You need something from the shops but your child insists they’re old enough to stay home alone. Your heart says “no”, but your brain wonders… maybe? It’s a dilemma most parents face! Let’s break down this decision and help you feel confident either way.

Key Takeaways

  • There’s no magic number. It’s not about a specific age, it’s about whether your kiddo is ready to handle being on their own. Safety comes first!
  • Little kids need supervision. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) advises that under 12 is a no-go for being home alone, especially for a long time. Every kid’s different though!
  • Can your kid handle it? Think about how mature they are, if your neighborhood is safe, and if they can cope with stuff going wrong.
  • Rules and check-ins are key.  Before you leave, make sure you’ve agreed on ground rules and how you’ll stay in touch.
  • Babysitting is a big deal. If your kid’s thinking about watching other kids, they should be at least 14 and know what they’re getting into.

The Law

No Legal Age, But Safety First

Alright, fellow mums, let’s have a chinwag about this whole ‘home alone’ business. You’ve probably heard a dozen times that there’s no set age restriction for when you can leave your little cherubs unsupervised. But before you pop off to the casino or nip out to buy a lotto ticket, let’s talk about what’s reasonable, shall we?

First things first, the law is a bit like my auntie’s fruitcake recipe – a tad vague and open to interpretation. It’s all about making ‘reasonable provision’ for the safety and wellbeing of our nippers. So, if you’re thinking of leaving your 7-year-old to fend for themselves while you’re off joining the navy or enlisting in the police force, you might want to reconsider. The police aren’t too keen on that, and neither is the youth court, I’d wager.

If your child is under eight years of age, think twice. 

Remember, every child is different, and while one might be ready to hold the fort at 11, another might not be ready until they’re 14 – the babysitting age. And if your child has a disability, that’s a whole other kettle of fish to consider. So, take a deep breath, have a cuppa, and let’s figure this out together, one step at a time.

Understanding the Risks of Leaving Children Alone

Now, we all know that sometimes you’ve just got to pop to the shops or attend that much-needed yoga class to maintain your sanity. But before you leave your little treasures unsupervised, it’s crucial to understand the risks involved.

Safety is the name of the game, and it’s not just about whether they’ll raid the biscuit tin or not. We’re talking about real hazards, like answering the door to strangers or dealing with a surprise visit from the tooth fairy (and by that, I mean a minor accident, not a magical monetary exchange).

Here’s a little list to mull over before you make a dash for some ‘me time’:

  • Maturity: Is your child more of a ‘mini-adult’ or still perfecting the art of the temper tantrum?
  • Time Alone: Are we talking a quick nip out or an all-day affair?
  • Safety: Would your neighbourhood watch give your street a thumbs up?
  • Communication: Can your little one give you a bell if they’re in a pickle?

It’s all about striking that delicate balance between giving them a smidge of independence and not setting the stage for a Home Alone sequel.

And let’s not forget, for those of us with birth parents or guardians in the mix, it’s a team decision. So, gather round the kitchen table and have a good natter about what’s best for your brood. After all, it’s not just about the age on their birth certificate; it’s about knowing your child can handle themselves without turning the house upside down.

The NSPCC’s Stance on Home Alone Children

The NSPCC is like that wise auntie we all listen to, and they’ve got some pretty clear thoughts on the matter. They wouldn’t recommend leaving a child under 12 years old home alone, particularly for longer periods of time. It’s not just about age, though; it’s about whether they can handle it. Can they whip up a cheese toastie without redecorating the kitchen in eau de burnt? Can they resist opening the door to strangers selling double glazing? Big questions, I know.

Now, don’t get your knickers in a twist, the NSPCC isn’t saying you can’t pop out for a bit. They’re all for setting ground rules and making sure your little treasures know the drill. Here’s a list of their top tips:

  • Explain the dos and don’ts of answering the phone or door
  • Regular check-ins are a must (a quick ‘You alright, love?’ goes a long way)
  • Practise the ‘what-ifs’ of emergencies
  • Consider other options like a mate’s place or family if you’re going to be a while

And for those of you embracing the joys of home-schooling or living the dream in New Zealand, these nuggets of wisdom are gold. Because let’s face it, whether you’re teaching algebra in your lounge or shearing sheep in your backyard, knowing your kiddos can handle themselves is peace of mind.

