Who doesn’t love attention? We clamor for it as kids, throwing temper tantrums incessantly. We fight with our siblings. We conduct daring feats and do stupid things. Yet somewhere along the road this morphs into closing our doors, demanding our personal space and yelling, “Just leave me alone!”
I’ll admit, I used to have little empathy for this mindset when I saw it evidenced by my older sister, Adrianna; to me, she was just distancing herself from the rest of the family for no reason. Now, however, I feel like I can relate a bit. These past couple of weeks have been highly unusual ones in my household. Adrianna’s actually gone at music camp in Michigan, so I am for all intents and purposes an only child. You might think that I’d relish all the undivided attention from my parents now, but instead, I feel a certain oppression. This might sound ungrateful, so let me just say right now that I love my parents and value the time I spend with them. But I also feel that it may be a wider problem — one of desire for independence clashing with protectiveness and a misplaced definition of love as dependence — that causes and explains the “leave me alone” mindset many teens can relate to.
At 14, I feel the pressures of impending adulthood and a sense of responsibility that I feel should be matched by my parents’ trust; I’m growing older and I’ll be off to college in two years, since I skipped grades. Yet at the same time, it’s plausible to posit that my mom feels the time she has left with me ticking away and wants to capitalize on it. The sense of impending loss is undoubtedly ominous — to the both of us (I’ll have to do my own laundry?! Just kidding). However, it’s also undeniably a part of growing up. I need to be allowed to make my own decisions and mistakes, take leaps — and fall — without receiving too much help, because it’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.
In many ways this is what young people did for many years. You might have heard stories from your parents or grandparents about their thrilling adventures in their youth. When he was my age, my dad was taking trains around the East Coast or breaking his teeth on ill-advised bike rides. My mom was running away from home. In the olden days, 14-year-olds took on heavy responsibilities as well as risks (seriously, just read Little House on the Prairie).
Yet in today’s world, it’s easy for parents to hover over the shoulder in more ways than one; nowadays, parents monitor children’s activities on social media (like in the infamous example of Tommy Jordan, the father who shot his daughter’s laptop after seeing her negative post on Facebook); stay in constant communication through Skype or texting; and even extend their influence beyond the ages children typically gain some modicum of independence. Professors in college tell anecdotes of parents calling them up to complain about a son or daughter’s subpar grade. I feel that this infantilizes young adults, and that this seeming “protection” can only have negative ramifications later on. It reminds me of the ethos of the Lana Del Rey song “Without You,” particularly one line: “I can be a china doll / If you want to see me fall.” We may be coddled, dressed up, given every advantage — in short, prepped for perfection — but there are cracks in the porcelain. Will we break when we fall?
(Of course, I want to add a quick disclaimer here that backing off from the parental hover doesn’t mean being negligent. If teens are facing serious issues — i.e., around mental health or drug addictions — then they need attention, no matter how much they ask to be left alone.)
Of course, my mom isn’t a legitimate example of a helicopter parent. She’s never shot a computer, incessantly chatted with me on Skype or yelled at a teacher about a grade. Okay, like many parents, she can get borderline creepy when she has a camera (there was one stalker-ish photo through window blinds once). but perhaps the most clear exemplification of my mom’s feeling comes in the form of things she’s said — often in a joking way, but probably with a kernel of truth — along the lines of, “I miss the old Adora” or “What happened to the little Adora?”
Sure, I miss “the old Adora” sometimes too (who doesn’t want to be able to innocently run around in the mud as much as they used to?) but I feel that these quotes belie a certain clinging to a persistent memory that no longer exists in reality. Imagine if I said things like, “I miss my old mother.” I wonder how my mom would feel.
So how do people grow up in ways that minimize conflicting feelings of independence desired versus dependence missed? Perhaps as the children start to fly from the quintessential “nest,” parents can find some new “children” of sorts to lavish attention on. Excellent examples come from senior citizens who invest themselves heavily in volunteering and charitable causes.
I think it’s important to define the difference between attention and love, after all. As children, we have a tenuous idea of love; we often try to quantify it with how much we feel seen and heard. Now, I want the independence that comes with being sure of my parents’ love, and not needing to feel them watch me.
Besides, I know I’m not such a little kid anymore that I’m going to get jealous of whatever my parents start to pay attention to next. I mean, really, can you imagine fighting with a good cause the same way you used to fight with your siblings?
