would depend on the walk. Does she have to cross any busy streets? Does she know the neighbors along the way?
    It sounds like, whether or not SHE is ready to walk home from the bus stop alone, YOU are not quite ready to let her do it. Maybe you could do it by degrees? Start out by meeting her halfway, or meeting her at the corner, and then gradually let her walk further till you feel comfortable letting her come all the way home.

  38. DogsDontPurr

    Oh hells no…I would definitely not let her walk alone. There are just too many creepy weirdos in this world now. You are not being over protective, you’re being smart….you are being an excellent mother.
    Is there a way that you could watch her walk home without her seeing you? That might be one way to handle it. Otherwise, you really need to walk with her. You don’t want to lose that precious girl.

  39. Karate Mom

    YOU know your neighborhood, so I don’t think there’s a cookie cutter answer to your question. What works for someone else who has a six year old may not be applicable where you are. I would listen to your own gut and, actually, to the commenter who lives in your town.
    As for the whole, “Well, when I was a kid, I walked three miles to school in the dark uphill both ways and I was perfectly safe”? I don’t think those hold water. I’m 35 years old and there are things that I got to do that my kids WON’T EVER get to experience because the world is a completely different place now, and it didn’t exactly get better and shinier and safer. We all know that, even when we try to forget.

  40. VHMPrincess

    No way. Are the statistics indicating she’d be JUST FINE? Yes. What if she is THE ONE that gets taken this year? It might be Only 1 child per 1,000,000,000 that gets taken, and it only hurts if it happens to be yours. Is she capable of walking home alone? Sure. The question, which was the whole point of an Oprah show a couple of years back, is “Is she capable of responding appropriately if there is danger?” and to THAT question, I say no. Oprah’s show was on leaving kids home alone after school – are kids able to handle when everything is fine? Yep. Throw in a stranger at the door, or a physical emergency of some sort, and they all failed the tests.

  41. Melissa

    I didn’t read through all of the responses, so I don’t know if someone suggested this. How about letting her walk by herself only a few times a month? Or as a reward? Or meet you at a halfway point? Or maybe get a walkie-talkie for her to talk to you on the walk home? That way you’re in constant communication with her.

  42. ella

    From what point on the sidewalk can you see her?
    I’d go to that point and wait for her there.
    Always being able to see her.
    I don’t think there’s any way in HELL I’d let my kids walk home at that age. It’s not about lack of trust in them. it’s about not trusting OTHERS.
    And you should tell her that. You don’t have to get all scary, creepy just tell her not everyone in the world can be trusted.

  43. gladcow

    I say it depends on a few factors. How safe you feel your neighborhood is (mine contains no less than 4 police families) and how far (our bus stop is 3 houses away) and how reliable your kid is (mine are pretty good).
    I allow my kids as much freedom as I can in our neighborhood because I believe that they should start to learn about navigating the world, and all the responsibilities that go with that, in a place they feel safe. So, our rules are that they can walk home from the bus stop, and can play walk freely to and from the neighbors houses, but need a chaperone to go further (around the block to walk the dog, or to the convenience store for candy).

  44. amanda

    no, not in this day and age. six is too young and it just takes once for you never to forgive yourself if something awful happened. she is too little to defend herself if someone grabbed her in an instant and you just never know who will be watching to see this regularly and know she is walking alone at that time. Maybe when she is older, but i would rather be a bit of an overprotective mom than have a dead child. sorry to be harsh but i think your gut was right on and the potential cons way outweigh the pros on this one.

  45. jc

    I started reading the comments to this post but I had to stop. Hell no.
    I am not judging you for forgetting, and I’m not judging you for posing this question. But a first grader. A tiny beautiful creature who could be picked up and physically taken by anyone. Theres no way I would even let my 3rd grader son do that.
    And this “free range kid” bullshit – they’re children, not animals on a god damn farm. We love them and we need to protect them from the dangers of the world.
    Why does a first grader need to feel responsible for herself? She shouldnt. She should be responsible for her things. Its still your job to be responsible for her.
    Chances are nothing would happen. But what if something did?

  46. Angela

    I don’t think you’re being overprotective – I still drive my 12-year-old to and from junior high, even though we live less than half a mile away. If I’m available I pick her up. I figure you can’t be too safe. When you hear on the news about child abductions, the kids fall into all age ranges.

