Are you relatively new to this fine metropolis? Don't be shy about it, everyone was new to New York at one time... except, of course, those battle-hardened residents who've lived here their whole lives and Know It All. One of these lifers works among us at Gothamist—publisher Jake Dobkin grew up in Park Slope and currently resides in Brooklyn Heights. He is now fielding questions—ask him anything by sending an email here, but be advised that Dobkin is "not sure you guys will be able to handle my realness." We can keep you anonymous if you prefer; just let us know what neighborhood you live in.

This week's question comes from another concerned parent:

Dear Native New Yorker,

When should I let my boys ride the subway alone?


Terrified Parent

A Native New Yorker replies:

Dear Terrified,

The correct answer is age 12. Any younger and the child is sure to be abducted, or at least miss their stop and end up in Howard Beach or Eastchester or somewhere like that; any older and they'll miss out on the important toughening up you get from being repeatedly robbed of your lunch money and punched in the head by older High School thugs on the 2 train.

Those few years from age 12 to age 15 are really a golden age for getting smacked around by bigger kids on the train. Your child will learn many skills, such as the mapping abilities that come from figuring out what lines to avoid from 3 to 5 p.m. as the tough schools let out, and lessons in teamwork, like how to sacrifice your slowest friend to the kids trying to rob your backpacks, giving you the precious seconds you need to escape unscathed.

Sure, the subways are probably safer now than they were 20 years ago, but certain laws of nature are immutable, and one of them says that the youngest kids will always get hassled. Don't try to protect your native New York children from that: embrace it. Some of my most formative experiences came at the wrong end of a box cutter!

It's probably worth teaching your kid in advance that there's no shame in fighting dirty—real New Yorkers go for the eyes!

Ask A Native New Yorker anything by emailing our Tips address here.