Summer for a 12 and 10 Year Old - Leave Them Home Alone?

Updated on February 22, 2013
J.C. asks from Bronxville, NY
32 answers

So my friend has 2 kids - a 12 year old girl and a 10 year old boy. As a family, they take two weeks off during the summer.

For the other 6 plus weeks, she plans to leave them home alone while she and her husbad work 9-5 Monday - Friday. There are camps they can send them to that are not expensive (money is not an issue). They will likely go to a one week camp (for sports) for a week or two but that's it. Would you leave you 12 and 10 year old at home for 4+ weeks over the summer? I think they are insane.

I think it's insane for two reasons - the main one being boredom. Kids who are bored get into trouble. What are they going to do all day? Watch TV? Wander around the neighborhood? And I don't think it's safe to let those kids play outside and wander from house to house without anyone keeping an eye on them. I don't hink 12 is old enough to babysit.

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answers from New York on

I would not do this.

I do think kids today are oversupervised. They aren't allowed to take even tiny risks for far too long, and then gosh! how shocking! they wind up being these hard-partying, binge-drinking college students because they have no experience self-regulating.

However, I think this goes way too far in the other direction.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yes, I would leave them at home. They are old enough. They will be bored, but if they're good kids all should be well.

My mother left us home alone from the time I was 11; my older sister was 12 and the youngest was 7. We did just fine. The biggest problem was boredom but we didn't get into any trouble. Also, we were not allowed to leave the house and no one was allowed in. Mom only worked 15 minutes away and called us whenever she felt like it so she KNEW to stay home and she KNEW we were there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I would never do this, ever. But I can tell you that a TON of parents around here do. I'm with you- I think it's insane.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Richmond on

This is becoming more and more popular, because people just don't have a choice. They don't have the money for a full time babysitter, daycare, or camps. There is a new generation of latch key kids upon us!

I would absolutely let kids that age stay home alone. There would be rules, of course; no opening the door, no leaving the house, check in's with mom and dad both, etc. It wouldn't be flawless of course, but like I said, people don't have a choice anymore and so they're teaching their kids independence, which is a GOOD thing.

Why do YOU think it's insane?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

To me it is not a safety issue so much as they will be bored out of their minds. Sure you can put a lot of stuff in a house for kids to play with but come on, they want to be with their friends.

Very few parents want the responsibility of dealing with latch key kids in the summer. What I mean is they call your kid to see if they want to come over. This means calling you, calling back, picking them get the idea, normal interaction with their friends is impossible.

My kids are just fine by themselves but I plan on signing them up for camps. Changing my schedule so I have a day off with them. It seems a shame to punish responsible kids by isolating them from the friends all summer.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Could my ten year old survive the summer at home while I was at work, certainly!! Did I want her bored out of her very smart brain? No. I sent her to camps at the local university (science, arts and swimming), Sea World camp, Y camp, summer day camp through her school and took time off as well. I wouldn't have wanted to wander the neighborhood and being trapped inside isn't fair.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

we did/ do. Our kids were 13,10,9. They were home all day by themselves. We had plenty of food they could cook themselves.. cereal, toast, breakfast bars. for lunch sandwiches, microwavable mac and cheese or things they could use the micorwave to cook... stove was off limits!

I was only about 5 mins away if they needed me for anything. I was lucky at the job I had if something came up I could run home for a few mins and it wasn't ever a problem. We live in a small town and if they wanted to go to the park ( 3 blocks away) they would call and ask and let me know where they were. The park was actually right behind my work, so I could pop my head out and check on them or if they needed anything they could come in and ask me. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they took the bus ( set up through the school, not a public bus) to the next town and would go swimming for the afternoon. They were not allowed to go to friends houses, but if a friend wanted to play they were more than welcome to play outside in our yard with them. M, T, Th, F they had baseball practice from 9-11. Then games on W that took all of thier mornings. So on T & Th they had baseball practice in the morning and swimming in the afternoon so they were home a couple of hours at the most by themselves. M & F they were fine from 11 on by themselves. They weren't issolated, they had friends over and played outside ( where kids belong :) )

It comes down to the maturity of children. Mine were old enough to handle it.. and I was only a phone call/ 5 mins away. I also know some 14 yr olds who I would not trust to leave by themselves!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I wouldn't do it.
There's too much that could happen when parents are not at home.
They could go to the Y or some other day camp to keep them busy (and running - I won't let my son stay home and vegetate on video games for weeks during the summer).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

NO.. absolutely not.. I would leave them alone.

