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Leaving a child home alone for a (short) while? WWYD? - Page 2

post #21 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

We not only had dial telephones (and I can still remember the sound,) but my grandparents phone numbers both started with letters. They were either TU7-XXXX or TU8-XXXX.


 


Yes, the first two letters were the name of the area telephone exchange.  Mine was MA6-XXXX or MAdison 6-XXXX.  Just think of the evolution of texting (or lack thereof) without those letters on the phone that were only there to represent the name of the exchange!

 

post #22 of 85

My son is 10 and is ok being home alone for 2-3 hours at a time.  He knows how to use the phone and call me if he needs something.  Ive worked up to this over the past couple years and am fully working up to dropping the sitter when I hopefully go back to work full time.  DS will be 11 at the end of summer, is homeschooled and is completely responsible, able to manage himself, get his schoolwork done, make his meals in the microwave, do laundry, etc.

 

Again this is totally dependent on the child and I know many many 10 yr old who I wouldn't leave alone for 2 mins let alone 2 hours.

 

We live in the city/suburb and I do need to work with DS on his public transportation skills.  My goal is by the time he is 12 he is able to get around via the bus if he needs to.

post #23 of 85


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post




Yes, the first two letters were the name of the area telephone exchange.  Mine was MA6-XXXX or MAdison 6-XXXX.  Just think of the evolution of texting (or lack thereof) without those letters on the phone that were only there to represent the name of the exchange!

 


I always wondered why there were letters.  :)

 

My DD stays home by herself every now and then.  She was 8 when we started (she just turned 9).  It's never more than a few hours.  Usually when SO has to work nights (or is out of town) and I have to work later and can't make it to the school before after school care ends.  She's very responsible and mature, and likes staying home alone. 

post #24 of 85

at 5 for about 20 minutes as i went across the street to water the community garden or to the grocery store or drop books at the library. always told my neighbor. dd LOVED it. i'd leave her reading her book and find her in the same position when i got back. 

 

the first time when i seriously left her alone (with neighbour next door knowing) was 8 1/2 for 2 hours. she LOVED it. then she begged for more. so we left her for 5 hours. she HATED it. it was too long. we've maybe done it a couple of times. because i have roommates now she is never really alone.

 

i have no idea what is legal in my state. 

 

but yeah. even at 5 i trusted my dd completely. 

 

i've always made it a point since infancy to point out what exactly is HUGEly dangerous so she has never really tried anything she wasnt supposed to do. i mean yeah she has done it - only when we were home. but smaller things. never big things.

 

however she is my super independent child too. she has been cooking since she was 6. in fact we are now in the throes of concept cooking. what goes with what. so not everything cooked might be edible. 

post #25 of 85


It's not, in 48 states at last check and Texas is not one of them.

 

The car laws are because some people have left babies / toddlers in cars (usually on accident due to brain fog) and they've died when the cars got hot from the sun.  It's reactionary.  Of course you shouldn't leave small children and pets trapped in cars in the sun, and could have been adequately punished under child endangerment laws already on the books.  If you leave a child home alone who is not up for it, you also risk child endangerment charges.  However if you have a great basis for believing that the child can handle latch key / short periods on his or her own then there's no problem.  So if my 8 year old is well behaved and responsible, it would not, I believe, be child endangerment for me to leave her alone watching TV or doing school work while I ran an errand.  On the other hand, if she is 13 years old but has known conduct disorder and a drinking problem, I better not leave her alone.  So you see it's not, and shouldn't be, about age and I truly hope most States continue to keep bright lines off the books.  It also gives busybodies an opportunity to feel good about themselves by reporting perfectly safe children who are being spared considerably more statistically dangerous car trips while the parents run errands or other children to activities.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mizznicole View Post

I always thought this was a legal thing too.  I know for sure it's a legal thing in Texas with cars.



 

post #26 of 85

http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm

 

georgia, md, sc, nc = 8 years old (stated guideline, except MD). however as pp pointed out it depends on how responsible/mature the child is. 

post #27 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post

My kids are still young for this-- my oldest is six, and I will leave her alone in the house while we sit on the porch or chat with a neighbor, but that's as far as I'll go. Honestly, I feel she's safer outside, where there are neighbors she can go to if there's trouble. There are more dangers indoors, and I worry she might need help and forget how to access it. But I plan on using the same guidelines my mother used, unless there is some factor about my kids or our house or whatever that causes me to change my mind.

alone in the house for a very short time, in daylight (like the 20 minutes it takes to run to the grocery store)- nine years old
Alone in the house, for a few hours in daylight-- ten years old
alone in the house at night, for no more than a few hours--- twelve years old
alone in the house and responsible for siblings or other younger children-- thirteen
alone overnight-- 16
alone for more than overnight-- 18


i guess to me that seems extreme! i moved out when i was 18 and was living on my own (well, i had roommates), and had briefly lived alone at 16. but, i guess it really depends on what each child is capable of.

