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When Can Kids Stay Home Alone?

At What Age Do You Leave Your Children at Home — Alone?

Remember latchkey kids? If you grew up in the 80's, the term is certainly familiar — it may have even referred to you. Latchkey kids, defined as "unsupervised youngsters who care for themselves before or after school, on weekends, and during holidays while their parents work," became more prevalent with the rise of dual-income families. But I hadn't thought of the term since I was a kid.

That is, until last week. My 7-year-old was scheduled to go home and play with a friend after school. At the assigned pick-up time, my caregiver arrived to pick up my son only to learn the boys had been left home alone. As shocked as I was — and believe me, every possible nightmarish episode has gone through my mind by now — the incident left me wondering what the right age is to leave your child home alone. Obviously, maturity level and length of an adult's absence come into play, but if you've left your kids alone, at what age did you begin doing so?

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MariyaYukhymenko MariyaYukhymenko 3 years
The responses also depend on the state: e.g., in CT it is illegal to leave a child under 13 years home alone; whereas in IL it is defined something like 'whenever the child is ready.'
LeslieWeimer LeslieWeimer 3 years
I left home alone at nine I love it. It depends on the child. My will never be left alone home she has autism. My brothers were also nine I babysit them when I was 13.
StephanieLowery64968 StephanieLowery64968 3 years
It honestly depends on the child. I was left alone a lot as a child and matured early because of it. By 3 I could get myself breakfast, lock up & knew my aunts phone number. I started babysitting (2-3 kids) by age 10...ages 4, 2 & newborn. My boys (ages 3 & 5) couldn't do any of those things yet...even though I've been working with them since they were 2. I walk my son to/from the bus stop (which I can see from our driveway) and I probably will til he's in 3rd or 4th grade. Days are different...when I was a kid (in the 80s/early 90s) you could play outside & walk all over with no are getting taken everyday. I'm a skosh paranoid with my boys & never leave them unattended...hell I'm uneasy letting my 3 yr old nap while I walk to the bus stop for 10 minutes. My husband has a great job & works from home 60-70% of the time so I'm very fortunate to be a stay at home mom. We as parents know when our children are mature enough for that responsibility so age is just a number. Though I think the earlier a child know right from wrong, important info (phone number, address, full names of family, ect..) is extremely important. Because anything is possible...there might come a day when you the parent is injured at home & knocked unconscious, or someone breaks in, or an emergency happens and you have to leave them for a little bit...and then your kids should know what to do. Calling names & passing judgement on here just shows your maturity level. We're all adults. This comment thread is asking for your opinions. I'd never judge a parent for their actions if no harm came to their child...there's that old saying "you gotta do what you gotta do". Bottom line: every child is DIFFERENT. They grow different, learn things at different ages, etc...only you as their parent will know when their ready for that responsibility.
IlianaCervantes IlianaCervantes 3 years
I actually called the police department in our city and asked if the city or state of texas had a law or something regarding leaving children home alone...i was told that in our state there is no age limit it is up to the parent on whether or not they believe their child is mature enough to stay home for a couple of hours or so...on that not we started our daughter last year at age 10 and always randomly check on her and she is not allowed to leave the house or have anyone over. Although parents should have warned if children were going to be home alone. Personally had i known my child would not have gone to that friends house.
DorisHallman DorisHallman 3 years
Circumstances change, people. I never thought I'd leave my kids alone at home, but when my husband decided he had lost interest in our marriage and family, I had no choice. Luckily my kids are responsible young people (they are 11, 12 and 15) and I have amazing neighbours and friends, the kids are not allowed to use the trampoline or the pool when I'm at work, but hey, if watching tv or playing games on the computer keeps them occupied and happy, how can I argue with that? And how can you judge me if you don't know my circumstances or my kids? We all need to stop attacking each other, consider other people's circumstances, and HELP when it's needed, not be all high and mighty. Whichever country we live in. Xx
Candace14951701 Candace14951701 3 years
Marie77686 you are a little off your rocker. I mean one or two comments is sufficient to get your point across. Geeezzzz!!!
