August 26, 2009

Van alone

Is it ever o.k. to leave your kids in the car without you? If so, at what ages and for how long? I ask because I came across this news article about a woman who left her three children in the car while she shopped for 40 minutes. Her children were pretty young, six, three, and 10 months. And 40 minutes is quite a long time.

I've left mine to run back into the house for a second when we've forgotten something. I've also dropped off library books without taking them all out.

I just wonder what other parents do.


  1. HOLY CRAP! If I ever met that mom, I'd bitch-slap her into next week!

    Ok, inappropriate language aside, I would NEVER leave my 6-year-old alone in a car for 40 minutes. Particularly in the SUMMER. Wasn't it just within the last month that a 1 and 2 year old were left in a car, and the 1-year-old died in the heat, while the 2-year-old managed to "escape"?

    And besides the heat, there's all sorts of other dangers out there. No, no, no, not ever.

    To run into the library to return books? Fine. To run to the ATM? Fine. But in a supermarket, out of direct sight of the car? Hells no!

  2. Oh, I'd also say it depends on the parents. Me? Hmmm. Maybe when my son is 9 or 10, I'd let him sit on his own in the car for more than "a sec". But not in extreme heat or cold, and not in a sketchy place, and ONLY if he is mature enough (knows not to talk to strangers, not to go with people, etc.).

  3. Times have changed 'eh? I remember my sisters and I being left in the car all the time while my mom grocery shopped. With no car seats. Or seat belts.

    Yes, there are times that I leave my kids in the car. But never for more than a few minutes. I used to leave my youngest in the car when I dropped my oldest at pre-k. I have no problem leaving them in the car to run back into the house.

  4. I don't know the circumstances to judge. Was an air conditioner running? DVD on? Kids had something to do? I can see that mom didn't want to take her baby out if her baby was napping and the oldest was mature enough to, say, call her on the cell phone if needed. I think we tend to baby our children well beyond the age they need to be protected. My best friend will not let her 12 year old to go to the library by herself, and the library is within 5 minutes walk on a well-lit street in a very safe area. In my mind this is a total overkill. That said, I don't leave my 2 year old in the car - ever. Maybe I would be willing to leave her with an older sibling though, if she had one :)

  5. Well, kids routinely die in my neck of he woods from being left in a car by themselves. Half a dozen or so every summer. So no, I don't leave kids in the car.

  6. Yes, I will leave them in the car while I run into the house quickly, or to return library books in the book drop, or even to quickly drop one child off at an activity if the other(s) is sleeping. I never leave the car running, though, and I always carry my keys with me. I always take the outside temperature into consideration.

    I never leave them in the car to do any shopping or similar errands. Not yet, anyway- my oldest is just 5. The one exception: once I left them in the car while I mailed something at the post office. I could see the car the whole time, it was a pleasantly cool day, the two younger ones were asleep, and the whole errand took probably 10 minutes. I still felt quite anxious, though.

    I don't know at what age I will feel comfortable leaving them in the car for longer. As others suggested, I think it will depend on the child and the situation. In the meantime, I make sure to always have a book or knitting in the car, and if they are sleeping when I get someplace I take advantage of the time to sit and chill.

  7. I'm glad to see the consensus isn't a resounding "no". I think it does matter how old the kids are, and how responsible. My son is 8, nearly 9 and I trust him to sit in the van if he doesn't want to go in with me. I also trust him to watch his sisters. That being said, recently FG has been less inclined to stay in her seat, so I will take her with me and leave the other two. The longest I ever left them was when my glasses were badly bent last week and I left Robotson and Dimples for 5 minutes while FG and I got them fixed. Unless I run into the house, they are always in direct view, and I do take the weather into account.

    All that being said, my son wasn't ready at 6. It's only in the last year that he's matured a little bit.

  8. Depends on how drunk I am or how bad I need Ho-HOs from Walmart for my munchies. Just kidding!

  9. My kids often want me to do that and I tell them I'd go to jail.

    A quick run back in the house or to drop off library books, yes. But otherwise, never.

  10. NO.

    With that said, you know yourself and your patterns. I forget things all the time. I know I would not forget my daughter, but that is the mentality behind the people who leave their kids in the car gets too hot.

    Please don't. If anything, it is one more chance to interact with your child when you remove them. Plus they get to experience the ATM machine, or the HO HO Purchase. Leaving them in the car gives them less opportunity for mind sparks.

  11. Anon-I appreciate what you are saying, but I have no shortage of opportunities for interaction with my kids as I homeschool them. Besides, taking them all up to the library drop box is more likely to start arguments and meltdowns, not lead to intellectual discussions. Fortunately, my son is almost 9 and is perfectly capable of running in to do little things like pick up books or grab a soda from QT. I don't often run into a situation where I would leave them in a car, and then I have options for sending my son in. I just don't think it's a big deal it's made out to be after a certain age and in certain weather conditions.