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14 year old home alone?

(22 Posts)
bingawinga Sat 01-Oct-16 03:48:37

Would be really grateful for your opinions on this: an acquaintance of mind told me he and his wife left their 14 year old son alone for a week in their house over the summer holidays. I was completely shocked (I wouldn't leave mine for a night alone), but he just said they were quite chilled about things like that. They live in a village with many friends nearby. Am I completely old-fashioned? Or is this - as I thought but didn't actually say - incredibly reckless behaviour? I ask because I almost feel like I should say something to him, but I don't want to come across as a busy-body if this is normal these days.

BastardGoDarkly Sat 01-Oct-16 04:11:49

A week??! No, I wouldn't, poor kid.

But it's not illegal, and I guess he can look after himself ok sad

notyounanbread Sat 01-Oct-16 04:13:55

There is no legal age limit on children being left at home alone but there are government guidelines which suggest under 16 year olds should not be left overnight. I deal with child protection issues at work and I would report this to Children's Services. It depends on the maturity of the child but I think 14 is far too young.

JustDanceAddict Sat 01-Oct-16 09:21:28

A week - no way. I leave mine during a working day and for an evening, but never overnight. I can't see that happening for a long time.

swingofthings Sat 01-Oct-16 09:53:25

A week nights AND days? Or was it a misunderstanding and they meant every day in the week but someone was home at night?

I believe my boy could do it as his sister before at that age but I would never contemplate at that age even if somehow mature enough it's really not a nice thing to do.

corythatwas Sat 01-Oct-16 10:50:29

While I am sure I could have coped absolutely fine as a 14yo (and so would my ds), I just can't get my head around why you would want to do that. [shocked]

My parents looked forward to the summer holidays because they could spend time with us. Knowing this was how they felt was important to me and still is. And however much ds has grumbled about being dragged around ancient ruins, at least he knows we wanted him there and it does make a difference to him.

bingawinga Sat 01-Oct-16 11:48:14

Thank you for taking the time to reply - I thought it was wrong, just needed some other views.

leonardthelemming Sat 01-Oct-16 21:46:44

There is no legal age limit on children being left at home alone but there are government guidelines which suggest under 16 year olds should not be left overnight.

But don't you think these guidelines are a bit silly? 16-year-olds can leave home and live independently. It's not the usual thing to do, but it's not that uncommon either. So, in principle, a 16-year-old can be left alone indefinitely and, even if they have no intention of leaving home at that age, my view is that parents have a responsibility to prepare them, just in case. So they need to practise.

Having said that, a whole week at 14 is possibly a bit ambitious, but the occasional overnight wouldn't be, followed by the occasional weekend at 15, perhaps extending to a week as they approach 16.

And I would certainly not report it unless you have evidence that the 14-y-o was actually at risk.

Hulababy Sat 01-Oct-16 21:57:43

I have a 14y and, as a result, have a few friends/people I know, who have 14yos.

None would leave their 14y overnight alone, without an adult - or at least a much older teen (17/18y) staying with them. Certainly never a week!

Most, if not all, spend the odd day home alone, and some the evenings. DD has babysat for younger children until around midnight for example.

But 14y aren't really the right age yet to leave overnight fending for themselves.

16y for overnights and lengthy time periods maybe. And yes, I know technically a 16y can live alone etc. but the vast majority don't actually do that for another couple of years after that.

DiegeticMuch Sat 01-Oct-16 23:42:56

Most 14y olds would cope ok with a week alone. Whether they 'should', is another question.....

Quietlygoingmad67 Sat 01-Oct-16 23:49:58

I have a 14yo and I wouldn't leave her overnight on her own. She is independent and can look after herself (prepare and cook food - iron etc) but I wouldn't feel right leaving her for a WHOLE week!

leonardthelemming Sun 02-Oct-16 07:49:51

*DD has babysat for younger children until around midnight for example.

But 14y aren't really the right age yet to leave overnight fending for themselves.*

These two statements seem incompatible to me. If it's OK to leave a 14-yo to look after a child until midnight - and I've met many people who would do that - then why are they not old enough to spend the next few hours by themselves (when they will probably be sleeping, anyway)?

