What age do you leave them home alone? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I have been disagreeing about leaving our daughter home alone while we run errands. She'll be 10 next month, and she is very mature and trustworthy, but I wasn't ready to leave her. He insists that if we leave her for short periods it will boost her self-confidence and make her feel responsible. So, yesterday I left her home while I made a quick trip to the grocery store. I gave her all the instructions, cell phone numbers, etc., which she already knew, and I wasn't gone for very long, but I was so nervous that by the time I got home I was shaking and sick to my stomach. She was totally fine, and I didn't let on that it bothered me at all. I told her I was proud of her. I didn't tell her that I don't think I'll do it again any time in the near future.

btw, many of my friends are leaving their (same-aged) kids home alone now and one even left my daughter without telling me.

Am I being over-protective? I stayed home alone when I was 9, but my parents never made the best parenting decisions, so I'm not sure I should follow their example.

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#2 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 12:33 AM
 
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My crew have never been left home alone before. They are 11.5, 10, 8.5, and 5.

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#3 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 12:49 AM
 
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I leave my son home alone for about one hour at the most(he is 13). I just started doing this last year. I still worry.

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#4 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 12:50 AM
 
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I will leave my almost 11 yr old home for up to an hour, if there are no friends about! he is under strict rules - no answering the door or the phone. No use of toaster, stove or computer.

It has gonewell - although if I am ever running a bit late - I DO feel a bit panicked. I think that is normal.

OT: In my area, children as young as 8 and 9 walk themselves to and from school - It always amazes me when parents let their children roam around outside unsuperivsed, but the same children are not allowed "home alone" for even a few minutes.

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#5 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:08 AM
 
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I think I was first left home alone when I was about 12. I, too, was under strict instructions not to answer the door or the phone (in the days before we had call display), and my parents would check up on me about every ten minutes.
I think they would have left me longer, but then it was pretty much out of necessity, as that was when my mother started working full-time and I had no one to go to in the time before/after school.
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#6 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:15 AM
 
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Our 11 yr old DD is also very mature and responsible. I feel pretty OK with leaving her for two hours, with strict rules (no answering the door, no taking phone calls, etc.).

We have one set of wonderful neighbors - one is an EMT and the other is going to nursing school. They are who we would want DD to be with if DH and I both died. DD has their phone numbers memorized.

It has come to my attention, however, that she doesn't always make the best decisions about what to eat while I'm gone. So, we have a new rule about no junk food in the house (this actually applies to DH more than anyone else, since he's the one that brings the junk home). And I'm making more of an effort to have quick, easy, nutritious foods available for her.

One day a week, I work for three hours straight. Normally DD is with DH for those hours, but DH is working out of town right now and it really bothered me the other day - those three hours seemed really long. This next week, she's going with me.

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#7 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:16 AM
 
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I have done this a few short times. Dd1 is 10.5. Just for a few minutes when I run to the post office to get a bill in the mail before it goes out, etc. She is allowed to ride her bike six blocks to the park - with the Motorola so we can be in contact. She and her six year old sister walk to school - five blocks. It is hard to know how much responsibility to give them. I want to give her a lot - she is a great, responsible kid. But it is still hard to do...

When I was ten, I'd ride my bike miles away from my house - and be gone for hours. With no cell phone, nothing. I somehow survived.
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#8 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:17 AM
 
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We've had this same question. We are in a half house, so we have a bit of back up for in an emergency, he could go there, but still don't really like the idea. Plus, we don't know what the laws are, I am assuming there is a minimum by law. But he is responsible, and very much hates running errands, so he has gotten to stay a couple times, but not even for 30 minutes at a time, we that was with a lot of worry. I know I was home, either alone or with my step brother, much younger. I remember we rode our city bus accross town more than once while I was in 5th grade (he would have been 6th) and small town or not, I can't imagine letting my kids do that.

Tough question, guess there isn't a good answer though
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#9 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:19 AM
 
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I was left home alone as early as 7. My older brother was home some of the time, but most of the time he would jet outside to play as soon as he got home from school. I can't believe I was left that early--but my parents HAD to work and we didn't have many options at the time, I guess. My dd is 9 and I recently left her alone for about an hour, under strict rules. She was watching a movie which is why she didn't want to leave at the time and she's pretty responsible. She was also fed before I left so I knew she was probably going to stay plopped in front of the movie, which she did. I guess it all depends on maturity levels.
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#10 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:33 AM
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At the age of 10, I was waking up at 5:30 a.m. during the summer, walking about a block down the street in my neighborhood and babysitting a 6 yr old, a 5 yr old and a 2 yr old from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m....every day.

