On figuring out when a kid is old enough to be left alone #Offbeat Families in the media#big kids#parenting dilemmas February 21 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride By: seenthroughmylense – CC BY 2.0 Avital Norman Nathman, author of The Mamafesto (and the source for this post about girls' Halloween costumes), recently spent a few days on a trip with her family. After an all-day ski trip, her husband posed a question: when are kids old enough to be left to their own devices? Read on: "So, what would you think if I set the kiddo up in the lodge with some hot cocoa and an iPad while I took a solo run down the mountain?" My husband's question caught me off guard. He had just returned from an all-day skiing trip with our six-year-old son and amid re-tellings of spectacular runs and a spill or two, he asked that question. I responded with a hint of trepidation. "… Did you?" In the few moments before he answered, several different situations sped through my mind. I saw my son with a mug of hot cocoa, piled high with marshmallows of course, concentrating furiously over his newest level of Angry Birds. As if in a mental split screen, I also saw him running around the ski lodge, frantically calling for my husband while nearby adults tried to help. In the end, neither of those things actually occurred. You can head over to The New York Times and read the rest. What do you guys think: at what age are kids ready to be left alone? Join our community! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS My parent friend has a baby and can't really hang with us — should we keep inviting her? NEXT Use a notebook and a pencil to keep your car running smoothly Show/Hide comments [ 42 ] This is a current topic of discussion in our house. Our daughter is almost 10. She's always been the sort to amuse herself, sometimes chilling in her room for hours and looking mildly surprised/annoyed when her dad or I pop our heads in to check on her, but we've never left her alone in the house. I relate to the writer's fear of the child's possible freak out. I believe she would be fine on her own for an hour, and I feel confident that she knows how to call 911, who to go to for help, etc., but I have this fear that she might get nervous at home alone. On the other hand, I remember leaving her with a sitter for the first time when she was an infant, being absolutely certain that she would be frantic for me by the time I came home…to find her blissfully asleep with the sitter napping on the couch (something I hadn't done since the rugrat was born). I think the imaginary freak out is mine, not hers. 8 agree Reply From my own experience as a child, I think 7 or 8 is probably about the time I would let my kid play in our neighborhood unsupervised or be left along in the house for very short periods (like a quick trip to the gas station or something). I see groups of kids in my suburban neighborhood playing unsupervised and they seem to be somewhere in the 8 to 10-year-old range. I think the issue will really be the individual child's personality and whether the other kids in the neighborhood are allowed to play as well. 4 agree Reply When I grew up I was what my mom called a "free range kid". I have memories of going to get a movie and a chocolate bar at the store all by myself when I was at least 8. My siblings and I would run around the neighborhood with our friends until someone's parent called them home from the front step. Mind you, we lived in a small town where everyone knew each other (for the most part). I really believe this early independence has helped me throughout the years, I even went to Europe completely by myself with no anxiety. I plan on raising my daughter with the same independence. Independence in children is one of the best things you can teach your children as long as you give them the tools to be safe when on their own. 8 agree Reply My son turned 9 at the end of July. In September, when he began 4th grade, he and I decided that he was responsible enough to walk himself home (3 blocks) from school and stay alone for about 2 hours until I get home from work. Now, he's not truly alone, as he has two furry dog brothers waiting for him there, but I do make him call when he gets in the house. Other than forgetting to call about 50% of the time, it's been great. I can tell that his confidence level has gone up a lot, and he often asks to stay home by himself when I run errands and won't be gone too long. Plus side, the dogs have a bit more freedom, as they are kenneled when we're not home, so it gives them a couple of extra hours of people time every day! 9 agree Reply I think some of that depends on where you are and the kid themselves. I was 12 or 13 before I was old enough to be left home alone. That being said, I also lived in the country and we had no neighbours within walking distance. I had, however, been left to roam about around our property unescorted for a long time before that. I did a lot of wandering outside by myself, usually within sight if you use binoculars, but not always. Being left in a public place by myself, however, would be different. