Concerned Citizen: 2 Small Children Left in Car while Mother Goes to Grocery Store

pain sculpture

From the Brookland listserv:

“Last night as I ran in for some soup, i couldn’t help but notice that someone had left their 2 small children in their car as they ran in the store. I stood there for a while looking in the car just to make sure i didn’t see an older child in their with them or an adult in the passenger size, but there wasn’t. I immediately went in the store and asked the cashier to do a store page to the person who left their children in the car. As i said it out of my mouth a lady says OH THATS ME, i just ran in for a second. She kept repeating how sorry she was. I looked at her and asked her does she really realize how serious this is? I told her not to apologize to me, change the behavior. I’m not here to judge her, but i am judging the behavior and the bad choice she just so happen to make. Everyone makes a mistake.

People, Please see the value in your children. There is no amount of anything that you need that is worth putting your children’s life at risk. they were old enough to take in the store for the 2 things she went to buy. Next time I wont hesitate to call CPS. This is not a joke, nor is it an option to leave your unattended children in the house nor your car while you go get what you think you need. I know of someone who spend the entire weekend in jail for doing the exact same thing, and her children were much older. Let this be a warning that YOU are NOT exempt from the LAW, you just didn’t get caught, or should I say, I just didn’t turn you in!

If you wouldn’t leave your keys in the car with it running while you run into a store, or leave your keys in your house door, or door wide open while you run to a store, how much more important is it to make sure your God granted children are safe at ALL times. Children are a gift from God.”

One resident responds:

“Oh my goodness! I knew people like this–the Mommy Police–were out there, ready to scold me the first second I take some “shortcut” with my baby (which we’ve all considered doing at some point). Good grief, cut the lady some slack!!! It’s not ideal behavior, of course, and I didn’t see it myself, but it doesn’t sound horrendous enough to merit a comment on this listserv at all, much less a 3-paragraph diatribe.”

Mommy police or just good advice?

141 Comment

  • burritosinstereo

    Some important information is missing here: Did the mom turn the car off and take the keys in with her and were the doors locked? Or was the car in park with the keys in the ignition? My parents used to leave me in the car all the time when I didn’t want to go into the store. Granted, not before the age of like 8 or 9, but they always made sure that I had the doors locked and they took the keys in with them. If that’s the case here, I don’t really see what the big deal is.

    • Right, I agree. How old were the kids? If it’s a 5-minute stop into the grocery store and the kids are older than 7 or 8, big deal. This woman is threatening to call CPS? PLEASE.

      Also, “Please see the value in your children”?? How condescending. There are children actually being abused on a daily basis, and she chooses to go after a woman who left her kids in the car for a few minutes?

      • Yeah my parents used to leave me in the car all the time…in fact I would go with them places just so that I could stay in the car ha. No idea how old I was. Old enough to remember it? I’d say 7 or so? I remember turning the radio up and singing as loud as I could because I thought no one could hear me haha.

  • justinbc

    Well, for starters, it’s not illegal in DC, so this woman is misinformed on that account.

  • It’s hard enough being a parent of young kids without having to suffer the judgment of other people. In an otherwise extremely tolerant society, it’s still normal for complete strangers (even childless ones!) to lecture parents on how to behave.

    The paragraphs written above reflect totally irrational estimates of the probabilities of dangerous things happening. The damage the writer did to the psyche of the poor mom is much greater than the average amount of harm that befalls kids left in cars.

    • +1

      I read this in our neighborhood listserv this morning and thought the same thing. After speaking with mother in the store yesterday, isn’t that enough? Did the woman really need to go onto a public forum to shame the mother? And I think that this post is making it even worse that this is going beyond the neighborhood forum to a much larger DC audience.

    • Just because you chose to or were able to have children (as you know, some people simply can’t) doesn’t mean that you’re automatically the best parent ever. Don’t be quick to dismiss a comment coming from a childless person as “wrong” or “bad” just bc the person offering the advice doesn’t have a child of their own. Maybe that person has a PHD in child psychology or is the eldest Dugger who has basically raised her siblings from birth. talk about judgemental.

