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Have you EVER left your child alone in the car? EVER?

Posted by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM
  • 86 Replies
1 mom liked this

You Leave Your Kids Alone in the Car: So Why Judge Others?​

by Jeanne Sager

boy left in carAlright Moms and Dads, time for a little honesty. Have you ever left your kids in the car? Ever? EVER? You never hear moms admit it in public, but a new survey is out that claims 70 percent of parents say they have no problem leaving their child alone in a parked car.

That's a pretty high number of parents 'fessing up to something that fills moms with righteous indignation. Soooooo ... ready to jump on the judgy mom bus and drive right over those awful, awful parents? The rest of the Internet is doing it, so why not you? Well, hold on, just a second, would you?

According to the survey of 1,000 parents and caregivers conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Washington, seven in 10 parents said they'd heard horror stories of things going wrong when kids were left in cars, but were willing to do it anyway.

But when asked IF they'd done it, only 23 percent of parents with kids under 3 said they had. The number dropped to 14 percent of parents when the age-range changed from infants through kindergarten age.

There is no epidemic of parents leaving their babies in the car, OK? Even with the "shocking" number of parents who say they would, moms are still uneasy about saying they HAVE.

And let's talk about what it means to leave a child "unattended in a parked car."

The survey did not ask parents WHERE said car was parked. There were no parents saying, sure, I left the car parked out in front of the grocery store, in the hot sun, with the doors unlocked, and the keys in the ignition. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that is a bad, bad idea.

Is it possible some parents did that? Sure. It's just as possible that some parents buckled their toddler into the car in their driveway, then ran back into the house to grab their purse or the dry cleaning.

Are those parents bad parents

Not unless you're a bad parent for leaving your baby alone in their room, in their crib, to walk into the kitchen to grab their bottle that you forgot on the counter. Hey, you don't have eyes on them for those moments, something awful could happen!

But you've done it, haven't you?

The issue of leaving kids alone in cars -- particularly in extreme temperatures -- is an important one, and we need surveys and studies to raise awareness of what can go wrong -- from carjackings to a child accidentally putting a car in gear and getting in an accident to the horror of overheating.

BUT, and this is a big but, parenting issues are very rarely black and white. Leaving your kid in the car -- like anything -- has shades of grey. We do it when it's safe because, sometimes it is, because you can't compare apples (grocery store) to oranges (your own yard).

A mom who lives in a safe neighborhood, who buckles her 1-year-old into the carseat of the family minivan, realizes she left her purse inside, leaves the windows open, doesn't put the key in the ignition, and runs back inside for 5 seconds? She's not a bad mom. She's not putting her baby in mortal danger.

Same goes for the mom who buckles her infant into the car at the grocery store only to have a friend come along -- you know, the mom who turns the AC on and stands outside said parked car for 2 whole minutes while baby snoozes? Technically she "left her kid unattended in the car," but is that really bad parenting?

Do you ever leave your kid alone in any room? Ever? Do you sleep? Pee? Shower?

It's not the mere fact of leaving your kids in the car that makes for bad parenting. Like everything else in life ... it's situational.

So how about instead of jumping to conclusions about what it is parents are doing wrong, we take a second and find out the details.

Yes, parents who leave their kids in a running vehicle while they go in to pay for gas are making a mistake. Yes, parents who forget the baby in the car are making a mistake. Yes, yes, yes, we all need to heed the warnings about the dangers of kids in cars.

But we also need to use common sense as parents, and not just when it comes to cars!

Be honest ... have you EVER left your child alone in the car? EVER?

by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM
She's 7.
by Member on Apr. 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM

I have and will continue to. ONLY in my driveway or my moms, parked and not running, both kids buckled in their seats. I've run back in for something, or even stopped home to change/let the dog out. I'm not takiing both kids inside the house so I can take 2 minutes to switch pants and grab my other shoes. I set the alarm so if anybody touches the door handle it will go off, then if I'm inside more than a minute (a literal minute) I usually look outside to check on them. There is significantly less risk in doing this than many of the other things they do every day.

by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Yes, once when he was in car seat at gas station.  I was only 15 ft away while paying in the store, had full view of him.  Still why I was paying ,he comes walking in the store and say's MOM!  I remembered to lock the doors!  My keys were in the car.  Oy Vay!

