At what age can you trust them at home alone?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by wakeupcall, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    I work VERY parttime, on call. I seldom work all summer so that difficult child isn't inconvenienced (ahem), but now that school is back in session, I work while he's in school and have everyone trained that I need to leave the office at 4:00 so that I can meet his bus at 4:30. Today, he was sick (NOT) and husband went to school to get him at 11:30. He was alone all afternoon. First of all, I keep all the computers completely turned off and passwords hidden so that he doesn't get on the computer and surf XXX junk. husband left his on when he went back to work after lunch. Soooooo, of course my 14 year old son spent time on the computer looking guessed it....XXX junk. Then I suppose he was shooting his airsoft gun around the house since I'm finding pellets everywhere. He ate six ice cream bars, a whole bag of chips, gatorade, etc. The house was trashed. Now mind you, he was only here alone for 3 1/2 hours. What's a parent to do? Do I not have a life at all....ever???? I'm so tired of this.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I guess your question was rhetorical?
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well at 14 he should be old enough to leave alone. You wont be able to find a sitter at that age or daycare. Maybe you could find an elderly woman...maybe...if she could handle him.

    Obviously husband shouldnt have left the computer on but difficult child should have known better too. The airsoft gun I wouldnt have that much of a big deal with but I would make him find all pellets and pick them up. I would also make him clean up any mess he made of the house. Or charge him an hourly wage for house cleaning.

    Normally they get into trouble when they are bored. Figure out what special interesting things he can only do when left at home alone.
  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I don't know if I'll ever trust my son home alone! I can't even imagine what he'd get imto.
  5. Bean

    Bean Member

    That's so hard, I know. My little difficult child pretty much left me feeling crazy whenever she was home alone starting at about 14. I just never what she'd do or steal or who she'd have in or if she'd be there when I got home. Worse yet was when she was home alone with her brothers. I don't even really like to think about it.

    I don't have a solution for you. But I want you to know you're not alone.
  6. I can't see that I'm ever going to leave him in my house alone. I'm not all that attached to it, but I have no hope of replacing it should it burn to the ground as it certainly would if difficult child were unsupervised for any length of time.
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    If my difficult child 1 (who is about the same age) is unmedicated, I cannot leave him home alone. And he does the same thing with unattended/unprotected computers that yours does.

    But if his medications are in full-swing, he is okay for me to leave for a few hours.

    My difficult child 2, who is a bit younger than yours, I cannot trust alone for very long at all. (See my thread on Watercooler about matches...)
  8. aninom

    aninom New Member

    With a difficult child, age truly doesn't matter.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It all depends on the child AND on what you expect. One thing I have always done is to go over the important rules before I go. The child MUST be paying attention to ME while I am doing it. Tv, games, books, all of it must be stopped.

    I found that this did help.

    As for the computers, you need to either have a very strong net-nanny program or teach your husband to not leave any computers available. in my opinion that is one that most 14yo boys (difficult child or not) would do. Expecting anything less is setting everyone up to fail. Of course, difficult children are going to do more and find worse stuff than anyone else, but that is why they are difficult children.

    Does he have access to the airsoft rifle all the time? What are the rules for using it in the house? SHould it be locked up when he is not allowed to use it? (I truly do not know because we don't have one & I have not even seen one.)

    The trash around the house, the mess, all of it is kind of normal. Especially the first few times. You have to work to train them (and husbands) to be okay at home alone. You need to either make difficult child clean up the airsoft pellets and all the other mess, or set an hourly rate that you would pay a cleaning service and charge him that. If he has no money then something of his must be pawned to pay the bill. If he really wants it back he will do extra chores to earn it back. Read Love and Logic Parenting for Teens, it explains how to do this very well. It is an AWESOME book for teen pcs and teen difficult children, in my opinion.

    I took a Love and Logic seminar a couple of years ago. One man in his 20s was in his first few years of teaching. He was there with other teachers from his school. His mom was a teacher and was there also. It was not her first seminar.

    The author who was presenting, Dr. Fay, was talking about a child refusing to clean up, then the mom pawning something to pay for a cleaning lady to come clean it. The son got mad and took something of mom's to pawn to get his item back. THe mom then called the police and pressed charges of theft. It helps set the responsibility back on the child and helps establish the authority of the parent. It also sets good life lessons and natural consequences into play.

    THe young teacher burst out with "THAT is why she did it!" and everyone broke up laughing!!! His mom had been to a seminar years before, when he was a difficult child. She had tried everything else and he figured that he had her set up to let him do whatever he wanted. (As so many of our kids think we cannot make them do anything.) This really helped open his eyes when she did not back down, but enforced the consequences anyone else in the world would.

    I did NOT make that up and they were not plants. In talking to them later, the mom taught with my stepMIL and knew my father in law. It let us parents see that while our kids may "hate" us at the time for this, it isn't forever and they WILL eventually learn.
  10. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Age is not a factor when it comes to our difficult children!