  47. Kelli

    No no no…..these people are nuts! No way in hell! My oldest daughter is 18 and I still drive her to the bustop every morning at 6 am and sit there and wait for the bus to come. She just graduated in June and now goes to a local college. There are many reasons why I do this. #1 is that it is still dark at 6am. #2 is that she is a girl and #3 hell I would not want to stand or walk to the bustop by myself at 6am in thedark and I am 39! NO NO NO!

  48. nicole

    Could not have said it better myself, Kelli!
    Really- what is wrong with those letting their SIX year olds be “responsible”? Let them unload the dishwasher… let them dust off their dressers or toy box… let them feed the family pet but PLEASE don’t risk that some sicko looking to molest and/or kill your beautiful children is a 1 in a 1,000,000,000 chance.
    Is that really a chance you are all (those supporting the parentless walk) willing to take? wow!

  49. Mandi

    Well, here is how I look at it-
    It just takes one. One bad guy, one random day, one chance encounter with my child. We can read and quote all the statistics on child abduction ever written but none of that will matter if it is OUR child that is taken.
    Is the little bit of independence she may feel she is getting worth the risk? There are SO MANY other ways of giving her the freedom and independence she so desires. None of them need to expose her to unnecessary risk (no matter how minor it may be).

  50. Rebecca Grace

    Hmmm… A couple of thoughts. We don’t live in your neighborhood. We have no idea how well you know your neighbors, whether you live in a place where your daughter can THINK she’s on her own but six of your girlfriends are posted along the route and they are all keeping an eye on her. We don’t know if there happen to be a lot of registered sex offenders near you, or gang activity, or drug violence, etc. We don’t know if you live in a quiet little cul-de-sac where the only traffic all day long is the school bus and the mailman, or if it’s a busy street with a lot of traffic and everyone’s speeding. All of these factors affect whether it’s safe for YOUR daughter to walk down YOUR street by herself when she gets off the bus.
    Sometimes headstrong kids can make you worry the most about safety. My sons are 7 and 9 and they think they are invincible; they think they know everything. We talk about stranger danger, and my son says if a stranger asks him to get in the car, he’ll battle him with his plastic light saber. Again and again I say, “NO!!! You YELL ‘HELP! STRANGER!’ and you RUN AWAY!!” I explain that grownups are stronger and you don’t go close enough to a stranger that they could grab you, but my son thinks that the tae kwon do he learned at summer camp is going to save the day. Plus, he would probably be tempted to try to outsmart the stranger, thinking he can take the candy and THEN run, since he thinks he knows everything. Also, he asks me why anyone would want to steal a kid, and I’m very evasive with my response because I want to preserve his innocence — but the downside to that is that, far from being “scared of the world,” he is blissfully unaware of the depravity of child predators and thinks I’m crazy for thinking there’s any danger at all.
    Still, I live on a quiet cul-de-sac and the bus stop is only 4 or 5 houses down the street. This is the first year my older son has ridden the bus home in the afternoon because my younger son needs to be picked up from a different school at the same time. I usually get home with the little guy about 5-10 minutes before the big guy’s bus gets here, and then I peek out the window every two minutes until I see them all get off the bus. Oh, and besides my son, there is a girl his age and two boys getting off at the same stop. I would feel much warier if there were no other kids at my son’s bus stop, because if he was always walking home along at the same time that could make him a target.
    I am not interested in “free range parenting.” The world wasn’t that safe when we were kids; our parents just didn’t know any better because things weren’t publicized; victims and families felt ashamed and kept it quiet. Also, the girls who got abducted killed and discarded in fields and dumpsters never got to grow up and become mothers and bloggers, so their voices are absent from this discussion. Finally, I think that the much wider availability of child pornography on the internet has probably resulted in a lot more sickos out there with obsessive sexual fantasies about children. Look at those creeps from the home invasion in Connecticut, molesting an 11 year old girl and then emailing naked photos of her tied to the bed to his friends for bragging rights.
    I do NOT disagree with or judge the moms who let little ones walk by themselves; my point is that every kid, every street, and every circumstance is unique. We moms have to make our own judgement calls, and live with whatever consequences, good or bad. If you feel like it’s safe, it probably is — moms usually know best. But if there’s a little nagging voice in the back of your head and your stomach doesn’t feel good when you think about it, well, listen to your instincts.

