In the modern world with news appearing regularly about child abduction or worse its hard to know how much freedom to give your children. You want to find a balance between giving them independence and keeping them safe.
When I lived in Hastings my children were younger but it was also 4 times the size of Kendal. If we were in town I'd keep my children close by as it was always busy. Our house was on an inner ring road where most traffic didn't keep to the 30 limit. I could never let my children out the front without me.
Since moving up to Cumbria we have found things different. For one we live in a cul de sac on a quiet estate where children can play in the street or the local park with minimal supervision. Once they had shown they had road sense they could cycle on the closest roads or run errands to the post box. They know exactly how far they are allowed to go and it's nearly always with a friend.
The town itself is much quieter and its only on special occasions that it gets crowded. It's much easier to see the children from a distance and it feels so much safer. I have been building up letting my children have more freedom and responsibility whilst in town. Things like my daughter going into a shop or library on her own.
Today there's was the next step. As we were doing the advent fair at our church on the edge of the shopping area I sent my daughter to McDonalds on her own to get breakfast. It's only a few minutes walk and the roads she crossed are either quiet or have a crossing. As it was early in the day it was even quieter than normal. I have to admit to thinking about her the whole time she was gone but it gave her a feeling of being thought of as responsible and grown up.
How do you strike the balance with your children or do you find that you clip their wings to ensure they stay safe?