Bold move alert: The NSPCC has a nifty quiz on their website to see if your child is ready to fly solo. Give it a whirl!

Remember, it’s not about ticking a box that says ‘Yep, my kid’s 12, job done.’ It’s about knowing they’re savvy enough to handle whatever life throws at them while you’re out grabbing loo roll. So, take a gander at the NSPCC’s advice, have a natter with your nippers, and keep those lines of communication as open as a 24-hour chippy. 

How do I know if my child is ready to be home alone?

Assessing Your Child’s Maturity

Let’s talk about maturity, shall we? It’s like trying to decide if your little one is ready to bake a cake unsupervised – you wouldn’t hand them the whisk if they’re still smearing chocolate icing on the walls, right? Maturity is the secret ingredient in the home-alone recipe.

Now, I’m not saying you need to conduct a full-blown interview with your kiddo, but a casual chat over their favourite after-school snack might give you some clues. Ask them how they’d feel about being home alone. 

Here’s a list to help you gauge their readiness:

  • Can they follow a routine without turning the house upside down?
  • Do they know how to dial your number faster than they can say ‘bored’?
  • What’s their plan if the Wi-Fi conks out and they can’t stream their favourite show?
  • Can they whip up a sandwich without redecorating the kitchen?

It’s not just about whether they can keep themselves safe and sound. It’s about whether they can do it without turning your home into a scene from a cartoon.

Remember, every child is as unique as a unicorn, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some might be ready to hold the fort at 12, while others might not be keen until they’re practically off to uni. Trust your gut, have a giggle about it, and you’ll figure it out together.

Duration Matters: From Quick Errands to Full Days

Now, let’s talk about something that can tie a mum’s stomach in knots: leaving the kiddos home alone while you pop out for a bit. I’m not talking about a full-time abandonment, just those quick dashes to the shop or, dare I say, a full day at work. The duration you leave your child alone is as important as their age.

For instance, I remember the first time I left my little one at home while I nipped out to grab some milk. I was only gone for what felt like a nanosecond, but you’d think I’d trekked to the North Pole and back! The key is to start small. A quick errand here, a short appointment there, and before you know it, they’re making their own beans on toast without setting off the smoke alarm.

If you’re considering leaving your child for longer periods, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. You’ll want to make sure they’re not just glued to the telly or raiding the biscuit tin. It’s about teaching them responsibility and trust, isn’t it?

Here’s a little list to help you gauge what might be appropriate:

  • Under 30 minutes: Ideal for a test run. Pop to the corner shop or take the dog for a quick walk.
  • Up to 2 hours: Enough time for a dental appointment or a catch-up with a mate. Make sure they know the drill and have a way to contact you.
  • Half-day: Perfect for a part-time job or a longer errand. They should be comfortable being alone and have a plan for meals.
  • Full day: This is big league, mums. They’ll need to be self-sufficient, know emergency procedures, and have a structured day planned out.

Remember, every child is different, and what works for one might not for another. It’s all about knowing your own little darlings and trusting your gut. After all, you know them best!

Setting Ground Rules and Safety Measures

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to set some ground rules. Kids are amazing, but hey, sometimes they’re little tornadoes of mischief! Mine are no exception. Let’s figure out some ways to keep things safe and sane while we’re out.

Communication is key. Have a natter with your kiddo about what they’re allowed to do and what’s off-limits. For instance, my daughter knows that the kitchen is a no-go zone when I’m not around. I mean, I love her enthusiasm for cooking, but I’d rather not come home to a new ‘abstract’ design on the ceiling, courtesy of her ‘experimental’ baking.

