View Full Version : Home alone?

01-17-2016, 12:45 AM
At what age do you feel your child(ren) capable of being home alone for a short (1-2hr) time?

01-17-2016, 01:11 AM
I remember last year when DS was 9 I didnt feel comfortable leaving him home for short stretches. Now I am comfortable leaving him home alone when theres a routine shopping trip, or for the babys therapy sessions.
Hes been perfectly capable of self-entertaining for years, I think its all just been me getting to where I am comfortable letting him be. (Once we were at the point where he wasnt *afraid* to be left alone.)
Im not all that sure he would know what to do in an emergency situation - but he knows how to handle himself around the house. In case of home invasion, nuclear war, zombie apocalypse, or hollywood-worthy earthquake, or other crisis - I guess i just hope it doesnt happen while Im at Costco or Ds3s therapies.
I think our transitional time was when DH was working from home but holed up in his *office*. In case of Zombie Apocalypse or other unlikely crisis, presumably DH would have come out.
And I remember back when I was that age, being left to my own devices for hours. Not that I received good parenting, but I didnt blow up the house or anything.

And DS also can text DH or Grandma or me. And hes been indoctrinated in 911.

I also dont expect anything to actually get done. Schoolwork when Im not there? Hah!

Im sure some independent kids are ready before mine was. But this was something I worked through last year. :p Some states have an arbitrary law decreeing an age. CA doesnt.

01-17-2016, 01:16 AM
Capable and worth risking are two different things.

ds8 is the same age I was when I was allowed to stay home while my mother and sister went to evening extra curricular classes. I was fine. I'm sure he'd be fine too, but the consequences of what might happen if the Jehovah's Witnesses dropped by or if he accidentally locked himself out of the house while taking out the trash are a lot different than they were in the 1970s.

He doesn't have to put on socks and shoes and jacket and get dragged away from what he's doing if his older brother is on the premises any more. The older brother can be asleep, but he needs to be physically on the premises. It sucks, but so do a lot of things about the 21st century, IMNSHO.

From what you've told me about Murphy, I'd check the laws in your state and not worry about her as long as its legal.

At one point, we were obeying an extremely stupid law that said I couldn't leave dd26 home alone, but I could let her go for walks by herself. This was before cell phones, so I always made sure she had change for a pay phone and had to go rescue her when she got lost more than once.

01-17-2016, 03:23 AM
The state of MD says that the magic age is 8yo to be alone and 13yo to be a sitter in charge of other children. While Murph is a capable 'lil wombat, DH and I said the same thing when one of her Girl Scout badges had a "ask your parents to leave you alone in charge of the house for a couple of hours while they run an errand" requirement. We both went, "I don't think so."

It isn't because we don't trust her...she's reasonably trustworthy and actually would get most of her homework done. DH and I are more worried about someone attempting to break in or her choking if she is eating (long story, but she's getting better). There have been a crazy number of home invasions in the last few years around here. I'm convinced that most of them were not random. They targeted the houses because they knew someone had a gun worth stealing, had drugs (illegal or prescription), or had large amounts of cash (because of the drugs) and went for it. We don't have those issues. But it's a weird, weird world and one just never knows. DH doesn't ever remember being left home alone (he was one of eight and the eldest living child), but recalls being left in charge of the others when he was around 14yo. I was probably 12yo before I was left home alone for more than an hour. The idea of leaving an 8yo alone was just blowing our minds. Even 10 seems kind of young IF you've got one who's emotionally immature.

It all just made me curious as to what other folks consider a reasonable age to leave the little monsters alone for a short time. :)

01-17-2016, 05:03 AM
I'd say, it depends on the kid. DS is 8 and definitely not ready. I think I was left alone with my younger brother around 11, but that went poorly. I was babysitting at 12.

Times are changing. I remember being left alone around 9 or 10. And there were latchkey kids in 3rd grade.

01-17-2016, 08:57 AM
I put 7. Apparently I'm the only child endangerer. Lol. I think I was left alone at 6 between when my mom went to work and my step dad got home. I wouldn't be worried in my neighborhood, especially with our loud dog. We have breakins here but almost always in the summertime when the homeowners are up north - plenty of empty houses owned by well-off retirees with nicer electronics and an alarm is easier to disable than a dog. Now, I guess I'll just have to wait and see about the kid. I'm sure they'll all be different.

01-17-2016, 10:37 AM
I dunno TFZ. We can think what we did back in our day n age...
And we have these fears that are a bit irrational. How likely is home invasion? Barely moreso than the zombie apocalypse.
We just crossed this threshhold.... looking back, it really was a matter of me deciding that nothing was likely to happen to my boy. And doing it a few times made me more comfortable with it.
We also just started sending him to go running around the block (its almost exactly a mile). The first time, I was anxious - should I tail him, make sure he doesnt get lost or abducted?
It seems ridiculously hovering in retrospect. Once he was fine with the idea, it really took me the training and practice to be comfortable leaving him at home.

eta: Its not uncommon for me to call DH if I leave DS3 at home with him, reminding him simple things like making sure the child lock is secure on the door... totally ridiculous things to worry about, just from not being the one in control of the situation.
I really think its just the parent being able to relax a bit.