So, Mom and Dad, don’t take it the wrong way: Leave me alone. Believe me: Those are the new three little words parents everywhere should want to hear.
A lot of parents aren’t comfortable with the idea of their children traveling abroad, particularly if they plan on going alone.
They think it is unsafe and simply a waste of time and money. It may potentially take away their focus on what’s really important in life, like education and career.
However, you and I know that traveling is actually one of the best ways to learn and grow.
By going on a solo travel, you encounter new and diverse experiences that are not always comfortable. It forces you to take responsibility for yourself and grow into your own being.
Even research has shown that students who have taken a year off to work, travel and explore other interests are now being recognized by universities like Harvard and employers as valuable in helping students be more successful in their lives, studies and careers.
So, what can you do to get your parents to allow for this to happen?
Table of Contents
Do your homework and share your plan
You need to have a plan to prove that you have really thought this through. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your goal or what do you want to experience and accomplish when you are abroad?
- How will this contribute to your life and your career ambitions?
- Why is this important to you?
- Where do you want to go?
- How long are you going to go for?
- What are the safety measures you are going to take?
- How much have you saved?
- How much do you think it is going to cost?
- What is your budget?
- Where are you going to get the money to support you?
All these questions are important for you to answer as it’ll demonstrate you have done your research and know what you are doing. Try and tie it back to how it can help with your career goal and how it can give you a competitive edge in the future. Show them how you are going to be financially responsible and pay for the trip and support yourself.
Back up your research on the benefits of traveling and working abroad
Help them see how traveling will contribute to building your resume and your life skills. Use the information I provided to you in the introduction to share with them time has changed.
Nowadays, employers and schools value individuals who know how to work with diverse people. They favor those who can speak more than one language and are able to think outside the box. Find more examples on Google that further backs this up.
Share examples of other family friend’s children who have traveled on their own
Our parents often like to compare us with their family friend’s children and use them as examples, saying we should be more like them. You know how they always say, “Did you hear about so and so… Why not do the same? Did you hear so and so just got back from Europe and because of his/her experience got a job working for xyz or got into the xyz university?”
So, who do you know have been able to convince their parents to let them go travel on their own and came back more successful? Call them up and find out how they convinced their parents. Ask what have been the biggest reservations their parents had to let them go off on their own.
Even if you don’t know of anyone, ask around. Expand your network and find someone who have gone through the challenge you are facing and get some advice from them.
Reassure them you will stay in touch
One of the biggest things our parents worry about is our safety. They worry that they are not able to protect you and care for you when you are so far away.
The reality is bad things can happen just as easily if you were to stay at home. Also, they won’t be around forever to protect you. Nothing lasts forever in life and what happens around us is out of our control.
The only thing we have control over is how we choose to prepare and respond to what goes on in our lives. So, give them as much information as you can about where you will be staying or where you are going to be. Work with them to agree on how often will you check in and stay in touch with them by Skype, phone or email.
After all, the only way you can learn how to manage ‘life’ on your own and thrive is if they give you the opportunity to spread your wings and face new experiences in life by yourself.
Be patient and don’t give up on your dreams
Know that there is always a way. Be patient, gentle, and persistent. Be willing to compromise if you must.
So, maybe instead of traveling on your own, you agree to join a group or a youth exchange program organized by the government. Check out Go Overseas to find reliable information about various programs abroad.
Ultimately the decision lies within you. It is your life. Don’t waste it on living out someone else’s.
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Author: Theresa Ho
Theresa Ho is the Founder of Happy Free Lifestyle. She’s a free-spirited, freedom lovin’, income diversifying, travel junkie sent to help apprehensive go-getters reclaim their lives and grow into their most authentic self. For more inspiration, follow her on Instagram @happyfreelifestyle and Facebook.
Help! I’m 15, but my parents still stay in the exam room and answer questions when I’m at the doctor’s. I want to ask about STDs, but I can’t do it with them sitting there. How can I get them to leave?
Most teens don’t want to talk to their doctors about topics like sex and STDs with their parents in the room. Many docs talk alone with their teen patients, especially about sensitive topics. But others don’t.
Call ahead and ask if your doctor usually talks to the teens alone. If so, you can just follow the doctor’s lead. Most doctors will say something like, “I like to talk to my teens alone so they can start taking a role in their health care and be comfortable asking any questions.” Most parents agree right away. They may even be relieved that you have a place to get reliable information.
