On Trial for Letting Kids Wait in the Car — It’s “Child Endangerment”

Hi Readers. Here’s the latest kids-in-car/mom-arrested story.  I know it seems like I’ve posted a flood of these cases lately and I’ll pause for a bit after this one, but this woman is asking for support and I’d like to provide some.

As you’ll see, it’s strange that somehow her 3-year-old got out of the car — that’s certainly something to look out for — but should she have been investigated by Child Protective Services? Should she have to go to court? Is she an irresponsible parent? No way. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I have found you through researching issues related to child endangerment.  I have been charged with second degree child endangerment, in Arkansas, for leaving a sleeping baby and a three-year-old locked in a warm minivan on a cold day for under five minutes.

This happened in December.  I immediately hired an attorney, who explained that I hadn’t actually violated the statute, and so was not guilty.  Then, in February, I was visited by a child protective services worker.  He toured my home, and asked me questions about the incident.  I figured he was following protocol and that he would close the case.

Today I received a letter stating that I will be placed on a child maltreatment list, and that my employer may be notified, unless I request an administrative hearing, and at that hearing they overrule the family service worker’s opinion. Here is the source of all this mess:

On December 16, a Friday, which is my day off, I was driving with my two youngest children.  Benjamin is my baby, and Aurora is my three-year-old.  We had just met up with May, my six-year-old, for lunch at her elementary school.  I remembered suddenly that this was the last day I could buy a gift for May’s first grade teacher.

We were in a touristy and safe part of town, very close to the math and science school at which I work.  Benjamin had a bronchial cough, and Aurora was eating cookies (messy), and didn’t want to leave the van.

I considered the cold air outside, the baby’s cough, Aurora’s messy face and hands.  I figured that the time it would take to get the children out of the van and back into the van would be nearly twice the time it would take to just run into the shop myself.  They were both locked in their car seats.  I parked as close to the shop as I could get, locked the car from the outside, double checked the lock, literally ran into the store, grabbed two items without checking the price, checked out with no wait, since I was the only customer, and ran out of the store.

There I found two police officers standing with Aurora outside of the van, with the van’s sliding door open.  When they saw me running toward them, one of them shouted to get back, and not to touch my daughter.  He said “Sit your butt down!” so I sat on the pavement.  Aurora, who had been calmly talking to them, was upset by their treatment of me.  Finally, they let her come to me, and I held her.  The officers claimed that they stopped because they saw her standing outside.  This seemed really unlikely to me, but I figure it must be true, because how else would the door have been unlocked?  Inside, the baby still slept.  They cited me but did not call child protective services, and did not arrest me.

At the hearing my lawyer appeared and entered a not guilty plea.  A trial was set for February 4.

At that trial, the judge said immediately, “Didn’t I just see a case like this earlier this morning?”  The “similar” case was one in which a parent left children alone in a Walmart parking lot while he cashed a check inside.  My attorney started explaining that my facts were different, that the time was much less.  Then my attorney mistakenly said I left only one child waiting.  The prosecutor pounced, saying, “No, it was two children, on Central Avenue, and one was only six months old!!”

My attorney asked for a continuance.  The next date is April 5.

Since then, my attorney has changed his strategy from arguing for my innocence to making deals with the prosecutor.  He insists on waiting until the court date to show her my acceptance letter to the University of Texas Law School (I had applied when the incident happened, but I found out I was accepted right after attending that Feb. 4 trial).  He expresses doubt that she will be helpful, and he doesn’t seem to want to argue before the judge.

So I have fired him, and hired one who was recommended to me.  He seems much more willing to fight.  However, I just received a certified letter from child protective services that says they have found me guilty of neglect, based only on this incident, and that I will be placed on a child maltreatment list, unless an administrative hearing determines otherwise.  I have told my attorney.  This afternoon, more people from protective services came to my house while I was working and my husband was babysitting.  He expressed frustration and referred them to our attorney.  We are not going to speak with them.

I’m scared, and confused and angry.  I am afraid that a guilty conviction could compromise my chances of becoming an attorney.  I am afraid of being permanently labeled a bad mother from a judgment call that happened to be out of line with that police officer’s opinion of good parenting, even though my actions didn’t actually violate the Arkansas child endangerment statute, which is quite vague.

I’m just reaching out for support and strength, and maybe some good ideas.  — A Mom Who Feels Thrust Into an Alternate Reality.

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186 Responses to On Trial for Letting Kids Wait in the Car — It’s “Child Endangerment”

  1. Lauren March 30, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I was investigated for neglect for leaving my sleeping baby in my car while I unloaded groceries. It was humiliating and scary. I’m so sorry you are also going through this. Ultimately, the accusation was determined to be “unfounded” and eventually my name will be “clear” as far as records go, but I can’t imagine having charges filed against me. This is ridiculous and sad.

  2. Ann In L.A. March 30, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Yesterday’s post was entitled “Every Parent’s Nightmare” and was about a kid getting home safely after getting on the wrong bus.

    This post, however, is much closer to *really* being every parent’s nightmare.

  3. Carla E. March 30, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    THIS is every parent’s nightmare–to be harassed an threatened over a simple parental decision, one that brought no harm to anyone!

    When my daughter was just a baby, I stopped to get gas and she fell asleep in her car seat. Rather than remove her from her seat, thus waking her and making her cranky, I decided to lock her in, leaving the vehicle running with the AC. I set the brake, grabbed the spare key, locked the doors, and went in to pay for my gas. I could see her the entire time through the store window. Imagine my dismay when I went to unlock the car and found I had the WRONG KEY. They called the cops to help me and all the officer had to say was that my automatic locks might be damaged by the slim jim. No arrest threats, no CPS referrals, not even a reprimand for being stupid (should’ve checked the key, right?).

    It’s just sad that the people this lady has had to deal with aren’t as sensible.

  4. Pamela March 30, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    In MA we call DCF destroying children and familys I swear they love the easy cases while leaving the truely needy kids to the hard case list. I was once called on by the hospital because I had left the hospital AMA with pancreatitis. Their reasoning was as I was the prime care taker and was too ill to care for my kids, well who the hell would be there if I was sitting in the hospital on a unneeded IV. They never asked who was caring for them while I was IN THE HOSPITAL!? Only when I went home to bring my yougest for a much needed hair cut(yes I was that ill) when two police officers showed up at Coast Cutter to bring me back to the hospital only to be rerelease 2 hours latter. Leaving my son @ Coast Cutter to wait for his grandmother!!! DCF was @ my house the next week!!!! Not that day or the next a whole week latter!!! To check on “OUR” well being. You can not make this Sh*t UP.

  5. mamataney March 30, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this. This, in my opinion, should’ve ended with you coming out of the store, the officers seeing you, verifying that this is your child, and, if your 3 year old did manage to get out by herself, instructing you that you might want to think twice before leaving her in the car next time since she’s obviously quite clever! End of story.
    Good luck.

  6. omegawolf747 March 30, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    I think parents everywhere should take a hard line stance with elected officials and tell them the message that how they raise their children is their business, not the state’s.

  7. omegawolf747 March 30, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Unless the child is actually being abused or neglected, parents should have sovereignty from the state to raise their children, not having to worry about CPS busybodies swooping in on them because they let their kid stay in the car for four minutes.

  8. Silver Fang March 30, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    And one last thing, why do attorneys do plea bargains if they’re convinced their clients are innocent? Are they too lazy to fight anymore? If more people would stand up to the system by going to trial, we could get some real change that would cause prosecutors to back down.

  9. ifsogirl March 30, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Just today I left my 4y/o daughter in the car while I brought my 7y/o’s lunch to her school. I parked in front of the doors, gave her my phone to play Angry Birds and locked the doors. I was inside all of three minutes. She is more than capable of getting out herself, she’s only in a booster seat and knows how to unlock the door. But I go over the rules with her each time I do leave her.

    Stories like this make me worry that one day some meddlesome adult is going to call the cops on me. I do the same when paying cash for gas, or returning the shopping cart at the store, or if I get all the way down to the parking garage and realised I left something in my appartment four floors up.

    Shhhh don’t tell anyone but I also leave the kids in the appartment when I check mail or take the garbage out.

  10. Elizabeth March 30, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    We really need to get that Parental Rights Amendment passed, and soon. Stuff like this is getting way too common, and CPS is completely out of control.

  11. Amy March 30, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    This is ridiculous and frightening. That said, I just looked up the penal codes for child endangerment in my state (CA) and am shocked by what it says:

    “(a) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely
    to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits
    any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain
    or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child,
    willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be
    injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a
    situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be
    punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or
    in the state prison for two, four, or six years.”

    Given the reactions of so many in our society these days, couldn’t almost ANYTHING be construed for children as “a situation where his or her person or health is endangered?” I live in earthquake territory, for goodness sake. Does this mean that I should move because I have willfully settled my children in a place where their person or health is theoretically endangered at all times?

    All joking aside, this could be interpreted very broadly and is most disconcerting.

    My heart — and enormous amounts of virtual support — go out to this mom.