01-17-2016, 10:42 AM
I'm thinking for us 10 would be good... and that's the legal age in Washington. I think ds would be okay but he still is a bit emotionally immature. I'm not so confident in his ability to make a rational choice in a scary situation. I guess my big worry is fire, I would have to know he could get out without trying to save his comic book collection. I don't think he's there yet. I remember they would drill that into us at school. Just get out! Don't grab your stuff! I would think of certain things that I was still going to grab when I was in second grade or so.

01-17-2016, 11:46 AM
Nice avatar Sarah! I know what movie Im going to watch this afternoon now!

01-17-2016, 11:48 AM
Interesting: DH has a 7am flight on Thu and it's a point of contention: leave the kid home or take her with us? She'll be 12 in a couple of weeks, and, well duh, she'll be sleeping. Airport is an hour one way, so we'd be up and on the road like way early

I hear you all about external fears (locking themselves out, Jehovah's Witnesses, or goodness zombies and/or burglars) and I still think it's all about the kid. Personally I am not worried that our kid will wake up and/or anything would happen, but DH is adamant she come with us.

What it's all about? It's about him. He would literally die if anything happened to her that he could've prevented. It comes with the territory of having a singleton later in life...there's no spare, she's it, single egg in single basket. There's nothing rational about it.

01-17-2016, 12:28 PM
I think it depends on two things: state law and your kid.

As a homeschooler, that already makes someone "weird" and "different", so no sense inviting trouble. I would check the state law. I know MD had a whole thing with police and child services and free range kids not too long ago.

I've only recently (past few months) started leaving DS on his own for a brief time while I run an errand or what have you. Most of the time we've been at the neighbors, directly across the street and DS was bored and came home to practice guitar. He texts us. He's 12, though. When we've run errands, I always check with a trusted neighbor that they are home and that DS can go to them or text them if he needs to. He's had a history of anxiety and other special needs struggles. Also, we had a sociopath for a neighbor for a few years (now gone- yay!) that was determined to cause trouble, and tried to harass me and DS (just inside the scope the of the law) when DH wasn't home. No way would I have let DS home alone while he lived here. DS would have been terrified and I'm not sure what the neighbor would have done, if he knew he could get away with it.

I was home alone long before age 12. I was babysitting infants for pay by age 9. I was on my own all day, expected to handle laundry, get dinner on the table, and watch a sibling every day, by age 8 or 9. I also worked on a farm after school every day, and had to walk quite a distance to get there. It was a way different world. Yet, to be truthful I wasn't comfortable with all that and we had no neighbors and lived in the middle of nowhere. Nothing bad ever happened, of course, and I handled the duties I had just fine, but I always felt so much worry, pressure, and responsibility. Other kids had their parents worrying about those things. I wouldn't leave a tween home alone daily with other kids to watch. I know how that feels and it's a lot to carry for a kid. I think it made me old, anxious, and stressed before I should I have been. Taking care of a home, and raising a family did not seem like a sweet adventure to embark on. I'd seen all the dirty work and had no illusions. Sadly, no one ever showed me how lovely it could be to have your own home and family.

So, I've seen both ends of this, and there is a difference in running an errand, being a latch key kid for 2 hours, or being home alone all day, what responsibilities the child has (siblings to care for), where you live (trustworthy neighbors nearby?), and your child's abilities and how they feel about it. The ability to Facetime, text, have a security system, are helpful, though.

01-17-2016, 01:03 PM
I agree with ejsmom, it depends on the law and your kids. If you think they'll be fine then I say go for it.

01-17-2016, 01:21 PM
We've got SN issues in play, so my perspective is skewed. Dd, though 14, is VERY immature. Only recently have I started leaving her asleep while I go to early morning doctor appointments. It's a rare thing for her to be left alone, awake, during the day. She does things that are just so out of left field and that I simply couldn't anticipate - I don't trust her. Sad but true.

I was left alone from an early age (5-ish?), and was such an anal, anxious child that I was totally fine. It really does depend on the kiddo.

01-17-2016, 01:45 PM
I voted 12 based on my particular situation.....and I think that's what everyone does....specific situations.

The law is first, in my mind. Next, is the kid afraid to be alone or wanting the feeling of self-reliance. Then, for me, I live out in the sticks and I don't have neighbors that I can even see their houses....though of course we know them and have phone numbers.

12yo, for my oldest, seemed to be the magic number for our family....and this was just for short trips to grocery or errands less than 2 hours in the beginning.

