/ Controversial subject, leaving your kids alone

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Denni on 04 Nov 2013
Afternoon all,
Hope you are all good on this lovely Monday.

Chatting to a friend today about the McCann affair, we both agree that it is an absolutely terrible state of affairs and I can't imagine what hell they must have gone/are still going through but, we both agreed that neither of us would leave our children alone and go off to have a meal etc etc.

It is apparently not illegal to leave your children alone at one of these many listening hotels as long as you check them every half an hour but I still wouldn't do it and regardless of what anyone posts, this is my choice as a parent and everyone else can do what they want to.

Anyone any other views?
Den

PS, I'm not part of the hang the McCann family by the way.
iksander on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni: There is an inevitable pressure on parents to be as protective as possible in every regard. On the face of it, it seems indefensible not to be. The thinking goes: "As a responsible parent, how could you live with yourself if x,y,z happens to your kids because you didn't do a, b or c?"

In my mind, the key part of that is "how could you live with yourself" eg. the concern is about how the parents feel about themsleves, rather than the direct welfare of the child.

As climbers, if our parents had had this attitude - how likely is that we would not have been allowed to explore the outdoors with all its terrifying risks?

My 13 year old daughter refuses to wear a cycle helmet, so the helmet and bike are shiny an unused in the garage. Have I been the best possible parent by effectively denying her bike riding?
wilkie14c - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to iksander:

> My 13 year old daughter refuses to wear a cycle helmet, so the helmet and bike are shiny an unused in the garage. Have I been the best possible parent by effectively denying her bike riding?

Our 16 YO daughter asked the wife to buy her alcohol to go to a halloween party last week. Do you say no becuse the law says so or do you get some because we know what she is drinking and the ammount <bearing in mind that they'll do it anyway and wouldn't want to imagine her hanging around outside of spar asking strangers to buy it for her>
In reply to the OP, we have on accasion left ours for half hour or so when they were 12/13 but even now we are wary of leaving the oldest for a weekend and she's old enough to live on her own!!
It's tough being a parent from both sides of the fence.
marsbar - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: My mum was very much of the opinion that she would rather let us learn about alcohol with her than with other kids. We never went drinking on the park, and we never had any major incidents, and were able to handle things when friends did. I think she was right. Because we had always had a sip, or a little glass when we were older, it was never as attractive as forbidden fruit.
In reply to Denni: My daughter's 11, and she lets herself in and looks after herself for 3/4 of an hour one afternoon a week while my wife and I are at work. She's instructed to lock the door, not answer is, ring me to let me know she's OK and not use the kettle or knives. Seems OK to me, knowing her as I do.

We would not have left her alone as the McCanns did, at the age Madeline was. I feel dreadfully sorry for them all the same.
Milesy - on 04 Nov 2013
I think I will introduced my daughter (and next one coming) to alcohol from a reasonable age because where I live everyone starts about 12. It is inevitable. I did and my parents never once suspected I was pished every weekened - even today they say they never knew. Was I really sneaky or were they just naive? Was it because I always had baby sitters at that age while they were at the pub? Who knows.

I think we got chased by the police so often when drinking in the park or lanes we sobered ourselves up! I remember one night when I was about 13 I was still drunk when I went in and red faced so I slapped my face about a bit, then pretended to my dad I had just got jumped (got a kicking) and that explained why I was dizzy and out of sorts. He believed me and spent the rest of the night driving about looking for the perps while I went to bed and put on rave music.....
ebygomm - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni:

When it first happened my parents said it sounded like something they would have done.

They left my 18 month old sister with someone they met on the bus so they could climb ayers rock without her.

