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TravelingGal

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There was an article on MSNBC today that discussed Gen Xers. They said Gen Xers are resilient and practically raised themselves, being latchkey kids at all.

I was a latchkey kid. My brother and I did fine. I''m not sure I would ever have Amelia be one, which made me think...

Is it even LEGAL to have latchkey kids anymore? Do they exist?
 

lili

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Ok, what is a "latchkey" kid?
Is it a kid who is left home alone w/o a babysitter?
 

TravelingGal

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lili, yes. Oftentimes it means children come home from school to an empty house.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latchkey_kid

As I said, I was totally a latchkey kid. We didn''t have a spare lying around so there were a few times that I was locked out of the house having forgotten my keys and had to hang out in the back yard until my parents came home. I remember peeing in the back yard. Cell phones would have been nice back then.

If Amelia were left in the backyard to pee because she was locked out of the house, I daresay I would be tarred and feathered as a negligent parent these days, which is why I am wondering if it''s even done anymore.
 

blackpolkadot

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In one of my education classes, we just talked about this. Depending on the state's definition of 'latchkey,' there are between 5 and 12 million latchkey children in the U.S. today.

I don't know how reliable that study is, but that's what I had to learn for class.


http://www.muni.org/apd1/children.cfm
 

vespergirl

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Please, I know 14 year olds with nannies these days. I don''t know of any latchkey kids in my neighborhood now, but there were a few growing up (my best friend was one), and they turned out fine. I''ll be 33 this year, so that makes me a member of Gen X.

My mom stayed at home when we were young, but because there were 3 of us, she didn''t always feel like dragging us to the grocery or doctor''s office. By the time my older brother was 12 (the oldest), she would leave him in charge of me & my younger brother (7 and 2 respectively) while she ran her errands. Nothing bad ever happened.

I actually starting babysitting in my neighborhood when I was 11, and everyone was fine with that. These days 11 year olds aren''t allowed to cross the street by themselves - literallly - their parents wait for them at the bus stop.

So, I think you''d be hard pressed to find a latchkey kid in my neighborhood (upper-middle class suburb of DC area) but maybe in other places - I''d be interested in hearing if there are any out there ...
 

asscherisme

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I was a latchkey kid. You never hear that term anymore. It was the buzz term in the late '70s early '80's and part of era when women flooded back to work.

I am certainly independant, thats for sure.

I can't imagine leaving my kids alone from such an early age and having SO much indenpendance. My parents had NO clue what my brother and I got iinto!

We were 2nd grade (me) and 4th grade (my brother) when we started getting off the bus and coming home to an empty house. And we would often cook ourselved a hot snack. I shudder now to think that we couldh ave burned the house down. We would then be playing all around he neighborhood with out friends until dark.

Often our mom would call us on the phone and tell us to put dinner in the oven so it would be ready when she got home.

It amazes me sometimes I made it to adulthood alive!

But my brother and I actually did not mind being alone, we liked it. We had so much independence and we had a lot of fun :)

travelinggal, how old were you when you were left alone?

edited to add, I don't know if I'm gen-X. What age would that be? I was born in 1969, does that make me gen-X?

Vespergirl, I grew up in Bethesda Md, moving to Potomac Md when I was 8 and there were plenty of latchkey kids back then. But times have massivley changed.

It was such a great area to grow up. LOVED Great Falls and totally miss it!!!
 

TravelingGal

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Gen X is 1961-1981.

I was latchkey from about 3rd grade. So 8-9 years old. My mom had to work from then on. My dad was working prior to that.

My brother was 7. We were great latchkey kids. We made hot snacks too. We did our homework. I knew how to make rice and put it in the cooker and always did this before my parents came home.

We didn''t watch a lot of TV because my mom would often lock it up (putting a little mini lock through the hole in the prongs of the plug). I read a lot of books. My brother and I fought from time to time, but we never got in any trouble, had people over, or went out when we weren''t supposed to.

