When should they get a key?(24 Posts)
To put it in context - we separated about 4 months ago, DD is 9. I'm conscious that I need to leave it up to him how he chooses to take care of her, and not butt in too much. But on one of the days when she's at school, he'll be at work and won't make it home for when she gets off the bus. He's said he might give her a key, as it would only be for 10 minutes.
I think 9 is far too young to have the responsibility for a key, or to be left unattended. I also think it will be more like 40 minutes, but in any case - the car could break down, something could happen. I doubt it's even legal??!
He makes me feel like I'm being totally paranoid and unreasonable. Am I? Anyone else give their child a key at the age of 9?
NB there are other options / after school club etc, but has always had a 'thing' about using childcare, prefering to do it all himself.
What do you think?
I agree with you that 9 is too young to be left home alone, even for a short period. My DD is 10 and we don't yet leave her home alone.
I had a front door key at 8 and came home by myself, about a mile school to house, in the 80s. In hindsight I was way too young!
I do with my ten year old and he's home on his own for an hour before his sisters come home.
Depends on the child, but I think 9 is fine, if its for less than an hour, and in the day time, and if said child doesn't mind.
From Y6 (10-11) my two had keys.
It's all too easy to get delayed on our rural flood prone roads. Far better they can get in the warm than be left standing in the cold. Reliable neighbour will be at work. Other neighbour may be drunk.
I gave dc1 her own key when she started secondary school (late birthday so just 11). She comes home to an empty house as primary and secondary schools finish at same time but 20-30mins walk apart. She wouldn't have been happy to do that in yr6.
Dc2 is 10 and going into yr6. I would not feel confident about him coming home to an empty house yet although I have left him for short times to pop to shops etc. He would probably be ok with it though. I would not trust him not to lose a house key either.
How does your dd feel about it? Is there a friend she can play with or an after school club (football/cooking etc) that she could go to until your exh can collect her/be home?
Really difficult situation and understand you not wanting to interfere with his parenting but I agree that 9 is too young to be left alone or to be given a key. My instinct would be to speak to her father and arrange for DD only to be with him on days where he can make adequate childcare arrangements either using clubs/childcare or being there himself.
Good luck, not easy working out the boundaries and expectations x
9 is too young to leave except in an emergency when road accidents etc. mean you are way later than you would allow for. Half our meeting was 20 minutes late last week due to a burst water main taking out the main road.
And only if she can use a phone reliably.
DD1 would have been OK, although she still (at 15) sends infuriating information free texts.
DD2 would have panicked on arriving at an empty house.
My DD is 10 (just) and I'm about to give her a key in similar circumstances to your ex. Don't think 9 is way out of order is she's sensible and ok about it herself. Would drill her thoroughly at that age on how to make a phone call, whether to answer the door, not to play on trampoline,etc when on her own. Knowing which neighbours could be called on in an emergency is important too.
I would be happy with an eleven year old letting herself in and being alone for a short time in the situation you describe. Some ten year olds would probably be OK.
DD is 10 and has had a key for a few months. She has also been left on her own for short periods from around age 8, and is now happy to be left for a couple of hours (she is a mature and sensible 10yo, and has a phone).
It all really depends on the child and the circumstances - do you think she is sensible and responsible enough? Is she quite independent-minded and happy to be left on her own? Would she be happy letting herself into an empty house? Does she have a mobile phone to call for help if she lost her key or had some other problem? Are there friendly neighbours she knows?
Should have said - DD has a key because she sometimes walks home from school (15 minutes) or drama club (5 minutes) by herself.
I agree, I wouldn't be happy for a nine year old to be left on their own. Having said that, if this really is the only option at the moment, then it's best to have a key and have access indoors rather than be hanging around. Perhaps, an arrangement could be put in place with yourself/friend/family for times he may be delayed coming home and whoever can have her for a little while. Obviously if your daughter was concerned as there was no one around, she can at least give you a call.
Due to my college circumstances, I am giving dd2 (10.5, year 6) a key and she will come home from school by bus and let herself in once a week. I'm happy doing it, she's v sensible.
9 year old? I'm not sure. My instincts say prob too young but it really depends on the child. Some 9 year olds are more sensible than 11 year olds!
Thanks all it's been really interesting to hear that some do already do this, and also that I'm not unreasonable in being concerned.
I do think it's too rushed - we haven't left her alone at all, haven't had a chance to think about rules. Also there are other options - after school clubs, friends etc. It's just that my ex is very controlling and doesn't like to use outside help.
Also he's in a caravan at the moment, with a difficult door. Sometimes there's loads of people around, sometimes it's deserted (depending on the weather!)
I think she's excited at the prospect, but the reality would be different. She won't even go downstairs without me in the mornings!
I'll stick to my guns for the time being, even if it means he thinks I'm overstepping my boundaries.
If she doesn't want to go downstairs by herself and has never been left alone then she is definitely not ready to go home to an empty caravan! I'd go ahead and book her into after-school club, and work on building up her confidence and independence gradually.
I'd be concerned too in that set up. Before you leave kids alone there's a whole drill you should go through with them to make sure they know how to cope with x, y, z. And doesn't sound like you or he have done that with her yet. Caravan sites can be friendly places but also a bit of a magnet for odd bods with a fast changing population. It may also be more visible that she's there alone regularly than it would be in a house which would concern me too.
Well, the fact you've added all those details, changes things slightly, but my dd2 let herself in occasionally, having walked home from school, when she was 9. All these things depends so much on all the circumstances, and also the child's personality and the child's previous experience.
We have lovely neighbours, (mainly retired so some are always in), live next to a Drs (which is open when they get in from school), we had built up time when she was in the house without us, and she had experience of walking home on her own to the house when I was in, etc.etc. She was also confident and comfortable about being alone, which doesn't sound like your dd. It was also occasional, which is what your exdh seems to be suggesting. 10mins once a week is very different from 2 and half hours every day.
DD is nearly nine and I plan on giving her a key when we go back this term. But she is very sensible and we've been building up to it. I've left her for short periods when I go to the shop since she was pretty young, which I know always elicits gasps of horror on MNet.
But I agree with PPs. It sounds like she's not ready for it yet. It needs a bit of build up, as they can bottle it at the last minute.
Definitely agree it's very individual. Practice working up to being alone in own house for a bit before going straight to key and caravan.
My DC didn't have problem being alone for a while at age 9. But that was after lots of practice, knowing my mobile number by heart for years, knowing rules, etc. and that was also me departing from home to run errands. Arriving home alone with key responsibility is still a couple steps away for us.
Very individual and also dependent on the child. My ExH has been leaving DD home alone for up to an hour since she was 8 and also with OW's DD also 8.
I started leaving her for 10mins this summer, she can use phone, has basic first aid training (did course this summer), knows my mobile number off by heart and her full address.
She knows not to answer the door and to stay at the back of the house and I leave the dog with her.
9 is not too young to have a key and be left alone, unless the child is really lacking in common sense or accident prone or of a nervous disposition.
Mine had a key from the last half term of year four. She asked for one as she found the younger kids at the childminders annoying and it was only for twenty minutes. This was about a year after being left for ten minutes while I popped to the shops, in a house with good neighbours who held a spare key. The problem we then had was that my "nice, sensible" dd got hormones and became not so nice and sensible. Expect issues with answering the door when instructed not to, fridge raiding, having friends over unsupervised, trying to unlock child-safe settings on the sky box, trying to use my ebay account...
Even if all the above are normal, boundary pushing you think you can cope with, caravan and the lack of security would be a no-no for me.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.