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew my dad so I was probably left unattended at the local rink occasionally but there was also usually someone who knew me within sight and I always knew I could go to the canteen if there was a problem. My husband and I had this conversation the other day and agreed that 12 or 13 is probably about the age we'd be okay leaving our kids home alone for a full evening or something. We may re-evaluate this once we have a kid and know whether they can be trusted. For short periods of time? Yeah, definitely before that. Playing outside with someone half keeping an eye on them, especially once the kid knows the limits, just seems normal to me. But it is still about knowing your kid. Out in public, yeah, I'm more leery of leaving them alone. I admit, I'm one of the people who does not totally trust strangers. Equally, I've been the grown up who was stuck sitting beside a kid (somewhere between ages 6 and 8, I forget) traveling alone for a 6 hour flight. I would not want to have my child decide someone needs to amuse them and then coopt a total stranger into being a babysitter. 3 agree Reply I'm not a parent yet, but it seems to me that one deciding factor should be, "does the kid know how to identify an emergency, and can he/she handle it long enough for a competent adult to get involved?" For example, on the ski trip, suppose the dad gets in a ski accident and can't for one reason or another return right away or contact the lodge – does the kid have enough responsibility to identify when the parent has been gone too long and contact an authority figure at the lodge? Does the kid know how to handle strangers? 11 agree Reply I would say it really depends on the kid. I grew up in a small town in a safe neighbourhood, so I would play outside on my street unattended from a very young age – 7 or 8, maybe even younger. As for being left alone in the house when my parents went out – I'd say that started around 9 or 10 for short-ish periods of time. By the time I was 12, my parents would leave me in charge of my younger siblings, and by the time I was 13, I was babysitting other kids in the neighbourhood, including infants (both during the day and at night). I was pretty mature and responsible from a young age, so I would say these ages made sense for me. My little brother, on the other hand, is only 13 now (we have a big age gap). I don't think my mom started leaving him alone even for short periods until he was 11-12. As for babysitting? I'd say he's still too young. No offense to him, he's a great kid, but I'm not even sure I'd leave him in charge of a pet at this point in his life, let alone a child. It all comes down to the individual child's maturity, sense or responsibility, and comfort level with being left alone. 6 agree Reply I agree, it totally depends on the kid. My daughter (nearly 8) still has a hard time going to the bathroom in a restaurant by herself. She likes us close. Although she'll be "old enough" in just a year or two to stay home for a little bit, she likely won't want us to. Her younger brother, however, is much more independent and will probably be fine being home alone long before my daughter. I think that when she's in 5th and he in 2nd grade is about when I'll be encouraging them to walk home alone-together (1/3 mile) and wait for me to get home from work for up to 30 minutes. Right now I do let them play out front unsupervised, but I don't let them go farther than that. Not because I'm worried about people, because I'm worried about _cars_. No one expects kids to be playing out by themselves, and they go fast, even on side streets. I think this is a question that has a wrong answer (kids younger than 7 or 8 need to be supervised) but there are a lot of potential right answers; depends on the kid and the situation. I have to say, though, being alone and being "left alone" at a ski lodge are totally different things. I would not be at all comfortable leaving my kids alone in a crowded area with a lot of potential difficult interactions with strangers or a need to be responsible for "stuff." (One trip to the bathroom with the ipad as a "seat saver" and you can kiss that ipad good-bye. Or one skier striking up a friendly conversation, but leaving that poor kid trying to make the decision if this stranger is an ok one to talk to). I also think that if a younger kid is going to be left home alone, they need to be able to reach an adult immediately – not the case if the parent is actively skiing down the mountain. 3 agree Reply I live in NZ, and it is technically illegal to leave your kids at home alone, without the supervision of someone aged at least 14. Is there a law like this in the States? 