  12. Missy March 30, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    In Denmark they leave kids in strollers in front of stores while the parents run in, because they find it the responsibility of the community to care for the kids as a whole. They believe in supporting one another, not destroying one another. If the child needs assistance while the mom is in the store, a random person will stop to help the little one. Maybe that is why they are the happiest country in the world…

  13. PreachesToChoirs March 30, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    This is insane. I have 4 kids; if they are all sleeping, as often happens on car rides, there is just no possible way I can get them all out of the car at once (they sleep like rocks and nothing can wake them until they decide they’re done sleeping). So what should I do if I need gas while my husband is at work? I can’t leave them at home alone while I go get gas. What do I do when I get home, if it’s illegal to leave the rest in the car while I carry one inside? What am I suppose to do when one of the kids needs to use a public restroom and 5 people can’t fit inside at once? Perhaps they expect me to buy a bus and hire 8 adults (2 for each child, since a non-parental adult being alone with a child is illegal too) to be with us 24/7.

  14. heidi March 30, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    In regards to the child being out of the car… I’m wondering if the polic may have opened it? Was there any signs of tampering?

  15. antsy March 30, 2012 at 1:55 am #

    Policemen used to be considered our community helpers. This is as UN-helpful as one can get, choosing to destroy a family’s life over actually helping by merely making sure the little girl was safe until her mother returned. If he didn’t happen along to cause this obscene mess, the mother would have come out of the shop and told her daughter that next time she is to stay inside the car. They would have driven off and carried on with their normal lives. That’s what would have happened if a free range parent (like me!) had arrived on the scene first :)

    “Something terrible COULD have happened” in a one-off event is not a reason to prosecute people. My parents’ generation and their parents’ generation were allowed to let their children play outside alone, stay home alone, wait in cars, walk to school, etc. I expected to be allowed to make the same parenting decisions for mine.

    Aurora and Benjamin’s Mom, you must feel like you are trying to survive under the weight of the world these days. Know that you have many, many friends here! (Coincidentally, I found this Free Range Community a few years ago due to a kids in the car/police came/van door open story, too! The police admitted to opening my van door though.)

  16. Barnes March 30, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    I’m truly angry at the prosecutor and your attorney. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Their goal cannot be to punish you, it needs to be about protecting the community. This does not fall into that latter category. Your attorney was not prepared (you may have a malpractice claim). What is the prosecutor thinking other than another notch on his/her victory pole. Disgusting. I’m sorry and hope your new attorney is much more competent.

    As with most parenting, this was a judgment call. You weighed the factors and made a parental decision. The government cannot raise our kids for us, they need to butt out.

  17. Donna March 30, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    @Silver Fang – First off lawyers don’t decide to plea or go to trial. That decision rests solely in the hands of the defendant. As much as I’d like to, I can’t enter a guilty plea for a clearly guilty client. Likewise, I can’t force someone to go to trial. I counsel. That is it. The ultimate decision is on their hands.

    Defendants plea guilty when they are innocent because there is a “trial tax” in the form of prison if you lose at trial. People that are offered probation before trial will spend time in jail/prison after trial if they lose. Most people with something to lose (family, job, house) will chose to know that they can walk out of court, even if with a conviction for something they didn’t do, rather than take the risk of a trial and not being home for years.

    All trials are risky. You put your fate the hands of 12 total strangers. You don’t get a jury of 12 free range parents. You get who you get. A case like this, where facts are not in dispute and you are just arguing the definition of “endangerment,” is particularly risky. There are cases where I can look at the facts and say “no rational person would find this person committed this crime.” This is not one of them. The end result of trial will depend solely on the personal beliefs of the 12 people in the jury box. And we’ve all see how strongly people danger to the belief that an unsupervised child is in mortal danger every second despite be presented with facts that say this simply is not so.

    This woman has something to lose either way. If she takes the plea law school is a complete waste of money. She won’t be admitted to any state bar with a child endangerment conviction on her record. If she goes to trial and loses, she will go to jail (I can’t imagine that they are offering more than probation right now) and miss out on months or years (depending on felony or misdemeanor) of her children’s lives.

  18. Andy March 30, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    @Donna How is it possible to get years of jail if they offered only a probation? Punishment is not tied to crime?

  19. hausfrau March 30, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    there is another angle to this story aside from the state meddling in parental decisions. CPS gets federal kickbacks for each child taken into custody. They receive matching fed funds for the time the kid is in foster care. The state and its private contractors also profit from court ordered counseling sessions, drug testing, parenting classes, etc. They have every financial inducement to be unfair and pull children into the system. Never ever ever ever allow a state employee (especially a CPS worker) into your home without a court order. They are there to gather evidence of wrong doing, not to clear you of it.

  20. Bill in St Louis March 30, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    Consider the possibility that the cops opened the door themselves with a slim jim. Some cops are great people, there to protect and serve, and some are busybody bullies with guns.

  21. bmax March 30, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Should she have to go to court? Maybe not
    Is she an irresponsible parent? I would have to say yes!

    The fact that the 3 year old DID get out – speaks volumes that this should never have happened in the first place! This is why you DON’T leave a 3 year old in charge of him/herself and a baby. I don’t get free range parenting at all – I’m sorry I’ve tried. But defending people like this just enables other “excuses” to leave children unattended in vehicles.

    “But officer, I was just in the casino for a few minutes.. .i was on a heater!”

    Why is it OK when you are grocery shopping/shopping for a gift/ etc. vs casino/bar, friends house, gas station, school, etc.
    In my mind.. SAME DIFFERENCE! In any case it’s just a TERRIBLE excuse for leaving a child alone.

  22. Sue Luttner March 30, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    Your actions that morning are not the kind of decision that CPS should be getting involved with. The problem is that the public circumstances gave someone who isn’t very good at his or her job an objective fact to point to, justifying their programs and interventions. And you will probably be a remarkable success story for them: Your children will never again “need” their services.

    Good luck. I wish I knew how you should proceed. In these cases honesty isn’t even always the best policy. It drives me nuts.

  23. robynheud March 30, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    What has your daughter said about getting out of the car? Did she unbuckle herself and get out on her own, or at the police officer’s insistence? Did the officer force the door open on his own? Not sure how you would do that with a sliding door. Is it different from a regular door? I know your daughter is only three, but if she is able to communicate information on how and why she got out of the car could be vital.

    BTW, the CA law for leaving your children in the car is the “reasonable” kind, in that it too is open for interpretation. If there is a potentially dangerous situation, there has to be at least one child over the age of twelve. If it is not a dangerous situation, such as running to pay for gas, or to drop off books at the library, (short time, fine weather) it’s legal as long as the key is out of the ignition.

  24. LRH March 30, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    bmax Based on what I’ve read, I would say that the parent is NOT being irresponsible. I’ve done the same thing myself, in fact–you pull up to the post office, you see your 2 year old has fallen asleep for his nap, it also happens to be about 42’F outside & the wind is blowing, your vehicle by contrast is nice & warm.

    Which makes more sense?

    It seems as though that the parent here had a very similar situation, & made a good decision. If that is “terrible parenting,” then frankly we need MORE “terrible parents” if you ask me.

    And fewer busy bodies and judgmental know-it-alls.

    LRH

  25. CrazyCatLady March 30, 2012 at 4:03 am #

    Maybe this has been asked, but is there any video footage from nearby stores that shows that the child got out on her own? Not that the police used a slim jim to open the door and get her out?

    If the child was not out on her own, then she was in no danger in the car.

  26. Donna March 30, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    @Andy – Punishment is tied to the crime but each crime has a broad range of sentences available. For example, cruelty to children that would encompass this behavior in my state mandates a sentence that falls somewhere between 1 year and 5 years, all, some or none of which can be probated. You could get an all probation sentence. You could get an all prison sentence. Or a combination of both probation and prison. You could get a one year sentence. You could get a 5 year sentence. Or something in between. It just depends on what the DA is asking for and what the judge agrees to give.

    Trials are expensive and time consuming for the court. Plea bargains are attempts to get the case to plea before going to trial. As such, the prosecution offers something less than what they will ask for after trial and the judge agrees to something less than he will agree to after a trial. This sentence offer is based on the defendant’s criminal history, the crime, the facts, local sentencing standards, the wishes of the victim and the DAs confidence in winning his case at trial. After trial, the judge considers all this AND the reasonableness of going to trial in his opinion (and the judge never thinks going to trial is reasonable when you lose).

    So for this case, you could be offered only probation prior to trial. After a trial, the DA will ask for a higher sentence and the judge will give a higher sentence. So you could go from 2 years probation to a 5 year sentence with the first 2 years in prison. And because this is a post-trial sentence, many states will not consider you for parole because a main part of parole is accepting responsibility for your actions and you didn’t. It is a HUGE incentive to plea even if you did not commit the burglary.

  27. Lollipoplover March 30, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    If you technically didn’t violate the child endangerment statute, can you plea to attend parenting classes with all charges dropped?
    I agree with the above posters (some who are actual lawyers) that going to trial could backfire. Keeping it out of court may be your best bet.
    Good luck, and keep your head held high, you did something that most parents do, you just got caught by Officer Ego who felt like making you an example.

