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Mom Leaves 2-Year-Old Home Alone While She Works Next Door — But Checks In On Her Via Time Lapse Video

Photo: Peopleimages.com - YuriArcurs, RossHelen, Odua Images / Canva
toddler climbing wooden toy

Working a full-time job and being a parent is hard. According to thousands of Americans in a Pew Research Survey conducted in 2019, it’s a difficult task. Nearly half of American parents admitted that they felt their work hours needed to be reduced or that they couldn’t give 100% at work because of the stress of being a full-time parent as well.

Parenting is a 24/7 job — you’ve given birth to (or adopted) a new life that you have to take care of. There’s no time off. One woman in China decided to get creative when it comes to working and taking care of her toddler: she uses a baby monitor to check in on her kid while she’s at work. But the thing is, the baby is all alone when she’s there.

The mom leaves her two-year-old at home alone while she’s working next door.

A woman named Teng, from Zhejiang province in eastern China, recently saw her story gain a lot of attention online after dividing parents who were critical of the decision she made. On October 4, 2023, Teng decided that she was far too busy to take her daughter to work that day, and left her at home alone. Seeing as she owns the restaurant right next door (which is where she works), she had no issue with leaving her two-year-old daughter unsupervised.

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Once she saw that her daughter was able to take care of herself while she was on her own, Teng was happy, Shaanxi TV reported, via South China Morning Post. Parents online, however, weren’t happy about the situation.

In the United States, especially, where parents often never take their eyes off their children, the culture shock must be massive. Teng seems to think otherwise, considering the baby monitor footage she has set up shows just how capable the two-year-old is.

A portion of the footage obtained by SCMP shows the two-year-old girl in bed with her pajamas on, drinking from a bottle of milk. Once she’s finished, she gets up to place the bottle on a shelf before grabbing a water bottle to drink from. Finished with that one as well, she makes a move toward the bathroom to use the potty — a self-sufficient two-year-old if I’ve ever seen one!

Still, other parents were not convinced. “It is too dangerous. What happens if something unexpected takes place?” someone online asked. “Is leaving kids home alone legal?” asked another, which is a completely valid question and actually sheds some light on the situation.

mom in china leaves toddler home alone while she works next doorPhoto: Tatiana Syrikova / Pexels

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It is technically illegal to leave children under 18 at home alone.

Enacted in June 2021, the Law on the Protection of Minors in China states that children under 18 years old cannot be left at home alone. Parents who leave their children at home alone will be in breach of the law, but there is no penalty specified for doing so.

Regardless, Teng feels as though her daughter can manage without her, thanks to the parenting she’s done up to this point. “I have discovered that she remembers every word I tell her. I feel gratified,” Teng told the TV station.

Some parents were shocked by the child’s ability to be self-sufficient. “Oh my God! What kind of a two-year-old fairy baby is this?” one person asked, implying that they must be some kind of magical being. “My daughter is as mature as this little girl. I’m very moved,” another mother shared.

Still, the general consensus in the U.S., according to a recent survey by SafeHome, is that parents are not even considering leaving kids home alone for an extended period of time until age 12. That's a lot older than two.

Although one may not be able to imagine a world in which American parents would ever allow this to happen, no matter how mature the toddler is, it does seem to be a common practice in other places around the world. While it certainly seems like a risk, instead of judging the mom too harshly, maybe we should be judging the fact that we live in a global economy where it's this woman's only choice.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.