Am I out of line

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by crazymama30, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Warning, LONG!!

    I just need some opinions other than mine or husband's, all input welcome.

    easy child is 12, difficult child is 10. They do not get along when there is a parent home, but do well when left alone. I do not like them left alone for more than an hour or 2, it just bugs me especially when it is not necessary. I work 12hr shifts, home about 8 pm. husband has been helping a friend remodel his house. This friend helped us fix up our house before we put it on the market. They have 2 kids, husband is layed off and wife cannot work. When the friend helped he did not have to bring kids, wife does not work so she is home with them all the time. Once in a while he brought his son, which was fine.

    Now when husband helps friend, I work A LOT!!! Usually 10 or 12 hr shifts, so husband was taking kids and I would pick them up after work if I could. Today husband left about noon, I got home at 8pm. He left kids at home by themselves that entire time!! They are fine, even took baths and got along great, but it just enrages me. One of the reasons he does not take them is because difficult child causes problems. He will not leave the puppy alone, bugs the other boy, and just causes problems. Well, if anyone followed thru on anything and difficult child saw they meant business then maybe he would listen. I guess I feel like husband is choosing friend over family. To me the kids should be most important, and they should not be left alone for 8hrs. Maybe easy child as she is older and more mature, but I hate that if she is alone with difficult child then she feels responsible for him.

    There is just so much, husband is getting his tonsils out 9/15 so his anxiety is thru the roof, he is losing weight when ENT told him to gain (because he is working himself to death and not eating), and he has had an upper body MRI and now is having an EMG sometime. I never get to talk to him as I am always at work and husband is always helping friend (lately).

    Thanks to those who finished this. This is a really long post for me.
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    It's different today than when we were kids. My parents wouldn't think twice about leaving us alone at 10, 11 or 12, BUT, not for 8 hours.

    Is the friend nearby? Can he "drop in unexpectedly" during the day? Is there a neighbor that can pop in?

    I see your husband trying to help out the friend - he's feeling obligated AND sorry that the friend is in a bad way financially.

    Opinion? I wouldn't leave a 12 yr old in charge of an anxious difficult child!

  3. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    No, no neighbors. Just an elderly Great grandfather who husband was supposed to check on and did not do that either.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Nope, I wouldn't do it. If difficult child had a meltdown, it's not fair for a 12 year old to bear the burden of end results. God forbid something terrible happened - that's a lot of years living with guilt that shouldn't be yours.

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is different in every area, but here in my town it is not permissable by law to leave children under the age of 13 home, and esp not for kids under age 14 to babysit. If tehre are problems that arise from a child or children under these ages left home alone - they ARE removed from the home. I ONLY know this because Wiz had a classmate who was left alone while his mom was in graduate classes and working in the library at night on her thesis. Kid alled us for help one night - and I called the cops when mom was still gone at 10 pm.

    I think you should speak to your husband about this - and about what is reasonable to expect of a 10 yo difficult child and a 12 yo easy child.
  6. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Thanks nvts, that is what I felt too.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I wouldn't, and didn't. Even if the situation involves 2 PCs the amount of time is just too long for kids of those ages.

    Can husband break his time with friend up into shorter intervals? If not, I'd be saying no working on friends house until it's not going to be long before you get home if he doesn't want to take them along.

    An awful lot can happen in that amount of time. And it's not fair, or safe, to saddle easy child with a difficult child that whole time. She's not old enough to handle any real emergency alone.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Again, a different take on it here.

    First, you say the kids get on fine on their own at home, but not as well when you or husband are home with them? Why on earth is that? Crikey, I'd be wondering if it would be better for the kids, to have the parents move out and let the kids raise themselves!

    So I suggest that FIRST you examine the dynamics of the interactions when you or husband are home. What is triggering the meltdowns? Is there another way, maybe a better way, of dealing with things? And are they really getting on together that well after all? I mean, they bathed themselves on time etc, but if there was washing that needed to be done, did they do that also? If left home alone more often, how long would it take before the wheels ran down and problems began?

    Second - what sort of supports do the kids have in place in the event of problems? What have they been told they should do in the event of an incident? A delivery man? Friends wanting to visit? Friends wanting them to go visit them? And so on.

    Now to our situation - we do leave difficult child 3 home alone. He is 14, and completely alone. Before that we sometimes left the others home alone under similar circumstances.
    But - we have good support in place. mother in law lives nearby and is often 'on duty' as babysitter. We have friends nearby (including over the road) who difficult child 3 can go visit if he feels anxious. We always leave phone numbers where we can be contacted as well as a "to do" list written up, for who to call and when, what chores need doing, what food is available for them to eat, and so on.

