The latest data shows that single parent families are fast becoming one of the largest factors in the increase of latchkey kids. Over 27 percent of children under the age of 18 will be raised in a single family home and single dads raising children are increasing in numbers rapidly. What was at one time considered impossible (a father single-handedly rearing his kids in a normal, healthy and balanced lifestyle) is becoming both socially and legally feasible. Most latchkey kids arrive home alone from school and are by themselves for several hours. In fact, of the 34 million children ages 6-13, three-quarters have parents who both work outside the home. The result? Roughly 10 million kids come home from school to empty houses.
So, what should parents of latchkey kids do? I’d begin by evaluating their children’s readiness to be left home alone and consider their maturity level. Some kids are more careless and unwary than others. Each parent should do some soul-searching and determine how they honestly feel about leaving their child unattended at home. Hint: Ask yourself if they have shown maturity when left alone for shorter time periods in the past and whether they could deal with certain situations that may crop up while left unattended. However, if they appear lonely or apprehensive after being left alone, find a reputable sitter.
It helps to appraise how “child safe” coming home to your empty house is. Keep the house key out of sight, not on a key chain or necklace, but in a small pouch clipped to an inside pants pocket. It should also contain several quarters for phone calls and a laminated card with your child’s name and an emergency telephone number. And, determine how available, dependable, and helpful your neighbors are.
Can you leave a spare key with them instead of hiding it? If anything looks amiss when your child arrives home, can he immediately proceed to a designated neighbor‘s house? Hint: If no such “safe house“ exists, ask your local police how you may initiate a Block Watch program in your neighborhood. Once inside the house, instruct your child to immediately lock the door and call you or a designated person. All latchkey children must be able to reach a responsible adult at all times.
Here are some helpful Websites:
Bureau of Census Latchkey Kid data
Latchkey Kid age restrictions by state
Lastly, click HERE for excellent article “B- Unlocking The Door To Successful Latchkey Kid Parenting”. Many great ideas that I have learned from parents over the years are listed.
Note: Don't forget to scroll down the narrow, right margin to Code "B" videos and updated newspaper and journal articles on Latchkey Kids.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Bpath Mail Form.