Was This SO Bad, Are We Too Paranoid?

This article popped up on the radar this week and I thought it worthy of discussion. A New Zealand mother left her baby in the car while she went into the supermarket. He looked happy and cozy in the picture and had a note with a phone number. Some passers by we’re not impressed, called her and the police. She was not charged. I’m not condoning this but it’s worthy of discussion.sleeping baby

Once this was common practice. If only for a moment while you ducked into the store. Why is it so scandalous to leave a sleeping child in a car if it’s not too hot, for a few minutes. We all know how much crap you have to carry around with a baby. Sometimes we all just want to duck in the store. Who are we to judge? We don’t know her story, maybe that child had colic and had been up screaming all night and this was the first time he slept and the mother knew that if she took him out of his carseat he’d be awake and screaming again. Maybe she needed something desperately from the supermarket.

I remember as kids we ALWAYS sat in the car while my parents went to bank meetings or ran into the supermarket or whatever. It wasn’t a big deal. In some cultures it’s still not. This New Zealand mother obviously thought it was ok to leave her child safely strapped in the car, on what was obviously a rainy and miserable day. She was supposedly gone for only moments. Is it wrong?

For a while in Australia there was a controversy, the Japanese tourists used to park in the casino carpark and leave their children sleeping while they went gambling, it was happening so often that the casino had to put up signs in the carparks not to leave children unattended when entering the casino. So are the Japanese a selfish culture? Were they all so addicted to gambling they were prepared to leave their kids all night in the car? I have no idea. I have never lived in Japan or study their ways with children but so many of them did it that it must have been a cultural thing.

When we still lived in Australia, I was guilty of leaving Grand Master D in the car a few times but it was outside the bank, the car was always parked right at the door and I could see him the whole time! He was asleep and I was going to be 2 minutes, less. Does that make it wrong? I never left him where I couldn’t see.

Later, when we first arrived in the US, my kids were 5 and 17 mths. We obviously didn’t know anyone we could leave the kids with and we needed to do so many things regarding licenses and immigration paperwork. The kids had to stand around with us for hours on end. On one occasion after we’d been at the DMV for several hours, we were nearly done, they were totally done. You try going and standing in line with little kids for 3 hours. The public service really needs to look at it’s efficiency. We knew we were going to be done soon. I was actually done because they wouldn’t give me my license that day,  I didn’t have the right paperwork to make 100 points! Oh my, that was so annoying but a story for another day, so the kids and I went out to the car, we had dvd players hooked to the seats and they were happier in the car. I sat out there with them for about 45 minutes and finally I needed to see how much longer the King was gonna be. So I asked them if they were happy to stay there while I checked on daddy for 1 minute and they were both quite happy to stay in the warm car with a movie and snacks. I got out, walked 50 feet into the building and was literally in there 1 minute, asked him how long and came straight back out to the kids. Upon my return I was abused by a strange man, telling me he was going to call the police and have me arrested. I was stunned! What the hell did I do so wrong?  I knew I was gone for 1 minute, the kids prefered to stay in the car, it was locked, they were safe. No one was distressed. It upset me. I clearly didn’t understand that America is different. My children weren’t in any danger, this stranger had no idea I was gone for such a  short amount of time. Who was he to abuse me? But I learned a valuable lesson that day.

I totally understand that we need to protect  children, that there are people out there who to do harm to their own children and others, which is disgusting but in this particular case I don’t believe this poor woman endangered her child. I know she’ll never do it again as I never did it again. Not because she thinks it’s wrong but because society deems it wrong.

What do you think?  Have you ever left your children?  Is she wrong, was I wrong?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments 26

  1. Just this week in San Jose, CA where I live a kid was left in the car “for a minute” in front of their house and the car was stolen with the child in it! Of course the car was left running which in your scenario wasn’t done but I have to say I am generally too spooked to personally do it. There is one convenience store I have been to that I have left my daughter in the car if she was asleep because I could see her the whole time from inside the store but even so I was nervous the whole two minutes it took to buy the milk.

    Like Kelly above I wouldn’t presume to judge the mom here. I wish we didn’t have to be so paranoid all the time.

  2. I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than when we were kids. The level of paranoia has just gone way up! And we’re much more likely to hear about incidents, which we take to mean they happen more often. Here in the Netherlands it’s still normal and accepted to leave kids in the car for a quick errand.

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      I agree with you, although incidents happen, I do believe the paranoia is up… I’m glad my children are older now so I don’t have to worry about leaving them. Thank you for stopping by.

    2. I totally agree that it is not any dangerous now then when we were kids. I used to stay in the car when my mother did errands. I’ve never left my kids in the car because A. It’s too hot here in FLorida and B. The cops will be there when I get back.

      I don’t condone it, I’m not against it. I just don’t do it myself.

      Problem is, the news is everywhere, all the time and you only hear the negative, tragic stories about kids being forgotten in cars etc.

      Use your judgement as the parent.

  3. I do not judge at all. I wished I could do this when my kids were little. I don’t think I’m a reckless parent, but I’m certainly not a paranoid one. I just wish the world was a little kinder to mothers.

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  4. Honestly, this is not the 1950’s anymore. Sure, the odds of a kid being kidnapped by a child predator may be 1 in 10,000 (give or take depending on the area)….but what if your kid is that one who gets snatched? There are people who would willingly harm our children and once a child is gone, usually there is no getting them back. What are the odds of getting in a major car accident when we go out? I am estimating it at 1 in 1,000. We still use car seats to protect our children in case that 1 in 1,000 scenario happens. We vaccinate against rare diseases and drill safety into our children’s psyche from the moment they are old enough to understand. I highly doubt that if someone left their kid in the car and that child was taken, never to return, that they would be able to justify their actions to themselves at all. Maybe I am overprotective, but my child will never be stolen from me while I am in a store shopping and she is left defenseless in the car.
    Now, I understand if the child is older. My dad started letting me wait in the car when he went into stores at about age 13. That is a little more reasonable than someone leaving a BABY in a CAR with a NOTE pinned to it. What the hell is that note going to do to dissuade a child predator? There are plenty of small mistakes that we are destined to make as mothers, but in my opinion that is in no way a small mistake.

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  5. Such a difficult subject. I remember when my daughter was under a year old. I needed some headache medication. I could feel the beginning of a migraine and if I caught it early enough I could relieve the pain with extra strength Tylenol. I put my daughter in the car, the store wasn’t even 1/2 mile from the house, she fell asleep. I fought with myself about leaving her in the car seat. I would have been able to see her the whole time. I ended up taking her in with me.
    I can understand completely both sides. Unfortunately, there are bad people out there and we are paranoid because that’s pretty much all we hear about.
    I believe you have to be smart. Big city vs small town. I don’t know. Just be smart and go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right. Don’t do it.

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