  51. Denise

    I’m not reading the other comments before I post, but my answer is NO WAY. 6 is still a very little girl. Heck no.
    That’s just me and I won’t judge your decision. I know TONS of parents who wouldn’t think twice about it, and their kids are usually fine. But for me, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it.

  52. Belinda

    I second the use your own gut thing. I was probably an over-protective mother.. still AM to some degree and my kids are grown now but everyone was happier (meaning me) when we were both feeling ready and that came a few years after the age of six.
    Now as a person who grew up in a lovely neighbourhood in Canada I still encountered a guy who tried to talk me and my young friend near a ravine at the end of a field with the lure of money and I was just playing in the school grounds literally two houses down from my own house.
    I was the sensible one who grabbed onto my friend and ran (she wanted the money!) but I will never forget sitting and talking to the police man and then hearing of another child I knew who was molested in some way a short while later in that same ravine. It isn’t always abductions, you can be traumatized and not spirited away somewhere.
    Scary things can happen when you’re older too but when you’re little you’re even more vulnerable. Everyone I know says it hardly ever happens but statics-shamistics.. I know it came close to happening to me and it did happen to one of my classmates and there is no way I wanted my kids to go through that.

  53. Amy H

    No, no, no… lol. I have a 6 year old daughter too and there’s no way I’m ok with her walking home by herself. Our bus stop is at the top of our dead end street, approx. 6 houses away, and I still won’t let her walk home alone.
    I know I’m over protective and I’m ok with that. It’s one less “what if” I have to worry about!
    You can always give her the standard “it’s not you I don’t trust, it’s all the other crazy people in the world, I don’t trust”!

  54. statia

    Oh dude. HELLS TO THE FUCKING NO!! Maybe it’s because my kids are still little, but, I can’t even fathom that at six, they will be ready to walk home alone. We live in a “safe” neighborhood. It’s a development, where there are tons of moms around, and kids outside playing, etc. BUT, those moms also are there waiting at the bus stops with their 10 year olds. Even in my “safe” neighborhood, I would still have a hard time letting them walk home alone.
    Free range parenting isn’t for everyone.

  55. jessica b

    Sorry, but no, not a chance. My son is 13. he did not walk home from the bus stop alone until he was 9 years old. I live in Pittsburgh and there has been a large number of attempted abductions lately here. Enough that I now worry about my 13 year old walking home by himself now. I wouldn’t in a million years allow my 6 year old to walk home alone.

  56. Bethany

    My daughter is seven and in second grade. The bus stop is two houses from our house. I would LOVE to let her get off the bus by herself but in our ridiculous town a parent MUST meet the child at the bus or the child does not get off the bus. If no one is there to meet the child the driver does not take the child back to school. The driver has to bring the child to the police station. Yes, really, the fucking police station. We aren’t in a high crime area and the stops are so close to the houses because heaven forbid our precious kids should have to walk a block or two.

  57. anncan2

    Hell no! Do you realize how many perverts park close to bus stops and “stakeout”? (hubby is in law enforcement) Yes, we as moms in this day and age have a right and more importantly a duty to be overprotective. I know our moms would say “just pray over them and leave them in God’s hands” but really…we live in a different world now. God gave us discernment for a reason.

  58. vickie

    I commented earlier, had not read all the comments (I just left a simple no) but had some time on my hands and read them all just now and had to comment again.
    I didn’t want to say a lot of what I’m glad WAS said. So I need to now say it: Every time I log onto the news, I hear about another abduction of a child. Boys AND girls. There are current stories NOW out there about children taken who police are looking for now. There was a case of a beautiful 18 year old girl out there in California last year – her last name was King – she was just jogging along, abducted, and found murdered.
    I reiterate again: FAR TOO MANY HORRIBLE STORIES out there today with too many horrible endings. Gabby is too young both to walk alone and to understand your reasoning right now. Your only answer need be, for now anyway, “because I said so”.

