It’s a common question asked in parenting groups and among moms.  “How old does a child have to be to stay home alone?”

The answer is… It depends.

I recently read an article that cites a study where people’s opinion on the child’s safety changed depending on the “why” the child was being left alone.

For example, if the mother had to leave her child at home to go to work or to an emergency, it was deemed safer than if there was a morally questionable activity involved (if the mother had left the child alone to go to a bar or to carry on an affair).

The end result is that no matter what the parent is doing, the child would face the same level of safety.  However, as a society we feel the need to judge the parent’s intent.

With all that aside, there is no true legal answer or magic age to leaving your child on their own.  It will take some common sense – you are the best judge of your children’s maturity and ability to stay on their own.  I would leave each of my kids home at different ages and stages, and while one might be able to stay home on their own, walking home alone would present a new set of challenges.

It’s up to us parents to use our own judgment… imagine that!