at what age can kids be unsupervised?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2004
at what age can kids be unsupervised?
11
Tue, 06-22-2004 - 7:42pm
I am probably being overprotective and it's not really my role so I'm looking for general input on a hot topic in my relationship with my boyfriend.

His 11 year old son is allowed to be at home alone every day after school at his mom's house. We do not agree with this but my BF has not (IMO) put up much of a fight feeling he doesn't have control on "her" residnetial time. Recently on "his" night (weds) he went to pick up the 11 year old and found that he was at the park, with a bunch of other 11 year olds, with not one parent supervising. Clearly all of the parents seem to think it's ok. The child is struggling with school, the mom has him very overscheduled (basketball, hockey and trumpet) and just added to it with a guitar. He is unable to do his homework on his own and she'll stay up till 2am helping him which I think is just making the problem worse.

He's a great kid who is drowning at school and I want to help him, and his dad, with out badmouthing the mom pr making his dad more upset with her than he already is.

First of all, what do you you all think of being unsupervised at that age ( I know I won't allow it for my boys who are 3 and 5, they'll be at the daycare they are at before and after school through 6th grade) and secondly any idea's on how to support these important guys in my life?

Thanks!

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Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Wed, 06-23-2004 - 8:03am
Depends on the kid. I know let dd, 10 yo, go to the park, pool or into town with friends. She is in TONS of activities, but had 4 A's and 1 B on her report card this year. I often leave her at home with her little brother while I run to pick up dh from the train, of course I am gone for less than 5 minutes. I am starting to run errands and leaving her at home in small increments. I think staying home alone is a life skill that has to be taught in little bits. Just because a kid turns 13, he isn't always ready to be alone, but has to be taught in bits. You don't just throw a kid in front of the wahser and dryer and say wash te clothes. You start when they are little by having them match socks and putting away their own underwear. Then they can start helping sorting....

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2004
Wed, 06-23-2004 - 12:02pm
thanks, I agree and with my own kids that is something I can control and ensure it happens slowly, at the right time and if they are ready for it. This is a situation outside of our control and we don't think he's ready (due to the school problems) and I'm just trying to get a feel for how to help my boyfriend handle this. It's very frustrating. If he was on top of school we wouldn't have nearly the issue with it but it's tough when his mom doesn't seem to see that the fact that he's left alone is the problem, she blames it on the school and her son for being "slow" yet still lets him do all the other activities.

He's not slow, just not able to manage his time and stay organized and needs help, help no one is giving in the afternoon.

thanks

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-20-2003
Wed, 06-23-2004 - 1:00pm

I think alot has to do with the child.


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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2004
Wed, 06-23-2004 - 1:22pm

Hi, welcome to the board.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


After reading your post, I have to say I have fewer problems with the supervision issue than I do with the overscheduling.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2004
Wed, 06-23-2004 - 1:31pm
Hi, I do agree it depends on the child. The problem is that he's unsupervised every day after school until a parent gets home and then each day has sports till 9pm so that's when the homework starts. He is unable to finish it in class, the teacher has reccommended Kumon. He is supposed to do the work, just doesn't or says he can't because it's too hard and he needs help. I think the fact that she helps him every night starting at 9, sometimes until 2 in the am teaches him that she'll bail him out everytime and it's ok to put homework last. She does not get on him at all, or take away activities when he doesn't do the work and my boyfriend, with only 1 shcool night is pretty limited in what he can enforce. Because it's her residential time, my boyfriend cannot "make" her put her son in any kind of daycare or force her to have an afternoon tutor or anything like that.

He will do Kumon this summer only if (according to the mom) it doesn't conflict with the times of any of his sports camp, meaning it has to be at night. Ii can only hope that really given him enough tools to manage himself in the afternoon next year as it will be the same afterschool situation. And, realistically, what child (esp an 11 year old boy, I do think girls are different) will choose homework over play when no one is watching him. She might tell him on the phone he needs to do it but never ever ever punishes him or takes anything away when he doesn't. I think she honestly believes he's just not capable which isn't helping matters either. And I don't think that's true, nor does the teacher, she just can't spend the one one one time to get him where he needs to be on a time management level. He's a perfectionsist and if he can't figure somethihng out he'll just quit until a parent can help him or will work on the fun stuff that might be due later as opposed to the hard stuff that's due the next morning and she's not guiding him at all at least as far as we can tell. She just complains that she doesn't have enough time to help him and that he can't do it on his own. I fail to see how extra activities hlep that!

I feel that if he was supervised in the afternoon, at least until he showed the ability to manage getting his homework done before the activities then the load of activities wouldn't be a problem. As it is now, all the fun stuff takes precedence over homework and his grades, and amount of sleep suffers.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2004
Wed, 06-23-2004 - 1:50pm
thanks! that is really good advice about the counselor, I had encouraged him to talk to the teacher but he was super reluctant until it was too late to make any headway this school year. I am glad I did it though it took a bit of nagging as the Kumon idea would not have even come up had I not prodded, so it's something :) I think my BF is very uncomfortable confronting teachers and really had bought into the story that this teacher was just too hard and all the kids had the same problem. It isn't the case, she was hard but they have a bigger problem.