But what if you don’t know if your doctor will suggest you talk alone? What can you do to make sure you get the private time you want?
Talk to your parents before the appointment. Tell them you want to start learning how to take charge of your own health care, so you’d like some private time with the doctor. If you want to be more specific, you could say, “I am embarrassed talking in front of you about how my body is changing.” Or, “I have questions about topics that might come up in the future, like sex, and I want to be comfortable asking the doctor.” You might be surprised when your parent agrees and sees the request as a sign of your growing independence and responsibility.
Let the doctor know you want some private time. If you didn’t call ahead, you can tell the nurse that checks you into a room. This way the doctor knows that you want to have time at the appointment without your parents.
There’s an old saying that it’s better to be alone than in bad company, and anyone who has been harassed, stalked or bombarded by unwanted communications is likely to agree with that sentiment. The type of harassing conduct can occur in any of a number of situations, running the gamut from some guy who you don’t like being interested in you, to a vindictive ex-spouse, to a collection company trying to recover an unpaid debt. Obviously, you won’t be able to use one technique in all of these situations. You’ll need to tailor your response to the situation.
Just Say No
If someone likes you and wants to take you out, you obviously don’t have to go. You can refuse any type of social contact for any reason. But sometimes it’s hard to be assertive, and the other person keeps pestering you until it feels out of control. You just want the person to leave you alone and quit pressuring you to go out, but you haven’t managed to do so yet.
Your first step is to take a good, hard look at the situation. Ask yourself the harder questions and run them by your friends, too. Is this person just persistent or does it feel like you are in danger? Has he ever grabbed you, pushed you or threatened you? Has he tried to physically intimidate you or followed you home when he wasn’t invited or wanted?
If he hasn’t, it’s time to tell him frankly and directly that you are not interested in seeing him again. It’s easy to try to be nice and avoid offending someone in refusing them, but at some point, you just have to say “No, I don’t want to go out with you now or ever. Stop harassing me.” It may help if you take a friend along with you for moral support, but the important part is to insist that you be left alone. It may be a good idea to call the police if the behavior continues.
Order of Protection
If you do feel in danger because of the actions of someone, whether she is following you, harassing you or threatening you, take stronger action to protect yourself. You have no viable options that are as effective as getting a restraining order, called a protection order or order of protection in some states. The very purpose of this type of an order is to keep someone like this away from you.
You may think of a restraining order as something that should be reserved for cases of extreme violence, in which someone is beaten or threatened with a gun. But it isn’t. The idea of a protection order is to protect you so that worse things don’t happen to you. While people who have been beaten or raped can and do get protective orders, you can also get one for any behavior that would make a reasonable person afraid.
Some types of protective orders are available only in cases of domestic violence. That is, you can get a domestic violence protective order only against someone in a close relationship with you, like a spouse, an ex-spouse, someone you are living with or have had a child with, or someone in your family. If that is your situation, you can apply for a domestic violence protective order at your local court or magistrate’s office. Usually, these are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the court is closed when you need this type of an order, call the police to find out where you should go to get an after-hours order. This varies among jurisdictions. All you need to do is fill out the petition or application, giving your name and the name of the person you are afraid of, then list the conduct that has made you afraid. The court can grant an emergency order without a hearing, but will schedule a full hearing quickly where both you and the other person can appear and testify.
If your relationship with the other person doesn’t qualify you for a domestic violence protective order, most states also offer other protective orders for dating or stalking situations. You usually apply for these in the same manner and the same place as domestic violence orders. And the great thing about filing for a restraining order is that if the person violates it and approaches you, you can call the police and have him arrested for violating the order.
Cease and Desist Letter
By its very nature, a Cease and Desist Letter works well in a business context. A debt collection company operates under state law restrictions. If it breaks the law, your letter lets the company know that you are aware of the law and its having broken it. This kind of company is well aware that a court is not going to approve of its actions and, once you make it clear that you are ready to go to court, it is quite likely to stop. If you give the company a 10 to 15-day period to think about it, it is likely to decide it isn’t worth it. The same is true of the use of trademarked material or contract violations. The Cease and Desist letter nudges the individual or company to do the right thing and makes it clear that you are fully aware of and intend to protect your rights.