I would find camps for some weeks.. I would hire babysitters or a nanny for some weeks.

OUr neighbor left her kids alone for a summer.. about this age.... they sat inside and watched TV all day every day.. what a horrible summer for a kid. I do not believe they were allowed to go outside...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Never. I have neighbors that have left their kids home alone all day, every day in the summer, every summer, starting when they were about 9. No activities. No supervision. They do nothing but watch TV and wander the neighborhood seeking to take advantage of other families company and generosity EVERY day. At least one of them steals and shoplifts, lies, and behaves poorly in public. The parents are basically absent and thus the kids lack direction and adult guidance. No one monitors their whereabouts. No family meals. Just a cell phone. Just because kids are old enough to be on their own legally, and probably aren't in danger of hurting themselves, does not make it right.

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answers from Philadelphia on

We were home like this and I babysat 2 girls under 6 every day at 12 so I don't see the big issue. Although I was raised in Philly, so we all played outisde or in eachothers houses until night time with J. going in for dinner anyway. We could walk a few miles to the mall or walk to the park or skateboard all day. I could see how in the suburbs this wouldn't work and leave the kids inside and bored. I always wanted to go to camp but my parents couldn't afford electric let alone camp.

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answers from Phoenix on

My mom signed us up for overnight camp for 4 weeks......but the rest of the time we stayed home alone. I had her work number, my dads work number, my grandparents were 6 blocks away. By the time i was 12 I was babysitting. If they feel that their kids are mature enough then i dont see the issue

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answers from Seattle on

I could see leaving them home alone for a couple of hours, even a few hours once in a while.

But what you are describing is a recipe for disaster. Even though there are families that have done it, and get away with it, it usually done so with negative consequences. If something tragic were to happen, the parents can hardly blame a 12 year old girl for not being mature enough to handle emergencies.

On a personal note, I used to work with a woman, whose parents did this to her and her brother, gender and age reversed. And her brother coerced her into sex for several summers running. Then he started bringing his friends over for some action and that's when it finally ended.

I would venture to say, she's still in therapy to this day, or still going from failed relationship to another. It was WAY too much alone time for just 2 kids.

I feel sorry for those kids that the parents believe they'll be OK for so long. Super irresponsible and lack of judgement IMHO.

And on another note, I'm from a big family, and we were left home for a week or 2 alone at times during the summer, with my sister and I watching and caring for the 4 younger siblings. I hated it. I resented the amount of work it was, constantly diapering and feeding babies, toddler and younger kids. Clearly a different age spread and my parents were borderline stupid I think. Even with all that work and responsibility to keep us busy, there were predators in the neighborhood that knew our parents were out and about for extended periods of time.

I vote it's a HUGE risk nowadays.

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answers from Cleveland on

My best friend across the street and her brother might have been home like that at these ages... I can't remember exactly but I think so. It may be more appealing to the kids than going to camp. I know my friend hated going to camp and just wanted to stay home... Do they have friends close by that they will be playing with? So I think it depends a bit on the motivation and how mature the kids are. I was babysitting at 12... So it seems a bit weird yet I'd be curious if the kids are asking for this. Maybe they're run around so much during the school year they want to just chill? I think if there's no pool they can get to easily (with lifeguards etc), then it would kind of suck. But I remember a friend who had a tennis court and pool and maybe we were 13 but I'd ride my bicycle to her house and we'd swim and play tennis while her parents were at work and it was fantastic! She had a different friends come every day. Is that possible here?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

This was how my sister, brother and I spent our summers. I was even younger than 10. My mother had to work (single parent with no help from my dad). I think it helped us to become independent and mature since we had to entertain ourselves.

