How Old Is Old Enough To Stay Home Alone?

@gtargirl (5384)
United States
February 14, 2008 1:40pm CST
I am a single mom and my fifteen-year-old thinks he should be able to stay home alone. This weekend I've been invited to a women's retreat at the Murietta Hot Springs and my daughter will also not be home. So is fifteen old enough to stay home alone? Am I too protective?
12 people like this
44 responses
@carmelanirel (21113)
• United States
14 Feb 08
I would feel uncomfortable, even now with my 18 y/o, not because of her immaturity, but because I am a little over protective.. My older 2 children when they moved out on their own, one got married and the other has a room mate. Does your son have a friend he could spend the weekend with? But if nothing else is available, then I would consider his maturity and what kind of neighborhood you live in. And even if he was very mature and you live in the safest part of the city/town, I would still find a neighbor you trust to check in on him and for your son to go to in case of emergency.
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
The operative word with everyone here seems to be maturity. And that's the reality I'm having to deal with. I think he could handle an emergency, depending upon the emergency I guess. My neighbors are great and the one across the street is a cop/police officer. They'll check in on him. My son, of course, won't like that.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 08
You can tell him he has 2 choices, allow the neighbor to keep an eye on him, or he gets a babysitter..I think we both know which he will choose...lol
@kykidd (6825)
• United States
14 Feb 08
I think it depends on the neighborhood and such. I stayed home at 15 and I think my neice was babysitting by that age (not overnight though). If he's responsible enough, it's probably ok. Maybe talk to a friend's parents and see if a buddy can join him.
3 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
14 Feb 08
It's a brand new neighborhood but the kids seem to know how to get into trouble here. I did think about having a neighbor check in on him. Either that or we'll have to have his dad pick him up which my son is not in favor off. I guess I'll have to start trusting him some day.
@soulist (2990)
• United States
22 Apr 08
I was home a lone at that age, but I think it's a good idea to have a neighbor check in on him or a family member stay with him at night so it's a little more safer.
@Sillychick (3283)
• United States
14 Feb 08
I think more important than age is maturity and how long you will be gone. If you feel like he is mature enough to handle being home alone while you are gone and he is responsible, then leave him. Maybe you have someone who could come and check up on him? I am very uneasy about leaving children home alone. I have a long way to go before worrying about that with my son, but I've seen my sisters and brothers do it, and at 15 they usually at least had someone stop by once in a while to check up on them, make sure they didn't blow up the house or throw a wild party.
3 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
I agree whole heartedly. I am also very uneasy about leaving children home alone. I'm trying to make arrangements so that he won't be alone the whole weekend. It seems a mother's work is just never done.
@youdontsay (3503)
• United States
14 Feb 08
Well, a lot depends on the maturity of the child. But I'd still be uncomfortable with a teenager home alone for a weekend. Maybe you could arrange for him to spend the weekend at a friend's home.
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
I guess it is about how mature I think my son is. I have asked him if he would like to spend some time with his friend who lives right next door. There's a few options.
• United States
18 Apr 08
I have left my fourteen year old stay home alone, but not over night. I guess it really depends on how much you trust him and whether or not he will get scared being there by himself at night.
2 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
23 Apr 08
I don't think he'll get too scared. Plus our neighbor is a police officer and he'll just run over there if anything happens. And I am working my way up to trusting him.
17 Apr 08
15 is definitely old enough. At 15 I babysat for my baby sister! And I promise you my parents aren't careless, and never left me home alone until i was about 13 but after that they are definitely old enough, as long as they have your number to ring and the emergency services in case.
2 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
23 Apr 08
Thanks for your perspective, BoJangles. I am moving towards trusting him more but sometimes I wonder. Will he behave? Will he stay out after dark? Maybe that's not fair but I also worry about his safety. However, having said that he is giving me more reason to trust him lately.
• India
16 Apr 08
i dont think you are being protective at all. i think you are doing the right thing. afte the scary stories we here all the time its better to be careful than sorry. i think 15 is a fine age to be left alone at home but not for the night. i think for the day its fine. i sm sure she can have a friend come over and spend the night with her. dont you think so.
