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JLeslie's avatar

Did you come home to a house without an adult in it after school?

Asked by JLeslie (46168 points ) June 8th, 2012

How old were you? Was is all the way through K-12? What decade were you a child?

Did it upset you?

Did it seem perfectly nornal? Does it seem normal in retrospect?

Did most of your friends come home to a house without an adult after school?

If you were alone for some years, do you think of yourself as a latchkey kid? Or, does that term have too much negative connotation for you to identify with?

How do you think being alone affected you? Do you think it made you more independent, less secure, less trusting, more confident, less confident, more adventurous, more likely to smoke/drink/use drugs, more likely to participate in after school organized acitivities, less likely to participate in school activities…?

Do your children come home to a house without an adult?

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29 Answers

cazzie's avatar

My mother was home when I came home from school. I am home when my son comes home from school (or I pick him up). I am home when my step son comes home most of the time, especially now that he is having some anxiety issues. Although his mother leaves him at home alone for hours at a time, I am not comfortable doing that.

whiteliondreams's avatar

1. I don’t remember the age but it wasn’t till after the 6th grade that it became a norm. This was between 1990 through 1998.
2. I was not upset at this age because I was confident she would return. My assumptions kept me calm.
3. I cannot say it was normal or abnormal because the idea never crossed my mind. Prospectively, it would be normal for me and my child if we lived in a safe environment, but where I grew up, it wasn’t uncommon to be robbed at home.
4. I cannot say. For the most part, my close friends had parents home all the time or my friends would go to child care. I am quite certain my peers who roamed the neighborhood had no adult at home. However, if they did there was likely a reason the child would not stay home.
5. I would consider myself a latchkey kid from ‘94+. I don’t find it to be a negative connotation because I was an innocent child. Perhaps in my mother’s perspective, she may have felt some reproach.
6. Personally, being alone did not affect me the way I have seen other children grow up. I am fortunate that I had a positive family that was very supportive and entertaining to be with. They gave me a reason to want to stay home and enjoy my time with them. I cannot say the same for my peers who were more entertained by what older kids in the neighborhood were doing.
7. The children never come home to an empty home.

dontmindme's avatar

My mom was a stay at home mom and she was always home when I came home from school. This was late 70s/early 80s. I can’t think of one friend of mine who didn’t have a parent home when they came home from school. My kids come home to a parent. We’ve never had any discipline problems with our children and they do well in school.

Judi's avatar

Even in kindergarten I was basically alone when I left for school and when I came home. My dad was dieing and was most often asleep and my mom was working. I had to be responsible for leaving on time, getting myself dressed and when my baby brother was born when I was 6 I was often responsible for taking care of him, then leaving him with my sick father.
It did NOT feel normal. I was in 2nd grade when I discovered the importance of matching socks. I was teased unmercifully one day by a “mean girl.” I thought that if the colors matched it was good enough. We won’t talk about my rag a muffin hair and the burns on my belly from trying to iron my own clothes.
I was born in the early 1960’s and I often think about how my parents probably would have been arrested for neglect if I were being raise like that today.
I don’t resent them though. They did what they could with what they had.

Blackberry's avatar

Sometimes. It’s normal and I didn’t care. She was a single mother; work is work. She would leave me money for food or make something before she left.

I’m an only child and had no problem being alone. I would have people over when she was at work sometimes. If I got home and she wasn’t there, I would play loud music and stuff. I was never sad or anything.

blueiiznh's avatar

When I was in 7th grade I would be first home off the bus.
I grew up with 5 siblings so I enjoyed the quiet time to practice my Risky Business floor slide listening to Bob Seger.

Leanne1986's avatar

I can’t remember how old I was when I started to come home to a house without an adult after school but I imagine I was about 13 or 14 years. My mum worked until 5pm so she wasn’t their when we came home everyday.

It wasn’t a problem from our point of view and yea, it did seem perfectly normal. This would have been in the early 00’s.

I couldn’t say how being alone affected me, it didn’t bother me at all and I don’t lookback on it with any bad memories. My brother and I both had our own keys and, I believe, it was fairly normal for young teend to have their own house keys when I was growing up. My mum, like many others in our neighbourhood, had no choice but to work to put a decent meal on the table and keep a roof over our heads so their is certainly no resentment.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was 12 when my father died and my mother went to work. It’s life, it happens. You just deal with it. When I got a little older my mother found a boyfriend and spent weekends with him. Guess who had the house to throw parties? If anything, it made me more independent. A delinquent, but an independent one.

cookieman's avatar

1976 to 1981
From Kindergarten to Fourth Grade, my mother was home during the day (she worked nights).

She walked me (at least part way) to school – which was three blocks away. We’d hang out in the afternoon sometimes. If she was in a mood (which was often), I’d spend the afternoon in my room alone. Drawing and reading mostly.