Never did that again, no mater how much trouble it was to drag him in store with me.  

by Member on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Not a little one but my eleven year old, yes I have to run in somewhere really quick. I've also left him in the car with the babies. 

reading   playing soccer   boy n girl

  Melody       Conner Wyatt and Tabitha

by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:12 PM
Yes, in the driveway and a few times at the station (she's 13).
by Anonymous 1 on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:25 PM
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 Never!  That is so irresponsible.   If you have a child under the age of 11-ish they should never be left alone in a car for any reason! 


by Anonymous 2 on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:28 PM

I lock my son in the car at the cleaners (I park at the curb). I can see him and he can see me and I can see all around my car. This is the only time I leave him in the car.

Update: I only do this when it's raining and once while he was sleeping. He's in a car seat so he can't get out.

by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:31 PM
1 mom liked this

Yup.  all the time.  i leave my now 5 month old in the car everytime I get gas.  i live in a village of less than 300 people.  I can touch my car and the front door to the gas station at the same time.  I can see if someone is coming long before they could reach my car, even if they ran.  I am no more than 5 feet from my car at any given time and I know "stuff can happen" but its really unlikely.  

My daughter is left crying in her crib when im in the shower, or going to the bathroom.  She is alone in the other room when I am cooking dinner.  Yes my child is left alone sometimes.  Eh.  shes more likely to be injured by her clumsy mom if shes in the kitchen when Im dealing with boiling water, hot oil and knives than if she is in the livingroom in her exersaucer. 

by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:54 PM

You make it sound like children are only left in the car in their driveways and it is safe there right. As a pre-school teacher for many years, I have been appalled by the many, many parents that have left their infants and toddlers in the car while they come into the school to pick up the pre-schooler. The excuses are astounding! Well the baby was asleep, I don't want to disturb him, it is too hard to bring all the kids in, The parking lot is just for the school, right so it is safe there. Other moms are out there. It is okay just for a minute. And on and on. I have four kids with a 15 year age separation from beginning to end. I always had a small child with me that made it inconveinent or difficult to pick up another child at school, or pay for gas or run in the house real fast. I never left a kid in the car until their were over 11 years old. They thought I was over the top but a tragedy can only take a minute.

Btw, maybe I am a little overzealous, but I was the 3 year that had a 5 year old sister knock the car out of gear while our dad was standing next to the car and he had to chase after it as we rolled down the hill. Fortunately he was able to jump in and stop the car. If he had been inside the house it would have been a disaster. Two years ago,  my sister convinced it would be alright to leave the dog in the car as our mom stood next to the car to have a cigarette. I left the dog in the car with the windows down a bit. He knocked the car out of gear, it rolled out of the space and hit the car behind it. Fortunately the dog was fine, but the car wasn't. You don't want to hear "will the owner of your car, please go to the parking lot" when your child is out there alone, even with Grandma standing next to the car. I won't even leave the dog in the car alone for even a minute anymore. Sorry this is one of my soap boxes. Rant over.

by on Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:55 PM
I would lock the twins in the car when I got gas. I also would put them in and take them out of the car one at a time. I was obviously not far away. One time the machine at the gad station wasn't working. I could see my car from the attendants register so I went to go pay while waving and keeping them in my sight. The bottom of my car had flames coming out somebody met me at the door and took my keys and helped me get them out. Someone got a fire extinguisher and someone else called 911. We were all okay. Turns out it was just a wire that was pinched and caught some grease on fire. Never left my kids in the car again.
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