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Quill

Would you leave a 14yo, competent, reasonably well-behaved kid at home alone for a few days/nights?

Leave a 14yo at home alone or not?   

162 members have voted

  1. 1. Leave a 14yo at home alone or not?

    • Sure; what’s the big deal?
      15
    • No! Are you out of your mind?
      109
    • Well...maybe.
      38


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Be gentle, please. I’m not sure why I am so hesitant. 

Ds happens to have off from school for two days that coincide with dh and my wedding anniversary - 25yrs. I would love to do a short fall foliage trip up north, leaving ds at home. But something about leaving him completely alone at home bothers me. I dont know whether that’s just my typical nut-jobiness or if it’s legitimately a bad idea. 

Were I willing to ask, he could probably stay at my sister or SIL’s instead, but it feels like a pretty big ask. 

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I have a very mature 15 year old who would do fine by himself, but I still wouldn't feel comfortable leaving him.  That story a few years ago of the family of multiple kids, whose house caught on fire and killed most of them scared me to death.  My teens may not wake up in time.   It has nothing to do with maturity for me.

But I am a worry wart.

Can you go a different weekend?  

I answered "No, are you out of your mind" but my answer is more of a, "No, I wouldn't feel comfortable."

Edited by DawnM
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I voted maybe, solely because my oldest is only 9, so I have no idea what I'd actually do. I mean, DS isn't ready to stay home alone yet. But I wanted to say that were I your sister or SIL, I'd want you to ask if he could stay. So while asking feels huge to you, perhaps it wouldn't also feel that way to them.

Also, congrats on the anniversary! A foliage trip sounds like a lovely way to celebrate.

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7 minutes ago, DawnM said:

I have a very mature 15 year old who would do fine by himself, but I still wouldn't feel comfortable leaving him.  That story a few years ago of the family of multiple kids, whose house caught on fire and killed most of them scared me to death.  My teens may not wake up in time.   It has nothing to do with maturity for me.

But I am a worry wart.

Can you go a different weekend?  

I answered "No, are you out of your mind" but my answer is more of a, "No, I wouldn't feel comfortable."

It can’t be a different weekend. With school being out for two days (a mon and tues), it makes a four-day weekend, which allows us enough time. (We will drive, not fly.) I wouldn’t want to leave him at home alone AND responsible for getting to school, getting home from school, doing his work, etc. I was thinking we wouldn’t be able to do it, but then he has off, so I thought well, maybe we can. 

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11 minutes ago, barnwife said:

I voted maybe, solely because my oldest is only 9, so I have no idea what I'd actually do. I mean, DS isn't ready to stay home alone yet. But I wanted to say that were I your sister or SIL, I'd want you to ask if he could stay. So while asking feels huge to you, perhaps it wouldn't also feel that way to them.

Also, congrats on the anniversary! A foliage trip sounds like a lovely way to celebrate.

Thanks for that. I hate asking stuff like that because, socially speaking, who can really say No, unless it’s literally unworkable? So, then I worry that the person said yes because they were put in a position where they can’t really say no and now they are silently stewing...

I have issues. Lol.

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I’d probably ask a friend and see if he could hang there for the long weekend. Hope you can work it out🌺

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How far away are your sister and SIL?  Close enough to check in on him a few times over the weekend?   How close are the neighbors?

I put Maybe, but I probably wouldn't for my 14 year old son.  He would absolutely 100% be fine, just play on his computer the whole weekend with the occasional break to microwave some food.  But like Dawn I would be worried about the possibility of not waking up in case of a fire or something.  I know someone stopping by periodically wouldn't really help with that, but it would still make me feel better.   A neighbor close enough to notice an issue would help more, the fact we have a dog would help some.

Dh and I were talking about doing something similar over the summer (never did get to it) and we were going to have oldest dd stay here overnight.  Between school and work, she would only be here maybe 11pm to 7am, but it would be something.  We have no close neighbors but also never have someone come to the door unless we ordered a delivery.

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No I wouldn't. I would ask family first, and then ask a good friend if family said no. I would absolutely try my hardest to go, tho. And actually, imo, going a different time when ds is in school (but asking for family to have him stay there) would be even better because he'd be gone for part of the day. 