  28. Donna March 30, 2012 at 4:30 am #

    “Why is it OK when you are grocery shopping/shopping for a gift/ etc. vs casino/bar, friends house, gas station, school, etc.
    In my mind.. SAME DIFFERENCE!”

    You are correct. It is the same. If the place is in a safe area and you are only going to be gone a short time, it is fine regardless of where you are going. However, the odds of a casino/bar being a place that you are only going to run into for 5 minutes is low. It is possible though. Depending on the casino/bar, I may find it more acceptable to leave my child in the car while I ran in to pick up a credit card that I dropped the night before than to take her into said casino/bar. In fact, she may not even be allowed in said casino/bar and hiring a babysitter for a 5 second errand is ridiculous. Leaving your child in the car while you go drink at the bar or play craps is not acceptable, but nobody here has claimed that it is acceptable to go ANYPLACE for hours while your young children wait in the car.

  29. Guardian March 30, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    bmax,
    you and people who think like you are a threat to the freedoms of people everywhere. you and people who think like you are why we have so many stupid laws. you and people who think like you need to revisit the topic of natural law. you and people who think like you think that other people, people you have never met and never will meet, have the right to pass arbitrary laws that are so vague as to make almost anything a “crime”. you and people like you are why history is full of police states with willing citizen accomplices. you and people like you are the reason this woman and her family could be ripped apart; an awful scenario for the individuals involved and the neighborhood/community they live in. Absolutely nobody will benefit from this exercise of power.

    This incident has already caused too much stress and anxiety for the family. That’s the true violation here. This lady and her family are at the arbitrary whim of strangers who think they can pass judgment on them. This family is at the mercy of those who have the power of authority to forever alter and damage the family and the individuals within it. This is an incident that is/has been at the forefront of this family’s existence for far too long, while the prosecutor has a piece of paper and has spent a relatively limited amount of time thinking about it. This is a case number to the prosecutor, while the family is in limbo. Nobody should have that much control over someone else.

  30. K March 30, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    This is obscene.

    Just this morning the front page news was that a mom in our town tragically ran over and killed her 13 month-old child. They had to point out that “no charges will be filed”. Of course not. It was an accident. No amount of bureaucratic oversight will change the fact that accidents occur.

    No charges should be filed in this case either. The mom did her best, in reasonable judgment.

    Child abuse and neglect should be reserved for cases that are far more clear than this.

    Talk about a parent’s worst nightmare…

  31. ank March 30, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    how sad…now THAT is my worst nightmare. I have weighed the pros and cons when it is absolutely necessary to go to a story to pick up the one thing we need when I have our kids. My husband travels quite a bit for business and sometimes it is just unavoidable to go to the store with both kids. If it’s raining out, or cold and nice and toasty in my car, I have two choices: run in, get what I need and run out or take both kids out of their car seats, get the in the cart, get them back in their car seats…it is just a giant pain in the you-know-what. OR I can just run in, run out and both girls entertained each other for the five minutes I was gone. However, when I know I need to run in to get milk, atm, etc I NEVER park right in front. That’s where busybodies can likely see my kids. I always park way far away from the store, away from other cars. Sad that I even have to think that way. I’m really sorry for the woman who is going through all this. I hope it all works out and you can put it behind you and get on with life.

  32. antsy March 30, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    It is sad that it has come to this. I had my daughter sit on the floor in the back of the van a few times while I was gone so that nobody could see her!

  33. Cass March 30, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    @bmax Your logic is why we must free-range. We must start using our common sense in individual cases.

    I leave my kids in the car while I go to the butchers, the fruit shop, and pay for fuel…. I have never been into a casino. but now that I know I can leave the kids on the car it sounds like a good time to start….?

  34. s2192a March 30, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    This is the ny senate bill s.2192a 2011:

    http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2192A-2011

  35. Cass March 30, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    More seriously, I found the bit where the policeman told the parent to sit down (and not go straight to his kids) the worst bit. What sort of people are these that a parent doesn’t always always always have the right to comfort their children.

    I think I would turn into a raging bull if anyone ever stood between me and my children.

  36. mamataney March 30, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    @Cass – I couldn’t agree with you more there! What can of policeman would do that, ESPECIALLY for the reason he gave?!?

  37. mollie March 30, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    Now *that’s* a nightmare. Sending strength, shared reality, support and peace your way.

    Sigh.

  38. James In Texas March 30, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    These child abuse registries are very bad indeed. They deprive persons of liberty without any due process of law first. They have been declared unconstitutional in at least four states so far.

    I have become somewhat of an expert on these regestries, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

    In Texas it’s called the Central Registry. Every state and most US possessions have some form of Central Registry.

    Once a person has been accused of mistreatment of a child, CPS workers do on “investigation” (if you can call it that) and decide whether the accuser or the accused has a more believeable story. And if the accuser’s story is believed at least 51%, the accused is put in the registry as “reason to believe.”

    The act of putting a person in the Central Registry under a “reason to believe” designation is called “RTB’ing.” And a person can find themselves RTB’ed even if they aren’t charged with any criminal wrongdoing.

    In Texas, the Central Registry was established in 1995. Since then, a half-million Texans have been RTB’ed. Some 40,000 of those RTB’ed persons were themselves children when put in the registry. Yes, it’s true, children ages 10 and up can be RTB’ed and routinely are. Every week CPS adds 50 more children to the registry.

    I have become somewhat of an expert on the Central Registry. You see, I adopted a child from the foster care system who, unknown to me, was RTB’ed at the age of 10. Since there is now a “child abuser” living in my home, I am banned from adopting any more children FOR LIFE!

    I might have to help support my son for the rest of his life because he might not be able to get a job after college. Even industries that aren’t required by law to run Central Registry checks on employees are doing so as part of routine pre-employment screenings.

    The bigger story is the NOBODY is checking children against the registry before adopting them out. With over 40,000 children RTB’ed so far, and 200 more children being RTB’ed every month, it’s clear that thousands of Texas families have probably already adopted children from foster care who are RTB’ed and don’t even know it.

    They won’t find out until mabe 10 years from now when Little Johnny graduates college and is prohibited by law from working a job.

    For a person who is RTB’ed, getting off the registry is next to impossible. You can request an administrative review, but these are only successful about 1/3 of the time.

    You can also request an administrative hearing before a judge. But this will cost you between $3000 and $5000 in attorney’s fees. And you probalby won’t win because you won’t be allowed to present a traditional criminal defense. You’ll only be able to object to their statements and documents based on legal technicalities.

    There is no mechanism in law for you to get the Central Registry expunged like there is for criminal records–just a review system which is totatlly stacked against the accused.

    In the very rare instances where a person has successfully gotten a Central Registry entry expunged, it normally costs $500,000 to $1.6 million in attorney’s fees.

    My adoption agency, Lutheran Social Services, knew that the child I was adopting was RTB’ed. They didn’t inform me or take any steps to get the legal issue remedied before the adoption–and several possible legal avenues existed at that time.

    As you can probably guess, I have sued Lutheran Social Services in federal court to make them take responsibiliy for their actions. I also want to change the adoption industry be getting the practice of adopting out RTB’ed children stopped.

    Parents wanting to adopt children must ask for an “all clear” letter from the Central Registry before agreeing to take a child.

    And yes, if this mom is RTB’ed, the consequences will be severe and lifelong.

    Here are some articles on the subject. My story is featured in the first one.

    James In Texas

    http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state-agencies/child-protective-services/texas-keeps-registry-of-kids-who-abuse-kids/

    http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state-agencies/child-protective-services/accused-in-texas-face-long-wait-to-fight-abuse/

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/26/national/main6432571.shtml

  39. Hal 10000 (@Hal_RTFLC) March 30, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    I sometimes think that when incidents like this happened, the head of whatever CPS is involved should be called on the carpet and told that his budget obviously needs cutting. If there are so few children that are really being abused and neglected that his agents have to engage in something like this to pass the time, they clearly have too many people working there. Move them somewhere the staff are overworked. I’m being mostly facetious. But the only way to get through to these agencies sometimes is to threaten them where it hurts — the bottom line.

  40. Allison March 30, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Because of things like this, today I had to wake up my sleeping 3 year-old, and take him, his 5 yr old brother and 7 month old brother into the post office to mail a package, when I could have just brought one. There was no line and it took me longer to get the kids in and out of the car than to actually go in and complete my errand.

    Admittedly, in the past I have left my kids asleep in the car, but I parked right in front and ran into the leasing office to drop off rent. Once I used an electronic machine at the PO while the older two boys were asleep in the car and was so nervous the whole time that someone would call the cops on me that I’ve never done it since.

    I feel for this mom and her situation and pray it is resolved without any further damage to their family or her reputation.

  41. Andrew March 30, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    1. What happened to the mother who left her kid in the car while she went into walmart?

    2. Google “can I leave my kids in the car”, and see what comes up…. People are scared of the what ifs. Crazy.

    4. Do what you need to to clear this up without anything that will compromise your career. Holding your nose and taking some plea would make sense. Fight the stupidity later.