We were pretty good kids, I guess.
 

Mara

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OMG, I was a total latchkey kid. My Mom is a teacher so I'd hang out in the yard for like an hour or two, until she got home. Sometimes if she had a meeting, I would have to climb in the bathroom window...which was tiny, haha. Sometimes I'd hang out in the front yard, not just the back. We had a really neighborhoody street with nosy SAH Mom's who would watch the latchkey kids through their drapes.

Times have definitely changed. I don't want my dog hanging out in my backyard when I am not home, nevermind a child.

TG our company just did some Generational training with us, super interesting. I am a total Gen X, but with some Baby Boomer tendencies.

One of the things they said about the Millenials is that they have a hard time understanding why there is not always someone there to help them out, or take care of them. Not sure that's how I want my imaginary kid to be!
 

TravelingGal

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Mara, as I get older, I tend to have boomer tendencies too.
 

elrohwen

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I guess it depends on the age of the kid. I was allowed to come home to an empty house once I was in junior high (so age 13 I guess? 12 maybe?). Before that I was always in an after school program, which is the way it should be, IMO. Kids younger than 12 or so can get into serious trouble on their own! Not that all will (I don't think I would have, because I was a pretty good kid
) but I wouldn't take the chance. I think it's so sad that many parents can't afford day care or don't have after school programs available. I assume many more would use them if they could.

My parents' neighbor still won't leave her 13 year old alone for an hour while she goes for a walk
That, to me, is a little over protective. Heck, 13 year olds can be babysitting for younger kids!

ETA: I think my upbringing made me pretty independent (even the after school programs; you were expected to sit there and do your homework so there wasn't a lot of structure). Though I'm an only child, so maybe that helps too? I'm not Gen-X, but I only missed it by a couple years.
 

Aloros

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Stepson-to-be is 11 and is a latchkey kid. I'll admit it still makes FI and I nervous sometimes, but he's been fairly responsible. We have him call us as soon as he gets home. We let him know what he can have for a snack, and there's a checklist of things he should do before we get home (usually take off his uniform, do any dishes in the sink, and do his hw). This way we can keep track of how he's spending his time. He can use the microwave, but not the stove, though we're working up to it. We've let him use it a couple times, but only with us calling back every few minutes or so to make sure he's not letting anything boil over and that he's turned it off.

Both FI and I get home fairly early, so he's not alone for long and still has time to go out and play after he's done with his chores and we're back. We live in a very safe neighborhood, so he's allowed to go out and about to his friends' places or to the parks (not allowed to cross the busy streets), as long as he leaves us a note telling us where he's gone and is back by 5:30PM.

In addition, he has after-school activites or sports, so he's not home alone all the time.

I wouldn't say it's the ideal situation, but it works, and he's a good kid. I'm hoping one or both of us can move to part-time or just working from home sometime in the future. We do worry a lot about the teen years.

ETA: He's been a latchkey kid since he was 10. He was in an after-school program before that.
 

icekid

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Date: 3/11/2009 2:25:23 PM
Author: TravelingGal

As I said, I was totally a latchkey kid. We didn''t have a spare lying around so there were a few times that I was locked out of the house having forgotten my keys and had to hang out in the back yard until my parents came home. I remember peeing in the back yard. Cell phones would have been nice back then.
ahh.. hahaha, memories! This definitely happened to me and my little brother a couple times- hopefully the neighbors could not see. But I was at home for a couple hours with my brother, before our parents got home. I think most of the years the two youngest were in daycare, but once a bit older I believe the four of us were home together! But I was pretty responsible by that time, being 10 years older than the youngest. We didn''t get into any trouble and I think we enjoyed having a little time without out parents around, actually. Things have definitely changed!
 

basil

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Yup, I was a latchkey kid from 5th grade on every day, but sometimes before that.

