We all remember when we were little.  Our parents would leave us alone like it was no big deal.  They'd go to the store and we would sit & watch TV.  They'd go to work while we sat at home on summer break. They'd go to bowling league every Tuesday and we went to sleep on our own.

That's the way it worked!  That's the way it always worked.

sad child with his head between his legs left alone at home
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Something Happened

Then at some point, the switch happened.  Maybe it was because Gen Xers thought about how we were raised a little TOO "free-ranged" and once we had kids we didn't want to extend the same length (or non-existent) leash to our own children.

No doubt, our parents never asked "When Is It  Ok  to Leave Kids at Home Alone."  They were the generation that brought babies home in a cardboard box stored on the dashboard for the ride.

That's not an exaggeration.  That's literally how I was brought home from the hospital.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Maybe we know more...Maybe we're more paranoid.

These days, according to AACAP.com, it is estimated that "over 40% of children are left home at some time, though rarely overnight."  When we grew up...that number was for sure close to 100%.


Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash
Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

When Is It Legal To Leave Kids Home Alone?

  • Iowa: According to DesMoinesRegister.com, in Iowa, "there's no age in state law at which children are deemed responsible enough to be home alone. That means it's a judgment call each parent must make."
  • Illinois: The STRICTEST age limit of 14 but in March of this year, "the Illinois House unanimously passed a bill to eliminate the nation's strictest standard for how old children must be to be left home alone"-IllinoisPolicy.org
  • Wisconsin: According to wiLawLibrary.gov, "Wisconsin does not have statutes or regulations that state the age at which a child may be left unsupervised, or left in charge of other children."

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