Home-Alone Tweens

Staying home alone is a big responsibility and privilege for tweens. Three moms talk about how they prepared their kids for this exciting milestone:

Since my house doesn’t have a landline, I purchased a pay-as-you-go cellphone that would enable my daughter to contact me, a neighbour or emergency personnel should the need arise, and we discussed how to handle emergency situations. To test the waters, I began to leave her home alone for brief periods while I was only minutes from home. I have gradually increased the time and her responsibilities while I’m away.
—Rev. Jill Waltz

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I’ve established ground rules for when my tweens stay home alone:
• Do not open the doors except in an emergency. The dog can wait to go out, and any packages delivered can sit on the porch until we return.
• A simple snack is fine, but don’t cook anything or use a knife to prepare food.
• Avoid headphones and loud music or television. You need to be aware of your surroundings and able to answer the phone if I call.
—Tiffany Castleberry

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Although my older two children were ready for the responsibility of being home alone by fifth grade, my youngest two, twins, didn’t “take” to the rules we’d established. For example, I’d call the house, and they’d answer instead of letting the answering machine pick it up. As a result, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving them home alone until they could obey the rules.
—Donna Brennan

This article appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2013 by Rev. Jill Waltz, Tiffany Castleberry and Donna Brennan. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.