Teenagers are a tricky beast to handle. They want to be treated like adults, but as a parent, you know in your heart that they’re still your child. So, it can be tough to know when to let go and let them gain their own independence.
Well, one mum has found herself in a difficult situation with her 16-year-old son, who plans to stay home alone while she goes on holiday with their family.
The parent, who opted to stay anonymous, took to Mumsnet last week to share her plans for the teenager to remain at home whilst they’re away next year, as he ‘doesn’t want to go on holiday with us’.
She wrote: “Son insists he doesn’t want to go on holiday with us next year. He’ll be 16 and a half.
“I don’t want to leave him as I think it’s too young. He’s mature for 16 but doesn’t cook. He knows how to make oven food like pizza, [chicken] nuggets etc so he wouldn’t starve.”
The clearly torn mother also explained how his older sister would be at university: "and the last thing he wants is her coming back to ‘babysit’."
“They get along okay but he wants a week of just being by himself with nobody else home.”
Now, before you panic that this poor woman’s house is about to be turned upside down with raging house parties, the mother insisted that she’s ‘not worried’ about that aspect.
“His friends are always here anyway so it won't bother me if they visit while we are away.”
As for someone that can check on her son, she added that ‘grandparents from both sides of the family live within 10-minute walking distance.’
“Aunts [are] like a five-minute drive away and would pop in to check if he needs anything,” she wrote.
The mother also explained that their holiday would take place during term-time, which would mean her son ‘would need to get himself sorted for school’.
However, this is clearly something he’s had practice with, as ‘he says he’s completely self-sufficient when it comes to getting ready for school including doing his own lunch and washing his uniform.’
The mum then went on to ask if other parents on the forum would allow their teenagers to do this - to which the response has been divided.
“I wouldn't have left my daughter at 16 but I'm ridiculously overprotective,” one parent responded. “I wouldn't enjoy the holiday though I'd be too worried and sad to not have her with me.”
“I wouldn’t leave my 16-year-old for a whole week but maybe yours is a bit more sensible and conscientious than mine,” another wrote in disagreement with the mother and son’s plans.
Another argued that her child must be ‘sensible’ not to be going on holiday before the run-up to his final exams.
“If he’s 16 and you’re going in term time he’s making a pretty sensible choice to not go - why are you going on a family holiday right before his GCSEs?”
Elsewhere, others argued in support of the plans that they lived by themselves from age 16.
“He’s old enough to leave home and get a job,” one wrote, while another added: “I lived on my own at that age.”
By law, there is no definitive age in the UK when you can leave a child on their own.
However, as per Gov.uk, it is an offence to leave a child by themselves ‘if it places them at risk.’
The NSPCC also advises that children under 12 years old ‘are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time’ and ‘children under 16 should not be left alone overnight’.
It is never safe to leave babies, toddlers and very young children alone.
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