It can be one of the most daunting things to face as a parent: is it the right time to leave your kid home alone, or are they not quite there yet? Sometimes it can really be hard, even in a two parent household, to get everything done. At a certain point, it is totally fine to leave kids at home, which can help alleviate some of the stress, but when is it the right time? Experts have weighed in on what they think.
First of all, it’s important to check the legal side of the matter. Many states don’t actually have an age requirement, and the states that do vary from state to state, so it’s important to look into what the law dictates in your state.
CEO of LegalAdvice and family law attorney David Reischer, Esq. shared: “Only three states currently have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a child home alone, including Illinois, 14 years old; Maryland, 8 years old; and Oregon, 10 years old. However, most states will follow guidelines with the Department of Health and Human Services or other child protective agencies that test a child’s ability to be left home alone. The state will evaluate various factors including the child’s age and maturity, the overall safety of the surrounding area, and any arrangements made to secure the child’s safety.”
That means that there’s a 6 year age age between the legal minimum age of leaving kids at home between Maryland and Illinois. That 6 years can make a huge difference in understanding responsibilities.
A Chicago mom named Christina shared with ScaryMommy: “Z was definitely younger than 14 when he stayed home alone for the first time. I was a single mom, and he often got home from school before I could get home from work. I think he was about 12 when he first started staying home alone. By high school, he was watching his little sister after school.”