I know my grade school does not have a counselor, they have a family advocate and I think, if this comes up next fall that would be a great nuetral place for him to go. I posted in my other reply (it's rather long!) about the details of his unsupervision. My BF is trying to pick his battles as he fears his ex plans to have the 11year old watch his little sister (who will then be 8) every day after school and he won't allow that (though we may have huge problems actually enforcing that). Even the 7 year old does not get any homework done after school. Mom doesn't get home until 6.

I don't so much have an issue with that, if adequate arrangements were made. I work FT too and granted, my kids are just starting school, but they go to a daycare where they will be through 6th grade, they'll get to play in the afternoon, but only after their homework is done, the teachers review the packets everyday. So I do know it's possible to provide that for your child even if you aren't there. And I agree, being alone for short periods of time can be ok at this age but have issues with being alone every day. my BF grilled him on how "ready" he was to handle an emergency (where does he go, who does he call etc) and all he could come up with was "call mom". What if mom isn't at her desk? He's a great kid but is 11 and not the most mature, or calm in an emergency.

thanks for the support, and for listening!

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Thu, 06-24-2004 - 8:15am
One little piece of advice. This is your boyfriend, so I wouldn't get too involved. You are likely to cause hard feelings. It is hard, I can see that. My parents are divorced, and anytime my dad's girlfriends had the idea to speak up, I would quickly shoot them down. Then my dad would come down on me, and then we all would be mad. I told off the few guys that dated my mom too. Niether of my parents ever re-married. I had a lot to do with that, I am sure. My dad's last girl friend, (who was only 5 years older than me) was silly enough to give me marital advice, and I almost laughed in her face. (She's twice divorced.) They broke up, and I think part of it was that I never had any respect for her. Second marriages, when one or the other has kids from previous relationships, have a very high divorce rate because emotions run so high. Just my bit of advice.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2004
Thu, 06-24-2004 - 8:29am
I, like the majority also feel that it depends on your child. My 10 year old spends every afternoon home alone afterschool. He doesnt go outside or answer the phone without checking who it is. Has the cell phone numbers and work numbers memorized-just in case. He isnt allowed to have friends over, and he is great about getting homework done before we get home. We are going to be trying days over the summer with him home by himself. Fortunately I work within just a few minutes from home, so I can get to him easily. Thank goodness for lunchables and easy snacks. When we were kids they didnt have such neat stuff. He loves to draw, and watch his movies and play games, so he has plenty of stuff to do. My stepson however is another story, he is 12, but the maturity level isnt there, so he has a babysitter everyday. I would never leave him alone, and obviously his mom feels the same, because she has the sitter for him.

My sister and I were home afterschool by ourselves I know from like 2nd grade on...Things were different then I guess. By 7th grade my parents would go out of town (like 2 hrs away) and I was allowed to stay home by myself and have friends stay over.

So it totally depends onthe child and that they understand the boundaries/rules.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2004
Thu, 06-24-2004 - 10:25am
HI, perhpaps you misunderstood. I'm asking for input on how to support my boyfirend, whom I plan to marry. I had and have no intention of trying to offer advice directly to an 11 year old nor was that mentioned anywhere in this post, I am not his parent he has 2 parents that do a fine job, one of whom I love and am trying to support. My boyfriend asks for my opinion, it is not unsolicited.

I was fortunate enough growing up to have an amazing stepmother and I go to her for advice all the time, she was not only a mother to me she was a friend. One would hope that a grown man would not let a child dictate their life desions, you actually seem proud that you kept your parents from remarrying and that's a bit sad. I cannot imagine the life my father (and myself, my siblings) would have had were it not for my stepmothe, I love my dad and would never want him to be alone simply because I was bitter about a divorce.

I am completely confident that my BF will not allow his children to dictate his life but rather will make choices that are best for him in a way that is best for his children. that may mean his kids (and mine) dictate timing, when, where, how, where we live and so on all of which I support. Whether we marry or not and how we choose to co-parent and support each other is our choice together, not our kids. If our kids had their way (and his family for that matter) we'd be married already. We are taking our time to ensure we do it right, for the kids.

I have an extremely positive relationship with his children, they are well aware that marriage is where this is heading and while I am sure we'll have bumps I have their support and he has my children's support. I'm sorry for you that you did not have that experience, it can be a wonderful thing. I am also sorry that you, and so many others give up on the idea that something can be sucsessful simply because statitistics work against you. I don't buy into any of it.

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Thu, 06-24-2004 - 8:08pm
Sorry I ruffled your feathers, I just wanted to give you the benefit of a kid whose parents are divorced. I don't care one way or anohter about my dad's dating life, I jsut never thought it was her place to tell me anything, I have a mom. Trust me, my mom has no trouble telling me what to do, not does my dad. With aunts, uncles and both grandmothers around, teh last thing I need is my dad's honey to solicit her advice. If your boyfriend asks your advice, then by all means, give him your advice. I just don't want you to ge dragged into something between him, his ex and their ds. In that position, you will be an easy target.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

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