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Lulise  (Level: 32.2 - Posts: 248)
Sun, 4th Jun '06 11:18 PM


I want to know what people think is an appropriate age to leave a child home alone, just for the day.

For the time being, I still live at home with my mother and younger sister while I finish up college. So I have become the "built-in babysitter". During the summer my sister stays home with me rather than going to a daycare. Saves us money that way.

There are instances where I need to go do some errand, or could be getting extra hours at work, or anything else for that matter, but I either have to take her with me or I cannot go at all. She's almost 11 years old now and thinks that she is pretty much old enough to stay home alone. I doubt that our mother agrees, as she is pretty overprotective. I know it is also a matter of how responsible the kid is too. No matter what the age is, they need to be mature enough or trustworthy. I was 11 when I first stayed home alone, but we had no other choice. All the daycares were either too expensive for us or they were full and had around a one year waiting list!

Anyways, I just wanted some other people's input. Maybe some of you mothers, or fathers, out there could put in their 2 cents.


Aimee12  (Level: 58.6 - Posts: 96)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 12:00 AM

I agree that it depends a good deal on the maturity of the child. My sister is 11 and is sometimes home alone between my parents coming and going to work...and she's fine. If it's possible, see if a neighbor that she knows will be around, that way if something comes up she can go there or call... I was babysitting by 12 and 11 isn't too far off from that!

Lulise  (Level: 32.2 - Posts: 248)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 12:07 AM

Also, I may be moving out soon. That means she'd be home alone all day during the summer, from about 7:00 too about 4:30

Embee  (Level: 86.7 - Posts: 362)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 12:45 AM

Moving out is definitely the answer for you. You're a young woman and you need a chance to live your life. It's unfair for you to be the built in babysitter, but when you're living there, it's impossible to say no.

As far as age alone, I think depending on the child, 11 is OK as long as there is someone nearby incase of trouble. Also, ideally an 11 year old wouldn't be alone for more than a couple hours at a time. If there is a local YMCA or Boys & Girls Club, they can offer relatively inexpensive options.

Lolly  (Level: 99.8 - Posts: 78)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 7:46 AM

Perhaps I'm an over-protective mum, but I wouldn't be leaving my 14 year old home alone from 7.00am - 4.30pm let alone an 11 year old. Even very mature adults have the capacity to panic if something unexpected happens, so how would a child be?

I'm sorry to see that it has become your worry though, after all she is your sister, not your daughter. Life can be difficult for parents sometimes, but to be totally honest (and also non-judgmental of your mum as we all have to do what we have to do), she is your mum's responsibility, not yours.

Joelwdonnal  (Level: 123.7 - Posts: 268)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 7:59 AM

I totally agree with Lolly - if you weren't there and your sister had to stay home alone it would deprive her of being able to play with others during her summer break - a once-in-awhile thing is okay but not everyday for that long of a time - I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my child for that long - I hope something good will come out of this and not anything bad - good luck.

Ladyvol  (Level: 213.0 - Posts: 5681)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 8:55 AM

I have to agree with lolly too on this one...My boys are 14 and 12 and there is no way I'd leave them home alone for that long a stretch. I have left them to run to the store or to go pick up their dad which took all of maybe 30 minutes....I remember what it is like to be young and want to go out and do things by yourself without a younger sibling in tow. I took care of my brother while my parents worked but I was 13 and my mom's job was only 15 minutes from our house plus we had neighbors I could go too if anything happened. If worse comes to worse and you have errands to run...take her with you.....Now I will shut up...hope you can work something out.....

Lulise  (Level: 32.2 - Posts: 248)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 11:15 AM

I just don't know what to do. I don't like the idea of leaving her alone that long either. But I don't feel like I can live here much longer. If it weren't for school I would have moved out after high school.

At the age of 24 I feel like I haven't done enough. I never go out except when I visit my boyfriend on the weekends. As a result of not getting out much, the only friends I have are the ones I had from High School, and most of them have moved out of state. Everyone else are just acquaintances.

My life consists of only four main things. Go to school, go to work, babysit, and see boyfriend (when our schedules don't clash). I want more, and to do that I need to move out. I've stayed this long because of my sister. I've been her "other parent" for most of her life. I just know that putting her in a daycare will make her mad. Leaving her at our grandparent's house everyday would make her mad. And I know that mom would be upset that I've caused this disruption. I have a problem of wanting to please everybody all the time. But in the end everyone is pleased but me.

Sorry I have rambled on. I probably talk to much about my personal life, but other than my b/f, I don't have many people to talk to.

Suzer22  (Level: 166.3 - Posts: 1983)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 11:15 AM

I left my 11 year old alone for up to an hour to run to the grocery store. When he was 12 he had to be a latch-key kid for up to 2 hours after school, but we discussed options and neighbors and chores and homework...and he had to call me when he got there. And still he found time to explore internet porn! (Grounded from all electronics except tv for two weeks).

Now at 13 he knows his internet usage will be checked as soon as I get home! But I still wouldn't leave him for more than about 2-3 hours and only rarely when I had no choice!

But I agree - your mom needs to be the one making these decisions. I was the built-in babysitter for a sister 10 years younger and I pretty much raised her as that was when my mom went back to college to 'find herself'. You shouldn't have to be the mature responsible one ALL the time

Just my 2

Embee  (Level: 86.7 - Posts: 362)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 11:34 AM

I know it's hard, but you have to be true to yourself. This is your sister, not your child. She is your mother's responsibility.

Ladyvol  (Level: 213.0 - Posts: 5681)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 12:49 PM

Lulise have you sat down and talked with your mom about this? She is the parent after all. Just explain things to her and offer to babysit on occasion but not all the time.....I know things have changed from when I watched my brother. I just hope you can work out some kind of solution so everyone can benefit and be happy. I can't understand why she wouldn't want to stay with your grandparents. I loved spending time with mine....Kids are different now I know..

Lulise  (Level: 32.2 - Posts: 248)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 2:55 PM

Our grandparent's live out in the country and have limited TV channels and limited fun stuff. There's a pool table, basketball hoop and a pond for fishing. That's it, and she gets bored easily. Plus, they are gone often for appointments and other things.

1mks  (Level: 221.4 - Posts: 5931)
Mon, 5th Jun '06 4:48 PM

You should not have that responsibility. You are the "sister" not the mother. That is not being fair to you. I don't mean to sound uncaring, but after all, it is your life. An 11 year does not need to be on her own but then that should not be your problem. I haven't helped at all. Follow your heart is the bottom line. Marsha

Lolly  (Level: 99.8 - Posts: 78)
Tue, 6th Jun '06 3:16 AM

Dear sweet girl, you are only young for such a short time before responsibility takes over, in fact, it has already taken over for you and it's not even your responsibility!!

Please find the courage to speak to your mum about this. If at all possible just state how you are feeling, what you want and what your needs are in a firm but loving way. Your mum will probably be taken aback at you suddenly considering yourself but I hope that she will not mistake this for selfishness.

Ultimately we all must take responsibility for our own lives and happiness and you are more than entitled to do that for yourself. It's frightening and very confronting when you first put yourself ahead of others, but I'm sure you can do it!

Good luck and may great communication abound between you and your mum.

Lulise  (Level: 32.2 - Posts: 248)
Tue, 6th Jun '06 10:35 AM

Thanks for all your responses. They made me feel better, and hopefully a little braver too. When I finally sit down to tell my mom, she will have until next summer to figure out what to do with my sister. So maybe something good will come up.

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