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I will add a thought.  Could he sleep at a friend's or SIL's or something but be allowed to spend the days at home alone?  A friend told me once that she and her husband allowed a neighbor's special needs son to spend the night because his mother was worried about leaving him, but that he could spend the days alone at the house.  

That would help my worrying.

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Is there a young adult guy you know that you could give a small bit to come me spend the night?  

Are you near neighbors/friends that could come pick him up for  church, a meal out, etc a few times while you are gone?

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5 minutes ago, Where's Toto? said:

How far away are your sister and SIL?  Close enough to check in on him a few times over the weekend?   How close are the neighbors?

I put Maybe, but I probably wouldn't for my 14 year old son.  He would absolutely 100% be fine, just play on his computer the whole weekend with the occasional break to microwave some food.  But like Dawn I would be worried about the possibility of not waking up in case of a fire or something.  I know someone stopping by periodically wouldn't really help with that, but it would still make me feel better.   A neighbor close enough to notice an issue would help more, the fact we have a dog would help some.

Dh and I were talking about doing something similar over the summer (never did get to it) and we were going to have oldest dd stay here overnight.  Between school and work, she would only be here maybe 11pm to 7am, but it would be something.  We have no close neighbors but also never have someone come to the door unless we ordered a delivery.

SIL is quite close, only about 7 minutes away by car. I actually feel like driving over to check in is a bigger hassle than if he were just staying there because if he stays there, caring for him just blends in with what their own boys are doing. 

My “neighbors” are not useful; we live secluded back in the woods. Like you, nobody comes to our door for anything but delivery. 

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Depends on the kid and emergency plans.

My 12yo isn’t even fully comfortable being home alone during the day yet. I’m sure a lot of that is because we’ve had so few opportunities to try it out! I highly doubt he’d be comfortable overnight at 14, but who knows?

I considered leaving my older ones when they were younger, mostly because there are plenty of people they could pick up the phone and call if there was an issue. Our plans fell through, though.

As far as asking a sister or sister-in-law, I know relationships differ in every family, but it would NOT be considered a big ask in mine. My mom and aunt exchanged kids all the time. My sisters’ kids have an open invitation here, even though they live so far away it’s only happened once or twice. Assuming no negative backstory, that’s what family’s for. 😉 

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7 minutes ago, Chris in VA said:

No I wouldn't. I would ask family first, and then ask a good friend if family said no. I would absolutely try my hardest to go, tho. And actually, imo, going a different time when ds is in school (but asking for family to have him stay there) would be even better because he'd be gone for part of the day. 

Yeah, but in that instance he couldn't stay with my sister or SIL because they are not in our school district. So then getting him to and from school would be a task they must accomplish and that would be over the top for my asking comfort. 

I do have a good friend for whom we have done similar things, but both parents work and their kids will most likely not be off those days. 

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2 minutes ago, moonflower said:

I'd be iffy.  I'm not 100% sure why; I think it's the aloneness.  I'd almost be more inclined if he were twins.

Yeah, the aloneness is bothering me a lot as well. If either of my big kids would be here, it would be more acceptable. 

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If he feels comfortable staying alone, I’d probably allow it IF there’s a backup in case he discovered he wasn’t really ready to be alone at night. And for sure he needs someone nearby to call in case of emergency.  I’d want the backup to be someone who wouldn’t make him feel like a burden if he ended up there.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yeah, but in that instance he couldn't stay with my sister or SIL because they are not in our school district. So then getting him to and from school would be a task they must accomplish and that would be over the top for my asking comfort. 

I do have a good friend for whom we have done similar things, but both parents work and their kids will most likely not be off those days. 

Your sil is only 7 mins away? Why would it be hard for her to get him to school? But that isn't an issue on days off anyway. 

Would her kids be off, too? Im sorry Im obtuse this afternoon 🙄😁

Eta Could you ask for one overnight at a friend's and one night at your relative's home?

Edited by Chris in VA

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I have two 14 year olds and a 15 year old. Plus a 17 year old.

Nope. I would never leave any of them alone overnight, either together or as a group. The 17 year old would be capable but wouldn't want to. I would not do it, even for the most responsible of the 14 year olds.