    5. There are two arguments I hate. One is “think of the worst that can happen” – (kidnappers, asphyxiation, car accident, Bigfoot, etc), the other is “we’ve always done it this way, I was raised this way, therefore it’s safe”. What we need to do is put the actual statistics (if they are out there) up to scrutiny.

    6. This is totally nuts. If any Canadians are reading this, do we have the same problem?

  42. Michelle March 30, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Ok, I do think that it would be reasonable for the cops to stop and make sure the little girl was ok, and stick around until the mom returned. A suggestion that this particular child shouldn’t be left alone until she learns to stay put in the car would be in order.

    (I wouldn’t leave *my* three-year-old alone in the car, because I know that he knows how to unbuckle and open the door, and I know that he *loves* to go wandering off on his own. But I’m willing to give this mom the benefit of the doubt that she had no idea her kid could or would get out of the car. Kids have a way of mastering new skills exactly when you aren’t ready for it.)

    But I have to agree with everyone else that the cops’ rude behavior and the child endangerment fine are way out of line. I am especially appalled that CPS is allowed to decide she’s guilty and mete out punishment by informing her employers completely outside of the actual trial.

    bmax, it’s not about what the parents are doing while leaving a child alone in the car, it’s about whether the child is safe. The vast majority of the time, if the car is in a safe place, the temperature is reasonable inside the car, and the child is not left alone for a long period of time, then the child is safe. This mom had every reason to believe her child was safe. She merely experienced some bad luck when her child mastered a new skill that mom wasn’t prepared for. And, because she was only gone for a couple of minutes, chances are — even despite her bad luck — nothing bad would have happened.

  43. Diane March 30, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    If I saw police outside talking to my kids, and then have them yell at me to stay away. I would yell back and ask them what they were doing to my child.

  44. StateCollegeMom March 30, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    So sorry to hear about this. I’ve left my son in the car on three occasions. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. It’s ironic that there were no problems anyway, the police made it a problem but the kids were fine.

  45. David March 30, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    I would say, as a general rule of thumb, it is NOT safe to leave babies and/or toddlers in the car alone unless you can see them the whole time. (Like a quick run into a post office with a large window you can view your children through the whole time.) They are simply too young and unpredictable. Even in the last couple of threads we’ve had several people give personal experiences of tots being left alone and them escaping, putting the car in motion, or getting run over by accident. It’s just not safe. Should this poor lady be criminally charged? Absolutely not. She’s an imperfect parent like the rest of us who made an unfortunate mistake. I’m sure she’s learned from her mistake and it won’t happen again.

  46. Suzanne March 30, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    I’m inclined to agree with Heidi, did her daughter confirm that she unbuckled herself and got out of the car? When my kids were 3 none of them could unfasten their 5-point harness. That said, I am all for leaving my kids in the car for a couple of minutes and have done it since they were born. My rules for myself are glass windowed store where I can keep an eye on the car and under 5 minutes. I would not leave a child between the ages of 2.5 – 3.5 yrs for any length of time if they can free themselves from their restraints. At that age they are too unpredictable, no matter how well behaived you think they are. I think it is more likely that the cop either jimmied the door or asked the kid to unlock it and unbuckled her himself. This mom has my full support, she did nothing wrong and I hope the court finds her that way.

  47. Donna March 30, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    @ David – Why is it unsafe to leave a baby? How exactly are babies unpredictable? No baby has the manual dexterity to get out of a 5pt harness. Some coordinated toddlers might, but not babies. It is 100% predictable that a baby in a carseat will remain there until someone moves him.

  48. Julie March 30, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I found out that my son, who was 3 at the time, could get out of his 5-point harness one night while I was driving. I turned my rear view mirror to look at him because he was so quite I thought he had fallen asleep. What I saw instead was the he was standing up on the back seat of the car, posed like he was surfing. He admitted that he had been out of his car seat for a few minutes.

    This woman shouldn’t be charged with neglect just as I shouldn’t be. She considered what was in her children’s best interest and left them in what she believed to be a safe environment. All kids will learn to unbuckle their car seats (I waiting to see a “safety” device that literally locks them in to them) and they will usually demonstrate that skill at a truly bad time. Parents are human, not perfect, and the police are supposed to help, not run around creating fear in honest people.

  49. Beth March 30, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    My father is a defense attorney. His philosophy has always been that he will form his argument based on how his client wants to plead. If the client says not guilty, that how he approaches his strategy. He makes sure that his client is informed of the choices, but he respects their choice and takes that stance in the trial. Find yourself an attorney who believes in you.

  50. David March 30, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Donna, in today’s times an infant is unpredictable because they can start screaming and crying. Is this harmful for the baby – assuming it’s for a short period of time? Absolutely not. BUT we need to be smart and realize where and when we live! If an infant if screaming in a car, there’s a good chance people will get concerned. Police may be called. You may be charged with neglect for leaving an infant in the car alone. You may have your children taken away and face jail time. We have to know this is society today. It’s just fact. :( We should try to change things – sure. Bet not at the risk of possibly losing our own kids. We need to operate within reasonable boundaries. It serves no purpose to leave an infant alone in the car. All it does it prove our point and make our lives a bit more convenient. Letting an 8 year old ride their bike two blocks to park does serve a purpose of helping their independence and self sufficiency. That is something worth fighting for. Not a few moments of convenience. They won’t be babies for long. We can buck up and take them along with us. 😉

  51. NO March 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Why is it safer to take the 2 kids out of the car? What if a robbery occurred in the store and the kids were caught in the middle? What if stray gunfire hit them in the parking lot? What if a car struck the whole family in the parking lot? What if the store manager is a pedophile?!?!? What if the pedophile has hidden cameras that record your kids in the store?!?!? So ridiculous

  52. Jane March 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    “It is 100% predictable that a baby in a carseat will remain there until someone moves him.”

    Donna, I’m not sure what you qualify as a “baby”, but I have a 9 month old niece who has escaped her 5 point harness car seat more than once. Her parents even checked with my brother, who is trained in properly securing car seats and they had everything right. She’s just extremely flexible and wiggly. Admittedly most babies can’t do this, but it isn’t 100%, LOL. :)

  53. Donna March 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    @ David – When did making our lives as parents more convenient become a negative? You don’t get an award for making parenting as arduous as possible. Previous generations seemed to understand that. I’m not sure why this generation of parents seems to have such a hard time grasping that simple concept.

    I believe that allowing parents to do things that are convenient for them and unharmful for the child is indeed something worth fighting for. In fact, I think that this demand that parenting be as difficult as humanly possible with only lazy parents considering their own comfort and convenience is as harmful to society as overprotection. It is overtaxing parents and making them weary from parenting. I see it in many of my friends who find their children exhausting rather than enjoyable.

  54. parentcollective March 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Frightening. What ridiculous nonsense is going on over there? I hope the case gets thrown out of court as a waste of time. Surely the police and judicial systems have some actual cases of neglect to work on?

    Come move to Australia. You can leave your kids in the car on a hot day in summer while you gamble at the casino and no-one will care. Well, they probably would in that case.

  55. betadadblog March 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Ridiculous. Aside from the weird fluke of the kid getting out othe van, it’s way more dangerous for kids to get in and out of cars, walk through parking lots, etc. than it is for them to sit in their car seats for a couple minutes. Best of luck dealing with this utterly unjust situation.

  56. Donna March 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    @ Jane – I stand corrected but that is a highly unusual baby. It may not be 100% but it’s pretty damn close that a baby can’t get out of his carseat and then proceed to get into the front seat and take the car out of gear or open the door and get out of the car. I guess there may be some Houdini baby out there though.

  57. Peter Wilman March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    I came across this quote today which seems to be quite pertinent:

    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
    (Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler; 1943)

  58. Andy March 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    David: All it does it prove our point and make our lives a bit more convenient.

    If all it does is making our lives a bit more convenient, then it is a good thing. There is only benefit and no harm. Insisting on the most difficult way possible even if it makes no difference does no good.

    Sometimes I think that some people want parenting to be difficult and hard. Even if it is not so. Even if their child is easy. It is as if they would envy those stressed overworked parents with difficult kids.

  59. linvo March 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I agree that the view that every single little thing you do must benefit the kids or it’s not worth doing and proves that you are just a lazy parent is very unhealthy. Apart from the obvious stress this causes parents – which will have a negative effect on the kids – it is also giving the kids the message that their parents’ lives revolve solely around them. Which I think is a bad thing to be teaching kids! I have always been of the view that some selfishness and regard for their own comfort and happiness on the part of the parent is a good thing for the kids to experience. I personally cannot stand parents who are always acting as if they’re martyrs! Lighten up a bit, please, for the kids’ sake and your own!

    And the issue in this case is that the facts do no at all justify a court case and child protection case. How could the child protection people even consider accusing a parent of neglect based on one stand-alone event?! If anything else, it is a total waste of resources and tax payers money.

    So the mother totally has my support. Even if she made the mistake of not realising that her toddler was clever enough to let himself out of the car, it wasn’t the end of the world and a friendly “you may want to take her with next time to prevent her running off” would have been more than enough. Or even better: she could now teach her child to stay in the car and trust them to follow instructions!

