Mum Sparks Debate About Leaving Children Home Alone | Read & Join The Debate 

A mother has sparked debate about leaving children home alone, after her own child was left unsupervised during a play date. The anonymous woman asked on a parenting forum, Mumsnet, whether she was being unreasonable for not wanting her child to be left home alone by another parent.

Explaining her situation on, the mother-of-three said that her 9-year-old son had gone to his friend’s house to play, but when her husband went to pick him up, the two were alone in the house. She wrote:

”My DS (darling son) aged 9 went to a friend’s house last week, his friend is aged 10. I don’t really know the family well, they are new to the area but DS and this boy have totally clicked. They have had a couple of play dates in each others houses, both times in my house the mam stayed for 1.5 hrs!!

I’m not overly happy about the friendship as my DS has stopped playing with this usual friends and this boy has no other friends apart from my DS. The boy is nice but has odd behaviour. His mam said he probably has some additional needs, this doesn’t bother me or my DS as I have a nephew with ADHD and other needs but it probably explains the lack of other friends and the odd behaviour.

I have been trying to encourage DS to play with this other friends too and include this boy so that he makes other friends but the other boy doesn’t seem to want anyone else but my DS.

Anyway last week my DH (darling husband) arrived at the boy’s house to collect DS and the two boys were alone in the house. His friends answered the boor to my DH (they have never met so he was answering the door to a stranger).

DS said the boy’s mam told them to stay there that she was heading up the town for 5 minutes. DS said she was gone a few minutes when DH arrived, DH said he was there over 5 mins trying to get DS out the door and no sign of the mam nor did he meet her when he drove through the town.”

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She went on to ask whether or not she was exaggerating about the situation. She wrote:

”AIBU [Am I Being Unreasonable] in thinking you don’t leave kids this age home alone especially not a child that is not yours and that you don’t have permission to leave alone.

I should add that I have left my children (11,9,8) home alone for a few minutes but we live in a large housing estate and I know there are a few neighbours at home that the kids know to call to if they need anything. The door is locked from the inside and they know not to answer it. I also leave my mobile with the eldest child.”

Many women responded to the dilemma with their own views, with most agreeing that it’s poor behaviour from the mum as she should have checked before leaving someone else’s child unsupervised.

One woman said:

”That is dreadful behaviour on behalf of the mother. We used to live in a cul de sac and there was a playground opposite our house. DD [darling daughter] was allowed to go and play there on her own from the age of 8. If she had friends over I would always check with the parents if they were happy for their children to go out and play there without an adult.”

Another commented:

I wouldn’t leave a 9 and 10 year old home alone. If someone left their DC [darling children] home alone at that age, then I’d say that was their business. She was being very unreasonable doing that with someone else’s child and not asking permission from the parents. I wouldn’t let my child round there again.

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Another mother wrote:

”Well, I do think the most 9 or 10 year olds are old enough to be left alone for 10 minutes here and there.

My DS is 9 (10 in July) and we’ve recently started leaving him alone for short spells (10 minutes whilst we drop his sister at a club for example). he’s also recently been allowed to walk home (5 minute walk through small town) from school – there’s always someone in when he gets home.

A year from now these year 5 children will be at secondary school, and expected to be pretty much independent. They need to prepare.

Having said that, I would check with the parents of a visiting child if I planned to pop out. I trust my DS, but not are whether I trust all his friends!

Also, you need to let your DS make his own friends and choices – you won’t always like them though! He obviously sees something in this new boy. Good for him for not caring about him being a bit different. Could you invite a few of his friends to do something together one day, including the new boy?

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A mom wrote:

Your dislike of the friendship is no doubt making you feel more negative about the whole thing. If it was one of your friends who you trusted you might feel completely different.

We have a little corner shop at the end of our road and I wouldn’t think twice about leaving a 9 and 10 year old to pop out and get some milk but it would literally be a few minutes and I wouldn’t do it with a child I didn’t know well. If you don’t trust the mum then I wouldn’t be wanting my child over there purely for that reason. Letting on strangers is a concern to so it’s best to discuss this with your ds as a learning experience

One woman said:

”So you leave yours but she can’t. And you leave your mobile at home? How do they contact you then? And your DH was so unhappy with it yet he left the boy too? Double standards or what?!”

Another commented:

I leave my 9 yo for a few minutes when I’m dropping her sister somewhere so I don’t think that is a major issue. I think it is a problem if it’s someone else’s child and you haven’t cleared it with their parents. If your DS enjoys the friendship then I would just have a quick word the next time he goes round to make it clear you are not happy for him to be left without an adult.

As for her staying over an hour if she drops her DS to you, I would just say you were going to take the opportunity while they’re playing to do some work/gardening/ironing and usher her towards the front door.

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Another mom adds:

Poor woman probably didn’t want to be seen as a CF, dropping her child off without speaking to you, or she wanted to get to know the person her son was staying with. It sounds like this young boy could benefit from having a wider circle of friends. If you’re concerned about him monopolising your son, why don’t you invite him over for a play date, while your son has other friends over?

While it’s not ideal leaving the two boys unsupervised, maybe she thinks her own son is fine with it and mature enough to be trusted, but unfortunately thought yours would be the same. It just sounds like an oversight on her part and you and your husband are looking for an excuse not to like him, because of his odd behaviour. Having a relative with SN does not prevent people from judging others with SN.

Another woman wrote:

I would leave my 10 (now 11 year old) alone in the house by himself for up to half an hour, if I had to. No longer than that. I would not ever leave a friend with him of similar age, even with permission from their parent – too risky.

I also wouldn’t leave my 11 year old and his 6 year old brother alone for more than a few minutes (to collect takeaway, for e.g.) because there is more likely to be trouble when there are 2 of them.

DS1 is pretty responsible but can be easily distracted. Mind you, one of DS’s friends is left alone with his younger brother every day after school as both their parents work and can’t always get home in time – but the younger brother is 8, so not as risky as my 6 year old.

What do you think about this mom’s dilemma?



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