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What age was your daughter when staying home alone at night?


sheryl
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What age? Also, I'm really interested in girls who are only children or the oldest and stayed home alone at night. How long was the period of time ? How often in a month or 3 month window of time? Do you live in the city or country? Do you know your neighbors? Was there a "plan"? I recently asked the Mother of one of my dd's friends to watch my dd while dh and I went on a Valentine date. She made the comment that her dd only 4 months older will stay by herself at night some times. NOT through the night, but for a period of time - alone - at night when it's dark outside. She asked if dh and I would consider allowing dd to do that and I said no, we are against that at this age of 13 turning 14. Then, of all things, our real estate agent (different woman) came over tonight. She is a Christian homeschooling Mom of 3 and married to a police officer. She lives less than 1 mile from us - just up the street and around the corner, literally. Her dh must be on duty. She arrived to talk current real estate market news and her oldest is a 14.5 dd caring for 2 younger siblings while their Mom was with us for just over an hour. This girl is mature, but still home along at night. I don't question her - she's a wonderful person, but I can't wrap my head around leaving a young person home alone at night (maybe especially a girl and doubly so that there are no other siblings in the house). Anyone else out there waiting for their dd to be just a bit older? Also, our dd is not that responsible yet. So there, we have our excuse! :)

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When I was 14 I stayed with someone elses' three kids and watched them for a week while their parents were away during a family crisis. It wasn't a problem. I kept them fed, bathed, took them to church, and made sure they were in bed on time. They talked to their parents on the phone twice a day (we had one crying session in which I let the youngest phone and talk to mommy mid day too). I was babysitting full time by 14 for our neighbors as well. I was there from 9am to 5pm twice a week.

 

I suppose it would depend on the child, but I would (and have had) have a 13 year old watch my kids in the evening if I was out. My niece has done an excellent job of watching our kids for an hour or two in the evenings if I need someone. Doors stay locked and she has all the phone numbers. She's done awesome for us. Kids often rise to the occasion if trusted with some independence and an opportunity to prove themselves.

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I babysat at age 12 and was staying home alone at night well before that. This was in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

 

We live in a semi rural area. My older son was 11 and my younger son was 10 when I left them alone (day or night) for a few hours. I left the older one in charge of the younger one when he was about 12 and the younger one was 6.

 

I would have no problem with a reasonably mature 14yo supervising younger children.

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I was watching other people's kids in the evenings by 12 years old, in the suburbs. BUT I will not leave my 12 year old in charge of anyone. I have left him alone in the early evening for an hour or so, maybe 7-8PM on rare occasion. My kids are just not that mature, AND they are boys, AND I think we know more horror stories of what can go wrong thanks to the internet, etc...

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I personally started babysitting at 12. I'm not sure I'd leave an infant or young toddler with a kid that young, but it was certainly commonplace when I was raised. My 12 year old son stays home up to 2-3 hours on his own, and I would allow my daughter at that age to do the same. Even in the dark! We live in the upper midwest so at certain times of the year it gets dark very early and stays dark in the morning too.

 

I haven't allowed my 8 year old to stay alone w/12 year old yet. But that's more a function of the 8 year old's personality.

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I took a Red Cross babysitting course at age 12 and was babysitting for church families at night, sometimes until 2 or 3 am (sometimes until 5 or 6 am, even) and would end up just spending the night. That was... well, 20 years ago. I don't know that I'd be comfortable with a 12 year old or 13 year old babysitting *my* children that late at night, unless I knew them well or knew that they had taken the same sort of course. Things are different now, even though I live in the same city that I spent most of my teenage years in.

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I babysat when I was 12.

 

My kids are only 9 and 7 but I'm pretty sure I would leave a 12-13 year old home in the evening for a couple hours.

 

 

ETA - my parents went out to eat and dancing (Polka :D ) every Friday night. They started letting me stay home without a babysitter when I was about 11. I don't ever remember being alone though, I think I always had a friend or two over with me.