Chance are that they would be fine, if I did it. But I worry. I don't even like it myself when DH is away overnight, because the house seems emptier and creepier, so I leave extra lights on. So I would worry about them being unhappy or uncomfortable. I would worry about whether they locked the doors. Whether any of their friends figured out they were alone and decided to crash the house. Whether they would forget and leave the oven or stove on, or the refrigerator open (it happens) or the doors unlocked. They would not be able to drive themselves anywhere in case of an emergency situation. They would not be able to get themselves to their weekend activities (we always have a full schedule). I'd worry about them taking full responsibilities for our pets and the fact that the dog is used to going out at 11:00 at night, which means the teen would be out of the house that late. I'd worry about someone unexpectedly ringing the doorbell, which would freak them out.

I would also worry about general safety. And the fact that even responsible 14 year olds are still 14 and can make some really dumb decisions.

I just couldn't do it. I would ask a grandparent to stay with them, if possible (none of them actually lives close enough, but that is what my mom would have done). For some of my kids, I would see if they could stay with a friend.

I am more conservative on these issues than many, I know. My teens will stay alone for a few hours, but I would not leave them overnight.

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4 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

Depends on the kid and emergency plans.

My 12yo isn’t even fully comfortable being home alone during the day yet. I’m sure a lot of that is because we’ve had so few opportunities to try it out! I highly doubt he’d be comfortable overnight at 14, but who knows?

I considered leaving my older ones when they were younger, mostly because there are plenty of people they could pick up the phone and call if there was an issue. Our plans fell through, though.

As far as asking a sister or sister-in-law, I know relationships differ in every family, but it would NOT be considered a big ask in mine. My mom and aunt exchanged kids all the time. My sisters’ kids have an open invitation here, even though they live so far away it’s only happened once or twice. Assuming no negative backstory, that’s what family’s for. 😉 

Yeah, well...😏

My sister has, at other times, been mad about the way something happened, but didn’t say anything about it, just harbored irritation about it forever and ever. (Please, dear god, don’t let her be reading this...) 

So I’m afraid of unwittingly pissing her off. 

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3 minutes ago, Chris in VA said:

Your sil is only 7 mins away? Why would it be hard for her to get him to school? But that isn't an issue on days off anyway. 

Would her kids be off, too? Im sorry Im obtuse this afternoon 🙄😁

I was saying, in the instance that I go on a time when he has school, since part of the day he’s occupied at school. That would be worse because SIL would have to drive the seven minutes, then drive him the other twelve minutes the opposite direction to get him to school. Or else drop him off at our house at 6:40am, which...I mean, I wouldn’t want that task, either. 

I don’t know if her kids are off then, too. They are in a different county (despite we live so close) and different school system, so I really have no idea. 

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I would not leave my very responsible 14yo alone overnight for several days. She could do it and would be fine, but... 

At 16, probably. But even then I think I'd want someone local checking in and as others have said, a backup plan.

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9 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

just couldn't do it. I would ask a grandparent to stay with them, if possible (none of them actually lives close enough, but that is what my mom would have done). For some of my kids, I would see if they could stay with a friend.

Yeah, no grandparent option. 

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It’s actually comforting to me that a lot of you feel it’s somewhere between a squeamish and a hard no. I thought this was just my usual ignorance about what people are normally comfortable with, but maybe not. 

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It’s less about the kid's maturity and more about me. I would die if my family were that headline....

”...parents were traveling at the time and the child was home alone.”

I understand the reality that kids this age are left alone all the time. I’m personally not comfortable with it. 

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I would leave my super responsible 16 yo but I never would have left my older boys.

We have two sets of very involved neighbors and 16 yo does not have a girlfriend.  My older boys had more girls in their lives and we didn’t have the “neighborhood watch” as I affectionately call it.

I would not even consider it at 14 yo. I don’t know- that is still pretty young to me. Not even one night. 

For the record I’m a moderate parent on these things. Strict about some but not others. I do leave my younger kids home alone during the day.

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5 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

It’s less about the kid's maturity and more about me. I would die if my family were that headline....

”...parents were traveling at the time and the child was home alone.”

I understand the reality that kids this age are left alone all the time. I’m personally not comfortable with it. 

Yeah, that’s a thing for me, too. 

Like when that little girl was snatched from the hotel room while her parents ate dinner together in the dining room. 😣 I can’t imagine how many times they said to themselves, “WHY did we think it was so important to have dinner without the kids?!” 

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Maybe part of it is how far away I'd be.