  • ” I’m not here to judge her … “. Yes, yes you are. That is the entire point of this screed!

  • I don’t understand the issue, it’s not like it’s 100f out and the kids will die from heat stroke. What is the person afraid is going to happen?

  • justinbc

    I think her last sentence pretty much sums up where she’s coming from in that regard.

    • justinbc

      Err, that was to Anonymous @9:12. Post fail.

    • Hey now, that was slightly offensive. I could have taken this comment the wrong way, but not all people that believe in God are judgmental.

      • justinbc

        I never said they were.

      • I’m going to agree with Justin’s comment here. I don’t think it’s offensive at all. There’s believing in god and then there’s shoving that belief down everyone’s throat as an excuse for being a miserable, judgmental know-it-all. The person who wrote this post clearly falls into the latter category.

  • Oh geez….if there were people like you running around in Florida in the 90’s my parents would have gotten CPS called on them damn near every day! Give me a break.

  • She should have called the police.

  • Depends on how small these small children are. If they’re old enough to go get Mom if something’s wrong, I don’t think it’s a big deal at all. My brother and I loved sitting in the gross sweaty car when my parents went to run quick errands–parents had the keys and doors were locked so strangers couldn’t get in but we could get out if needed. If the kids were very young, like younger than 6 or 7, and you were concerned about them, sure, go ahead and page the parents, but the accompanying lecture is probably unnecessary.

  • My sister, around age 2-3, was left in the family car for just a few minutes while my father went into the house to grab another sibling to take to daycare. My sister managed to wriggle out of her car seat and knock the car out of park, and it rolled down a hill. Thankfully, she wasn’t seriously hurt. Imagine my father’s alarm when he went back outside and didn’t see the car. Anything can happen. In a public place like a parking lot, children left alone could be an advertisement for kidnapping or abuse, and if the kids were old enough to unlock the doors (assuming the doors were locked), they could wander into traffic, etc. Not a good idea to leave small children alone in a car under any circumstances. Sure, a lot of people may do it “just for a minute,” but it’s not a smart choice.

    • You sure do make a lot of assumptions about this particular situation. Perhaps your father was negligent (how the heck does one “knock a car out of park” and on a hill without the parking brake?!), but that doesn’t mean this woman was.

      • Cam was just saying that weird things can happen, not that one of these two children would do exactly that. And, it’s true, weird things happen and small children shouldn’t be left in a car alone. No reason to rant on a listserv about it after talking with the parent, though.

      • I did the as the previous posters sister when I was 7. My grandfather put me in the car & walked around to get in. I leaned over to unlock his door and leaned on the parking brake which apparently wasn’t completely engaged. And it released & the car started rolling. My grandfather tried to get me to pull it up/stop the car etc but instead I managed to completely release it causing the car to slide into our neighbors station wagon. Did I mention that we moved into the neighborhood the previous day. Woops.

    • is your sister Maggie Simpson?

  • I would have called 911. Unacceptable and then she could have tried apologizing to the police.

    • justinbc

      The lady would have been gone by the time the cops actually arrived there. Given that it’s not illegal, the cops would not have bothered to go to her home to follow-up either.

    • Put ’em in foster care. That’ll make you feel superior.

  • I’m tempted to call you a nosey, hysterical know-it-all but first I must know the ages of the children. “Small” is simply not descriptive enough. I’d wait in the car for my parents from the age of 6.

  • Depends on the age of the kids but if they are small I would have dialed 911 before going into the store.

  • Ugh…this person sounds like a nosey self important d-bag, and you went completely off the reservation with your morally superior lecture about “children”.

    And to too it all off, you ran right to the google-tubes to post about it, looking for a few “attaboys” from the blogosphere.


  • It’s a bad idea, but there’s no reason to have a long lecture on a listserv after already talking to the parent. So, both?