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We live very rurally, and we just started leaving our kids alone at night for about an hour 1-2 times/month. My kids are usually responsible and they work well together. My toddler is pretty easy, but we take him with us if he's in a difficult mood that particular evening. My oldest (11 in a couple weeks) also babysits for me in the late afternoons when I run her sibs to various activities. She actually likes to babysit her toddler brother, and she really likes earning extra cash. She has a friend who is the same age with a toddler sister the same age as my toddler (ironic, isn't it?), and her friend babysits her toddler sister in a similar fashion as my dd babysits for me. I know a couple boys her age with toddler sibs too. I wonder if the boys' parents have them babysitting yet. Now I'm curious about that.....

 

If I lived in a different location, I *think* my parameters would be different. I also don't know how my kids would feel about being left at home alone at night. They love being at home alone during the day, but neither of them have been home alone at night yet. I'm sure that would be an uncomfortable situation for them. Since we have a larger family, being alone is not their usual. KWIM?

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I was babysitting other children over nights starting at age 11. That said I would not allow my own daughter at 13 to stay home alone if I can help it, then again it gets dark here in the winter at 430pm so that's not saying much. She has stayed home to watched the littles int he night when I took oldest to hospital for a bad cut on his finger, and she typically does when I drive tot he next town to pick up oldest son after work. I had gramma phone her every hour to check in. I trust dd to be fine. But she worries after dark about being alone. During the day she would be hard pressed to get help if she needed it, but it would be more likely than after dark. Through the night would not happen anytime soon, but for a couple hours if I wanted to attend a scrapbook night, or bible study or something I would feel fine doing so with her at 13. She is quite responsible.

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My dd is 15 and I still don't like leaving her home at night. Dh and I have gone a couple of times to dinner, five minutes away for an hour or two, but I am always thinking about her. The only good thing is that we have two dogs that are inside/outside dogs and they would rip anyone to shreds that tried to hurt dd.

 

We live in So Cal, but there are freaks and weirdos everywhere. All you have to do is turn on the news to know that. This world is not what it used to be, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I went against my gut on this issue and something happened.

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I thing babysitting is different than being home alone. For one thing there is at least one other person there.

 

I don't see how a baby or toddler in the house makes anything better - I consider it worse if the teen has to be responsible for a young child and would be much more concerned than the girl staying by herself. In case of emergency, she would have to care for a little one AND herself... I don't see anything safer about this.

 

If she were able to have a friend with her I wouldn't mind so much. Safety in numbers.

 

I have found that the number of dumb ideas otherwise responsible kids can come up with increases exponentially when they have company over. I would feel much safer leaving my own child by herself than leaving her with a friend of similar age - THAT would be asking for trouble.

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I don't see how a baby or toddler in the house makes anything better - I consider it worse if the teen has to be responsible for a young child and would be much more concerned than the girl staying by herself. In case of emergency, she would have to care for a little one AND herself... I don't see anything safer about this.

 

Okay.

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I think the individual's maturity/personality matters a lot. When I was 12 and my sister was 10.5 my parents would leave us at home at night for a couple of hours. At 13 I was babysitting at night. At 15 I was house-sitting overnight at someone else's house for a week and babysitting overnight. At 16 I house-sat for a month in the summer and babysat for a weekend. My sister was easily freaked out when alone and more apt to do dumb things, so she was about 2 years older than me when she did these things. Once when we were home alone at 18 & 16, she accidentally dialed 911 while playing with the phone :glare:.

