Name: Tom S
Location: Riverside, CA
Number of kids: 2
Ages of kids: 8, 9
Problem: This is one big question that I know we've struggled with and many of our friends also. The big question is:
How old does a child have to be before:
Now it's obvious that you can leave a 15 year old alone while you go out to the store, but how about a 13 year old, 11, 9 7? Now the obvious answer is "It's different for each child, for each family, for each parent." But today's urban and suburban society does not give modern parents the luxury of making this choice without possible repercussions. If your neighbor left their 9 year alone with food and money and your phone number for an evening, would that be ok? How about for if they called and said they would be gone for a weekend, or a week or two weeks. In Ca. and many other states, neighbors would be calling "Child Protection."
So what is the answer, do we legislate guidelines so we parents are protected from our own dumb choices, or do educate each other. What I am really looking for here is a consensus, or a vote if you will, based on your experiences. And yes, I am very cautious, partially out of fear of being accused of child neglect, and partially out of fear of actually feeling neglectful, we don't leave our 9 and 8 year old alone even for a hour without direct supervision.
Thanks for your thoughts, as I am sure many parents will benefit from your insights as I will.
Solution posted by Amber: I am a 13, daughter of very loving mother and father. I have always been scared of staying alone, but now I do it a lot. I think the child should be at least 10 years old to stay alone by themselves; but most importantly they have to be ready to. My next door neighbor is also 13, but her parents have left her home for full days (they work) when she was 8 and she was been knocking at my back door 24/7 when she was alone. She was more bored then scared. She had nothing "good" (aka junk food) to eat. She is portuguese so her parents don't think that's neglect... but I think you should talk to your child. Start by going across the street or somewhere nearby where there is an easy way to keep in touch (a phone is good) Then you could start going out for longer periods of time, but don't leave an 8 or 9 year old alone.
Another solution posted by Mickey2:I truly believe that 12 years old is old enough to leave a child at home, and that is the guideline I used with my two, and it worked pretty well for me. You certainly want to make sure that they are old enough. If you are concerned about someone calling and reporting you, all you would have to do is call the state program that protects kids from abusers in your state, and they will tell you (or should) what the legal age is for leaving children at home without adult supervision.
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