Q: As the Palisades gears up for the opening of Palisades Village, I’m trying to figure out if I will be comfortable dropping my kid off at a shopping center with her friends and coming to pick her up later. Do you think that’s safe for my soon-to-be 11-year-old?
It is so exciting that the opening of Palisades Village is almost here, at long last. And you are raising an issue that I had not yet considered about this new Palisades destination for us and our kids. Good for you! I am sure there are many parents who will need to address this privilege for the first time.
As I respond to the many questions I receive about a child being ready for a privilege or responsibility, it depends on the situation and, most importantly, ON YOUR CHILD!
As charming as Palisades Village might be, none of us really knows what it will be like as it comes alive with people and cultivates a culture of its own. Each major mall seems to develop its own personality, an outgrowth not only of the types of stores, but also of the customers and the people whom it draws.
There are parents who will not allow their tween or young teen to go to one place or another. For example, they may say no the Promenade but yes to Century City. The Melrose area or Westfield Culver City draw a whole different group.
Parents tend to make these decisions based on stories they have heard, rumors that circulate, what they have witnessed and what their kids’ peers are doing. It is perfectly legitimate for a parent to need to feel comfortable with a particular venue.
We certainly can say that Palisades Village will attract a lot of families. And there will be lots of eyes everywhere. A great example of “it takes a village” to grow a child!
As important, and likely more, is each child’s particular readiness for independent mall visits. Each child is a completely separate set of moving parts—experiences, abilities, maturity, genes, temperament and characteristics. Therefore, a permission can be granted only with each individual child considered, even within the same family.
I can tell you for sure, however, that peer pressure should not be the overriding reason for any decision that you make. Your decisions need to be based on your child—her readiness and maturity—and not what her friends are doing.
To help you gauge your particular child’s readiness to go to Palisades Village independently, here are some questions you might ask yourself:
Is your child responsible? Does she complete her basic household responsibilities without reminders?
Does your child follow through with requests you have made?
Does your child follow basic rules without reminders?
Does your child argue with you about your family safety rules or even break them? For example, does she forget to call you when she arrives at a friend’s house?
What do you allow your daughter to do now? I am not saying you should do the following, but they might be good measures. Do you allow your child to go to the library alone? Do you allow your child to go to Palisades Garden Café or the equivalent with friends? Do you send her into a grocery store to run a quick errand for you … alone?
While it should not be your sole reason, poll your kids’ friends’ parents to see how they are handling the question. They may offer you information you had not considered.
Readiness to be independent at Palisades Village will be a process for a first-timer. It will be a ramping up.
It’s like letting out a leash. As with driving, the newly licensed driver has clear, strict limits, like daytime driving only, at first.
At the mall: You sit separately at the theater. You sit at different tables at a meal. You shop at different stores and meet up afterward. And remember, it is a privilege to be earned, one that can easily be lost.
Middle school seems to be the age when we begin to allow certain privileges. For some that is the start of seventh grade, for others it is the start of sixth.
Now that many sixth-graders are turning 12 years old (and not turning 11, as in years past), I feel comfortable with some independence at that age, depending upon the child, of course. And to clarify, I am always a fan of kids traveling with other trusted friends for safety’s sake.
Presumably you have been working with your daughter since she was a toddler about how we keep ourselves safe in public. Hopefully, both you and she feel confident about how she keeps herself safe when out in the world.
On your marks, get set … grow!