 

for myself, i remember my mom leaving me and my younger sister home when i was about 6 or so. i think, depending on where we live, i would be comfortable with that for short periods. especially with cellphones, communication in the case of something happening at home or a delay on your end is pretty easy and makes the whole experience safer.

post #28 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post


It's not, in 48 states at last check and Texas is not one of them.

 

The car laws are because some people have left babies / toddlers in cars (usually on accident due to brain fog) and they've died when the cars got hot from the sun.  It's reactionary.  Of course you shouldn't leave small children and pets trapped in cars in the sun, and could have been adequately punished under child endangerment laws already on the books.  If you leave a child home alone who is not up for it, you also risk child endangerment charges.  However if you have a great basis for believing that the child can handle latch key / short periods on his or her own then there's no problem.  So if my 8 year old is well behaved and responsible, it would not, I believe, be child endangerment for me to leave her alone watching TV or doing school work while I ran an errand.  On the other hand, if she is 13 years old but has known conduct disorder and a drinking problem, I better not leave her alone.  So you see it's not, and shouldn't be, about age and I truly hope most States continue to keep bright lines off the books.  It also gives busybodies an opportunity to feel good about themselves by reporting perfectly safe children who are being spared considerably more statistically dangerous car trips while the parents run errands or other children to activities.
 



 


Agreed. I just looked at the latchkids link and was surprised to find that my state has a age 12 law to be left alone. I won't bore anyone with the details but I was always an independent child despite coming from a "good" home where I didn't have to be and was fully caring for myself by the time I was 15, including not living with my parents, working, and doing my own schooling . That was of my own choosing. And now, I'm not supposed to leave my children home alone at all until they are 12? I can see that for some children, and my 8y is the only one that is old enough yet for me to really get a good sense of her judgement. She may have her share of issues in some areas but being responsible is not one of them. She is very careful about safety and is quite the rule follower. 4 more years until I can legally leave her alone when I do have multiple other children and many, many car trips a day back and forth to various places seems well, crappy, for a lack of a better term. 

post #29 of 85

IMO- 

when you think that MANY 17 year olds are in college and living alone and the military at 18 just starting to leave a 16 year old alone is extreme to me and I have raised a child into adulthood and starting leaving her alone by age 6-she went to sleep-over camp (in another state-without knowing anyone) at age 12 and sadly she had to "baby-sit" a 15 year old when she was in college

 

parents that encourage (for safety sake) children to be sheltered as above mentioned really are doing a long term disservice down the road in adulthood 

 

post #30 of 85

Be careful about relying too much on the "letter of the law" when it comes to appropriate age to leave a child home alone.  This is very subjective and very much an interpretation of individual situations, when it comes to dealing with police or CPS.  In my state, you are not allowed to leave a child 15 or under in a car alone, even for a few minutes.  If they are not old enough to drive, they may never be left in a car alone.  I used to think this only applied to babies and toddlers, until a mishap a couple of years ago that I don't talk about online, but lets just say local police take this law very seriously. 

 

Personally, I take laws about child endangerment and leaving kids alone very seriously.  I was left alone at a young age and I always did fine, I don't personally see it as a big deal.  I have never reported anyone for leaving a child home alone, including my neighbor who had her 7 year old come home from school alone and let himself into their apartment for a half hour each day after school until his mom got home from work.  He wasn't allowed to answer the door or go outside when his mom wasn't home (and he didn't), and all he did was watch TV, so I never said anything.  But all it takes is crossing the wrong person, or a nosy busybody who likes to get involved, and you may have a hard time explaining to authorities why you didn't believe "proper" supervision was appropriate.

post #31 of 85

A DFACs guideline is not a law that applies to parents.  It is a guideline for case workers.  The Latchkids site is very misleading.  Just because DFACs is not going to be interested if busybody in Georgia calls and says "there is a nine year old home for an hour on his own after school" does not mean that I am going to be in trouble if my responsible seven year old is home alone while I run an errand.

post #32 of 85
In TX you CAN leave any kid, even a baby in the car, if it's for FIVE MINUTES, but no more. Higher limits for older kids. This is sensible, as it is too hot here to leave kids in cars. When I was in San Diego and Mexico, I didn't mind because it was usually 65-70 deg tops. Anyway, there are more regulations too, but I only recalled the 5 minute rule, which was relevant to me. I checked only a few days ago, it's on DHS website.