    I've been able to leave my difficult child, 14, alone for a couple years now. But it started with small trials and clear expectations. Most of what your difficult child did are pretty typical of a boy that age and not just gfgish. A 14 year old boy is going to search out porn, they are going to eat you out of house and home, and they are going to turn a blind eye to their mess. The airsoft being shot in the house - hmm, that's not good especially if you have pets. My difficult child can have his gun in the house, but it doesn't get loaded or shot in the house - that's a "take it and hold it for awhile" offense around here.

    I think you give him the opportnity to be alone by speaking to him opening and honestly about the porn (difficult child's therapist told me that I should talk to difficult child about the degrading aspects of internet porn and then leave out the Victoria's Secret catalog - at that age it'll work the same!!!!), about cleaning up after himself, about being responsible in regards to the food that is expected to feed the entire family, etc. I think you let him know that he really is old enough to be home alone. You need him to show you that he is maturing and you an trust him. Set the expectations clearly and the consequences realisticly and give him another opportunity.

    What happens during holiday break? Are they going to be alone? If so, start that discussion now!

  11. susiequte

    susiequte New Member

    When difficult child was 19 and living with us, we left him alone one night. We went over the rules before we of which was do not touch or play with the gas fireplace. When we came home, I could tell that a few things on the hearth had been moved. Confronted difficult child....turns out he was trying to light the fireplace. I had all lighters, matches, etc locked I asked how he was planning to light it. He turned the gas on, and then hit two rocks together trying to get a spark!!!! That was the last time he was left alone!
  12. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Yep, that's what I was afraid of. Since I got home yesterday I've found more and more and more of poor choices. I won't leave him alone again for longer than an hour. It isn't worth it; and I love being chained to my home and child :)
  13. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

  14. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Wakeup, one of the tactics I use is to call home periodically while I am out to check in on him so that my "presence" is never too long away. And sometimes he gets a list of chores to do while I'm gone... just enough to keep him occupied but not overwhelmed. If he gets them all done, he can earn a reward.
  15. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    husband gave him chores at lunch before he went back to work. He didn't want to overwhelm him, so gave him two (not too taxing either)....he did ONE of them. I'm beginning to believe there's even more wrong with him than we ever thought. I'm so tired.
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    It depends upon what you consider "trust." ;)
    He clearly entertained himself and wasn't afraid.
    Of course he trashed the house. Any teenager would. Even PCs do that.
    The computer should have been locked.
    Other than that, all things considered, it's a matter of expectations versus outcome.
    He didn't burn the house down, and didn't answer the door to strangers. Sometimes that's all you can expect.
    I'm serious.
  17. Bean

    Bean Member

    My middle child, who has been fairy dusted with difficult child qualities, raids the kitchen nearly every time I'm gone. He's very good about doors, keeping things clean, being responsible, but whoa Nelly, that kid will unleash on the goodies. If that's all it ever amounts to with him being at home alone, I guess that's OK.

    #1GFG is a whole nother ball game.
  18. maril

    maril New Member

    Have only very recently left home with difficult child there by himself and, at those times, left the house with "anything valuable and then some" locked up; it ended up working out okay.

    If I remember correctly, my daughter was pretty much okay to leave home alone when a teen.
  19. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    Yep, I did that too. My difficult child pretended to be home when she was not. Cell phones really complicate things sometimes, and unless you disable the call-forwarding on your landline, you are an open target, if your difficult child is so inclined.

    My difficult child was never trustworthy enough to be left at home. Even when I left her overnight because I was hospitalized, she used the opportunity to "play house" with a guy.

    Other times she was home alone, there were public myspace postings with our phone number and the plea for somebody to come over because she was home alone and bored.

    I'd say to trust your gut regarding your own difficult child's behavior patterns and disregard age.

    The only thing I did that gave me any security at all, was to give no warning when I was to be out for a little while, so as to give no opportunity for her to make any plans, and to give no indication of how long I'd be out or how far away from home I was. I was relatively safe if she had no idea when I'd show up.
  20. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    That sounds like something MY difficult child would do! And at the same age also. :slap:

    Wakeup....for the most part in my humble opinion, what your difficult child did was pretty typical for a kid his age, difficult child or not. As others said, what are the rules? Obviously the computer issue needs adjusted, LOL, but what is the rule for the gun? If it's nut supposed to be used, I would make a new rule that the gun is in YOUR room (or trunk of your car, hidden in the attic, etc.) whenever it's not being used. Ditto with the snacks. Maybe only keep so much out at a time and lock the rest up. At 14, he's going to inhale anything he can get his grubbly hands on, that's just how boys that age are.

    Same with the chores. The fact that only one was done is pretty typical also.

    As others have said, I would lay out clear expectations but also take precautions. Lock up anything that could be an issue (the gun and snacks for instance) and see how it goes. Sometimes it's hard to remember or recognize typical teen behaviors when we deal so much with the difficult child stuf, Know what I mean??