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Home alone!

(26 Posts)
petallus Tue 31-Dec-13 15:26:51

I am wondering how old children should be before being left home alone.

My GS is just 15 and we think he may now be old enough to be left looking after 8 year old GS whilsy my daughter is at work.

Opinions gratefully received.

jinglbellrocks Tue 31-Dec-13 15:33:09

Depends on sensible-ness. (of both of them) And how well they get on together.

Agus Tue 31-Dec-13 15:34:49

If you think he is a responsible 15yr old, I don't see any reason why not.

A lot of our generation left school and started working at 15 but I do realise it's different days now.

JessM Tue 31-Dec-13 15:41:55

They do vary. I would never leave a 15 year old in the house alone late into the evening. You might trust the 15 year old but you might not know that their friends can be trusted.
I once read (or was told) that most teenage pregnancies started between school day ending and parents getting home.
I guess in this case it would depend on the length of time and whether the 15 year old could agree to not having any friends in the house while there were no adults there - and stick to it.

Riverwalk Tue 31-Dec-13 15:58:40

Petallus for how long and how often?

Leaving a 15-year old alone for certain periods would be fine, but it's a different matter him being in charge of an eight-year old.

Having friends around can create problems in such circumstances e.g. the older boy is busy larking around with his mates rather than keeping an eye on the youngster.

glammanana Tue 31-Dec-13 16:01:52

petallus My DGS4 who is 17 has been looking after his sister for two years now when my DD has had to be out for any reason,she had a really good talk with him before she decided to try it and made sure he had tele numbers if he needed help,she made sure that there was food made in the fridge for them and insisted he never ever answered the front door who ever it was,the longest he has had sole charge was 4 hours but he has matured and is an invaluable help to his mum if he is needed,plus he loves the extra funds he earn's.

tanith Tue 31-Dec-13 16:02:45

Ditto exactly what Riverwalk has said.

Nelliemoser Tue 31-Dec-13 16:05:09

Hmm see the NSPCC stuff below.
What time of day are you talking about?
For how long a time?
Are they siblings or cousins?
How well do they get on with each other ?
How well behaved is the younger child?
How willing is the older child?
How sensible is the older child?
and much more.
Short term it would not be an issue but as a regular thing ther are probably a lot more issues.

Legally there is no actual age laid down in law at which it is illegal to leave a child alone, but the main adult carer could be considered responsible if things went wrong.

Mishap Tue 31-Dec-13 16:22:29

I used to babysit my 2 year old sister when she was 2 and I was 11. Also, at the age of 5, I used to escort a 4 year old to school on the bus!!! - how times change!

When my DDs were left in the house alone I used to tell them not to let people know they were in the house alone and to tell callers on the phone that Mum/Dad is in the shower. My own mother rang me back one day and said we must be very clean as she had rung twice, 2 hours apart, and it seemed I was in the shower both times!!

petallus Tue 31-Dec-13 19:34:28

Thanks for the responses.

My 15 year old GS is quite responsible and he would not have friends in as he lives in a small village which is hard to get to without a car. His 8 year old brother is sensible and they get on well though they do have the odd spat.

They are fine for a few hours but my daughter would be out from 10 am to 6.30 pm and that seems a long time to me.

The other day I went to pick them both up, they having been alone together for three hours or so. The house was cosy and warm and they were both calmly sitting together doing things with the X-box.

Oh and there would usually be a couple of terriers to look after as well.

ps Tue 31-Dec-13 19:45:20

Your grandson sounds responsible but of course it is in emergencies that a level and clear head is required. I assume your daughter will have briefed him on what to do in the event of fire, flood, gas leak etc. It's a minefield and of course never a problem until something out of the ordinary happens. I guess at the end of the day only your daughter and you will know if the situation is acceptable or not.

Ana Tue 31-Dec-13 20:16:24

I left my daughter 'home alone' from the age of about 14 when I was a single mother, working full-time. She was (and still is!) a very responsible and sensible girl and, more importantly, a friend of mine lived across the road and DD knew she could call on her in any emergency.
Plus, my friend had a daughter a bit younger and the two girls entertained each other.

It does depend on individual circumstances, and I'm sure you and your daughter will make the right decision, petallus.

annsixty Tue 31-Dec-13 21:28:18

I sometimes think we cosset our children too much and underestimate their maturity and capabilities. My parent born in 1900 and 1904 were both working at the age of 13. Yes times have changed thank God but my two GC aged 15 are both sensible and mature and more than able to look after their younger siblings for a short time, not for long periods but when needed.

Sook Tue 31-Dec-13 21:47:06

At the age of 12 I was allowed to take my nephews age 7+5 out for a walk or a visit to the Lady Lever Art Gallery. From the age of 13 I was left in charge of them while my sister worked part time. I was always a sensible child but I would never have left my own children=n in the charge of anyone so young.