  59. jadine

    I walked alone (about 2 miles) to/from school every day. Different day, different times. I would be reacting as you were: shocked, worried/relief, etc. Both my sons (10 & 13) sometimes (like, 1x out of 30) walk home from their respective schools (1 and 2 miles, respectively), and I’m fine with that now. A 6 year old girl? Nope. Some exceptions: you can see the bus stop from your window, she’s walking with a group of other kids, someone else’s parent’s there with them, she knows to scream + yell + not get in another car, that … I don’t know. I guess for a 6 year old girl in the times we live, the thought of it makes me so sick that my answer (albeit possibly irrationally emotion-based) is a resounding ‘no way.’

  60. justme

    Every family is different. You have to do what is right for her and you. Every child and parent is different.
    if you can watch her get off the bus, then the chances are she is close enough to be safe.
    I personally would not let my child if I couldn’t see him or her. And anyone that knew me would be laughing at me that I said I would if I could see them get off lol. I just consented to my 23 year old moving out LOL!

  61. Leanne

    I’d do it, but you better believe I would be at the end of the driveway looking up the street watching her… or even walk halfway to get her. LOL, compromise in cutting the cord.

  62. AA

    No, don’t let her walk alone. While it is true we can not protect them from everything, why would we give up protecting them when we can? Maybe I can’t or won’t go sit with him at school and maybe something will happen there- I take that chance. But I would not let my child walk home alone. I taught in a middle school during my child’s early elementary years, in a smallish town. He had to ride the bus from his school to the school where I taught. I still met the bus and walked with him back to my classroom when he was in kinder and 1st. When he was in 2nd and 3rd, after they built a new building and he no longer had to walk outside (bus dropped off kids right at the door), I let him walk through the building to my room. Rest assured I was watching the clock and he knew to come straight there. I dropped him off every morning. He has never ridden the bus to school. How would I know if he got there okay? (I realize this might be a little too much for some people) Now, we live in a diffferent town, I no longer fulltime. We take him to school and we pick him up- bus wouldn’t work now with all the junior high sports activities anyway.
    I am not one of those parents that will drop him off at the movies or at football games either. In my opinion, which I have formed from teaching middle school for 15 years, leaving your preadolescent or teenage child unattended for extended periods of time, no matter where they are, is asking for trouble. In groups, they will do things they shouldn’t.
    I had a former student killed when he was hit by a car a couple of years ago when he decided to walk with a friend just a little way down the side of a highway to a Sonic drive-in after a rodeo (small town Texas!) because he didn’t want to wait for a ride there. A drunk swerved off the road and hit him. He was a great, smart kid and had a lot of potential, but was born into a family who let him free range a lot (I have not read the book).

  63. smiles

    DO NOT LET HER!!!!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Any parent that would is being naive. As her mother, it is up to you to make sure she is safe, a six year old, I don’t care how “mature”, should never be left to walker him/herself home. It just takes one person out there and she could be out of your life forever! Look at Jaycee Dugard who was standing in front of her home waiting for the bus and was kidnapped. There was just a vigil for a 12 year old in my town who was abducted, raped, and murdered 10 years ago while walking home from the neighborhood convenience store. Please, do not let her walk home alone, it is heartbreaking to hear of all the abductions that take place on a daily basis. I have several law enforcement officers in my family, and I know, the streets are not safe for a six year old to be walking home alone!

  64. Missy

    My daughters are like Gabby–8 and 11 with the maturity and mentality of mid-20 year olds. They are more mature than most high school kids. That said, I live in a very safe area with hundreds of kids walking to and from school, mostly with all the stay at home moms and dads randomly milling about. My 11 year old (6th grade) walks to and from school and started riding her bike to school in 3rd grade (it’s a mile). My 8 year old (3rd grade) and her friends play in and around the neighborhood as long as they don’t go further than 1 block. It’s a gut thing. If you believe your area is safe and you feel like she can do it, let her do it. If not, and only you know best, hold off until you’re comfortable. It’s awful hard to let them go, and I believe it’s a process. Just go with your gut and you’ll be fine :)

  65. Christine

    It depends on where you live and the kid. If the streets aren’t too busy, and it isn’t too far, and if there are neighbors that you know and trust along the way, go for it! I walked about four blocks home from school each day. In my house currently, I’m literally around the block from a school, and a Y. I don’t have kids, but I think I would let my kids walk from there at around 6 or 7 (again – depends on the kid!) especially if there were others with her.
    Good luck, you’ll come up with the right choice for you guys, and that’s all that matters. I hate the fearmongering that happens here, please choose what you will, but don’t be bullied into believing that “the streets are not safe!” Stuff happens, and it sucks, and sure you can monitor the heck out of your kids, but that can’t always be enough. Statistically a kid is more likely to get injured in an auto accident than abducted and most kids who are raped, molested and the rest – the perpetrators are usually family or people the kid knows.

