I have been contemplating this question a lot lately.
Maybe it's because Ellie is almost 10 and she's growing up so fast.
I feel really bad for firstborn children. (Maybe only because I am one!) They are always the experiments. It's just always harder with the first one. Letting them venture out into the world on their own is a frightening thought.
So that brings me back to - what is the right age?
To be left home alone.
To walk around the neighborhood with friends.
To have their own email address. (Ellie has been begging!!)
To have their own cell phone.
To go to the movies with friends (but no parents).
To walk around in a different section of the store - alone.
To run into the store alone to buy something.
To have a cell phone.
To wear make-up.
To (gasp!) date.
Some of these are obviously not going to happen for a very long time. But time creeps up on you. Before we know it, they're all going to be teenagers. Yikes!
I see kids walking home alone from school. Playing alone in the neighborhood. Gabbing on cell phones. I remember babysitting kids when I was 12 or 13. I can't imagine leaving my kids with a 12 year old!!
Am I just completely overprotective? What is the right age? I know that a lot depends on the responsibility level of the kid and the area that you live in and the values your family has. There is no "right" answer.
I just don't know when I'm going to ever feel comfortable with them venturing out into the big, bad world.