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
Yes agree the QS was at what Age should you be abel to leave your kids at Home, I said 14 which is a very rational responsible answer and I got mocked by you as Americans ..... but you have to live with your own guilt here I see, so if you feel 14 is to OLD to leave it to, do what you like allow Minors to be the parents.... dah. And TV is hardly a substitute for parental guidance and safety when out. Thats another issue here TV been electronic baby sitters. A lot of people here say its a personal choice, who's the real parents here when you are away, not you you are leaving Minors in that role if they are younger than 14, um... Guess parents are confused there who the carers really are suppose we are not talking about Minors here home alone or how they really feel when Mum and or Dad leaves them alone but thanks to lest one Honest American here she has told who she felt... Its not all about not adult um just because you are a parent "its not a right of choice a parent to leave any Minor at home......
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
Sad that Kids are either seen as a commodity or a inconvenience to a parents life. Want them, but cannot afford to care for them, um rather selfish.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
My case rests on all your testimonies here of more bad than good outcomes of been left alone as a Minor and older ones at that because they where in fact LEFT in Adult situations they could not cope with .. well what do ya expect, such as Tina OPescops.... how ver very sad. Also a minor who is left so much I see seems to Love their parents soo very much they of corse don't see any different, until the day their sibling have no idea who the real parents . No I don't hate America at all, I hate ignorance, as simply ignorance cause Fear and confusion, which seems to be a pattern when Adults leave their kids home alone, then blame others for their quilt feelings, guilt is a sign to tell you you must DO or CHANGE something different in your life, to correct those guilty feelings, so you can feel better what you are doing, as no one likes to be guilty of neglecting their kids of course, and no one here understand this.... ((But when you repeat the same patterers as your past Generations that leave your kids so very insecure and confused then place it back on the kids its the way your culture is you say here, THIS IS THE REAL PROBLEM YOU not your kids> TinaPescops1373293663 6 h Blog.....
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
Um well with a Testimoney liek these about leaving N Minors at home.... IOrest my case... if you all don see why you should not leave young Minors at home to care for others Minors, then as parents doping this, you need Counseling and help to care for them and if you cannot be there to care for them as parents you are not ready to be parents... Truth hurts, but rather stick to the truth about who's responsibility it is, that to hear how parents feel they suffer all the time, where as they are only repeating bad habits taught form Generations of doing the same dumb things..... where is the thought who should count the most here, YOUR Minors who are left home alone... even if you got a Adult baby sitter I said, then better than thinking your brothers or sisters thought their 10 yr old carer was their Mother later in life?? how messed up is that. You make babies, you care for them. TinaPescops1373293663 6 h OK, I think this has got a little out of hand, I started to look after him from 1 years old I was 11, I pick up from school, walked an hour home, gave him dinner put him to bed, etc, my mum got in late every evening, sometimes it was dark, I changed nappies, I never played out or had a friend round. I left home at 15 as I could not stand it any longer, my brother cried most of the time, and we were very lonely and scared most of the time. I didnt see my brother for 6 years and when we met up, he said he thought I was his mum and just left.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
What happened to family planning....Wow if its to expensive to have someone look after your precious child, you should not have children, to have enough you can afford. No one has to be a millionaire to get that, just a bit of Math.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
sorry not getting in to a bun fight here ... no matter what your strange Laws are, its wrong to abandoned Minors at home alone.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
Wow if Americans don't like their own country and their Laws I hear that, then find another country to live in. ??? No I don't have any problems with Americans we are well traveled people, however it just happens that its Americans here that seem to feel its ok to leave there Minors at home alone with out parental care, and seems that if somehting is a Law there its ok,,, like guns are a law to have them in every house, however look at that Law now.... thus we don't need any Law to say you can Leave your 7 -10 yr old home alone...... all you need is common sense and good parental education, that if anything happened to your precious child and you choose not to be their to be there at home to look after your own and something happen to them to cause harm, you may never forgive yourself, thus guess its the chooses here you make and the risks you are ready to take that others rather not do. Once you have children simply, don't walk out the door and leave them home alone, lest not with out some one who knows CPR and can successful give first aide, hardly think a 10 yr old can.