Like, I'd be okay leaving my 14 year old and 11 year old, even, (DD14 is very responsible) overnight if I were like staying in the local hospital 15 minutes away, or something. And if my mom or SIL lived very close, I'd probably be more okay with that too, just as an overnight situation.

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28 minutes ago, Quill said:

SIL is quite close, only about 7 minutes away by car.

I was leaning toward "maybe," but the above pushed me over to "sure." With a trusted relative that close, and assuming you (and your DH) believe your 14 yo can handle it then I think it would be a very good experience for him. But for disclosure, I very much believe Americans tend to not give their teens nearly as much responsibility as they should be given, and that it does much more harm than good.

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4 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

I was leaning toward "maybe," but the above pushed me over to "sure." With a trusted relative that close, and assuming you (and your DH) believe your 14 yo can handle it then I think it would be a very good experience for him. But for disclosure, I very much believe Americans tend to not give their teens nearly as much responsibility as they should be given, and that it does much more harm than good.

Yeah...I don’t think you’re wrong about that, either. I try to let them assume responsibility because it can really help them rise to the occasion. But also...boy I hope it doesn’t go wrong! 

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I’m with Pawz4me.  If my 14yo (and I do actually have a son who turned 14 at the end of July) was comfortable being left alone in the circumstances you describe, I would do it.  

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Maybe part of it is how far away I'd be.

Like, I'd be okay leaving my 14 year old and 11 year old, even, (DD14 is very responsible) overnight if I were like staying in the local hospital 15 minutes away, or something. And if my mom or SIL lived very close, I'd probably be more okay with that too, just as an overnight situation. For 2 or 3 days, hard to say, but with someone that close I might be more inclined.  Right now we live both out of town and an hour or so away from the nearest family, so I wouldn't feel as okay about it.

I would rather leave my 14 and 11 year old together overnight than leave just the 14yo, though.

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I'm LOLing at this thread because I'm pretty sure we did this except it was the whole family leaving just the oldest kid home alone. She had a house/pet sitting job (so obviously others considered her pretty mature/responsible), and she had planned contact with adults (my friends, neighbors) three out of the four days we were gone (plus texts & skyping with us). 

I also left my dd#2 home with her three younger siblings while DH & I moved dd#1 into college. In that case, though, I left dd#3 in charge. She's younger but less likely to panic when things don't go peefectly. She also plans ahead & executes those plans. Dd#3 has been mature enough to leave at home alone for a few hours since she was really young. (Y'all would be aghast if I told you how young since you can't see a mature 14 yr old doing ok on his own.)

So, my vote is that it depends on the kid. Some I would leave with no qualms -- as long as there are adults checking in or available if needed. Some I wouldn't -- depending on their personalities & maturity. I will note that I live in a small town with low crime rates where you generally know your neighbor's business and you can walk safely pretty much anywhere in town if you need something.

So, YMMV.

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It doesn’t really bother me, especially if there are other family or friends in town who could check on him or be available in an emergency.  If he was anxious or immature that would change my answer, but a freshman is old enough to be left alone IMO, especially for just a few days.

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It depends on the kid and your support system.  I wouldn’t have a problem with it but dh probably would. If you have a trusted neighbor, friend or family member that can check in or they can contact in an emergency and they are a responsible kid then I see no reason not to. 

 

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No, I would not, and that is how I voted. But I wouldn't think you were out of your mind. After all, you are one of the most reasonable, responsible people that I know 🙂 

ETA: I also would not have any qualms about asking someone for help. I have done such a favor for people plenty of times, and I have also asked for it plenty of times. It does not feel like such a big ask to me. But neither would I be upset if someone said, no, I can't help. In your case, I would probably try for a friend whose kid is on the same school schedule.

Edited by Penguin
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Maybe it is because I have a herd of toddlers at the moment, but I also feel like asking someone to host my responsible, well-behaved (for people who are not me, anyway) teenager for a couple of days is not a big deal.  But I get how it can feel like that depending on your relationship with your family.

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7 minutes ago, Plum said:

It depends on the kid and your support system.  I wouldn’t have a problem with it but dh probably would. If you have a trusted neighbor, friend or family member that can check in or they can contact in an emergency and they are a responsible kid then I see no reason not to. 

 

Incidentally, we’re the opposite. Dh thinks, “Sure, what’s the big deal?” But I’m the reluctant one. 

