I try not to write things that are terribly controversial, I really do. And yet somehow I managed to do just that. Who knew that so many people would want to weigh in (nationally and internationally) on the decision to leave a 7-year-old kid home alone for short periods of time? I even went to great pains to cover my bases so that people would realize that this was a very safe, controlled experiment performed on a willing and prepared subject.
I have been told since then that the only mistake I made was to tell people I did this. Their criticism is that now people know that occasionally my kid is home alone and they are going to come stalk him or something. That’s a bunch of bull, of course. Even if anybody knew exactly when I were to leave Simon alone (unlikely since I don’t know myself until just before), good luck finding my apartment and getting him to open the door.
But I really do believe that talking about this is not a mistake. I think it’s important to talk about how to give our kids opportunities to be responsible, and how to know if they are mature and capable enough. It seems like an important thing to talk about, so I guess I should be pretty happy that I got to start this conversation. And I am glad that I’ve had the opportunity to talk about it on tv and radio.
This whole experience has been both fun and overwhelming. There have been times I’ve had to remind myself that they aren’t really talking about me or judging my parenting, but that I merely started a conversation that sort of spun beyond me. I’ve wondered if I really needed to make any comment beyond what I wrote and if I should turn down any interview requests.
I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I had the opportunity to share my views, to get people thinking, and to do it on live radio, live TV, a taped TV segment, and a taped talk show (which won’t air for a few more weeks).
It has been unexpected, but not unmanageable. And I hope that it will be something that gets people thinking about how they raise their kids, how they protect them, and how they can empower them.