1981 onward
When I started Fifth Grade, my mother went back to work days and I became a latch-key kid. Many kids in my neighborhood were latch-key kids.

After being a little scared, I really enjoyed being on my own. I went straight home at first, but after the first year, I realized that no one was really checking up on me all day. I then started venturing further and further from home. By the time I was twelve or thirteen, I was heading into the city (Boston) for the afternoon. So long as I was home in time for dinner, my folks never asked where I was.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In HS I did. I always felt kind of sad walking into an empty house. :(

Supacase's avatar

On and off from about fourth grade on. (1984–1992) It depended on my parents’s work schedules. I was fine with it, but I do remember “latch key kids” being a big topic in the media toward the beginning of that period of time.

Judi's avatar

When I was in HS my mom worked the night shift at a hospital. Really bad idea. I was a wild child.

Facade's avatar

From first through eighth grade, the bus dropped me off at the gym for gymnastics training. Four hours there, then home (every weekday); at least one of them was always home because one of my parents had to drive me home from training. I only started being alone at home after school in high school. It was great; I could do whatever I wanted, and I hated when my parents finally did get home from work.

YARNLADY's avatar

My Mom was a stay at home mom until I was around 16. She then took a job in a chocolate factory and came home after I did. It turned out to be a mistake, because my brother needed the after school supervision.

tinyfaery's avatar

Latch-key kid here. I didn’t care and I wasn’t afraid, but my sister was always with me. I’d say as young as third grade I had my own key to get into the house.

augustlan's avatar

Mid 70s to mid 80s. I had a single mom, and was a latch key kid from the age of 7 (2nd grade). I wore my key on a string around my neck. As an only child (in that home), I was truly on my own. I didn’t mind it. Even then, I liked my alone time. My mom would often call me and ask me to get dinner started. I have clear memories of making things like pot roast and meatloaf, which seems so weird to me now that I’m a parent. Allowing a 7 year old to chop vegetables and use the oven alone? Craziness. I can’t imagine leaving a 7 year old alone, period, today. (I babysat other kids on weekend nights from the time I was 11 <see next paragraph for some irony>, too, and I can’t imagine hiring an 11 year old babysitter today, either.) Things were different then, though… I think I was the youngest kid I knew who was alone after school, but by about 5th grade, many other kids were doing it, too.

When I was 11, there was a rapist loose in our area, and my mother put me in daycare for the time that was going on (less than a year). Man, I was pissed. After all that freedom, I was ‘locked up with the little kids’. Not to mention the fact that mom’s own brother was the guy who’d been molesting me for years, and she did jack shit to protect me from him. But a stranger rapist, egads… we must protect the children! ~

My own kids never came home to an empty house until the youngest was in middle school. At that point, the oldest was already a freshman in high school. It took some getting used to for them (and me), but they handled it well.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes but only for 5th & 6th grades when my mom had a job that kept her later than 3pm. It was the late 1970’s and I was about 10yrs old. It didn’t upset me at all. In fact, I looked forward to being left alone for a few hours so I could fish, draw, ride my bike with friends, whatever. Had a parent been home waiting for me, I would have been kept inside to do homework instead.

Though I didn’t know what a “latchkey” child was, I wasn’t alone and yes, I thought I was normal. In retrospect, it still seems normal. There was food I could snack on, friends to keep company with, so many things to do back then because our neighborhood was safe of traffic and had greenbelts and walled bike paths interwoven throughout.

In our house, kids weren’t allowed over unless we stayed outdoors or parents were home. This was fine because none of us wanted to be inside anyways what with fishing, boating, hiking nearby hillsides and stuff to do. Television in the homes rarely got more than 3 clear channels and if you were too old for Sesame Street and had already seen all the re runs of Star Trek then the TV held no great thrall.

I’ve never equated latchkey kids with being loners though. I’m sure there are some but I was used to kids wanting to hang together after school. Friends from cities told me the same even if they didn’t have the type of neighborhoods or subdivisions.

If I had kids and they had nearby friends then I wouldn’t worry about them going home alone for a few hours as long as they were old enough to converse on a phone well and knew how to handle some basic emergencies. I think about 12 is probably safe for most kids to take that kind of learning.

linguaphile's avatar

I didn’t come home alone from school, but I got up and got myself ready in the mornings alone in 5th, 6th and 7th grade (ages 10–12). My mom had to leave at 6:30 in the morning, but my school bus didn’t come to my driveway until 8:45, so I’d have 2 hours and 15 minutes to myself in the mornings. I’d watch cartoons, read books, make my own breakfast and sit by the door at 8:30, just in case. I think I only overslept 2 times in that 3 year span… I did much better at that age than I did in college!!