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I have twin 14 year old boys.  I have thought about doing this for one night, where I was still within an hour of getting to them if needed, but I probably would not for the amount of time you are talking about.  And...we live in a neighborhood where they could get to a neighbor easily in an emergency.  

I honestly think mine would do fine for even a couple of days - they would just hang at home, play games, watch tv, eat and sleep LOL.  But...I just couldn't do it.  I don't have any family nearby that could take them.  I could have them stay at a friend's house for one night, but I wouldn't ask for more than one.

How does DS feel about it?  Can he come with you?  Most of our anniversary outings include the boys LOL, unless it is dinner out.  Even then, they usually come.  DH and I are fine with that though :-).

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Back in the day, my parents left me, then a 7th grader, at home for a week when the rest of the family took a road trip from California to Virginia. I really did not want to be stuffed into a 64 Mustang with 3 siblings (one an infant).  They were very please that I wanted to stay home. They Gave me some cash, and came back around 10 days later.  Everything turned out great for me.  Now would I let my 14 y.o stay more than one night alone--HECK NO.

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If my SIL lived next door, sure I'd consider leaving him at home alone for a couple days and nights at 14. Otherwise, no way. It just has too much potential for something to go wrong, problems to come up, etc. Plus I wouldn't be able to have a good time because I'd be concerned about him - and I'm not a worrier. I'd find someone else for him to stay with - can he spend the weekend at a friend's house? Maybe grandparent? 

ETA: I didn't vote no, but if you elect to do this, I don't think you are nuts. He is your child, and you know him and the situation and yourself - you know what you, he, and his dad would be comfortable with. I only know what I would do with my kid in my family. 

Edited by Bambam
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Has he stayed home alone before?  If so, how did it go?  I would probably not start out leaving a kid of that age home for 3 days, but for sure 1 night and maybe 2.  If he did well with that, then yes.

Well - I mean it does depend on the child.  I could see one of my kids inviting her friends over despite being told not to.  My other kid would be more trustworthy in that regard.  So I am assuming you know your son would not do something like that.

If you are not sure, one idea is to have someone come over on the 2nd of the 3 days and just check in.  That way he's only alone for 2 stints of 1.5 days each.

Of course he would have the phone number of someone local who could come over in the unlikely event that he needed help with something.

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I wouldn’t. I didn’t even leave my 15 and 12 yos home for the day while we dropped their older sister off at college 4 hours away and that was only for a long day. Too many things can go wrong. With your ds, I’d be worried that some kids at school would get wind of you guys being gone and decide to use your house for a party. This story  and others like it would make me hesitate. 

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

It can’t be a different weekend. With school being out for two days (a mon and tues), it makes a four-day weekend, which allows us enough time. (We will drive, not fly.) I wouldn’t want to leave him at home alone AND responsible for getting to school, getting home from school, doing his work, etc. I was thinking we wouldn’t be able to do it, but then he has off, so I thought well, maybe we can. 

Personally I would feel more comfortable with my kids having something to do (going to school etc.).  Less time to sit around wondering what they can get away with when the cat's away.  😛  Also they would be less likely to be lonely / scared if they spent part of the day with their friends (preferably not at my house, LOL).

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We have done this-it just sort of happened due to conflicting activities and ds2 was left for about 3 days at home to take care of the dog at that age.  He did fine. He got a little bored and a little lonely, but he had phone numbers and some ground rules but it was fine.

I babysat overnight when I was fifteen and housesat in empty houses when I was sixteen. If your kid is comfortable and they have phones and will check in via text and you don't have other concerns that they will ignore the rules and host a party or something, I think it is fine.

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My most responsible kid has an issue with leaving the stove/toaster oven/whatever on after he cooks. My other kids didn’t have this issue. I would worry about the house burning down. 

You aren’t nuts if you do it but 14 yos still have brains that don’t always fire correctly and can do dumb or thoughtless stuff. I imagine mine would make questionable decisions about scenarios I can’t even think up to teach them about.

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Does your SIL have any older sons who wouldn't mind spending one or two nights at your house?

Given that you will be within driving distance, I would be more likely to say this is fine.  You could just drive home if you got a bad vibe.

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I would either take my kid with me on the trip or arrange to have him spend the night at a friend or relative's house.  Not leave him home alone, because I would worry and the child would be lonely.

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