My mom was a teacher and she would be home within 15 min of me getting home when I was in grade 3-4, but sometimes I was home sooner so I knew where the key was to get in. Sometimes my parents would forget to put it out, though, so I''d hang out on the back porch. After that, I''d get home about an hour earlier than she did. I remember I would let the dog out, make a snack (usually in the microwave, like soup), and read books.

Once I forgot to go to Girl Scouts so I got home and hung out on the porch for a while figuring that my mom was just late. Well, Girl Scouts called my mom because I didn''t come, but she must have had a meeting or something, cause she sent someone else''s mom to pick me up and take me back to Girl Scouts. I remember this other mom coming around the back of our house with one of my classmates, and her saying that she brought him so that I wouldn''t be scared of her. Of course, I went with her and she took me back to Girl Scouts. I can''t say I''d be super thrilled if my 8 year old went off with a strange mom just because she had another kid with her!
 

October2008bride

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Date: 3/11/2009 2:37:52 PM
Author: asscherisme
I was a latchkey kid. You never hear that term anymore. It was the buzz term in the late ''70s early ''80''s and part of era when women flooded back to work.


I am certainly independant, thats for sure.


I can''t imagine leaving my kids alone from such an early age and having SO much indenpendance. My parents had NO clue what my brother and I got iinto!


We were 2nd grade (me) and 4th grade (my brother) when we started getting off the bus and coming home to an empty house. And we would often cook ourselved a hot snack. I shudder now to think that we couldh ave burned the house down. We would then be playing all around he neighborhood with out friends until dark.


Often our mom would call us on the phone and tell us to put dinner in the oven so it would be ready when she got home.


It amazes me sometimes I made it to adulthood alive!


But my brother and I actually did not mind being alone, we liked it. We had so much independence and we had a lot of fun :)


travelinggal, how old were you when you were left alone?


edited to add, I don''t know if I''m gen-X. What age would that be? I was born in 1969, does that make me gen-X?


Vespergirl, I grew up in Bethesda Md, moving to Potomac Md when I was 8 and there were plenty of latchkey kids back then. But times have massivley changed.


It was such a great area to grow up. LOVED Great Falls and totally miss it!!!
I had a very similar experience growing up. Home alone with my sister from the time we were 7 and 10 - walking home, making snacks, getting into fights.

My parents love reminding my sister of how she decided to go to a friends house one day after school and of course, I couldnt'' get into the house (she had the key). My parents came home at 6 p.m. to their 7 year old sitting on a snow bank.

Times were totally different back then. haha

We were independent that is for sure, but we also called my dad a zillion times just screaming about what the other sister did. It was hard on my parents, but necessary. The worst were the summers where we''d be home all day.

But - my parents needed to work so we did what we had to. I started making dinner once a week when I turned 10 and doing my own laundry. I''m definitely not hard done by though :)
 

basil

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It was also a lot harder to get a hold of people back in the day.

My parents would go out to dinner and write down the number of the restaurant they were going to if there was an emergency. I called once - when my little brother started puking one night. So we were kind of forced to sort out our differences ourselves. Though "I''m gonna call Daddy and tell him what you did" was a frequent threat, cause Daddy would not have been happy to have his dinner interrupted with a minor squabble.

These days, I call them in the middle of dinner for much less reason, even though I''m 29 and living in another city!
 

TravelingGal

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And parents seemed less fussed too. One time my brother and I got into a fight and we threw all sorts of things at each other. I recall the house was a mess. No one got hurt and we both were smart enough to know now not to throw really scary stuff, but it was a war zone nonetheless.

My parents came home, yelled at us, told us to make up then clean the mess, then went back to work the next day. If I came home to that now, I''d be looking to put them in after school care or something. And my brother and were obviously fine and just moved on after that.

Oh, and if your parents forget to leave the key for you, and you sit on a snowbank and get gangrene and bits of your body end up being cut off, is that gross negligence punishable by jail time because they obviously didn''t make you a priority by putting out the key?


