Come on, parents, leave those kids alone!

When or if to leave your kids alone, that is the question. My kids are now getting a little bit older and more independent. Before now, I would never have considered leaving the kids at home alone and going out for any reason. Well, there was that one time when they were asleep for the night… but let’s not go there.

I recently read an article about a mother who was arrested for letting her 9 year old daughter play at a popular nearby park while she worked. Faced with the choice between letting your kid sit at McDonald’s all day long, eating junk food, while glued to a laptop screen, or playing at a public park which would presumably been populated by other parents supervising their own children, what would you choose?

I have to say, I’m a bit peeved with the parent who took it upon herself to call the cops to report an abandoned child. Apparently the village that used to team together to raise the young has disbanded and been taken over by military control. I’d like to think that I would have said, “let me know if you need anything. I’ll be here with my little Chuckie until 2.”

To me, the bigger question is how, as parents, we can teach our children independence if we never allow them out of arms reach? My kids play in our back yard or in our basement while we’re upstairs. We try to let them resolve their own squabbles before stepping in. I’m looking forward to the day when I can say, “sure, go to the park, but be home for supper.” I really hope nobody calls the cops on me when that day comes.


About dirtyrottenparenting

I'm a parent of two lovely (most of the time) children. I work full time out of the home and I don't cook well, bake, sew, or do crafty things. I keep my high heels and jewelry at my office because there's no point in having them at home.
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10 Responses to Come on, parents, leave those kids alone!

  1. sillyliss says:

    We used to run around all over the neighborhood when I was a kid, say age 8 and up. My mom kind of knew where we were going. But she didn’t seem very worried. She would just call out the backyard until we heard her and came home.

    Maybe there are more details about the 9-year-old situation than was reported. I mean, maybe the 9-year-old was causing trouble. Or maybe the 9-year-old was crying the whole time. I never question other kids at the playground. If I saw a two-year-old with no known parents,I would see what is going on with that, but a 9-year-old? Seems a bit much.

    • You’re right, we don’t know the full story. My theory is that TV crime shows have made us afraid to let our kids out of sight. We ranged all over the place as kids and came home when we were hungry. As one of the older kids, I knew that I had some measure of responsibility for the younger ones. I think we can expect more of our kids than we do, they will probably rise to the occasion.

  2. It annoys me that calling 911 is the go to solution for so many people nowadays. That seldom works out well for anybody involved. I hope there’s more to the story than mom left her kid at the playground for a few hours. I don’t know that it’s the smartest thing to do, but she was maybe not allowed to leave her kid at the McDonald’s? Time to make some more sensible arrangements, ma’am.

    • Fair enough, but if the woman’s job is working at McDonalds, she’s unlikely to have spare money to pay for full time childcare.

      • I wasn’t trying to judge her or anything without knowing more. We’ve left our daughter alone since she was 10 for periods of time before and after school, but she’s pretty mature and we live on a street where the neighbors look out for each other a little bit. I don’t like the idea of states making it illegal based solely on age. That makes no sense.

      • But how is family services supposed to rip children away from their parents and drop them into questionable foster homes if they don’t have an age cutoff?!

  3. Meg C. DeBoe says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s a tidbit from the Child Welfare website: “Illinois law requires children to be 14 years old before being left alone; in Maryland, the minimum age is 8, while in Oregon, children must be 10 before being left home alone.” I’m going to go look up my state right now…

  4. My state has no laws regulating when a child can be left home alone, but does have a suggested age of 12. It also has no laws on how old a child can be to watch a sibling although a suggested age for that is 15. I’m surprised because Connecticut has been noted as having the most strict child protection laws in the US….
    I was left home alone nights when I was 10. I begged my mother and convinced I should be allowed rather than admit my babysitter’s son was molesting me.. I did just fine but I also didn’t leave the house when my mom wasn’t home.
    I look at my son who is 9 and I feel he would be responsible enough to be left alone.. It’s a tough situation as a parent.. we really don’t know the circumstances.. for example how long the child was left at the park and whatnot..

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