  60. ShadowL March 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    When one of my kids was young, I met a friend at a local strip mall to go to a specialty store there. well when we got there, both of our babies and toddlers were alseep in our respective cars. I had a couple things to pick up, she had a couple things to pick up so we decided to take turns, our cars were facing each other in parking spaces. I watched her kids and mine from the hood area of my car and then she did the same. I came out to find a patrol car parked behind each of our cars.

    Seems a “good Samaritan” thought something was hinkey because she saw 2 cars without adults in them and kids sleeping in them (didn’t matter that there was an adult sitting ON one of the cars watching both).

    Friend explained to cops, When I got to the cars, I explained to cops. 1 cop insisted on being a bad ass with the what ifs (car gets too warm, rolls into traffic, gets stolen etc.), other cop kept rolling his eyes.

    Said concerned citizen didn’t stick around.

    I actually filed a complaint about the bad ass cop later that day about the situation. I left someone to watch my kids in a car on a cool spring day with windows open and got harassed about endangering them.

    But yeah, some cops have to compensate for something, others, like the one in the comment I posted yesterday, just want to serve and protect.

    I hope the judge uses some common sense or evidence can be found that the police officers involvement was what made the situation more dangerous and I hope that mommy get an awful lot of snuggles from her babies right now.

  61. Beth March 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    I have a 3 year old and read all I can about Free Range parenting so that I can learn to allow him to grow up with the life skills necessary to make him independent and self-confident. it’s way too easy to become overprotective these days. For me, the biggest hurdle is not getting over a fear of kidnappers/perverts/monsters. It’s getting over the fear that some police authority is going to deem what I believe are reasonable actions (we can’t all be staring at our kids 24/7 “just in case”) as negligent and end up doing just as much damage to my family as someone with criminal intent.

    Lenore, please keep fighting the good fight! Thanks very much for all you’ve done so far.

  62. Mark Watson March 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    The first mistake was going to the HIPPA-compliant hospital for the birth, then getting the epidural, then filling out the state birth certificate, then filling out he social security form and getting the ssn for the just formerly new free person. As soon as the state “claims” you, they “own” you. Don’t let anyone try to convince you Lincoln freed the slaves– we are all enslaved today to the State. It would be advisable to not even name he child until after you escape if you must go to a hospital, and tell them you will take the ssn form and fill it out at home (where you will burn it instead)

    If you want to record your Live Birth, open up your family Bible and turn to the Births page and list it there, beside your marriage pages, etc.

    Just try to drop your American citizenship and stop voluntarily paying “your” taxes…notice how un-free you are. Don’t give me any crap about a social contract- we can take care of the least in society, and provide for education, roads, etc for a lot less than a $15 Trillion National Debt.

    In 2010, there was a family in New Hampshire that had their child nearly ripped out of the mothers womb straight into CPS clutches!

    They get paid to steal children so be very careful. You need the support of all your family and friends in court to show how much a loving, responsible mom you are- and get cameras in the courtroom and outside for interviews and media coverage- including youtube, etc…because the state is Evil, and it longs for the post-vaginal abortions of 18-year-olds on the battle field committing murder for defense contractors at taxpayers expense for oil companies’ subsidized wars. If they make it back, they get to go to college!

    http://moitub.com/video/1640vwCjF10/cps-quotas-how-child-protective-services-is-incentivized-to-take-children/

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/jamail2.1.1.html

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts43.html

    http://www.famguardian.org/TaxFreedom/Instructions/1.1NoSSNChildren.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKfuS6gfxPY

    http://www.dailypaul.com/146237/peaceful-oath-keepers-newborn-baby-seized-at-hospital

    http://www.youtube.com/user/EndorseLiberty?v=AwbBWEljyYE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evYwPJUY_cc&feature=related

    Ron Paul 2012!

  63. Marcy March 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    @Peter Wilman
    Google Godwin’s law

    @Aurora’s mom and Lenore, keep us posted as to how this plays out. Hoping for the best.

    @ lawyer’s on the thread: is it true a second degree child endangerment conviction would preclude acceptance to the bar? Is a conviction of ANY sort enough to prevent practicing law? On the surface it seems a little hypocritical to pay your debt to society and then be barred from fully participating in it.

  64. Jane March 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I don’t get it. What’s so stressful and exhausting about taking a couple of kids into the store for 5 minutes? It’s the hour long trips to the store that are tiring. Not the quick run in and run out kinds.

  65. Jane March 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Oh, and I meant to say it has nothing to do with the kids – at least not my kids. Just pushing around a heavy shopping cart for and hour. 😉

  66. David March 30, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Donna, I think parents find parenting exhausting because many don’t teach their children to behave. There’s nothing exhausting about taking a well behaved toddler into the store. (Unless you find opening an extra car door and clicking a couple of buttons to unbuckle the child to be exhausting.) But it is generally a pleasant experience. You have a sweet little child with you that you can chat with and spend time with. Now if you are lugging along a two year old who throws tantrums over not getting every toy/candy she sees, tries to grab things off the shelf, whines, runs away from you at every chance she gets, and attempts to stand up in the cart while you are shopping, then I can see why that would exhaust someone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even our babies less than a year old knew what the word “no” meant. My wife would actually dedicate 2-3 days right after they learned to crawl. She would stay by their side constantly for those days and EVERYTIME they would touch something they shouldn’t she would firmly, but gently remove their hands from the object and say in a firm voice, “No” and then redirect them to something they could touch. By consistently doing this for only 2-3 days they quickly learned, “No” and what they were allowed to touch and what they weren’t. Then from that point on whenever she was washing dishes and one of them tried to touch something not allowed, all she had to do was say, “No” and they would stop and crawl away. When we went places we taught them how to behave, as well. So we never found it a bother or exhausting to take our babies/toddlers along – unless a little lifting exhausts you, LOL. If your kids ARE well behaved and you’re still finding it exhausting you might try checking your vitamin/mineral levels. It could be you are deficient. Many people are.

  67. antsy March 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    This has nothing to do with behavior. I let my children sit in the car precisely because I know they are well-behaved and obedient.

  68. antsy March 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Also, I think the small stores appreciate my NOT bringing my crowd (we have seven) inside all at once.

  69. David March 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    But toddlers are unpredictable. That’s already been established. So even if they are very well behaved, they aren’t old enough to be trusted in a car alone for any length of time unless you keep them within sight. You just can’t say, my two year old is so well behaved and so I trust her completely to stay in the car alone while I shop. ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about toddlers knows that statement is ludicrous. They will surprise you when you least expect it – even the most well behaved ones.

  70. David March 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    I doubt you have 7 toddlers at once. It’s possible, but I doubt it. 😉 So you bring the toddler unless you have a child old enough to babysit them. We raised 9 kids and that is what we did. Although, we often brought all ours along, if they were with us, because they wanted to go and they were so well behaved no one cared at all. In fact if we went without them, the local shopkeeper would complain, LOL. :)

  71. David March 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Of course we lived in a Mayberry sort of town where everyone knew everyone and kids played freely outside. I know there are few places like that, and we were lucky.

  72. antsy March 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    It is only for the parent of a particular child to decide, based on information that that parent knows better than anyone else, whether it is a better choice in any particular circumstance for the child to stay in the car or get out.

  73. K March 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    David and Jane:

    As you must know… all children are different. Our oldest boy has always been very compliant and gentle.

    Our younger two are loving, charming, and well-intentioned… but, they have enough energy to supply a small city. After a day of school, where they’ve been asked to sit in their seats quietly all day – they are nearly spontaneously combustible. Asking them to gently walk through a curio shop at that time would be damaging to both them and the store.

    Can we agree that I can’t know how your lovely seven children so charmed a shopkeeper if you can agree that you can’t know what makes my boys tick? Perhaps those adults that know and love children the most might be best suited to know what is safe and reasonable for them? And, after all, isn’t that the point here?

    Again, no amount of bureacracy will eliminate risks and bad events… that’s why we call them accidents. Your unsafe in the car could by my unsafe in the parking lot (three kids: two hands), or your unsafe in the car could be my asthma attack in the shop with perfumed ladies.

  74. Baljit Atwal March 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    How sad! You may think about hiring a forensic psychologist as an expert. The psychologist may be do a risk assesment and personality evaluaton that might help in the legal proceedings. something to think about…Good luck.

  75. Michelle March 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    “Friend explained to cops, When I got to the cars, I explained to cops. 1 cop insisted on being a bad ass with the what ifs (car gets too warm, rolls into traffic, gets stolen etc.), other cop kept rolling his eyes.”

    ShadowL, this reminds me of a cop I encountered a few years back. I was parked right in front of a video store, letting my then 6yo daughter drop off a video in the box in front of the store. This was my oldest child, and back then I was a lot more “helicopter-y,” so I was very nervous about letting her do this, and was watching her very intently. She was on the passenger side of the car, so when the cop approached the driver’s side and knocked on the window, I jumped a mile.