Anyone else think our parents would have gone to jail by today''s standards?
 

Hudson_Hawk

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My brother and I were latchkey kids for most of our childhood (I''d say after the 3rd grade...). We would come home from school, call mom, make a snack, and play until Mom got home. Yes, I''ve climbed through bathroom windows more than I can count. Yes, I almost burned down the house by incinerating a bagel in the microwave. I also started baby sitting at 11 and working at 14. Honestly, my kids will probably be the same. FI and I were both LK kids and it''s just how we were brought up.
 

Elmorton

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I was a latchkey kid. I had an afterschool babysitter from grades 1 & 2, and it cost a fortune for very little supervision, so my parents found an afterschool program affiliated with the school and put me in it. I absolutely hated it. So at I think 4th grade (it might have been 5th?), I asked my parents if I could stay home alone (it was only about an hour until one parent would come home). That would have made me about 9 or 10 years old. Anyway, they agreed, gave a spare key to two neighbors, and I was officially on my own. I was allowed to have one friend over (the neighbor across the street, who also held one of the spare keys), knew that if I had boys over I''d have a babysitter until I was 30, and I think my parents made some noise about not setting anything on fire. ;-)

I really hope that times haven''t changed so much that kids can''t be alone for (short) periods of time after school, because I really did learn a lot about responsibility and taking care of things for myself, but at the same time, this is really one of those areas that a parent really has to know the child''s capabilities - there are some 10 year olds who are probably fine and 15 year olds that need supervision.

Just fodder for the fire, though - when I studied adolescent psych, one of my textbooks had a statistic that an overwhelming majority of teenage parents report that that time of conception was between 3-5pm. That''s definitely something to think about before leaving kids alone in the afternoon.
 

Haven

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My mom started working when I was about 10, so I was a latchkey kid from that point on.

I had to call her at work every day when I got home, and I don''t really know why I did this, but for YEARS I would pretend I was her housekeeper (HA! As if we ever had a housekeeper) and I spoke in a strange accent, and called her Mrs. Olson on the phone. (Our last name was not Olson.) I would make up bizarre catastrophes and scream about them to her, and sing songs and tell her how beautiful her eldest daughter is. :)

I was an odd bird.

Oh, and I also microwaved myself eggs every day as a snack. I wasn''t allowed to use the stove.
 

Kaleigh

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Date: 3/11/2009 5:13:53 PM
Author: TravelingGal
And parents seemed less fussed too. One time my brother and I got into a fight and we threw all sorts of things at each other. I recall the house was a mess. No one got hurt and we both were smart enough to know now not to throw really scary stuff, but it was a war zone nonetheless.

My parents came home, yelled at us, told us to make up then clean the mess, then went back to work the next day. If I came home to that now, I''d be looking to put them in after school care or something. And my brother and were obviously fine and just moved on after that.

Oh, and if your parents forget to leave the key for you, and you sit on a snowbank and get gangrene and bits of your body end up being cut off, is that gross negligence punishable by jail time because they obviously didn''t make you a priority by putting out the key?


Anyone else think our parents would have gone to jail by today''s standards?
OMG yes!!!
Things are sooo different today.
 

TravelingGal

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Anyone still remember the phone number they dialed to call in to their folks (especially if it still isn''t a current number)? I obviously stopped dialing the number daily some time around 1989 (and the number was gone for good in 1993 when my parents shut down their store) but I still remember the phone number.
 

akmiss

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Yes, my younger brother and I were total latch-key kids. It started when I was in the 3rd grade and my brother is a year younger. We even had our own alarm clocks. But my parents had to work and we didn''t mind. Most of our friends were going through the same thing too. Funny that I am so overprotective of my kids now. Maybe because I know better


I believe we have laws in our state that kids cannot be left alone for any time period until they are twelve and babysitters have to be at least fourteen. Can you imagine if something did happen? I believe that my younger brother and I survived because the whole situation forced me to be more responsible. Honestly, my little brother wouldn''t have had a chance.
 