Now days there is so much tech stuff, cell phones, computers etc. so the parents can easily keep in touch with the kids. We only had land line phones when I was a kid so my mom would call at different times of the day to check in.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We do this. My step kids range from age 10 to 16. They stayed home alone in the summers for the past three years, from about the time the oldest was 13. The year he was 12, we would have left them alone too but the oldest spent a few weeks with his grandmother out of state so we got a nanny to come in.

Earlier, we were very strict about them staying inside, etc. but last year they were allowed to go in pairs around the neighborhood.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

No freaking way! My two oldest were 13 last summer and I was relieved that because of the younger kids (7 & 5) I was able to hire a sitter for the days that I work in my office. Clearly the two older ones are too old for a sitter, but I would NOT have been comfortable leaving them at home alone. This way, there was an adult around (my college-age cousin) who they had to check in with and this also ensured that they didn't have friends over when we weren't home.

It's not so much being home alone - the 12 year old may very well be a mature, capable baby-sitter - but the fact that with NOTHING to do all day and NO ADULT at home, they're just inviting boredom and problems. What a terrible way to waste 6 weeks. If money isn't an issue, they need to find something for those kids to do - if not camps, then hire a college kid to hang out with them, bring them to the pool or beach, supervise having friends over, etc. Stuck at home with no transportation and no way to hang out with friends is miserable and unfair to the kids. I'm sure they'd be happier with some supervision, which would actually allow them greater freedom and would give them a chance to DO something besides eat snacks and watch TV and play video games all day, which is what will happen when they're at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Well, I'm going to start by saying that I've not read any of your other responses, but that based on the tone of your question, I felt compelled to answer.

Last summer, my 12 year old son & 10 year old daughter (they are 17 months apart) stayed home while my husband & I worked.

They did attend sleep-away camp for 1 week, spent 10 days at my parent's house in NJ, and we all vacationed together for 8 days. Taking those time periods out of the equation, they spent right around 5 weeks home.

Were they kind of bored? Yup. Is that ok with me? You betcha! It is not my job as their parents to keep them constantly entertained. That does not make me insane, or even *gasp* a bad parent in any way. I've been raising my kids since birth so I'm pretty sure I would be the expert on what they are & are not capable of handling at any given time.

So, if your kids aren't capable of handling it, then you probably shouldn't put them in that situation, but a lot of kids are & it's up to their parents to decide when that time is.

And just a little added note: my son was not baby-sitting his sister. They are each responsible for their own behavior being as close in age as they are. With that being said, when I was 12 years old, I baby-sat 2 children 45 hours per week while their parents worked & I was perfectly capable of doing so.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with Tracy M. word for word.

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answers from Washington DC on

Well I have an 11 yo boy and a 22 yo boy.

Here's what happens when they are left alone.
THey eat things
They cook things
They burn things
They use power tools
They spill gasoline
They mix fluids
THey lose the dogs
They feed dogs people food
or they forget about dogs and dogs pee by door
They watch gobs of tv and play hours of video games.

So no, I would not leave my 11 year old at home even with his 14 yo sister. She would go sit in her room and read a book and he would accomplish the above list plus. With the 16 yo it would be fine, she's bossy and he wouldnt' cross her.

My oldest was actually a summer babystter for a family with a 12 yo and 10 yo. He was 16. I was alos home most of th etime so if he needed help he could call me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My neighbors left their 15 & 17 year old girls for a long weekend.
Responsible, good grades, church going nice girls.

3 day party, toilet upstairs broke, overflowed into the basement for 3 days!
Smoked in the house, beer cans, etc..

No kids should not be left alone, even if they are great they have friends that maybe are not & this will be a great place with no adult supervision.


answers from Washington DC on

No way. My kids will be 9, 7, and 5 this summer and we just hired our summer sitter.