01-17-2016, 01:51 PM
I hate our state law. It says we can't leave children under 14 home alone for unreasonable periods of time, without defining wheat's unreasonable. I'll leave my eight year old home alone with a cell phone for less than 1.5 hours during daylight hours or early evening: mostly these are quick runs to Walmart or Walgreens to just grab a few things, not a full shopping trip.

I wouldn't describe my eight year old as exceptionally mature. She often seems very young to me in comparison to her peers. However, I know if I leave her alone, she'll mostly likely spend the whole time holed up in her room with a book.

I will say, though, it also depends on the safety of your area. We used to live in the city, where there had been shootings on our block, where there had been a fire in our apartment complex. I wouldn't let an eight year old stay home alone there. But, where we live now? I don't lock my car or house unless I'm going on a trip that will keep me away from home multiple days. There hasn't been a burglary or car theft among my neighbors in the last couple decades.

01-17-2016, 02:21 PM
I think most kids are ready to be alone for short times around age 6 or 7 and certainly by age 8. I think most parents don't prepare so that their kids aren't ready, which makes it a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Since the Maryland law was referenced, having read the state's clarification of the law post-Meitevs, I read it as saying very clearly that a child alone, assuming they're not locked in a confined space (the original wording of the law) is not in and of itself grounds to investigate or follow up with a family. In other words, there is no magic age to be unsupervised in Maryland.

01-17-2016, 03:05 PM
Maryland seems to love vague laws.

01-17-2016, 03:07 PM
I learn new stuff here all the time. Here's a list of the laws by state: http://www.freerangekids.com/laws/

am- I agree with ya. Home invasion, not likely. I think I was just thinking if I trust my kids enough to be home the only other factor that would deter me would be something external. I do put the dog in the yard with them when I'm inside, too.

01-17-2016, 03:38 PM
I put 8yo b/c Murphs_mom said for short periods - 1.5 hours. I would leave a 7 yo for a half hour or so. My DS is 8.5 and he stays home alone fairly regularly for less than 2 hours. I don't know why 2 hours - more than that would just be boring/lonely for him if it was regularly, I think.

DS knows the "rules" - no answering the door, no playing out back (there's a pool), no playing outside (in case of nosy neighbors, lol). There's a phone with speed dial for mom, dad and grandpa's phones, and he knows about 911. I always ask if he'll be alright and he always scoffs and wants to know what I might possibly worry about. From my experience thus far...the biggest worry I should have is how much snack food he can eat in the time we're gone, lol.

My state has no law. No law about babysitting ages, either. Most states don't.

I was 9 when I walked home from school - about a mile or mile and a half I think - and was home alone most days for an hour or two. I don't think anyone thought anything of it. I'm with Farrar - I think you get what you foster - barring special circumstances, of course. I'm going for competence.

I think treating kids like they are fragile and giving them the message that the world is too scary and dangerous for them to handle has its own dangers.

Not saying everyone who chooses to wait is giving their kids that message...

01-17-2016, 04:24 PM
NH doesn't have a specific legal age, but the NH DHHS provides a pamphlet (http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/documents/home-alone.pdf) with recommendations that includes a recommended age of 10, which is the same as I had voted in this poll. That is the age we felt comfortable leaving our kids alone, but it can certainly vary depending on the child. We live in a rural area on a private cul-de-sac with a few close neighbors that we could trust, and generally let them know if we were going out leaving the kids alone. (I'm almost more worried leaving them home alone as older teenagers/young adults :p.)

[Not like when I was growing up where we wandered the streets and parks by ourselves at all ages (I remember walking the almost one mile to school and home in Kindergarten at 5 years old all by myself) with no direct parental supervision, and the only requirement being that we were within earshot of the big bell my mother would ring to call us home. Times and the world have changed, sometimes not for the better, sadly...]

Stella M
01-17-2016, 10:00 PM
I think it absolutely depends.

I have a 12 year old who doesn't like staying at home on his own. It's not a drama. When the inconvenience of having to come out with me outweighs his dislike of being on his own, he'll stay home on his own!

My eldest daughter was ready by 10. But her younger sister wasn't ready because she had huge separation anxiety. We only sorted that out in the last few years.

Would I leave a child at home at a younger age ? Yes, if they asked to be left home alone, and I was confident about doing so.

01-17-2016, 10:11 PM
I think it absolutely depends.

I have a 12 year old who doesn't like staying at home on his own. It's not a drama. When the inconvenience of having to come out with me outweighs his dislike of being on his own, he'll stay home on his own!

My eldest daughter was ready by 10. But her younger sister wasn't ready because she had huge separation anxiety. We only sorted that out in the last few years.

Would I leave a child at home at a younger age ? Yes, if they asked to be left home alone, and I was confident about doing so.

