What age should you leave a teenager home alone overnight?

(53 Posts)
purpleroses Wed 14-Nov-12 22:02:53

DP and his ex are in dispute about whether his DD1 is old enough to be left alone at home overnight. To get some perspective, what age did you first/would you leave your teenager on their own a) overnight b) for a weekend and c) for a full week?

(teenager is normally sensible and reasonably mature but sociable and inclined to push boundaries.)

purpleroses Wed 28-Nov-12 20:39:19

We might think about her bringing a friend except we have 6 DCs between us so that would be rather a lot.

ClippedPhoenix Wed 28-Nov-12 15:23:21

DS is nearly 15 and very sensible. 16 for a night. Not a whole weekend until 17/18. Would you not think about her bringing along a friend on holiday?

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 17:21:27

I would be worried about the state my house would be in at any age tbh, but I lived on my own from the day after my 16th birthday so I do find it ridiculous people saying 17/18 before a weekend away. shock

5madthings Mon 26-Nov-12 17:16:12

my ds1 is 13 and i would leave him overnight on his own, he is very sensible.

a weekend by 15/16 and i guess the same for a week? it all depends on the child tho, they are all so different and if i left a teen for a week i would be letting my neighbours know and making sure someone popped in etc to check they were ok.

BackforGood Mon 26-Nov-12 17:10:53

What exoticfruits said - it's more about what friends would do / pressure him into doing. I'd be happy for ds (16) to go off camping with his mates without us (indeed he has done) but that's different from leaving him in our home. He's too trusting and friendly.
dd1 I expect I'd be happy to leave at a younger age - she's more likely to think things through, and not as likely as ds to do things on impulse.

FWIW my 16 yr old was a gadzillion times more sensible at 14.

scaevola Sun 25-Nov-12 20:31:53

I doubt anyone would criticise you for leaving a 16 year old even for a week.

But I would worry about what they might let happen in your house whilst you're away (possibly inadvertently, depending on how much they put on FB).

You could probably go down to 14 or 15 for a single night is they are already accustomed to being by themselves. I wouldn't do this for my 14yr old though; for although I think he is both sensible and competent, I'd worry it was too lonely.

NulliusInBlurba Sun 25-Nov-12 20:29:02

oops, should be without adult supervision in the previous post! Amazing how one can get the whole meaning of a sentence back to front by missing out a few letters.

NulliusInBlurba Sun 25-Nov-12 20:27:59

DD1 is 14 and would be able to cope fine by herself overnight. The only reason we haven't done so is because we wouldn't want to leave DD2 (10) with adult supervision overnight. However, we've been going out in the evening without a babysitter for several years now (coming back around midnight), and nothing untoward has ever happened. No fires, no zombie attacks, no mad rapists.

Given that DD1 will probably doing a 3 month language exchange to France next year, when she's 15, staying with a host family, I think she's ready to manage for a few nights without us. However, I do expect both of them to come on summer holiday with us until they're 16 at least, for the sake of family unity. We tend to do action holidays which the kids really enjoy, so up until now they've voluntarily come along.

ravenAK Sun 25-Nov-12 20:07:51

Overnight from 13.

Really, though, by 16, if they aren't old enough to be left - for a weekend or a week- at an age when they could legally be married, I'd be a bit worried tbh.

I'd be concerned about likelihood of partying getting out of hand, but would expect dc to be able to fend for themselves by early/midteens.

What do you do with teenagers that makes them so keen to come?

I think it's the type of holidays we go on OP. We are not sunbathers (all redheads!) and so do lots of activities, walking up mountains, through caves etc. They both like history & art so are happy to do cultural visits also.

I feel I need to point out they do go on separate holidays with their friends. They don't love us THAT much grin

purpleroses Sun 25-Nov-12 19:58:17

I'm very envy of those of you who are saying your kids still love coming on holiday with you. I'm kind of hoping my own two go on wanting to do so, but the DSC are so negative about holidays sad

What do you do with teenagers that makes them so keen to come? Or is it just luck what kind of child you get?

I certainly wouldn't leave a 15 year old for a week, and would be surprised if there wasn't 'guidance' about that, if not an actual law.

Our dds are still happy to come on family holidays, aged 17 and 15, although it takes more thought now to keep everybody happy. Short city breaks tend to work better than a fortnight or week away now.

purpleroses Sun 25-Nov-12 19:53:40

I don't think there's a legal requirement - it's more that if something happened and social services or the police were involved they could accuse the parent of being negligent if the DC is under 16. But if they were fine, then it's not automatically against the law to leave a younger one alone.

DP has now agreed that DSD will stay with us for most of the time her mum wants to go away at Easter, and stay one night at her mum's alone (when we're away). For the summer she's still saying she doesn't want to do family holidays. She'll be 16 by then so I'm not sure we can force her, or would want to try. And I don't see why we and the other kids shouldn't get a holiday just because she doesn't want to come.

Our DSs (20 & 18) are showing no signs of wanting to stop coming on family holidays. We love their company but look forward to the day our holiday bill is cut in half!

olivevoir58 Sun 25-Nov-12 19:47:26

What is the legal position? I thought they had to be 16 before you can legally leave overnight?

frantic51 Sun 25-Nov-12 01:13:50

I think generally 16 overnight 17 for a weekend I wouldn't leave them any longer under 18 but that's partly because we live in a small village with very little public transport so they'd have to drive to get shopping etc.

Not had any trouble re family holidays yet. They all clamoured to come this year and they are 17, 19 and 21! grin

Viperidae Sun 25-Nov-12 00:57:41

DS was happy to be left well before I felt happy about leaving him (for no reason other than being the world's most over-anxious mother according to him!) DD is 22 and still doesn't like being left.

bruffin Sun 25-Nov-12 00:52:59

I havent done it yet, dcs 17 and 15. However ds has been on holiday with his gf when he was 16, so wouldnt worry about him mow. Not sure about Dd, dont think she would want to.

CarpeThingy Sat 24-Nov-12 13:07:17

My dd will be 14 next month. I only recently started leaving her for a couple of hours in the evening, but that's because of her 11-yr-old sister.

I'd leave her on her own now in an emergency (like dh away and dd2 in hospital or something) and I know she'd be fine. But I'd probably wait until 15 or 16 before leaving her overnight voluntarily. We have neighbours who'd keep an eye for parties emergencies, and my sister lives about a mile away.

exoticfruits Sat 24-Nov-12 13:06:04

As I said earlier it is nothing to do with whether they can manage it-it is all to do with their friends and pressure to have a party while parents are away-and where they live.

ThePlEWhoLovedMe Sat 24-Nov-12 12:43:01

wow fairly shocked at some of the answers. I would leave a 15 year old for a week alone. A 14 yr old for a weekend and a 13 yr old for a one off night.

Obviously this would depend on the child / living situation / emergency plans being put in place.

Bigwuss Sat 24-Nov-12 08:38:29

Wow mini monty, got a 14yo? If you have, you have obviously been very lucky.

MiniMonty Sat 24-Nov-12 05:17:20

People - grow up...
If your 14 yr old is not responsible enough to spend a night or two alone in their own home you have been getting a lot of things seriously wrong for the last 14 years...

My oldest is 16.5 and I wouldn't leave him alone overnight unless I needed to.

1) lately (last month or two) any sensibility he had has gone completely and utterly out of the window. He is acting like he has had a lobotomy or something. Really stupid crap. Nothing life-threatening, but inconsiderate and potentially damaging to stuff.

2) he gets lonely and doesn't enjoy being home alone for really long periods and we have had no need to go anywhere overnight.

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