General Question

Gabby101's avatar

Home Alone - Age 10 and 13?

Asked by Gabby101 (2950points) May 20th, 2015

This summer my brother and his ex-wife are planning to leave their kids home alone while school is out. The 13-year old is not particularly mature nor “motherly/fatherly” toward his brother (nothing out of the ordinary, though). I think this is way too young! I was thinking about helping to pay for some daycare or summer activity, but was wondering if I am off base in terms of them being too young to stay at home.

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44 Answers

jca's avatar

All day every day?

I don’t think it’s good for kids to be home unsupervised for long stretches of time. I think it would be better for them to be in camp or something where they’re doing more than just playing video games all day. If they were my kids, I’d be nervous about leaving them home alone if it were all day long. Too much can happen. They’d try to cook and forget to turn the stove off or something like that.

cheebdragon's avatar

As a parent I can see many things going wrong and I doubt I would make that same choice….However, as a little sister who spent every summer following around my older brother and older cousins (all around 5–7 years older), I can say that I survived just fine…..and we didn’t even have a pager or a cell phone to check in.
Make sure the kids are aware that this is their first steps to becoming adults, they usually love the idea of being mature, and hint at other possible freedoms that may come if they can handle this task.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s fine.

I hope this doesn’t get modded, but here is what a 13 year old is capable of. I posted this on FB.

When I was a kid the Jones’ lived up the street from us. They had two kids, Mike and Janet. Janet was my younger sister’s best friend ever.

Jane and Mike’s mom, Mrs. Jones, made the BEST home made bread. Oh, it was so exciting when that foil wrapped, warm loaf of bread showed up in our kitchen!

Mrs. Jones was from Germany, and rumor always had it that she and her brother walked out of war-torn Germany in the 40’s, when she was a teenager.
Well, I reconnected with Janet here on FB about a year ago (thanks Zuckerman!) and thought to ask her about that story, and this is what she sent me:

“Actually she was at a boarding school and the girls had heard rumors that the Russians were advancing . So she fled the school one night (her cousin stayed and years later, they met up and the cousin and many other girls were raped by the Russians) She went to where her hometown was (by foot and hopping trains). It was totally bombed out. So she remembered she had an uncle in Southern Germany with a hunting cabin. So she once again walked and hopped trains. She got to the cabin and saw all her relatives were there including her Mom and baby sister. her Dad had died. It’s an amazing story!!”

Amazing is an under statement. She was just 13 years old.

Blondesjon's avatar

From the age of 12 on I babysat my younger brother and sister (10 and 6 respective to my 12) whether I liked it or not. I had emergency contacts if things went wrong and the threat of an apocalyptic ass beating if I ever had to use them. Ours was not the only family in town that had the same arrangement.

We got up to a lot of shit being home alone like that but nobody died and we are all productive adults today.

johnpowell's avatar

My sister lets her 13 year old twins be alone while she is at school or pretty much whenever unless it is overnight.

She went on vacation a few months ago for a week and I babysat. I pretty much hid and got drunk while watching movies on my laptop. They cooked my meals and woke me up when they were leaving for school.

Totally able to take care of themselves. They know of 911. My mom left me and my sister home alone way younger. I was making Top Raman on my own at 7.

jerv's avatar

This really shows how generations differ. Personally, I was left alone younger than that.

Then again, I already had cooking skills beyond microwaving stuff (there were no microwaves then) and knew enough to call someone if needed, whether it be the neighbor, police, fire department, or rescue (no 911 either; 7-digit dialing and separate numbers for emergency services). In short, I had the maturity and the skills to handle myself simply because I wasn’t treated like a baby.

It does depends on the kids though, and I doubt modern kids are taught that degree of self-sufficiency.

cheebdragon's avatar

Think of it this way, a 13 year old with a tag along sibling around all summer, won’t have enough time to experiment with the opposite sex or with drugs. Little kids are total narcs.

chyna's avatar

My older brother watched us younger kids when he was 12. We lived to tell it.

Coloma's avatar

I was babysitting at 11–12 for several neighborhood families nobody died. haha
I left my daughter home alone for a few hours at age 11–12, of course being an only child and a bright kid I wasn’t worried, checked in on her of course and since she wasn’t responsible for siblings or anything other than feeding the pets and we lived in a very safe rural area I felt it was fine.
I did not leave her home alone after dark.
All day is kinda stretching it, I could see a couple days a week but not all week.

Better to error on the side of caution, plus the kids are going to be bored out of their minds, boredom leads to trouble and fighting.
I’d vote for maybe 3 days home alone and the other two in activities of some sort at least part of the day.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My grandfather taught me to drive the pickup truck at 8, I had a wing of the barn that was my responsibility, milking 20 to 25 cows and helping in the main barn, and taking care of about 50 youngstock, and we all ran equipment during the Summer. I was always left on my own. I don’t think I turned out too bad.

