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Dr. G.
Dr. G., Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1474
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist in the state of Minnesota
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My 13 year old son and 12 year old daughter were left to watch

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My 13 year old son and 12 year old daughter were left to watch there half brother who is 20 months if the mall a week before christmas. Their stepmom left them once for 45min and another time for 30 min, while she did her christmas shopping. I feel this is unsaft and my ex husband thinks this is fine. We have joint custody, although I am the primary parent. We live in the state of WA, is there anything I can do?

Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 6 years ago.
There are a couple of ways to approach this. The first is to address your concerns with the step mom. In a calm problem-solving approach. let her know that you don't feel this is safe and that if she is going to leave them alone then let you know so that you can get them until she is done. If this does not work then you can say if it happens again then you will not allow the children to go with her shopping. You can also contact social services to see if this is reportable or not and is considered neglectful. A basic definition of neglect is: Child neglect is the failure to provide for the shelter, safety, supervision and nutritional needs of the child.

Did she leave them unsupervised? Yes. But because the two children are 13 and 12 some can make the argument that they are of age to remain safe for short periods of time without adult supervision. there are specific laws about leaving children home alone that you might want to look into regarding the state you live in. I am not sure where you got the times from on how long she left them but I wonder if this is accurate or hear-say. Would I be upset? Probably. Would I think that the children can entertain themselves for a little while and be safe? Probably.

So talk to the step mom and see if you can't get this thing figured out. If all else fails, you and your children can discuss being left alone and make a safety plan if this were to happen again.
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