    The first thing he did when I rolled down the window was ream me out for not seeing him walk up, because he “could have been a carjacker.” Then he told me off for not having my daughter in a carseat, even though she was 6 and the law at the time only required carseats for kids under 4. He even argued with me when I told him that. (The law now requires carseats for kids under 8, so maybe he was just from the future.) Finally he let me off with a warning, telling me that I was “very lucky” that he wasn’t writing me a ticket. I agreed, since I had an expired inspection sticker he hadn’t even noticed in his zealousness to protect my child and me from imagined dangers, LOL.

  76. Andy March 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    David: so, you have a perfectly behaved kids that learned the meaning of no within 3 days and remembered that lesson for the rest of their childhood. Those kids are sweat and well-behaved all the time, even if you just woke them up.

    However, the same child is very unpredictable and not trusted in a car alone for any length of time unless you keep them within sight. Even if the child sleeps.

    Leaving that contradiction alone, congratulation on having an easy child. Mine is easy too, at least so far. And I did not had to follow the child whole day. The kid could touch almost everything within its reach.

    Not all kids are like that. Some kids know what no means, but do that thing anyway. Some kids are extremely fussy, some are stubborn and some get angry easily.

    Blaming everything on parents is as easy. Of course, parents influence their kids a lot, and some parents spoiled their children. But unless you know more details about the family, you have no way to guess which one it is.

  77. David March 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    The question here is not how well behaved a child is. The question is, “Can a toddler ever be trusted alone, no matter how well behaved?” We’ve seen from multiple postings on here that parents who assumed their children were well behaved and obedient were proved wrong, including the poor woman who started this post. Antsy, you said, “It is only for the parent of a particular child to decide, based on information that that parent knows better than anyone else, whether it is a better choice in any particular circumstance for the child to stay in the car or get out.” I’m sure the woman, who is now facing criminal charges, surely she FELT she was making the best decision for her child, and clearly her three year old could not be trusted alone, based on the facts we have. This is not because her child is well behaved or not. It is because the child is THREE. Developmentally, they still need to be supervised. They are impulsive, curious, and have no idea of the consequences of their choices. This is just fact. Period. I have nothing against leaving older kids in the car alone. But not the very little ones. It’s just not a good idea.

  78. Cynthia March 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Jane- I feel the opposite. I don’t mind the hour long trips. The kids are usually good, and I need the exercise. It’s the quick in and outs that would take five minutes if I do them myself and at least 20 if I take in the kids which are exhausting. Especially if there are several stops. Getting four kids in and out of the car is a long process even when they are behaving, and can be downright dangerous if the are not (have you ever chased a 2yo across a parking lot while carrying a newborn?). And the psychological aspect of knowing that you are taking four times as long to do simple things is tiring in itself.

  79. dailytemecula March 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    The question isn’t whether the woman should have left her kids in the car (obviously the answer is no because somehow the three year old managed to get the door unlocked.) The issue is whether we as a society want to CRIMINALIZE what happened. Do we want to be paying cops to act the way these did? Do we want to tie up prosecutors and judges with these cases? And most importantly, do we want this poor woman who is obviously a loving and caring parent trying to do her best in life to have a criminal record? To possibly have her dream of furthering her education spoiled? Of course not! It’s this black/white all/nothing attitude that is so irksome. Let’s try common sense instead of immediately jumping to criminalizing every single behavior in life.

  80. David March 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Andy, I never said my kids learned no and never did anything wrong after that. They just learned to listen. I had 9 kids with different personalities and it worked with all of them. Consistency is the key and some kids will be harder than others, but they CAN learn to listen to their parents, with a few exceptions of kids with disabilities. I promise. 😉 And even if they are obedient, I repeat – you STILL have to supervise them when they are toddlers. Remember I said even though they learned what “no” meant and to obey when they heard it, they STILL would try to get into things they shouldn’t. It’s just developmentally normal for that age and our jobs as parents is to love them and teach them.

  81. Cynthia March 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Michelle- thanks for the laugh about the expired tags.

    There have been some great comments here, but what can we do about the central issue? Whether or not we agree that kids should be left in cars, I think we generally agree that having third parties in power second guessing our decisions after the fact is a bad idea. This event happened in my home state, so maybe that’s why I’m particularly interested this time. How do we go about getting these powers taken away from these people?

  82. CrazyCatLady March 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Cynthia, what about a rally? First, it is apparently normal for parents to leave their kids in the car for a few minutes, or the judge would not have made the comment about the woman’s case being the second of the day. Make the rally center around people being aloud to make appropriate choices – like allowing a 6 year old to drop off a movie without the parents being hassled, siting some facts about kids getting run over by other drivers as someone had a few days ago. Get the media there, but do be sure that there is a sizable number of parents committed to coming to the rally – and, hopefully, grandparents who used to do the same thing back in the day.

  83. Peter Wilman March 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    @Marcy.
    I know all about Godwin’s law. Are you saying that the quotation has no bearing on what the authorities are trying to impose on all of us?

    Our liberties have been and continue to be eroded by stealth all under the pretence that is “for the chiiiiiilldrennnn”.

    If Kafka was alive today, he wouldn’t be writing dystopian stories – he’d be making documentaries.

  84. Mark Swan March 30, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Its the judgement of the busy bodies (many are well meaning) that bother me and the laws they create to decide for the rest of us. I think a lot of people like drama and want to play the hero. So 1st, they build the situation up into something its not and then they come to the rescue. They treat any chlid left in a car for any amount of time as a life or death situation.

    If I saw a child in a hot car that was actually in distress I would smash a window to get the child out and deal with the consequences later. But how do you know if a sleeping child is passed out and not simply sleeping? None of us want to pass by a child that was actually forgotten in a hot car and later dies. None of the free range of us wants to make a fuss about a situation where the child is just alone breifly. Maybe car seats could have a thermometer on them visible to the outside of the car. I still wouldn’t wnat the parent to go to jail if it was an accident, but at least I’d know for sure to break the window.

  85. FSR March 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    From the original post:

    “Then, in February, I was visited by a child protective services worker. He toured my home, and asked me questions about the incident. I figured he was following protocol and that he would close the case.”

    When I read this, I thought: Was this a surprise visit? Did they tell you why they were visiting, or whether the visit was part of some larger process, or what the consequences of this process might be?

    Because that’s the sort of information you’ll need if you want to influence the process and not be caught off guard by things like the letter that said you’ll be put on the child maltreatment list.

    So my advice — easy to give, but probably hard/expensive to follow — is to do some digging, either directly or through your lawyer. Based on your letter, you are currently the subject of at least two government processes — a charge of second degree child endangerment, and some other thing that could potentially result in your being put on the child maltreatment list. Are these the only two? Find out. For each process that you’re the subject of, find out who’s involved, what the potential consequences are, and what you can do to influence those consequences. (This may involve weird branching processes or goodness knows what.) If your lawyer can’t spell that all out for you in terms that give you a sense of where you stand and what you can do, find someone who can.

    And good luck.

  86. FSR March 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Also, ask your lawyer: “If someone from CPS (or from any other branch of the government) *unexpectedly* shows up at my door and asks to come in, is it okay to just turn them away? What are the consequences?”

    I really hope the answer is that yes it’s okay to turn them away, but hope is one thing and reality is another.

  87. lexicaselli March 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    I often leave my two year old in the car to run errands and have done so since he was a newborn. It makes absolutely no sense to wake a child to get out of the car to drop a letter off at the Post Office…unless of course, you’re parked several blocks away and if the weather is either too hot or too cold. My car is always in full view of me when I leave the car to run errands and my black labrador retriever is usually in the car too. The sad thing is, I don’t keep the car in full view because I think he will be kidnapped. I know for a fact that a kidnapper could not possibly figure out how to unlock the car and quickly unsnap my child from his very safe carseat (my husband honestly has not managed this yet), survive my dog, and run off with a screaming and kicking two year old while I pop inside for a few minutes. No, I keep my child in full view because of paranoid busy-bodies that have no concept of what “true danger” means. I’ve already been reprimanded by a woman for leaving my child in the car, while my family sat 20 feet away and had a picnic while the baby slept, in the shade, and in full view of us. That’s why we were able to hear her snide remark as she walked past the car and saw my child sleeping.

    What boggles my mind is that supposedly CPS is overloaded with cases. I believe cases like this must be why so many true cases of abuse slip through the cracks. If paid officials at CPS don’t have the sense and the power to determine between true neglect, then this system seriously fails the children that truly do need protection. I believe this mother should start a major campaign (such as the boy with the pocket knife) to bring attention to the absurdity of it all.

    One other note: My mother left my brother and I (6 and 8 years old) in the car while she worked because she thought it was safer than leaving us at home alone. It was boring. That’s about it. Never once were we molested or bothered and never once was my mother convicted of neglect. We were poor, she couldn’t afford child care, and my brother and I had several adventures in the shopping center while we passed the time away. Not ideal, but not abuse.

