I left my 12yo at home for 1 hour

(72 Posts)
HellesBellesThinksSometimes Fri 23-Aug-13 17:24:47

Now my parents say I am a bad parent and have shouted at me - in front of my son.

First of all, I should say that I have, over the last few months, started leaving ds while I have nipped to the shops or gone to church.

Today, I was delivering family birthday/anniversary cards. I told ds where I was going. I told him the rules for staying safe while I was gone (stay in the house, don't answer the door to strangers, do not use the kitchen except to get a glass of squash, phone grandparents in an emergency).

He wanted to play out, couldn't get me on my mobile (I must have been out of range - we live in a rural area), so he rang my parents but they have massively overreacted. I think they have anyway.

Any thoughts?

WayHarshTai Fri 23-Aug-13 17:27:34

Your parents are chock full o' nuts.

He's 12 ffs.

Surely he walks to school alone, plays out all day, goes into town with friends?

Staying at home for an hour is FINE.

If it helps, DS1 is 11 in two weeks and has been staying at home while I take DD to gymnastics (for eg) for about a year. In September he'll be walking home from school and letting himself in (DH is home at 4.30).

ClaimedByMe Fri 23-Aug-13 17:28:59

I think they have massively overreacted, my oldest is 10 and I have started leaving her for short periods, while I walk the dog for example, she knows the rules, my parents only live round the corner, I am unsure how they learn independence and responsibility if you don't give them the chance.

Floralnomad Fri 23-Aug-13 17:29:08

Yes they have massively overreacted !

CaptainCapybara Fri 23-Aug-13 17:29:46

I think a lot of 12 year olds would be fine for an hour but in this case I would think he is not ready if he can't follow your instruction to stay in the house, I would worry what else he would not do that you had told him to.

You are his parent not them, tell them to unclench.

Yonihadtoask Fri 23-Aug-13 17:32:35

You did nothing wrong.

How on earth are DC gping to learn to look after themselves if never left alone.

Tell your parents to butt out.

LIZS Fri 23-Aug-13 17:33:55

They are overreacting but so was he if he couldn't stay put for an hour and panicked.

Spottypurse Fri 23-Aug-13 17:34:13

I intend to let my 11 year old get the bus to and from school in a week's time. And if she's home before me she will have a key and will wait about an hour tops until I get there.

Your parents are barking.

AnythingNotEverything Fri 23-Aug-13 17:34:16

I don't think you've done anything wrong. In fact, he wasn't sure if he was allowed to play, tried you, then used his initiative! I think he did well.

Ignore them.

aturtlenamedmack Fri 23-Aug-13 17:35:34

Agree with the others. You also need to make sure that they know it's completely out of order to criticize your parenting in front of your ds.

FreckledLeopard Fri 23-Aug-13 17:35:39

DD is sometimes home alone all day during the school holidays. She is also 12. Your parents are wrong. Ignore them.

Bambamb Fri 23-Aug-13 17:36:26

You're joking aren't you captain? He did follow instructions & didn't go out, but came up with what sounds like a sensible alternative plan.
You know your own child and whether or not you can leave him. Your folks are overreacting.

Bowlersarm Fri 23-Aug-13 17:38:51

Perfectly fine to leave him at home alone.

By Year 7 most children are taking themselves off to school alone.

It's time to allow independence. You are it perfectly with small steps.

Ignore them.

RippingYarns Fri 23-Aug-13 17:40:00

so, your DS wanted to go out and knew he had to tell someone since you thought he was in the house. he couldn't reach you so he used his noodle and rang his GPs to tell them, and they went off on one?

they are overreacting

well done to your DS for forward thinking

PlateSpinningAtAllTimes Fri 23-Aug-13 17:40:42

Haha, tell them that my parents went on holiday for a week and left me on my own when I was 14 grin
Same parents are shock about me leaving DC in the car while I pay for petrol.

Nagoo Fri 23-Aug-13 17:43:14

What did he say on the phone to them? If he sounded very upset then I can see why they reacted a bit OTT. It's not on for them to shout at you in front of your son. I imagine DS was devastated by the over-reaction too, as I am sure he was seeking reassurance, not trying to cause a row sad They did not react in the best way at all. I don't think that there is anything wrong with leaving him alone for an hour at all. It was responsible of your DS to talk to an adult before he went out, but now it's all blown up in his face. IMO the correct response from your parents should have been to tell him to put the telly on and phone them back in half an hour. There was no need for anyone to get so het up about it.

