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Re: What's normal? Opinions & discussion please.

It's a difficult one.... I have children with about the same age gap... My just 14 year old does go on the bus with a friend,a similar distance.... but I don't know if I would send her with her 10 (just) year old sibling. They may fall out.... younger child is stroppy... they can be best of friends but can be worst of enemies. What would 14 yo do if 10 yo went off in a strop? However, just due to the nature of the relationship, I wouldn't have any problems sending my middle child (a boy) out with his big sister (he is 12). They would never fight and have been shopping to town many times together, without an adult, for the last 2 - 3years.
I have always been wary of giving my eldest too much responisbility for the youngest... if something happened, the eldest would feel so bad. I prefer my 14 yo to go out with her friends.
However, I do let my children do somethings other parents don't do... My 10 yo went to London last weekend with her gym club where she had to buy all her own food for the weekend and be responsible for the money to buy it. She was with a lot older girls... and the rules for bed time etc were very lax... but she has her head screwed on. She copes and enjoys these trips. She did get scalded with hot coffee she was carrying for an adult... but hey, ho... it happens. I try to talk through everything with my children and I hope they have stranger danger awareness etc. My youngest does not have a mobile phone.. . I don't consider myself to be cavalier with my children's safety, but I do not wrap them in cotton wool. I think you have to look at the risks, reduce them (make sure they go around in groups etc) and then let them do it....
I think external dangers are things I have been educating my children about since they were tiny (how to cross a road safely, how to stay safe etc). However, I think the internet is a far more dangerous thing for young people. As adults we haven't been educating our children about using this safely since they were 2... as us adults don't know much about Bebo, privacy settings etc.
Also, it's an individual thing.... I would give my 12 year old boy less freedom than I gave my 14 yo when she was 12, as he isn't as sensible!!!!... nor are his friends... He isn't as aware of the dangers.