2 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
17 Apr 08
That's exactly what happened. He was home alone for most of the day and part of the night. My parents came around 10:00pm and all was well. Oh, they grow up so soon.
@tinkerick (1257)
• United States
14 Feb 08
It's very dependent upon the child. I'm pretty sure I remember my brother and I staying home alone when he was 10 and I was 8. But things were alot different back then and we lived in a higher class suburban neighborhood. (plus we were both a bit "different" - he graduated college at age 17 and I was a quiet introverted honor student. Don't think our parents ever had to worry about any "hanky panky" or other wild michief going on while they were gone). Personally my kids have stayed home by themselves, although we usually try to get the middle child (my 10 year old daughter) out of the house and only leave the oldest (12 year old daughter) with the youngest (6 y/o son). That's because she tends to be the biggest instigator of fights. And we never leave them home alone more than a few hours. My husband is a big worrier so he doesn't like leaving them for that long even. So it's not really a question of how protective you are, it's more of how well do you trust your child to handle any situation that may happen, or to not create an unnecessary situation? -Tink
2 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
That trust issue is pretty tricky. But, of course, that could just be me. Let's just say I don't think he'll be graduating college at age 17.
@punlonnjack (1309)
• United States
14 Feb 08
its ok in my opionion but not over night.to many things she could get into trouble about. if she done something illegal you would be charged with abandament on your part. a few hours are acceptable to leave here alone.
2 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
You make an excellent point. If something happened illegal, which I pray against with all my might, I would be charged with abandonment. Now that's a scary thought.
@jayie35 (67)
14 Feb 08
Hi gtargirl,i dont think i would leave my 15 yr old home for the weekend unless he/she had a friend stay over and an adult you trust checkin on them,would you relax ?????
2 people like this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
No, I'm not going to leave him for the whole weekend. Eeeeck that would horrify me. It will probably be one night and my neighbor will check in on him.
1 person likes this
@uath13 (8227)
• United States
14 Feb 08
It really depends on the neighborhood & kid. My 14 year old is mature enough to keep both her & her sister safe. However I doubt her sister would be ready in another 4 years when she's the same age to even keep herself out of trouble.
2 people like this
@kbkbooks (7031)
• Canada
12 Mar 08
We left my stepson alone home at 15 to go on a vacation for a week. I was a little wary, but everything was fine. Although he is sort of a wild one, he was very responsible about the pets and the home.
1 person likes this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
13 Mar 08
Wow, a whole week? Sounds like he's a pretty responsible kid. Was he scared at all?
1 person likes this
@kbkbooks (7031)
• Canada
13 Mar 08
The thing is, he is totally immature and irresponsible. He has a criminal record. I hate having him live with us but his own mother doesn't even want him. If you ever read any of my other posts about him, you would understand totally that I only put up with him because he is hubby's son. He doesn't have a good supportive parental base as neither his mother nor hubby know how to raise kids. Anyway, I have fleshed that all out in other discussions in the past. The thing is, we had his mom on standby if there was an emergency he would have to contact her. He wouldn't go stay with her and he didn't want her there with him. I suppose he probably partied but when we got home in a week, the house was still standing and not too messy, so everything was ok. Believe me though, we left him partly because we needed the vacation. That was four years ago and we haven't had a vacation since, but we are thinking of leaving again for a week this spring. Presently he is looking for a job and going to school to earn his high school leaving certificate so he may need to stay pretty focussed while we are gone. I think it will be ok. He's 19 now, and still not the brightest bulb in the hardware store.
@Lakota12 (42794)
• United States
15 Feb 08
well yes if ya trust him not to throw partys lol No reallly he is old enough heck I babysat at age 13 or is it that girls grow up fast than boys?
1 person likes this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
If I was comparing my daughter to my son (which of course I would never do) then I would have to say you are right. Girls seem to mature a tad bit faster than boys.
