One of the comments on my post about boredom was that the person was surprised that I didn't feel Maya was old enough to be left alone...which got me thinking, "How old is old enough"? I'm not stupid like these people, who left their kids for the weekend while they go to Vegas. But I DO trust my daughter, and since there's no younger sibling around for her to worry about, when would be old enough? I know when I was her age, I was home alone, sort of, because my mom worked and my brother was there. He was 12 to my 10, so I would think that's a big factor. One of my coworkers said she wouldn't leave a 10 year old home alone, because you don't know what kind of weirdos are out there, that might find out your child is alone or what ever. Personally, I don't think the world is that different than when I was a child, as in the number of child molesters and freaks. Probably just as many now as there were then. We just know about them now. We can go online and find pictures and addresses for all of the registered offenders in our neighborhood. Knowing that there are some in every neighborhood, then, when do you let your child go out to play? See where this is going? Of course we don't want anything horrible to happen to our children, and of course it is our job to protect them and keep them safe, but it is also our job to let them be kids, to let them run around outside and explore the world. There has to be some balance there.
Back to the question of how old is old enough...well, we will leave Maya home alone while we walk the dog, or go to the grocery store. She's fine for that long. I suspect she would be fine home alone all day. But I'm not sure that she's mature enough to handle situations that might come up. What if she decided to scramble some eggs, and a towel caught on fire. Or what if the neighbor came over with a problem. Or the dog started throwing up. Or there was an earthquake, or the power went out. Or or or. Is she ready to deal with these things? Is she ready to remember to lock the door if she decides to go rollerblading? I'm not convinced. Part of that is because we have always been there with her, reminding her to look both ways before she crosses the street, locking the door behind us, that kind of thing. With me home this summer, I think I can give her some of these freedoms, and watch and see how she does. Teach her what to do if emergencies happen. Maybe practice. See how ready she is to be left alone for longer periods of time. All day? She might be ready for that when she's 11 or 12. Heck, I don't even know what the legal age is in CA for leaving kids home alone. We'll see. Thoughts? How old were your kids when you started leaving them home alone for a whole day? Or how old do you think you'd be comfortable doing so? Would it be different for girls or boys? City, suburb, or rural area? Would it depend on how close you were at work? I'm curious, what the criteria are that other parents use to decide how old is old enough.