I agree - it totally depends on the child. I have an ultra responsible 8 year old that would be just fine. The older sister who is 11, I would be a little more cautious about. I thought this was a neat link

01-17-2016, 11:12 PM
[Not like when I was growing up where we wandered the streets and parks by ourselves at all ages (I remember walking the almost one mile to school and home in Kindergarten at 5 years old all by myself) with no direct parental supervision, and the only requirement being that we were within earshot of the big bell my mother would ring to call us home. Times and the world have changed, sometimes not for the better, sadly...]

Yep, times sure have changed. The world is safer and there's less violent crime. Gotta love statistics.

01-17-2016, 11:19 PM
I have to say that I don't like the phrasing of the poll at all. Kids are okay to be alone at... is vague in terms of what it's asking. Does this mean your particular child, the average child that age, the legal distinction in your state/country, the age at which you believe it's "safe"? Those can have very different answers.

There is no legal age in most states. I have zero judgement if a child isn't ready until 10 or 12 or even a little older (assuming a child is neurotypical, I do think it's mildly concerning to not be able to be alone by high school age - like, maybe time to work explicitly on that as a skill and a fear at that point if you didn't already). On the other hand, I also have zero judgement for people who leave a 5 yo alone for a quick run to the store. The framing of the question seems to invite everyone to play mommy wars.

01-17-2016, 11:42 PM
Interesting that you think someone here is playing a mommy war. Unless I missed it, I haven't seen anyone get overly judge-y. Sorry the phrasing doesn't work for you. It was meant to be an informal poll that was generated by curiosity; it wasn't meant to stand as the foundation for any state's legal statute. Should you wish clarification for the masses, please forward the verbiage you'd like used and I'll replace the question. :)

01-18-2016, 12:49 AM
I leave ds8 often alone for 1-2 hours. He doesn't like going shopping or other things like this. I give him tasks, to do some mathsheets, and then he may watch cartoons for half an hour or so. He can call me any time. He knows the rules (don't open the door an so on)
I think he is feeling grown up alone at home.
I also send him alone to buy something in our nearest shop, and sometimes it's big help for me.
I never left children sleeping alone.
I also sen

01-18-2016, 06:05 AM
where we live currently, I'd be just fine leaving the tech addicted 6 year old home alone at 8 or so. Because my parents live a mile away. Not that he would LET me leave him alone, as he freaks out if I do more than step out to check the mail. If I set him up with the xbox and his chips and milk at hand, he might never realize I was gone however. :-)

What I'd probably be most likely to do though, is 10. However, I put 13 as we will be an hour away from family by the time he's 10. And Atlanta traffic is so insane that a 1 mile trip could easily take 10 minutes (yes, to DRIVE)

01-18-2016, 10:25 AM
Yep, times sure have changed. The world is safer and there's less violent crime. Gotta love statistics.

Lol. I thought this, too. Everywhere I read lately says that it's safer now than ever. But is it partly because parents are keeping a tighter reign?

01-18-2016, 11:35 AM
Fear culture is definitely encouraged. Reminds me of an article I read a while back: http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/if-it-scares-it-airs-the-risk-of-alarmist-news-coverage-of-risk

01-18-2016, 12:37 PM
I think it really is alarmism and hyperfear of the unlikely. Looking back over having just been over the *let him stay at home* for the first times, the biggest part really was me letting go of my worry about unlikely events (I listed home invasion in same breath as zombie apocalypse for a reason).

Not meaning to pick on FWPs example and hubbys rationalization at all, but I would guess being on the roads at wee hours to go to the airport has more statistical hazards and risks than a DD12 could find sleeping at home on a typical day.

Looking back, it was me letting go of these irrational fears that was way bigger than DS feeling okay with not having me at the house with him.
I remember before moving from WI when I was in 2nd grade, playing in the woods all day by myself or with some neighborhood kids. No cell phones in case of trouble. I doubt my mom knew if I was in the woods or which persons house I might be at....
I remember it being third grade, riding my bike to the 7-11 to buy candy, being afraid not of crossing the busy streets but that somebody would steal my bike while I was buying SugarStix and Necco wafers.
I think its fair to say that Americans are terrified for our kids a lot more now than we were 30-40 years ago.

01-18-2016, 02:58 PM
Alexsmom I think you're right about the biggest problem being our own fear....

Interesting article skrink - what jumped out at me was it said that children abducted by strangers are more often in their early teens?? Huh. The article blames news media alarmist coverage for our increased fear...but the change seems to have happened in parenting norms in my generation - and in lots of ways, not just about physical safety. Just curious about what happened to make our generation the hoverers, helicopterers, vigilant safety monitors (exaggerating, but you know...).

I agree with others that it's all about the kid in terms of appropriate age...