3 agree Reply It depends on the state. For example, in Florida it's illegal to leave anybody under the age of 18 alone. http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm has a list of the state limits 2 agree Reply Whoops, guess my parents were crazy law breakers! I transferred from my home school (3 blocks from my house) to a magnet school (about half hour bus ride from home) when I was in 3rd grade and was a latch key kid from that point on. My middle school was also on a year round schedule so I had 3 week periods of time where I was home all day by myself. My other magnet school friends and I would walk the couple miles to the nearby mall and/or movie theater to hang out sometimes during our breaks (with parental permission of course). I was an independent kid though, my mom says she always knew that once I left for college I would probably never move back home, and she was right (but I do visit as often as I can afford to!). My sister on the other hand hated being left alone in the house and still to this day is quite dependent on my parents and needs to see them at least once a month (despite being married and living in another state). So it is totally a kid by kid basis. 1 agrees Reply I think there is a rule that a child has to be 10 or 11, and can be left for up to two hours alone at home. They cannot baby-sit or watch another child unles they are 13. This has changed from when I was a kid. I don't know what the rules were back then, but I started baby-sitting neighborhood kids when I was 11, and by the time I was about 14, I was kind of sick of doing it, and wanted to spend more time with my friends. I don't know where to find these supposed rules, and I don't know if they are even laws anywhere. It's just what I keep hearing people say… Reply If you really want to dig into it, this looks like a good starting point: http://www.whpgs.org/f.htm Reply I wonder what the law is in Canada? I'm not sure if we have one, and if we do, it must be a younger cut-off. I know at my elementary school, the official board policy was that students in grade 7 and up (so around age 10/11 and up) were allowed to leave school unattended at lunch time with written parental permission. So for example, if you lived nearby, you could walk home for lunch, or you could walk downtown with a group of fellow 10 and 11 year-olds to buy lunch at the chip truck or the diner on the main street. If school policy allowed students as young as 10 to leave school unattended, then there must not have been laws that conflicted with that. 2 agree Reply Just looked it up – there is no legal age cut-off in Canada. It is up to parental discretion and 'good sense'. 2 agree Reply I always thought there was a law like this in the UK too, but apparently not. The government advises, though, that children under 12 are "rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time" and children under 16 shouldn't be left alone overnight. Sounds reasonable to me, and in line with what most of the comments here have said. https://www.gov.uk/law-on-leaving-your-child-home-alone Reply Washington State is 13 yrs old before they can be legally left alone in the house. I was leaving my 11 year old home occationally when I ran to the grocery store until I found out about the age limit. Reply In my state there's no age limit. There are certain behavior standards but it boils down to your kid being able to provide basic care for themselves without an adult present. They're really after skills that most kids have between 7 and 12. Reply But 2 years later they can drive a car and 4 years later they can kill someone? 14 is far too late! The NZ government isn't thinking that one through. Reply That's not true. It's illegal to leave your kids (aged under 14) without making reasonable provisions for care of their supervision. That means things like making sure it's only for a short time like a couple of hours, and that they know who to contact/how to contact them in case of an emergency. It is totally legal to leave your 12 year old home for an hour while you go to the supermarket, it's down to your discretion basically. Reply I don't know if it is a cultural and a typical "norwegian" thing, but I think the ages you guys write are old. I remember playing outside in our neighbourhood at the age 3-4 year old (most often with a group of kids and it was a quiet street) and was alone for a couple of hours from age 6. All the people I know did as kids. Often with the "Hello dad, who are home and have a black belt in karate(he didn't) shouted down the stairs to scare of potential thieves :0) Kids need to learn independency and how to react in new situations and the first time home alone is a new situation wether one is 6 or 13 year old. 4 agree Reply Yeah, almost the same here for Germany. I played outside alone or with friends from 5 onwards, maybe? And walked home from school from the start. Also went to the library by bus at maybe 7. I can't remember that many details, but I think our parents left me and my three years older sister alone at home for an evening when she was 10 or so. A few year later they also occasionally went on weekend trips without us. This wasn't in a small town, either, but in the suburbs of a really large one. 2 agree Reply Same in Switzerland. I was playing outside with other kids around 5 y.o. and occasionally walked home by myself from kindergarten (we lived in a residential neigborhood in a city). No one even thought of walking their children to or from school. From 13 years old on I had a 40 min commute using a public bus and a tram to get to high school. Totally normal. In Tokyo, I've seen 6 year olds use the subway by themselves to get to school. 