Obviously I'm not advocating abandoning a young teen if they don't want to be left, but if they are comfortable with it then it's good experience. This cotton wool culture doesn't help young people to develop into confident adults, it just forces them into a sort of extended childhood that goes beyond the natural end point.

angus6 Sun 02-Oct-16 08:08:18

As someone who left home at 17, I find the idea that a young person should not be left home alone overnight until 16 a bit bizarre.

A week alone at 14 is on the edge of what I would deem acceptable, but if as in this case there is plenty of people nearby to call on in an emergency and to keep an eye on the child, then it's probably ok.

I certainly don't think it needs reporting to anyone. They left the child presumably with food, water and shelter, people close by to support in an emergency and look out for them and no doubt were in contact with the child themselves several times a day. It's hardly abandonment.

Hefezopf Sun 02-Oct-16 08:11:26

A night or possibly two would be fine in these circumstances I think. A whole week seems quite lonely for the 14yo.

SB3008 Sun 02-Oct-16 08:11:45

My parents are leaving my (much younger) 16 year old sister at home next week whilst they go away for 2 weeks. She has just started college and although we offered, it's not really feasible for her to stay with us as they have a dog and we have cats.

She is being left in the care of our nana. I use the word 'care' loosely as I'm sure my sister will be doing the cooking/dishes etc. But at least there will be someone with her. We will go round a few times too.

I don't think my parents left me for more than a night between ages of 16-18 and never before then.

Hulababy Sun 02-Oct-16 10:18:20

Leonard - to me they are different.

Babysitting - she's up, watching TV, getting food and drink, etc but knowing someone is heading home soon.

Home overnight alone - going off to bed and making sure everything is locked and secure etc, no adult heading back, relying on teen to get up again next day, etc.

Yes, they might be capable of it. But at 14 I still don't think they should be doing it. I'd wait a couple of years personally.

Hulababy Sun 02-Oct-16 10:21:26

And FEIW brother me nor DH were left overnight til older. And first time I was left for longer I was in upper sixth so 17/18, when parents when on holiday.

Both of us have managed to grow up as happy normal adults, capable of living and working with our own home and families to look after. We both coped with university life independently etc.

So I don't think you have to leave your 14y overnight alone for them to develop into confident and independent adults.

Beebeeeight Sun 02-Oct-16 10:32:42

I think it depends on how safe/ isolated the house is.

If there's a ndn they can buzz on that's better than an isolated farmhouse.

BadToTheBone Sun 02-Oct-16 10:38:40

My ds is 15 now but he was 14 over the summer and no way would I leave him overnight, although I'm happy to leave him during the day and he travels on trains alone etc. He'd be nocturnal within the first 24 hours!

gillybeanz Sun 02-Oct-16 10:39:30

I could have left mine at this age, they could certainly look after themselves and our home. I know i could trust them all at this age, some even younger.

I wouldn't though as I can't imagine being in a position when I'd want to tbh.

CancellyMcChequeface Sun 02-Oct-16 10:51:22

I think it depends entirely on the 14-year-old. Some couldn't be trusted or wouldn't be safe/able to cope for various reasons, but others would be absolutely fine. I don't think it's reckless of your acquaintance - he knows his son.

I often looked after younger siblings overnight at 14, and was on my own for 3 weeks at 16 while the rest of the family were on holiday (my choice!). I knew how to cook, do housework, etc. and was a bookish introvert in no danger of throwing parties or otherwise causing trouble while parents were away. There are teenagers much less mature than I was at that age, but equally there are teenagers living on their own who are much more mature! It all depends on the individual.

foolonthehill Mon 03-Oct-16 12:22:10

Before we moved my next door neighbour was a 15 year old with a nearly 1 year old child. ....
She was running her own life and the child's ,pretty much unsupported day to day and was pretty capable and good at asking for advice when she needed. There were others before her far less capable...but they still had to get on with it and muddle their way through. If the state is putting children in this position surely nothing can be done to parents for making judgments about their own children

If the parents are happy, the child is happy,the village is friendly and there are people near by why would you "report" anyone. and what would you think would/want to happen if you did?

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