Even when they are older, I doubt I'll leave them home alone. We always vacation, but that is only 1-2 weeks. I'll plan for more as they get older, but no way would I leave them at home alone at those ages for a full summer. I think summer is meant to be fun and exciting. Sitting at home is anything but fun and exciting.

We do mini-trips also. I call it Operation Summer Mini-Trips Summer 20XX. Last year we did a lot!! We did Luray Caverns, Winchester, VA, the National Zoo, Virginia Beach, and Antietam Battle Field. We were gone more often than not. The kids were almost begging for a do-nothing weekend!!

This summer we have a week in Myrtle Beach, but I'll also do my Friday off day trips with them to places we haven't done yet...I think it's SO important!!


answers from Hartford on

Not until the older child is 13 years old and is certified by the Red Cross or Girl Scouts to babysit and can be paid for the responsibility. Neither of them is old enough.



answers from Phoenix on




answers from Boston on

My kids are 11 and 14 and last summer for the first time I worked 5 hours for 4 days and left them home alone. They sleep until about 10, I told them they could not eat alone so the younger one would wake the teen who would sleep all day. I go in early so that I am home by 1:30 PM, before they even really miss me.
But before that I would always pay a baby sitter and I arranged my 20 hours/week so I would go into work 2 full days (8 hours) and then work 4 from home.
My kids did watch a lot of tv, or played the Wii together, or talked and ate, etc. Not the best way to spend a summer but it my afternoons were free to do outings with them (local lakes, library, museums, waterpark, etc)



answers from St. Louis on

nope, it rarely works. My sis tried this & regretted her choice.

Our neighbors did this & I had to referee far more than I ever thought.... OMG, those kids could fight. By the end of the summer, they hated each other & this angst carried over until they were both in college. So sad.

My sis & I stayed home alone from about this age on.....BUT our grparents were across the street, as was our gr gpa. & yes, we fought. & yes, we called mom at work a lot.

You know, what are the state regulations? Not that I would call DFS, but your friend may need to check to see if she's legally within her limits. :)


answers from Phoenix on

Many families here have had to face this too.....I too think it is insane. But like other mommies said, they don't have a choice . It saddens me and I think about those kids and so if we are doing an outing for the day, I think of them to pick up and take with us. I am not comfortable doing that with my children, but we have not made steps to prepare them either for such a responsibility. It would be nice if families had older cousins or friends kids that can earn money in the summer watching after them.



answers from Los Angeles on

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answers from New York on

my neighbors twins were 12 last summer and they also have a 16 year old son.. the mom doesnt leav for work until like 830am and the father gets home from work pretty early around 230... and they stilll sent their twins to camp for the summer ... better safe then sorry i guess lol


answers from Phoenix on

I think it depends on the kids and the area they live in. My dtr is 12, son is 9. My daughter would be THRILLED to be home all day, every day. She is ADD, loves to draw and write stories and would be happy sitting home. My son tho, not so much. He is ADHD and would go batty! He needs to be doing SOMETHING every second or he goes bonkers! I have left them home for about an hour and a half by themselves. They are not allowed to go outside or have anyone over. I keep telling them that I'm "testing" them to see if they can get more priviledges. As far as the area goes, its hot here in AZ, over 100 every single day in summer. The kids swim every day, but I would not allow them unsupervised, even tho they have been swimming since age 3. Its still too much of a risk. And we live in a very safe neighborhood and the Police Dept is the next street over from us. So you have to factor in a lot of things when you think about this.


answers from Tulsa on

I would not have left my daughters home alone. I have 13 and a 9 year old daughter and a 13 and 10 year old step daughter and we do not leave them alone any longer than an hour at the very most so i agree that they are too young to be left alone yet. i do feel that you have to decide when it is the right time based on thier maturity level. I just dont believe that children should be left alone for more than a couple of hours until they are at least 15 and 13 at the very least!!


answers from Kansas City on

I think they SOUND old enough to be home together. I think it should depend on the law in the state as well as the level of maturity for BOTH kids.

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