Some people suggest using a Cease and Desist letter for harassment. However, when harassment is not by a company (trying to collect a debt) but rather by a vindictive former spouse, weird stranger stalker or violent boyfriend, you are less likely to get the response you want. The idea is for someone to read the letter, consider his behavior, compare it with the law on the subject, and come to a logical conclusion that he had better stop the behavior. It’s possible that some abusers would react in this way, but many wouldn’t.
If you feel you are in danger, or that your kids are in danger, a Cease and Desist letter is probably not going to help you feel safe. The waiting period built into a Cease and Desist letter is another barrier. Many people who request restraining orders are in immediate fear of bodily harm and need an immediate temporary restraining order put in place to keep them safe that very night.
If you are in doubt about whether your situation would qualify for a restraining order, call a domestic abuse agency or a women’s help organization for advice. Even the police in many areas will have information that would be useful to you.
A sister can get on your nerves from time to time. It’s easy to get frustrated and annoyed when you’re hanging out with a friend and she won’t stop pestering you. Try to remember that she probably isn’t trying to bother you — maybe she wants to join in the fun or get your attention. Before you tell her to get lost, take a few minutes to talk the situation over with her so that you can reach a fair compromise.
Determine if she really needs to leave. Before asking your sister to leave you and your friend alone, consider whether you can include her in an activity that would make things more fun for everyone. Your sister might be a pain when she’s lingering around you and your friend, but she can also add to the fun as an extra player in a game or art activity.
Be direct if you decide to ask her to go away. Don’t try to avoid your sister, trick her into leaving you alone or drop hints. This won’t get your message across clearly and might hurt your sister’s feelings. When she becomes a nuisance, tell her that you would like to speak with her privately for a minute and go someplace where the two of you can have a quick chat.
Keep your cool and calmly tell your sister that you will spend time with her later, but right now, you and your friend need time alone. Yelling or speaking angrily won’t solve the problem — in fact, it might make it worse. Suggest ways she can have fun on her own in the meantime. Encourage her to color, for example, or go play on the swing set — something she can do by herself and still enjoy.
Go to a parent, older sibling or adult for help with the situation before frustration or anger gets the best of you. If including your sister or having a polite, private chat doesn’t work and you’re becoming more frustrated, walk away from the situation and calmly explain what’s going on to an adult.
Never hit or humiliate your sister, no matter how bratty or annoying she becomes. Try to talk to your sister about how her behavior made you feel later on, so that you do not hold your feelings of frustration inside. An adult may be able to help the two of you express your feelings and needs appropriately and reach a resolution. You can also talk to an adult about how your sister’s pestering makes you feel, or write about those feelings in a letter or a journal.
Whether it’s a snow day home from school, an unexpected business meeting, or a childcare arrangement that fell through, there probably will be times when you’ll need to leave your child home alone.
It’s natural for parents to worry when first leaving kids without supervision. But you can feel prepared and confident with some planning and a couple of trial runs. And handled well, staying home alone can be a positive experience for kids too, giving them a sense of self-confidence and independence.
Things to Consider
It’s obvious that a 5-year-old can’t go it alone, but that most 16-year-olds can. But what about those school-aged kids in the middle? It can be hard to know when kids are ready to handle being home alone. It comes down to your judgment about what your child is ready for.
You’ll want to know how your child feels about the idea, of course. But kids often insist that they’ll be fine long before parents feel comfortable with it. And then there are older kids who seem afraid even when you’re pretty confident that they’d be just fine. So how do you know?
In general, it’s not a good idea to leave kids younger than 10 years old home alone. Every child is different, but at that age, most kids don’t have the maturity and skills to respond to an emergency if they’re alone.
Think about the area where you live. Are there neighbors nearby you know and trust to help your child in case of an emergency? Or are they mostly strangers? Do you live on a busy street with lots of traffic? Or is it a quiet area? Is there a lot of crime in or near your neighborhood?
It’s also important to consider how your child handles various situations. Here are a few questions to think about:
- Does your child show signs of responsibility with things like homework, household chores, and following directions?
- How does your child handle unexpected situations? Does your child stay calm when things don’t go as planned?
- Does your child understand and follow rules?
- Can your child understand and follow safety measures?
- Does your child use good judgment?
- Does your child know basic first-aid?
- Does your child follow your instructions about staying away from strangers?
Make a “Practice Run”
Even if you’re confident about your child’s maturity, it’s wise to make some practice runs, or home-alone trials, before the big day. Let your child stay home alone for 30 minutes to an hour while you remain nearby and easily reachable.