    • Agreed. My parents left me in the car, mostly because I whined too much about actually going into the grocery store with them, but that was in a small town in the middle of Illinois. DC is different than that, so not the best parental decision. She shouldn’t lose her kids or be arrested though, either. The listserve post however is much more offensive to my sensibilities. What narcissistic dribble!

  • If you didn’t read Gene Weingarten’s Pulitzer-winning piece from 2010 on parents who accidentally left their children to die in their cars, read it. Makes you think twice about doing it intentionally, no matter how short the stop. You never know what can happen. And I think leaving children out there on an especially cold day is just as bad as a hot day.

    • That’s completely the wrong interpretation of the story, so you may want to re-read it. The story is about how the mind is distracted and people forget something so basic.

    • There is a big difference: kids died in cars because they were unintentionally left there. Someone running into the store to grab something INTENTIONALLY leaves their kids alone for a couple minutes. They know they are out there and will not be gone for hours on end. Let’s cut this person some slack (especially since we don’t know the kids’ ages). Contrary to popular belief, after a certain age kids don’t need constant supervision. Let’s save the ire for the people leaving their kids in cars at the Arundel Mills casino so they can go inside to gamble (see the recent article on that!).

    • There’s no comparison between leaving your kids in a car and leaving them in a car on a hot day. On a cold day, the car isn’t going to get any colder than it is outside, it’s shielded from the wind, and the child is almost certainly wearing a coat anyhow. On a hot day, the car turns into a greenhouse, and temperatures can get well into the triple digits – this situation can quickly cause children to DIE. I’ve never heard of someone dying from being in a 35-degree car for an hour. Please don’t trivialize truly dangerous behavior by comparing it to something that is, at best, slightly irresponsible.

      • The outside temperature is not the determining factor in how hot a car gets. A car with the doors and windows shut will rise in temperature well above the outside temp if left in the sun, even if it’s relatively mild or even cool outside. This won’t make much of a difference if the car is unattended for a minute or two in winter. But a car will still heat up to dangerous temperatures if its 40 degrees outside if left in the sun, it will just take a bit longer.

  • Luckily the disturbed woman didn’t drove off with the kids. Thank God.

    • Imagine going on a date or being married to someone like that? Hope “mommy police” has better things to do with her life than posting this crazy stuff.

  • If we’re talking an infant or a toddler, I could understand being concerned. If we’re talking 6+, get a life. If it was 100 degrees out in the summer, that would be concerning too. Also calling CPS because of kids left in a car? I think that’s going way too far unless it is one of the above situations I mentioned.
    I’d advise this person to “see the value” in not being a condescending, hysterical know-it-all.

  • Sorry, but I just not outraged by this. My parents did this all the time when I was a kid, and I survived. There are far worse things to rage about – this is not one of them.

  • I’ll bet you anything this is the same woman who posted on the Brookland list serv about calling 911 because she was stuck in traffic. Traffic in D.C.! Imagine!

  • I wish I knew the rules better. While I wouldn’t leave my kids in the car unattended, I do leave them inside the house while I go outside to work on shoveling snow, tend the grill, etc. Is that illegal? Mine are 5 and 7.

    Did you hear about the NY mom who thinks we’ve gone too far with child protection, she takes kids to the park and leaves them there while she goes and gets some coffee. Like it was when we were all kids way back when! Before seatbelt laws, and creepy child abductors!

    • I’m pretty sure child abductors have always existed. We just have a much wider outlet for disseminating that information instantaneously. There are some seriously creepy accounts of child abductors in the 1800s/early 1900s. Look up Albert Fish- but maybe not at lunch time.
      I also agree we’ve probably gone much the other direction as far as child protection. They need to learn to fend for themselves at some point. Though I probably wouldn’t leave young kids unattended at a park- especially in a city.

