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Mom Asks If 11 Years Old Is Too Young To Stay Home Alone After Co-Parenting Conflict

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Mom and son cuddling

A mom of an 11-year-old boy went to the Reddit forum r/Parenting to ask if her son is too young to stay home alone after a co-parenting conflict she had with her ex.

The mom explained that she splits 50/50 custody of her son with his father. Her son spends one week with her and the next week living in his father’s home.

She reported that her son told her that he stays home alone when he’s at his dad’s house. 

“He said it was just a few minutes at a time, but I didn’t fully believe that,” the mom stated.

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After the most recent drop-off, she asked his dad if he lets their son stay home alone.

The dad confirmed that he does leave their son alone on days when he’s not in school, as his girlfriend no longer works from home. 

He told the mom that their son stays alone for 8-hour stretches, although his girlfriend “comes home halfway to check on him.”

The dad gave the young boy a phone “so he can contact them if anything comes up.”

The mom stated that she doesn’t feel comfortable with her ex-husband’s choice to let their 11-year-old stay home alone during the day.

“I feel like he’s far too young to be home alone for 8 hours,” she noted. 

She told her ex that she would be “more than happy to take my son for the day and bring him back when someone is home,” instead of leaving the child alone.

“This caused quite the dramatic response,” the mom said. “We’ve always had a great co-parenting relationship, except for this.”

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She asked the subreddit if her 11-year-old is too young to be home alone, while also wondering if she was “overreacting” to the situation.

Most commenters believed that it’s a case-by-case issue that depends on the child themselves.

“I don't think there is a blanket yes or no to this answer. Maturity level plays a role and so does the environment,” said one user.

The same user explained their mindset, stating, “I have an 11-year-old boy that I would never leave alone for more than 5 minutes. He gravitates towards bad choices like a moth to a flame. I expect he'd play Fortnite, eat junk food and find some way to hurt himself within the first hour.”

One user posed a direct question to the mom, asking at “what age did you plan on letting him start to be more independent? Now's the time to start giving him chances to show you that he's responsible.”

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Other users brought up their concern that her son lied about the fact that he stays home alone.

One person suggested that the mom “speak with [her] son to ask him how he feels about it.”

“I would also ask him why he told you he was only being left for a few minutes when in reality it was many hours? Is it because he is uncomfortable or is he concerned about your reaction to this?” The same user asked.

The mom responded to this question, saying “ I really think he’s testing to see if I’ll allow him to do the same when he’s with me.”

She continued her explanation, saying “I’ve asked him if he’s okay with this and he says it’s fine and not a big deal. Until he tells me otherwise, I’ll have to trust him and his dad on this one.”

She offered context for her concern, saying, “When I was his age I was home alone quite a bit. Even at night. And no one thought twice about it. But now, maybe it’s just because I’m more aware of the world, it just seems wrong.”

“I know he has to learn to be independent and I won’t be doing him any favors if I stifle that growth for him,” she said. “I just have to trust myself to teach him right, and trust this is the right call.”

She noted that the boy is her youngest child, and said “after reading comments and thinking about what people are saying, I can see him being my last is playing a part in this.”

Other people offered practical advice, telling the mom to enroll her son in “stay home alone safety classes that some fire houses or Red Cross provide– it’s really helpful.”

Some users offered a more nuanced take, with one person stating that there’s nothing “inherently wrong with an 11-year-old being home alone, however, would your son prefer to spend the day with you or alone at dad’s? That would be my bigger concern, personally.”

“He might be perfectly safe to be alone, but as a child who came home to an empty house after school every day, I don't think it's good for his general well-being,” said another user.

It’s clear that this particular parenting debate has no easy answers, and whether a child is okay to stay home alone depends on situational factors and if both the parents and child feel safe doing so.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.