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Advice for DP please? Home alone DC's!

(20 Posts)
NotaDisneyMum Thu 11-Aug-11 21:57:05

DP discovered this evening that SD13 is left home alone regularly by her mum for several hours at a time into the late evening, and has been left overnight on occasion in the past. This evening, SD is home alone, and her mum is not available by mobile phone - and SD had no details of neighbours or other relatives that she could contact. The only instruction SD was given by her mum was what time to go to bed. DP has told her by phone to call him if she needs to.

DP doesn't know if SS8 has been left in his sisters sole care in the past - SS is currently with us.

What, if anything, can DP do?

There is a Court Order placing residency with their mum, and a contact order in relation to SS, but only a recital regarding SD.

theredhen Fri 12-Aug-11 07:23:21

To be honest I see very little wrong in leaving a 13 year old home alone for a few hours. I don't think over nights are on though. There was a thread in a i b u a little while ago where an 8 year old was left home alone everyday for several hours and the general consensus was that people thought this was ok. I personally don't agree but a 13 year old is different

Dsd should have some sort of emergency plan though . How far away are you? Does she live close to neighbours? Could she go to them in a crisis?

NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 07:39:01

The neighbours are unknown to DSD family (and elderly, so probably wouldn't answer the door late into the evening) and DSD chooses not to have contact with DP ( for fear of getting into trouble) so it is very unlikely that she'd call him.

Their mum works shifts, so I doubt that this is a one-off; DSD gave DP attitude and basically told him it was a regular occurrence, including overnight, and she's been fine, so what's the problem?

DSD is not mature and sensible by any means - shes one who takes advantage of opportunities and has little concept of personal responsibility or risk sad

cjbartlett Fri 12-Aug-11 07:43:49

Well it's very hard to get childcare if you work shift work
Sounds like she's doing the best she can sad
perhaps dh could give more maintenance so she doesn't have to do shifts or something? Or she stay with you on shift nights?

ladydeedy Fri 12-Aug-11 08:20:13

I would be v concerned at this. I am not sure there is much you can do though. I dont think 13 is old enough to be left at home for hours and certainly not overnight. I dont know what to suggest though, sorry, but wanted to say I agree with you. we have had same issue in the past with DSS.

redfairy Fri 12-Aug-11 09:17:22

I think being left in the evenings at 13 is fine but there should be contact plan in place for any unforseen circumstances.
Overnights is a little different. If it's at all possible perhaps you could help out there if mum is having work related childcare difficulties.
I think offering some support rather than looking for legal redress might be a less contentious line to take. Remember to now you only have snapshot of one evening and have made some assumptions. Try to keep it in perspective and chat directly with mum who can give you the facts (assuming she is willing to converse - not always possible I know) smile

NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 09:40:36

fairy (and cj) Their mum would rather DP was not a part of their lives at all - she refuses all attempts at conversation or mediation - I think DP plans to talk to Social Services for advice this morning sad


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NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 13:16:07

Social Services have advised DP to go and get legal advice; while they can't do anything 'unless something happens', they have indicated that they would certainly support court intervention that avoids under 16s being home alone; particularly overnight.

God only knows how much this will cost them both in legal fees just to keep the DSC safe - why can't their parents just converse like adults? sad


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NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 14:50:36

MJ I think DPs concern at this point is that it is only a matter of time before DSS(just 8) is left in his sisters care overnight (assuming it hasn't happened already). DPs not happy about DSD being left alone when there is an alternative, but recognises that it will only be addressed if DSD befalls some harm.

It's worth mentioning that I won't take sole charge of DSS on a regular/prolonged basis because he refuses to listen and is defiant (not just to me, but all adults, including both his parents). Couple that with the fact that his sister bullies him both verbally and physically, and DP thinks that DSS will be at significant risk in DSD care for 12+ hours.

