How Old were You before Your Parents let You Go Out by Yourself?

I saw this on the headlines today.

Okay, now letting a six-year-old go out trick-or-treating alone is a bit much. It’s dark, and apparently there was no precise route out and back that the kid was told to follow.

However, I was five when I was going to kindergarten by myself.

One day, I went to a friend’s house after school. When I came home, my parents came zooming up in the back of a police car. Obviously, they freaked out when I wasn’t home at my usual time, but I remember being a little surprised at their reaction. Why would they be in a police car?

But still, I was told to never, NEVER go to a friend’s house without telling them first.

And I was back to walking to and from school alone.

It was never considered that I should be accompanied by them, or dropped off.

How old were you guys when you were allowed to go out alone.

The summer after first grade (I guess I was 6), my friend would ride down to my house on his Big Wheel and I would wake my parents up and tell them “going out” and then we would just meet up with other kids in the neighborhood.

Seems pretty scary to me now!

I don’t think there was a time when my parents had rules severely limiting where I could go alone. The most they would do was restrict me from certain places or people but that was a blacklist thing instead of a blanket prohibition. Babysitters on the other hand almost to a person did severely limit where I could go. Those few who did let me wander at all limited me to a city block’s distance (even if the property were out in the country, oddly enough.)

Depends a little how strict you want to be regarding "by yourself’. Like you, I was walking to kindergarten. This was during the mid 1970s, school was less than a block from home and my brother (2 years older than me) was walking with me.

There were probably earlier, specific incidents but I do know that at age nine, I took over my brother’s afternoon paper route. I walked that route six days a week by myself.

Although something like this did happen to me – when I was 19! My 17 year old brother and his friend and I left my mom’s house to wander around the city at night without telling her and she called the cops and they found us and picked us up and brought us home. I was relieved to not get in trouble because the other two people with me were minors and I was not so I didn’t know if I could get charged with something like aiding the breaking of curfew, but nothing formal was even written down, thankfully.

I was born in 1954 in Baltimore, MD. I got a ride to and walked home from kindergarten at age five, about 3/4 mile through a residential area. I definitely trick-or-treated without adult supervision by age six.

I remember walking myself to school and back in 2nd grade. So maybe 7 years old?

For context, I was born in 1985, and started walking to school without parental supervision around age 9 or 10, I think - albeit with a friend the same age and their sister who is a year older. The journey is maybe half a mile and has no major roads, with only one road to cross over.

At age 11 I would cycle to school just over a mile away, mainly off road but with some road riding involved, usually with a friend the same age.

I think I was 13 before I was allowed to take the bus to the nearby city with a friend. I suspect being out by myself after dark was only allowed at around this time, also.

My parents were probably slightly on the conservative side in this respect but I don’t think they were wrong in any of this and I’ll probably apply a similar system to my kids in due course. The additional dangers around today (more traffic, potentially more nasty people) I think are counterbalanced somewhat by cellphones, which I didn’t have until I was 15.

ETA: I know the OP didn’t ask this, but I think 6 is way too young to be out after dark unaccompanied and an investigation by the authorities seems justified.

I grew up in Squirrel Hill, a short walk from Tree of Life Synagogue. I remember being too young to cross the street myself, so my dad would walk me across the street and then wait for me to return. I’d walk about two blocks to Rosen’s Drugstore, buy my dad a pack of Camels, then walk home.

My mom walked me 8 blocks to kindergarten the first few days. After that I walked myself there and back. All through elementary school all my friends would meet at Beth Shalom’s parking lot to play kickball, football, street-hockey, etc.

We would also ride our bikes down Forbes Avenue into Oakland and walk through Carnegie Museum (kids were admitted free).

I walked to kindergarten with a slightly older kid. At 6 and 7, I walked to school in a city alone and was allowed to go anywhere on the block without permission, and walk or bike to the library and friends’ houses with permission. We moved to a more suburban when I was 8 and at that point I was allowed to walk or bike anywhere I wanted, including playing in the woods. It was a different era with different fears.

Pretty much since I was old enough to both walk and understand what I was told. Both parents worked, and my sister did most of the child raising. I once ran away from pre-school, and I always walked to school by myself (or with a friend) from kindergarten onward. I don’t remember ever needing permission to go where I pleased, except for THE DOCKS. The one time I went to THE DOCKS, someone called my sister and she whipped my ass all the way back to the house.