I would carry on doing exactly what you want to do. Clarify with your son how he is to contact you, and under what circumstances he is to contact his GPs.

Panic is contagious, so if he sounded upset that will be what wound your parents up. I wouldn't push it with them. I's just quietly get on with what I thought was best.

hugoagogo Fri 23-Aug-13 17:43:28

Your parents maybe got a bit of a shock that he called, but still they have lost the plot.

I leave my 11 year old ds for an hour or so most days in the school holidays.

VoiceOfRaisin Fri 23-Aug-13 17:45:36

A sensible 12yo is FINE to be left in the house for an hour. Your parents have not thought this through. Gosh, in approx 18 months (guessing 12.5 years as a mid point) your DS will be old enough to babysit for others.

Your DS sounds like a star - I hope he knows that he did exactly the right thing (even if the consequences were unfortunate).

Your DParents sound a bit unhinged.

He's 12 FFS, you did nothing wrong.
I rarely leave DD (12 next week), home alone, but only because she wants to come with me.
She's out now though with her friend for a couple of hours, and I'm fine with it.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Fri 23-Aug-13 17:52:47

You've all been very reassuring - thank you. I checked and he said nothing inflammatory to his gm.

They are control-freaks tbh.

matana Sat 24-Aug-13 07:31:14

Wow dsd is 13 and I would consider allowing her yo babysit her 3 year old brother, providing there were some clear ground rules and we put him to hed first.

This was a huge overreaction to your ds using his initiative.

matana Sat 24-Aug-13 07:31:49


SPBisResisting Sat 24-Aug-13 07:34:20

He did the right thing. That said it would have been a good idea to warn them in advance this sort of thing was starting to happen.

exoticfruits Sat 24-Aug-13 07:48:46

You should be starting to leave a child that age - you do not need to drag them off with you every time you leave the house. Your mistake was not explaining to your parents that they were an emergency number. Just tell them that you will be leaving him in future and are they happy to be an emergency contact- if not you will find someone else.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Sat 24-Aug-13 08:36:54

They know I have left him before to go to church or the library or to nip round to their house or to the shop. I think it was because my phone was out of range.

Andro Sat 24-Aug-13 16:40:22

He did everything right (I assume he was duly praised for that?) and your parents were out of order. Out of order enough to call you a bad parent, but to do so in front your your son? Way out of line imo.

WafflyVersatile Sat 24-Aug-13 16:44:25

Next time say 'in an emergency phone anyone but your bloody grandparents'.

Milliways Sat 24-Aug-13 16:57:00

Both mine spent inset days home alone from Yr 7, and DS was only 12 in Yr8 (Aug birthday).

duchesse Sat 24-Aug-13 16:58:14

Bloody hell, he's 12!! You know him, you know whether or not he's likely to set fire to the house or invite the local chapter of the Hell's Angels in. Your parents are totally over-reacting imo. In the 60s and 70s we were routinely left alone, in rural areas and in towns, much younger and for a lot longer. Ask them how long they would have left you alone at that age.

duchesse Sat 24-Aug-13 17:01:35

Thinking back, I went out leaving my then 12 yo dd2 to babysit newborn-ish dd3 for about an hour. Only you know how sensible, mature and trustworthy your DC is.

elfycat Sat 24-Aug-13 17:02:36

I'd show him some of these posts, to show him that you were right and the grandparents weren't. But only if he won't report it back to them (though I think it'd do them good.

Also let him know that he did well to phone and ask and that it's no reflection on either of your decision making abilities that trouble kicked off.

Chubfuddler Sat 24-Aug-13 17:02:51

So he couldn't contact you and contacted them? What exactly do they think is the problem?

From about 10 or 11 I routinely got home to an empty house until my brothers got home an hour later. Completely normal.

Did your parents honestly never leave you alone at the age of 12?

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Sat 24-Aug-13 17:14:34

They totally left my brother and I alone for a couple of hours after school a couple of times a week!

DS has been assured that, despite gps' reactions, he did the right thing.

The emergency phone call list has been amended and they are being bumped down in favour of family friends and aunts!

