Parent Question: “When is it safe to leave my children at home alone?”

Parent Question: “When is it safe to leave my children at home alone?”

This is a question I hear parents ask all the time. Childcare is an added expense most families would like to keep in check. I always tell parents that they should imagine their worst nightmare happening while their children are in charge. It may sound like a farfetched scare tactic, but consider the true story below which occurred on August 13, 2009 in Plano, Texas.

It’s a Thursday summer morning. School is out and a 13-year-old girl is left at home with her 6-year-old sister while their Dad’s at work. Then, two intruders kick in the door to the Plano home. And that’s when 9-1-1 gets a call from the older girl. She had taken a phone and hid in the bathroom with her sister. Plano Police spokesman Officer Rick McDonald says the girls should be credited with helping police apprehend the suspects. During the eight-minute call, police officers arrived at the home and the two intruders took off running. Officers caught up to both. 22 year old Brandon Strait of Dallas and 19 year old Kevrin Nealond of Garland were taken to a Plano jail, accused of burglary. The girl spoke barely above a whisper on the 9-1-1 call. She can be heard asking police, “Please, can you hurry?” The recording is too difficult to understand on the air. but we’ve posted it here with this story, if you’d like to listen. ( ) It all happened at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the 800 block of Ridgefield Drive in Plano. Officer McDonald says the girl who called 9-1-1 “kept her composure and gave 911 operators the right information” “They did a fantastic job.” (Copyright 2009 WBAP 24/7 News. All rights Reserved) by Bob Morrison

I actually listened to the 9-1-1 call in its entirety and I can only imagine the terror that little 13 year old girl felt as she hid in the bathroom while her home was being robbed. It was so frightening to listen as she pleads with the police to “Please, hurry!” Bless her heart that she had the presence of mind to grab a phone, take her little sister into the bathroom, and lock the door before calling the police. I’m also familiar with this upscale neighborhood and one would like to think “It couldn’t happen here!” Not so. It could and does happen all over the country.

As an adult who’s had someone break in to my home while I was alone, I can tell you the fear you experience is overwhelming. Your brain starts to shut down in shock, your heart races, and you may be so frightened that your voice won’t even work. Fortunately for this family, their little girl did the right thing and she and her sister were unharmed. It might not have turned out so well. I shudder to think if what could have happened.

There are a couple of questions to help you think through your decision to leave children in their own care or caring for others.

  1. Would you want your child to be faced with a similar situation as the above or worse?
  2. Could you be sure that your child would be able to handle any emergency situation as well as an adult? Think about a break-in, a tornado or severe storm, a fire, a life-threatening injury, a broken bone, etc.
  3. Is there any situation you could leave your children in that would be more preferable?
  4. How much is your child’s safety worth?

The last question may seem harsh, but most parents don’t flinch at buying a top of the line car seat or stroller. It’s a matter of safety. How many of us have juggled a car seat onto an airplane? It’s a matter of safety. Think about this, many parents won’t let their 13 year old daughter go to the mall unattended. Why then would we think a 13 year old would be able to care for other’s children? When I was 13, I babysat all the time. As a grown woman, I now look back at that time in my life and realize that I wasn’t responsible enough to care for a child properly. I don’t believe I could’ve handled an emergency in an appropriate manner.

In this tough time parents understandably have to make financial decisions which impact their families. Before you decide to let the nanny go, consider if there are other ways to stretch your dollar. Can you afford to eat out less, shop at less expensive stores, give up the gym, take a vacation closer to home etc.? Every consideration should be examined before compromising on your child’s safety.

2017-10-09T19:24:03+00:00 Articles, For Families|0 Comments