Bia

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I''m considered a ''Millenial,'' or Gen-Yer, but I was a latchkey kid. From age 11+ I babysat myself and my brother after school until my parents came home around 5-6PM.

Some of my friends started watching themselves even earlier than that. We all turned out fine. Nowadays, I know quite a few 15-17 year-olds that don''t even know how to do a load of laundry or empty a dishwasher.


Funny, I just did a project on this from the corporate perspective...the different generations I mean. From what I understand, the Boomers can''t stand us LOL
 

Mara

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Date: 3/11/2009 6:22:41 PM
Author: Bia
I'm considered a 'Millenial,' or Gen-Yer, but I was a latchkey kid.

Funny, I just did a project on this from the corporate perspective...the different generations I mean. From what I understand, the Boomers can't stand us LOL
Yes this was part of what our corporate training was just about...how to interact with the new Millenial's coming into the workforce. They work entirely differently than Boomers, than X'ers. The largest gap in understanding is between Boomers (chances are they will be your boss) and the Millenials (graduated fresh out of college).

It's definitely interesting. I think it's more that they don't understand each other than the Boomers can't stand them.

The example that was given to us was really interesting. A brand-new Millenial employee was in a staff meeting, wearing an iPod and using their laptop the entire time. Afterwards, Boss went over to say something to the Millenial, and they flipped their screen around to show that they had just mapped and charted out everything that happened during the meeting with flows and ppt presos. The Boss was amazed and obviously did not say one chastising word. Interesting, right?

I work with a few Millenials, but they are definitely hybrid models, a bit of X and Y together. Interesting too because my sis is 18 and I think she is a hybrid. Very self-sufficient and independent but a fair amount of Y tendencies as well.

From what this trainer said, I don't know that I'd love a straight Y personality...but we'll have to figure out how to all get along.
 

Sabine

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I was born in 1982, so I''m probably more X than Y, and I was definitely a latchkey kid. My brother and I were alone after school from the time I was 8 and he was 10 on, an alone all day all summer when I was 11 and he was 13. We did have a neighborhood mom who looked after us a bit, but she was really only there if we needed her, and we played outside with all the neighborhood kids all day and were in and out of all of our houses. I loved growing up so independently, and hope my little guy will have at least some of that, but I don''t know if I''ll be able to do it unless I HAVE to like my mom did.
 

coatimundi_org

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I haven't thought of the word latchkey for a long time.


My sister and I were latchkey kids for some time. Most of the other kids in our neighborhood had SAHMs. I knew we were different, but it was just a feeling--maybe a "less than" kind of feeling?

I cannot even imagine a latchkey kid in my current neighborhood. SAHMs abound. Sure is different now.

eta: and I am Gen X.
 

asscherisme

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Date: 3/11/2009 4:27:23 PM
Author: october2008bride

Date: 3/11/2009 2:37:52 PM
Author: asscherisme
I was a latchkey kid. You never hear that term anymore. It was the buzz term in the late ''70s early ''80''s and part of era when women flooded back to work.


I am certainly independant, thats for sure.


I can''t imagine leaving my kids alone from such an early age and having SO much indenpendance. My parents had NO clue what my brother and I got iinto!


We were 2nd grade (me) and 4th grade (my brother) when we started getting off the bus and coming home to an empty house. And we would often cook ourselved a hot snack. I shudder now to think that we couldh ave burned the house down. We would then be playing all around he neighborhood with out friends until dark.


Often our mom would call us on the phone and tell us to put dinner in the oven so it would be ready when she got home.


It amazes me sometimes I made it to adulthood alive!


But my brother and I actually did not mind being alone, we liked it. We had so much independence and we had a lot of fun :)


travelinggal, how old were you when you were left alone?


edited to add, I don''t know if I''m gen-X. What age would that be? I was born in 1969, does that make me gen-X?


