Originally Posted by cschick
And that's partly personality, partly experience.
At age 8, I was definitely being left alone at home at times, and often being left in charge of younger siblings... I also could and did (by choice!) cook dinner about once a week for my family at age 8: what I could make was spaghetti + canned sauce, pizza from "scratch" (jiffy mix crust, sauce from a can, shred cheese myself), and impossible lasagna (http://diet-recipes.hypermart.net/br...pie-recipe.htm
OMG! My specialty was Impossible Cheeseburger Pie
I had completely forgotten about that long lost dish - totally making it this week for dinner!
The Summers of my years 8 & 9 I babysat my brother (who was 1 & 2 respectively) 5 days/week 8 hours while my mother worked. That's just how it was. It honestly never occured to me that it might be illegal. I think it was that first Summer I was really into deviled eggs. Every day for lunch we had deviled eggs and diet rite. Some might call that child abuse, but I call it delicious!
My daughter is 3, so I have no realistic frame of reference as to what 8 looks like in my own child, but I think I could find reasonable safety reasons to never leave my child alone ever, regardless of her age.
OP - you have 7 pages of commentary - do what jives with you! (...and...er... if what you're doing is illegal, don't get caught!)
ETA: I also wanted to note that I really appreciated the responsibility of babysitting. It made me feel respectable! I was also our weekend "babysitter" when my parents would go out on a date or whatever - it was really an honor for me!