  • Ground Rules
      • No answering the door to strangers
      • No cooking on the stove
      • Network security – no sharing personal info online
  • Safety Measures
      • Emergency contact list on the fridge
      • Neighbour’s number in case of any trouble
      • Restrictions on using heaters or other appliances

Now, I’m not one to brag about my professionalism, but I’ve got a system that works a treat. I’ve even got a little checklist by the door that my kids tick off before I leave – it’s like a mini pre-flight check, but for staying home alone. And remember, every child is different, so what works in Tauranga might not work in your neck of the woods. It’s all about adapting to the circumstances and figuring out different things that suit your family.

Don’t go from always being supervised by an adult, to leaving them alone for several hours at a time. Start with 10 or 15 minutes while you run to the conven.

So, there you have it. A few guidelines to help you navigate this new chapter. It’s all about taking baby steps and finding what works for you and your little ones. 

The Babysitting Age

When Can Kids Start Babysitting?

So your kid wants to be a babysitting boss, huh? That’s awesome! For lots of teens, it’s their first taste of real money. Most pros say 12 or 13 is a good age to start thinking about it. But honestly, it’s not just about how many birthdays they’ve had. Are they responsible? Can they handle a little chaos?  Do they know what to do in an emergency? That’s the real deal!

Now, before you start picturing your 12-year-old as the next Mary Poppins, let’s have a talk about readiness. It’s not just about them being able to dial for a pizza without setting the house on fire. We’re talking responsibility, common sense, and a pinch of that thing called maturity.

Here’s a list to help you gauge if your offspring is ready to take on the world of babysitting:

  • Can they make a jam sandwich without redecorating the kitchen?
  • Do they know what to do if someone’s at the door and it’s not the postie?
  • Have they mastered the art of not glueing their fingers together during craft time?
  • Can they recite the emergency numbers faster than their TikTok dance moves?

And let’s not forget the starting-out wage. It’s not just about raking in the dosh; it’s about learning the value of work. So, have a natter with them about what they think is a fair price for keeping the little ones alive and the house standing.

Remember, every child is different. Some might be ready to start babysitting at 12, while others might still be perfecting their Lego-building skills. Trust your gut and you’ll know when they’re ready to step up to the plate.

Guidelines for Babysitting Siblings

Ever wondered when your older kid’s ready to handle the little ones? It’s a biggie, eh? Before you start planning that well-deserved night out, let’s chat. Age isn’t the whole story with babysitting. Many parents might agree that around 14-15 is a good starting point. You wouldn’t want to chuck your 11-year-old in at the deep end, would ya?

Now, I’m not saying your older child should be thrown into the deep end without a life jacket. It’s not like they’re suddenly in a civil union with responsibility. They’ll need a bit of guidance, and you’ll need peace of mind. You can prep your older siblings for babysitting duty by doing the following:

  • Have a proper talk about expectations and emergency procedures.
  • Make sure they know not to answer the door to strangers or chat about personal stuff on the phone.
  • Leave a list of do’s and don’ts, including no cooking.
  • Set up a check-in schedule, maybe even get a neighbour to pop their head in.

And if you’re still feeling a bit wobbly about it, think about a trial run. Maybe have them babysit while you’re at home but out of sight. It’s like a safety net made of spider silk – barely there but surprisingly strong.

A little bit of prep, a dash of trust, and a sprinkle of rules, and you’re good to go. Just don’t forget to leave that all-important contact number, because let’s face it, sometimes the little darlings can be a handful, and your teen might need backup.

Preparing Your Teen for Babysitting Responsibilities

Alright, let’s chat about turning our 14-year-old fledglings into responsible babysitters. It’s a bit like teaching them to ride a bike, but instead of scraped knees, we’re talking about supervision of the mini humans. First things first, have a natter with your teen about what babysitting actually involves. It’s not just about keeping the little ones alive till their parents come home; it’s about engaging with them, feeding them without turning the kitchen into a scene from a food fight, and handling those unexpected ‘I’ve-got-a-pea-up-my-nose’ emergencies.