1 agrees Reply I think it depends on where you live and what the environment is like. Also a little bit of where your parents are from. Both of my parents grew up in large cities and were very independent at young ages (my mom likes to tell me how when she was a kid her mother would send her off to the liquor store with a note for cigarettes so the adults would have to go themselves… oh, the 70s were something else!), so I was out exploring the plants in our apartment plaza, having adventures with the other kids in our complex, and collecting lizards around the age of 5, without supervision. We also walked to school (about 4 blocks away) without an adult. I grew up getting to and from school on my own, by walking or by school bus. I also remember when I was 7 or 8 and went to one of the local afterschool/childcare programs, the "big kids" got to walk to the corner store (in a small group, but without adults) and buy candy (which was definitely more than a few blocks). I look back on those days and think, wow! They let us do that? And that wasn't even in the 70s or 80s, that was in the 90s! My parents granted us a lot of independence because that's what they had when they were younger, and we lived in a supportive environment where the adults in the community looked out for other people's kids. Other parents in our apartment complexes had no problem telling us not to get into trouble, and my parents did the same with other kids. And I think my parents trusted us enough to let us just do our thing. Also, they trusted their own parenting skills enough to believe that we would remember what they had taught us (don't talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, call us to check in every once in awhile, etc.) Long story short, I was left to my own devices from a very young age and had many adventures catching lizards, buying baby bottle pops and collecting rocks. 1 agrees Reply Yes – me, too. I was 3 or 4 when running around the neighbourhood. I was 5 when I walked solo to school and back. At 7 I drove my bike through my very large industrial city to visit the neighbourhood I'd moved away from a few years previously. Not much later than that I was left home alone, with my sister, while my parents ran errands. Around 1o or 12 I no longer needed a babysitter for occasional late night parental outings. My own kids are 9 and 5 right now. The older one has been walking solo in our neighbourhood for about 2 years now. He and his brother are allowed to walk around solo if they are together. The older one walks home from school solo and goes to the store to get himself a treat (which he buys with his own bank card). We leave them for a couple hours when we do errands and they are almost always quietly sitting exactly where we left them. It depends on your kid's temperament, firstly. If my elder son was a dreamer when out walking, we would know he couldn't handle walking around solo, but he is not. Secondly, your kid needs to know what to do in a couple different emergency circumstances. So, we rehearse what to do when a stranger wants to move you from where you are standing. They know where our contact info is and how to make phone calls. Thirdly, they should know who the people in their community are. Shop workers in our neighbourhood know my kids and they know that my kids will ask for help or to use the phone if they ever find themselves in a sticky situation. They know most of the neighbours (we live in an urban core) and know to go ask for help if they need it. Fourthly, they have to understand that all strangers aren't bad and how to listen to their gut when interacting with people. Reply My daughter, who is 10 now, was roaming our family-friendly neighborhood since she was about 7 years old. There were quite a few parents on our street, and someone was always looking out their windows, keeping an eye on the mess of rugrats that lived there. We have since moved from that neighborhood (sigh), and into one with only one other household with children. I have two sons who are 6 and 4 now, and while they are allowed to play in the backyard without immediate supervision, they don't have the same freedoms my daughter had at that age. Some of it is personality (the middle one's a panicker) and some of it is where we live. Every situation is different. My middle son probably won't be ready to be left alone by 9, which is when we started to allow my daughter to walk home with friends. Evealuate you individual situation and don't have a set rule. 2 agree Reply I was home alone for a couple of hours at the time starting at about 7 or 8. That's kind of what I think I'll do with my own kid, and in NC the age is 8! So that works. I like the idea of fostering as much independence as possible, while taking into account the kid's personality. He's 2.5 now so I've got some time to ponder all of this! Reply This was surprising to me; the ages suggested in the comments seem so high to me! I was allowed to play outside on my own from about 4 years old, and I remember being left home alone starting around 6 or so – granted, not for very long at first. My