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AIBU to be gobsmacked that 2/3 of parents want to lose their right to parent in the way they think best?

(65 Posts)
Tzibeleh Sat 15-Nov-14 18:06:09

Who are these parents? Clearly not MNers! Do they truly believe that their 11yo should go off to secondary on public transport, but not ever be left alone at home? Are they such pathetic parents that they need Nanny State to decide everything for them? Thank goodness no politicians are currently thinking of making this law, but just wait until someone thinks it might be a vote-grabber.

TheAlias Sat 15-Nov-14 18:15:31

This made me raise my eyebrows too OP, as apparently I'm a terribly lax parent. Around here I have a reputation for being strict and late to allow freedoms but I have been leaving my 11yo home alone for short periods for a while now. I was left much younger myself.

I agree that an 8yo shouldn't be left though.

I wonder how the questions were put. i.e is it really we need to be told, or we need to know what the ages are in law so that we can't be accused of neglect by neighbours or SS? Is it more about parents wanting to feel they are protected than protecting the children IYSWIM.

Tzibeleh Sat 15-Nov-14 20:47:12

Why should the ages be defined in law? Why should a parent be criminalised because of their child's maturity? Why should we be obliged to retard our children's development, if, in our judgement they are ready for the next step?

If a minimum'home alone' age was set in law, what effect would that have on other freedoms, like walking to and from school alone?

This is not the law's business.

Tzibeleh Sat 15-Nov-14 20:48:17

I really cannot believe parents could want this.

5madthings Sat 15-Nov-14 20:51:39

That's crazy! It depends on the child! I have had to treat ds1, ds2 and ds3 differently in this respect as ds1 and ds3 were able to be left at an earlier age as they were far more responsible. Ditto letting them walk to shops/school/park etc, all freedoms I give each child when they seem ready and that will vary depending on the child.

You can't have a blanket 'rule'.

GertrudePerkins Sat 15-Nov-14 20:54:29

I was shocked by this too.

I have one level-headed, responsible, mature-for-age kid, and one Tasmanian devil type, and so feel very much that age should not be the significant factor in risk-assessing pretty much anything to do with the safety of individual children.

Plus round here there is no afterschool provision for secondary age children, so I'm not entirely sure what anyone with the temerity to work a 9-5 job would do.

Mintyy Sat 15-Nov-14 20:54:51

"In the poll the age of 12 was the youngest age at which most parents felt comfortable leaving a child at home for an hour, with 61 per cent saying that this would be generally safe."

^ that is a very woolly and unclear analysis. So do they mean 51% would be comfortable with leaving a 12 year old home alone for an hour and 61% think this is generally safe?

What about 3 hours?

Or in charge of a sibling?

From my experience on Mumsnet, I am in the fairly liberal camp about this.

It would be utterly ridiculous to make it illegal to leave anyone less than 12 years old alone in the house.

My children walked themselves to and from primary school less than 5 minutes walk away in years 5 and 6. How would this new law view that?

Pixel Sat 15-Nov-14 22:57:21

Why is the answer to anything always to pass another law when the only thing needed in most cases is some common sense?
We can't carry on making laws just because a few people are not capable of basic parenting decisions. We'll soon be breaking the law every time we turn round.

TheHoneyBadger Sun 16-Nov-14 09:08:22

there is no way they'd pass that as law - how could they compel single mothers to work and be expected to travel an hour each way to get to a job if it was illegal to leave a child to let themselves in or out? they'd happily see a return to latch key child culture so they're not going to go in the opposite direction.

if it was illegal to leave a child alone it would be illegal to compel someone to work where childcare was not available. back when as a lone parent you were only compelled to work from when your child turned 12 (essentially agreeing that up till that age a child needed someone at home before and after school) this could have happened. they've made it compulsory from 5 without adding to wraparound care requirements, budgets or anything now.

tobysmum77 Sun 16-Nov-14 18:55:35

its an utterly ridiculous idea not least because the less responsible would think 12 - yeah great I'll go to Benidorm for a week then, while stopping Pele leaving their 10 year old watching telly for 10 minutes while they pop to the shop. utterly ludicrous.

Where is the evidence that harm is coming to 10 year olds left for a few minutes?

tobysmum77 Sun 16-Nov-14 18:56:03

people not Pele grin

Idontseeanysontarans Tue 25-Nov-14 20:03:01

So in theory what would happen if I left my 14 year old son in charge of my 9 year old daughter for an hour?
Would it be ok because he's over 12 or not ok because she's under?
(I do regularly do this by the way, he also babysits his toddler sister for the odd hour if I need to pop to the shop.)
People haven't thought this through have they?

TheHoneyBadger Wed 26-Nov-14 12:35:14

as far as i know the 9 yo is ok left alone for an hour but complications and problems occur when you leave a child in charge of another.

TheHoneyBadger Wed 26-Nov-14 12:36:49

reality s though these are not governed by law and there is actually plenty of room for parental decisions and common sense. it only comes into play if there is a problem or ss involvement and that judgement is questioned in light of wider concerns i think.

so a perfectly fine family leaving a 9yo for an hour occassionally is not going to be a problem, in a family with other concerns and issues going on that might be seen as a factor in wider picture of neglect for example.