  • Discuss the responsibilities of a babysitter
  • Review safety procedures and emergency contacts
  • Practise with role-playing scenarios

Now, don’t just throw them in the deep end with a ‘good luck’ and a wave. Run through a few practise scenarios where they’re the chief in command and you’re the mischievous tot. It’s a hoot, and it’ll give them a taste of what to expect. Plus, it’s a chance to correct any ‘creative’ problem-solving before it’s unleashed on unsuspecting parents.

When it comes to preparing your teen for babysitting, think of it as equipping them with a superhero’s utility belt. They’ll need all the gadgets and know-how to tackle the babysitting world with confidence.

Lastly, make sure they’ve got all the necessary info at their fingertips. A bit like that step-by-step guide on Care.com suggests, have them jot down or save in their phone all the important numbers and details. It’s like a babysitter’s secret dossier – parents’ contact info, emergency numbers, and a list of their caregiving duties. 

Leaving Older Teens Alone

Gaining Independence: Leaving Older Teens Alone

Ah, the teenage years! A time when our little darlings start to sprout wings and we, the ever-anxious parents, must decide when to let them fly solo at home. It’s a bit like watching a toddler take their first steps, except now they’re taller than you and have a reddit account.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s chat about what it means to leave our older teens home alone. It’s not just about giving them the keys and waving goodbye; it’s about ensuring they’re ready for the responsibility. And that, my friends, involves a bit of a checklist.

  • Maturity: Is your teen more responsible than a Labrador with a tennis ball?
  • Safety: Do they know not to use the microwave as a science lab?
  • Communication: Can they text you without using just emojis?

Now, I’m not saying you need to quiz them on the periodic table, but they should at least know the basics of keeping safe and how to reach you.

And let’s not forget, it’s not just about whether they can stay home alone, but also if they should. It’s a bit like that post I saw on a parenting forum from Aotearoa, where a mum asked if she could let her kids, 12 & 9, stay in a hotel room alone. The consensus? With the right prep, it’s not a bad idea.

Of course, all this comes with the parents’ consent. You’re the boss, after all. So, when you feel the time is right, and your teen has proven they can handle it, go ahead and let them have a taste of independence. Just maybe hide the cookies first, or you’ll come back to an empty jar and a suspiciously full teen.

You can find out more about other legal ages guidelines in this article.

Emergency Preparedness for Young Adults

Leaving your nearly-grown-up teen at home while you’re off to Wellington, Auckland or Australia for work might make your heart race a bit faster. Now, I know what you’re thinking, ‘Can a 16 year old be left home alone for a week?’ Well, it’s not just about trusting them not to throw a house party (we’ve all seen the movies). It’s about knowing they’ve got the ability to handle emergencies and can keep their cool when the chips are down.

First things first, let’s make sure they’ve got all the useful information they need. Do they know where the first aid kit is? Can they whip up a meal without setting off the smoke alarm? And most importantly, do they have the contact details for every adult worker in the family, just in case?

Now, I’m not saying they need to be ready to join the ranks of emergency responders, but they should at least know how to slap on a plaster and not to put metal in the microwave. And let’s not forget about the ID. Make sure your young adult has their ID handy, because you never know when they might need to prove they’re the king or queen of the castle.

So, while you’re sipping your flat white in a cafe, your teen is at home, armed with the knowledge to tackle any curveballs life might throw their way. It’s all about giving them the tools to be independent and showing them you trust them to use them wisely.

Communication Plans: Staying Connected with Your Teen

When our teens are home alone, it’s like they’ve entered a mysterious world where time (and often chores) stand still. But fear not! A solid communication plan can be your secret superpower.

Establish the basics. Agree on check-in times that don’t feel like you’re helicoptering but still keep you in the loop. Maybe it’s a text after they’ve demolished the crisps stash or a call before they dive into their gaming marathon. And let’s not forget the power of surprise visits from Auntie June next door; keeps them on their toes, doesn’t it?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What if they don’t answer? Before you imagine them trapped under a fallen bookshelf, remember they might just be in the shower. Give it a minute, then try the old ‘ring the landline’ trick. Works a charm!