TinaPescops1373293663 TinaPescops1373293663 3 years
OK, I think this has got a little out of hand, be nice now! No capitals as that means you're shouting, and dont forget the actual question, asking any parent about their children or making comments about what is the right thing to do is a very taboo subject. We all have different views and different laws in different countries. Hence why we all end up different adults. Unfortunately, sometimes life is very hard and it is expensive to have an adult look after our children, and I am sure in many case, mothers/fathers that do leave their children at home alone have a lot of guilt carrying round with them. I was a working mum, and paid for a carer but still felt guilty. Little children, no matter how loving, caring, sweet or sensible they are do not have enough life experience to cope in certain situations. Having said that, if they just sat in front of the TV and waited for mom, dad etc all good. But if the fire alarm goes, the door knocks, other children knock, a policeman knocked, a car crash out the front, a child trips, or gets hungry and although not allowed may enter the kitchen, drop a knife, break a glass, there is just so many things that can happen. My children have fallen down stairs, excitedly ran from the loo to the tv and tripped and blood everywhere. So in answer to your question it depends. It depends on child, you, how far you are going, how long you are going, if they have a number to call in an emergency and so on. It also depends if they are alone or with siblings. Then the question is, at what age is a child able to look after another, and again all the same will apply. Siblings tend to fight, not all, but they do argue, does the older child have respect from the younger, will they do as they are told, will the older child bully or order them around because they are the 'boss'. I was a latch key kid, I was very unhappy and lonely. When my brother was born, I started to look after him from 1 years old I was 11, I pick up from school, walked an hour home, gave him dinner put him to bed, etc, my mum got in late every evening, sometimes it was dark, I changed nappies, I never played out or had a friend round. I left home at 15 as I could not stand it any longer, my brother cried most of the time, and we were very lonely and scared most of the time. I didnt see my brother for 6 years and when we met up, he said he thought I was his mum and just left. If you have to do it, love your kids at the same time, your brought them into this world, dont over protect them, but let them know they are loved. Children hide a lot of pain and worries, but if you have a good relationship they will feel secure and talk to you. Don't be their friend be there parent, shield and protect where you can, but also let them have child experiences to learn and grow from. Just balance the amount they are left and the amount they have you. I have 3 great grown up children, nothing was perfect, but I have a very good loving parent / child relationship. They have great respect for their elders, they have been shits in their time, but balance is the key.
carrie72535 carrie72535 3 years
To Marie77686, I read all your posts and it seems to me that you have a problem with America/Americans in general. Trying to draw a correlation between guns and babysitting is ridiculous at best. If you're not in our culture you can not judge it or how we raise our children. Unfortunately violence happens,and it happens EVERYWHERE,we certainly don't have the corner on it in America! The difference is,when something violent happens here it gets publicized, in other countries the government regulates the media or it is not reported to police in the first place! You also seem to have a misconception that the average American has any say regarding gun laws, we don't! Our elected officials are hounded by lobbyists and the lobbyists with the most cash wins! We have BILLIONS of people here,how on earth can the average working mom spend that kind of time/money fighting the corruption? We are trying to get by,just like everyone else. To take this thread and turn it into an attack on American parents is NOT helpful, or even decent. The choice to leave your kid alone at home is a PERSONAL choice, and I haven't seen any news stories starting with "..a child left at home alone was shot up by a legal gun carrying American today.."! I have 4 kids and only 1 is at an age to consider it, she's 14, my others are 9,5,& 3. I certainly would leave my 14year old home alone for a few hours, and I don't 'party', and have done so with her since she was 12!! It's a PERSONAL decision based on many different factors.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
PS and I have no idea why my user name has a USA flag??? and then a number??? weird. For the last time I don't live in USA.. and I am not American. and though we don't need to carry guns around, we do have a big Dog that suffice and runs faster than a gazelle in flight and can reach our gate in seconds she knows who is good from bad shady characters our beautiful family large Dog has a real Bear like guardian quality,.... and we don't need to feel scared as so many Americans seem to live like..... thats not to say we have never been touch by bad situations like we did have our car smashed in to while in a town area and belongs stolen, and have been pickpocket while on a metro with our child with us right beside us , as no one lives in a bubble, however as a Parent as long as I am a parent I simply would not compromise our child's safety in ANY way, by leaving our child home alone, does not make any sense to do so.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
Um, some say, not any else's business, um what if things when terribly wrong when leaving you child/ren with out parental guidance on regular basis, or any adult care?? who's would it be then?... Points and hindsight..... Um yes agree with post below by GabrielleNevarez 15 h, DAH! one thing leaving you 7 -10 yr old at home alone to fend for themselves, you parents all now advertise you do it, and how every one else should stop criticizing you? no we are warning you to be a lot more careful thats all, a mean aren't your children worth a lot more than to be left alone? Not meaning to condemn any one, however not as if they have adult security while you leave them all alone, um children are not even safe while at school. ((And while it may not be a Law in USA, its all parents Duty to give protection)). Simply parents teaching minors its ok to be home alone or minors caring for pother minors alone on a regular basis up to or over nights is wrong to many, for all those with rational parental levels. Really wether you feel others are judging you or not, get adult in to care for home alone kids, because if you say your neighbor can see form their house, then you actually DO make it others/ the villages business. GabrielleNevarez 15 h Can MOMS STOP POSTING WHEN THEY LEAVE THEIR KIDS HOME ALONE?????! I mean Seriously!!! Everyone in the WORLD can Now see that...DUH!