BlueBelle Tue 31-Dec-13 21:52:53

IMO 81/2 hours is a long time to leave an 8 year old without adult attention and is this each working day My own grand kids would never manage it without a spat,- and how good is it to be sat on an xbox for hours, how ever quiet it keeps them.

I think being out at work at 13 in times gone by was very different as they would have been busy and strictly supervised by adults

BlueBelle Tue 31-Dec-13 21:56:52

...and a second thought is it fair to put this responsibility on a young chaps shoulders if anything did go wrong God forbid

susieb755 Tue 31-Dec-13 23:26:10

I echo Bluebell, - I was a lead officer for child protection, and in training this thorny issue always came up... there is no legal age at which a child can be left alone, or babysit, as this could be used in mitigation if something went wrong.

15 is old enough to be left alone, and possibly to look after an 8 year old, in exceptional circumstances for short periods, but all day impinges on the older child's time, and if, god forbid , anything happened, ( accidents do - mu older boy broke my younger ones cheekbone playing with a balloon...) think of the repercussions.......

Parents must ensure adequate care for their children, so in this case I doubt the care would be deemed adequate
Most areas have after school and holiday clubs, and a childminder would be happy to take an 8 year old- I used to childmind and had children as old as 11 - I used to do annualised hours so the parents werent hit witha huge holiday bill, and nowadays this also make it easier when claiming childcare

Iam64 Wed 01-Jan-14 11:07:06

I agree, a sensible 15 year old who has a good relationship with his 7 year old brother is fine to be left in charge for short periods quite regularly, and longer in emergency. I agree with others who say the length of their mum's working day is a long period for these 2 to be left on a regular basis. Accidents can happen any time. This is a problem that every working parent I know has faced.
When my children were between the ages of about 12 - 16, they decided they no longer wanted to spend the school holidays with our childminder, or to attend play schemes. Our local youth leader put me in touch with a young woman, who was at 6th form college, at the high school our children were to attend. It worked very well. Our children thought she was totally cool, she found them good fun. She'd come to our house at 8.30 as I was leaving for work, and stay till about 5. We were flexible, if one of us could finish work early, we'd let her have time off, but pay the amount we'd agreed for the full week. She also baby sat for us, arriving with her A level work, and set a great example for our children in so many ways.

I wonder if a similar solution could help your daughter Petallus. I agree with others who comment on the way previous generations were given more responsibility by the time they reached their teens. We live in different times and so I suppose we have to find different solutions.

whenim64 Wed 01-Jan-14 11:43:40

Sensible being the operative word, Iam. My almost 14 year old grandson is so engrossed in his own interests, he couldn't be left in charge of a goldfish! Some teenagers are much more mature than others. I used to babysit when I was 13, but there are far fewer teenagers these days who I would think of asking to supervise a child for an hour or so till a parent gets home, let alone a full day, especially if there's a chance their friends might call by with parents out at work.

Each situation needs to be weighed up carefully and rules agreed.

BlueBelle Wed 01-Jan-14 12:06:59

You havent said if its a one off situation or a more daily event it does sound as if its been considered as a permenent feature and i think thats unfair on both of them however well they get on and much more on the older boy he needs to be meeting his peer group and having a bit of teenage daftness not spending every day being a parent which will happen soon enough I think Iam64 s idea is a good one if thats a possibility

petallus Wed 01-Jan-14 15:23:23

It's four days a week during school holidays. During term time the 8 year goes to a minder for two days and we have him for two.

I wonder if people are more confident about the reliability and maturity of a 15 year old if they are female!

petallus Wed 01-Jan-14 15:27:20

Of course it is my daughter's decision but I think I will offer to have both boys for at least half of the day during the school hols which would mean they would only be 'home alone' for 3 hours or so.

Ana Wed 01-Jan-14 16:13:32

I was wondering that about girls too petallus, and in my case it's true. Of course it depends on the individual child, but in my experience most girls are more reliable at 15 than boys, especially when looking after a sibling.

Riverwalk Wed 01-Jan-14 16:23:47

Four days a week is far too much IMO, whether a boy or girl - a lot of commitment and responsibility on the part of the older lad.

Also, I think the 8-year old would feel a bit insecure.

petallus your idea of having them for half the day sounds like a good idea - in fact you could probably just have the younger one as the 15-year old would probably like mooching around on his own for the odd day or two!

Childcare is a never-ending problem isn't it for women who have to work.

jinglbellrocks Wed 01-Jan-14 16:47:03

I think two boys of that age should be doing fun outdoors things, and that needs an adult with some energy to keep an eye. I would n't be too happy to find them sitting with screens to be honest.