Also, equip them with a list of trusted contacts they can reach out to if they can’t get hold of you. Could be a neighbour, a family friend, or even their older cousin who’s all wise in the ways of the world.

  • Trusted Contact 1: Auntie June (next door)
  • Trusted Contact 2: Cousin Joe (the wise one)
  • Trusted Contact 3: Mrs. Patel (from the corner shop)

And remember, it’s not just about making sure they don’t set the house on fire. It’s about trust, independence, and learning to handle responsibility. Like that time they promised to clean the bathroom and you came home to find it sparkling… or at least not covered in toothpaste.

Lastly, let’s talk about the no-gos. Make it crystal clear that certain things are off-limits while you’re away – like raiding the liquor cabinet, inviting the entire football team over, or, heaven forbid, experimenting with cigarettes. And, for the love of peace and quiet, hide your credit card. We all know how ‘one little online purchase’ can spiral into a shopping spree.

So there you have it, a communication plan that’s part common sense, part trust exercise. And who knows, you might just come home to find the bins out and the dishwasher loaded. Miracles do happen!


In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to when it’s okay to leave your nipper at home solo. It’s a bit of a grey area, but the NSPCC advices kids under 12 might not be ready for the responsibility, especially for a long stretch. It’s all about judging your child’s maturity, how safe your area is, and whether they know what to do if things go pear-shaped. So, before you pop out and leave them to their own devices, have a good chinwag about the house rules and make sure they can buzz you if they need to. Remember, if you’re in a pickle about it, there’s no harm in waiting a bit longer or finding another solution like a mate’s place or some proper childcare. Safety first, right?

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should I consider before deciding if my child is ready to stay home alone?

Before deciding if your child can stay home alone, consider their maturity level, the duration they will be alone, neighbourhood safety, and whether they can communicate with you or another adult in case they need help.

What age can children start babysitting siblings?

There is no set legal age for when children can start babysitting siblings. It is recommended that children be at least 14 years old before they are considered mature enough to take on such a responsibility.

What should I do to prepare my child for staying home alone or babysitting?

Discuss ground rules, safety measures, and emergency procedures with your child. Ensure they have contact information for you and other trusted adults, and consider making regular check-in calls. It’s also important to assess their maturity and readiness for the responsibility.


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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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i know somebody who left their child and went to their work,(both parents).child went to school the eldest is 14 and the youngest is 9.is it legal to left them alone?

Youling Chen

Can a 12 years old child stay at home alone in daytime or going out? Will there be any issues?

Single Dad

Hi there. My ex wife has suddenly decided that I should pay more for after school care and I feel its because she wants to pocket the WINZ payments(I cant prove this). She initially agreed that what she got form WINZ would cover as much as it could and I would top it up to cover what is remaining. I cant afford to pay full amount for after school care so I may not continue using it depending on suggested answer to my next question. My kids are 10 and 8. Is it reasonable for me to let them go… Read more »

Amy Holland

She won’t get the money for childcare it goes straight from WINZ to the child care place. If the childcare subsidy forms have been filled out by both parties then your ex will not receive any money for childcare 🙂 hope this answers your question

Avikash Prasad

Hey I’m 16 years old and my family are very abuse with me even at times they threatens me n say to ” f*** off from this house or else other option is we’ll deport you” I have a resident visa so my question is can I run away from the house on my own. I even have a part time job.


Hi Avikash, as a New Zealand resident, all New Zealand laws apply to you. You may legally live on your own from the age of 16. However, your legal guardians are legally ‘responsible’ for you up until the age of 18. This may include signing documents like a rental agreement, or forms for visas. So keep this in mind! You should also make absolutely certain that your visa conditions allow you to live away from your legal guardians, especially if you are in New Zealand on a Dependent Child Residence Visa: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/visa-factsheet/dependent-child-resident-visa#conditions . One last piece of advice, we always… Read more »

Round em up! shoot em down

Been left home alone for 7 hours. Its 11pm midnight. Age 14. Did my parent commit a crime or offense?


