R is 10 now. He spends every Saturday with the Young Marines. Some of these days are long (8 hours), some are shorter (2 to 4 hrs). It just depends on what they are doing. A couple weeks ago, the Young Marines did a campout from Friday night til Sunday morning. There are always adults present at the Young Marine things, whether they are Young Marine staff or parent volunteers. The kids aren't left unsupervised at all.
Other than the Young Marine activities, R is home most of the time. He is either with me, my husband, or one of my parents. Last night he did spend the night with a friend, then called today to ask if he could spend the night again. The friend's mother told me it was okay with her, so I said it was okay with me. I have met this friend's parents (both mother & father). I know where they live, I know where they work. My family knows this family...heck, our families have known each other for YEARS! So it's not like I'm leaving my child for a couple days with people I don't know.
But I had someone tell me today I am a bad parent for sending R "away" all of the time! That I should be with him ALL of the time. That I apparently don't want to spend any time with him. WTH! He goes somewhere without me once, maybe twice, a week! And he is 10 years old for crying out loud. He needs some independence. He needs to go out and do things without me, with kids his age. And it's not like I am dropping him off somewhere alone, like the mall or park or whatever. When he is at the Young Marines (an organization designed for kids to keep them off the streets and off drugs), there are adults present. He is at a friend's house right now, with adults present. He doesn't want, or need, me up his butt 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He can't learn to be independent if he doesn't get some independence. And I spend plenty of time with him the other 5-6 days a week that he is home...we go fishing together, play games together, play in the pool together, read together, etc.
So if I am a bad parent because I let my son go somewhere without me once or twice a week, then I proudly wear that title.