husband tells stories of being dropped off downtown with a few dollars in the smallish city where he grew up starting at around 8 years old. One thing that I really recommend is making -sure- that the kids know when you are expected to be home. The very first time I was ever left home alone, my mom had gone to run some errands. I thought that she had driven and expected her home within 10 minutes or so. About half an hour later, I was terrified because I thought she had gotten in an accident – turned out that she had walked rather than driven, and was of course perfectly safe. I wasn't at all stressed out about being left on my own though; it felt really empowering. I think depending on the personality of the kid in question, they should be allowed to play independently and be left on their own as soon as the parents and the kids both feel they're ready. 2 agree Reply It really depends on the situation though. While I was roaming free in the country at a young age (probably 4 or 5, maybe younger to just be playing by myself outside), I also got lost in a small town I didn't know when I was 3 after being left behind by older kids at a playground. Towns I didn't know at all. Also, being in the country with no close neighbours meant being left home alone was very, very different. There was no 911 (totally different numbers for the local RCMP and the fire department took at least 1/2 an hour to make it to our house). So I come from a pretty different perspective of playing alone vs being left alone where there isn't someone home that I can return to or who is occasionally checking on me. 2 agree Reply I just remembered that my parents let me play alone in front of our house with friends as early as 4. The reason I remembered this was because one day my friend and I decided that we wanted to draw…on the parked cars…with rocks. Someone should probably have been watching us. 3 agree Reply HA i did the same thing as a kid! My parents LOVE to tell the story of when my friend Katie and I drew on our neighbour's new cadillac with 'writey rocks'. I was a pretty independent kid…I don't recall exact ages, but I walked home from school (about a half hour walk) with my friends starting around 9, and my best friend and I would hang out at my home by ourselves until my parents came home an hour or so later (her mom would come pick her up shortly after that). My parents also love to tell the story of when they left me at home one night in a thunderstorm (not the first time leaving me alone, but the first time during a thunderstorm). They left a flashlight, a few candles and a lighter on the kitchen table for me in case the power went out. They had just got in the car when they saw me come running out of the hosue after them…I had realized I didn't know how to light a lighter. My dad thought it meant I was an idiot, but my mom was thrilled as she realized it meant that I definitely wasn't smoking. I think I was 12. 2 agree Reply I smashed a neighbor's car window when I was 7. Not on purpose, though. Reply I was playing on my own out in my front yard from as young as 4 or 5. I walked to and from school by myself since I was 6 (10-15min walk from school). I was left on my own in the house when I was about 8 or 9 and started babysitting when I was 11. I would go hang out with friends on my own around 9 or 10. But my parents also did a lot of things for us so we'd feel comfortable on our own. There was a florescent pink sheet that had all emergency numbers on it. Before my parents would leave they would tell us where they were and a phone number to reach them at (before the cell phone age), and they would let a neighbour know what's going on (we had a neighbour across the street that carried a spare key to the house in case we were ever locked out…and this is the same neighbour we were told to run to if we ever had problems). They would walk with us to school on a weekend to make sure we knew the route, and gave us obvious pointers like "don't go with strangers", etc. We also knew to call from a pay phone (again before cell phones) or a friend's house to let them know where we were. I think it has a lot to do with teaching your child independence, common sense, and providing them the tools to be prepared. But I also think sometimes it might have to do with the area you live in. I think my parents were more willing with us because we lived in a nice quiet neighbourhood of a Canadian suburb where the neighbours all helped each other out. They might have thought differently if we were in the most down-and-out area of a big city. And it can be a generational thing too. I know a lot of kids my age were left alone earlier…but I have parent-friends who wouldn't dream of leaving their kid on their own until they were 13 or 14! Reply I agree with a lot of this, especially considering where people live. I think part of the reason my parents felt comfortable leaving us kids alone at a fairly young age was because we lived on a military base, which is pretty safe considering you have to show ID to get on the base and the military police were always patrolling the area. 1 agrees Reply We were left alone at an early age – I think when