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« If you're expecting gratitude, don't go looking for it with your children | Main | Normal naughty or abnormal naughty? »

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My answer would be "absolutely totally, yes". As for the three primary concerns:

- Kids will get up to mischief whether you are there or not. 8 year olds are old enough to know that if they get into mischief when you're not there, they're going to have serious consequences to face.

- Sure, there could be an emergency. 8 year olds are old enough to be taught what to do in an emergency, when to call mom, when to call the ambulance, etc.

- If you're longer than 30 minutes, what will they do? Probably the same thing they did for the first 30 minutes. They might worry, but hey, that's one of the boons of modern parenting and easy access to phones: you can call them and tell them you'll be late.

I don't remember at what age I was first left at home alone, but having an older sister (by 3 years) probably affected things. Certainly it was young enough that I don't have a clear memory of it, so probably 5-6.

For all the people that say "No", I'd want to ask "At what age would they be old enough for me to leave them alone for 30 minutes?" because I suspect the answer might be "never".

Sara, the answer is 12. Not before. Tertia, the fact that Rose was on the premises changes things. I would have said yes if I had known she was there.

I'm a single parent and my kids are now 13 and 6 so there have been moments like this where I simply needed to do something over the years. I. took my cue from my child but began leaving her or brief moments when she was ready. She is a very resourceful child and quite independent which pleases me greatly.

My initial response was "no," & the reason behind it was, "What if something happened to YOU--a horrible car accident, for example--& you COULDN'T call them?" Now that I know Rose was on property & Marko was due home, I would have given a different answer.

My answer would have been- it depends on how you feel about it and the maturity of the child. I was leaving my son alone for a half hour or so, when he was 8. He is now 11 and stays alone for a couple of hours at a time. He is mature for his age. He has common sense and won't get into anything.

Had it been my daughter, I would not have left her alone at 8, or 9, or even 10 (as she is now). I will leave her with my son now that she is 10 and he is almost 12. She is/was a young 8,9, and 10 year old. She doesn't have the common sense needed to be alone.

When they stay home, there are 3 dogs. They lock the doors behind me, and only answer the phone if it is me calling. Plus, we have 3 dogs, which gives me some sense of security.

Yes, even if Rose wasn't there. You know your children.. It was a short time, they had been taught what to do in an emergency.

For context, my sister and I (from aged 9 and 11) entertained ourselves every day after school - we knew the neighbours, we knew how to call our parents or nearby relatives or emergency services - until our parents got home at 6.we loved it. It was great. The only times I worried was when they were later than expected, but that was before mobile phones.

I would not... But that's because my almost 8 year old is not mature enough, is sneaky and isn't ready for that kind of responsibility.

My gut response was no, but then I have to be honest: by my ninth birthday I was a paid babysitter. I was paid to walk younger children to school (1+ mile along and extremely busy road) and home. Was also paid to care for younger children in their home with no adults anywhere nearby from the hours of 3-6PM. I was nine, like I say. I was responsible for keeping them out of trouble, getting cut glass and such out of their feet (the girl was forever running outside barefoot), cooking for them, reading to them, playing with them etc etc. now, maybe I was a particularly responsible good girl, but I don,t know. Nine seems awfully young from my perspective of being a mother!

Anyhow, in your case, given that Rose was home, I suppose I don't see that as them being alone in quite the same way. I would not do it myself, with an eight year old, but then I don't have a Rose! We had a case here just this week of three siblings (ages 6,6, and 5) dying in a house fire when their mother was away. Is six too young, is eight? Is ten? Obviously there are cultural differences, and variations in the law too, from country to country, and from state to state here in the US. Nowadays, age twelve seems to be the earliest socially acceptable age for babysitting when there are no other adults around.

My instinct is no but then again, I really have a problem letting go. objectively speaking, Rose there changes things a whole lot and from your post, Adam is very responsible so I think it depends on the child/ren in question. Who knows if my two will be responsible???? :)

Like you, my major concern wouldn't be them getting up to mischief but people breaking in and hurting them (or worse) but that's a South African thing.

Yes, I think it was fine to leave them. You know them well enough to gauge their level of responsibility and most of the time most kids will rise to your expectations. Ultimately, you want independent kids, right? As long as they understand that if the smoke alarm goes off they immediately leave the house they're probably safer than they are riding around in a car.

And I thought all of that before I knew Rose was home.

not sure if we are less responsible here in switzerland, but of course I leave my 8year old home alone sometimes (just if he wants, he can also come with me). and even longer up to 2 hours, when somebody is around and he can call if there is something happening. while he is alone, he is allowed to play with his ipod or whatch podcasts, which he loves to do. so I know pretty exactely what he is doing.

