How old is "old enough" to leave a teen home alone overnight? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 04:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe I am a bit overprotective but I am concerned about my (just turned 16 years old last week) neighbor. His mother has gone to Greece (we live in the USA) for five weeks leaving him home alone. He seems comfortable with it. She stocked the house with food and gave him some money. All the neighbors know that she is gone and his older brother (in his 20s) will "check in" on him from time to time (I have no idea why his brother doesn't stay at the house). Still this bothers me. My oldest DD will be 16 in August and I can't imagine leaving her home alone for that long. Maybe for a weekend but certainly not five weeks. I like to think that I am pretty liberal when it comes to letting kids learn how to navigate alone in the real world. I did offer the boy a ride to and from school as well as, he can come over or call if he needs anything. shrug.gif

 

Thoughts?


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#2 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 05:20 AM
 
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It does seem like a long time. I'd be more worried about parties and the house being kept taken care of than anything else, honestly, but I would also worry about a barely-16-year-old getting scared at night alone and not sleeping well, or something going wrong with the house (maybe in the middle of the night even) and not knowing how to handle it. I think that would be out of my personal comfort zone too.
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#3 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 05:27 AM
 
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Well, it's not something my parents would ever have done with me or my siblings. I only have littles right now so I can't say what I would do. Based on their current personalities I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving one of them but the other I would wink1.gif Still not sure I'd be willing to leave either one alone for five whole weeks while I was out of the county. I assume your neighbor knows her kid and his capabilities best though!

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#4 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 06:12 AM
 
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It's young, but I wouldn't say is anything close to navigating the real world. I'm sure the kid is in school for most of his waking hours, sleeping or screen time the rest of the time. I guess the reason he was left behind was due to school.
Most teens I know spend most of their time without their parents.
As for house emergencies, if it is a fire get out, other problems call big brother or parents.

My parents left my oldest brother alone for 2weeks. Nothing alarming or exciting happened.

As for my kids. I don't think my oldest would ever want to be alone that much even once she is an adult. I would deffinately have her stay with someone.

I know many 17yr old raising kids, so just watching yourself at 16 is doable.

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#5 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 07:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chel View Post I'm sure the kid is in school for most of his waking hours, sleeping or screen time the rest of the time. I guess the reason he was left behind was due to school.
 

School is out for the summer next week.

 

It may or may not make any difference as to whether or not he can handle being alone that long but something that I forgot to mention that adds to my concern is his diagnoses of depression, anxiety, ADD, speech/language disorder and learning disabilities. I have helped his mom with his school IEP (I have two special needs kids myself) so I know exactly what his challenges are. Those issues probably won't make any major difference in how he handles things, he is a responsible kid.

 

Thanks to everyone who has replied! It's really nice getting all the different points of view (and I can be a worry wart lol).


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#6 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 07:16 AM
 
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Five weeks seems long but not overly worrisome, depending of course on the maturity of the 16 y.o. 

 

I'm comparing it to news stories about 16 y.o's who take months to sail solo around the world. I think keeping a house reasonably clean and avoiding burning it down for 5 weeks is probably fairly straightforward in comparison to navigating around the Cape of Good Hope. 

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#7 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 07:18 AM
 
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That seems a bit young but I was in college dorms at 17. We had supervisors in the building but they weren't exactly keeping tabs on us.


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#8 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 09:49 AM
 
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^^^Yeah, I was going to say, in a couple of years that kid could be off at college living in the dorms or off-campus, and be in charge of all the same things he's in charge of now, so it doesn't seem so out of line to me. 

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#9 of 31 Old 05-15-2013, 09:39 PM
 
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The fact that he's uncomfortable with the arrangement is the only concern I have, but since he has anxiety and depression issues, he's probably uncomfortable about anything! (Guess how I know!) In fact, taking care of himself for five weeks could be a much needed confidence boost.

 

Well, I guess the neighbors all being in on this fact bothers me too, but maybe some people really trust all their neighbors that much.... I can't imagine it. It seems a step away from putting an ad in the paper saying, "Here's my home address, please come rob and murder me. The door's unlocked!"

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#10 of 31 Old 05-18-2013, 06:31 AM
 
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The fact that he's uncomfortable with the arrangement is the only concern I have, but since he has anxiety and depression issues, he's probably uncomfortable about anything! (Guess how I know!) In fact, taking care of himself for five weeks could be a much needed confidence boost.

 

I missed where OP said the young man is uncomfortable with this situation... 

