Readers — I got this question yesterday and it is one that comes up from time to time. I’ll give you my answer, but the author would like to have yours, too. Here goes:
There is no legal age for children to stay at home alone. Parents are advised to use their best judgment, keeping the child’s maturity level and safety issues in mind. Younger children have a greater need for supervision and care than older children. Obviously [!], young children under age 10 should not be left without supervision at any time….
Lenore here again: Stacey, your kids are sentient beings, they know how to reach you if they need you, and in a lot of the world they would be herding sheep already (alone, on a mountain), or going off to fetch water for porridge.
As for yours: Most of the time they’ll be asleep, but when they’re not they get the excitement and pride of you TRUSTING them. That’s good for them! I’m not sure I would insist they stay in bed. Maybe they can get up and play in their rooms, or something equally benign.
I am so sick of our culture that equates ANY indepedence — even the simplest act of waking up — as taboo and dangerous. Good luck. And can you call and get ME up to go to exercise, too?