  88. dailytemecula March 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    I commented before but thought of another twist to this: there have been studies of ways to eliminate deaths or very serious injuries from kids being left in cars. The true danger is a child who is forgotten in a car. A kid who is purposely, knowingly left in a car by a parent who is running inside to get something — that is really just not something that happens. Might there be *a* single isolated case somewhere? I’m sure there could be. But in general, what we want to prevent is people *FORGETTING* their children in the car. Enacting a law doesn’t do that! And some other food for thought in this regard — same study of how to reduce deaths of children forgotten in cars found that when dad forgets the child, his punishment is WAY less severe than when it’s mom who forgets. Same behavior, but society is way more quick to demonize mom as evil, lazy etc for the exact same behavior with exact same consequence. What does that say about us as a society?

  89. Marcy March 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    @Peter Wilman on the contrary, I believe your quote was quite appropriate for the current discussion, the law simply correlates length of thread with probability of reference or comparison with Hitler or the Nazis, not whether or not it is apropos.
    I do not think the modern era is unique in having these Kafkaesque situations, but I do believe that we (the little people) are more empowered now than at any other point in history to attempt to expose and change the insanity. Although I recognize that I am pathologically optimistic…

  90. Selby March 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Regarding a protest, I envision a line of parked vehicles outside the courthouse, with parents standing outside carrying signs, “My child is in the car!”

    Or even, the same parked cars, but CHILDREN standing outside with signs, “My parents are in the car!”

  91. Cynthia March 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Selby, I like the way you think.

  92. Selby March 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    One lone protestor, standing with a sign, “Where is the dog?!”

  93. James In Texas March 31, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    For those who mentioned CPS showing up at your door to take your kids away…you don’t let them in until you have your attorney on the phone. And sutprisingly, this sort of benefit is not expensive.

    There is a legal benefits program called Legal Shield which provides a host of legal services for a low monthly rate without any long term contract. One of those benefits is 24-hour emregency access to an attorney for situations just like this.

    I have the service myself and would not be without it. We must be sure our rights are protected, and having an attorney a phone call away is essential. Anyone intersted in learning more can Google the company name and contact them directly. They also have a YouTube clannel.

  94. Uly March 31, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    I’ve already been reprimanded by a woman for leaving my child in the car, while my family sat 20 feet away and had a picnic while the baby slept, in the shade, and in full view of us. That’s why we were able to hear her snide remark as she walked past the car and saw my child sleeping.

    If she actually thought your kid was unsafe, what sort of terrible person is she to LEAVE THE KID THERE? Gotta love the biddy brigade. It’s more important to be a pain in the butt than to actually get off said butt and help people.

  95. MichaelEdits March 31, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    I used to wait in the car all the time. If Daddy was driving, I could usually steal some of his beer.

  96. Donna March 31, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    @ David – You raise your toddler your way and let everyone else raise theirs their way. Blanket assumptions for everyone on the world are ridiculous.

    I left my toddler in the car alone for a few minutes almost daily. My toddler was blessed with a forgetful mother who often requires a repeat visit to the house for something she forgot after everyone was strapped in. I was not unstrapping her – or even turning the car off most of the time – to run into the house to do whatever the issue was that day. She never once got out of her carseat and she could undo it. I also left her alone in the house while I showered, dressed and otherwise got ready in the morning. She played in other rooms while I cooked dinner without me being able to see her. Played outside by herself for short periods of time. Stayed inside by herself for short periods of time while I was outside. As a single parent, I would have accomplished nothing if I had had to keep my eyes on my child all the time.

    And I had no babyproofing. I did move onto the house when she first entered toddlerhood so the house was arranged with a toddler in mind. Otherwise, there was only a babygate on the half finished sunroom.

    The only injury other than scrapes and bruises my child has suffered was a burn to her hand while I was holding her. Not all toddlers need eyes on them constantly!

  97. Donna March 31, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    @ David – no, most parents find it exhausting to keep their eyes on their child at all times with no time to even pee by themselves during the day. I’m not talking physical exhaustion (except that caused by staying up until the wee hours doing all the stuff they refused to do during the day for fear if taking eyes off baby). I’m talking about mental exhaustion, burn out and stress.

    This is the most coddled generation ever. No prior generation of babies and toddlers required adult eyes and interaction constantly. Unless this generation is somehow different than previous ones, it should not either. Evolution is a slow process so I think parenting has changed, not children’s developmental abilities.

  98. Claudia Conway March 31, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    I’d always say the thing for anyone to do if they are concerned about a child is, if at all possible, hang around at a discreet distance until the parents return, which will almost certainly be within a few minutes. But not call the police, or go harangue the parent.

    It’s funny – if you saw someone go into a shop for a few moments without paying for a parking ticket, you wouldn’t go up to a warden and say ‘Prosecute that person, I bet they do this all the time!’, yet people all too easily make genuinely damaging allegations against parents with no context whatsoever.

  99. Dulcie March 31, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    This is the second Arkansas nightmare story I’ve heard this week. A friend of mine & her children were living temporarily in Arkansas while her husband had a job down there. Their youngest, about 1 year old, has been sick since he was born. They’ve had him seen by numerous Dr’s and he’s been in a couple different hospitals both here in WI and in Arkansas. While he was in the children’s hospital in Little Rock, the Dr’s there couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, so decided it was the parents fault. CPS took the baby right out of the hospital, the parents have no idea where he is or when/if they’ll get him back. They’re not even residents of Arkansas and have only lived there 4 months. They were planning on going back home 2 weeks ago, but are now stranded in Arkansas, homeless & jobless while they’re trying to get custody of their baby. They’re also afraid they might take their other 2 children. They had no reason to take the first one, so why not kidnap all 3, which is basically what they did with the baby.

    Government intervention scares the crap out of me.

  100. hineata March 31, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    I have to say, judging by these stories, y’all have a lot of cops hanging around the place doing not a lot. I would add an LOL to that, but in this case it’s not that funny.

    There are times down here when it’s hard to find police to deal with actual crime, like theft. How do you manage to have cops hanging around to nab mums leaving toddlers in cars?

    Our small town always relied on calling the wrestling club and the firemen (all volunteers) to deal with crime, when the poor lone cop was likely to be 50 km away dealing with something else, when something actually occured. As for this kid on the sidewalk beside the car, why didn’t someone just take her into shops looking for the parent?

    It is good luck that the child didn’t run on the road and get hit by a car, but we all have parenting moments like that. I am so damn lucky my kid didn’t drown in the bath on at least one occasion, and that another escapee didn’t get run over outside our gate (on that occasion the neighbour fortunately ‘interfered’ and brought her back into the house). Maybe I should turn myself in……

  101. Kaetlyn Wilcox March 31, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    This family’s plight makes me absolutely livid. And paranoid! Leaving the kids in the car for a few minutes seems like a perfectly reasonable call to me. It’s certainly unlucky that this woman’s little girl got out of the car, but I would NEVER imagine that a parent could be dragged into court over such a common, everyday decision. Could I be arrested for letting my 17 month old collect little rocks (choking hazards, eye putter-outers) from the driveway?

  102. Emily Guy Birken March 31, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    Prior to having my son, I worked with children for several years–two years at a Boys and Girls Club and four years as a high school English teacher. During that time, I had to call CPS twice. Once was for a child who had a cigarette burn on her face and once was for a child who was being sexually abused at home. In both cases, I was neither the first nor the last person to alert CPS to issues in the home. And in both cases, except for some minimal “investigation,” absolutely NOTHING happened. The social workers I spoke to in these cases told me that it takes such overwhelming evidence for them to do anything to improve these children’s lives that teachers and care-givers have to be alerting CPS of issues for years before anything can change. It broke my heart to see these wonderful, vibrant children beaten down by their families and failed by the system.

    I simply do not comprehend what is happening when so much red tape is necessary in cases of clear and egregious abuse, but at the same time a loving mother who makes a parenting decision/possible mistake will have a label that follows her for the rest of her life and career. I know that I’m in a different state, and that might have something to do with the differences I see. And I know that the parents in my cases didn’t give a rat’s ass if they had a label. But I still don’t comprehend why CPS seems to be working in cases of loving parents making a decision CPS doesn’t like, and is not working in cases of abusive parents hurting their children over and over.

    Are there any social workers on this forum who can help us all to understand what is happening here? I get that CPS cannot remove children from a home on the say-so of some English teacher. But I also feel that a parent shouldn’t be prosecuted on the say-so of a non-arresting officer. (Seriously, if she were guilty of true neglect, shouldn’t the officer have arrested her on the spot? If she’s not, then why is CPS involved after a single incident?)

    I truly believe that our society needs CPS, but I simply don’t understand why it’s not working.

  103. Katherine March 31, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    I honestly think it was poor judgment on her part–especially because the toddler was capable of escaping–but I think that the reaction to this act was completely out of hand.

  104. Heather G March 31, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    As a mother I am sympathetic because I remember the day my then year old undid his 5 point harness and escaped his car seat as we drove down the interstate at 70 miles an hour. There is no fear like the fear you feel when your child suddenly escapes at a dangerous time.

    As a citizen I am fearful that a parental decision, based on a reasonable risk/benefit assessment, can be criminalized because either a police officer interfered or because the risk occurred and instead of learning from our mistakes all mistakes must be punished severely.

    As a tax payer I am pissed that so much time, money and effort is being wasted on prosecuting a mother who made a one-time mistake while there are honest to God cases of crime and child endangerment that aren’t being corrected because the police, social services and courts don’t have enough resources to handle them.