 

I dunno... By 17, a "kid" is on the verge of stepping out on his/her own. Given that there are plenty of people in the neighborhood who he knows and are keeping an eye out (as well as his older brother)? I don't see it as an issue.

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#11 of 31 Old 05-18-2013, 09:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post

The fact that he's uncomfortable with the arrangement is the only concern I have, but since he has anxiety and depression issues, he's probably uncomfortable about anything! (Guess how I know!) In fact, taking care of himself for five weeks could be a much needed confidence boost.

 

 

I don't think that anyone who is depressed is best served by spending 5 weeks alone. How depressed is he? Could he end up killing himself? I'd be inviting him over all the time for dinner, and sending my kids over there to hang out with him and keep in company. I wouldn't wait for him to ask. I've been depressed -- it was pretty much impossible for me to ask other people for anything when I was depressed.

 

We left our kids overnight alone when they were 14 and 15, but it was for 2 nights. And they were really happy to see us when we got back.

 

We will do it again this year (they are 15 and 16) and now they seem much more ready for it. And we will only be gone for a weekend.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#12 of 31 Old 05-18-2013, 10:10 AM
 
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My oldest was 15 when I went away with my Mom & daughter for 2 weeks. His grandfather checked in with him, and they had a few dinners together. It really was okay. Honestly, I think the parent gets to decide if his/her child is up to the challenge. Not neighbors, and not random strangers on the 'Net. 

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#13 of 31 Old 05-19-2013, 04:52 AM
 
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I have a daughter diagnose with recurrent major depressive disorder & impulse control disorder, she's been in counseling 4 yrs & been in a mental hospital 3 times. I'm scared to leave her alone bc she has expressed thoughts of overdosing on her Meds for depression. I don't think I'll ever be able to leave her home alone overnight but parents know their children better than anyone. I was not concerned after reading your original post, but after finding out his medical diagnoses I would be concerned too. Someone else brought up a good point, maybe this is what he needs to help prepare him for moving away from home. I will still keep the closest eye on him I could thou.
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#14 of 31 Old 05-19-2013, 11:39 AM
 
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We left our kids home alone for a week at 17, 15 and 13.  We were accross the country.  The oldest still doesn't drive and the 15 year old only had a permit.  There was a big snowstorm while we were gone and they lost power for 5 of the 7 days.  We also lost a bunch of branches.  My 15 year old took care of all the ones on the roof.  The 13 year old walked 2 miles each way to school so he could get one hot meal a day.  The other two only had to walk accross the field.  They charged their phones at school.  They were fine.  The only bad decision they made was not ordering take out - they still had $100 a piece when we got home and $100 on the back of the door.

 

And the power came back on (literally) 5 minutes before we got home.

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#15 of 31 Old 05-19-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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Last summer, I was in the hospital for a week. Yes, my youngest was 18, but she took care of the dogs, did her laundry, fed herself, checked in on my parents, played/coached field hockey, and worked. And got herself ready for going off to college. 

 

I'm jst glad I was well enough to take her up to school.

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#16 of 31 Old 05-21-2013, 07:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pattimomma View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by chel View Post I'm sure the kid is in school for most of his waking hours, sleeping or screen time the rest of the time. I guess the reason he was left behind was due to school.
 

School is out for the summer next week.

 

It may or may not make any difference as to whether or not he can handle being alone that long but something that I forgot to mention that adds to my concern is his diagnoses of depression, anxiety, ADD, speech/language disorder and learning disabilities. I have helped his mom with his school IEP (I have two special needs kids myself) so I know exactly what his challenges are. Those issues probably won't make any major difference in how he handles things, he is a responsible kid.

 

Thanks to everyone who has replied! It's really nice getting all the different points of view (and I can be a worry wart lol).

 

I missed this post. I must have cross-posted when I replied last week. I'm still inclined to rely on the parents to judge whether it's okay to leave a 16 y.o. but I can understand the concern. 

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#17 of 31 Old 05-21-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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Yeah like I said it would be out of my comfort zone, but I'm sure the parents and the kid discussed it and decided for whatever reason this was the best choice in their situation, and they know their kid and the specifics of the situation better than anyone.
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#18 of 31 Old 05-22-2013, 02:37 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the kid.  I could see my 12 year old being fine with this is a few years.  My 7 year old?  She probably won't be able to be on her own until she's 22.