Hi there. In New Zealand it is an offence for a parent or guardian to leave a child alone under the age of 14. As you’re 14, there should be no problem here, assuming you’re responsible, can take care of your own needs, and know who to contact/or where to go in an emergency. — Jarrod

Patrick Cullen

I have a question I hope you can help with. My wife has just accused me of being an irresponsible parent because while she was away on holiday I left my two little boys, 7 and 4, fast sleep in their beds while I popped over to our neighbours house for 10 minutes, our neighbour lives about 20 meters away from us. I disagree that it was irresponsible but she threw the law at me claiming that I shouldn’t have done it because it’s illegal and what would have happened if the kids woke up and didn’t know where I… Read more »


Hi there, this one is a little tricky. Your children were aged under 14, and left unsupervised, which is what the law states. However, you were just next door, and only away for 10 minutes. Some people would consider this reasonable, others would not. It sounds like your wife considered it unreasonable, and I think that’s probably the most important thing here. Just ask yourself this question. If you were both out one night, and had a babysitter looking after your kids, and the sitter ‘popped out’ for 10 minutes, would that be acceptable to you? — Jarrod

Patrick Cullen

I guess not. and I suppose if they did wake up and i was not there they might freak out. Just used to that sort of stuff happening when I was a kid which is probably no excuse.


Hi Patrick, no it’s not an excuse, but it certainly is a reasonable justification. I guess the simple fact is that times have changed. Parental expectations, the community, health and safety, crime, Dad’s role in the family, etc. The landscape has changed a lot since we were kids. And mostly for the better. I guess it’s just a different New Zealand than the one we all grew up in, and we do need to adjust our parenting roles to suit. It sounds like you’ve reflected on it, and learnt something from it though. And that’s the sign of really positive… Read more »


So I am 18 years old (2017) turning 19 in august (2017).. I was wondering if i have the rights to run away from home? Does the police have the authority/rights to take me back home? Do I need to discuss it with my parents before I run away? Do my parents have the rights to call the police? Do my parents have the right to fill in a missing person report? Or do they no longer hold my responsibility? I live in New Zealand..


Hi Kura, your parents are legally responsible for you up until the age of 18. So what this means legally, is that if you left home and you were safe, and your parents knew where you were, the police would not intervene as you’re now a legal adult. But, we would never advocate for just running away from home (unless it’s actually unsafe at home, in which case you need to get advice). Assuming it’s safe at home, but you believe it’s time for you to leave. The best outcome is to discuss this with your parents, and together as… Read more »


so im still 13 (2017) but i turn 14 on june 30th i was wondering if i can start babysitting now or do i have to wait? i have done a few baby sitting jobs last year while the parents where working (i would be at her work in the back house area while she was in the front cafe bit working) and twise i looked after kids over night from about 8pm to 10am while my mum was home though went to work for 2 hours before kids where picked up i am super mature and i cant wait… Read more »


Hi Phoebe. Well the legally accurate answer is that there’s no law to prevent you from babysitting at a certain age. There is a law, however, that says your parents can’t leave you alone at the age of 13 (without reasonable provision for supervision or care). You sound like you’re a pretty mature person, and leaving you alone for 2 hours while your Mum went to work, most people wouldn’t consider unreasonable. If you were watching the kids overnight without any supervision, some people would consider that unreasonable. It’s all interpretation of the law at this point. Our advice is… Read more »

Sandy Stuart

I have a 14 year old son who takes care of His 10 year old sister, they are both home schooled but left at hone for up to 30 hours a week, I expect then to keep to the school lesson I leave them with each day, in addition how can I know if the schooling they are receiving is sufficient, please advise. I have to admit I have found them sleeping late into the morning at times..


