DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend called me a bad mother because I don't constantly supervise my children. As they get older (they're 8 and 11), I like to give them small freedoms, like walking down the block to the convenience store for snacks and to occasionally get me a coffee. Am I a bad mother? When I was growing up, my curfew would be the streetlights coming on. -- A Little Freedom, Pikesville, Maryland
DEAR A LITTLE FREEDOM: As a parent, you have to decide when your children are ready to accept increasing amounts of independence. I have had a similar experience. My daughter was the first girl in her class to go to school by herself, without a parent or baby sitter. Only she and one other girl, to our knowledge, walked or bused home from school by age 12. For me, that seemed normal, even though many parents considered it too young for their children.
What I had to do was what was right for my family. The same is true for you. Make sure you put safeguards in place. Give your children cellphones that include GPS trackers. Teach them the route to and from their destination. Have them travel together to have safety in numbers. Listen to yourself, not your friends.