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#19 of 31 Old 05-23-2013, 02:25 PM
 
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Yikes, I worry about any kid with an IEP left alone for that long, regardless of age. 5 weeks is a long time. My 12 year old is an honor student with no learning disabilities and I wouldn't leave her alone overnight. Her best friend's older sister is 15, a certified babysitter, and one of the best students at a high school that is in the top 20 in the entire United States, and while my DD has stayed the night over there with only the big sister in charge, I don't think their parents would let the 15 year old, even by herself, stay alone longer than a couple of days. There are a LOT of un foreseeable things that could happen in a month. It also gets super lonely, even as an adult with SN/LD, by yourself. Before I had kids, I had a couple of roommates who worked opposite schedules than me and only saw for an extended time period 1-2 days a week. We were friends, and often had mutual friends over, but it got lonely at times, coming from someone with anxiety and depression. Even when I was dating people, coming home every day with no one to greet you and no human contact outside of school or work for days at a time can be profoundly depressing... And I tend to be reclusive, I like to see my friends and family, but prefer to be alone, so this situation seems scary. Even for a young adult without anything neurologically interesting happening.
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#20 of 31 Old 05-23-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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15 year old, alone for 5 weeks, depression, etc, not comfortable with his parents leaving that long, and his parents gone so far away that it could take days to get back home in case of an emergency.  Doesn't sound like a good plan.  I hope he'll be alright.


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#21 of 31 Old 05-24-2013, 12:01 AM
 
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Since you have helped the family with their IEP you must know the mom well - if not friends but well enough to get a feel for her and understand how much she 'gets' her child. do you doubt her judgement?

 

i think a 16 year old can totally do it. they may not like it, but they can do it - even with all his other issues. perhaps he talks and texts his brother every day so he has some contact. even with depression and anxiety - this can be a very empowering moment for him. esp. with IEP even more. gives him a chance to figure out that he CAN do it


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#22 of 31 Old 05-24-2013, 12:12 AM
 
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At that age, I was employed and living on my own. I'd make sure the guy knows that your family is there if he needs someone to eat dinner with but try not to worry about it.


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#23 of 31 Old 05-26-2013, 12:10 AM
 
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I'm sure the parents and the kid discussed it and decided for whatever reason this was the best choice in their situation,

 

 

Why are you sure of that? It seems an odd assumption to me.

 

I don't know anyone who has left a teen that age alone for that long, and I think that depression and anxiety make it a WORSE idea.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#24 of 31 Old 05-26-2013, 07:33 AM
 
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I had similar diagnoses as a teen and staying home alone, traveling alone, then moving out just before turning seventeen were justice what I needed. My depression stemmed mostly from having very little control over my life so these experiences freed me from a lot of the hopelessness and caged in feelings I had. I think his family is making a choice based on what they feel will be best for him.
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#25 of 31 Old 05-31-2013, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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UPDATE - The older brother stopped by and caught the 16 yr old with something he wasn't suppose to havedrink.gif and grounded him. Not exactly sure how the grounding is being enforced since he is still home alone shrug.gif
 


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#26 of 31 Old 05-31-2013, 01:51 PM
 
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Why are you sure of that? It seems an odd assumption to me.

I don't know anyone who has left a teen that age alone for that long, and I think that depression and anxiety make it a WORSE idea.

Yes, I think it's a reasonable assumption that they discussed it with the teen before leaving him alone.
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#27 of 31 Old 06-02-2013, 02:50 PM
 
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UPDATE - The older brother stopped by and caught the 16 yr old with something he wasn't suppose to havedrink.gif and grounded him.

wow. hey that's great news right? i mean i remember whenever i got the house to myself i always tried to do that forbidden thing. and i have done a few things - some my parents never found out and some i got grounded for. it was well worth it!!!!!

 

its been almost 3 weeks and just two more weeks left. he seems to have done well hasnt he? 

 

if he has broken the rules that means he is having a great time - at least that's what i assume. 


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#28 of 31 Old 06-02-2013, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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His dad came from where he lives, out of state, and took him back to his house. I assume that his mother knew about it.
 


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#29 of 31 Old 06-02-2013, 08:32 PM
 
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So apparently 16 is too young to leave this particular kid alone for 5 weeks. eyesroll.gif

 

I didn't even know MDC had a drinky smiley. 

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#30 of 31 Old 06-02-2013, 08:36 PM
 
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So apparently 16 is too young to leave this particular kid alone for 5 weeks. eyesroll.gif

unless we didnt know the whole story, and the dad was planned to pick the son up in 3 weeks time. 


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