  66. Rayne of Terror

    My son’s bus stop is at the end of our block and we live in the middle of the block. There are no sidewalks but it is a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood. He has to cross one residential street at a stop sign. I can see the bus stop from my front window and it is probably a 75 yard walk. I have let my son walk to and from the bus on his own since he was four and in preK and now he is in Kindergarten. We haven’t had any problems.

  67. Lala @ live out loud

    I’m a Kindergarten teacher in an urban neighborhood school. I don’t have kids of my own. I’m 35. I remember walking home from the bus stop starting for me in High School. Before that, mom met me to walk or picked me up. I remember being jealous of latch key kids, but I now feel so lucky I had a mom waiting for me. If I had kids, I’d make the choice to do the same as my mom.
    In regards to what others are doing, I don’t know any kids at my school who walk or ride bikes home alone and none of them live more than 8 city blocks away due to school boundary lines.
    In regards to the Independence factor, there are many ways G. can feel independent and responsible that both you and she feel good about: chores, being responsible for a pet, getting an allowance that she chooses how to spend each month, letting her pick out a paint color for a room in the house, letting her plan a family gathering, making the menu for the week…the list goes on and I’m sure you already implement other ways for her to feel grown up.
    In regards to what you should do, go with your gut. I think we make choices a lot of times that are based on what we think other people would do or what they think we should do. You know G., your neighborhood, your community, and yourself better than anything or anyone else. I totally respect your choices and all the choices other people have said they make. I feel that they are doing what works best for them. I think a lot of people *can’t* pick up their kids because they have to be at work. If you have the ability to be at the bus stop, that’s awesome to have the option to choose what’s best for you.

  68. marjorie

    I’ve read all the comments, and everyone has a valid opinion. But mine is NO, I wouldn’t let her walk home alone, not yet. Let her be independent in other ways, as one other commenter suggested. Maybe she could start when she’s eight or nine.

  69. Melody

    Absolutely not. My daughter is 5 (just a couple months older than G I believe) and there is no way on God’s green earth I would let her walk around the corner all by herself. I don’t like her being out in the front yard by herself, period. There are too many freaks out there that can overpower a little 45lb girl, and I would never forgive myself.

  70. elz

    I would have freaked the F out! No way, 6 is too young. I don’t care how safe your neighborhood is, she needs a buddy.

  71. margalit

    I raised free range kids and I let them walk to school when they were 7. Earlier the school was 15 mules away so that wasn’t possible. I also let them wander around our village, but I made them take long range walkie talkies so I could check in on them. With a cheap cell phone or a walkie talkie you can start cutting the cord. I know it’s hard, but we can
    t let fear run our lives.

  72. IzzyMom

    I try to give my kids freedom but honestly, I think 6 is too young. They may be independent-minded at that age but their judgment is still that of a 6 year old. My daughter is out of district so she can’t ride the bus but if she did, I’d probably have waited until she was 8-ish to walk home alone and even then, I’d have been shitting the whole time. Of course, I live in FL where it seems a kid gets abducted every other week so maybe my perspective is skewed.

  73. Jack

    We live 6 miles away from school so the kids don’t ask but if we lived closer they surely would. And there is no doubt that my 6.5 year old would “demand” to walk. I don’t know if I am ready for that yet.

  74. Alice@Supratentorial

    That’s a tough one. My brain tells me that statistics show that there really isn’t any increase in stranger abductions since I was a first grader walking to school alone. My Mommy heart tells me that it’s totally not time yet for my 6 yr old to go alone.
    I struggled with the same thing this summer. My son wanted to bike alone to VBS. It was at a church about 2 blocks from our house, there is a sidewalk the whole way, it’s a route we had done many times together. I said no but one morning dh was the one home with him and let him do it alone. Ds was thrilled and so proud to be able to do it alone. I did like the confidence and pride it gave him. The next two days it was me home and I let him go, but with a lot of worries on my part and prayers.

