Childen Home Alone; Forgiving Abusive Relatives
May 4, 2003
Is there a certain age as to when you should leave a child at home alone?
DEAR HOME ALONE:
Parents seem to be all over the map on this question, especially in the age of latchkey kids and access to Internet slime. We home school our four children, and work at home on top of that, so we see our children from morning to night. When my wife and I discuss the home alone question in reference to our own children, the answer seems to center on "maturity" as well as age.
Sixteen is a common age to begin trusting children more -- since at that age they can work at the local McDonalds, etc. However, safety and security are paramount. A lot depends on the neighborhood one lives in, and whether or not the child is really alone, or with other children, including siblings. I believe that we should err on the side of caution. Children, especially boys, tend to be hasty and inexperienced in their judgments about crises. Thus, it's far safer to have an adult around. Our children are too precious to take undue risks with their safety. If in doubt, don't leave them alone.
I have a question for you. My sister-in-law had my brother put out of the house with a protection order. I just happen to have a rental house that he rented from me. A couple of months went by and he had signed a lease and paid the rent (which was reduced $100.00 per month with no pet deposit). I had the utilities turned on with his promise to pay the bill as stated in his lease. The day after he gave me his rent check, he stopped payment on it. I took him to small claims court and they were very mad at me.
I am a widow woman with two jobs and do the best I can, with no children and two dogs. I owe no one nothing except God above and felt like he had done this to me two times prior, so I was not gonna let him get me again. Anyway, my sister-in-law took out a warrant for me, but gave the police officers the wrong address so I could not appear in court -- and I went to jail. I had never been in jail before and thank God I had enough dollars to bond out. Anyway, I got a lawyer and we went to court three times and I won them all.
The question is, should I ever speak to them again? I know I must forgive them and I pray for them, but I am crushed that they did this to me. I have always tried to help them out because I am able to, but enough is enough, and he is my baby brother and had three children. Please remember me in your prayers. Thanks for your time.
Linda in Alabama
DEAR LINDA IN ALABAMA:
Of course you should speak to them again. God's love is vast and wide, and I believe, is the inspiration for us to emulate His heart that has no enemies. At the same time, one needs to protect oneself against harm from selfish actions by other people (which is the best intent of the legal system; to prevent selfish people from harming others).
Speak to your relatives and love them -- but protect yourself at the same time by not placing yourself in the position to be mistreated by them. That may mean that you'll have to limit your contact with them to annual Christmas cards. It's not so much that we should "withdraw" our love, but rather that we should be wise enough to avoid being victimized. Sometimes that means loving from a distance. At other times, it means speaking clearly, without malice, and explaining to them that you'd love to have a great relationship with them, but that their behavior has damaged you. Who knows -- they might one day change their hearts. At that time, it will be important for them to know that you've left the door to the relationship open.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to one of his favorite mottos: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”