    My reasons for leaving kids on their own (especially difficult child 3) are the same as husband's. I don't blame him. And frankly, a quiet afternoon with nothing going wrong is often much better for a difficult child than a supervised but distressful time.

    Sometimes I call home to see if he's OK (and to make sure he's getting his schoolwork done).

    When we left multiple kids - we didn't leave on "in charge" apart from making sure that at least one of them would check the "to do" list and make sure everything had been ticked off. Otherwise, each child had to be equally responsible. Or they took turns. We have found that it depends on the kid, but a difficult child is capable also, especially if it's a difficult child who prefers familiar places.

    There can be a big difference between a latchkey, neglected kid, and a kid who is being given a taste of responsibility. especially when you first do this, you need to debrief with the child afterwards. "How did you feel? Did anything happen that you felt you might not handle? Were you worried about anything in particular? Now you've done it, how do you feel about having done it?" and so on.

    We found that over time, each small success built up a bigger investment in long-term success.

    The main worry with leaving them alone for such a long time - you risk there being a problem, with a possible set-back in their ability to be responsible when left alone.

    But that didn't happen. Maybe because your husband was already fairly sure your kids were sufficiently responsible? They've already had SOME experience of being left alone, and they haven't blown it before. So maybe for these kids, it was less a gamble than it seemed?

  9. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    We leave difficult child home at times alone. husband leaves for work at 6:30 am, I get home about 12:45pm. (2 or 3 days a week) difficult child sleeps until 11 or so. (or he DID sleep..big change on Tuesday!)

    HOWEVER - I have three neighbors who we spoke to, who know this. These three neighbors are available at anytime. difficult child has their phone number and is welcome at their home at anytime. I also have their phone numbers as does husband. easy child also available by phone but currently no car.

    When difficult child woke with a horrible headache, neighbor went over to sit with him until we arrived. If he is not comfortable at home, he will go there.
    He is able to reach us at all times via phone or cell phone.

    These 6 hours are the very most he has ever been home alone, and most of that time he is sleeping.

    Prior school years (middle school) he would be alone from 6:30 - 8am when his ride came.

    This year husband will drop him off at the bus at 6:30.

    6 hours is stretching it and would not leave him 6 hours of awake time.

    In our state, children can be left alone when they are felt to be "mature enough". Babysitting age is age 12. Actually difficult child is Red Cross certified for child care. More for my peace of mind. I wanted him educated on what to do and when.

    Five years ago we had a fire in the early morning hours. I had just gotten home from work at 5am. Fell asleep on the couch. Smoke filled the house and difficult child woke with the smoke alarm. He could not find me. could not see. He took the dog and ran next door. Did not stay and look for me, did not stay and call for help. He did exactly what he has been taught to do. The fireman woke me up...slapping me across my face. Opened my eyes and could not even see 3 feet with the smoke. difficult child was 8 years old. He stayed calm and had his head together.

    If we did not have the outlets for difficult child, I would not leave him. Two kids I would think even harder.
  10. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Shoot. I don't even leave my husband home for 8 hours!:rolleyes: I'd come home and he'd be half way through 10 projects and none of them finished. Now, if I can just get all the thrift stores around here to lock their doors when they see him coming, I'd be in good shape.

  11. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Marg, after I realized they get along better alone I had to sit and think about it. I think it is due to difficult child's anxiety and insecurity. If husband or I are home, then we are his security and you get the whole sibling rivalry thing. They also compete for attention. If husband or I is not home, then his security is easy child. So he then listens to her. They are really meltdowns, just sibling bickering. She did this, he breathed on me, and so on. To me, a meltdown is much more severe.

    If the kids have problems they have my cell phone # and husband's cell phone #---he would have been able to run home. I just feel that 8 hrs is too long. 2 or 3 hours is not so bad, but 8 is a long time.

    easy child is not left in "charge" of difficult child, she just kind of assumes that role and it bothers me. Or maybe husband tells her she is and does not tell me.

    In our state kids can be left alone at age 10.

    I did write him a note (he did not get home untill late as he was helping friend) and let him know I was concerned and why. I think part of the problem is he always goes back to how he was raised, that does not work. In this day and age things are different. Life is more dangerous. He just puts his blinders on and says it will be ok. His comment to me was that the kids want to stay home. Kids want to eat candy all the time too, but do we let them????? When I realized what was going on I was 6hrs into a 12hr shift. I need to work and am out of vacation pay.

    I do not think this will happen again, and if it does I will have to deal with it in a better manner. Sometimes I get tired of raising 3 kids instead of 2.
  12. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I do understand your husband's position. There is the debt, the wanting to help and the being busy. I also understand your issue of not wanting to leave the kids alone that long. Can a compromise be found -- maybe husband can work for 2 hours, go home for a half-hour or so, back for another couple, etc.?

