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.)

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 14-Nov-12 22:16:22

We haven't yet, but I would leave my about to be 16 year old overnight. I'd leave the 14 year old tbh, but she probably wouldn't want to be left. We were actually talking about this today, and the 15 year old reckoned she'd be ok for 3 nights - guess we'd see how a night went before we left her for a weekend :-)

monstermissy Wed 14-Nov-12 22:20:18

I've left my 15 year old overnight, he is very sensible and mature. A real home bird so I don't worry. His younger brother I don't think I will ever leave anywhere at any age lol but he's only 10 at the moment. Two very different kids. Depends on the child and if they wanted to be left.

vicster44 Wed 14-Nov-12 22:20:58

I would probably leave for one night first to test the water - and agree 16 years old but it does depend on their maturity too

slambang Wed 14-Nov-12 22:21:48

My teens (not necessarily anyone else's)
a) overnight - 16
b) for a weekend - 17?
c) full week - 18??? (but I don't think I'd be comfortable with leaving anyone alone in my house for a week --even dh--)

It would all depend on lots of who with/ why/ how etc etc.

out2lunch Wed 14-Nov-12 22:22:43

17 or 18

webwiz Wed 14-Nov-12 22:24:03

We left DD2 and DS overnight when they were 17 and 14. We considered leaving DS on his own for one night in a couple of weeks (he would be a few days off his 16th birthday) but we don't need to now.

I would not have even contemplated leaving DD1 in the house even when she was 18 as she would have invited goodness knows who round hmm

AllDirections Wed 14-Nov-12 22:26:26

For a sensible child;
14/15 overnight
15/16 for a weekend
16 and already left school for a week

mumblechum1 Wed 14-Nov-12 22:27:43

a) overnight from 14.
b) weekend from 15 but with helpful neighbours
c) week from 16.5

But it was all a bit irrelevant as when he was 15 he travelled alone to the states, met up with a friend and they went wild camping for ten days in the Rockies with just a fishing rod, sharp knives and a spade and canoe and no humans for miles. Only bears grin. So leaving him in a Home Counties village with a full fridge and central heating wasn't exactly going to tax him too much

44SoStartingOver Wed 14-Nov-12 22:29:22

Based in my teenager, 35.

steppemum Wed 14-Nov-12 22:29:44

am amazed that some wouldn't do it until 17. I wonder if the issue is safety of the teen or worry that they will not be sensible in the house (party!)

I think I would at 15 overnight, not on school night. definitely would at 16, unless I didn't trust them not to trash the place!

How old is your dd?

steppemum Wed 14-Nov-12 22:47:27

actually I think I would overnight earlier than that if I could trust them. Full week would depend on who was around to keep an eye on them (neighbour)

purpleroses Wed 14-Nov-12 23:02:39

She's 15. Doesn't want to do family holidays any more (with either parent). Her mum said in that case she could stay home on her own. She can be v mature but spends a lot of time out with mates - including vague hanging out in parks type of socialising. DP and I fear she'd likely host a party which could get out of hand. I also feel that during Easter hols when revising GCSEs you kind of need a bit more looking after than that - someone to cook meals, ask how revision's going, etc. We can have her here for the week at Easter but had plans to be away at the weekend so she could be alone just a couple of nights (though still time for a party....) The summer is unresolved.

mummytime Wed 14-Nov-12 23:09:29

My kids have no choice about family holidays, eldest is 16. He has had a night alone, and I might also even trust him to babysit overnight. I would probably be less happy with the next one, 14 even when 15/16; but at present they would also be less happy.

steppemum Wed 14-Nov-12 23:14:21

I have to say that by the time the summer comes she will be 16 (presumably) and been old enough to leave school, get married and have kids. I think by then she should be able to stay on her own for a week.

Think if the issue is if she will have a party, then it is more about sitting her down and giving her ground rules, and finding some way of keeping tabs.

LowLevelWhinging Wed 14-Nov-12 23:21:54

cor that's a tricky one!

I was a reeeeally sensible teen (and I'm still sensible). But I had parties at the slightest opportunity at that age, so I would expect any teen of mine to.

I think it's very individual, but I'm guessing, if she's a park socialiser (as I was) they'd love the chance to be in a house. Is that unfair?

not that she's a bad 'un, or owt, just being realistic.

brighterfuture Thu 15-Nov-12 06:14:56

We left ds + 2 friends 16 alone for 4 days this summer when he refused to come on holiday with us.
I had a close neighbour keep an eye on him.
I whiffed a scent of a party in the planning on the 3rd night so phoned ds to say that some friends of ours were travelling through and would be turning up to sleep over in their camping car wink Next day phoned to say they'd changed their minds.
To be fair the house was immaculate. They hadn't touched the food I'd left but had cooked an enormous pan full of pasta which seemed to sustain them the whole time grin

QuiteOldGal Thu 15-Nov-12 06:31:41

16 - 17 for all, DS is quite mature and I must admit my main concern was he wouldn't get up for his part time job, so had to ring him early morning to make sure he was out of bed.