I'm 32 now...and while I certainly cannot see allowing my 10 yr old or even my 14 yr old to do the same thing, I do leave the kids home alone sometimes, and for more than one hour.

They've never had a problem and while the house is sometimes messier than when I left, I've never come home to a disaster--medical or otherwise.

My kids are pretty trustworthy and mature and they keep each other in check.

In our state, it's illegal to leave a child home alone if they are under the age of 11. But 11 yr olds are allowed to "babysit" their younger siblings, as well.

I think it really depends on your kids...and maybe the area you live in, how far away you are, how easily accessible you are while you're gone, etc...
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#11 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:40 AM
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I think Rain was 7 or 8 when I would leave her and run a short errand - like, 20 minutes or so. By 11 I certainly left her for hours...

She is, perhaps, an unusually mature and responsible kid... and I did always make sure she could call me at any time.

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#12 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 02:00 AM
 
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I think Rain was 7 or 8 when I would leave her and run a short errand - like, 20 minutes or so. (snip)
Yeah, us too. I could easily run around to the corner store by the time she was 7 or 8. Cell phone with me at all times, of course.

But somehow, those three hours the other day just really felt too long, to ME - she was fine with it.

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#13 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 02:10 AM
 
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We started leaving ds1 for short periods when he was...9 or 10. This was only for runs to the corner store and such.

By about 11.5, I felt okay leaving him for a period of a couple hours - always with ground rules. He could have a friend over, if we okayed it ahead of time. He wasn't to answer the phone.

By 12 or so, he was babysitting his baby sister, but only with backup and when we were a short distance away (eg. we'd go for dinner at a restaurant a block away and take the cell phone, and the upstairs neighbour was home).

He'll be 14 in March, and dh and I are comfortable leaving him to babysit both the little ones while we go for dinner. However, we do have adult family (my mom and my siblings) within five minutes away by car, in case of an emergency). He has all phone numbers and has done the Red Cross babysitting course.

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#14 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 02:29 AM
 
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I was just wondering about this!

DS is 9 and I will leave him to go somewhere nearby- usually the neighbor's house with dd. Last week, however, I had to pick-up dd at a school friend's house and ds really did not want to go. I left him for about 30 minutes. I thought I would feel slightly panicked, but it was completely fine. When I got home, he was actually in the same spot reading his book. He is very trustworthy and obviously that makes all the difference.
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#15 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 02:36 AM
 
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I work 3 days a week, and homeschool. I am a single parent, and my mother lives with us. She is 87 years old, and frankly, I think the kids are "babysitting" her as much as the reverse. But her presense makes it legal. They are 11 & 10, and extremely responsible and cautious. I have a cell phone, and they typically call me 2 or 3 times a day. To check in, say hello, or ask a question.

Mom will be away for a month, coming up soon. I am not happy about the Dumplings being alone that much, but mainly it is my fear of CPS.

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#16 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 02:39 AM
 
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i started babysitting when i was about 11 and that was only 7 years ago "wow that was awhile ago" so i think it would be okay for short periods of time

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#17 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 09:46 AM
 
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I didn't leave my oldest alone till he was 11, but we lived in the country and there weren't neighbors he could call on in case of an emergency.

When we moved into town I let him stay alone for 20-30 minutes at a time while I ran errands. If we'd lived in this neighborhood when he was 9 or 10 I think I'd have felt comfortable leaving him home alone for short periods of time then.

Right now on the days I need the car, I wake him up early and he's in charge of babysitting his sleeping siblings till I get back from dropping his dad off at work. Once we've left him in charge of the 8 and 6 year old while we took the 4 year old grocery shopping with us. That was the fastest grocery trip I've ever made, and the kids did fantastic =)

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#18 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 11:06 AM
 
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Depends on the child but I find mine don't want to stay alone until they are around fourteen or fifteen. I usually always leave two together for company depending on their personalities. It is also easier if you have pets because then the child doesn't feel alone. I have one child who is nine who will beg to stay home with older sister 14 but it doesn't work out well because he calls me every thirty seconds on my cell phone.

We have reliable neighbors too that they could go to in an emergency.
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#19 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 11:43 AM
 
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I start leaving my kids alone at 12 but I do not leave them with sibs to baby sit until 14 (I do not use any babysitters under 14). I can not imagine my 9 yr old staying home alone.
that is just me though. I do know others whos kids stay home much earlier and babysit much earlier and do just fine.

