Brooklyn mom sparks controversy by letting 7-year-old stay home alone

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ABC's Paula Faris has the story. (WABC)

One mother from Brooklyn is sparking a fierce debate for leaving her 7-year-old son home alone, saying it is teaching him independence and responsibility. But at what age is it appropriate to leave your child unsupervised?

In the classic movie "Home Alone," an 8-year-old portrayed by Macauley Culkin is accidentally left him home by himself while his family travels for Christmas.

But for Simon Heiselt, it's a reality. His family says they leave him home alone intentionally, and he's just 7...and a self-proclaimed homebody.

"As a mom, you look for ways to have your child grow up and be more independent," Lizzie Heiselt said. "Simon is an old soul, he is very observant and careful. He likes to understand things."

Lizzie is a blogger and mom of three, and she says her Simon is the one who started asking for that alone time. He says he's mature.

So Lizzie occasionally leaves him home alone while she goes for a run or a quick errand, never more than 45 minutes.

Simon says he knows what to do in case of an emergency

"If somebody knocks, don't answer it," he said. "If it is someone I knew I would go out, but if it wasn't I would stay."

Lizzie says she has prepared her son for any scenario that could occur while she's gone.

"We have talked about so many different scenarios," she said. "He could call someone, go to a neighbor if he needs help."

Only three states actually define the age a child can stay home by themselves, and New York is not one of them. That makes Lizzie's decision perfectly legal, but critics are calling her parenting choice ridiculous and crazy. Still, she trusts her judgment.

"It is not a difficult decision," she said. "I know my 7-year-old, and he is very mature."
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