|Home Alone (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The question was specifically worded this way, "My biggest concern is I just don't feel ready. If something were to happen I think I would blame myself for letting them stay home alone when they weren't ready or too young. Our daughter is 11 and our son is 10 and she is probably mature enough and responsible enough that I wouldn't have any concerns. He definitely is not ready which brings up all the competition and fighting they get into when anything isn't fair or equal. If she can stay home "IT ISN'T FAIR!!!!!" if he can't."
These choices are absolutely going to be unequal, child to child, but they don't have to be unfair. Each person is capable of different things at different times. If we have our list of the issues and values that are important to us - the things that our kids must agree to if we are to trust them alone, then we can have them practice that even when they are with us. Using the phone to ask a neighbor a question, locking up the house for you when you leave for school, and following directions in general, are great litmus tests. "I can't leave you by yourself if I can't see that you know how to handle yourself. Show me." That comment seemed to bring surprises. They did know more than I thought. When they realized I was paying attention, they could be more than just silly goofballs who were trying to make sibling arguing an Olympic sport.
Eventually, we all find a way to run to the store for some milk, and then maybe a lunch date in the afternoon, a dinner at night, and then one day, find our little ones are amazingly, in a regular schedule of after-school independence. We figure it out. We also get used to multiple calls at work or on our commute. Calls that help reassure us, frustrate us, and maybe most importantly, calls that help fill the silence for our child, alone at home.