Honestly, when they were going off at me, I was really starting to doubt myself - you've all done me the world of good, thank you flowers

mysteryfairy Sat 24-Aug-13 17:31:05

I generally don't think it's unreasonable to leave a 12 year old though my DD who is 11.5 doesn't like to be left so comes along on the most tedious errands with me. However it doesn't sound like he is very good at following instructions if he is told he had to stay in and is then ringing you with a view to playing out so maybe he isn't ready to be left. Was he ringing grandparents to nag them to play out or because he was concerned that you were incommunicado because I think I'd be concerned if a home alone 12 year old rang me for either if those and it might lead to me being a bit vehement!

daytoday Sat 24-Aug-13 18:33:20

Oh my they have massively overreacted and probably scared the life out of him now.

Trills Sat 24-Aug-13 18:40:57

He needs to get a better idea of what an "emergency" is if he phoned his (massively overreacting) grandparents just because your phone was out of range at one point - especially if you live in a rural-type area where that happens frequently.

If you live in a city and the only time your phone would go straight to answerphone would be if you'd just been hit by a bus, maybe it's more understandable.

SilverApples Sat 24-Aug-13 18:43:10

They have over-reacted, but he couldn't contact you when he needed to.
Are there better networks for your area?

Surely 'in their day' they wouldn't have been instantly contactable either since mobile phones have only been mainstream for 15 years?! confused
YANBU grin I was on my own after school for a couple of hours everyday from 11 and all day through the holidays from 12.

RabbitFromAHat Sat 24-Aug-13 19:11:54

Your parents are mad. Happy to help. grin

At his age I was at home after school for two hours every evening before my parents got home. In those two hours I used to set the fire, and get the dinner on for everyone. I absolutely loved that time to myself, and have ended up a bloody good cook too. We didn't even have a house phone let alone mobiles!

SilverApples Sat 24-Aug-13 21:43:18

Why did your DS phone them?

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Sat 24-Aug-13 23:04:18

SilverApples to ask for my aunt's and my coysin's phone numbers because my mobile was going straight to voicemail due to being out of range.

SilverApples Sat 24-Aug-13 23:08:27

You weren't wrong to leave him, but you do need to sort this bit out. he doesn't sound sure about what the sequence is or why.
Aren't their numbers in your personal phone book?

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Sat 24-Aug-13 23:10:53

My mobile is my personal phone book! I have now stuck all the family's phone numbers and my best friend's phone number under the phone - in the order he's to contact in an emergency.

mummyxtwo Sun 25-Aug-13 11:25:26

I would reassure your ds that he did the right thing and you're sorry that the grandparents shouted, which they shouldn't have done. You don't want him to think he did wrong and then not call someone next time. And reassure him that if your mobile signal doesn't allow you to get a call just keep trying as you'll probably move into an area of better reception soon, and not to panic. Definitely tell the gp it is not on for them to shout out you in front of him - how dare they?! It would be upsetting for him as well as undermining you. They are adults and should darn well behave like grown up people.

BellaVita Sun 25-Aug-13 11:28:18

They are bonkers!

Barbabeau Sun 25-Aug-13 19:08:22

I think they totally overreacted.

I took a babysitting course at the age of 12 (baby care, common sense stuff about safety in the home, first aid basics, etc) and started babysitting my younger brothers (10 & 6) and other local kids. This wasn't in the UK.

In fact my mother was quite ill for a couple of months when I was 12 and I had to frequently babysit my brothers, cook meals, take charge of tidying/urge brothers to tidy, etc while my father was at the hospital. I coped just fine.

valiumredhead Sun 25-Aug-13 19:20:53

Massive over reaction, we've been leaving ds at home for short periods of time to Nevin with since the age of ten. He's 12 now and we will happily leave him for a couple of hours. He loves it!

BrianTheMole Sun 25-Aug-13 19:33:07

Its fine. And he used his iniative too which is good. Your parents are way over the top.

cephalicdream Sun 25-Aug-13 19:36:03

Haven't we had links in the past to recommendations for leaving children alone ?

valiumredhead Sun 25-Aug-13 19:53:40

There are no laws about ages of children being left-but you must not be seen to be putting your child at risk. The majority of average twelve year olds wouldn't fall into that category.

ChunkyPickle Sun 25-Aug-13 20:06:30

Another vote for massive over-reaction - at just turned 11 I was taking over an hour to walk to the station, take the train to the town, and walk all the way across town to school (as were many other children the same age)

Far more dangerous than being left in my own home for an hour.

bigkidsdidit Sun 25-Aug-13 20:11:46

Jesus he's 12! Isn't it normal any more for senior school children to take themselves to / from school alone, let themselves in etc? Blimey.

valiumredhead Sun 25-Aug-13 20:22:33

Ds walks to and from school which is 20 mins each way, is out at the park with mates for hours on end and goes into town also. Couple of hours at home is totally normal !

cory Sun 25-Aug-13 22:44:39

of course you were fine

and just wanting to ring you to see if he could change his plans and go out doesn't sound like panicking or disobedience to me: why shouldn't he put a civil question?