  • I find the post condescending and judgemental , but I would have done the same thing – paging the mom (not reading her the riot act). It takes only a minute for something to happen which could have been prevented by not leaving the kids in the car. What if the kid finds an old cheerio and chokes (dependent on age of kid), What if someone crashed into the car while the kids were in it?What if the kids unstrapped themselves from a car seat (if applicable) opened the door and walked into traffic? What if someone opened the door and kidnapped them? Maryland has an Amber alert out right now, and that’s scary. There are some bad people out there.
    None of those things happened but they could and it would be horrible and in this case preventable.

    • What if the kids were in the store and a tornado hit it, killing them? What if the store was robbed and they were both shot by the robber? What if one of the kids ate rat poison from under a shelf? Just think of the children!

    • Vast majority of Amber alerts are kids being kidnapped by family members or absent fathers who are denied custody. Very few are random kidnappings. It’s really extremely rare.

  • I work for CPS. Concerned citizens should always call MPD for an immediate response in this type of situation (and they do respond quickly). MPD can, and usually will, contact CPS to respond as needed. It does not result in a removal of the children but the mother would be educated about the dangers of the leaving small children alone in the car the most likely through a family assessment which isn’t even an investigation. DC law actually requires all children under the age of 18 to be supervised by an adult at all times (thank you Congress!) but DC lawmakers recognized this is a bit much so, with discretion, children ten and older may be left home alone for less than two hours during the day and based on their level of maturity. CPS has responded to calls similar to this in the past and I am sure will continue to do so.

    • gotryit

      Thanks for posting. Do you have a source for rules like this? I’m a parent of two, and while they are well below the age of being left alone at any time, I had never heard of these rules. I’m looking for something easier on the brain than official DC regs – maybe a pamphlet on the website?

      • Due to Congress making the law for age 18, I have only seen an administrative issuance from a former director of the agency put it in writing for a younger age and it wasn’t made public.

        • gotryit

          Do you have a source for the law from congress about age 18 being the limit? My google fu is great for real-estate-stalking, but is limited when it comes to congressional law.

          • From DC’s Child & Family Services Agency Website – Administrative Issuance: CFSA-08-7 (link provided below):

            “A young child (10 & under) should never be unsupervised for any period of time. This includes leaving a child unattended in a car, on a playground, or in the yard.”


          • gotryit

            That link doesn’t work for me. After poking around, they have this statement on their FAQs. Very confusing. If there’s a rule that they are working to, it ought to be well known.
            DC law says a child is anyone up to age 18 but does not give a specific age at which children can be on their own at home. You need to use your own good judgment. At the same time, we can provide some insight into when leaving a child alone crosses the line into neglect. When CFSA gets a report of a child left alone, we look at each situation individually. We consider several factors that you, too, will want to think about when deciding your child is ready to self-supervise for a time.

            Age: Infants, young children, and others who need constant care should never be left alone. In general, the older the child, the lower the risk.
            Maturity: Infants and young children aren’t ready. Beyond that, you know your child. A trustworthy 12-year-old may be fine at home for an hour while you run an errand. The same situation may not be a good idea for an unruly 17-year-old.
            Length of time: There’s a vast difference between leaving a child or teen at home for a couple of hours versus all day, overnight, or for several days. In general, the shorter the time alone, the lower the risk.
            Safety: Have you set ground rules for the child while home alone? Does the child know how to reach you and what to do in an emergency? Do you have a backup plan in case you can’t get home on time? In general, planning and preparation lower risk.

    • “a family assessment which isn’t even an investigation.”
      Speaking as a parent who was menaced by a by a school counselor with CPS, there is no difference to us between an assessment and an investigation. They are both the beginning of the process of taking your children, run by an agency that is — at least according to legend — arbitrary, vindictive and unsupervised. Invoking CPS at all is almost an act of terrorism.

