Teen alcohol addiction concept

Ask Rene:
We Left Our Kids Home Alone And They Did THIS!
Now What?

Hi Rene,

I’m really hoping you can help me with this one!

My husband Martin and I recently went away for a long weekend and left our kids – Katie who’s 16 and Annabelle who’s 13 – home alone. We thought we could trust them (and asked our neighbor to keep an eye on them) but we clearly could not.

While we were gone the kids had a party on the Saturday night. Their friends caused a lot of damage – broken windows, some items stolen and a lot of mess.

But we also found out that our daughters both got drunk at the party.

Both myself and my husband are teetotal so we’re even more shocked by their behavior – and I just don’t trust them anymore.

We’ve banned them from seeing their friends and grounded them for the next 3 months – but what else can we do? How do we get across the message that drinking is bad news? And should we be worried by their drinking – or is this just a one off incident?

Would really love some mom to mom advice!

Ros, Alabama


Hi Ros:

Right now I am stifling the urge to scream “ARE YOU CRAZY?” because that’s not a nice thing to say and you probably feel bad enough without me piling on. But for real…  ARE YOU CRAZY?!

There are several issues involved here, whether the kids are old enough to stay home alone, the trust that has been broken between you and them and the drinking. Here’s how I see it and what I wold do.

1. You Left Your Kids Home Alone...

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There are only a handful of states in the country where it’s mandated children be a certain age before being allowed to stay home alone. It’s mainly up to parents to determine whether their child or children are mature enough to handle such responsibility. At parent.net they recommend kids be at least 12 years old – but more than that it’s a maturity issue. I have no problem with a mature 11-year-old being home alone for a few hours, say until you get home from work.

But Ros, I am sorry to say, overnight is a totally different animal and a long weekend is a big, hairy beast. I think you have to take a good, hard look at your kids. Is the 16-year-old easily swayed by peers? The party may not have been her idea but maybe someone in her peer group suggested it and she went along. Annabelle, at 13, may have known it was wrong but who was she to stand up to Katie, who was no doubt placed in charge?

I also think it was quite unfair of you to saddle your neighbor with the care of your children. Yes, all you asked was for them to keep an eye out but that is rarely as easy as it sounds. They must have been apoplectic when they saw the cars, kids and commotion at your house.