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#20 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 11:55 AM
 
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I will leave my daughter (nearly 12) home alone for a quick ride to the grocery store IF one neighbor who is a friend is home, and it's daytime. I wouldn't leave her home alone after dark because I think SHE wouldn't like it. I would NOT leave her home with our 3 year old.
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#21 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 12:36 PM
 
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I will leave dd's(almost 11 and almost 8) home together sometimes in the afternoon while I go out for a 30 minute jog. I take my cell with me and am not more than a mile or so away. We have trustworthy neighbors at home that time of day and dd's usually are reading or working on homework.

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#22 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 12:50 PM
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I think it really depends on how mature your dd is and how comfortable you are. When I was that age I started staying home rather than need to go to a sitters during the school day. My parents woke me before they went to work, called to make sure I was headed out the door on time, I walked to and from school with friends and frequently ate lunch at my friend's house since her place was closer to the school than mine. After school I was not home alone very long before mom and dad were off work, but our next door neighbour was a SAHM, as well as a few other women in the neighbourhood, so there were many eyes on me to make sure I didn't get into any trouble (as a teen I called them "Mom's Many Spies", ). By 12 I was doing short babysitting stints for my brothers and neighbours..by 13 I was the main sitter on our block.
That said, when my niece was that age there was no way she was responsible to be left alone, and she would freak out if it was suggested. She is coming up to 16 and while she is ok if my mil (she lives with my mil in a small town, her mom is here in the city...don't get me started on this situation) goes for the day, Grandma can even take the 2 hour drive and spend the day in the city, but if it's approaching evening my niece will not stay home by herself. She is planning to get her own place here in the city when she comes to college....I do not think she is going to be able to handle it.
My brothers, while responsible on their own, at 10-14 could not be left home together. Too much arguing over who was "in charge" . Now at 15 and 17, they're fine.
But I think the big issue here for you is that you are not comfortable with leaving her home alone, and I totally understand that. If your gut is telling you to wait, then you should wait a bit longer.
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#23 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:17 PM
 
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I think the time to start leaving them by themselves is when both you and the child is comfortable with it. If either of you is uneasy, it's probably better to wait a while. It varies, I find that my oldest LOVED being left alone and was ready for it at 8, but my younger was not ready at that age, though she was fine if her sister was with her.
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#24 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 01:33 PM
 
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I was left home alone after school and started babysitting my little sister (8 years younger) at the age of 10. Nothing bad happened, ever.

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#25 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 03:27 PM
 
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My oldest just stayed home alone for the first time last month. He is almost 13.

I think it depends on the kid. Sage would rather run an errand with me than stay home. Starting at 11, I would talk to him every so often to see if it was something he was interested in, and he just wasn't until now.

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#26 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 03:45 PM
 
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I was riding my bike to school with the neighbors' 9 and 7 yr. olds when I was 6. At 7, I was walking to school with my 5 yr. old sister, and babysitting her for 2 hours every weekday after school. By 10 I was babysitting other peoples' kids.
I'll feel comfortable leaving my oldest home alone around 8, I think. He's very mature and responsible at 4. His toddler brother will be a different story, I think.
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#27 of 51 Old 01-12-2007, 05:52 PM
 
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i really think it depends on the child and whether they feel comfortable staying at home by themselves or are deamed responsible.

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#28 of 51 Old 01-13-2007, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses. We do have a neighbor my daughter could call in a pinch, but I think I'm going to wait another year-ish. She's totally ready to be left alone, and she's a homebody, so she's always asking if she can stay while I run errands. I'm not sure what I'll tell her the next time she asks. Maybe I should look up the CA law.

My DH and I have an agreement to never let the kids stay home alone together because we were both tortured by older siblings. We may change our minds eventually depending on the kids' relationships with each other.

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#29 of 51 Old 01-13-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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I leave dd home for a short periods of time if I have to run to the store or take the dog for a quick walk. She is mature for her age (10) and very responsible. She is comfortable with this, otherwise I wouldn't do it.

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#30 of 51 Old 01-13-2007, 12:26 AM
 
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I would be left alone at home at the age of eight with three younger siblings to care for, but I was quite mature and dependable.

I never left my children at home alone until they were ten.

Legally I do believe it is age thirteen. No questions after that.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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