When you return, discuss how it went and talk about things that you might want to change or skills that your child might need to learn for the next time.
Handling the Unexpected
You can feel more confident about your absence if your child learns some basic skills that might come in handy during an emergency. Organizations such as the American Red Cross offer courses in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in local places like schools, hospitals, and community centers.
Before being left home alone home alone, your child should know:
- when and how to call 911 and what address information to give the dispatcher
- how to work the home security system, if you have one, and what to do if the alarm is accidentally set off
- how to lock and unlock doors
- how to work the phone/cellphone (in some areas, you have to dial 1 or the area code to dial out)
- how to turn lights off and on
- how to operate the microwave
- what to do if:
- there’s a small fire in the kitchen
- the smoke alarm goes off
- there’s a tornado or other severe weather
- a stranger comes to the door
- someone calls for a parent who isn’t home
- there’s a power outage
Regularly discuss some emergency scenarios — ask what your child would do if, for example, he or she smelled smoke, a stranger knocked at the door, or someone called for you while you’re gone.
Before You Leave
When you decide that your child is ready to stay home alone, these practical steps can make it easier for you both:
Schedule time to get in touch. Set up a schedule for calling. You might have your child call right away after school, or set up a time when you’ll call home to check in. Make sure your child understands when you’re available and when you might not be able to answer a call. Create a list of friends your child can call or things your child can do if lonely.
Set ground rules. Set special rules for when you’re away and make sure that your child knows and understands them. Consider rules about:
- having a friend or friends over while you’re not there
- rooms of the house that are off limits, especially with friends
- TV time and types of shows
- Internet and computer rules
- kitchen and cooking (you might want to make the oven and utensils like sharp knives off limits)
- not opening the door for strangers
- answering the phone
- getting along with siblings
- not telling anyone he or she is alone
Stock up. Make sure your house has everyday goods and emergency supplies. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods for snacking. Leave a precise dose of any medicine that your child needs to take, but don’t leave medicine bottles out — it could lead to an accidental overdose or ingestion, especially by younger siblings.
Leave flashlights handy in case of a power outage. Post important phone numbers — yours and those of friends, family members, the doctor, police, and fire department — that your child might need in an emergency.
Childproof your home. No matter how well your child follows rules, secure anything that could be a health or safety risk. Lock them up and put them in a place where kids can’t get to them, such as:
- prescription medicines
- over-the-counter medicines that could cause problems if taken in excess, like sleeping pills, cough medicine, etc. (if you keep one, make sure it is locked up and leave it unloaded and stored away from ammunition)
- car keys
- lighters and matches
Don’t forget that pets can be great company for kids who are home alone. Many kids feel safer with a pet around — even a small one, like a hamster, can make them feel like they have a companion.
So cover your bases and relax. With the right preparation and some practice, you and your child will get comfortable with home-alone days in no time!
Sharing is Caring!
This post offers 55 clever ways to get your teenager out of their room.
Nearly every parent of teenagers will deal with the struggle at one point or another… how to get their teenager out of their room.
As parents, we have a tendency to worry about everything. But, when our teen begins spending a little too much time alone in their bedroom, we fear the worst.
Are they depressed? Did something happen that they’re not telling me? Is this normal? Have I lost my child forever?
But, before you freak out that your kid only leaves his room long enough to go to school or grab a plateful of Oreos, try not to worry too much. According to Dr. Peter Marshall, child psychologist and author of “Now I Know Why Tigers Eat Their Young,” not only is your child’s need for alone time and privacy normal, it’s necessary.
“Although it’s tempting to think they’re just goofing off when they’re alone, they’re actually spending a large part of their time thinking about things, trying to figure out who they are and who they want to become. Teenagers have a lot of growing up to do and they need the space to do it.”
Still, it’s incredibly frustrating for parents. We miss our kids and we want to be with them.
So, how do you get your teenager out of their room and get them interacting with you, your family and their friends again? Sure, you can lay down the hammer and threaten them to join the rest of the living (or else), but if you want them to actually want to come out of their room, it all boils down to the three F’s.
Teenagers love food. Whether it’s sizzling bacon on the stove, a box of fresh doughnuts, a homemade batch of brownies or their absolute favorite home-cooked meal, one of the all-time best ways to get your teenager out of their room is by catering to their insatiable appetite. Seriously… it works every time.
