What age was your child when you started leaving him home alone?

Answer the thread title. This is something people don’t talk about because of how other people might react. So lets see the average here.

More than one choice is allowed for those with multiple children.

Can’t answer the question as stated. What do you mean by “leave home alone?”
For how long – 1 minutes? 10 minutes? All Day?
Daytime or Nighttime?
Awake or asleep?
I’m sure I’m missing some more questions here…

Or do you mean when did I stop thinking about whether or not I can leave a child alone in the house under any and all circumstances for any length of time including over-night?

Not Enough Data.

Also, for those of us with more children, does leaving multiple children (such that the elder is looking after the younger) count as alone?

Lets go with more than two hours. Sleeping also counts.

I guess after two hours you have to start worrying about the kid eating. So now were talking about leaving him along without worrying that he’ll freak out, get kidnapped, attacked by terrorists, or somehow get trouble while you’re gone.

ETA: Marienee, that doesn’t count as alone for the younger child. But it does count as being alone for the older one.

I think Youngest will be about, oh, 40 before I can leave him alone without thinking he will get up to something or other while I am gone. But I can’t use that as a yardstick as he gets up to something or other while I am home often enough.

Food has not yet been an issue for us, my kids are 10 and 7 and have been able to get themselves something to eat for a couple years now.

If it matters, I was a latchkey kid as of age 9 or so, after I changed schools and couldn’t go to daycare any longer.

OK – now I’ve voted :slight_smile:

Voted 8 years old before I saw the specifics of a 2 hour minimum. I have left my then 8 year-old son alone on 3 occasions for about 20 minutes each time. Had to go down the road a couple of miles to the bank - he preferred to stay home and watch TV, but of course I could still bring him a sucker! Got the best of both worlds, he did!

Daycare won’t take them after 12 years old, here. So the older one was twelve. Her brother was nine.

About 10, though when they were younger I would pop to a neighbors house while the kids were watching a movie or playing in the yard and sometimes visit for a bit.

It wasn’t until 10 or so that I would leave the neighborhood to go to the market or some other errand without them.

Um, I’m the loser who answered six or younger, but I hadn’t read the OP’s clarification yet. My son just turned seven and I don’t mind leaving him for ten minutes while I take his sister to the bus stop or pick up a loaf of bread, but not for two hours, no way. He’s a good boy and follows rules, but after that long, I’m afraid I’d come home to boy crying from loneliness. His sister I don’t trust for a minute. She’s six now but won’t be staying alone for any amount of time til she’s, um, yeah, she can stay alone in her own home all she wants.

Using the two hour guideline, I said age 11. He’s 10 now but next school year he’s becoming a latchkey kid.

I leave him alone now for periods of 30-45 min and he’s fine. That started around age 9.

About 10 or 11 for short periods (quick trip to the corner store or a nearby bank). About 12 for longer periods, complete with lectures about locking the door, how to answer the phone, don’t play with fire, etc. When I told our daughter I had to go out for a bit when she was almost 12, I launched into the lecture and she said, “lock the door, don’t turn on the stove, I know, I KNOW” - I knew we were good.

I was left alone for weekends when I was 15 or 16 and coped by making sure I turned on every light in the house before it got dark! Locked myself out twice and since I didn’t drive, went kind of hungry, too. But I’m a loner by nature and kind of enjoyed it.

The two hour rule changes everything. FOr shorter periods it’s about 9 or 10, for longer periods I’m going with 12.

I was left alone for a month when I was 15. Of course, I couldn’t drive, and there were no stores within walking distance; not even any bus lines. With a charge account at the closest grocery store, my bike and friends, I made do with a $5 weekly allowance for anything else, and it was my choice in the first place. I think by that time my parents were more likely to burn the house down than me. It also gave me time to paint the outside of the house, for which my parents paid me $150 and I bought a Heathkit Ham transmitter.

I misread the question. I thought it said leaving home alone; not leaving HIM home alone. My kid was 12. That’s state law in these parts. Or it was, anyway.

I don’t have kids yet, but I remember being at home alone between when I got home from school and my mom got off work when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. That would have been for a couple hours, at least.

I had a single mom, and we couldn’t always afford a sitter. When I got older, 5th grade and above, it would often be until 8 or 9 at night (Mom was managing a retail store, and had to work closing shifts.) I knew how to make a TV dinner in the toaster-oven and do basic cooking, I had chores that had to be done by the time she got home, and so on. It was never a problem.*

I wouldn’t have a problem doing the same, if necessary. If you teach kids that they can be self-sufficient, they will be self-sufficient. I don’t know if that would be allowed nowadays though.
*The only time it was, was one day during the summer when my friend Tracy came over and said her folks were taking her to see The Empire Strikes Back, did I want to come? I headed out immediately, forgetting that I had put an egg on to hard-boil a few minutes back. The house was full of black, sulphury smoke when I returned, but nothing permanently bad happened and I learned my lesson.
ETA: This was in the early 80’s, if the ESB part didn’t properly give away the timeframe.

For a couple hours or after school then 10 or 12. Overnight is very different. 17 with great reluctance but 18 is np. I was that kinda kid so I really dont want a huge party. I gotta say though that my kids are probably a lot less likely to have a kegger than I was.

Well, I voted for 6 before I read the “two-hour” post! When I said 6, I meant if I had to run down to the mailbox on the corner and she was happily watching Blue’s Clues, or something like that.

Now she’s almost 10, and it’s no problem to leave her here alone for a couple of hours or so. There is a neighbor upstairs she knows she can go to if she has any problems. She knows not to cook anything aside from maybe heating up something in the microwave. She has both of our cell phone numbers and knows how to call 911.

I will add that if we lived in a more dangerous neighborhood, my answer could very well be different. The town we live in is truly tiny (as of the 2000 census, there were 806 residents). The upside and downside to this is that everyone knows what everyone is doing. Therefore, if she tries to find trouble (she’s not a trouble-maker, but she is adventurous, and somewhat intrepid), someone will see her, and it will get back to me.

I also let her go to the library (two blocks away) by herself, and to the Dollar General (1/2 mile away) by herself, though if she’s going more than a couple of blocks, I send my cell phone with her.

My kids are 9 and 6, and while I am happy to leave them home alone for short periods, I’ve never been gone for more than an hour. Usually it’s 20-30 minutes, but if I’m walking (around the neighborhood) for exercise with a friend, it might be 45. For two hours, I’ll say… when my oldest is 11.