 

At 15 I remember being shocked that my best friend's mom was hesitant to let her 13.5 year old daughter spend the night because my parents wouldn't be home until 10:00 pm. I regularly babysat her 3 younger kids with my best friend, but she thought we were more likely to get into mischief without "little eyes watching." We were NEVER the type to get into mischief of any kind. We weren't allowed to do any cooking at her house, including using the microwave, so we would have to eat dinner at 4:30 before they left. She was scared that we were allowed to cook at my house. I'd been boiling water for mac & cheese since age 9! I told her we'd be doing crazy things like watching a movie, reading our yearbooks, talking, and staying up until midnight! It was my sister (13.5) and her friend (12) who she should worry about because they would make ramen noodles, leave their dishes out, do silly dances in her room, and stay up until 3:00 am. My teasing caused her to relent.

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I have found that the number of dumb ideas otherwise responsible kids can come up with increases exponentially when they have company over. I would feel much safer leaving my own child by herself than leaving her with a friend of similar age - THAT would be asking for trouble.

 

Meh. My friend's mom worried about this, but it was a ridiculously unfounded fear in our case. If peer pressure from the "cool kids" didn't corrupt us by day, how could hanging out with a responsible, like-minded, strong-valued friend at night lead to trouble?

 

My sister and her friend were less responsible/more easily led, and definitely were a questionable combo together. They never did anything crazy-dumb, but my best friend (and my dad!) both commented that it seemed like they each turned off their brain and expected the other one to do the thinking when they were together.

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I started babysitting at 11, at night, for two kids aged 4 and 2. I was too young. But, we lived one street over and I new all the neighbors. It was a quiet neighborhood.

 

We left our sleeping 8 year old girls home alone for 20 min at a time while we were at a party across the street in our very tight knit neighborhood.

 

Now that we live in the country, our girls have never been home alone. They are 10. I don't foresee us leaving them home alone at all anytime soon, even though most of their friends stay home alone already.

 

At 13-14? Yes, I suspect by then they'll be staying home alone in the evenings while we go to dinner or something. By that time I was babysitting regularly until very late at night.

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I think we started leaving dd alone at night around 11. I know by 13 I would have thought nothing of it.

 

I do think there is a difference between bing alone and caring for young children. I know at 11 or 12 I was babysitting until early morning hours. When I was caring for young children I got wrapped up in my responsibilities and making sure everything was done well for the children. However, when I was home alone waiting for my own parents, if I was bored I would be me anxious about them coming home safely.

 

Honestly, I don't think I'd have trouble if I were 11 today. Way back in the 70s I didn't have access to the Internet and cable to distract me. I think I'd still be careful about locking up the house and following rules about answering the door and phone and then I'd be able find a movie or something, diversions that weren't available when I was a kid. I was a competent babysitter and being competent was a good diversion.

 

I also think the op has an issue in introducing home alone behavior because her dc is an only and she probably has not had the need to teach the skills for being home alone. These skills need to introduced gradually. But they are basic skills that I think would be mostly mastered by age 14.

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I was twelve when I babysat for the neighbor's two pre-schoolers. They routinely did not come home until 1 or 2 a.m.

 

That is pretty common in our area. Very, very low crime and all of the neighbors know each other. At home, by 13 my parents didn't worry a bit and by 15, they'd leave me in charge of the house for a weekend.

 

DD was babysitting at 12, often well after dark (though we would make sure our plans were to be home so she could call us if she had a concern), and home alone by 13 until say 11:00 p.m. Overnight house sitting, 14 or 15...I can't remember for sure.

 

Ds at 13 was doing house sitting for money...stayed at one lady's house and took care of her pomeranian and plants for 10 days. We went up every other day to check on him and make sure he had food, clean clothing, etc. Other ds farm sat twice last summer - 7 days at a time - of course he had two, big, sheep herding dogs that slept inside with him and these dogs take their protection job seriously. Woe to the intruder on that property. DS felt quite safe.

 

Basic rules - doors locked, cell phone in pocket or on night stand, if there is a dog on the property, you keep them near. They generally do not cook with a stovetop whenever they house sit...they may use the oven...but mostly eat fresh or pop something into the microwave to avoid issues.

