A mum has spoken out after being criticised by other parents for admitting she lets her nine-year-old son walk to school on his own, saying she wanted to ‘teach him independence’.
Carrie Bickmore, an Australian radio presenter and talk show host, opened up about her family life on air recently, sharing what she describes as a ‘trivial anecdote’ about life as a mum.
In a post for Stellar, the mum-of-two recalls how a few months back the comments that she made on her radio show caused her to be shamed online.
At the time, the 36 year old had admitted that although she was ready to let nine-year-old son Ollie walk to school, she wasn’t sure of the process to check he had got there okay.
‘A few months ago on air, I mentioned how my nine-year-old had started walking to school on his own. I shared how I had no idea you were meant to call the school to check your child had made it safely.’
Carrie revealed that eventually a friend had explained it to her later that day, but threw the question out to her listeners, unprepared for the response she would get.
‘I emailed the teacher at lunchtime after my friend filled me in on the parenting policy! Bit late!’
Carrie went on to reflect on how the radio panel discussed the changing times of parenting, and that when she was younger attitudes were a lot more relaxed.
‘The panel then discussed how times had changed. When I was a kid I had to walk ‘three kays’ to school on my own and my mum never had time to call to hear about my exciting arrival. She was too busy working and making rad cakes.’
But despite the presenter presuming her story would be taken in a light-hearted manner, she felt she had in fact ‘opened a nasty can of worms’.
‘I thought I was sharing a trivial anecdote about my son’s new-found independence, as part of a conversation about helicopter parenting. But I had opened a can of nasty worms.’
Carrie recalls how she was shamed by other parents who felt her decision to let Ollie walk to school alone was wrong.
‘People went out of their way to tell me nine is too young for a kid to walk to school, and I was negligent for not calling to check he’d made it safely.’
In her post, Carrie explains that her son’s school is just 75 meters from her house with no dangerous roads to cross and argues that teaching independence to her children is an important lesson.
‘I’m not sure if the fact the school is 75 metres from our house and requires no road crossing would mitigate the anger, but it’s not like I didn’t have my own worries about sending my precious boy off on his own for the first time.
‘Yet, my philosophy has always been I need to teach him independence so he knows how to cope in the world on his own.’
What age would you let your child walk to school alone? Do you factor in how far away the school is? Let us know in the comments below!