1. Parenting

Readers Respond: Before I Left My Kids Home Alone the First Time, I...

Responses: 37

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Only if they're mature enough...

to handle certain situations at home. We started to leave our kids alone at home at ages 12 (girl) and 9 (boy) due to my wife and I working during the day. Of course we went through all the process of testing, checking behavior, self confidence; also basic rules: don't answer the phone unless is someone you know (call ID), never say to a stranger that you're alone (they can say we are taking a shower or something), don't use matches or the stove, only the microwave oven, don't use knives (preferably), play safe and call us immediately for anything they need and if it's something REAL urgent they should go to our neighbors (all the people from our street know each other). Also, we have a dog (a Lab) and it's a real trustworthy pet, it loves us all and always barks at strangers. A dog is a very good companion for a kid that has to stay alone at home for a long period of time. I believe this is good for the kids so they can feel confident with themselves and we're just a phone call away.
—Guest Adrian Caldera

Only if they're mature enough...

...to handle certain situations at home. We started to leave our kids alone at home at ages 12 (girl) and 9 (boy) due to my wife and I working during the day. Of course we went through all the process of testing, checking behavior, self confidence; also basic rules: don't answer the phone unless is someone you know (call ID), never say to a stranger that you're alone (they can say we are taking a shower or something), don't use matches or the stove, only the microwave oven, don't use knives (preferably), play safe and call us immediately for anything they need and if it's something REALLY urgent they should go to our neighbors (all the people from our street know each other). Also, we have a dog (a Lab) and it's a real trustworthy pet, it loves us all and always barks at strangers. A dog is a very good companion for a kid that has to stay alone at home for a long period of time. I believe this is good for the kids so they can feel confident with themselves and we're just a phone call away.
—Guest Adrian Caldera

Home Alone Kiddos

Get a dog - a big dog! And did you know female canines can be as protective, if not more so, than males? It works. I learned this from a guy I rented from (platonic-ly) for 13 years who had three girls.
—Guest Deb

I Did Trial Runs With the Neighbors

I would leave my 8- and 9-year-old home while I went to the neighbors' homes for 5 or 10 minutes as a trial run. My boys also get 1/2 an hour of video game play time. When I knew they could handle it (their Scout book also goes over "danger situations"), I would run to a nearby store to pick up milk, etc. and let them play their time when I left. I know they can handle half hour stretches easily and will let them stay home when I do quick errands. I'm still not comfortable leaving them home alone when I'm gone over 45 minutes. They have my cell phone number, Daddy's cell phone number, and Daddy's work phone. Not once have they had to use it. If I give them a chore or something to do, by the time I get home it's usually done.
—Guest wetaf

Independence

I started leaving my boys, 11 and 7, a year ago. My husband and I would go for a 30-minute walk. We loved the time out and they loved the independence. However there were rules: 1) Do not answer the phone (unless you know it is us - on the answering machine), 2) Do not answer the front door, 3) Do not cook anything, and 4) Make sure we can trust you so that we can leave you alone again. The boys loved it. They were a partnership together. Independence is a must and we are always a phone call away. ~www.teachermum.com
—Guest Cued them in...

Preparations/Lists

We live in the country, and I started leaving my kids home alone when they were 11, 9, and 4 with short trips of 20-30 minutes. Then I expanded to 1 hour, with lists of who to call and phone numbers taped to the fridge. They didn't expand past the 1 hour until they were all a couple of years older. I based this on the fact that there are no close neighbors to run to for help if needed.
—ciratb

People Baby Their Kids Nowadays

I've seen 11- and 12-year-old kids who can't cross a suburban street, use a steak knife, or plunge a toilet. Really? When did we become America, home of the lame? Baby your kids, and they will stay babies. Challenge them a little at a time, and they will amaze you, and BE amazing. My 10-year old walks to and from school alone, knows how to stay calm, and can cook for herself. I'd trust her before most adults I know. Teach your kids to be smart, and they will never disappoint you...or themselves.
—Guest did a dance of joy.

17-Year-Old Left Alone for 10 days????

My 17-year-old is a good kid, and he hasn't gotten into any trouble thus far. This past July he went to live with his dad. Now his dad is going out of town for 10 days and wants to leave my son home alone. I think it's CRAZY. First off, he's a teenager. Secondly, yes, he is old enough to be alone for a while, but this is ridiculous. Am I just being to over protective, or am I being realistic? I want him here under proper supervision, not doing whatever with whomever.
—Guest think my Ex is being unreasonable

It's Never Safe to Leave Kids Home Alone

Never! I was a latch key child and stayed at home alone in the summers with my siblings. Again, NEVER do this!!!
—Guest Latch key

Home Alone

Seriously, people will leave the responsibility of caring for their siblings to 12-year-old children. What if they died under their care? That is too much responsibility to put upon a child. Why not just take your 8-year-old along with you to pick up your other child? I wouldn't leave any child alone until they are teenagers - 16 or older. They really are not equipped mentally or emotionally to deal with what we as parents are supposed to be doing. We are not supposed to push this responsibility off on our children. Just because we are busy as parents, doesn't mean that we should rob are children of their time to play and be children. They are supposed to be children; they shouldn't have to pretend to be responsible adults. It is not their time to step up to the plate, it is ours as adults. Let them be children. Protect them and let them play.
—tuttibinks58

A Word of Caution

There's something you should know about good kids: When you leave them alone for long periods of time, repeatedly, they have a tendency to develop depression. Just a cautious word of wisdom: don't do it! Arrange for your child to be in the company of trusted friends and/or companions.
—Guest Hello!

Yes...No...Maybe

I love the idea, but if my kids aren't safe then I'd have to say forget it and hire a fantastic babysitter.
—Guest john

Wow, These Kids Must Be Sheltered.

I think that parents these days worry too much about their children. I think that if the child shows signs of independence and can make meals for himself, then the child can stay home alone for a work day. I know as a child I was home alone at age 9 and I never had any problems. I would even cook myself meals on the stove. I think that if a child cannot even be home alone at age 12 that's pretty crazy and your child must be very immature.
—Guest klk365

I'm Not Ready to Leave Them Alone!

I havent let my kids be alone yet. I have three boys 11, 6, and 3.5. I have them in the summers and I have always hired a babysitter when I have clients in my home, because I work out of my home in a separate space. I know the day will come when it will be ok, and my oldest is really responsible, however I don't feel comfortable leaving him with the responsibility of his 2 younger brothers. He watches them like a hawk when they play in the yard and I feel good about that but- call me paranoid - I would not be ok with going down the street even for 5 minutes, and here's why. I could get in a car accident, then what? What if I'm unconscious?? We have to make the best decisions for our kids. We have been entrusted with their lives. I's a tough call. For now I wont do it. Maybe next year after my oldest is 12.
—Guest michael

Ensure Their Safety Before I Leave

I must say it depends on their ages, as mother of two kids, which are 15 and 9 years old I regularly leave them home alone because my work is on the night shift. However, I don’t have worries because they are responsible enough to handle emergency situation because I registered them to SafeKidZone and it gives me peace of mind since it helps me ensure their safety. It has a panic button alert installed on their cell phones that in just a press of it our trusted friends, family members will be notified if they are in danger. If you want to check it out, this is their site http://safekidzone.com/.
—MaileySmith

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Before I Left My Kids Home Alone the First Time, I...

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