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
PS for those who said they rang the Police to ask if they was a Law leaving underage children/ n minors home alone,... I DON'T LIVE IN USA..... and yes their are Laws for different countries, still you have the same Moral issue and conscience dilemma that surround protection of minors...... you country to USA says its ok to carry guns as well... so would you allow your minor child left scared witless in a situation that left them to shoot a intruder say to kill to protect themselves??, if you where the ones that gad the responsibility and could of kept them safe in the first place? Point is don't place any unreasonable adult burdens on a minor in any way unnecessary, if one parent cannot be the full time parent, then why let neighbors do your job of wanting kids? IF you are a solo parent or both parents need to work I get that , then get a " trusted adult in full time, and if you cannot afford it, then you canto afford kids..... I mean how many neighbors would be hanging around their own home watching others houses all day unless they don't work or retired , while they leave their kids alone? um others have a life to. I simply value our child more than along others to do my responsibility. Or take our son to a trusted friends place, as no need what so ever to ever leave him alone, or if he had siblings alone with them... it more than a Law thing, its a ADULT conscious thing as well.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
...Meant to read like you are finely free of the Toddler ages not older ages....... excuse mistakes as typing in a hurry.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
Being there for you children is not model coddling, funny thing is , to most it's called parenting, um. Also all here who are leaving their minors alone even at ages 7, we note all feel the need to "justify their actions, and a lot don't give any rational why they do, not even any good Child care 101 Educational rational. EG" do you leave your 7 -10 yr olds alone, stay because your need is to work, or to party often? like you are finely free on the older ages? and do you do it often on a regular basis, or just to pop done the shop? as no explanations really here. I mean if you had to do anything soooo important and often like work a few jobs, or had a sick elder parent to care for, I get that, if you where also a solo parent I get that, but then you must have a trusted friend or family member... what has society come to if just for selfish reason like parting often each week and leave their kids to fend for themselves like they are burdens to them, as so many like to do. I once met an American woman whohad a 2 yr old, she to knew no different as she to was brought up to believe its ok to leave minors at home or in a car and I mean young as 2 under care of 10 yr olds !, scary and sad for America...... Now America is trying to turn back the Law on guns, lest we never had such lax Laws and don't get crazies shot school kids and run into movie theaters . if America can allow Minors alone at home, does that mean they their Minors can be allow to be in a situation then to to shot some one if they need to if home alone? geeps... Just imagine.... could you ever forgive your self if you choose to leave the parental powers in the hands of a minor? and left your child home alone.... a situation EG Home intruder.... where as you " choose not to be home as their parents "on a regular habitual basis that is" as a parent , to protect them from any possible reasonable harm, but choose to be out say partying or working because could not be bothers to get a adult to care for them instead, and if you cannot find any reasonable adult to care for your kids, then lays a real bad issue, why cant you? and decide rather just to leave them home alone with out care...... Simply because if you do in this day and age, does not make any sense.... we don't live in the 50s and 60s any more... You are their parents, you are to be there to depend them Protect them, and simply allow them to know you care about them so much to prove you are able to be there no matter what. We may not live in a perfect world, however I compare my self to a Mama bear.... A mother and papa bear never leave her/ their cubs for fend for themselves, thats why nature as equip her to be the only one thats the best to care for them, thats why she is called Mother bear and Love knows no age boundary where as it ok to stop protecting caring ,um Be proud those who choose not to leave you minors home alone
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
