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DW wants us to go to Germany for 10 days and leave SS17 home alone

Toxic Situation's picture

DW has a previously planned work-related trip to Germany in October. She is now applying pressure to me (under the terms of "wouldn't it be so great to go together?) to go there with her and leave irresponsible and reclusive SS17 home alone during that time. (All her travel and hotel expenses are paid and all I would have to do is pay my own airfare, plus whatever money I spend over there. In and of itself, the trip is not a bad idea.)

However, to me, it's a non-negotiable "no" about leaving SS17 home alone. (I'm sure it would turn out worse than the movie of the same name.) I can't point to anything specifically destructive he might do. He won't burn the house down by forgetting a frying pan on the stove while he is playing video games, because the only food preparation he can do is the microwave.

However, from what I know about SS17, it's not a good decision to leave this less than half-baked and barely responsible kid home alone that long. His daily habits, when not at school, are to stay in his room playing video games, never leaving it except for trips to the bathroom and the refrigerator. So, he's not really the kind of responsible kid who can function on his own.

DW says that I'm thinking "negatively" of him and that I don't give him credit and that I have a low opinion of him. Objective discourse is not DW's strong point when it comes to discussing the truth about her son. I've given up on talking to her about who and what he is, and he is exactly the child she raised him to be. (In other words, I've disengaged.) But circumstances like this bring the underlying issues back into the fore again, and in order to explain why I don't want to go with DW to Germany, I will have to tell her why, so now we're having a "negative" discussion about her wonderful son, who is a "really good kid."

Anyway, DW is not a "really good parent," but is instead a Disney parent.

I just wonder what criminal or negligence charges I would be facing upon my arrival back home, depending on what trouble SS17 got into or what harm he did to himself.

Step-girlfriend's picture

Hey, not your circus, not your monkey. I would go. You shouldn't miss out on this trip just because you are the only one worried about him. You can't care more than the birth parent.... and maybe afterward there will be proof (hopefully nothing too terrible) that perhaps your DW overestimates SS's ability to take care of himself, and maybe he's not a "really good kid" after all.

I would have had my flight booked already- peace out SS! Bye

ESMOD's picture

I agree with you.  A long trip across the ocean is NOT the best time to test SS17's ability to take care of himself.  Unfortunately, there are all too many stories of even "good kids" that are home alone and invite a couple of their "trustworthy" friends and then BAM... the whole school is partying in your home... including a LOT of kids that your SS17 would probably never hang around with.  Shoot, my brother was left alone for a week when we lived in Germany and my parents came home a few days early due to a car accident and found drunk kids in the house.. including in their BED.  Now, my brother was an ok kid.. prone to mess up occasionally but my parents thought he was ok at 17.. and they weren't even a plane flight away.. though there were no Cell phones or internet to keep tabs back

Look, even if HE isn't inclined to mess up.. if other kids find he has a home to himself... he may not know how to say no.

I would suggest a few different options.

1.  If the boy has a father in the area... he stays with HIM.

2.  If DW has other relatives in the area.. kid can stay with them.. or possibly stay at your home while you are gone.

3.  Kid has friends that he can stay with (with great compensation to those parents)

It's not even the party central thing that you might have to worry about.  The kid might end up with a jam.. get sick or hurt and need a responsible adult to navigate.. or a tree could fall through the roof... plumbing leak etc. a breakin.. all stuff that a 17 year old kid may not be able to handle on his own. 

For the kid's safety, the sanctity of your home, you and your Wife's sanity on your trip... he should not be left alone for an extended time period.  In fact, if something bad DOES happen.. he lets kids in your liquor cabinet.. you could be held liable.


Nottakingit's picture

Plenty of 17 year olds are on their own. And hey...if he plays video games all day then he's not getting into trouble.

Are there any grandparents around or anyone He could call on in case of emergency?

Step-girlfriend's picture

Agreed, it's not like he's 12, He's almost 18. He could be moving out in less than a year, why can't he be left alone for 10 days? I was left alone for weeks at a time between the ages of 10 and 18 (when I moved out), and I did just fine. And I was not always a perfect kid. As long as he has an emergency contact and maybe someone to check in on him, and DW is ok with it.

ESMOD's picture

I don't disagree that at 17 he may be facing more challenges soon enough... but I would question the wisdom of making the first trip of any length be 10 days and at such a distance that if there IS a problem... it will be expensive and complicated to come back.

Why not try a long weekend while the two of them go on a romantic 3 night trip that is maybe 3-5 hours away... as a test run.

Areyou's picture

It depends on whether or not you want to go to Germany. If you want to go then go, if you don’t want to go don’t use SS as an excuse, the proceed to just DW and SS. Go or don’t go. It’s that simple. Keep life simple. 

still learning's picture

I've left ds16 and ds19 alone for 4 day stretches a few times while DH and I had to go out of town to deal w/family issues.  We had a list of people they could call in case they needed anything and SIL and a family friend would stop by just to check it.  I stocked the fridge and left them w/money, they were fine. 

My only concern w/your situation is ss17 is still a minor, if anything happened at all it could turn into a neglect/legal issue.  I'd go along if there was a responsible adult in the area responsible for the situation.  

notasm3's picture

I see no problem with leaving a 17 year old alone - but NOT IN MY HOME.   I saw what happened with my 33 year old SS stayed in my home (totally uninvited) while we were on vacation.

StepUltimate's picture

A very understated account of that SS's "stay" there. I read your blogs as that happened and was/am horrified at all you went through. 

Dovina's picture

I will never get out of my mind. So I cant imagine being you.

OP Id be hesitant too leaving a 17 yr old for that long and that far away, especially if your gut is telling you its not a good idea. 

Iamwoman's picture

I would go to Germany with my spouse.


But first, I would lock up all of my valuables in case SS17 leaves a door unlocked.

That being said, I would leave him with the following:

1. A list of things to do before sunset: doors locked, alarm set, etc.

2. Money for food (I'm' assuming he can drive?).

3. Somebody to stop by the house and check in on him every two or three days.

4. Strict instructions that if he doesn't reply to yours and DW's attempts to contact him within a reasonable time frame, he loses ALL electronics for the rest of his childhood.

5. A list of emergency numbers.

6. A list of other numbers such as trusted friends, Uber, maintenance, etc.

7. HIdden cams throughout the house of which he is not aware, but which you can remotely access or view from Germany (online).

8. A list of household drugs such as motrin, benadryl, etc, and their uses and applications.


He is 17, soon to be 18. He is almost an adult. I don't care how useless or moronic he is, he needs to experience being on his own before he actually does find himself all on his own!


I hope you go, and I hope you can relax and enjoy your vacation with your DW!

Cover1W's picture

I agree and you and DW have a sit-down with him to discuss it as well, maybe more than once.  One to discuss idea with him and another to go over rules and a final one to go over rules again.


Toxic Situation's picture

I appreciate all of your comments, everything from "just go, don't let the SS be an excuse" to "watch out, here's what could happen." We solved the issue by inviting the MIL to come up and stay with SS17 during that time. I don't want SS to stop me from being able to travel, but at the same time, I don't want my enjoyment curtailed by real or imaginary worries about what happens while we're away.

ESMOD, the scenario you describe is what I want to avoid, and your suggestion about shorter trips to test his ability to be home alone is very practical. Nottakingit: I agree, despite my complaining about his video game habit (well, it is weird!), he is not out there running with the wrong crowd, and that is the upside of it. 


beebeel's picture

Unfortunately, you have no idea if he's internet friends with lowlifes. Online gaming is where many extremist (neo Nazi/white supremacists) recruit lonely young failures.