Dear Urban Diplomat: am I a delinquent mom for leaving my six-year-old in a car?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
I recently left my six-year-old son in the car while I ran into a store. The window was down, he was engrossed in his iPad, the car was locked, and I could see him clearly from inside. I was gone less than five minutes. The next day, I see photos of my son and my licence plate on a local mommy blog, with the caption: “Anyone know this delinquent ‘mother’? Disgusting! She should be in jail.” At last check, it had 30 comments, all assenting and with varying degrees of vitriol. What should I do? Fight back?
—Lynched Online, The Beach
I wouldn’t, since there are no winners in cyber-sniping. Plus, the Web-enhanced mob of justice-seeking mothers is right. You shouldn’t leave a six-year-old in a car—period. Ten is the cut-off age, according to child abandonment laws, when your child’s life or health is likely to be endangered. Whether five minutes alone in the car constitutes abandonment is debatable, but why risk it? Next time, drag Junior and his iPad inside with you, and avoid both a blogful of angry commenters and a stint in the slammer.
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12 thoughts on “Dear Urban Diplomat: am I a delinquent mom for leaving my six-year-old in a car?”
The correct answer is, if you have to ask, you shouldn’t be having children.
You shouldn’t leave your six year old unsupervised anywhere. Cars are especially dangerous. Five minutes is more than enough time for your child to be in the back of a pedophiles van.
Actually 10 is NOT the cut off to be left in the car alone! I found this out the hard way when I was almost arrested for leaving my 11 year old in the car while I took my daughter in to use the bathroom. Children cannot be left unattended in a vehicle under the age of 16. That comes straight from the mouths of Toronto’s finest!
Now my kids come in every time…whether they want to or not
You shouldn’t leave your spouse unsupervised anywhere. Cars are
especially dangerous. Five minutes is more than enough time for your spouse to be in the back of a kidnappers’ van.
So an adult is as vulnerable as a six year old child? Whatever.
I think that when a child has the wherewithal and the sense to exit the car should an issue arise, and come find you, they can be left alone in the car for less than 10 minutes. Never on a hot summer day or a cold winter’s day …. not at any time after dark.
That’s interesting. My 11 yo often doesn’t want to come into the store, unless I bribe him with Timbits or pop. I leave him at home now …. what’s the cut off age for that? Do you know?
There is no legal age for children to be left alone “technically” from the Burlington C. A. s website. However they do not recommend under 10 alone and under 12 babysitting. Also, you must use your best judgement. Like my daughter is 10 and son is 12… I would feel better leaving her alone with my 6yr old than leaving my older son. I think you have to take the child’s responsibility into consideration.
How is it these people have children? Yes “these people”! Whom in their right minds, given they have a right mind, would even consider leaving a child or a dog in their car even for a second. Nothing in a shop would be more important to run a myriad of risk that could befall them. Stupid parenting at its best.
You are a bad mom.
I think we’re getting too worked up about this issue. Suggesting that Lynched Online “shouldn’t be having children” goes too far. WAY too far. The frightening aspect of this article and its associated comments is not that a mother left her child in the car for a few minutes but rather the vitriolic response to it. Sit down for a minute and think about it, people, what was the real risk to which her child was exposed? What was the real probability of her child being abducted from the car, which as she says was in plain sight the whole time.
The answer: practically zero.
I live in Chile. Here, infant child seats are required but boosters are not; children can legally ride in the front seat of a car from the age of eight; and (as far as I know) there is no law against leaving your child in the car for a few minutes. I have done so myself, to dash into a store to pick something up, or to grab a coffee from the local Starbucks. Horrors of horrors, I have even allowed my children (ages eight and six) to ride in the front seat of the car (with passenger-side airbag disabled) and to shift the gears for me (the car has a stick). I call them my “semi-automatic transmission”.
Does all this make me unfit to be a father? No it doesn’t. I’m a good dad. The difference between me and the mommy Nazis out there is that I have a realistic perception of risk.
Lighten up, people.
Wow, let’s cool it with the judgement a little maybe?
No one can tell you that you’re a “bad mother” based on a single incident. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, as every new parent likes to say, so people make mistakes. Sounds like your kid is okay, so no harm done. Learn from this, don’t do it again, and stop reading people’s comments about you on the internet.
(Well, except for this one, of course ;) )
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