Natalya - I've seen what you're talking about - my DS is pretty proud and enjoys the times he gets to stay alone. Now, to work on sending him on errands...could do it - the store is less than a 10 min walk or 5 min bike ride away. That would be a cool milestone!

01-18-2016, 03:00 PM
And thank goodness we haven't had much in the way of mommy wars here...so I'm not worried...curriculum or no wars, pledge of allegiance kerfluffles, Idk what the others were anymore - but I bet a search for 'pie' would help me recall!

01-18-2016, 03:11 PM
Pie is the balm that salves all wounds. Or something.

01-18-2016, 03:26 PM
I voted 12.

I have a 10 year old and an 8 year old. Neither are ready to be home alone although I can see leaving my oldest home alone in the next year or so. I wouldn't leave my youngest with her, nor do I see leaving him alone any time soon.

I'm in Texas. I looked at the laws linked above and while Texas is strict about leaving kids in cars (I knew that - I drag my kids in EVERYWHERE with me) there are no laws about age limit for staying home alone.

It's not that I'm scared that someone would hurt them. That of course is a concern. We are in a safe, suburban neighborhood and I do know that there are latch-key kids on our street who are fine.

So I guess I'm saying, like most other things parent-related, I would leave it at the discretion of the family. I'm not comfortable leaving my kids alone at this point, and I'm pretty sure my oldest doesn't want to be left alone, either. Other families might be ready at a younger age. It just depends on the kid and the family.

01-20-2016, 03:25 PM
DS has turned 8, so it would now be legal here, but I have no plans to do it soon. First of all, he likes company--he'd rather go where I'm going. Second, he's just not that mature. When he gets there, he gets there.

I agree with a PP that your 12yo is safer in your locked house than in a moving car with you.

01-20-2016, 07:09 PM
So I guess I'm saying, like most other things parent-related, I would leave it at the discretion of the family. I'm not comfortable leaving my kids alone at this point, and I'm pretty sure my oldest doesn't want to be left alone, either. Other families might be ready at a younger age. It just depends on the kid and the family.

I agree with this. I really think it depends on the child, the neighborhood, etc. Even within my own family (I have four children), some were ready before others. I don't think there's a magic number.


01-20-2016, 08:46 PM
I don't think there's a magic number.


It's kind of what I thought going in (which is why things were intentionally vague with the question), but I wanted to know what others thought on the subject. I know my parents didn't leave me alone in the house (which was like Fort Knox) until I was nearly 14yo, the state law says it's okay for my 8yo to be here alone, her GS manual tells the Juniors to ask their parents to leave them home alone for a couple of hours, and, when I was working as an enumerator during the 2010 census, I knocked on one door for weeks and finally got someone to open up about 8pm one evening...it was a 6yo girl who was home alone w/her 3yo sister cause her mom worked the night shift at the hospital. Legally, I wasn't allowed to report the situation because then I would have had to have divulged this woman's PII (personally identifiable information) to someone outside the census bureau. Such a broad range of kids at home alone.

As for those who feel that it's the parents holding the kids back due to their own fears, maybe. But I've seen the Boogeyman, and I know he's real. I'd rather have my kid a bit sheltered and slowly release the reins vs. live with the regret and mourning that would be there the rest of my life if something happened to her. She's 10yo according to the calendar, but emotionally she's probably closer to 6-7yo. It's getting better, but she panics easily. When I was making her get up with me in the mornings and do her school work while DH slept (cause he works nights), the postal carrier came one day and knocked on the door. Girl flew through the house screaming, "DAAAAAAADDDDDDD!!!!! Someone's at the door!!!!! What do I DOOOOO?" Mind you, we'd covered this scenario many times and she always knew the answer. When the event actually happened, though, all knowledge flew right out her brain. I fear something similar would happen if someone attempted a break in (less likely) or fire broke out (more likely). So yeah, my fear is a factor. But, in my defense, it's there for good reason.

For the record, I think the home situation is an additional factor for me. IF we lived in an apartment complex, if we lived with relatives nearby, or if we had decent neighbors next door, I would probably feel okay with her being home alone now. I've been leaving her alone in the house while I'm working in the yard or garden since she was probably 3 or 4yo...about 6mo after she demonstrated that she could unlock the exterior doors and open them up on her own. I'd still go in and check on her every half hour or so, but she was always trustworthy. I don't doubt my child's ability to follow rules and behave in a safe manner. It's the crappy world/neighborhood that causes serious doubt.