House was left immaculate each time, and the most he had done was had a few friends round for BBQ.

AllDirections Thu 15-Nov-12 07:23:19

I left my sensible 16 year old for the weekend with an equally sensible friend and my lovely neighbours looking out for them as well as the friend's lovely parents being local. I would have left her at 15.

I agree though Purple I wouldn't leave a child when they're revising for their GCSEs because I would want to support them and 'look after' them.

lubeybooby Thu 15-Nov-12 07:40:33

Depends on the child really and how sensible they are and how happy they are about being left, and if they have anyone they can go to or call in an emergency. I first left DD at 15 overnight. I encourage her to have one of her more sensible friends over.

She's 16 now and I would consider a weekend.

But I think they are maybe capable of more than we give them credit for - I was living in my own place with baby DD when I was 16. Successfully running a house and responsible for her full time and then from 17 all that plus work and study.

flow4 Thu 15-Nov-12 08:22:06

My concern is not so much my DS, but his friends and acquaintances. Teenagers are not usually the most thoughtful of people, and can be opportunistic. They'd be delighted they had a house to hang out in, and would 'use' it - not maliciously but thoughtlessly. I have had alcohol and small items stolen by unsupervised teenage visitors, and they have taken drugs in my house despite a strict ban, and (worst of all) someone took a key and then used it some time later (when I was in fact at home) to burgle my house and steal the TV.

Because of this - the fears and the reality - I left my DS alone for 2 days last summer when he was 16 - before all of this - and then not again until last weekend, when I left him for a single night. He was fine and so was the house, each time. But other than that DS2 and I haven't had a holiday or a break for more than 2 years, because DS1 wouldn't come with us, and I didn't want to leave him home alone.

Funnily enough, I was happier when he was a bit younger. I left him overnight a couple of times when he was 15, when I had work away from home and he didn't want to stay with friends. There were no problems at all, and he got himself up and sorted for school, and fed, and didn't have friends round.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Nov-12 08:28:41

I agree with lubeybooby.
I was quite happy leaving DSs- but not with the sort of pressure they would get from friends if they know they were home alone and for that reason I was unwilling to do it.

16 for a night or a weekend. Maybe 17 for longer.And not with siblings.
Agree not at all just prior to GCSEs.
It depends where you live as well. We are rural so it means friends would struggle to get here and equally he would be stuck without transport.
I plan on enticing persuading them to come on holiday with us for as long as possible.

musicposy Fri 16-Nov-12 23:48:03

Well, when DD1 was moaning about coming camping for a couple of days with us last year (at 15 1/2) I said she could stay at home if she wanted. In the end she came!

My 13 year old I wouldn't leave overnight, though today I had to leave her from 5.30am as I had to take DD1 to an exam in London, and she was fine.

We're too rural here to have parties without every single friend's parent knowing about it, unless they're going to go 4 miles on shanks pony to get here grin I also don't think my two would dare!

As far as they live at home, I'd expect them to come on family holidays tbh and not let them opt out. But we have left 17 and 15 year old together overnight and they've been fine. I'd be be happy now to leave them if dp and I had a weekend away, but for a 'family holiday' I'd expect them to be with us.

Auds12 Sun 18-Nov-12 10:55:07

I left my 16 year old boy recently overnight . I was more worried than he was ! He is a sensible boy and to be honest he was looking forward to a night on his own ! I did call and text him a couple of times but he was absolutely fine. We are contemplating a weeks holiday next year and I'm worrying about leaving him for a week .... He will be 17 then ! .... As mums we just worry about them all the time no matter what the age !

MotherfuckingMorrisMan Sun 18-Nov-12 11:03:23

I agree with remus - it's not really been optional for famil holidays. It is taken as a given that holidays include her, she hasn"t got an opportunity to opt out. I wouldn't pander to that tbh.

But home alone - dd was 16 when I left her overnight, I think she would have been fine before that but the issue didn't come up before.

flow4 Sun 18-Nov-12 11:31:40

I think the 'family holiday' issue is slightly different. For many families, a holiday is a significant expense. It can feel galling and pointless to force them to come on a holiday they don't want, if it is also costing you an extra few hundred pounds (or more) that you can ill afford.

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.

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...

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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!

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.

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 19:58:17

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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?

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.

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