From the article: "Should I Leave My Children Home Alone?"
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
- 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
- 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
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
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