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What age would you leave your child home alone?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Orkrider2, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Just that really.
    My nearly 14 year old is moaning that he has to be ‘babysat’ by my parents at their house and has asked to stay home alone when I go out.

    I have reservations because to me, he’s still just a kid. But then I remember my parents went away for a weekend and left me home alone when I was 14. And I was regularly travelling into central London by myself on Saturdays from the age of 12 to attend music college. So am I coddling him too much?

    He is a sensible kid and when I say going out, I mean to my local which is about a 10 minute walk away so it’s not like I couldn’t get home quickly if there was a problem.

    What do you think?

    He’s already trying to hussle money out of me for babysitting the younger two while I go out, but I’ve said a firm no to that till he’s at least 16 and they’re 11 and 6.
  2. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Too young to be left alone
  3. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    What age would you say is acceptable to start leaving them at home alone for an evening?
  4. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    I'd agree with you about babysitting. But very dependent on the child and the circumstances. PCjr used to take herself off to museums for the day if her school had inset and was closed when she was around your son's age. I'd expected to move towards leaving her for a bit in the evening gradually. But then she became unwell and couldn't be left alone at all for around 3 years. I'd trust your own judgment and knowledge of your child. Although may be a short stint to test it the first time!

    I know my brother and I were left alone for an evening occasionally when I was 13 maximum and him younger. We'd have butterscotch Angel delight and watch a lot of tv.
    needabreak likes this.
  5. LondonCanary

    LondonCanary Star commenter

    14 is fine if you are comfortable with it. You can remain available by mobile if it makes it you both more at ease.
    cissy3 likes this.
  6. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I'd go with 14 for a couple of hours if your 10 mins away and not too late back but like you said not to mind his younger siblings as that's too much responsibility if the youngest is only 4.

    Have you tried a few hours in the day? Then you can judge how he gets on. He might get lonely on his own in the evening, I know the youngest nab felt uneasy when she was finally left on her own for a few hours and kept texting to find out when I'd be back, sometimes they aren't as brave as they think they are.
  7. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    He already gets himself to school in the morning. I leave at about 6:45 with the younger two, and he’s still in bed normally. He leaves at about 8:15 so he’s alone for that time. Similarly, he gets home between 3:30 and 4pm, but I don’t get back with the smaller two till 4:30 at the earliest and sometimes 5 or 5:30. That’s been going on for the last 2 years now. He’s very good at calling/texting me before he leaves to let me know he’s ok, and again as soon as he gets home to let me know he’s back safe.
    So I know he’s a sensible lad (and a good kid - usually uses that time to do the dishwasher or put a hoover around because he wants to help now I’m on my own, bless him).

    Also, both his nans live quite close, and his best mate lives 5 doors down the road, and we’re friends with the guys who run the off licence round the corner if the worst comes to the worst, so he has pointed out several times today that if he’s worried and can’t get hold of me for whatever reason, he’s got plenty of people nearby he can call or go to.

    He has taken it upon himself to walk to my mums before when he’s forgotten his door keys and didn’t have his phone, rather than hanging around outside in the dark for an hour, so I do trust his safety instinct. Knowing him, he’ll spend the entire night on his PlayStation talking to his mates on the headset anyway.
  8. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    I left mine alone at that age but I'm not sure I would have with .9 and 4 year old as well.
    If you think he's sensible enough, try it for a couple of hours whilst you pop out and take it from there.
    needabreak likes this.
  9. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Sounds like you know him well and trust him already... Actually sounds like you know what you want to do, we've all been there it's nerve wracking the first time but gets better after a while. It's the first all night party that will really get you going especially if they are aren't at your place. :eek:
    emerald52 likes this.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I left my youngest for whole days well before he was fourteen. He was a very sensible boy who was very happy to be left. We left him overnight when he was sixteen. He would have been happy to be left well before that. Our eldest was minding one or more of his siblings for an hour or two when he was fourteen. Again, they were all calm and sensible youngsters. Young people should be given a lot more space. It's not helpful to stifle their need for independence. But I would not have paid mine to babysit and they wouldn't have expected it.

    I was coming home to an empty house at ten. Houses have got safer since then. I don't know why some modern parents are so mean to their children, hovering round them. It's not good! Let him have his bit of time to himself. It's really important.
    InkyP and Vince_Ulam like this.
  11. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    As a Scout leader I have expected 14 year old patrol leaders to plan and run weekend camps for their patrol, with only very distant supervision.
    hhhh, emerald52, Vince_Ulam and 3 others like this.
  12. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I do trust him and I know it’s inevitable that some point he won’t need looking after when I’m not there anymore. I just don’t know where that boundary lies and it feels like such a fine line between giving them space and being negligent. Doesn’t help that my ex has put it in my head that wanting any time away from my kids at all is evidence that I value my social life over them and I’m a terrible mother. But that’s another story.

    At his age plenty of my friends (not me obviously, I was an angel!) were the ones out till late getting drunk with their friends, not our parents!

    And there is part of me that thinks it would be so much easier if I didn’t have to rely on others to look after him, I already feel like I’m a burden on my parents. But at the same time I’ve recently met a new beau and it’s nice to know I’ve got an empty house waiting for me at the end of the night if you know what I mean. :oops:
  13. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I have left him at home alone in charge of the smaller two during the day on the odd occasion but only to pop to the corner shop for some milk or bread which is a round trip of about 5 minutes in the car. And even then only when it’s raining, otherwise I usually send him to run round there for me.
    emerald52 and needabreak like this.
  14. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    To be honest it sounds like the ex is the real issue... Been there too although he really didn't accuse me of neglect but just left all the parenting to me. Definately a dilemma.
    cissy3 likes this.
  15. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    @Orkrider2 It sounds as if you are balancing a lot of pressures admirably. Your judgement seems sensible to me.
    cissy3 and needabreak like this.
  16. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

  17. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Where will the younger ones be if he is left alone in the evening, but not baby-sitting them?
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  18. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Just to get things into context, my parents left school at 14 and had to go out to work to earn a living. I didn't, but at the age of 14, I was working every hour I was able to, traveled everywhere on my own and so did everyone else of my generation.

    I know they were different times to now, but at some stage in life everyone needs to learn about street wisdom. It didn't harm me becoming streetwise at an early age as much as it would be likely to do if it had been left until I was old enough to attend university.

    That was back in the days when there was a million times more dangers to face than we have now; and I'm not talking about criminals to avoid. Stuff in the home that could harm you.
  19. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Well 'legally' 14 would be alright to leave alone, though obviously not on his own for long periods of time. Definitely time to start letting go, starting with perhaps short times during the day as you already do, though personally, depending on how safe an area you live in I'd be less happy about leaving him on his own in the evenings.

    From my knowledge of siblings better to leave 'babysitting' till he's 16. I found 'sibling-sitting' is different to baby-sitting for others.
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  20. balletomane

    balletomane New commenter

    If he's sensible, then he's absolutely fine to be left home alone at that age. He's probably feeling as if he's being treated too much like his younger siblings, so he either wants to stay home alone or else to be given babysitting money in order to make clear the difference. That's normal for a teenager his age. Let the younger ones go to your parents' as usual and let him have some time to himself. Your ex isn't being reasonable. You don't want a resentful grumpier-than-average teenage boy, and that's what will happen if you keep him close all the time to appease your ex.
    bonxie, Lara mfl 05 and cissy3 like this.

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