01-21-2016, 05:29 PM
It depends on the kid. We let Kiddo stay home alone and he's 7, but I wouldn't trust my stepsister to be alone in the other room and she's 13. My mom was horrified when she found out we leave Kiddo home alone, but then I reminded her I used to babysit my brother when I was 8 and he was 3. Plus, there's no better motivation to go to the gym than promising a 7-year-old he can play Minecraft while you're gone. ;)

01-21-2016, 05:55 PM
A lot of people have been saying that "it depends on the kid," and I agree, but I think it also depends on your neighbourhood. In AnonyMS's case, they don't have any neighbours or emergency services, so that factors into the decision. Someone else posted about home break-ins being common (:_o:) in their area. We live in a quiet residential neighbourhood with several retired people on our block and several other work-at-home parents. My kids knew these adults by name and felt comfortable knocking on their doors if necessary. They also knew how to use the phone and my husband's office is only a 5 minute drive from home.

I started leaving my kids alone when they were about 5 and 8, while I walked the dog for 20 minutes. It was inconvenient to take them with me because they couldn't walk fast enough for the dog to be properly exercised. Within a year or so, I would leave them home while I made a quick trip to the store.

My kids are not the type to get into trouble. If they were reading a book or playing a video game when I left, they were probably doing exactly the same thing when I got back 45 minutes later. I've met a few other kids who I wouldn't trust alone in my house at the age of 12 or 14.

01-22-2016, 11:41 PM
Avalon, in our current neighborhood, 3 policemen live within 5 houses on either side of us, my parents are 1 mile down the street, and I STILL wouldn't trust the 6 year old. Why? He freaks out and panics and forgets what he's supposed to do. Silly child. :rolleyes: However, I was left alone frequently at 8, and by 10 was a latch key kid for a couple years. And we lived in a not-safe neighborhood at the time. It soooooo much depends on the child! I've met kids in their late teens that I wondered how they functioned at all, and 8 year olds that I'd have been comfortable with driving a car. :-)

01-23-2016, 03:15 AM
I've been thinking about this and I really just don't know. So much for us will depend on where we're living at the time. In some areas of the world I'd be okay with this sooner than other areas. Some places we'll know people and other places we just won't know anyone at all. My oldest is only 5 years old, and I just know that we're no where near leaving him home alone. He's not ready for that by any stretch.

01-23-2016, 12:51 PM
I tend to think of home alone as a first step towards independence. If kids are supposed to be able to move out on their own at 18, then I work backwards from there.
I'd expect a 16yo to be able to take public transit around the city, run errands, and get a few things done by themselves.
To do that confidently, they need to have started with smaller outings and trips around 12 or 13 (maybe to the library or the local toy store).
I'd like my kids to be able to go for a bike ride, or walk to the local playground around age 8 or 10.
To me, being able to stay home alone is less scary than going to the park alone, so I'd expect them to be able to do that first.

My thinking goes like this: alone at home, alone in the neighbourhood, alone on public transit, alone in the world.

For people who voted 12 or 13 to be home alone, does that imply that those kids also can't go out anywhere alone, either? I'm just curious.

01-27-2016, 04:55 AM
I was left alone for an hour or two every Sunday morning from age 10 when I refused to go to church, wanted to stay home to watch music videos, so that's the age I'm going with. Depends on the kids, but clearly I was capable of making good decisions at that age. ;)

01-27-2016, 08:47 AM
Good point, Avalon. I never thought about it that way. Yes, I remember walking to the park and the local pool when I was 9 or 10. Here you'd have to ride, but I see lots of kids riding around in packs in the summertime - probably around that age, 10ish. Id also like my kids to start working around 14 if they can!

01-27-2016, 01:30 PM
Avalon, I voted 12....but again, it's purely because of where I live. If I were gone and for some reason one of them was hurt and needed an ambulance or a fire happened, help is at least 20 minutes away. If I lived in a neighborhood where they could run to a neighbor's house (you can only faintly make out one neighbor's lights, at night, through the woods), or ambulance or fire stations were just a bit closer.....my number might be a bit different.

At the same time, because of where we live, my kids do some things far earlier than some suburban or city kids do.

I think it really is differences by locale and culture.....not an assessment of parenting :)

02-08-2016, 02:39 PM
I was never left alone as a kid -- I lived with my grandparents, mom, aunt and uncle -- so someone was always home. The one time I asked to stay home alone or have a key to the house -- my grandpa said kids didn't need to be left alone ever.

I would say it mostly depends on the child. I would have been fine on my own at about 12 if given the chance. My son is 8 now and I've left him alone for up to 10 minutes to run over to the gas station (down the block, walking distance) to grab something I needed quickly. No big deal. For any other further trips or longer would have to wait until he is 13 probably. He is more than mature enough to stay home and us feel comfortable with it -- he just still gets scared easily if he is alone for 15 or more minutes.

In my state of Ohio there isn't a legal age defined to leave a child alone -- in my previous state of Kentucky they say its okay starting at 6 -- but I think it all just depends on the individual child -- although I have a hard time imagining being okay with leaving a 6 year old alone.

02-08-2016, 05:52 PM
I thought of this thread today when I saw a notice at the library that kids under 8 need supervision. My second thought was, sweet a little more than three years and he can do this by himself.

