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Leave Those Kids Alone

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Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: What age is the right age to leave your kids home alone? And we mean alone--no mom, no dad, no babysitter, no daycare. Just the kid and the keys to the house. Did you guess 8? Or 9? Or 10? Well, you're right--unless you're wrong, that is.


It turns out, there is no correct answer. Moms, you are on your own on this one. Few states have laws on the books about the correct age to leave your kids unsupervised, according to the New York Times. And unless an unspeakable tragedy happens when you're off the clock, officials look the other way when they see a 7-year-old hanging out on the front porch with his own set of house keys and a glass of lemonade.

Moms have been leaving their kids on their own for years--can anyone say Latchkey Kid? And this generation of moms has a whole new set of tools (cell phones, e-mail, Web cams) to help them keep tabs on their brood. But a wealth of ways to call every 10 minutes doesn't make it any easier for a mom to decide when it's okay to leave the keys with the kid.

For an expert's opinion on how to keep kids safe when mom's not around, go to page 2. 

6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kiki September 5, 2008, 10:35 AM

I’d say I started doing little trips (less than 30 minutes) when they were 9 and 11. Then you see how it goes.

Linney5680 September 5, 2008, 1:33 PM

i was around 11 when my parents started letting me stay home alone for a couple hours at a time. but with my kids i don’t know. the way the world is today it is just so hard to tell

Anna September 5, 2008, 10:44 PM

I was 10 when I was allowed to stay home alone. I suppose it depends on the kid. Some kids are more mature then others.

momof9 September 6, 2008, 11:10 AM

I think it really depends on the child. I have nine children and for each one it was an individual thing not an age thing deciding when they were ready to be at home alone. I judged they were ready based on their maturity level, their ability to handle little emergencies, their dependability to make good choices etc.

birdsfly September 7, 2008, 10:34 AM

Check with your local red cross to see what age they start babysitter training. If they aren’t old enough to watch someone else they probably aren’t old enough to watch themselves for too extended a period. That being said it really does depend on the individual child.

ashley September 8, 2008, 8:15 AM

I was about 8 or 9 when I babysat my little brothers for the first time. Not long though, Maybe an hour, and our granparents lived 2 houses down. I was 11 when I started babysitting an infant, my dad’s partner in his law firm and his wife liked to party so I babysat that kid from the time he was 3 months old, I was 11, until he was 3 years old until late, late into the night. It all depends on the child, I have a 6 year old and I bet if I left him to run to the store he would sit in his room and play video games and be just fine. Of course I wouldn’t leave him alone, probably not until he’s 8 or 9.

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