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. You know, it’s not for anyone to decide I think. Knowing babies and mother’s the little that I do know…I don’t blame them for trying to escape, run in quick and come back out…because you never know the baby could end up screaming it’s head off for only a quick 2 min run inside the store…I think these days things get taken outta proportion sometimes. I remember my mother doing that to me and my brother when we were younger all the time…it wasn’t a big deal back then…

    but for me…I know my quick 1 min is never quick…so “just in case” i’d probably still take my kid in only cuz I know I’m horrible at going in and doing things quickly… =p either that or make dad watch lol while I run into the store! great post!

  2. I do sometimes, but I feel terribly guilty because it appears that I might think my shopping trip is more important than my child. My girls actually BEG to stay in the car. It depends on where we are and what the circumstances are.

    The problem is, there are parents and caregivers who are extremely ignorant or careless. So what happens, is a child dies because his mother left him in a car in the hot sun. A van full of children catches fire killing them because their caregiver left them in the vehicle while she went into the hardware store. There are nightmarish stories too numerous to list where children were injured or killed by being left in a car.

    This is why some are so quick to judge EVERY parent who ever leaves a child in the car.

    For me, it depends on the situation. But I know in my heart of hearts, that if something ever did happen to my child…I could NEVER forgive myself.

  3. I’m one credit short of being a professional worrier. If I have to put mail in the mailbox at the post office I literally jump out, run up to the mailbox (with the doors locked) and sprint back to the car – with my eyeballs on the car the entire time. Even in the driveway if I have to run back into the house for something I lock the doors and sprint. I don’t judge people that leave their children in the car – but I cannot do it myself – even though it would be SO MUCH EASIER to run a quick errand without them.

  4. That’s an interesting (and controversial) one. I think it is something that is dependent on where you live (and weather of course). Tiny little town where everyone knows everyone, not such a big deal. Bigger town or one by a major road, starts to get scarier. Who says that someone isn’t going to break into the car and kidnap the kid. I admit I have been tempted before to leave the kids in the car for ‘just a moment’ when running errands. But I didn’t because it is just not safe. I don’t trust the people around here enough. To many scary stories.

  5. It all goes back to everyone being in everyone elses business. Because there ARE people in this world who have forgotten their kids in the car and the poor kids died, there has to be an across the board law about it. Of course, the law in MA is that no child should be left unattended in the car for more than 10 minutes. So clearly they understand there are those 2-minute circumstances where it’s necessary and safe.

    So no, I don’t think what this woman did was so bad. If I were a “concerned citizen” I would stand there and guard the child to make sure someone didn’t come and try to take it – and if I were stand there for 1/2 or more, then I might call the authorities – but FIRST I would call the number that was left with the child (what a good idea!!).

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  6. I would never leave my kids in the car, sleeping or not, because:

    a.) I watch far too much Law & Order SVU and
    b.) My life is mostly dictated by Murphy and his stupid law.

    I remember sitting in the car while my mom “popped in” wherever too, but times they-have-a-changed. What if someone broke the window and grabbed them? What if another car hit mine? Yikes, I’m having anxiety just thinking about it. Bottom line, I’m WAY too crazy in the head to leave my kids in the car. I’d lose what’s left of my mind. That’s just me.

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  7. If I can get the closest parking space to the door of the PO where I can see my 16 mos old at ALL times, I will run in and grab the mail without taking her out of the carseat if she’s sleeping or in inclement weather. I would NOT park in a stall and enter any sort of store or bank where I couldn’t visually see her and was going to be more than a minute.

  8. I don’t like it AT ALL. I would have called the cops. I’m sorry; it looks like that’s not the popular opinion.

    But what about kidnappers? What if the woman had a stroke in the store and was taken away by ambulance, and she couldn’t tell anyone that her kid was in the car because she was unconscious? What about that blanket in the photo that’s almost covering his face? It could have slipped. It’s probably already trapping carbon monoxide around his face. And we don’t know exactly how the weather was. What if the store got held up, and she was in there for an hour, and it got dangerously hot or cold in there? What if, what if, what if… Infants should not be left unattended! Gahhhh!

    I occasionally leave my 4yo in the locked car while I return a shopping cart to the corral 20 feet away, and I always RUN. And I feel terrible about it. Maybe that’s just me.

    But the point of my rant is: Why risk it?

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  9. I am an extremely over protective mom. I once watched an Oprah show about a woman who went into the store, left her baby in the car, was watching from the window. Someone broke into her car, and stole it, took not even a minute. I won’t tell you what happened next but it traumatized me enough to never, leave my kids alone in the car. So much could happen to them. I don’t judge anyone but for myself and my own sanity, the kids come with me at all times. I was also one time sitting in my car with the kids, waiting for my husband, and someone backed into our car, quite hard, enough to cause damage. It scared the kids. I imagined how it would be if they had been alone. There are so many reason why not to leave kids alone in a car that for me they all outweigh any reason to decide to leave them. But that’s just me, I worry. Like the previous comment. Why risk it?

  10. Newest follower here. I found you through the blog hop, you have a cute blog, I can’t wait to read more! You can find me at meandmr.com

    -Melanie @meandmr.com

  11. I won’t leave mine. I have on more than one occasion parked next to or had my teenager stand outside the car when a child was locked inside and stayed until the parents came out. I wouldn’t ever say anything to another parent because crossing that line causes unnecessary trouble. One time a mom got upset and said “I could see her” I just smiled and said 4 eyes are better than two. But if I just drove off and found out something happened I couldn’t live with that guilt

  12. I think it’s more a cultural issue than anything else. I worry, but I’m from the US where parents are taught to be paranoid. I don’t think it’s even possible to judge this mother here…and I wouldn’t presume to.

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