02-08-2016, 06:48 PM
I left DD alone the other night while I ran to the store. It was only about 1/2hr...she was fine, I was a wreck the whole time I was gone. DH and I talked it over and we've decided that 1/2hr - 45min isn't the end of the world as long as DD is good with it, so we'll start leaving her alone more. He has school on Monday & Tuesday evenings...instead of dropping her at my office on his way to school, we're going to let her stay home alone for that short window where both DH and I have to be elsewhere. Gotta cut that cord. :-/

02-08-2016, 06:58 PM
Good luck with that! Thats how I was too, when I first left DS home alone. I still go through the litany sometimes: keep the doors locked and windows closed, dont answer the door or peek out the window, if theres a fire, just run out of vthe house to one of our neighbors and call the fire dept from there, dont cook anything.

It will get easier!

02-09-2016, 12:36 PM
My car sits at the curb a lot so the battery goes dead if I don't go out there and run the motor for ten minutes once in awhile. It's parked right out front, so I left ds in the house the other day with alexsmom's litany, but I didn't think to turn off the washing machine. The load got unbalanced and ds knew EXACTLY what to do! I was very proud of him.

I haven't left him in the children's section of the library while I browse the adult section yet, but I do plop him in front of the computer while I browse the aisles for kids books. I'd have different rules for a smaller branch library, but the nearest one is the Main for the whole county.

Eight seems so young for all this to start, but of course it's a different world. I left the olders to warm up the car when they were a lot younger and we lived in an in-law apartment in the back of the house then, so they couldn't see me or the car. it felt fine at the time, sort of like picking the second-cheapest car seat at the thrift store for my then-6 month old daughter because I liked the style a lot better than the cheapest one and then forward facing it in the front passenger seat.

02-10-2016, 11:24 AM
Depends on the kid, and unfortunately, the state laws. My oldest would have been fine around 7 or 8 without her younger siblings. 2nd, closer to 12. 3rd around the same as the oldest. I think I was about 7 or 8 and came home from school before my brother or mother by about 45 minutes. Time of the party line and in the country. Crime was actually higher then than it is now. And...I didn't have a lot to occupy me like kids now. I couldn't read yet on my own, and the TV only got 3 channels.

02-12-2016, 04:00 PM
No one-size-fits-all answer here, because my 11-yo isn't your 11-yo, you know?
And my DD could have stayed home alone, no trouble, at 8, or even 7, for such a short time, whereas her bro was a different matter....but then, plug him into Minecraft, give him a plate of snacks beside him, and actually, he wouldn't stir for 3 hours, so no trouble there either.

As for home invasions? MMV, but here, you don't bring it, there won't be it, so may as well worry about meteorites falling through the house. In other words, just get over the fact that life is 100% guaranteed fatal, and you may as well live first.

I have no prob leaving my DD11 and DS 8 home without me for several hours, and no prob leaving DD 11 babysitting DS 1 while DS 5 plays with DS 8 on computer, for <1 hour if I needed to run a quick errand.

My biggest fears are not what the kids will do or not do, nor what some supposed bogeyman will or won't do. My biggest fears are what some Concerned Citizen/Nutjob would do if they found out that anyone under 18 were Home Alone (OMG!) these days.

More power to Lenore Skenazy and the Free RAnge Kids (previously known as Normal Parenting) movement.

And yes, I envy my parents' generation, who never had to look over their shoulder in case the Concerned Citizens' Brigade were watching, when doing normal things like letting kids old enough to be in school play at the park, walk the neighborhood, etc. without an adult escort.

Sheesh, we have come a long, horrible way since Henry Huggins was the youngest paper route boy, when he was in 3rd grade. My DS is about that age, and where is his opportunity for a paper route? He'd love one. Society has gone nuts.

02-12-2016, 04:11 PM
Adding Meteorite Strike to list of unlikely events. Although if it hits the house, hed probably be thrilled. Has any American ever been killed by a meteorite?

02-12-2016, 04:21 PM
AM, no HUMAN has ever been killed by a meteorite, at least in recorded history.

02-12-2016, 04:40 PM
Yah, no human been killed in zombie apocalypse either (even florida).

Our fears arent really based on reality, are they?

02-12-2016, 05:40 PM
You know - a Concerned Citizen in a white SUV stopped my son when he was walking home from the park one day a couple years ago. From my vantage point less than a block behind him I saw him back away from the car while answering something the couple said to him. All good, he didn't get too close, looked around, thought about running from the STRANGERS in a CAR - a situation we'd discussed in terms of kidnappers and fake stories about puppies, candy, being lost, needing kid's help, mom/dad hurt, etc. Kudos to him.