  75. Anjanette

    The same thing happened to me earlier this week. I didn’t get to my son’s bus stop in time and in this town, the bus driver has to let a first grader off no matter what. I have back ups in case I’m late but this time, they weren’t there. I got the same knock and the trying of the door, too. I look out, and there’s my 6 year old son. I swear he said the exact same thing! He’d been disappointed lately because he’d wanted to walk alone but I always got to his stop in time. I’m glad he got to experience a piece of independence and it worked out for him, but I still will not let him do it on his own if I can help it. His stop is just around the block from our apt complex but he has to walk down the parking lot and there isn’t any sidewalks.

  76. Amanda

    I can’t really add to anything because REBECCA GRACE said it ALL! I completely agree with her. Me, personally… HELL NO would I allow it to happen for my child at age 6, and I have a boy.
    How close is the closest sex offender? Are they at least 5 miles away? If so, that’s still too damn close.

  77. Amanda

    Oh… one more comment…
    Y, is sounds like you already know the answer in your own heart and you seem to already have a gut feeling about it… don’t let someone else sway you into something. It seems to me that you want your followers to talk you into something you don’t feel comfortable with. Or perhaps you want everyone to give you “permission” to say what you already feel?
    Please don’t take this like I’m being sarcastic, or whatever… cause I’m not.
    Often times mothers know best… in their heart and those guy feelings… they are something.. not to be ignored. You already know what you are ready to do… just do it.

  78. Lisa

    Go with your gut. Personally, I would go with no…BECAUSE of the fact that most abductions/ molestations are committed by people familiar with the child. Gabby knows not to get into a car with a stranger…but what about a teacher? Minister? Family friend? Someone she knows that could potentially evil. We don’t really KNOW anyone do we? Last year one of the long time sports refs in our area was arrested on child porn charges. This guy passed every background check and had been coaching/reffing for YEARS, but he had never been caught so he didn’t have any record. It’s not the creepy stranger we have to worry about, its the people we “trust”

  79. Melissa

    I’m saddened by how many people’s lives are ruled by fear. Someone won’t let her 18-year-old go anywhere alone? She’s an adult! How is she ever supposed to learn how to be one if her mother won’t let her? I’m not saying you should let your 6-year-old walk alone, but I’m just shocked by all these NO WAY responses. Just because you personally wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong for someone else to do it. Every situation is different.

  80. Rebecca Grace

    Just have to add one more thing: A lot of people are commenting that they would be okay with letting their child walk home alone from the bus stop, AS LONG AS THEY CAN SEE THEM. Well, when that 11-year-old girl Jaycee was kidnapped in California, she was walking home from her bus stop and her stepfather was watching from the window when she was forced into the car. He ran outside screaming, jumped onto a bike and tried to chase the car, but they got away with his daughter. If the kid has a walkie-talkie, what good is that going to do? It’s a false peace of mind because if someone snatches her and shoves her in a car, you’ll be running down the street, hysterically sobbing with a walkie talkie in your hand, unable to do a damned thing about it.

  81. RachelJ

    There are so many stories that can be brought up about why you shouldn’t let your kids walk to school on their own (or do anything on their own). Statistically, though, more children are harmed by people they know or in car accidents than in other ways. I agree with the people who say that you shouldn’t make your children scared. Teach them, show them, trust them. Yes, it’s horribly scary being a parent. Yes, so many things can happen. But those parents who say they wouldn’t let their high schoolers walk on their own are raising kids who are going to be scared of the world and have no idea how to be independent. Trust your instincts, but don’t stiffle your kids in the process.

  82. Susan

    Your gut says not yet. I agree. It’s ok to hold on a bit longer. We’ve got our whole freakin’ lives to be “big” girls.

  83. Helen

    I had 2 of my kids abducted by a newly released from prison pedophile, on a street that even the police deemed ‘the safest place on the planet.’ So, my answer, naturally is absolutely not. My husband lets my 10 yr old walk home from school and it makes me physically sick until he walks in the door. I couldn’t care less if people call me a ‘smother’ I have been there, done that and I will never, EVER go against my gut instincts again. Childhood is precious, innocence and safety are priceless, I say hold on to it, listen to her complain and answer over and over again ‘why not?’ because the risk, should the worst happen, is simply not worth it. For me, double figures bring more independence. 6 is a baby, she may not ever get into a car willingly but what chance does she have against a grown adult who is determined to take her?