I say it depends on the kid. Where I lived in Mexico, there were 5 yr olds out begging and working, and 7 yr olds in charge of their siblings. So, kids are capable in general, but not every one, KWIM? I think the dangerous ages are between 1-5, when they are big enough to be mobile and can escape safe places like pack n plays/play rooms,but too young to really know what is dangerous. Once they can follow directions and use the phone, I think it's OK to leave them for short periods, as long as it's a SAFE environment. By 9 they ought to be independent and by 11, capable of babysitting for a few hours. Just my opinion.

My favorite blog, Free Range Kids, talks about this topic a LOT! You may want to check it out.
post #33 of 85
serenbat- couldn't agree more!!!
post #34 of 85

In our state we don't actually have a law about the age when a child can be left alone. I did hear on the news one night when they had a story about some children being found alone that if the children were under 12 it would definately be "looked into" by law enforcement and CPS.

 

I can remember being in first grade and my sister being in 4th or 5th and we used to get up, make our breakfast, walk to the bus stop, and get on the bus to school by ourselves. Then in the afternoon we would ride the bus home, walk home from the bus stop, and do our chores until our mom got home. The only reason we didn't do the same when I was in K was because it was half a day K so I got out before she did. I can remember cooking my own scrambled eggs and stuff but luckily we never had any mishaps. In Jr High I walked home 2 miles from school with my friends everyday because the bus wouldn't run past your house unless you were 2 1/2 miles from school.

post #35 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

IMO- 

when you think that MANY 17 year olds are in college and living alone and the military at 18 just starting to leave a 16 year old alone is extreme to me and I have raised a child into adulthood and starting leaving her alone by age 6-she went to sleep-over camp (in another state-without knowing anyone) at age 12 and sadly she had to "baby-sit" a 15 year old when she was in college

 

parents that encourage (for safety sake) children to be sheltered as above mentioned really are doing a long term disservice down the road in adulthood 

 

Interesting perspective.  One I don't agree with.  I was very sheltered... had a babysitter until I was 13.  My grandfather lived with us, so I was never actually ever alone in the house.  Ever.  I went off to college (and was supporting myself) when I was 17 and didn't have any problems adjusting to that, even though I was not given any real independence until I actually left home.  However, my parents taught me that there is always accountability in life, even if it's to myself and how to be a responsible person.  I think it's kind of ridiculous to imply that because there is supervision, that a child won't be able to go off to college by themselves or become responsible adults.  That's like saying a kid will never learn to drive unless they are in the car alone.   A kid doesn't have to be alone in a house to learn responsibility.  If you're doing your job as a parent to prepare your child for adulthood, it doesn't matter if they are home alone or there is always someone else in the house.
 

 

post #36 of 85

What an interesting thread. I grew up in the 70s in Europe and I was going to the bakery (10min walk) on Saturday mornings alone at age 4. I was left alone at home for several hours once I knew how to operate a phone (age 4 as well). I was roaming the neighbourhood with friends at age 3. I was taking trains including transfers at age 6 once I could read. I never felt afraid or unsafe. 

 

My mother kept always telling us how I was her responsible child, while my little brother was always in dreamland and would not have been able some of these scenarios before age 8-10. 

 

Now I live on a different continent several decades later and have a  child of my own and people are reacting surprised because I let him roam more freely than others would. For instance, he (1.5years old) stays in the children's room of the library (which has doors he cannot open and the librarians know him) for 10min or so, while I check out some adult books on a different floor. 

 

Some people even mentioned that this is illegal and he is way to young to be left alone. I cannot imagine not leaving my child alone for an afternoon at age 6. 

 

I feel most people would think I am insane, but I loved my freedom as a child, I enjoyed unsupervised time and we all knew we had to watch out for one another, those free days were important to me. Our school district even encouraged parents to let children walk alone (without parents) to school, to allow for bonding among the children. 

 

I am having a hard time reconciling my childhood experiences with modern behavior and norms on a different continent.  

 

post #37 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

 A kid doesn't have to be alone in a house to learn responsibility.  If you're doing your job as a parent to prepare your child for adulthood, it doesn't matter if they are home alone or there is always someone else in the house.

i agree. i leave my dd alone not to teach her independence/responsibility but to honor her wishes. she wants to stay home alone rather than go with me somewhere and interrupt what she is doing. i honor that wish. has nothing to do with teaching her independence or responsibility. to me its the same as letting her cut with a sharp knife. as long as she can do it, she can do 'whatever' she wants to do. 
 

