Next Friday, December 17, it's the last day of school for Caddo, Bossier, Webster and DeSoto Parish kids, until 2022.

While that's all fun and games for Christmas vacation for the kids, it brings on a time of angst for some parents. The question rising to the top of the totem pole for many of these parents each year is, "Is my child old enough to be left at home alone or do I need to send them to daycare or get a babysitter?"

In a lot of cases, this might be the first time the parent has ever had the question. Last year it was obvious that the child wasn't old enough, but this year, there's a lot less certainty on the issue.

In my honest opinion, I believe that if you have to ask the question, it's much better to default to providing them with adult supervision. When they're old enough, you'll know.

However, you might wonder what Louisiana law has to say about the matter. According to imom.com, who quote the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services in stating that there is no minimum age for a child to be left unsupervised at home.  In fact, the source lists only a total of 16 states with minimum ages and those range from 6 to 12 years of age.

So, I asked the question on Facebook and got a lot of really good responses that could help those faced with this issue for the first time.

My cousin, Kelly Poole, wrote, "Depends on the kids maturity level, do they have a sibling that can keep them company or are they all alone, the neighborhood you live in, do you know any neighbors they could go to in the case of an emergency or if they get scared, is it day or night & how long will you be gone … all factors to consider. Bc my kids are a year apart I left them alone sooner than if they’d been only children. Plus we adjusted the age when we moved from Blanchard to the DC area. But I guess generally speaking 10-12."

Deegie Lawless added, "Depends on where you live, how mature the child is and what training you have given them."

Melissa Smith was firm in her answer, "No less than 12 and depends on maturity!"

Chad Felicetty and Kalie Dickson both stated that 13 was the golden age, but Kalie added, "..if they have the maturity to handle it."

Kristy McBride says, " my kids where 5 & 9 … got themselves up with alarm clocks, dressed, breakfast, locked house, set alarm and off to bus stop. Never missed the bus or was late. Today they are 30 & 26, very respectful and responsible adults."

Lots of those commenting agreed that times are much different now than when they were kids. Jordan Bates wrote, "Nowadays around 12. When I was a kid, about 7."

I think I liked Rob Brown's reply best of all, "Depends. Is the child old enough to load a shotgun?"

If you find yourself still unresolved on the issue, Dawn Hines-Bustamento added some great advice, "It's gradual. I think we started at around 10 for 15 min runs to the store or so. And it built. She is 13 now and babysits for others. I would not leave them overnight on their own until 17 or so. Depends on the child, where you live, who is nearby in case of emergency, number of kids, etc."

And that might be how it begins. But assuredly, the most common denominator in the majority of responses was that it all depends on the child. You know your kids better than anyone, so if you're comfortable with it, then it might be time for a test run.

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