Ex-Husband Calls Police After Mom Leaves 9-Year-Old Home Alone To Go To The Gym

What age is appropriate to be left home alone?

Last updated on Mar 08, 2024

boy sitting on his bed alone cottonbro studio / Pexels

After watching 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. While it's unlikely kids left at home will have to face the threat of burglary, there's always going to be a sense of worry among parents.

But is it worth calling the police when leaving kids home alone 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.


The woman's ex-husband called the police upon realizing 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 in the past 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.”

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She claimed 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 needs anything.

It seems like she's done everything a parent can do to prepare their kid for staying home on their own. And many latch-key kids can relate, as they, too, were often left home alone after school while they waited for their parents to come home.

Ex-Husband Calls Police After Mom Leaves 9-Year-Old Home Alone To Go To The GymPhoto: Antoni Shkraba / Pexels


As far as leaving her son, the mother is usually gone for no more than 40 minutes and her gym is locally-based.

Although her son has never encountered an issue being home alone before, on this particular occasion, his father didn't like that he was left unsupervised. And, while she 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.

The woman’s ex-husband also reportedly told the police that he, himself, had left their son home alone when he was just five years old; police said they would give the information 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. She posed the question: “So, have you left your 9-year-old home alone? What age is right?”

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Many parents weighed in on when they started leaving their own children home alone.

Some believed 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 a bit 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 added.


At what age should a child be allowed to stay home alone?

In the midst of the entire situation, the mother took it upon herself to conduct some research on what is the appropriate age to leave your child home 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.”

Ex-Husband Calls Police After Mom Leaves 9-Year-Old Home Alone To Go To The GymPhoto: Ivan Samkov / Pexels


It turns out that the mother is correct — U.K. law does not have a specific age requirement for leaving kids home alone. However, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says: young children should never be left alone, which includes babies and toddlers, and children under the age of 12 aren't mature enough to be left alone "for a long period of time."

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In the U.S., however, the law varies by state. In Illinois, kids cannot be left home alone until they are 14, where it's 9 years old in North Dakota, and 6 years old in Kansas. Thirty-seven states have no age limits. Meanwhile, studies have found that the mean age adults believe kids should be allowed to stay home alone is 13 years old.

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




Maturity appears to be the main reason the Mumsnet poster decided it was safe to leave her son home alone. She believed that her son has exhibited the maturity it takes and he's comfortable with the idea.

Most importantly, she took all the necessary steps to prepare him for staying home by himself, including setting boundaries and rules.

While there's not exactly a precise age where children can legally stay home, this mom did everything correct in deciding to let her child stay home without supervision. He seemed fully capable of being able to care for himself and was never put in any danger, and that's the most important part of all.


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