    • Those are the most asinine set of rules I’ve ever seen. All children under 18 must be supervised by an adult at all times? That’s absurd. And clearly not happening. A group of high school students can’t go to the movies or dinner without an adult watching them? If people under 18 need constant adult supervision who is acting as a babysitter? Even the relaxed version is incredibly stupid. “Children ten and older may be left home alone for less than two hours during the day.” So if Mom and Dad want to go to dinner and a movie they need to find someone to watch their 17 year old? I’ve heard of Nanny states but this is just incredible.

      • I completely agree. I see packs of unsupervised teenagers running around all the damn time. If anything, they are the problem. Not a parent who leaves a kid in the car to grab something in a convenience store. If the law is that ALL kids under 18 need to be supervised at all times, then clearly it isn’t enforced at all. Just yesterday there was a group of school-age children (probably 8-10) running past the metro throwing snowballs at the side of trucks on the road. Where was CPS and the police then?
        Also kids above the age of 10 can be left a few hours based on their maturity? What the heck does that even mean? That’s an extremely subjective thing. I might think my kid is mature but someone else might not. Ridiculous.

        • Apparently they don’t need parental supervision if they are members of a crew, sell drugs in alleys, have DYRS credentials, and carry a gun!

      • Yeah apparently my parents broke the law a lot when I was growing up. Who knew they were such outlaws.

    • Wow. By the time I turned 18 I’d had a drivers license for three years and had finished a semester in college.

    • Good lord, they must be supervised by an adult at all times UNTIL THEY ARE 18?!? Seriously? What does that mean for all of the 16-year-old mothers and fathers out there? And this means they can drive a car, but not be left alone at home until they’re old enough to vote?
      And this is dictated by Congress? This may be the best argument I’ve seen for grating DC statehood and getting us out from under the influence of Congress.

    • This anonymous poster is offering complete misinformation. Please refer to the link below of the correct guidelines for leaving children at home. Only three states have enacted laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a child home alone: Maryland (age 8), Oregon (age 10), and Illinois (age 14).

  • I think most of the people commenting on this do not have small children. If you did, you would know: small children have a death wish. Anyway they can find to harm themselves, even in a padded room, they will. Sure, if the kids were older than six, a couple of minutes doesn’t seem like a problem. But would I do it? Nope, too many things that could still go wrong. Is it a pain in the ____, to take your kids out of their car seats, take them in the store, and fend off the requests for snacks. You bet, but few things about having kids is convenient. And to all those people posting that their parents did this, well there were tons of things that our parents did that I am not willing to repeat even though I am still here to tell the tale. The difference between this scenario and one where we judge a parent for not giving his kid organic milk is that the downside here is pretty bad. Although the odds are pretty slim that something bad will happen, if something wrong does happen it could be devastating.

  • There are a huge number of variables here — from the description the car could have been parked 100 feet away, out of sight, while mom did an extensive grocery run, leaving the keys in the ignition. On the other hand, they might have been parked directly in front of a convenience store entrance while mom dashed in to get a quart of milk after appropriately securing and venting the car. I will go out on a limb and say, in the latter case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the mother’s action, assert that there is absolutely zero chance of kidnapping or child abuse in that situation, and suggest that moving two squirmy kids from car seat to store to car entails substantially more risk of (albeit minor) injury and (potentially major) chaos than just leaving them there.

    My approval diminishes as we move up the continuum to the latter scenario.

  • I agree that there are unknowns here, particularly how old the children were. I can say that I have never left my child (who is now 7) alone in the car for any period of time. I think it is extremely bad judgment to leave a small child in the car alone. As the CPS poster said above, it is also illegal.

    • justinbc

      No, it’s not illegal. Please do not disseminate bad information like this, or at the very least cite what you’re basing it off of.

      • If you read my post, you would have seen that I referred to the CPS poster above. If you want a citation, hassle that person or do your own research. You assert the contrary, that it is legal, but provide no citation.

