When to Leave a Teen Overnight

brown and gray painted house in front of roadThis is one of the hardest decisions to make for your growing young adult. However, I fervently believe that if your little is leaving the house at 18, then that should NOT be the first time they are ever left alone overnight. We need to learn to trust them, and allow them to screw up too. Every kid is on their own journey and mature at different rates and we need to honor that while keeping them safe. So, one month shy of Miss Moe’s 16th birthday she did not want to go to the Hershey Park Half Marathon with us. We had to think about what to do at this point – Do we force her to go? Cancel our plans because she had mountains of homework? Or make her spend the night somewhere with a friend (still not getting any homework done)? We decided this would be a good time to work with her on staying the night and being responsible for the home and her Daisy Mae Moe.  We were two hours away and a friend of the family knew she was home and could get to her in a pinch. Additionally, we have a camera in the house and at the door so we can see the comings and goings – it’s a trust but verify situation.

Before deciding on this course of action I scoured the Internet and Fairfax County guidelines and found all sorts of conflicting advice leaving me more confused than before. However, where we live there are no hard and fast rules, just guidelines. It comes down to knowing your kiddo and what they are capable of and comfortable with – and trusting your gut. It was a successful trial run of a 24 hour period. She felt trusted and proud, we had her crockpot some dinner in the morning and she voluntarily picked up the house and Daisy Mae Moe was happy and cared for. It won’t be the last time we trust her to be on her own for a night (and maybe in a year – two nights).


  • Miss Moe was more than ready, felt confident and not at all scared about it. We double/tripled/quadruple checked with her and remained flexible with our plans.
  • Always be available, she wanted to FaceTime when she got home from the mall (I was tired and didn’t), but you bet that I was on that line and every bit interested in what she had to say.
  • Leave your ringer on and ALWAYS be accessible. That meant even when I was running the half marathon I had my ringer on.
  • Tell them not to advertise it; kids can exploit opportunities of limited parental supervision.
  • Make sure they have money in an emergency.
  • Lay out every expectation clearly – making dinner, taking care of pets, and where they’ll be and when (with check-in expectations).
  • Technology makes keeping connected easier- use it. Trust but verify. We used the iPhone locater more than once, and checked our cameras as well.

It takes a village,
~Mrs. Moe



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