my oldest sister first had to babysit for us, we were (respectively) 7, 4 and 2 years old. Possibly irresponsible, but that was how our parents thought it would work out. (My oldest sister cut off a piece of her finger when trying to fix dinner. She reacted very maturely, called the closest neighbor – living about a kilometer down the road – and nothing bad came from this.) Having told this horrific story, I would say it depends on how mature your children are, how long you are planning on letting them alone and whether they know where to get help in an emergncy. The exact same story could have happened at the age of seventeen, right? Reply I remember very clearly the first time I went out in the centre of town with two friends and no adult supervision (swimming and McDonald's, I think). I was 11 – I think perhaps that was a touch on the old side, since the two girls I was with seemed to have been out alone before. Or maybe that was just my pre-teen paranoia! In the UK, we start high school at 11, and many people (although not me) took a half-hour or longer train or bus ride to school, and walked home from the train station alone too. On the other hand, does anyone else remember being baffled by Harriet the Spy as a child? That kid roamed around New York City for hours at a time, every day, and she was, what? Eleven? I remember reading it and having no idea how that could possibly work when I was 7 or 8. Reply I was playing outside alone in a small town at 5 years old and walking across town to visit friends or go to the community swimming pool at 6 years old. Of course, "stranger danger" didn't exist in a town of 800 people. My three children are all 6 years old and are now allowed to go to the park in our suburban town home community without an adult. They don't have to cross any streets to get there since it is on our block and there is no drive-by traffic. I prefer that they go with at least one other child rather than going alone. Reply I grew up in the NYC 'burbs in the 1980s. I played outside alone starting at 5 or so, roamed freely (usually on my bike) by 8 or 9 and was left home alone at 10. I am all about the free-range kids movement. Reply It really depends on the child, where you are, and the situation. Here's what my experience was growing up. First let me say that I was a pretty independent child and grew up in a small island town. I walked from my school to my father's office starting at age 6. Both the school and his office were on the edges of downtown so there was always someone you could talk to if there was any trouble. The route was maybe half a mile, I only had to cross at two crosswalks, and I practiced walking it with an adult between kindergarten and first grade. Biking on the other hand, I had more restrictions on. I couldn't bike out of my neighborhood without an adult at 8 due to traffic and was only allowed to be on the big road at 10. As soon as the big road happened I was allowed to go anywhere in town unsupervised as long as I told my parents roughly where I'd be, who I was with, and when I'd be home. Being home alone was something I did around 7 for short periods like if my parents ran errands. I also stayed home sick with stomach bugs a couple of times so my parents could work. They would both come home on staggered lunch breaks and call me a few times. I knew all about 911 and not to answer the door unless it was my neighbor or a couple specific family friends. When I was 14 my parents left town for a week, but I had to go stay with a friend because they felt I was a tad too young to watch the house for that long. I did get to stay alone for their next solo trip at 17 however. My only lengthy vacation experiences were in suburbia seeing family and in a very large city. In suburbia I was always with someone. An adult always drove. There was too much traffic on the interstate for my cousins just learning to drive. However, when I was 12 or 13 my dad spent a summer working in a very big city with subway lines and buses. I went with him for that and was trusted to get from the apartment we had to his work alone. That involved 3 transit stop switches. I've worked with kids quite a bit coaching and what not. Some kids are just more mature than others at any given age. Even in a safe area there are some kids that can walk to school at kindergarten while others will get distracted and meander and wind up tardy even in fifth grade. I think it's also pretty obvious that a kid who could darn well be free-range in a rural area or city might not get to roam about next to a busy 4-lane road. Gauge things based on your level of realistic worry. Is your kid likely to get hit by a car because a road is too busy? Does your kid know not to call 911 because you're 15 minutes late getting home? Do they know that Person X has a bad reputation and that they are not to talk to them? Reply While reading a story to a 3rd-grade class last week (most of them age 8 or 9), I asked them what age they thought it was appropriate for a kid to ride a bus by herself, or go to the corner store without an adult. They're in San Francisco, so things are generally only a couple blocks away. Many of