Jewel10's avatar

The boys would probably love some summer time fun activities. Better than vegging out in front of tv or a video game all summer.

Ask the parents how they feel if you paid for a sitter 2 or 3 days a week to take the boys to swimming, baseball, soccer…etc. type activities in the area.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hell, park them at the pool all day!

johnpowell's avatar

Keep in mind a 13 year old can drive in three years. If the kid can’t sort out the oven and tater tots we have bigger problems.

marinelife's avatar

They are definitely too young to go without adult supervision a whole summer. Perhaps you could offer to pay for a summer activities program for them.

Gabby101's avatar

I don’t think anyone is gonna die or starve, but I feel like five days a week, from 9–5 is a lot of time to fill. Boredom can lead to some bad choices (even for adults!). I like the idea of having of half-day activities most of the week so they have something to look forward to and are maybe less inclined to break the rules when they are home alone (which, they have done in the past – you’re right younger siblings are tattle tales ;)

JLeslie's avatar

I was 10 and my sister was 7. All day, all summer. Well, we sometimes went up to the elementary school nearby to do some arts and crafts or play in the schoolyard. There were volunteers there during the day, but we didn’t have to.

I think for my sister it was too young and she was unhappy about it. I was ok. A little older was better for sure. The kids in question are older. It really depends on the particular kids.

No matter what it isn’t ideal, but not necessarily horrible.

CugelTheClueless's avatar

OP: All us Gen X latchkey kids are scoffing at this question. But a bit of organized and supervised activity, while not necessary, wouldn’t hurt. It would generous of you to provide it.

Back in the day…

ibstubro's avatar

Send the kids to Y camp. Cheap and easy.

You don’t mention the kids neighborhood, urban/rural, city/suburbs status.

Makes a big difference.

Gabby101's avatar

They live in a city of around 150,000. They live in a suburban part of town, but in an apartment complex where they moved around three months ago. So it’s not like they have a “village,” but on the other hand, crime is low.

Jewel10's avatar

I was watching you tube and so many kids who were left home alone where burglars were breaking in and these kids are on the phone with 911 crying out for help.

A couple kids had their parents gun and the 911 operators actually told them to go ahead and shoot the burglar if he found them; to which the kids did shoot the man.

Lots of incidents of break ins and kids shooting the intruders!

We live in evil days. Maybe a boy sitter would be good. My sister uses a boy babysitter.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

There should be an adult checking in on them at least 3 times throughout the day.

johnpowell's avatar

Look at the crime stats since 1960.. Violent crime is way down. In fact the lowest since 1970. The crime rate was about double in 1991.

The kids are actually really safe. But CNN and FOX get shitty ratings without fake fear.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
jca's avatar

@Gabby101: What are the boys going to be able to do all day? Can they go out and access parks, pools, etc. or are they going to be stuck in the house?

Cupcake's avatar

@ibstubro Do you know what Y camp costs these days? Not cheap… If you’re working regular 8:30 – 5pm hours, you have to pay extra for morning and extra for afternoon hours as well.

Let us know if you look it up. I’m curious if YMCA summer day camp costs more than you expect.

JLeslie's avatar

@Gabby Are other kids home also? Is there a pool with a lifeguard they can go to? I had a lot of peers who were home alone also. Like someone said above, many of us grew up home alone after school and during the summer. We didn’t even have cell phones back then, we just called our mom during the day maybe once or twice to check in.

Most communities have some sort of offering for kids during the summer. Most kids have working mothers. The public school might know what’s available.

Is it legal to leave the kids all day in her state? I don’t know if that matters to her or not.

Latchkey kid became the term used back then, as someone mentioned, but I don’t like it, and never think of myself as a latchkey kid, but I guess I was.

When I was a young teen I slept until 10:00am anyway, watched some TV when I woke up, then went to the pool or played tennis, and my mom was home by 5:00pm. My grandma did take us for 3 weeks come to think of it when I was 10 and 11, but eventually that stopped. When I was a young teen I went to sleep away camp for two weeks in the summer. Maybe if the kids go to camp a few weeks it would break up the summer a little.

Not to stereotype, but generally I would be more worried about boys than girls. Depends on the kids though.

jca's avatar

I’m paying $1500 for one month for Y Day Camp. That includes until 6:30 pm, which enables me to get out of work at 5:30 and then have my 45 minute commute.

I was thinking what @JLeslie said, that these are boys we’re talking about, and boys are generally more immature as children than girls are.

I am wondering if the young one will listen (or does listen) to the older one, if the older one gives instructions or provides supervision. Will they fight? If they’re going to be punching each other or the little one won’t listen, then it’s a problem.

A lot of people were left alone from around age 10 onward, for a few hours, and many have spent hours doing chores by themselves like Adirondack mentioned. I think the issue is more that there is a young boy being supervised by the older one, who may or may not be able to provide adequate supervision himself. It’s a long stretch of time from before the parents go to work to when they return from work, all day, every day, unsupervised by adults.