1st grade - first day of school (or maybe it was a meeting night before?) was the first/last time my mom walked me to school - from that moment on, I was on my own. Other than the general bullying issues, never had much issues. It was miles away, uphill in 3 feet of snow in both directions - but I did it - unlike the wippersnappers of today.

Now, that she was a single mother and left for work before I got up and got home after me had a great deal to do with that.

Well… that time I got drenched taking 2 hours to walk the 100m across the park from my house to the school in what officially remains one of the worst rainstorms ever seen in that town, I was 5yo. So, before that.

In 2nd grade the school moved away and I took the bus for two and a half years, but I still was allowed out on my own for other stuff.

Mom drove me to school the first day of first grade; after that I walked the mile and a half. We (four year old brother, three year old sister, and five year old me) played in the woods and at other kids houses and walked all over town with kids of similar ages.

Dad used to give me two dimes and send me to a little store across the street from the school to buy him Pall Malls from the cigarette machine; they cost 18 cents and I got to keep the two pennies that were under the wrapper.

I would guess by the age of 5 or so (1966) I would walk to my friends’ houses (a block or 2) to play. I think I was probably 8 when my friends and I first went trick or treating without an adult. I still remember on Halloween evening, my sisters and I were so excited to get out there and trick or treat. We finished our supper around 5:15 or so and we were ready to head out. My dad said, “no, you can’t go trick or treating until it’s dark outside”!!! :confused: Another instance where I can say, “how times have changed”.

I was born in 1972, and when I was six, my buddy from across the street and I would walk home from kindergarten together. Eventually after a year or two we had to follow the “approved” route when they got a professional crossing guard, so we were all walking to school among a horde of other neighborhood kids of all grade levels.

A year later (after 1st grade), I was allowed to ride my bike up to the swimming pool a street over and a few blocks down by myself.

As far as Halloween was concerned, it was always a group thing. I think by the time I was 9 or so, it was my parents leading my little brother around, and my friends and I went off on our own in the neighborhood. Of course, it wasn’t until we were nearly in middle school that one friend’s parents quit trying to tail us.

My elementary school was about 3 blocks from home - thru a suburban neighborhood of rowhouses. There was a small shopping center right across the street from the school.

I walked to school myself at 6 (in 1960) and I also remember my did giving me a quarter to go the the drugstore across from the school and get him a pack of cigarettes. Yeah, laws were a bit slacker back then. Other than that, our boundaries were the main roads that boxed in our neighborhood, and as long as we let Mom know where we’d be and we got home when she told us to be home, we were pretty much on our own.

There was a pet cemetary a couple of blocks in one direction and a playground about a quarter of a mile in the other direction. If we were in a group, we were even allowed to cross one of the main roads to go to another elementary school that had a better playground! I think by the time I was 10 or 11, I was allowed to go to the movies with my friends - a walk of about a mile.

As for Halloween, we never had adults with us, but we knew exactly how far we were allowed to go and exactly when we had to be home.

Born in 1971. I didn’t start walking to school until 3rd grade, but only because of where we lived. My first three years, the school was over a mile away, with a major 6-lane thoroughfare to cross. We then moved to a place where my school was right down the (residential) street, and I never got a ride again.

Later, I used to jump on my bike and ride down to 7-11 to play video games, about a mile away, and that involved crossing a major street (with no stoplights, back then). I have memories of going with a friend I knew in the 4th grade, so I was doing it as early as 9 years old.

I really don’t remember for sure when my parents let me go on my own on Halloween. When I was in 6th grade, I took my 5-year-old brother with me, no parents. But I think I’d gone with friends and no parents a year or two before that.

To the article, I wouldn’t even want an older kids trick or treating alone. At least go with a friend.

I walked to first grade alone. Lets see that would be 1962. I wandered around in the fields behind my house alone by that age too. You could walk 30 miles east over the hills to the next valley without seeing anything but cows at that time.

Children ran loose in those days, very much unsupervised. And even more unsupervised in my case, as, unusually for the middle class, both my parents worked long hours, and were rarely home before dinner time.