Nothing clears the mind faster, relieves stress or puts life (and all its daily pressures) into perspective than a day out in the fresh air and sunshine. Just like when our kids were toddlers and we would take them to the park to wear them out, teenagers need plenty of fresh air – they just don’t realize it. Help them escape the confines of their bedroom by planning outdoor adventures. Everything from hiking and biking to swimming and camping will do your teen (and your relationship with your teen) a world of good.
Teenagers are notorious for having a short attention span, which means they get bored quickly. Oftentimes, teens hang out in their bedroom because “there’s nothing better to do.” Keep them occupied and energized by planning fun things they love to do (be sure to let them take part in the planning). Taking them go-karting, indoor rock climbing, on a fun shopping spree, out for a spa day or to an amusement park might be just what they need to spark their enthusiasm and get your teenager out of their room.
If you’re totally stumped on how to get your teen out of their room, here are a few more fun (and specific) ideas to consider!
1. Make Their Favorite Meal (Ask them to make it with you so you can teach them a thing or two about cooking.)
2. Bake Anything with Chocolate
3. Take Them (and Possibly Their Friends) to an Amusement Park
4. Turn on Their Favorite TV Show
5. Teach Them Something They’ve Been Wanting to Learn (My husband has been teaching my son about the stock market – he even helped him set up his own account and gave him some money to invest. Now my son interacts with my husband all the time!)
6. Take Them on a Mini Shopping Spree
7. Plan a Pool Day with the Family
8. Let Them Invite Their Friends Over (Here’s a few benefits of being the hangout house for your teen and all their friends.)
9. Get a Puppy Under the Condition that Your Teen Has to Manage Puppy Care
10. Encourage Them to Get a Job So They Can Make a Few Bucks (Here are a few tips so they can ace their interview.)
11. Keep Asking (They need to know we want them with us.)
12. Ask Them to Go Hiking
13. Sign Them Up for a Gym Membership and Encourage Them to Get Fit
14. Have a “Family Dinners Together” House Rule
15. Go Geocaching Together
16. Encourage Them to Volunteer Once a Week
17. Take Them on a Camping Trip
18. Buy Them Doughnuts
19. Challenge Them to Run a 5K (alone, with you or with friends)
20. Plan a Family Road Trip (Get them involved in the planning.)
21. Take Them Rock Climbing
22. Spring for Lunch at their Favorite Restaurant
23. Let Them Choose Something They’d Like to Do… Anything
24. Help Them Buy All the Supplies for an Experiment They Can Conduct with You or Their Friends
25. Take Them to a Cool Museum They’ve Never Been To
26. Think Techy: Take Them to a Computer, Cell Phone or Gaming Store to Look or Buy
27. Take Them to the Movies
28. Surprise Them with Concert Tickets
29. Take them Ziplining (A little adventure goes a long way.)
30. Take a Trip to the Beach
31. Go on Bike Ride
32. Take Your Daughter for a Mani-Pedi (Here are a few fun nail trends!)
33. Teach Them How to Drive
34. Rent a Segway and Explore the Nearest City for an Entire Day
35. Take Them Indoor Skydiving
36. Take Your Daughter on a Spa Day
37. Spring for Them to Go Go-Karting with Friends
38. Let Them Host a Party (Party Ideas: Gaming, Pool, DIY Crafts, Spa, Netflix Movie Marathon, or LAN Party)
39. Host a Family Video Gaming Night (with plenty of junk food they love)
40. Take Them to a Baseball, Football, Soccer or Basketball Game and Eat Buckets of Popcorn
41. Visit Their Favorite College Campuses
42. Go to the Zoo
43. Have an Old Fashioned Family Game Night
44. Build Something Together
45. Take Them and Their Friends to a Water Park
46. Make Bacon (Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.)
47. Sign Them Up for a Camp or Class They’ll Love
48. Update Their Bedroom and Let Them Pick the Paint and Shop for New Accessories
49. Take Them on a Weekend Get-a-Way (Let them choose when and where.)
50. Start Cleaning Their Room (Warning: this might drive your teen nuts.)
51. Take Them Horseback Riding
52. Rent a Jet Ski for the Day
53. Bring Them to Work with You
54. Help Them Plan a Trip
55. Teach them How to Fish
How do YOU get your teenager out of their room? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section!
Every state in the United States has laws that make leaving a child home alone without supervision illegal. There are several factors that determine when leaving a child home alone is illegal. These include, among others, the duration of time the child is left home alone, and whether or not the parent acted with deliberate disregard for the child’s safety.