    Considering that husband is helping friends and the wife does not work, it seems like she could volunteer to have the kids over regardless of whether or not the kids all get along or whether your son doesn't behave perfectly.

    I don't see it as your husband picking friends over family. I think it is more that he feels he has an obligation to help and is old-fashioned enough to think it is important to pay back. To do less would be a demeaning of his core values and those do have to come before family for basic inner survival. He also believes the kids are safe and, so far, they've proven that's the case. It is going to be hard to get him to not help. I doubt he can do that and be comfortable with himself. He believes the kids are safe and that makes it hard for him to understand your fears. Hopefully, he will listen to you and respect your fears so that something can be worked out. I think you're right but I see his viewpoint (and, from the sound of it, so do you).
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am glad you are aware of what is OK in YOUR state/area as far as leaving kids home alone. I was truly shocked to find the age for our town - it seems very old to me. It was explained to me (by my husband's ex=fiance who ended up the guardian ad litem for the other boy by coincidence) that our town is a university town and the rules are set up because MANY college kids/grad students have kids and leave them alone at very early ages. We also ahve a very intense focus on "child protection" - not necessarily CPS but along those lines - and the policy makers felt the ages ensured more safety.

    I do not necessarily agree with the rules here - Jess was FINE alone for a short time (and hour or so while I picked up thank you) and indeed thrived on the "alone time".

    I just wanted to be sure you checked the rules/laws for your area - it would be a tragedy if your husband was trying to do the right thing (pay back the debt in labor to the friend) and ended up with you all in a major legal battle.

    Around here my Jess has always taken the "in charge" role with the siblings - even with Wiz at times. She seems to have common sense which the boys do not - events of this week not withstanding, LOL! -

    Do you have neighbors who could support the kids in case of an emergency? with-o feeling funny and calling CPS or the cops? (I don't know about everywhere, but HERE CPS makes their own rules and they may or may not agree with the laws).

    I am glad you wrote a note to husband. I find that if a big problem comes up husband and I work better together if we communicate in writing. we are each very careful about what we write down so that we get to the real meat of the issue.

    It may be that it is a good thing in the long run for the kdis to be home alone for a time. It certainly will foster a sense of self-sufficiency (spelling?) and an "i can do that: attitude.

    I did NOT post OUR legal restrictions to make you (or anyone) feel that they are doing something wrong if they didn't follow OUR town's rules. There is a reason each state/region has its own rules. this is one of them.

    Anyway, it is a neat thing that the kids get along well when no parent is around. It may be a good thing for their future relationship as siblings.

    One thing that might come in handy, or not based on the family, is something I used to have for babysitting jobs. i would have a bag or box of special activities, books and music that I only took to babysitting jobs. If you had a box of special items (garage sale or thrift store stuff is a great resource) that can ONLY be used when they are home alone - it would give them something to look forward to and to keep them busy when dad is away while you are working. Something to look forward to.

    The other suggestion I have is to take each child out for a "date" - dessert at a restaurant, some splurge, to talk in depth about how they feel during these periods of being left alone, and to find out what activities woudl be interesting. It gives them individual attention and it helps you see what is going on. I used to use this with the kids when things were tense and also to help set the curriculum for homeschooling.

    Anyway, these are my ramblings.

    I sincerely hope I did NOT offend anyone about posting our area age restrictions. I only meant that it is important to know the legal issues and to use these as a part of evaluating what needs to happen.

    And I hear you about raising husband's as kids. You should feel proud, though, that your husband feels strongly about paying back the labor debt to these people who helped you. That is a great quality to encourage.
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    You've gotten some great feedback here. I can see both sides, but agree that an entire day is too long. husband will have to break it into smaller segments.
    Sometimes my kids get along better when we're not home because they play games and watch TV. I'm the one who has them doing their homework and cleaning, so I "create" stress by that, or at least, that's what difficult child perceives. Sigh.
    Wishing you clarity and strength.
  15. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    your concern makes sense to me. My S2BX would leave my difficult child's home alone even when he knew they try to kill each other.

    8 hours is a long stretch for that age range.
  16. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I think 8 hours is much too long for children of that age to be left alone. And then adding in the difficult child component...not good. There are just too many things that can happen. I was worried about Miss KT being home alone for just a few hours when she was 13, because she did things like make Easy Mac without adding water. Fortunately, I was home for that one, and stopped the microwave before we had a fire.

    That's a lot of responsibility for an 11 year old to deal with. I completely understand your concerns. Hopefully husband listens to you.