Jul 212013

Whether for business or pleasure, you may find yourself in a situation where you will be gone overnight. You feel that your teen may be ready to stay alone overnight, rather than going to a friend or family member’s home. But, how do you know for sure if they are ready? Is there a certain age that your teen must be in your mind? What do you consider when making the decision to leave them alone?

Let’s take a look at factors that you should consider and questions that you should ask yourself.

  1. Mature.  Is your teen as mature as they should be for their age or are do their actions remind you more of a child? Do their thoughts about situations sound right for their age or do they make you think they have a lot more growing up to do? Your teen should display an appropriate amount of maturity for their age before considering a night alone.
  2. Responsible. Does your teen do the right thing when it comes to safety, choices, and tasks? Can you rely on them to do the right thing in a situation?  Can you rely on your teen to do what is asked and do it correctly? If a situation were to arise where they had to make a decision, you want to feel confident that they will make the right one.
  3. Trustworthy. Trust is a key element to consider. When you leave them alone during the day, do you feel comfortable? Can you trust your teen when they are away from your home – at school, friend’s house, shopping mall, or with the car? How much do you trust your teen to be okay alone for the night? If you think they may throw a party while you are away, then maybe it is not the right time.
  4. History. Does your teen have a history of getting into trouble? Have you had issues leaving them alone during the day? Have you had problems with them that include drugs or alcohol? Have they been in trouble in school or even with the law? Your teen’s history should also come into play and should help you decide whether or not you feel comfortable leaving them alone.

HouseI think as you read this you can agree that age is not as important as the four items listed here. A 15-year old can be more responsible and trustworthy than a 17-year old. A 16-year old can be more mature and have a better history than an 18-year old…and so on. So, take age out of the equation and consider the above traits instead.

When you leave for an overnight trip, you must feel comfortable to leave your teen alone for the night. You need to trust that they will make the right choices, take care of what needs to be taken care of while you are away, and not worry the entire time you are gone that something bad will happen.

If you cannot answer positively to the questions answered above, then it is probably not the right time to leave your teen alone overnight. Wait a while – let them grow and mature, correct their mistakes, prove to you that they can be trusted. If you are unsure, then it is probably too soon.

What are your thoughts? Have you already been through this with your teen and can share some wisdom? Or, are you a parent contemplating this decision right now? Comment below to share your story!

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