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Ex-Husband Calls Police After Mom Leaves 9-Year-Old Home Alone To Go To The Gym — She Says He's Overreacting

Boy reading a book on a bed with a dog

After the movie “Home Alone” we all know the possibilities of what can occur when a young child is left alone in the house without any adult supervision. But is it worth calling the police over when it is only for a short amount of time? 

A mother is asking herself this question after she left her nine-year-old son home alone while she went to the gym. 

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Her ex-husband called the police upon realizing that she had left their son home alone. 

Sharing her story on the U.K.-based parenting site, Mumsnet, the woman asked other forum users if her son was too young to be left home alone. 

She began her post by revealing that she has left her nine-year-old alone in the house on multiple occasions while she goes to the gym. 

“While I'm gone, he's in his room on his laptop, watching TV,” the woman wrote.  “He has a phone which he FaceTimes me on.” 

She claims that her son is always obedient to the rules she provides him when she leaves the house, including not opening the door for strangers, staying away from the oven, going to the neighbor’s house in the event of an emergency, and calling her if he needed anything. 

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The mother is gone for no more than 40 minutes and her gym is local. 

Although her son has never encountered an issue being home alone before, his father did not like that he was left unsupervised. 

On one occasion while the woman was at the gym, her son called her ex-husband.

“He spoke to his dad on the phone while I was out and my son told him I was at the gym,” she wrote. 

“His dad hates me and reported me to the police who came and asked [me] questions and said it's against the law to do that but they are happy my son is happy and cared for.” 

The police advised the mother to refrain from leaving her son home alone anymore to prevent her ex-husband from building a case against her in court, as they are in the middle of a “toxic” custody battle. 

However, she took it upon herself to conduct some research on what the appropriate age is to leave your child home and alone and uncovered evidence to support her beliefs. 

“I have checked the law around this before on the GOV & NSPCC websites and there is no age limit,” the woman shared. “It's down to the parent to decide.”

The mother is correct — UK law does not have a specific age requirement for leaving kids home alone. In the US, however, the law varies by state.

As attorney Narimon Pishnamaz notes, other factors should be considered too — such as the child's maturity and any medical or psychological disabilities.

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Maturity appears to be the main reason the Mumsnet poster decided it was safe to leave her son home alone. She believes that her son has exhibited the maturity it takes and most importantly, he is comfortable with the idea. 

The woman’s ex-husband reportedly told police that he had left their son home alone when he was five years old, which they said they would pass on to social services. 

She added that she would not be leaving her son home alone for the time being, but sought the advice of other parents and asked for their opinions on the matter. 

“So, have you left your 9-year-old home alone?” the mother asked. “What age is right?”  

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Many parents shared when they started leaving their own children home alone. 

Some believed that it was perfectly acceptable to leave a nine-year-old home alone. 

“I started leaving my son at 9 for short periods, for example, going to get his sister from clubs,” one parent commented. “He enjoyed the responsibility, knew the rules, and could phone me if needed. He’s 10 now and we’re slowly starting to leave him for a bit longer. 

I think it very much depends on the child rather than age, and you know your son best.” 

“I have an 8, nearly 9-year-old. I leave him for up to 1.5 hours on his own. He knows all the rules, and has a phone he can ring me on,” another user shared. “I would never leave him if he didn't want to stay on his own, and he is always given the option to come with me wherever I'm going!” 

However, others believed that nine years old was too young to be unsupervised. 

“I think being left alone regularly at nine to do something like the gym is unnecessary and too young,” one user wrote. 

“Nine is too young to be home alone. I think 11 / 12 for short periods is fine,” another believed. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.