I left my 12yo all day during halfterms and was perfectly happy to let him go out as long as he informed either me or his big sister

duchesse Mon 26-Aug-13 07:51:41

Some friends' children have since barely 11 (all four summer borns, one late August) traveled an hour across London to get to secondary school every morning, negotiating trains and tubes and buses as well as walking. Loads of children do the same every day. I think your parents could use some perspective.

MrsDavidBowie Mon 26-Aug-13 07:54:24

I would also let him have a bit more free range in the kitchen too.

cece Mon 26-Aug-13 08:06:25

My 12 year old let's herself unto the house with her own key after walking home from school. She then has 2 hours on her own before we get home from work. She makes her own dinner in that time (chicken nuggets and oven chips). Your parents are out if order.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 21:25:16

DS now has a key to let himself in after school once he goes back next week. Dm not pleased. In fact, I posted on " but we took you to stately homes" earlier today after she found out. Did not go well...

Still, done now and I am not going to worry about it any further.

Thank you alll for your support flowers

TheFallenNinja Wed 28-Aug-13 04:06:11

12 is fine. Good for you.

prissyenglisharriviste Wed 28-Aug-13 04:26:10

Yup, dd1 took her Red Cross babysitting course at 12, and her emergency first aid. She is paid to look after other people's children. grin (although I do confess that she is now 13.)

My 11.5 son is staying home alone for 8 hours a day for the next three days - his sisters are back at school, and dh and I are at work. He's also getting a cab to the pool and back for his swimming lesson during that time. grin

I know, I know. <flagellates self>

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 07:41:42

Your children are clearly veryvresponsible prissy. Something to aspire to smile

oscarwilde Wed 28-Aug-13 14:07:45

Babysat multiple siblings overnight while parents went away at 12yo. Not ideal by todays standards but your parents are nuts.

Many in the generation before your parents would have left school at 12 and started full time work....

IslaValargeone Wed 28-Aug-13 14:12:29

Have to say I'm really impressed at how independent some of your children are. I have a dc starting secondary school next week and she would freak at the idea of being left alone.
She wants me to walk her to school too, she has worse case scenario-itis and is very under confident.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 16:10:19

That must be horrendously worrying for you Isla. Is she the same once you've gone do you know or is it just when you're around? We have some kids at the school I work in who are very clingy to their parents but as soon as their parents go, they're fine. A smaller number have equally low confidence whether their parents are there or not.

In the book 'help! My teenager is an alien' there are quite a few strategies for increasing independence and responsibility which should help improve confidence.

My grandma walked 4 miles across fields from 7 to get to school. Our lives are so different to theirs.

oscarwilde Wed 28-Aug-13 16:55:57

I saw this article a few months back and thought it was a fabulous idea. It might be a way of boosting your DC's confidence Isla?


IslaValargeone Wed 28-Aug-13 19:32:29

Thanks oscar and Helles for those recommendations I shall have a look.
Unfortunately she is just clingy full stop.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 28-Aug-13 19:33:47

When I was 12 I was left home alone every day from 08.00-17.30pm during school holidays whilst my mom was at work. It was never a problem x x

dogindisguise Thu 29-Aug-13 22:11:30

When I was 12 (OK this is more than 20 years ago now - but in the days before mobiles) I used to be at home for a couple of hours after school every day. As long as he's sensible (and it sounds as though he is) I think this is fine and your parents are overreacting.

rrreow Fri 30-Aug-13 17:42:13

My mum (single mum) used to work full time and at 12yo I had a key to let myself in after school (3.30pm) and entertain myself until she got home (presumably around 5.30pm, don't remember exactly).

Not advocating this and I hope my children won't have to do this, but it was never a problem and I definitely think 12 years old is an appropriate age for being left alone for a couple of hours as long as you feel the child is emotionally mature enough.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Fri 30-Aug-13 17:56:57

I saw df today and I said that on monday, when they are providing a base for him while I'm at work, ds would stay home alone til he got up then head round. Df thinks that's a bad idea. I suggested he sleep over at theirs then!

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