When we used to have holidays in Cornwall they used to take a trip to the supermarket and we would have the choice of going with them or wandering round the village whilst they were out (we weren't allowed to stay in the house alone). I would have been about 7, my sister 10 and my brother 5 and we always chose to not go to the supermarket and instead wandered the streets for a couple of hours.

wilkie14c - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Submit to Gravity:
> (In reply to Denni) My daughter's 11, and she lets herself in and looks after herself for 3/4 of an hour one afternoon a week while my wife and I are at work. She's instructed to lock the door, not answer is, ring me to let me know she's OK and not use the kettle or knives. Seems OK to me, knowing her as I do.

Good attitude, its all about how mature and sensible they are eh and age doesn't always come into it

> We would not have left her alone as the McCanns did, at the age Madeline was. I feel dreadfully sorry for them all the same.

I can only echo that statement
neilh - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni:
I had read that the incident at the weekend leading to the tragic death of the 14/16 year old girls happened at 4 am.

A 16 year old girl I can accept, a 14 year old out at 4 am, is odd imho.

As regards the Mccann there is no way I would have left my girls at that age in a hotel on their own.
abr1966 - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni: It's very simple regarding Madeline and her younger siblings....children of that age should not have been left in those circumstances.
David Martin - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to abr1966:

But where do you draw the line.

There was a news report on an inquest today where an 8 year old girl died in a school playground in Februrary after a boy ran in to her and she fell on to a railway sleeper. Do we ban all solid objects from school play grounds, ban kids from running or playing games?

What if the McCann's had plugged every power point, removed every object that could cause strangulation, taken every precaution...except guarded against roving paedophiles? If they are only guilty on not taking that final precaution then so is every parent that allows a child to walk to school. Madeline didn't die of an accident bu was deliberately targetted - and in all likelihood, even if the parents had been home whoever took her might still have managed to do so.

I was left at home alone a hell of lot from a reasonably young age. Loved it. I knew where the biscuits, water and orange juice were, had toys to play with, could answer the phone, everyone kept their doors unlocked and windows open anyway, happy as a pig in sh1t.
angry pirate - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to abr1966:
I couldn't agree more.
We've had this conversation at work and it seems like such a dirty topic for discussion.
I wouldn't leave my four year old on his own ever, not even to nip to the shop a few doors down. Not because I fear he'd be abducted (the odds are astronomically low) but more as he might wake up and be scared on his own.
In the same vein, I remember the case of the baby attacked by a fox because her mum left the patio open. Again, I wouldn't leave a window / door wide open near my 11 month old, not because I fear foxes but more to keep the cat away, in case the baby pisses it off enough to scratch him, or in case it "steals the breath from him", old wives tale for suffocating newborns by sleeping on their chests where it's warm.
I would have thought it was just sound parenting, like a t shirt I saw recently said: common sense is so rare nowadays it should be classed as a superpower.
wintertree - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni:

It all depend doesn't it. A friend and I used to go camping overnight in random woods around Essex from age 13 or so. Sometimes we even asked the farmer first. We'd cycle to the others house 4 miles on windy country roads then cover upwards of 10 miles to a camp site, no mobile or plan. Looking back I'm amazed we didn't burn a wood down. Parents never worried

I doubt they'd have left us in some random apartment outside our normal sphere of living, but then they'd never have begrudged having us along for dinner etc.
Rob Exile Ward on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to abr1966: The circumstances being ... a gated resort, 100yds from where they were having dinner, looking in every 20 minutes to check they were still asleep.

If they're guilty then I have been too, and would be so again. And I loathe the way we're all becoming so guilt ridden and panicked that we can't make sensible risk assessments about what are acceptable risks for our children. (Actually the risk to Maddy probably wouldn't even have registered with me, my only concern would have been her waking up and being frightened.)
Max factor - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

>
> If they're guilty then I have been too, and would be so again. And I loathe the way we're all becoming so guilt ridden and panicked that we can't make sensible risk assessments about what are acceptable risks for our children.