I stopped Concerned Citizens (aka crazy busybodies) to be sure they were doing what I thought they were doing. I asked them if they spoke to my son. They said they were worried because he appeared to be alone - I was like, yeah, walking 3 blocks home from the park in broad daylight with his mom actually following not far behind. They said they used to volunteer with CPS (?! CPS has volunteers?) and it was dangerous. I said they definitely appeared to FRIGHTEN my son - two strangers in a car trying to stop and talk to him! I told them they they'd have been better off LEAVING HIM ALONE. He was like 6 / 7 yo for goodness' sake and our neighborhood, while in a city, was quiet and centered around said Park.

The world has gone nuts, Crunchynerd, I agree. My parents weren't lax, but me and the neighborhood kids roamed our area for hours and no adult ever stopped to ask us anything - even when I was walking home alone from my friends' houses on the other side of our neighborhood - at 6, 7, 8 yo.
The worst of it is that although I'd be happy to let my kid play in our neighborhood / walk or ride his bike to the park - there's no one else for him to do it with and he doesn't even want to, it'd be boring. Sigh.

02-13-2016, 11:56 AM
Adding Meteorite Strike to list of unlikely events. Although if it hits the house, hed probably be thrilled. Has any American ever been killed by a meteorite?

This is pretty hysterical and the timing is a tad spooky...I'm just now getting around to playing catch up on the SHS site and am just now seeing your post, AM.

Truthful story: DH and I were both wide awake at 4:30am-ish this morning and started talking (cause we're in our 50's...that's what we do now - talk). Longgg story short, he started telling me a story about when he drove courier for a company in central NY. His route took him from Albany to Rochester between midnight and 8am every weekday. One night, just outside of Syracuse at about 3am, he said he heard this loud BAM noise as something hit the van. He pulled over and looked all around the van, but couldn't find anything. Three days later, he was standing on the loading dock at the bank where he was making a delivery, talking to the bank employee, when he noticed something on top of the van. He had to climb on top to get a closer look because something was about 3' from the driver's seat area. Looking at the spot, he could see something that looked like a rock embedded in the metal of the van and, around the object, the metal was melted and the paint was blistered. Whatever this thing was, it was hot when it hit the van. DH is convinced it was a meteorite and that it missed him by 3'.

As for bogeymen, we have a registered sex offender (I found it on the state database a few years ago) at the top of our block and a ridiculous number within a 2 mile radius of the house. We live in a tepid neighborhood where, I'm fairly sure, there's more than one person doing illegal stuff on a daily basis. We're paranoid, but it's for a reason.

On the topic of concerned citizens, we had someone call the BoE a couple of years ago because they noticed DD playing in our yard during school hours. They reported us for truancy. Ahem. Instead of simply checking with us to see what was up, they assumed DD was playing hooky and we were letting her. And, instead of the BoE checking their own records, they sent someone out to check out the situation. I tried not to get annoyed, though, because there are a lot of kids that skip school around here and the parents really don't care. It would just be nice if CC's would dig a little deeper before throwing up an alarm.

I've left DD alone a couple of more times and we've all survived. Short stints, but still a bit tense for me. I also started discussing the alone thing with DH in the wee hours this morning. He's been forced to only take night and online courses at the college since starting his degree. He's 11hr from being done and none of the classes he needs are at night...they're just day side. I've told him to consider taking a morning class or afternoon class next term. DD would only be alone 1.5hr or so if he did it. OTOH, I've told him that I want an alarm system for the house if we're going to leave her alone for more than 2hr. I trust girl. It's the rest of the world that sucks. I want something that will trigger a call to the police station IF a door is opened. I would also want a third phone/land line for her. Right now, one of us leaves our phone with her when we go somewhere without her. This alone stuff could get expensive. :rolleyes:

02-15-2016, 02:21 PM
Just found out about this and thought I'd post it here:

A landline is a good thing, imho, if leaving kids home alone, especially. Quicker route to EMS and faster to trace/send help if there is an (highly unlikely!) emergency. I recently re-negotiated our cable bill (we have phone/internet/TV through a cable company) and they had an "emergency phone line" option - able to receive calls - free. Able to call out free for 30 minutes a month and of course any 911 call is free. Way less expensive than a regular phone plan. Just posting this possibility in case anyone else was nervous about relying only on cell phones with a kid/s home by themselves.

04-02-2016, 03:13 PM
When princess E went to kindergarten my oldest was nine and she'd stay home (she was homeschool) by herself for about a half hour.
My thirteen year old doesn't babysit her sister they'd probably kill each other or I'd get a phone call every five minutes telling me that one or the other is chewing too loud or dated or something annoying! I do let my oldest stay home if she wants to if I have to run to the store but she does not like staying home by herself and always tries to convince her sister to stay but then they both end up coming with me! I think it's different for each kid. I don't think I'd let princess E stay home by herself and she'll be ten in a few weeks but like I said before my oldest was nine when I let her stay home, they are complete opposite in personality and everything else about them