        • justinbc

          There are no laws on the books saying “you can do these things”, because the list would be too long. That’s not how law works. Laws exist to say what you may not do, followed by penalties if you decide to break the law. As the poster much further above linked to, here are states where there ARE laws against leaving your child unattended:

          • As I said below, the lack of a specific prohibition does not make it illegal. Child endangerment is illegal as a general matter, and the DC agency tasked with enforcing the child protection laws is very clear infants and young children “should never be left alone.” This is really just common sense.
            And thank you for your profound insights into our legal system.

      • DC CFSA reviews each situation individually to assess whether the child has been endangered. There is no specific statutory age limitation on leaving a child alone, but this does not mean “its not illegal” as you assert, if it rises to the level of child endangerment. CFSA is very clear that “Infants, young children, and others who need constant care should never be left alone.” CFSA is right on this point.

        • justinbc

          I think your link disproves your assertion more than it proves it. Neglect is illegal, if leaving your child in a car, or a swimming pool, or without food, cross into that bounds then it becomes illegal because it’s neglect. Simply leaving a kid in a car, as an act alone, is NOT illegal.

    • Of course, nobody ever shoots up convenience stores or shopping malls (Nairobi) do they?

      • You don’t have to go all the way to Nairobi to find people shooting in malls. Just go to Anne Arundel county.

  • Last night when I went to the store, I saw a woman who was just about to run into the store for some soup. She stopped, looked into a car for a minute, waited a moment for the driver/parent to return, and then went into the store–abandoning the children–to educate the mother for 5 minutes about the perils of abandoning children for even 5 minutes. Luckily, I was there to observe/supervise the car and children from a short distance until the distraught but now-wiser mother returned.

  • I wish my parents could have left me in the car when I was a child, but we were too poor to afford a car….

  • I’m all for being more responsible about your kids, but let’s get one thing straight: Children are not “a gift from God.” They are a gift from your sexual reproductive system. That doesn’t make them any less valuable, but let’s be realistic here…

      • ledroittiger, are you a parent?

        • A Dad… are you a dad? Are you a believer?

        • I’m guessing ledtroittiger’s answer is no. A gift from the “reproductive system”? Are you serious? What a bizarre way of looking at things. I admire your breathtaking confidence, though, as you state the “facts” to all of us. It’s ok that you don’t like kids, but how about you keep it to yourself or get a hobby? Yikes (and I say this as someone who is not a parent myself!).

          • I think ledroittiger was simply highlighting that the “gift from god” comment in the original is not a particularly, um, accurate way of describing how babies get made.

          • It’s not bizarre if you don’t believe in God. And I say this as someone who does.

          • Not a Fed, it was the authority with which this poster spoke that irked me. “Let’s get one thing straight.” Geez. You’re free to believe or not believe, but don’t shout out things like they’re freaking facts when these matters are related to a person’s faith or lackthereof. Let’s get one thing straight: Have some respect for others’ views.

          • justinbc

            ^ Thank you. Actual proven science is not bizarre, if you choose to ignore it, that is.

          • justinbc

            Well, that was to “Not a Fed”, but Anonymous you’re just digging your hole deeper by saying “don’t shout out things like they’re freaking facts” when it is an absolute fact that’s how babies are made.

          • Anon 12:55, as justinbc pointed out, they are ‘freaking facts’, it’s nothing to do with a person’s faith or lack thereof. The “gift from God” proclamation on the other hand is HIGHLY DEPENDENT on the existence of a person’s faith. Ledroitinger is on FAR safer ground with his/her statement. If you didn’t like the tone that’s fine, but let’s be honest about who is stating facts and who is stating beliefs.

          • Wow. Hey folks, believing that children are gifts from God and believing they are products of physical human reproduction are not mutually exclusive. Guess what? You can believe in both at the same time! I am not disputing “actual proven science, ” justinbc. Ugh. The statement irked me, and you (of all people) responding, doesn’t help. Ok, have a nice day.

  • I would not say this is a case of the “Mommy Police.” Leaving small children in a car is not OK. Plus it’s been really cold out lately But the age of the child is imperative here, and probably also how well behaved the kids are – toddler? Absolutely not. 6 years old? Maybe? I would say 7 or 8 years old would be ok, but younger than that, yes, that is alarming.