 

post #38 of 85



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by belltree View Post

What an interesting thread. I grew up in the 70s in Europe and I was going to the bakery (10min walk) on Saturday mornings alone at age 4. I was left alone at home for several hours once I knew how to operate a phone (age 4 as well). I was roaming the neighbourhood with friends at age 3. I was taking trains including transfers at age 6 once I could read. I never felt afraid or unsafe. 

 

My mother kept always telling us how I was her responsible child, while my little brother was always in dreamland and would not have been able some of these scenarios before age 8-10. 

 

Now I live on a different continent several decades later and have a  child of my own and people are reacting surprised because I let him roam more freely than others would. For instance, he (1.5years old) stays in the children's room of the library (which has doors he cannot open and the librarians know him) for 10min or so, while I check out some adult books on a different floor. 

 

Some people even mentioned that this is illegal and he is way to young to be left alone. I cannot imagine not leaving my child alone for an afternoon at age 6. 

 

I feel most people would think I am insane, but I loved my freedom as a child, I enjoyed unsupervised time and we all knew we had to watch out for one another, those free days were important to me. Our school district even encouraged parents to let children walk alone (without parents) to school, to allow for bonding among the children. 

 

I am having a hard time reconciling my childhood experiences with modern behavior and norms on a different continent.  

 



At our library you cannot leave an unattended child under 7. Older siblings under 12 cannot be a sole caretaker for a child under 7. If a child under 7 cannot locate their parent in the library the police will be called.

 

That said, I have let my older 2 go upstairs by themselves at the main library, and have left all 3 in the children's section in some of the smaller branches (mine are 10, 6, and 3). No one has ever said anything. I think the "rule" may be more to stop people from thinking they can drop younger children off at the library and leave like it's some kind of daycare. 

 

post #39 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by belltree View Post

What an interesting thread. I grew up in the 70s in Europe and I was going to the bakery (10min walk) on Saturday mornings alone at age 4. I was left alone at home for several hours once I knew how to operate a phone (age 4 as well). I was roaming the neighbourhood with friends at age 3. I was taking trains including transfers at age 6 once I could read. I never felt afraid or unsafe. 

 

My mother kept always telling us how I was her responsible child, while my little brother was always in dreamland and would not have been able some of these scenarios before age 8-10. 

 

Now I live on a different continent several decades later and have a  child of my own and people are reacting surprised because I let him roam more freely than others would. For instance, he (1.5years old) stays in the children's room of the library (which has doors he cannot open and the librarians know him) for 10min or so, while I check out some adult books on a different floor. 

 

Some people even mentioned that this is illegal and he is way to young to be left alone. I cannot imagine not leaving my child alone for an afternoon at age 6. 

 

I feel most people would think I am insane, but I loved my freedom as a child, I enjoyed unsupervised time and we all knew we had to watch out for one another, those free days were important to me. Our school district even encouraged parents to let children walk alone (without parents) to school, to allow for bonding among the children. 

 

I am having a hard time reconciling my childhood experiences with modern behavior and norms on a different continent.  

 


The 70's and Europe are much different than the 2010's and urban US.   Of course you can't reconcile it.  They are vastly different.

 

post #40 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post




The 70's and Europe are much different than the 2010's and urban US.   Of course you can't reconcile it.  They are vastly different.

 

 


And the 2010's and Europe are much different than the 2010's and urban US. 

 

Maybe I'm not on another continent but another planet. Either that or I'm raising chickens. Or both. dizzy.gif

 

My 6yo and 4yo have both been left alone in the house, together and by themselves. They ask to do this. And I think they enjoy the little freedom and responsibility. Not for 4 hours. But for 15 min when my DH drops me off at a meeting or the bus stop, or if I walk down the street to the neighbors to pick one or the other up after a play date. They also walk to the local playground together or by themselves, and I join them every 15 min or so, in between chores. If they were flaky, or not ready, or not wanting to, I would not leave them. But they are, and I do. 

 

I just can not imagine a 13yo needing a babysitter. As opposed to being able to babysit. Or a 15 yo not able to say home for extended periods. At that age, they will be taking the bus or bike into town with friends. If not then, then when? When they are 18 and leaving for university? Seems to me like a huge dose of independence to learn in no time, as opposed to a more gradual learning curve. 

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