According to the law in NZ Children until 18 are still your responsibility as is making sure they are well educated, say to attend university later on or training courses in jobs they may do in future. Expecting your 14 year old to virtually parent your 10 year old seems to manipulate the rules to suit your lifestyle vs the needs of the kids (30 hours is a lot of time without an actual adult present). Do you believe they could safely put out a potential fire or do basic first aid if the need arose??


I am doing a research assignment on lowering the age of staying home under the age of 14 and I would like to ask you a question, should children under the age of 14 be allowed to stay home/take care of younger siblings with parental permission? Email me your answer at emily.page@papamoacollege.school.nz.

Thank you


I’m 28 and currently living (ie. trapped) with my parents, whom are currently imposing the following restrictions on me: *Not allowed to drive outside of Town (even though I can drive safely and responsibly) *Whenever I leave house or come back from home, they require me to tell them where I went and what I did. *Not allowed to date/start a relationship with a girlfriend if she belongs to a certain nationality without my parents being aware or consent. *Not permitted to marry a girl without their consent and the girl must be from a specific church denomination. A year… Read more »


Hi Jackon, I read your post with concern and sympathy. It is indeed a difficult situation in which you find yourself, and I have some suggestions that may help you – but really you are the only one who can help yourself or at least take the first steps. I know they will be hard but if you want to develop and grow as a person you must do it. I take it, firstly, that there are no impediments to you working and being a contributing member of society? If that’s the case then I believe 100% of your efforts… Read more »

Ron Kelman

What are the chances you can find a girl you want to date marry within your church/nationality. I’m worried you will wind up old and alone with only your parents.


In a quick review of our local services I can’t seem to find after school care for over 12 year olds this is a complication as the law is saying they can’t be alone yet – thoughts?
Thanks, Jennifer

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Jennifer- where abouts are you?


the article references leaving children alone to go out of home. what about leaving a 13 year old alone at home for a couple of hours while we go grocery shopping? assuming the house is safe and secure.

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Richard, Ah that’s a tough question because the answer is really… “it depends!” There’s no hard and fast rule about this but, as we note above, the law says that you can’t leave children: “without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child, for a time that is unreasonable or under conditions that are unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances” I know that doesn’t answer your question but there’s not a hard and fast rule about this so I’m afraid it’s the best I can do!

Azi Abdullah

So my daughter is almost 13 but has the mental maturity of a 15yo.. She has been getting up and sorting herself out in the mornings since age 7, and no longer wants to leave the house with me if I need to pop out quickly for an hour or so. She has cellphone and internet access to me at all times, can cook and bake by herself unsupervised for the last year or 2, and wants to know if she can start to be left at home for short periods of time so she doesn’t have to come out.… Read more »

Enquiring Mind

Can a 12 year old pick up her 4 year old sister from daycare and walk her home, 150 metres away? They’d have to cross a semi-busy road however there is a pedestrian crossing immediately outside our daycare centre. The parents want this to happen however our policy requires that only authorised people aged over 16 years can sign children out from our daycare centre. The grandmother has 4 other kids to look after hence the reason she wants us to approve her 12 year old granddaughter picking up the preschooler.

Rochelle Gribble

Hi there – that’s a tricky question. As you will have read above, there’s no law, as such, that covers this. It may be worth seeking legal advice on this issue so that you feel confident on your position. I’m sorry not to be able to help more on this! Good luck!

Ron Kelman

I personally wouldn’t let a 12 year old take care of a 4 year old. Too many things might go wrong.


What can you do when your child does not want to listen and thinks that the parents as just to suffer in silence? He just turned 16 and wants to be emancipated from us so he can go out with his friends drinking and doing drugs without us policing him


There seems to be an issue when 16 year olds can legally leave home and have legal sex but parents are responsible for them until they are 18 years old? I have heard of several 16 and 17 year olds “running away from from home” who get themselves in trouble and think they are invincible as they try and navigate this tricky age, yet the police will not help to bring them home or help support the parents. It is crazy that kids of this vulnerable age are allowed to leave home and also create babies.

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Jac, Yes- this is a complex and fraught area!

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