the children talked about how they could go to a local neighborhood store by themselves but none of them ventured far from home by themselves. (I was a kid in a nearby neighborhood, and I'd get sent down to the corner store — literally half a block down at the corner, but across the street — at 4. When I was 5, we moved to the suburbs and I'd walk half a mile to/from school starting in second grade.) Reply Haha, when I was a kid I was in that exact situation! I think I was twelve. Earlier in the day I had collided with another skier (we both turned towards each other at the same time and didn't have time to stop), and while not seriously injured, I was sore and done for the day. My parents and siblings went to get in a few more runs and I stayed in the lodge. Mom gave me money for hot chocolate and I sat and read a Black Stallion book. I actually have very fond memories of that day; everyone else came back cold and grumpy about the icy conditions, and I was warm and relaxing with my book. I have not been skiing since! Reply I have to agree with a lot of people on here that it seriously depends on the child. At eight years old I was left alone by my grandmother a lot, but I knew how to cook, clean, call for help if I needed it. I did live in a small town that I could walk up and down the streets and to the Dollar store with no problems.. even having family drive and stop while I'm walking home to ask about how my granny was doing. I was a pretty responsible kid then, though. I mean at age 11, my grandfather would give me the keys to his truck, tell me to load it up with brush and sticks from the field, then drive it to the bonfire area. I would even drive to the main street to the hardware store to get him nails and screws. The town was a quiet place so I never really got in trouble for it. I grew up like this, knowing other kids in town were raised similar. So it came as a shock when, at age 19, I met my now husband's nieces, respectively 12 and 8 years old at the time. They were completely co-dependent on their Nana (my mother-in-law) to do everything for them..I mean EVERYTHING. From making food, dishes, cleaning, laundry..always saying gimme gimme gimme. They were rotten, to be honest. I knew how to do laundry when I was seven!! I knew how to separate, use tide spray on stains, put certain settings on the wash, and put up whoever laundry went where. And don't even start me on cooking! I could make roasted sammies in a toaster when i was five! Both sides of my family had this, "Well if you want it done, you better learn it and do it." Even now that they are a bit older now (the oldest is now sixteen and just got in a small fender bender…then freaked out and left the scene of the accident..to which snowballed into the police searching for her. Yeah…she's a bit dramatic and not all there in the common sense department.) I only see like VERY little improvement on any real-world skills. =( I would NEVER trust these kids to be home alone. The youngest is about to be a teen and NEEDS someone to be there at the house with her because she has actually gone as far as opening the door to a complete stranger just because they knocked. Like literally ran up to it while my husband and I hollered at her to stop and wait for us. She slightly burned her hand when I taught her to make her own potato chips on a stove… which lead to her screaming uncontrollably..acting like her arm was cut off and being coddled by her Nana for two hours..like a BIG preteen sitting in her lap like a two year old. Being a medical assistant, I treated her arm while she yelled at me saying she will never cook again. other than her Nana, everyone else in the household literally laughed at her for overreacting over a small burn..like it was literally hot for one second, she had no visible signs of a burn, no scars, nothing. She now demands from her Nana exactly what she wants. Last night she even demanded that the fan in the living room turned on because she was hot… wearing two layers of clothes complete with a hoodie and sweatpants..my husband told her no and to take the shit off she had on. Moral of this rant? Please to god teach and give your children confidence and independence as much as you can. Those little lessons that grow into responsibilities will take them far when they become adults. Please, please, PLEASE don't underestimate what a child can learn. They have the capacity to take on more than you give them credit for. They arent as fragile as you think. There are so many ways to teach kids responsibility from everything to laundry to managing finances, please don't ever miss those opportunities to give them those essential life skills. They will thank you everyday when they are adults for what you taught them. They don't stay kids forever. 18 years is not that long. =) Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Participate in this conversation via emailGet only replies to your comment, the best of the rest, as well as a daily recap of all comments on this post. No more than a few emails daily, which you can reply to/unsubscribe from directly from your inbox. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.