It's so hard ... when I was little (late 70s/early 80s) in South Africa, yes, we stayed home alone. It really was a different world. I do think you know your children and your home and surroundings best, and you make your decisions based on that. It's a shame that the world is the way it is, and that we have to even think this hard about it, isn't it?? It's nice that you're able to give them that responsibility, to start learning about these things.

For myself, my kids are 9 and 7, but not mature enough at this point, and also, living in New Zealand now, it's illegal here to leave kids that age home alone for any length of time, only from age 14!

I agree with you 100%. I am a bit of a free-range parent myself though, and many of my friends are astonished/appalled at the things I let my children do. However, I happen to think it is good for them to have some independence and learn to rely on themselves. I have been leaving my two at home alone while I run quick errands for two years (they are 10 and 9). I also allow them to scooter to and from school by themselves and EVEN come home from school to an empty house, use their own key to open the door and fix their own snacks. (the horror!). Much of the fear that parents have these days is generated from the media, when in fact our children are MUCH safer than even we were 20 or 30 years ago. Check out the free range site for more info: http://www.freerangekids.com/

Instinctively I'm going to say no because my kid is 5 and when yours were 5 I'm sure you would have said the same.

My LB has started playing 'on the street' in our security complex filled with kids and people who drive super slowly. 6 months ago I wouldn't have dreamt of allowing him out on his own but he's surprised me and I imagine he will continue to do so.

I guess the yardstick is what are you comfortable with and what do you believe your child can handle?

I have 2 daughters - 7 and 5. I have been leaving them alone at home for about 6 months now when I go running in the evenings, for, on average, 30>40mins at a time.
Like you, my biggest fear has always been that someone will see me leaving the house and decide to go in and do horrible things to them. This remains my biggest fear. However, they could be stolen from right in front of us at any given moment.
Ultimately, I trust my kids - they think its great, and usually, I come back to find they've been feasting on all the shit in the house and watching their TV channels.
They like the fact that I trust them enough to do it, and I think it can only benefit them.
I don't consider myself an irresponsible parent - I am VERY aware of the dangers and I do what I can to protect them against that, but we can't wrap our children up in bubble wrap, as much as we'd like to. At some point, they need to grow up and we need to let go.
And no, I don't have a 'Rose' sleeping in the room next door. As far as I'm concerned Tertia, you did the right thing.

Depends on the kid. You know yours, so if you thought they were ready, they probably were. My almost-five-year-old refuses to even go into our fenced backyard alone, so he may be 16 before he allows me to leave him at home. The one-year-old on the other hand is just biding his time for 30 seconds alone to stick his fingers in the electrical outlets and chew on all the choking hazards.

I don't have an eight-year-old but have left my five-y-o alone in the house while I took my 3-y-o for a 10-minute scooter/walk around the block. Like vr, I left him with an iPad so I was extra sure he was going to behave himself. I was nervous about it but I also want to give them the skills to take care of themselves. I've also started leaving him in the car for 5 or 10 minutes when I'm popping inside somewhere for an errand, because we have a solid understanding that he stays in his seat and behaves himself. He is lazy and knows that if he doesn't want to get dragged with me he needs to be very good. On the flip side, I don't let him play by himself in the yard for long because he always starts wandering or messing with stuff. So, it depends on the situation and the child, but I think 8 is reasonable if they understand how to make an emergency call and you have a base level of trust that they won't do anything crazy. Given that Rose would be there I would not really consider it "home alone" anyway as, in the end, there was an adult to consult if anything unusual happened.

If something had happened to you, then it would have happened to the kids too, so that's hardly an argument against leaving them home.

Good for you for giving them the opportunity to have some independence. Kids don't turn into responsible adults overnight, they need to practice. This was a great first step, and gradually, over the next several years, you will be able to add on responsibilities until they can be charged with babysitting Max, and even taking care of the household overnight.

Yes, I have an 8 year old and I leave him from time to time for 30 min to 1 hr. He is 8 - not 4 - and doesn't play with matches and we have no guns laying around or such nonsense. He's a sports fanatic, the hardest part for him is that he isn't allowed to be in the driveway shooting hoops (thus visible to the world). But being home to watch TV or play in the fenced backyard is highly more desirable to him than buckling up to drive the 1.5 miles to pick up his sister from school. He isn't allowed to answer the door, even if it's his BFF from across the street - I specifically told him what to do in all these cases and he knows how to call me (and does, it's quite annoying actually). It's a maturity thing, really. He's got it. Oh, and he's not really a sneaky kid, you know the type - that try to get away with things.