 

Faith

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Read these new replies. One thing though, Betty. You offered a sound assessment of "then" and "now". Let me clarify. I "do" keep my dd home alone 1-2 hours 'on occasion" during the DAY! She's almost 14 and I've done this since she was 11.5 (2 years ago - I did teach gradually by starting out for a 15 min run during the day to the store, then graduated from there to the 1-2 hours now which is once in a while, not often). It's the NIGHT/DARK scenario for my only at this age that is my consideration. Also, the fact that she is not as mature as some of her peers the same age.

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What you are describing is very common. In most places 13 is the common age which to babysit for other people, which is usually at night so the parents can have a date. A 13 year not allowed home alone for a few hours (regardless of time of day) is unusual. That said, I strongly advocate for an individual approach. Many 13 year olds are fine. But some are not. And it also has to do with circumstances. Would an adult be 2 minutes away or 30 or more?

 

FWIW, when I was 11 I would spend entire weekends caring for a couples 2 daughters while they went to the bar (husband played in the band and wife went with), and they would usually not get back until around 3. They didn't even have a telephone. Many girls I knew did the same.

 

My 14 yo son hasn't been left at home for a significant amount of time, largely due to the fact that we are in the country and he would be caring for his little brother while we were 30 minutes away.

 

Use your head and you'll figure out what is right.

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My DD11 loves to stay home alone during the day but doesn’t want to be alone at night. It makes her nervous. A PP reminded me of a funny FB conversation my niece (then about 20) had regarding being in her apartment alone.

 

“I’m afraid to be alone in my apartment.â€

 

“Why are you afraid to be there alone? You have a dog and a baseball bat.â€

 

“I’m afraid of the ghost. A baseball bat won’t help against a ghost.â€

 

“Hm. You’re right. Can’t help you there.â€

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I have found that the number of dumb ideas otherwise responsible kids can come up with increases exponentially when they have company over. I would feel much safer leaving my own child by herself than leaving her with a friend of similar age - THAT would be asking for trouble.

 

 

I agree. With my son, I would know that if he's alone, he'd spend all his time playing video games and I wouldn't have to worry near as much as wondering what would happen if one of his friends was over. They can be amazingly stupid together sometimes.

 

That said, the right sibling combination could help, because then there is someone around to "tell" on you.

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One thing about "then and now" is that despite the 24hr newscycle and all that we hear, the REALITY is that crime (including violent crime) is WAYYYYYYYY down from when we were growing up. Except in the case of a few bad areas, our kids are all SAFER than we were growing up.

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We live in a tiny town where I don't really have to worry about much crime. What I do need to consider, though, is the common sense of the child in question. DD11 is far more mature and sensible than my DSS was at 15. We let him stay home alone overnight once (my parents live 3 minutes away and we know all the neighbors). DSS was playing pool in the basement when he noticed water dripping from the ceiling. He got a bucket and put it under the leak to catch the water........ and then went on playing pool!!! He never once went upstairs to investigate where the water might be coming from (the water was left running with the drain stopper down in the bathroom; easy fix if he'd bothered looking!) or even called his grandfather to report the problem and ask what to do! Ugh! DD11 would likely have done both. She almost certainly would not have ignored it.

 

DD also proved herself one afternoon when she was home alone while I took DS to soccer. DD called to report that someone she didn't know was at the front door. She hid (we have a beveled glass front door) so they couldn't see her and called me. Turns out it was the parent of a girl at school, though DD didn't know that at the time. She handled the situation beautifully.

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DD just turned 14 and is an only child. I do think it's different when there is no one else around. I do not leave her alone at night yet.

 

She has even had times during the day alone where she got a little uneasy. When you're alone, you don't have the distractions of other people to keep your mind occupied. I think even kids used to babysitting have a lot to think about and keep them busy, and also the sense of responsibility CAN help them make better decisions.

