18 April, 2009


Home Alone?

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Being a (married) single parent
If your husband/wife or partner is away at sea or deployed on exercise it can be hard to know how to take care of the children if, for example, you suddenly have to go into hospital or visit a sick relative.

Naval Personal Family Service can try to help in these situations though it must be said the best help here is family, neighbours or friends who already know the children. NPFS can help contact these and can arrange for family members living far away to visit. In extreme cases NPFS can offer the services of a Family Support Worker or try to get a sailor brought home to help out, but it must be noted that children are considered a parent's responsibility, not the Service's or the government's.

info More Information: NPFS/RM Welfare

info More Information: RNCom Help Desk

It should also be noted that no sailor can be FORCED to return home. Even if the opportunity is presented to them they can turn it down. This of course is rare, but someone who is just completing an important Naval exercise, for example, or a professional course in order to get promotion may find it hard to return if a home based relative is perfectly able to help with his or her children.

Parent Duty

Duty Parent?
A number of Naval single parents (either married with spouses away, or actual single parents) have duties, which demand night time watchkeeping ashore. Comcens, Port Controls, Operations HQs and others. This means that they have some home life with their children but the timings can be unusual.

The Navy regards parental responsibility as just that and not the Navy's business. Becoming a parent is a personal choice. But it recognises the needs of parents too. For example female single mothers will enjoy larger married quarters so that there is a spare room for someone to stay in the house and cover for the children while they are watchkeeping.

Leaving a Child

Leaving a Child at home alone
The law does not specify an age when you can leave a child alone, but it is against the law to leave a child alone if by doing so puts the child at risk.

  • So it is down to you to decide. You should think about: The age of the child.
  • The length of time the child will be left and how often you expect to do this.
  • Where the child will be left.
  • If the child is old enough and mature enough to be left.
  • If there are any other children in the home.

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The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children makes these further points:
"You are the best judge of your child's level of maturity and responsibility."

For example, most parents would think it's OK to leave a sixteen-year-old alone for the evening, but to leave them for a week would be unacceptable.

Many young children play outdoors with other children without a parent or carer being present. As they are unsupervised, they are 'alone', but most people would agree that this is an important part of growing up.

If you do leave a child alone, remember:

  • If possible, leave a telephone number where you can be contacted, and be available to answer it immediately.
  • Talk to your child about keeping safe at home and point out the potential dangers. Tell them not to answer the door to strangers.
  • Give clear instructions about what to do if there's an emergency. All children left alone should be able to phone the emergency services.
  • Leave a list of trusted people they can contact.
  • Put obvious dangers out of reach of children, e.g. medicines, chemicals, matches, etc.
  • Make sure that the child is happy about the arrangements and confident about being left.
  • Tell the child when you'll be back, and make sure you're back on time.
  • Talk to him or her about it afterwards.

A few other points to guide you:

  • Never leave a baby or very young child alone at home, whether asleep or awake, even for a few minutes. It doesn't take long for unsupervised young children or babies to injure themselves.
  • Most children under thirteen should not be left for more than a short period.
  • No child under sixteen should be left overnight.

website Web site: NSPCC Advice on Leaving Children Home Alone

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