Even if all their mother gets at this stage is a letter from DPs solicitor setting out DPs concerns, hopefully it will make her think before she disappears off overnight, leaving both the children, when she can't be contacted (she wasn't working last night, she was socialising, but not answering her phone).

All DP wants to do is discuss possible alternatives - but his exW refuses all attempts at conversation or mediation; the only thing that has ever resulted in her temporarily acknowledging DPs role in his childrens life is legal action by him - and even then, she was yelling at her barrister before the family court hearing!

As an aside, it's frustrating that even after the events of last week, when unsupervised young teenagers went on the rampage, society still does not expect parents to supervise their children sad


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Petal02 Fri 12-Aug-11 15:02:46

We often left DSS alone during the day when he was 13 – if he was with us during school holidays, then DH and I would both be at work, and we didn’t have any choice. The ex wasn’t very keen on this, and ironically she wasn’t working at the time, so if she’s been REALLY bothered about it, we could simply have sent DSS back to his mothers …….. The ex knew darn fine the DH couldn’t readily take time off, so even though she was sitting at home watching Judge Judy, she still wouldn’t have DSS if he was rota’d to be with us.

That aside, I didn’t think there was a legal limit about when you could leave teenagers home alone during the day? I though it was down to parental discretion?

In an ideal world, any youngster would always have parental supervision, but in practice it just doesn’t happen.


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NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 15:39:31

The US family law system allows for 'the right of first refusal', so if the parent who is caring for the child can't for any reason, the other parent must legally be given the chance to care for the child first, in favour of step parents and other family members as well as professional/informal childcare.

I wish the UK system was as progressive in that regard wink

NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 16:07:17

petal - it is the fact that DSD is left overnight (12+ hours at a time) that particularly concerns DP; especially as DSD is totally clueless when it comes to dealing with emergencies; the only instructions left by her Mum was what time she should go to bed.
DSD has no idea where the trip switches are, that the mains gas/water stopcocks even exist, will happily tells cold callers that her Mum is out, and has a very limited understanding of personal safety. She was totally stumped when DP asked her what she would do if she couldn't get hold of her mum in an emergency.

This is not a savvy 13 year old who is self sufficient and takes it in her stride - she seems to get a thrill out of being left alone, and bragging about it......which suggests to me that she is not yet mature enough for that level of responsibility.

I appreciate that nothing can be done if her mother believes differently, but hoped that someone might have been in a similar situation and could give some advice based on their experience.....hmm

Petal02 Fri 12-Aug-11 17:20:40

Sorry, I clearly didn't read this properly. I don't think it's right for a 13 yr old to be left with a 8 yr old overnight, that' s surely neglect?

NotaDisneyMum Fri 12-Aug-11 17:54:30

DP doesn't know for sure if DSS has ever been left overnight or for long periods late into the evening with DSD (yet), but DSD openly stated that she has been left overnight and for long evenings - at this stage, we are presuming that it is while DSS is visiting us.

DP is very concerned, both about DSD being alone for such long periods, and the possibility that DSS could be left with her; and wants to discuss alternatives, but is unable to do that directly due to the poor relationship between himself and his exW. I appreciate I am only seeing things from one side, but DP has sought mediation, attended the "putting children first" workshops and repeatedly tried to engage his exW about care for the DSC while their mum is working, but his exW refuses to talk, and makes (in DP's opinion, unsatisfactory) arrangements for the children which they have openly complained about.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 14-Aug-11 21:01:19

Well, miracles do happen - despite a VERY hostile and defensive email response to DPs request to discuss the issue, he persevered and spoke to his exW today.

He believes that she was genuinely horrified by the idea that she would ever leave DSD home alone overnight at her age, and volunteered that she would never leave DSD supervising DSS for more than a few minutes.

DP is now confident that DSD was lying to him to try and get him off her back; I doubt it occurred to her that her parents might put aside their differences for long enough to catch her out!

Hopefully, things will get better from now on, but I'm not too optimistic wink

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