1. Parenting

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

Responses: 37


Leaving your kids home alone for the first time can be incredible unnerving. What was the most important factor for you in deciding that your kids were really old enough and responsible enough to stay home alone? Share your thoughts with our readers. You might just put another single mom or dad's mind at ease! Share Your Thoughts

My Child Passes the Test!

I recently have been leaving my 10-year-old at home alone. I take my youngest, who is 4, with me when I leave. I am gone 3 times a week for 2 hours to go workout, but she doesn't like going. I've been leaving her and she has a cell phone and I tell her not to open the door for anybody! No friends, family, anybody!!! I put her to the test several times. We have a wonderful neighbor with a daughter the same age. They are best friends. I called the girl's mother and told her to send her daughter over to knock on the door to see if mine could play. She didn't answer the door at all. She didn't even talk through the door! I was so happy! She passed my test. My daughter called me afterwards to tell me that her friend was knocking on the door. (We have a peep hole). She didn't respond to her at all. I couldn't have been more proud. I believe it is OK... depending on the child. If you have doubts or concerns and worry, try putting them to the test as well.
—Guest Miss Marie

Single Mother

My son is turning 10 in 3 months and I'm a single mother and I was wondering if 35 minutes after school alone would make me a bad parent.
—Guest Amy

I Wouldn't Risk It

If you have children under 12 unless they are really smart and mature for there age and can take care of themselves fully without you, I wouldn't recommend leaving them alone at home for any amour of time because anything can happen at anytime. You could get in a car wreck while your away and if its serious how will your children be if your not able to return home in time. Someone could break into your home I mean this is life and anything unexpected can happen at any point in time to anyone.
—Guest Amanda

Learning Independence

I was left alone for a long-ish time (A couple hours) at the age of 11, and my sister, who is eleven now, just recently stayed alone. My parents still won't let her stay more than an hour or two by herself, simply because she is impulsive and doesn't always have the best judgement. I think it's important to let kids be home alone at this age, since in a few years they'll be going out on their own and need to know how to function without someone standing over their shoulders. With my classmates, the ones with overprotective parents seem to be the ones trying hardest to find some freedom, and they'll go behind your back at some point, no matter how "responsible" they are. It's better to educate and prepare them to go out with limits (Tell me where you're going, call every 30 mins/hour, stay with a friend, etc.), than to let them sneak out and get themselves into trouble.
—Guest Anna


I put my daughter on the bus before leaving for work, which makes me 10 minutes late. I get home at 4:15, but she gets back at 3:30. As a single mother, I can't afford to pay someone to watch her. She knows ALL the rules; knocking on the door, locking the door, watch TV until I get home, no oven/stove. Now I have The Dept. of Human Services coming to check on me because I'm being irresponsible! There really is no winning!
—Guest Guest Sue


In reality, I think that the law is not to leave your child home alone until the age of 12. It does not matter if your child is responsible enough at 9 or 8. The child can get kidnapped or set a fire! 12 is the best age.
—Guest Annabelle

17-year-old left alone for 10 days

It depends on your son's maturity level. At the age of 16, I was left for weeks at a time while my parents went on cruises. I had a job, a car, and a cell phone, and I was perfectly fine. I went to church, went to work, did my after school activities--and not ever did I once let any of my friends come over! Because even at that age, I thought they were immature and likely to cause issues. I had no one to come check up on me, no grandma down the road or friendly neighbors. We lived in an upscale neighborhood where everyone was too good to talk to others. :( Trust your kid. If you brought him up the right way, he'll do what is right.
—Guest Amanda

Can Be Scary!

My two brothers and I (gifted IQ's, ages 13, 11, and 9) were finally allowed to stay home alone. We were tape-recording an audio-drama (which we'd done many times before) and which always included lots of sound-effects. When a crashing sound was needed, my brothers began banging pots and pans together inside the big cupboard under the stove top, which broke the gas line, which exploded and caused their eyebrows to be singed-off and created LOTS of smoke (and water) damage to the kitchen, which we tried to clean up ASAP. After that the fire department was finished and our parents had been called and were on their (panicked) way back. They never left us home alone again until we were all at least 18! So, I've waited until my son seemed mature enough (11), and I prepared him in all the right ways. But I still say a little prayer for those things you can't plan for each time I leave him home alone!
—Guest melocoast