That made for some really creative clothes combinations and hairdos during that time since I had zero fashion sense.

flutherother's avatar

I came back to an empty house from about the age of 11 when my mother for sound financial reasons went back to full time work. My brother and sister were younger. I liked it I must say and got used to it very quickly. I always came back promptly as I had to take the dog out.

JLeslie's avatar

Somewhere around the age of 10 (I might have been 9 about to turn 10, 5th grade) my mom went to work full time, and my sister and I came home to a parentless house. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but years later I fund out it was extremely upsetting to my little sister who was only 7 turning 8 in 2nd grade. We got along well, and we payed together a lot of the time, but as we got older I think it became more and more lonely for her maybe? I went off with my friends a lot in 6th grade and older. I usually spent afterschool at my friend’s house not vice versa so she was alone and still very young, and I think she didn’t like it. Generally I think it is harder for younger kids anyway, they want to be with their older siblings geberally, just by design.

I was able to cook and do everything for myself. We played in the street with neighborhood kids, road bikes, or just watched TV when we were really little.

I also started babysitting when I was 11 like @augustlan. Funny, when I first turned 11 my mom wanted to leave us home alone at night if they went out, which was very rare my parents went out on their own, or to a party, maybe once evry couple of months. Anyway, both my sister and I wanted a babysitter to be with us. I don’t think I was afraid, I just think I liked having a teenager there. We would stay up and watch later shows, and the babysitters were always fun. Then when I started babysistting my mom put an end to it wanted to save the money.

My dad and mom both said they weren’t worried about leaving us along after school. My dad said he never even for a second thought it would be odd to leave us alone after school. Literally when I asked him about it this week, he said he had never even considered it was a thing for some people. He said he grew up like that, his whole neghborhood did, it was normal to him.

I think it just depends on the kid whether it is traumatic or not. I think most states have laws against kids being left alone under the age of 14? Or, maybe that is for a long period of time?

Bellatrix's avatar

How old were you? Five.

Was is all the way through K-12? Mostly.

What decade were you a child? 1960s.

Did it upset you? I don’t remember being upset. It was just the way it was and I lived in a community where all the other mums in the street would look after me if I needed something.

Did it seem perfectly nornal? Does it seem normal in retrospect? It did seem normal to me then but it was about necessity rather than a preference. I didn’t know anything different. My mum had died, there was no child care or social services really back then. My sister was in high school so she was often responsible for sending me off to school and I walked home and let myself in because I finished before she did. My dad worked shifts.

Did most of your friends come home to a house without an adult after school? No.

If you were alone for some years, do you think of yourself as a latchkey kid? Or, does that term have too much negative connotation for you to identify with? I was a latchkey kid. I don’t see it as negative because my dad didn’t have any other options. We managed. We had to.

How do you think being alone affected you? Do you think it made you more independent, less secure, less trusting, more confident, less confident, more adventurous, more likely to smoke/drink/use drugs, more likely to participate in after school organized acitivities, less likely to participate in school activities…? I am and was very independent. I was a very confident child then. I was less confident after my father remarried and I was very restricted and isolated under my stepmother’s rules. There weren’t many after school activities back then. Many people smoked and that was more of an influence than anything else.

Do your children come home to a house without an adult? No and definitely not at five. When they were teens there were times when I was working and they would get home first.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Yes starting in fourth grade. I also had my younger sister to “take care of.” We were responsible for all of the housework after school and I had dinner on the table when my mother and aunt got home from work at 6. I’m talking about fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans and things like that—not grilled cheese sandwiches. I was like 10/11 and cooking this way. No wonder it drives me crazy to hear adults whine.

JLeslie's avatar

Check this out. Shows the laws regarding latchkey kids by state in the US. I was surprised how many states have no rules about it.

Paradox25's avatar

From seven on up, yes. I used to go anywhere I wanted too. My nephew is eleven and he is not even allowed to go to the playground by himself, located only a block away. Crime and violence have increased where I live, so maybe this is justified.

downtide's avatar

Never. My mother never worked after I was born, and she rarely went out anywhere, so she was always there.

Nullo's avatar

Rarely. k-4 Mom worked part time precisely so that she could be home with us. 5–6 I homeschooled. 7th grade, we were in a small town with nowhere else to go except in a bunch. 8–10 the folks would sometimes be out, but most of the time we’d all have lunch together. 7th-10th was in Italy, where the work day only goes to 1pm anyhow. By 11th and 12th I was routinely coming home to an empty house, since conditions had changed and Mom was working full-time.

Mom was a latchkey kid and did not enjoy it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I ran a day care to support my kids when they were pre-school, so I could be home for them. I worked on my education degree at the same time so that when they started school I could still be on their schedule. :)

blueiiznh's avatar

Ha! I still come home to a house with no adult in it.
just sayin

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, hell. So did I!

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