'Not a Babysitter': Mom Leaving Stepson Home Over Tantrum Sparks Debate

A stepmother who decided to leave a "naughty" 9-year-old child home alone has divided opinion online.

In a viral post shared on Mumsnet, which can be seen here, user Work1 explained they were furious with a stepchild who refused to go to a holiday club. The post proved to be controversial and resulted in 688 replies being left under the initial comment.

The U.K.-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children advises that babies should never be left alone and that children under 12 should not be left alone for a long period of time. It added that children are "rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency."

Meanwhile, in the U.S. only three states have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a child home alone. Those are Illinois at 14 years old, Maryland at 8 years old and Oregon at 10 years old.

Stock image of upset child
A Mumsnet user sparked controversy after leaving their 9-year-old stepson home alone when he refused to get up and go to a holiday club. This stock image depicts an upset child sitting alone in a hallway. Getty

The Mumsnet user said in the Thursday, August 4 post: "I was due in work at 9 a.m., husband starts at 7 a.m. so I've been dropping DSC (dear stepchildren) at their holiday club on my way to work a few times when they've been at ours and we've had to go into work. They don't particularly like going but it is what it is.

"Anyway, yesterday morning DSC (9) was in a foul mood, refusing to get up, point blank refusing to go to club, saying 'make me,' saying they were too tired and so on."

The Mumsnet user continued: "Anyway, it got to the point where I was going to be seriously late for work and I had to drop our child off too so I just f**ked off and left. I rang DH (dear husband) and told him he'd need to come home from work and deal with it and I left and went to work.

"DSC rang his mum and she's furious he was left alone but I am passed caring. They will now need to sort holiday clubs out or time off themselves as I won't be helping with it again (she's dropped them off with me beforehand too to take them to clubs as she starts work earlier than me).

"No way I was being late for work because of a 9-year-old's tantrum and I wasn't dragging him out to the car either. Instead of being furious with me how about being cross with your child for being so naughty."

The Mumsnet user later claimed the child was ultimately left alone for between 30 to 40 minutes.

She added: "I'm not a babysitter or a childminder, I have my own job to get to and being late because someone else's child refuses to get out of bed doesn't cut it."

But the Mumsnet user's decision to leave the child at home divided opinion online with many praising the parent and others strongly criticizing her. One person said: "Totally infuriating for you and you were damned whatever you do in that situation. Step back and let the parents do the parenting. It's not your responsibility."

Another commenter wrote: "A 9-year-old left home for a short while whilst the parents get home is fine. The parents need to parent and get the blame for palming off responsibility of their child to another adult who has absolutely no influence over the child if they refuse to do as they're asked.

"OP could not have dragged the child out of bed, she couldn't have forced them into the car, she man handle them into getting dressed. stepping away and alerting the child's parents was the only solution."

One person wrote: "You were wrong to leave DSC home alone (he was in your care), but YANBU (you are not being unreasonable) to say that your husband and his ex need to sort things between them from now on."

While another posted: "If I was in a similar situation with a babysitter or a childminder and they'd left my child alone unsupervised because they were naughty I'd also be horrified."

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