I was a relatively mature teen and yet I almost set the house on fire several times trying to cook something. We lived in a two family house at the time, owned by my grandparents, so although I was alone, I had my grandparents downstairs.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca That is kind of expensive.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: It comes to about 3-something per week, plus the extra for the end of day.

ibstubro's avatar

@Cupcake my local YMCA:

For one week at our sleep away camp, your child will swim, hike, sleep in cabins, make s’mores, and much, much more!
When: May 26–29, 2015
Members: $100/kid
Non-Members: $125/kid
scholarships are available

Doesn’t seem exorbitant, but only covers one week, I guess.

cazzie's avatar

I’ll have no choice this summer but to leave my 10 year old kid home alone. I’ll have some help and some time off, but there will be a few weeks where he will be home on his own. He sends me messages and I call him on the phone. I don’t like it, but I’m a single mother with no friends or family in the country. I might arrange the odd day with one of his school chums, but as it is now, he is home from school twice a week for 4 hours before I get home. They have two short days and I have nowhere and no one for him to be with. He is meant to have a babysitter on one of the short days, but he’s gone on leave until August and the service didn’t give me a replacement, so childservices told me I had to take two days off work. Well, THAT can’t happen all the time (as it is, I’ve taken more time off with no pay and I’m behind on a loan), so they can get stuffed. They can’t make my family suffer financially by making those types of demands. I’m really hating on my life right now… can you tell?

Darth_Algar's avatar

I was around 13 when my mom went back to work. I was often home alone all day, sometimes all night (dad was still riding the river and would be gone for 30 days at a time). And managed myself (even fixing meals and using the stove) just fine.

Cupcake's avatar

@ibstubro Holy crap. I haven’t seen any prices like that around here…

I just checked. $750/week for YMCA sleepaway camp; $650 for each subsequent week. Day camp prices are like @jca listed.

Double all prices for 2 kids and it seems pretty out-of-reach to me.

janbb's avatar

Our town had a summer rec program that was like a day camp. It had morning, afternoon and all day and extended hours and was very reasonable. Maybe the kids could be enrolled in something like that.

I think breaking up the week with at least some time out of the house would be helpful.

jca's avatar

@Cupcake: Usually a camp will charge a bit less for the second child. In the case of the OP’s family, since one child is older, he might be cheaper for that reason, too.

Some towns have camp that are significantly lower priced. My town has a great camp, supposedly quite cheap, but it only goes till 3:00 pm. There are a few reasons why that camp is not practical for me.

I’m into “better safe than sorry.” Better to have the kids in something supervised, out of trouble, than home playing video games all day long all summer long or getting into trouble, at risk of a nice report with children’s services.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca About $50 a day. That’s a lot. Do they feed the children?

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: A bit more than that. It comes to about $6 an hour which is not bad.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s awful! So if a person is making $10.00 and hour, they wind up with a take home of $4.00 an hour!

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: If someone makes $10 an hour, they’re not bringing home anywhere near $10 an hour anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course not. I know that, @jca. But you know what I’m saying. For most single, working Mom’s, a $6 an hour hit it is impossible.

jca's avatar

I just looked at the bill. It’s $340 a week for weeks when there’s 5 days of camp and $315 a week for weeks when there’s 4 days of camp. $35 per day for the “till 6:30” part. Yes, it’s a chunk of change for me, too. $1510 for July 6 thru July 31.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca How many kids in the “camp?”

ibstubro's avatar

I can’t help it, @Cupcake, that was a copy and paste from the local Y’s current page.
It’s the same camp I stayed at, 40+ years ago.

The other local town only has day camp, and I don’t see the hours:

Day Camp: Ages 5 – 15

Starts June 1 and ends August 15
Camp Schedule: June 1–4
Camp Schedule: June 8–12
Camp Schedule: June 15–19
Camp Schedule: June 22–26

Member – $115/week Full Time, $85/week Part Time
Program Participant – $125/week Full Time, $95/week Part Time
One Time Activity Fee – $40
Summer Camp is supervised by licensed camp counselors. Financial assistance is available.

Oh, there it is. 7:30–5:30 every day, lunch included and electronic devices will be confiscated. lol They’re required to swim, bowl, hike and horseback ride. That’s gotta suck! ~

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, and mom can stock up on microwave stuff so they don’t have to use the stove.

My kids were home alone when the toaster caught on fire. My son had the brains to unplug if first, then he unloaded an entire canister of a fire extinguisher on to it. From the looks of the mess I walked into when I got home, apparently he had concerns that the fire might engulf the WHOLE KITCHEN!!!! Little shit! He had an excuse and he ran with it. I probably would have too.
Yeah, that was a little scary. And the really weird part was I was walking through the store the day before, having just bought some pop tart like things, and an image of the toaster catching on fire came into my head. I had to shake it off as silly. But it wasn’t.

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