1. At 11 years old and under, my kids can be home for a store run or neighborhood errand,… Individual kid’s capabilities vary so much, I think the parents have to know the boundries and responsibilitites they can handle.

  2. I think it depends on the maturity of the child, and the location of the home. I grew up in a small town where I could ride my bike around the entire town. I would NEVER let my daughter do that in Little Rock, Arkansas. My hometown in one in which people leave the doors unlocked. I have a security system that is tapped into my cell phone. I would never leave my child home alone until she had unquestionably reached the age where there would be NO CHANCE that she would open the door for a stranger. Even if said strangers say they are messengers of God. If she is 17 when I feel she has reached that point, 17 it is.

  3. Excellent question. I don’t think they should ever really be left alone. ESPECIALLY when they are teenagers! This is the main problem with kids getting into trouble. Parents assume parenting over the phone from their work is OK. They think if they check in on the child and the child says they are OK and nobody is over at the house, they are kidding themselves. OK, there are SOME kids you can trust, but you have to remember, you are dealing with YOUNG minds that are STILL growing. To give them such freedom is opening up a huge can of worms.

    Just my two cents.

  4. It all depends on the child. I know some people leave there middle school kids at home alone and they are fine but also I wouldnt leave my middle school aged child at home alone. that just screams disaster

  5. When we lived in the city we were in a situation where between the time I left for work and picked up our two youngest kids and the time my husband had to leave for work, there was about 10 minutes when no one was home with our oldest who, at the time was in the first grade. That’s shocking I know, and looking back, I can’t believe we actually did it but we didn’t have a neighborhood babysitter. Our day care for the youngest 2 was on the other side of town where I worked. The times that we had to do that were very far and few between and we had some MAJOR RULES when we did it.
    Now though, the oldest is going to be 14 next month and I think back to when my husband and I were growing up; he was a “latch-key kid” (remember those) and I was babysitting my 3 younger siblings with a neighbor to check in on us by the time I was 11 or 12, it feels fine to our oldest babysit while we go out, of course we live outside the city now in a very small rural community so we feel safer. Then again, we’ve always felt comfortable with letting him stay home alone.
    Overall, as others have said, it really depends on the maturity of the child. Our daughter is 10 and I can’t imagine leaving her home alone simply because I don’t think she can handle it and it’s not something that I would have done when she was younger either, unlike her older brother. My other son is 8 and again, I don’t think I would leave him home alone either because he’s just not as responsible as his big brother is. I doubt I’ll let the youngest, who is 3 ever stay home alone but then again, time, personality and circumstances will tell.

    It’s really a choice that shouldn’t be made lightly, and parents should weigh the circumstances (as well as what the local laws might be) before making that decision. It’s definitely a hot button issue for parents, and for some it’s easier to make than others.

  6. That is such a difficult question. I think it is different for different kids. Girls, especially are more mature and I think they can be left at home for 1-2 hours starting at 10 or so. Boys usually not until 12. Our youngest is 11 and we will leave him home for an hour or two now, but with major rules. Lock the doors, bring the dog in (St Bernard, no one is going to mess with a dog that big, even though he’s a big marshmallow), etc. It’s a pretty safe neighborhood and we know all our neighbors, who are usually home, but I still get nervous. But it’s very hard when both parents work and you don’t have a lot of family. There is very little daycare available for kids over 10. Fortunately, we’ve had an older brother who has watched him since High School, but now he’ll be working full time, so I’m not sure what we will do. Probably leave him home after school and check in on him a lot.

  7. It depends a lot on the child, but five is too young. I was babysitting my three younger siblings by the time I was eleven and had been running errand to the grocery nearby since I was nine. But I was the oldest. I was used to being left to watch the younger ones. My mom had me changing my baby sister’s diapers when I was just five. Wet ones only. But cloth and with pins – so I get points for that.

    I allowed my nephew to babysit when he was 12 and she was four. Our current babysitter was 12 when she began sitting for us.

    Common sense and being able to gauge your child’s comfort level and abilities should probably be the deciding factor.

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