  • I think this should be nominated for the first “Shame the OP” post..

  • Hey little boy/girl. I work in the store. Your mommy sent me out to come bring you inside to pick out some breakfast cereal. She can’t remember what kind you like. That’s right, unlock the door. OK, now take may hand and come with me. If that fails there’s always the, “did you see my run away puppy? I have a picture of it so show you. Open the door and I’ll give it to you.”

    I’d say that could take about 20 seconds to a minute. What age kid would fall for that? 3 through 6, maybe even 7 or 8. Don’t leave your kids unattended in a car even please. And feel free to make a big deal out of it if you do.

    I’m really not concerned with the car rolling down the hill or what the law says.

    • Someone’s been watching too much Investigation Discovery.

      • Seriously. The way people talk there are child abductors around every corner. Yes there are sickos out there, and even if you don’t make it easy, those sickos will find a way to take a kid. I’d say the vast majority of people want to be as far away from your kid as possible, so calm down.

        • Yep, people need to more concerned about their own family and friends than they are stranger abductions.

          • THIS. Most molestations, rapes, and kidnappings against children are perpetrated by relatives, neighbors, family friends, or social/religious acquaintances. The boogeyman is probably already over for dinner, not snatching your kids from the mall.

        • Most of us can actually name the children adbucted by strangers, which indicates that it is just not likely to happen. If you want to protect kids from things that are likely to actually happen to them, then make sure that no parent ever puts a kid in a car or that parents are required to remove all bathtubs in houses with children under 8 (or in DC, under 18).

  • I am less appalled by a mother leaving two children in a car than I am by some self-righteous harpy publicly shaming said mother. This is probably the same type of woman who homeschools, thinks women who can’t breastfeed just aren’t trying hard enough, thinks CIO is abuse, and somehow only gives birth to “exceptional” children (celiac, gifted, autistic, etc.)

    • Ha…ha…this is the most entertaining post to help ease my Friday afternoon “why I am still at work” pain!

  • This was kind of funny – the New Mexico governor saw a kid in a parked car and waited for the parent to come out of the store to talk to him.

  • How dare you give this woman a hard time. Once in awhile, my mom would leave my brother and/or I in the car while she quickly ran into the supermarket to grab something. The doors were always locked, and she always had the keys… and sometimes she would even be benevolent and crack the window for us if it was hot out.

    I bet the kids in the car were pretty scared to see a stranger peering into their car as they sat there. Instead of apologizing profusely to you, this woman should have told you to eff off.

  • On another note, why are we all assuming the OP is a woman? It could just as easily be a man.

  • That needed a “Chill Pill” to go with her soup.

  • The picture for this post is perfect.

  • I will just point out that statistically speaking the riskiest thing this mother did for her kids was putting them in a car and transporting them on a public road in the first place. I’m not saying “Cars BAD!” (far from it), but from a pure numbers point of view getting driven around in a car is most likely the closest to real danger these kids experience on any given day.

  • There are just far too many busy bodies these days. My mom used to leave my brother and I in the car while she had to run into the store for a few minutes. If the kids are around 7 or 8, I don’t see the harm. The people who are playing the what-if game. What if when you left for work, you got hit by a bus? What if when you went to the store, a robber came in and shot you? What if when you went to the movies someone burst in and shot up the place? Serious, stop being so paranoid. You can’t live life wrapped in bubble wrap and expect others to do the same. Sometimes you just have to live and hope to make it home alive.

    • My parents also used to smoke in the car and let us play in the back seat without seatbelts on. Just because our parents did certain things, and we survived, doesn’t mean that parents today should do the same.

  • I love the people whose response is more or less “My parents did this with me when I was little and nothing bad ever happened so get off this lady’s case.” I don’t like a lot about what the OP wrote, but what the **** sort of “logic” is that? How is it remotely relevant that nothing bad happened to you? That just means you were fortunate or lucky. It has nothing to do with whether it’s responsible parenting or a good idea.