Vespergirl, I grew up in Bethesda Md, moving to Potomac Md when I was 8 and there were plenty of latchkey kids back then. But times have massivley changed.


It was such a great area to grow up. LOVED Great Falls and totally miss it!!!
I had a very similar experience growing up. Home alone with my sister from the time we were 7 and 10 - walking home, making snacks, getting into fights.

My parents love reminding my sister of how she decided to go to a friends house one day after school and of course, I couldnt'' get into the house (she had the key). My parents came home at 6 p.m. to their 7 year old sitting on a snow bank.

Times were totally different back then. haha

We were independent that is for sure, but we also called my dad a zillion times just screaming about what the other sister did. It was hard on my parents, but necessary. The worst were the summers where we''d be home all day.

But - my parents needed to work so we did what we had to. I started making dinner once a week when I turned 10 and doing my own laundry. I''m definitely not hard done by though :)
I totally forgot about the huge fights my brother and I had. But your post about calling work reminded me about how we would call my mother complaining about how awful the other one was being. Funny how I blocked that out until I read your post!
 

pinkstars

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I had to look at the definition, but I most definitely am. My mom has been working since I was born, and my dad was sometimes in our lives and sometimes not. I wasn''t left alone in kindergarten or 1st grade, but when we had our second move and I was in the 2nd grade I believe. By the time 3rd graded came around we didn''t live in an apartment anymore where our neighbor was my babysitter. I woke myself up, got ready for school, left and came home. I made my own lunches around this time also. I was fully capable of using the stove and not burning down the house. My sister is the same, I can see that it''s a lot harder for her. She''ll call my grandma just to talk to someone. I feel bad for not being there to make things easier for her.
I''m not sure if being brought up this way resulted in how extremely shy I was, but it seems like it might have affected me in some way. But I feel like it''s helped me more than anything, sometimes I wonder how it is that people my age(my BF for example) aren''t aware of using hot water to wash dishes and just stuff like that. But his mom was at home most of the time, I''m not sure if he was ever left alone like how I was.

Btw, I''m 23.
 

Skippy123

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I was a Latchkey kid but I was reading some article that said there is less crime today then back when I was a latchkey kid. I guess the media and Internet gets information out quickly so it appears there is more crime today then there was 20 years ago. What is the age that parents now can leave their children home alone?


In 5th grade (I was 10 yrs old) when my sis and I got home from school and we would wait an hour or 2 before my parents got home; we did have a nice neighbor that would watch out for us. Also our babysitter lived 4 houses down and a SAHM was 4 houses down from us as well. We would eat apples or cereal as a snack. We weren''t allowed to play outside when my parents were not home.
 

onedrop

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I am a Gen-Xer and I was a latchkey kid also. And I remember days that I would either have lost my key or left it at home, so I''d have to go over to the neighbors until my Mom got home. Usually she was home within an hour of my arrival and I had to call immediately when I got into the house. My Mom tells me know that she''d be watching the clock every day around the time I was supposed to call her and if no call came...she knew I was locked out. I can remember feeling like the oddball because most of my friends in the neighborhood and at school had SAHMs. Because of that I kept my latchkey status mostly to myself.

These days I couldn''t imagine leaving a kid home alone because there is just too much harmful or potentialluy harmful stuff to get into. Back in the day, I came home, had a bowl of cereal and watched TV for an hour until my Mom got home. The most scandalous thing I did was maybe stay on the porch talking to friends when I should have been inside doing homework. Now the opportunities for trouble are endless.

Recently, I heard that there are actually "rules" (and I use that term loosely) that kids under 10 or 11 shouldn''t be left home alone, and if they have a younger sibling or siblings I think it''s age 12 or 13? Don''t quote me on the actual ages. But I''ve heard of these rules from friends who are social workers.
 
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