My sentiments exactly. Some of my friends think we take a relaxed attitude to parenting. They should meet my parents! it's a wonder my brother and I are still here.
Trangia - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni:
>
>
> but I still wouldn't do it and regardless of what anyone posts, this is my choice as a parent and everyone else can do what they want to.
>
>

You say this with the benefit of hindsight in the light of the McCann's terrible experience, but had this incident never happened, would you still hold the same view bearing in mind that they were dining in the same complex as their apartment? What about when you are staying in an hotel, would you go down to diner leaving the children in your hotel room, obviously regularly checking in on them, or if you are staying in a friend's house - say a large house were you can't hear what's going on upstairs?
Denni on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Hi mate,
regardless of the McCann story, I'd never leave my child to be monitored by anyone else. I'd never leave them alone and nip back to check on them and as far as being in a big house goes, I've never been in that situation but they wouldn't be left alone in the west wing if that's what you mean.

My daughter is only 3 and we still use a monitor when she is in bed and until I'm happy enough not to, I'll continue using it. I think sometimes I'm over protective but she's our only child (until about 8 weeks when the wife is due!) and I certainly wouldn't leave her alone in bed to go out for a meal and a drink with my mates even if I was just next door in my neighbours garden.
abr1966 - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to abr1966) The circumstances being ... a gated resort, 100yds from where they were having dinner, looking in every 20 minutes to check they were still asleep.
>
> If they're guilty then I have been too, and would be so again. And I loathe the way we're all becoming so guilt ridden and panicked that we can't make sensible risk assessments about what are acceptable risks for our children. (Actually the risk to Maddy probably wouldn't even have registered with me, my only concern would have been her waking up and being frightened.)

She was 3 and the twins were 2......as I understand the facts it was 100 metres as the crow flies but not in teams of actual distance, the time between adult visits was 30 minutes.
I appreciate it's difficult to know where to draw a line but at that age I don't think it's ok.
nufkin - on 04 Nov 2013
In reply to Max factor:

> Some of my friends think we take a relaxed attitude to parenting. They should meet my parents!

Looking back at my childhood I'm struck by the trust and freedom I was afforded. My siblings and me were getting ourselves to and from school from 10yrs old or thereabouts, without adult supervision for several hours after school and occasionally left for whole weekends. Maybe it was just slack parenting, but it seemed perfectly reasonable. I'd like to think we were cared for, and I'm impressed by the will that must have been needed to override the desire to keep us wrapped in cotton wool till old enough to be safely married off
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Denni)
> [...]
>
> You say this with the benefit of hindsight in the light of the McCann's terrible experience, but had this incident never happened, would you still hold the same view bearing in mind that they were dining in the same complex as their apartment? What about when you are staying in an hotel, would you go down to diner leaving the children in your hotel room, obviously regularly checking in on them, or if you are staying in a friend's house - say a large house were you can't hear what's going on upstairs?

From my perspective, it's not with the benefit of hindsight at all. I just wouldn't have done it (although abduction would sit low on my list of risk factors).
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SCrossley on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to iksander:
> (In reply to Denni)
>
> My 13 year old daughter refuses to wear a cycle helmet,



I think this statement shows a fundamental change in the relationship between Parents and Children. Similar situation at my house, but why have you still got a "a nice shiny bike" in the garage and what is going on when children refuse to things their parents ask.
If I had refused to wear a helmet at that age, if helmets existed then, you can bet that little Jimmy across the road would have been riding around on my shiny bike, because my Father would have given it him, and I would be sans bike pondering the wisdom of refusing to do as my Father said.

IainRUK - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Submit to Gravity:
> (In reply to Trangia)
> [...]
>
> From my perspective, it's not with the benefit of hindsight at all. I just wouldn't have done it (although abduction would sit low on my list of risk factors).

I think it was the holiday factor.. people go away and live in some sort of bubble that where they are on holiday is this safe nirvana. You'd see it in Llanberis people just blindly walking out into the road somehow assuming it was a traffic free village.. I just feel sorry for them tbh.

