Mum divides opinion after wanting to leave 10-year-old daughter home alone with little brother
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A mum has divided the internet by wanting to leave her 10-year-old home alone with her seven-year-old brother.
She wrote: "I really can't remember how old I was when I was left with my older sibling.
"I'm a single parent and would love to do exercise classes around the corner from where I live but I am unsure what is legal, so would love some feedback."
The mum went on to explain that she has a 10-year-old daughter who she describes as 'mature and smart' and said she's been left alone for short periods of time before.
She also added that her daughter has an iPad where she can make calls if needed.
Then she explained her problem: she also has a seven-year-old son 'who generally listens to sister', but she is worried 'if they fall out if I leave them alone.'
The mum ultimately admitted that she doesn't think she will be able to attend the exercise class for 'another year or so', but said she was 'curious to what other parents do.'
Responses to the question on Mumsnet were divided, to say the least.
One critic wrote: "An hour is far too long to leave a ten-year-old in charge imo, five minutes to pop to the shop maybe but not an hour."
"No," slammed a second. "Leaving the ten-year-old would be OK but not in charge of a younger child, that's not fair."
"Absolutely not. You cannot give responsibility of a 7yr old to a 10yr old," remarked a third reader while a fourth answered: "It's not really fair for an older child to be in charge of a younger sibling and it would likely cause arguments."
However, not everyone was so critical of the mum.
One parent who had left their children alone at that age explained that they were able to cope even in an emergency.
They wrote: "Mine were left for the first time at 10 and 7 (always together).
"Once the younger one fell and banged his head badly (I was gone less than ten mins) and his sister did all the right things - ice pack etc, and called me straight away. It is totally dependent on the kids."
A second agreed that it wasn't outside the realm of possibility for the children to be left alone, writing: "I think your situation could work if they knew exactly what they should be doing and this didn't involve making food or anything risky.
"You'd also need to have your phone with you and be prepared to rush home if necessary."
Meanwhile, other users agreed that the mum should reassess the situation in a year or two as planned, while others suggested letting trusted neighbours know and potentially offer to keep an eye on the children.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) advises parents never leave babies, toddlers and young children alone, but after that, it is at the discretion of parents.
It also advises not to leave a child under 16 home alone overnight, and states children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for long periods.