Teaching Her to Be Responsible

I have an 8-year-old who is capable of staying home by herself for up to an hour. I leave her alone if I need to grab a few things from the store or want to go running in less-than-ideal weather. I don't do it because I don't want to take her or because I am lazy, but because I am preparing her to be able to stay home for longer periods of time. She has a babysitter after school for now, but I will start preparing her to stay home after school next year. I think if you have a responsible child and your child expresses being ready to stay home alone, there is nothing wrong with a 10-year-old being left at home alone for a few hours. Of course, you have to prepare your child by setting expectations and teaching him or her about emergency situations. In the long run, it really helps children to gain a sense of independence and responsibility.
—Guest Single Mom

While I Am Away

Most parents think it's safe to leave children at home all alone. No, it is never safe. In Africa, children are defiled by their closest relatives, and this has increased the number of defilement cases handled by the courts. My son was once left home alone and the first three months, things went so well--until I was nearly hit by a tragedy. Children are always very explorative and will want to take on the adult's shoes. In case you can't avoid i,t here are some tips: 1. Inform the child about your intended objective. 2. Discuss and agree on the dos and don'ts of while you are away. 3. Let the child understand how long you will take. 4. Give the child emergency lines. 5. Sometimes informing neighbor is okay, but it is not the best option because neighbors can turn into child abusers, too. 5. When you get back, show your appreciation and give the child the opportunity to be a child again. For teens, give them a day out to recognize their efforts in appreciation and also to hung out with peers. It gives them pride.
—Guest ichuli

Working Mom

I have recently had to leave my 9-year-old and 7-year-old old at home alone after school. My mom used to watch them for me, but she had to leave town on an emergency, and there was no one else who could watch them after school. So, now I pick them up and take them home. They are alone for about an hour before my older two get home. They are 12- and 14-years-old. We have a cell phone at home, and the two younger ones call me when they are done with their chores, and then my older two call me when they get home. It still worries me, of course, but each time they call, I thank them for being safe and being responsible. I think I worry more about them than they worry about themselves!! We also have a dog who is very protective of them all. It helps, too, that I know we have good neighbors on all sides. Like other parents, I started leaving them alone probably about two years ago to get a gallon of milk or take books back to the library. I think it's a good thing...we're building trust in each other, and they're build some independence.

Leaving Kids Home Alone

Wow! I understand that moms and dads have so many duties. I am a 25-year-old single mother, and I have four kids, ages 13, 11, 5, and 7. However, I will never leave my kids alone. No way! They are my life. Too many things can happen. I was always left alone at age 11 and I was raped, along with my two other sisters. (Consequently, I have my adorable 13-year-old son.) My parents were working at the time. When we called them, it was to late. Four men broke into the apartment during the daytime. This experience makes me more aware and want to protect my kids. Five minutes can change everything. I love my four kids, and I won't leave them home alone.
—Guest janet

Stop Being Scared

Parents need to stop living in fear and, in turn, raising kids in fear. I can't wait to see what our children's generation is going to be...afraid to be outside, afraid to stay in alone, afraid to talk to people. Never having alone time and never knowing how to sit there and think because their parents are in charge of entertaining them (unlike when we were kids and had to entertain ourselves and go play with our friends).
—Guest FreeRangeKids

It helps kids mature...

Sometimes I'd be left alone when I was young, but not too often. I am now in a blended family, with my one bio son, 20, and two stepsons, 22 and 25. However, there was a time when I was a single mom and it was just my son and me living alone. I never left him alone before the age of 8. When I say "left" him I mean, I was gone literally 15 minutes and had my cell phone with me. When I returned home, I could tell he felt good about being able to be left home alone for even a few minutes. As soon as my son was 12, I got a part-time job while he was in school, and there would be times when I'd get out of work late, and my son would be alone - but for less than an hour - and this practice was completely legal! In April, 2010, my husband and I went on our first real vacation, down to Florida, just the two of us! All the boys were left home, but at the time, my son was 19 and I knew he was an adult, and he really wanted to stay home. All that early experience of being left alone helped him cope!

It Depends on the Child

My parents left me home alone when I was 6, and I stayed by myself for about an hour. I knew not to open doors and my grandmother lived down the street if I needed her. I left my 7-year-old alone for the first time a few months ago to walk to a nearby store. She was about to take a nap. So far, I've only left her for less than 30 minutes to go to the local coffee shop or to get a newspaper. Every place is within walking distance and I leave my cell phone. You really can't say what the right age is for someone else's child.
—Guest CMommie

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

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