I can imagine in big hotel complexes its pretty normal for parents to put their kids to bed and head downstairs for a meal/few drinks.. and in reality they are 100's of metres away from the child.
deepsoup - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to sjc:
> If I had refused to wear a helmet at that age, if helmets existed then

If they had existed when I was 13, I'd have worn the helmet until I got out of sight of the house then taken it off and stuffed it into my bag for the rest of the day. (Standard operating procedure at the time for dealing with a Christmas jumper.) But then had my parents been as risk averse back then as parents are now I wouldn't have been allowed to spend the day out cycling on my own anyway.
Neil Williams - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to deepsoup:

I thought the norm was for kids to "wear" cycle helmets hanging off the bars.

Neil
Clarkey77 - on 05 Nov 2013
I don't yet have children, but what strikes me is how much things have changed in this regard.

I am only 29, but as a child I was frequently left alone. At age 7, I was allowed to walk across our farm and the neighbouring farm alone to go and play with the neighbouring farmers son.

A year later, we were living in a city, and I would get myself ready for school after my parents had left for work (I had to be out of bed before they left though!), before walking there myself. I would then walk home alone and let myself back in, before my parents returned from work a few hours later. One night a week I was responsible for cooking tea (albeit oven chips, sausage and peas!).

Looking back, I'm fairly sure that some of this was forced on my parents by circumstance, (they were both working) and I did have slightly older sisters who were theoretically around too, (although increasingly to be found smoking cigarettes and kissing boys in bus stops rather than looking after me!)but I don't remember it being that different to what my peers were getting up to.
ByEek - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Clarkey77:

> I am only 29, but as a child I was frequently left alone. At age 7, I was allowed to walk across our farm and the neighbouring farm alone to go and play with the neighbouring farmers son.

I am with you there. However, the OP referred to the McCann case. I think there is a massive difference between leaving a 3 year old and a 7 year old. There is also a massive difference between letting your 7 year old pop round the corner / over the field to the shops / his mates house and leaving them sleeping in a hotel room by themselves whilst you get p1ssed in the bar.
abseil on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
>
>...I can imagine in big hotel complexes its pretty normal for parents to put their kids to bed and head downstairs for a meal/few drinks...

That may be true, but for me, absolutely no, never.
John_Hat - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni:

I've discussed this a lot with friends in the context of us looking after our godchildren.

Essentially it comes down to "What we were allowed as kids, and what was normal then, and did us zero harm, is no longer socially acceptable, regardless of the actual risk to the kids, which is as near zero as makes no odds".

The attitude of parents varies from our friends, who mostly find it incredibly frustrating that they cannot give their children the freedom they need to grow and that they would like to have(1), to some sections of society (notably one of our neighbours) who follow their children around the back garden at a distance of six feet in case they injure themselves.

Personally I think the helicopter parents should back off, but that's never going to happen with the law the way it is and society the way it is now.

(1) e.g. From age 11 I got the train to school on my own. Our friends feel they cannot let their 13-year-old daughter get the train from Gloucester to Birmingham on her own to stay for a weekend with us, not because of the risk to her (all agreed as zero), but because of the significantly non-zero possibility that some interfering goit will ask her "so, where are your parents?" and report them to social services and the kid to the police.
Toby S - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Denni:

I'm not exactly what you'd call over-protective!

My daughter was with childminders/nurseries from about 6 months old and was regularly left with friends and family for afternoons or overnight stays.

When she was 5 months old we walked the West Highland Way, well we walked, she was in a MacPac carrier! When we got to Tyndrum, we left her in the Guest House while we got food in the restaurant next door. The owner was happy to keep an eye on her for us.

I'd occasionally leave her on her own to nip across the road to the shop for a few minutes if she was asleep and she's been making her own way home to and from school since she was 9 years old. She lets herself in and is normally alone for a couple of hours until we get home.

She's also a rower and has just started on the single scull. She regularly dissapears off up the canal out of sight heading towards Dochgarroch. She's 12, fiercely indepedent and remarkably well adjusted for her age!

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