The parental decision of when to start leaving kids at home alone is often fraught with anxiety. Of course, in this age of cell phones, it’s perhaps a bit easier, because the child will always be able to reach the parent. And most parents start by leaving their child home alone for short trips. But eventually parental anxiety wanes, and children are able to stay home alone.

But being home alone can be complicated by rising teenage sexuality. A mother told me that she had called home to check up on her teenage son and asked, “So are you alone?” And the response was, “Pretty much.”


Suddenly the rules are all turned upside-down. The parental anxiety skyrockets again – not, this time, because of a nameless fear, but because of the very named fear of the boyfriend/girlfriend coming over.

What were the rules you had as a teenager about staying home alone? Were you allowed to have friends over? What kinds of friends? And in retrospect, do you think that they were appropriate rules?

What kind of rules do you have for your teenager right now? How does she or he respond to them?