 

We live in a rural area where there are not that many neighbors. Our neighborhood is safer I feel, but there aren't the options for DD if something went wrong to "run over to the neighbor's house". Also at night there are sometimes animal sounds, etc. So that definitely has affected by decisions about when to leave her alone. It'll be awhile still!

 

 

ETA, away from home for us would mean a minimum of 20-30 minutes away.

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At 14, I'd have no trouble leaving her home alone for a few hours. Is she afraid of the dark? Are you? I don't understand why your home is more dangerous at night. I've never left my daughter home alone overnight (she's 16) but i don't think a few evening hours is a big deal. I'd be hesitant to get an evening job and make it a regular thing. My daughter is a bit of an introvert and LOVES getting a quiet house to herself for a few hours. Sometimes she babysits her 12-year-old brother for us. She's very capable and is comfortable home alone. If she were a fearful person, I wouldn't ask it of her.

 

ETA: We're in the 'burbs on a cul-de-sac with neighbors she knows. DH and I are usually 5-10 minutes away and check up by text. Even if we go into Baltimore for the symphony or something, we can get home in 15-20 min.

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I'm not understanding what the dark has to do with anything. I was by myself all day long in upper elementary school. I was by myself at night starting around age 10. I was by myself overnight starting around age 12. By age 14, I was by myself for a week at a time while my mom was working 1,000 miles away, not to mention babysitting other people's children until around midnight.

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I wouldn't make a difference based on sex. Calvin has been staying at home alone for at least two years - I'm not sure when I started doing it. I have just started leaving Hobbes alone at home after dark for short periods: while I go and pick up Calvin from an activity, for example. Maybe half an hour to an hour? We are far enough north that 'dark' is about 4pm to 8.45am in winter, so the issue comes up a lot.

 

We live in the country. The nearest neighbour is about 50 yards from us - there's usually someone there, but not always.

 

Laura

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I had full babysitting responsibilities at age 10. I would watch my five siblings (the youngest were twin babies at the time) for up to 6 hours a day while my parents went about their life. I remember at 12 my dad worked out of town and my mom had to go somewhere for a family emergency. I was left with my younger brother for 2 days. I took care of everything from breakfast prep to shower and homework help. I got us up and out the door for school. A lot was expected of me because I was uber responsible, mature and trustworthy. I appreciated the confidence my parents had in my abilities and it made me work harder to show that I was a capable person. There is very little that shakes my confidence and I think it has a lot to do with the fact my parents always let me know I was capable.

 

We lived in a city of 50K. We knew nearly all the neighbors from one corner to the other, both sides of the street. If I would have run into any problem to big I could have called on many people, including my grandparents that were 15 minutes away.

 

I have now started to let dd "practice" watching the kids and staying home by herself. She has high anxiety so this is a big step for her. I want my kids to grow up knowing that I have the confidence in them to push their boundaries and mine just a bit and within a safe zone. I am never gone for more than 30 min and so far dd has really stepped up. I leave a cell phone with her and all the numbers are programed she might need. My mom is 7 miles away with my brothers and sister nearly as close.

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DD was 13 or 14 when we first left her home with her younger brother at night. (She began staying home for an hour or two during the day when she was 11/12.)

 

When we began letting her babysit at night, she was only allowed to watch him in early evening for an hour or two. When she was about 15, we increased the time a bit -- 3-4 hours, if necessary.

 

Last year (age 18), she babysat her brother (then 12) overnight for a single night. This year (age 19), she kept him for a weekend while we went out of town.

 

HIH,

 

Lisa

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My DD will be 15 in 2 months and I just recently started letting her babysit for me at night. I've been letting her watch her siblings during the day for short periods of time since she was 12. We live in a small town and I am usually no more than 15 min away. A few weekends ago I went out in the evening 40 min away and was gone about 4 hours. My DD did great and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. I also let my DS watch his younger sister during the day for about 30 min at a time and he is doing very well so far. I would have no problem leaving her alone during the day or at night but the occasion just doesn't come up very often.