Some states provide a legal age to leave a child home alone. Most states however, do not. There are, however, some guidelines that have been provided by a collaboration of states and the Department of Health and Human Services to assist parents in making the decision to leave their child home alone. These guidelines include:
- A child age 7 and under cannot be left alone at home for any period of the time. This also includes leaving the child unattended in the car, backyard, or playground. This is a vulnerable age and leaving them unattended would be a high risk to their safety;
- A child ages 8 to 10 is permitted to be home alone only during daylight or early morning hours for no longer than 1 and ½ hours;
- A child ages 11 to 12 can be left alone during the day for up to 3 hours but not late at night;
- A child ages 13 to 15 is permitted to be left unsupervised, but not overnight; and
- A child ages 16 to 17 can be left unsupervised for up to 2 days.
What are the Legal Consequences of Leaving a Child Home Alone?
Leaving a child home alone is legally defined as when an adult, with parental responsibilities, leaves the home and leaves the child unsupervised. Some states provide an age under which a child may not be left home alone. For example, pursuant to Maryland law, it is illegal for an individual caring for a child under 8 years of age to be locked or confined in the home while the caregiver is absent and the home is out of the caregiver’s sight.
Most states, however, as noted above, do not provide a specific age below which a parent is forbidden to leave a child home alone. The majority of states consider the child’s age as well as a variety of other factors. These may include:
- The emotional maturity level of the child;
- The amount of time a child is left alone;
- For example, under Illinois law, a parent commits child neglect when they leave a child under 14 alone without supervision for an unreasonable period of time;
- For example, in Illinois, a parent commits child neglect when the parent leaves the child home for an unreasonable period of time without regard for their safety, physical or mental health, or welfare;
- Such arrangements may include a parent leaving the child with a responsible individual while they are away. In most states, the responsible individual need not be 18 years or older. In some states, the responsible individual may be someone of at least 14 years of age. In other states, the responsible individual may be someone of at least 15 or 16 years of age;
It is important to note that, depending on the circumstances, an individual can go to jail for leaving a child home alone.
What are the Legal Consequences of Leaving a Child Home Alone?
If an individual reports a child has been left unattended, the state agency that is responsible for child welfare, such as Child Protective Services, CPS, will likely investigate the claims made in the report. An investigation will consist of gathering the facts relevant to the case. Investigators may question the parent or parents, the child, or any individuals who may have witnessed the incident. Investigators may also question other individuals they believe may have relevant information.
The parent or parents who left the child home alone may be subject to criminal penalties for child abandonment or child endangerment. If the child welfare agency concludes that the parent or parents were subjecting the child to endangerment by leaving them home alone, the agency may have the child removed from the home. Alternatively, CPS may file a petition with a family court to have the child removed from the parent or parent’s care.
It is extremely important for an individual to be familiar with the guidelines for the state in which they reside for leaving their child home alone. Although the child may appear ready, it may be illegal to leave them home alone without adult supervision. The consequences of leaving a child home alone vary by state but most implement fines or jail time.
A court may not intervene unless it finds the child is being harmed. Although parenting their child is an individual’s fundamental right, a court will want to ensure the safety and well being of the child. Because of this, if the court finds any possible indication of parental neglect, it will likely investigate further.
What Constitutes Child Abandonment?
A parent or parents may be prosecuted for child abandonment if they leave their child home alone. Child abandonment includes the parent or parent’s absence from the home for a period of time that subjects the child to a substantial risk of harm. For example, child abandonment occurs when a parent intentionally leaves a child home alone without another responsible individual to supervise them.
If abandonment occurs, a child may be permanently removed from the home. Permanently removing a child from a home requires a court order. A family court judge who orders the removal may order that the child be placed with a relative or neighbor if the court finds it in the best interest of the child to do so.
In order to place the child, the court must find that the relative or neighbor is a suitable parent for the child. The court must also find that the individual, such as the neighbor, intends to establish a sincere, loving, parent-child relationship with the child. The relative or neighbor must show the court that they understand the rights and responsibilities of becoming the parent of the child.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Charged with Child Abandonment?
Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer if you are facing any charges related to child abandonment or leaving your child home alone. An attorney can review your case, advise you of your rights, and represent you in court, if necessary. Having an attorney on your side can mean the difference between keeping your child at home and having them placed with another family.