So I am a single mother with 3 children, ages 7, 8, and 11. During the summer, I work three days a week from 8 to 4. While I am working I arrange child care for my youngest two children, sometimes staying with friends, sometimes family, and sometimes going with me to work. My oldest, 11 years old, is given the option to stay home alone if she wants or to go to her (step)grandmother's house (I'll call her "Ann"). She hates going to "Ann's" house ("Ann" is very biased towards her own 8 year old daughter) and so she usually chooses to stay home alone. Well yesterday she came to me crying and said that "Ann" told her that there is a law that children under 14 cannot stay home alone. She told her that if anyone found out that I left her home alone, then family services would come and take her away from me. Then she turned to her daughter (who is 8) and told her, "thats why I dont' leave you home alone, I don't want to lose you." My daughter was very upset and scared.
My question is this...
Is an eleven year old really too young to stay home alone? My daughter is very responsible and I trust her completely. I believe that I have equipt her with the tools she needs to stay home alone, safely, for a few hours. This is the first summer that we have tried this and I feel it has worked out quite well. Also, was she correct in telling my daughter the things that she did? I feel that it was mean and vindictive with no purpose other than to scare her. I know that "Ann" gets mad because my kids don't like to go to her house (and this is why!) but how do I handle this? My Dad is no help because he thinks that kids just love his wife (when in fact I don't know any that do) and basically says my kids exaggerate. I leave my kids with her as little as possible because they hate it so much. Ann gets so jealous of the fact that her own daughter would rather be at my house and she expresses it by being mean to my kids. Once she told them that she was going to put up cameras to see "what they did" to her daughter when she wasn't around. It is ludicrous. Help! I don't know what to do!
I don't have the choice of never bringing them around her again. Unfortunately, I jointly own a company with her and my dad and we are supposed to "share" child care responsibilities (I watch my sister when she works and she watches mine while I work). They are the only family I have for 500 miles. It's so complicated.