@Lakota12 (42794)
• United States
15 Feb 08
Of course not! But I do think he is old enough to stay by self hugs
• United States
20 Apr 08
A whole weekend is a long time for a fifteen year old. But, if he's mature enough, then I think it would be OK. I'm not sure about legal obligations. I know you can leave a kid over 11 or 12 alone for short periods of time (like after work) in most areas of the United States, but I don't know about leaving a 15 year alone for more than a day. I just realized that this discussion is 3 months old. So, how did it go? Did everything work out OK? I am going to check the other posts for an answer.
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
21 Apr 08
Hi Darlene. It actually went very well. He was alone for the day and part of the night. Around 10pm or so my parents came and looked after him. He was a little upset as you could imagine because, I guess, all 15 year olds believe they are old enough to stay home alone. Thanks for your input. I really do appreciate it.
• United States
14 Mar 08
Guess it would depend on the teen. It would make me a bit scared if I was going to be gone the entire weekend; I think I am an overprotective mother myself. I suppose if he can call and check in with you several times a day and you feel you can trust him... Let us know what you decide. Good Luck!
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
14 Mar 08
Hi Lola etc etc, lol. That is one long name. Anyhow, I left on Friday at around 3:00pm. My mom and dad came to stay with him. They came in at 10 or 11pm. He spent Saturday with them and then his older sister picked him up on Sunday. I was home Sunday evening. So he got a few hours on Friday and I am learning to trust him and he is realizing he needs to earn that trust. It was very educational for the both of us.
@cher913 (25902)
• Canada
11 Mar 08
no, i dont think you are...whatever you decided to do, i am sure it went fine...but i know i would not leave my 15 year old daughter alone for a whole weekend...she does stay home during the day and watches her sister and has even babysat at night but all night? she is too young (she just turned 15).
1 person likes this
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
13 Mar 08
Hey Cher, it was my son actually. He wound up staying home alone for just one day. My parents came in around 10:00pm and stayed the weekend. Then my 19 year old daughter picked him up Sunday morning. Maybe one day soon, I can leave him on his own for a weekend. That day just wasn't now. Thanks, my friend for stopping by.
@jennybianca (12919)
• Australia
15 Feb 08
This is a very relevant question for me, as I have a daughter who is nearly 15 years. How long is this retreat for? Is it overnight? If yes, no way would I leave a 15 year old at home alone, or with another teenager. I dont care how responsible they say they are. At 14 or 15 or 16,k they are just not mature enough to deal with emergencies. I have left my daughter home alone from the age of 12 years, but only during the day, & only for a couple of hours. Late last year, I may have left her home for up to 4 hours during the day. She is very responsible & mature. Next tuesday night there is a meeting at her school that I badly want to attend. It means that I will need to need her alone at night for up to 1.5 hours. Hubby will be at work. I am not at all happy about this, but haven't thought of any alternative yet. Does this answer your question?
@gtargirl (5384)
• United States
15 Feb 08
I do worry whether he can handle emergency situations. My mom and dad are coming in around 10:00pm Friday night. So he'll be home alone from around 3:00pm till 10 or 11pm. I'm thinking he could spend that time at our neighbor's house. Reading everyone's advice here I think I've come to the conclusion I'm not overprotective at all. Everyone seems to be a little uncomfortable leaving kids home alone. Thanks Jenny and good luck next Tuesday. One and half hours is not to bad. Praying still works. :)
@cripfemme (7723)
• United States
17 Apr 08
I would have someone check on him every few hours or have him stay with a buddy. You might want to exspiriment and see if he's responsible (you might use yor neighbors as spies to tell you how he does. I know this sounds awful, and normally encourage parents to spy on their kids, but in ths case it might be warranted).
1 person likes this
@kellys3ps (3733)
• United States
28 Mar 08
I was a latch-key kid starting from the age of 9. I also had the responsibility of watching my younger brother who was 6 at the time, It was very stressful. I didn't let my kids stay alone until they were 12.
1 person likes this
@IddiKlu (176)
• United States
25 Mar 08
I was 4 when first left alone. But that was another time... AND another place. Today that would be considered child abuse. Did nothing bad to me though. I felt good being trusted that way... ;-)
1 person likes this