    • I think the comments with examples of “my parents did this too” is meant to say that it’s not necessarily negligent, uncommon, or bad parental behavior, and we especially know that THIS mother was not negligent because she ran right out to her children when the poster above asked the cashier to make an announcement. She didn’t just keep shopping and then run out the back of the store, abandoning her children. If we want to talk about negligent parents, lets read this story:

    • justinbc

      My mom never left me in the car, and I turned out terrible.

    • Yep, this. Once my carpool left me at kindergarden. A guy in a car pulled up and saw me sitting out front after all the kids had left and said my name and that he was my friend Susie’s dad and would take me home. I had never seen him before, but he knew my name, knew that I was Susie’s friend and that I had missed my carpool, so I got in. Luckily, he was in fact Susie’d dad and did in fact take me straight home. But, seriously, that was literally the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life. Just because nothing happened to me, doesn’t mean I’d suggest doing this same thing to some other kindergardener in the same situation.

  • If the children were in such mortal danger, why did the Mommy Police herself leave the vicinity of the car where she could see and monitor the safety of the children to go inside for just the moment it took to page and berate the children’s own mother? Seems if she were truly concerned for the safety of the children, she would have waited near the car for the children’s mother to return, and speak her peace then and there. To me, this would demonstrate the true motivation to be smug superiority rather than danger avoidance. Coupled with the sufficiency to speak to the children’s mother without blasting her additionally on the listserv. The Mommy Police just wanted to shame. And this is the problem with post frothing at the mouth to publicly shame transgressors – there is usually a pretty large log in the shamer’s eye as well.

  • I hear in Europe this is commonplace… Well, France

    • All over Scandinavia, as well. Mothers frequently meet for coffee/tea during the day and leave the babies in their strollers while the mothers enjoy their time inside the coffee shop. Even in sub-zero temperatures. Kids are resilient.

  • If the OP had lived 2,000 years ago she would’ve balled out the Virgin Mary for letting Jesus wander off in the Temple

  • While you may have an opinion about when children can be unattended in a vehicle, please know that we are coming up on the time of year when just a little sunlight can increase the temperature in a car by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes creating a “greenhouse” with dangerous temperatures. For some kids, that could be life threatening. Each year on average, 38 kids die while unattended in a car. More than 50% of the time, the caring driver got distracted when they arrived at their destination and forgot the quiet child in the back seat. Usually the driver’s routine was different on that day. About 30% of the time, children at play gain access to a car or trunk and climb in but don’t know how to get out. And about 20% of the time, a driver knowingly leaves the child in the car and once involved in their errand, forgets how long the child was alone.

    Every year we at Safe Kids learn about all these tragedies — but they’re preventable by never leaving a child alone in a car. If you think this could never happen to you (an opinion once voiced by many of the parents who lost children this way) know that it can. So many things are not preventable, but leaving kids alone in a car is. To learn more go to and .

  • I find it illuminating that the popville community was outraged a couple of years ago when someone had the audacity to leave their dog outside a grocery store while he or she ran on for a couple of minutes. Anyone remember Molly? And before someone chimes in to say that the dog was simply tied to the bike rack, these were two small children, left defenseless without adult supervision. But I am also the kind of person who would never leave my dog outside a store unattended either.

  • From CFSA’s website:'s%2520Self%2520Care%2520and%2520Care%2520for%2520Others%2520(final).pdf

    Their recommended guideline is that “a young child (10 & under) should never be unsupervised for any period of time. This includes leaving a child unattended in a car, on a playground, or in the yard.”

  • This is ridiculous. Mom ran in to get milk (or whatever) and gets shamed by this know it all…seriously? get a life. As a kid, I would have been more scared of some random adult walking around the car, peering in etc than I would have of being alone in the car for the five minutes it took mom to do whatever she needed to do. Sheesh.

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