BerylStreep Wed 26-Nov-14 17:37:31

This is interesting. I have felt very comfortable leaving my responsible 9 year old at home for a couple of hours, which I did little by little in teaching her responsibility. However, since a number of recent cases have been publicised, I have had a work colleague take me to one side saying to be careful, because what I am doing is illegal. As far as I was aware, it isn't - it is up to the parent to risk assess responsibly.

How are children supposed to learn responsibility if we don't let them? Are we all suddenly going to leave our 12 year olds to their own devices once they turn 12? I think all it has done has confused matters.

TheHoneyBadger Wed 26-Nov-14 21:05:42

this is all there is from

"The law doesn’t say an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it’s an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.
Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone."

TheHoneyBadger Wed 26-Nov-14 21:10:05

my ds is 7.5 and fine left alone for half an hour or so whilst i pop to the shops - i can imagine him being ok for longer by 9 if it was in the daytime and in our current living situation and neighbourhood where he could access people he knows if he needed them.

by 11 many kids were letting themselves in from school and cooking themselves a snack and hanging out for a couple of hours at home after school. nowadays probably most people would be horrified by that idea but i'm not sure that is rational.

then again if you have totally molly coddled your kids up to that point maybe they couldn't be trusted to be safe and sensible for a couple of hours by that point.

DazzleU Wed 26-Nov-14 21:43:34

I wondered if the parents they asked had very young DC - toddlers and not older DC that have gained some independence and I wonder how the question was actually framed?

I can leave my 9 year old for 20-40 minutes happily - it's not going to be the same for the next DC - he 7 and he can do stupid/dangerous/things he knows he not supposed to when I'm in the next room.

My eldest will be 11 her entire first year of secondary - late Aug birthday - there is no childcare at that age so am I supposed not to work?

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Nov-14 08:03:29

dazzle there's a thread in active at the minute about this and i'm amazed at the number of people who won't even leave a 12yo alone for an hour. i had my first job at 12!

oen1 Thu 27-Nov-14 08:24:16

A bit off topic, but still related to this, I have an almost 12 year old DS. For the last 2 years I have been leaving him at home for short spells of up to an hour, and both him and his 9 year old brother have been allowed to go around our local pedestrianised town together for the last year. They've been allowed to go to the park alone for a few years and often go exploring the woods around us. When I've mentioned this to some other parents they have been horrified. We live in a town that has a very low crime rate and I firmly believe that children need to be doing these things in order to gain confidence in making their own decisions without parents telling them what the best, safest decision is all the time.

DS1 started senior school in September and has absolutely thrived in the new environment. Those parents who were horrified at my lax attitude now have very unhappy almost 12 year olds (in almost all cases) who are struggling with the independence that senior school has thrust upon them and are not enjoying school (wanting to be back in primary).

Just an observation...

DustInTheWind Thu 27-Nov-14 08:52:58

Isn't 10 the age of legal responsibility for your actions, or has that changed too?

MarjorieMelon Thu 27-Nov-14 08:58:41

I leave my year 6 son for brief periods when it is necessary.
Recently he was off sick with tonsillitis and I left him at home for the school run trip which is a round trip of 20 minutes (walk).If I hadn't left him at home I would either have had to take him out in the cold when he was unwell or keep my younger child off school.

My child walks to school without me and in the lighter months he meets friends at the park or walks into town. Therefore why can he not stay at home on his own for short periods?

BerylStreep Tue 02-Dec-14 20:38:33

I'm really glad to hear some like minded views here.

When I was 7 I was walking 3 miles each way to and from school.
At 8, I was walking my 4 & 5 year old sisters to school.
At age 11, me and my 8 year old sister were main carers for my Mum & other sisters who had developed a serious illness and were bed-bound for about 4 months. We did all the shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking & caring.
I bought my first house when I was 19 ...

Yes, there will always be things that could go wrong, but how are we going to teach our children any confidence and life lessons if we don't let them out of our sight?

TheHoneyBadger Wed 03-Dec-14 11:39:19

beryl it is an interesting area to think about really. we are definitely massively prolonging childhood nowadays. in some ways that's great eg. i wouldn't want my son up a chimney etc at 7 but in other ways i think we're doing them a disservice and artificially creating developmental delays that are hard to make up for later on. re: there's a time in our development where we're primed to become more independent, develop more self sufficiency, get to grips with responsibility etc and maybe missing that window has an effect?

i worry that by totally sheltering kids from independence, responsibility and kills development whilst they're living with us and have us as back up and safety net and guidance they get landed with having to learn all of that for themselves without guidance or support and safety nets when they do finally leave home at which time they have everything to cope with at once with no skills to do so.

one thought that comes to me is that at 18 years of age our kids can legally sign loan agreements that effect the rest of their lives (especially with uni fees as they are now) and take out overdrafts etc etc etc - the banking industry is shoving this stuff at them as if it was free and had no consequences. how does a child who has never had ANY responsibility or worked a day in their life or understood that a family has to make ends meet and pull their weight etc (whatever) understand what they're signing and it's implications?

that's just one example but i think we are recklessly suddenly handing out adult reigns to 18 year olds who've been kept in perpetual babyhood up to that point.

that does them no favours.

TheHoneyBadger Wed 03-Dec-14 11:43:08

btw that doesn't mean i think we should delay the adult reigns even further (we're now forcing kids to stay at school till 18 which is bad enough just to keep them off the unemployment stats) but that we should be preparing them earlier.

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