lathckey kids teaching children responsibility

The Days of the Latchkey Kid & Learning ‘Real’ Responsibility

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy

The Days of the Latchkey Kid & Learning ‘Real’ Responsibility

Are you raising ‘really’ responsible children?  One of my mama’s friends said that when he was eight he had to take care of the chickens on his family’s farm or else the family would have no eggs.  I also had someone the other day tell me that when they were in third grade they had to make sure they and their little kindergarten brother got on the right school bus and got home safely.  Wow! I shudder to think.  Could my oldest handle these types of major responsibilities at that age?
When I was coming up there used to be such things as latchkey kids.  I was one of them.  There were no stay at home mama’s on my block.  It was around fourth or fifth grade that my parents entrusted me with the responsibility to make it from the school bus stop to the house without getting kidnapped. 
It was a proud and scary moment all at once.  I’d longed for my very own personal house key and the moment when I could supervise myself.  But it was scary too.  My mama and daddy gave me all of the warnings and I’d seen enough afterschool specials to know staying at home alone wasn’t just about doing and eating what I wanted until my parents came home.  I had to be responsible.  Go straight home.  No letting any friends in the house.  No cooking anything on the stove.  No leaving the house once I was inside and definitely, definitely knowing how to get in contact with 911 if necessary.
  • Only one in nine kids aged 5 to 14 spends after-school hours in a home without parent.
  • Some 4.5 million children were alone for an average of 6.5 hours every week in 2011.
  • In 1997 about one in five kids aged 5 to 14 were left unsupervised.
These days most kiddos are either picked up once the school bell rings or stay in some sort of aftercare program.  This leaves very little chance to learn responsibility the old school way.  While our kiddos have responsibilities in the house, like cleaning up the bathrooms, sweeping, dusting and taking out the trash I don’t consider these real responsibilities – like, if you lose your little sister afterschool it’s going to be some major problems type of responsibility.  That kind of responsibility I believe starts a sense of maturity and fosters a sense of ‘I can be trusted with big, important things’ in kids.
I suppose right now we’ll just have to practice this type of ‘real’ responsibility when we leave the kiddos at home alone to run to the store or go out on a date.  I don’t know.  It’s either that, or buy some chickens.


How do you teach your kiddos ‘real’ responsibility?


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