OH ps our son is 11 yrs old, and he is getting As... so hardly not succeeding.... and is developing successful in all ways, just because we would not be willing as so many to leave him home alone to prove any points... fact is I don't need to ever leave our child alone to fend for him self while we are the parents and he has parents..... Some note "its the parents choices to leave their kids alone" then prove where they do? um... our child does not make the adult decision at home, we do full stop... not as if it has stopped his growth , rather gives him security he knows he can " depend on us to keep him safe" as all minors need at all times with adults present.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
You also say some kids take a long time to emotional mature?? say what.... a 10 yr old is still a 10 yr old MINOR, and hardly emotional mature even if they are the most well brought up, just watch a Minor change from tweenie age that is ages form under 13 yrs to 13 yrs and older .... Biology still speak the truth and facts, emotions don't ever mean skills need to cope in a crisis, and while some "few" may act in such a way deemed as calm for their young age, EG: ph the Police if their was an Intruder story... facts remain most would not at all know what to do, or be abel to give CPR if they had no idea how to safe a life, EG: Choking, or drowning.... Our son is 11 yrs old, lest he has done a life saving course age 9-10 in age appropriate manner however even in the real case of an emergency who knows how they may cope as a minor looking after minors is simply cannot compare anything like adult care.... I note, you never say your own parents ever taught you any life saving skills age 9 or 10, I guess they had a over simplistic view as you are right they may of not been taught any thing different thus seems ok to some, others simply never would be so willingly blind to leave 9 and 10 yrs old alone , um my point is made. From age 5 - 10.... is hardly comparable say from 14-18. I stress again Legally age, I said where we live, is 14 that a child can be left alone on a regular basis, and yes never have I heard any one calling a 9 10 pr even 14 yr old a adult, simply they are not.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
My point is, Unless any 12 yr old Minor/Child could prove they could give CPR successfully, I would never leave a 12 yr old in care of other minors. 14 is the LEGAL age you can be left alone in OUR country, not taking about USA> Well ALL 9 or 10 yr olds should ALWAYS have parental Guidance..... Geeps unless you where brought up in a Orphanage in their they have ADults and caregivers ALL the time. And yes most 10 yr olds no," no different" if their parents leave them alone in their homes to fend for themselves, How very sad you where left alone at age 10 yrs, as in most countries this is called abandonment..... and or neglect. Just because you may not have been hurt, does not mean it was not wrong your parents left you alone to fend for your self at age 10 , heck, and specially, if was done on a regular basis, we guess it seemed the norm to you at age 10 yrs and now, but it is not. As the Law stands here, If that happen here where we live and if that parent did that on a regular basis , your parents would of been taken away had a good talking to, you also could of been taken away in care, as fact remain you where alone with out parental guidance and safety.
AmandaLawrence21931 AmandaLawrence21931 3 years
Honestly I put 10 but each of my kids are different. To this day if I have to run out I'd rather leave one of my daughters (6&8) home with my 12 yr old instead of my 17 yr old. And I feel this will be the same when my girls are older. I can see them being 10&12 ande trusting the 10 yr old but not the 12. Its based on the child. And unfortunately I'm extremely protective over my girls so a little bit of a double standard comes into play. My boys have been walking home from the bus stop since 1st grade (3 doors down) but I see no end in near sight for my girls to be allowed to walk home. One of us will be down there to get them probably till middle school lol
VickiFarrant VickiFarrant 3 years
Yeah I agree I was prob baby sitting at 14 too ! and don't most kids walk them selfs to school by seconday school age or get the bus or train so if they are trusted to do that.I guess it depends on the child , I would not leave my child if they were not happy about it or if I thought they could not be trusted or not cabable of looking after them self, I think I left my boy at 10 or 11 only for a while and got longer as he got more used to it and older beacase I trust him,and he didnt mind, but I always keep in contact with him if hes on his own for a few hours or more.And yes I would never forgive myself if something happened so I don't like him to have friends around if im out as its one thing me leaving him but I don't want to be responsable for someone elses child.Id never leave someone elses child ! Especially not a 7 yr old ! and I would not expect anyone else to leave my child while at thier house
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