I think your responses to concerns (and your decision) are biased by the fact that YOU KNEW that Rose was a few steps away... Would you do it if she was on vacation?
In any case, children are ready to do different things at different ages so I think your rationale sounds correct. My children are still 4 and 1 1/2 so I do not know now when "I" will be ready to let them go... I am more worried about them walking alone than staying at home. At home, in the right circumstances, they are protected. In the outside world?? Never, ever remotely safe. I sometimes read horrible stories which make me think that I will only let them leave the house alone on their way to the aisle. Even then... hmmm...

Ah you see - the Rose factor! That makes it totally different!

I absolutely wouldn't leave two eight-year olds home alone for a half hour and the fact that there are two of them and not one makes it even less likely and not more that I would do so (but we are talking about my shifting from it being .000001% likely to .00001% likely. Not the least bit likely, either way).

I absolutely wouldn't hesitate in the slightest to leave two eight-year olds home knowing that within your residential complex (not quite sure how else to describe it) was Rose.

In my own home, when I needed to walk the dog on leash (due to an injured leg, otherwise he goes out in the fenced back yard), if I was home alone with my son, I stayed within sight of the front door, meaning I could walk about 100 yards away from our house along the road, total. And of course my son knew where I was and I wasn't out long. But he is younger than Kate and Adam and when he's 8, it's at least possible I'll venture as far as around the block -- about an 8-minute loop. Time will tell.

If we knew our immediate neighbors better I might be more willing to contemplate leaving him alone for longer short intervals, but the only ones I know well enough to hit up for a favor live across the street and while it's not a busy street ...

No if they were alone. Yes with Rose. It is not about trust or anything like that, but simply that eight year olds don't have the mental ability to deal with emergencies or crises. It is not the safety (meaning crime wise) issue as such, but one could choke or fall down the stairs or there could be a fire or whatever, and it may not be the most responsible one who is left to take action. Maybe because I only have one child, who is also very sensible and responsible, but he was 12 before I left him for short periods of time. I don't consider myself a helicopter parent, but we only get one chance at this...

As a european transplant I actually had to go and look if we have laws for this in the US. Turns out only Maryland and Illinois have. Rose being close by? Yes.

The law in Oregon, as far as I know, is 10 years old.

There are two of them, Max wasn't there, Marko was on his way home, and Rose was physically within the premises? Yes. Y'all also have a security system and two dogs, correct? And I agree that having fewer rules does mean that a conscientious child will follow those rules, especially when told that they are about safety and not just behaviour.

(Side story : I was 10 or 11 when my parents accidentally left me home with the alarm set -- I'd been in the bathroom while they left with my brother for his soccer game, and each thought the other had me -- and so when I moved in the hallway & down the stairs the alarm went off. The dog went bonkers, of course, and I had to assure the security company on the phone that she was barking because of the alarm noise, not because of an intruder. I kept calling the car phones -- this was before cell phones -- and eventually, once both parents had arrived at the game and realised I wasn't with the other one, one of them picked up the car phone and returned home to get me.)

My answer would be yes, but it really depends on the child. A child who was like me -- yes. A child who was like my brothers -- no.

I was ready to be left alone at 8 (and thus was permitted by my parents to stay home when they went to the store), with the understanding that neighbors (who were known to my parents) were home. But neither of my brothers would have been.

Leaving your 8 year old home alone is not a decision that can be made in a split of a second. Several things need to be carefully considered and the utmost among the "To Consider list" is the child'd personality. Children don't all mature at the same time to the same extent. Before such a decision can be made, the child's character should be properly scrutinized and positioned to answer the following questions:

1. Is he/she responsible? enough for his/her age?
2. Does she know the first thing to do in case of emergency including police number to dial and knowing the parents mobile number off hand.
3. Can he/she improvise when things don't go the right way?
4. Does the child think he can cope alone?

Holy cow. I can't believe how judge-y many of the FB responses were!

You know your kids. You are a responsible, caring parent. If your kids are ready (and you know that), allowing them to stay home alone for brief period of time gives them the opportunity to prove they are trustworthy and responsible.

We are South Africans living in NZ. The age here is 14. Way to old in my opinion but the lawis very strict about it. They are hardly given the go ahead before they leave home themselves. Good to set them little responsibility targets !

Nope absolutely not! My main worry would be a head injury (my particular worry wherever my kids are) that would be bleeding and they would be afraid and I would be in a shop, miles away. I even worry when I go for a bath and they are downstairs. Mind you my kids are 3, 6 and nearly 8 and could get hurt in a padded cell!

I think you made the best desicion for you and your family, I believe kids need to be given a chance to show they can handle such situations or else then how can they learn.

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