  84. Kim

    Gabby now KNOWS she can do this, so saying no gets trickier. If you don’t have a really really good reason, one that makes rock solid sense to her, you’re going to lose credibility. If it were me, I’d set up some pretty clear parameters, make sure she knows it’s a privilege and a responsibility that must be earned, and let her go. Maybe alert any neighbors you know, and wait for her on the drive. Let her be proud of herself!

  85. Carrissa

    I am faced with this question every day from my 6 yo. The bus driver will NOT allow her to get off at the stop unless I am there though. School district regulations. So maybe you should have a private talk with your bus driver and develop the same rule. Wink, wink.
    On a more serious note, Jaycee Dugard was snatched while going to school WHILE her stepfather watched her from their home window. Definitely do not allow her to walk by herself even if you can see her from the window. No way. She is too young. Go with your gut instinct mama. She’ll stop asking eventually.

  86. susan

    Hell’s no! Its not overprotective parenting to not want your just 6 yr old child walk home alone from the bus stop, its just plain ol wise parenting! Go with your gut and be happy with the results and decisions!

  87. Meemo

    I just watched the Lovely Bones, and I vote no. That shit was disturbing.
    I’m all for sheltering my kids a little because as you well know, they grow up way too fast, and before you know it you’ll long for the days when you could tell her “no, you can’t walk home alone”. There will be many, many years where she will be old enough to walk home alone.

  88. Suzanne

    I am going with a rousing NO.
    Maybe if she were in a group of kids, okay.
    But by herself? No.
    And I am pretty free range.

  89. Susan

    No.
    In Orange County, in 1975 no less, I was walking home from 1st Grade and was held at gunpoint about half a block from my house. In a nice neighborhood.
    I never walked, even with a friend, again. Ever.
    So, no, I would not.

  90. Susan

    Also? She might know not to get into a stranger’s car, but would she know what to do if a man held a knife an inch from her throat?
    I always measure every parenting decision by this: How would I feel if I went against my gut and something terrible happened?
    Answers my question for me every, single time.

  91. Sara

    You are not being over protective at all. My daughter is 13 and we still won’t let her walk to our house from the bus! In fact, my father goes and gets her everyday. In this day and age, (or maybe it’s just the internet that we know so much more) men are grabbing girls to hurt them. Now, if you can actually see the bus dropping her off from your house, that’s different! So tell your precious daughter that there are teenagers in the Seattle area whose mother won’t let them walk home alone from the bus! :)

  92. Kerry

    I know I’m way late to this, but I say let her walk by herself. I let my son walk himself to school (about a quarter of a mile away) as soon as he was in first grade. I walked it with him every day of kindergarten and again that first day of first grade, but he wanted to be independent, there were sidewalks and crossing guards, and I knew he could do it.

  93. Jenn

    I want to say I would not be overprotective but I also feel like it is a VERY different world than it was when we were kids (I’m 34). When I was 5 I walked to kindergarten about a half mile from my house with just another friend of mine who was also in kindergarten. I actually walked part of the way by myself until I got to her house. That is shocking to me now but seemed fine at the time. Lots of kids did it. I mean, it was in a small down in PA so maybe I automatically recoil at the idea now, being a city dweller (Boston).

  94. heidi

    if i could see my 6 year old (and I do have one, who is extremely headstrong) from the window getting on and off the bus, I would watch her with a Mommy hawk eye every step of the way, but let her believe she was doing it alone. If she was out of my sight to get to and from bus, sorry, could NOT do it. not worth it.

  95. Tami

    Not a chance. In fact, mine is 14 – and I just stopped going out to see if he has gotten off the bus. I thought maybe an 8th grader might be just a wee bit humiliated by his mother standing down at the end of the road waiting for him.
    And – I might add – the blasted time change has ruined my cover – because I was sneaking out in the morning to stand under the apple tree in the dark to make sure he didn’t get snatched from the end of the road. Now I’m reduced to crouching down by the bushes in order not to be seen :-)
    Call me crazy – and I am – crazy in love with that kid and ain’t nobody gonna take off with him under my watch.

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