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Leaving Teens Home Alone Overnight: How Do You Know They’re Ready?

Mindy_Virtual_momWhat age can kids be left home alone overnight? I am starting to long for the days when the biggest dilemma in back- to-school shopping was which lunchbox to buy, or which outfit to wear on the first day of school. I wouldn’t even mind a discussion about bringing a cell phone to school. Those decisions all seem so simple now.

I want to take Amnon to college and Ryan thinks that he is old enough to stay home by himself. My friends keep asking each other the same question: What are you doing with your younger kids when you take your older ones to college? Meanwhile, I keep having visions of teenagers gone wild.

So ask I you, dear family, what do you think about leaving teenagers home alone overnight?


I think Ryan is definitely at an age where he should be allowed to stay home alone overnight by himself. But if that makes you uncomfortable, there are several choices you have to make the situation a little better. For example, why not take Ryan with you to drop Amnon off? I mean even though Ryan is only a freshmen he can certainly see what it’s like to go to college for the first time and see where his brother is living.

Or if he is going to stay home overnight, just ask one of the neighbors to watch the house. That way there won’t be any crazy teenage parties crashing your vases and breaking your windows.

Or have Ryan sleep over one of his friend’ houses. That way he will be having fun with his friends and safely under the watchful eyes of a parent.

But really leaving him at home should be no big deal. He is definitely old enough and as long as you trust him, then there is nothing to worry about.

Dan_virtual_dadEvery kid is different. Some are nervous being home alone, some are excited by the possibility. Some are trustworthy, and some are not. By the time the kids are in high school, we probably have a good idea about how trustworthy they are.

If he wants to stay home by himself, I’m ok with it. There are always friends/relatives to check on him, or even drive by the house to see what s going on (if necessary). It’s also a good opportunity for him to show us how responsible he is (or not!). If, by now, he’s earned our trust, then he deserves the chance.

Ryan_virtual_sonI think parents are often over-protective when it comes to kids staying home alone. What is really the big difference? I, for example, would just have a normal night. I would make myself food, maybe frozen pizza or order pizza or something like that for dinner. After that I would watch TV, maybe spend some time on the computer, and then go to bed. If I needed to be up for some reason in the morning, I would set my alarm like I always do. Parents are worried about kids having huge parties when they leave their kids alone for the night, but that is pretty unrealistic, and it honestly rarely happens. I think parents like to think more about what could happen, instead of what most likely will happen.

Amnon_virtual_teenIt all depends on how much you trust your kid.If they seem like the type who would have a lot of friends over and do crazy things, then I think Devan’s recommendation for a watchful neighbor will work.With Ryan, on the other hand, you have nothing to worry about.

I know it’s easy to think that the moment a teen is old enough to take care of him or herself alone, he or she is immediately prone to hosting wild parties; however that’s not true most of the time.Many kids have a hold on their wild tendencies, at least when it comes to having a party (which is a rather stressful workload).If that doesn’t feel right, then rest assured knowing that as long as you have a friendly neighbor or even just a friend who’d stop by sometime at night, it would be incredibly difficult for a teen to have a party.

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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