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My oldest son started watching the other two when he was 10 while I'd go out during the day. By the time he was 12 we could be gone most of the day or for a few hours at night if dh and I would like to go for a movie or dinner out, or both.

 

My dd is now 11 and I'd have no problem leaving here either. Many times she's here at night while I take youngest son to gymnastics and then to get dinner, because older brother is off with friends.

 

Of course this is all going to depend on how mature your child is and how she feels about it.

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Night does make a difference to me. Most of the crime I hear of is at night. And boy vs. girl makes a difference to me as well. Girls are more of a target. Growing up, I had a stalker that would call my mom and I constantly from 8th grade through college, just to let us know he was watching and knew when I was home alone. Now, I live in one of the nicest neighborhoods with friends as neighbors. But you just never know who is around - a few years ago I learned my backyard neighbor was arrested for crimes against children! None of us would have guessed. Anyone who drives by regularly knows I homeschool and have tons of girls - so I'm not leaving them home alone for long periods of time or with any regularity that someone could know our scheldule. I do leave them for an hour or two if I'm not too far away and a trusted neighbor will be home. But not longer. It's not a matter of trusting my oldest, I know they do great and could handle anything within the house, it's a matter of no, they are not big enough to fend off an intruder. I know that's overprotective, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Most of my friends leave their kids home alone day or night at age 13. Each parent has a level of what they are comfortable with.

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I did the Red Cross babysitting course at age 12 and started babysitting in the evenings in our small town. By 13 or 14 I was left more or less in charge of myself and two (slightly younger) siblings for weekends at a time. We had close, friendly neighbors.

 

I think it depends on the kid. I know parents who are more fine leaving a responsible child alone than they would be if that same child were responsible for potentially more mischievous siblings or in a babysitting situation.

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Well, we inadvertently left our girls home by themselves for 2 hours, in the afternoon, when they were 8 & 5. It was suppose to be 10-15 minutes, but there was a miss-communication. They were fine though. Watching TV and when I walked in the first words were not 'where were you!' it was....What's for lunch!' After that, we left them for SHORT periods of time, usually under 30 minutes. When they were sick, I did go to church and leave them at home, which was 2 hours, but I live literally a 5 minute walk from the church, and they could call me on my cell phone. And last year, when dd was 7, I left her home while I drove dd10 to co-op. It was a 20 minute round trip and she had a puky bug. She gets car sick very easily and she didn't want to be in the car any more than I wanted her barfing in the car.

 

My oldest is mild aspie and everything is black and white. So if mom said no, then it was NO. EXTREMELY obedient child, to a fault.... And a real tattletale. That makes things a bit easier.

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At age 12 my oldest dd was babystting her younger sisters in the evening - into the dark but not late.

 

At age 13 she was babystting in the neighborhood until midnight.

 

I have left my youngest dds (twins ages 8) alone for up to 2 hours in the day - 45 minutes at night. They watch TV or read.

 

I would not leave a child home alone overnight until age 18, if even then. No way :)

 

We live in a suburb where we know our neighbors and other homes are close by.

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I stayed home alone fairly regularly in the evening starting in 7th grade (so 12, turned 13 in the fall). I had a younger sibling with evening activities that I rarely wanted to attend (sports practices and such) so I would stay home from 6-8 or so. I also stayed home if my parents were going out in the evening (6 or 7 until 10 or 11) sometimes with my little brother and sometimes along. That was maybe once or twice a month.

 

We lived in a rural area about 30 minutes from the small city where she generally was and had no close neighbors (I could see the next house but it was a bit of a walk).

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11, babysitting her younger siblings. After dark, but not late at night--7 to 10pm.

 

It worries me that a typical 13 yo is not considered "mature" enough to stay at home by herself for a couple of hours. This is not against the OP, she obviously knows her DD best, but there's this general trend to baby teens for years and years.

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