  105. Robyn March 31, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Wow. When I was in kindergarten, my mom was dropping me off at school and came in with me, leaving my 3 and 1 year old sisters alone in the running car, in neutral, as it was December in Saskatchewan.

    My 3 year old sister somehow managed to get into the front seat, put the car into drive, and drove the car a hundred metres or so until it got stuck in a snow bank in front of the school.

    This was a little over 20 years ago. There were many parents and teachers around who either saw it happen or found out about it immediately afterwards, and EVERYONE reacted the same way: they laughed, and said “those kids are sure lucky they didn’t get hurt or run over anyone!”, swapped stories about their own toddlers driving cars by accident, and then helped my mom push the car out of the snowbank onto the street. I shudder to think what would have happened if it were today. Would we have been taken away from our parents?

  106. David March 31, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Sigh…. Seems like I found the wrong community. I thought I might like this board since my wife and I raised all of our kids in a free range way and I see with sorrow the lack of kids outside and community. I see now that some people use this label of “free range to be downright neglectful, which is sad. They see children as a burden, which is also sad. So I’ll bid you all farewell. It’s just not worth the arguments with people who are supposedly like minded, but really have no idea how the previous “free ranged” generations, like myself, raised kids. :(

  107. CrazyCatLady March 31, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    Dulci, is there any way that your friends can ship (have someone pick up and take) the other kids to a grandmother’s or aunt’s (for instance) house in another state while they try to get back custody of the baby? It would be a lot harder for CPS to get custody of their other kids if they are out of state. I suspect, though don’t know, that CPS would have to prove the kids in the other state were in harm’s way at the new location before they could get CSP there involved. If they are living in a motel or such, CPS may say that is enough – no stable home, even though it is them that caused the instability.

    I feel for your friends. When I was in college I worked at at large preschool. One mom had a baby and the baby did not thrive. The mom was trying hard to figure out what was going on, and CPS was called. Before they could take the baby though, a doctor ordered a scan done at John Hopkins Hospital. It turned out the baby was only operating with basically a brain stem and little more than that. All investigations were then dropped, but it was a horror for the mother, who was scared that her older son would be taken if the younger one was. And she knew that she was NOT doing anything wrong.

  108. sue March 31, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    emily..the problem isthat the truely guiilty know how to work the system. those innocent caught in a nightmare believe they are innocent until proven guilty. it’s the opposite. noone is innocent,they just don’t have enough evidence yet[or made up yet] to prove you’re guilty. also such people[law abidding] are easy targets and think if they just explain that the cps are there to help. by they time they relize that cooperating is the wrong thing to do it’s too late and they are trapped. it’s time to abolish cps. if you think abuse is occuring call the police instead and let them not cps investigate. cps’s only concern is to keep and increase their budget and job, not protect children and families.

  109. mollie March 31, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    Here’s what strikes me all of a sudden: when I try something with my kids and there ends up being an issue, I LEARN from that, and modify my strategies. Like, “Oh, whoops, I guess that didn’t work. I’ll do something different next time.”

    What good could possibly come from pressing charges on a parent who is in the process of learning what works best for them and their kids? What leads to more effective learning? Punishment, or the natural consequences themselves?

    There’s a lot of attachment in our culture to the idea of punishment as a way to teach people things. I don’t agree that it’s the most effective way, and would love to see a world where people are viewed and treated with compassion, whatever strategies they have tried.

    There is a difference between the protective use of force and the punitive use of force. I don’t think punitive force does anything but establish a hierarchy and a “power-over” paradigm instead of an “empowerment of all people” paradigm.

  110. Martha March 31, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    David, I know you are no longer on here, but in the off chance that you are, I would say there are still some parents who do not find taking children on errands to be exhausting. I know I don’t and it’s a fun thing for us. I think the problem here is that there are different generations of free rangers and people tend to practice what they know and remember. A lot of people on here are working moms and single moms and they get their feathers ruffled easily. 😉 They are exhausted because they are trying to do two full time jobs at once, which is hard. So for them it is exhausting to take a baby or toddler into the store. It sounds like you came from the generation of mothers who stayed home while father went to work. I know from family stories that back in the 50’s and 60’s mother was home and she did keep close eye on the toddlers/babies. They were either in their crib, a playpen, a blanket on the floor, or a high chair by her side when she was busy. This actually wasn’t as developmentally squelching as you might think. They learned a lot about language, life skills, socialization, obedience, etc being close to mom. She gave herself to her family and children full time. When she went shopping she took the baby/toddler along. It was just commonplace for littles to be with mom and it was never considered a a burden like it is with so many families today. ;( (In many cultures it still is common. You’ll see the little ones playing by mothers side or strapped on her back while she works and when they get a bit bigger they are running around the village with the other kids. But not at 2 or 3. They are still with mother.) And back in those days when the kids were a bit more mature they were running around the neighborhood, as well, with all the kids that were out and about. And everyone knew everyone and adults were out and about socializing with their neighbors, as well. But most people on here don’t remember those times and what a blessing they were. When you know your neighbors it’s easier to trust your kids out and about. Nowadays people are too busy. It’s a shame. :( As for the actual topic at hand, there is no way it would serve any purpose prosecuting this woman. She made an honest mistake and things happen sometimes. I’m sure she’s not going to leave her toddler in the car again until she’s older. That should be the end of it. Government NEEDS to stay out of it!

  111. Heather G March 31, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Not only do some believe they know better how I view my children, how to parent my children, but they also believe they know better than my great grandmother how previous generations parented their children. Interesting.

  112. Martha March 31, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Sorry if I offended you, Heather. I’ve just been very interested in this free range community ideal. I’m actually gathering research for a book I hope to write…someday, LOL. So I’ve been doing A LOT of interviewing. Literally hundreds of older folks that parented in the 50’s and 60’s all over the country. These are just the trends I have seen among MOST of them. Obviously not everyone is alike, LOL. 😉 So I’m sure your great grandmother may have had different experiences. :)

  113. Donna March 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    @ Martha – Nobody said that taking children on errands is exhausting, although I guess it is if your kid is a brat. I said the hypervigilance prevalent today is exhausting. Parents – married, single, working and non-working – seem to want parenting to be as hard as possible. In fact seem to think that the more difficult the job the higher their parenting points. And as a result are exhausted with parenting in general. I see it at least as much in my married parent friends. My single parent friends seem to have accepted, likely through necessity, that things are not lazy simply because they are expedient and convenient for the parent.

    Nobody is advocating leaving children in cars all day while you run errands. But nothing is served by removing a child from the car every time you run in some place for 2 minutes. The child gets nothing from the experience and it is inconvenient for the parent. And, yes, parental convenience is a reasonable consideration. By all means, if it is not safe to leave the child, it should not be done even if convenient. But many of us are able to look at a situation and determine whether it is safe or not on a case-by-case basis and don’t need to live by “never do x” rules. And I say this as a parent who never left my child in the car alone except at home. She loved going in places and fighting with her would have taken longer than just bringing her along.

    And my grandmother laughed very hard when I asked if my mother played at her feet while she did house work. She said my mother played in the playpen in the living room while she did her housework and cooked. And so it was in every other house she knew. Grandma poked her nose in to check regularly but they didn’t scrub toilets with baby on their hips unless they had to. That is why playpens were invented (her words).

  114. hineata March 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    I’m also interested in the contention that children used to be taken along into shops when mums were on errands etc. I’m on the north side of forty, and I remember being left outside shops with the current dog and the current baby. My friend of the same age remembers having to sit in the car for anything up to an hour while her mum went shopping up the street.

    I can remember being annoyed about not being allowed to go into particlar shops, because I would have liked to have agitated for a particular lolly in that store, LOL, but not feeling neglected at all. And my experience was common among the kids in my area anyway, because we used to sit outside the same shops! Methinks, David, you might be wearing rose-coloured glasses.

  115. LRH March 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    As usual Donna nails it.

    First off–convenience vs laziness, and “the harder it is the better of a parent you are.” Oh yes, I’ve witnessed this many times myself. I’ve seen it depicted in newer shoes–the message is loud is clear, parenting is hard, it’s SUPPOSED to be hard, you’re the laziest & most un-fit human being this side of Charles Manson if you not only don’t accept, this, but in fact fail to embrace it & consider it a badge of honor.

    I never fell for a bit of it. I never understood people acting as if, for instance, you had to stop everything you were doing if the kids were home because the kids demanded your attention 24-7 even during playtime. I play with mine, yes, but I also do what I need to do & don’t hesitate to draw boundaries. Even when my son was barely 9 months old, I’d fix his baby cereal or ground-up “real” food & when he saw me in the kitchen he’d get anxious & want to come in there demanding it right then. I couldn’t peacefully make the food for him with him riding my back & I wanted to teach him respect for us parents in terms of not demanding something in 3 nanoseconds.

    I scolded him “stay out of here until I finish, don’t you ride my back little boy.” Initially, he cried, upon which I sent him to his room, the door shut so he couldn’t keep coming out and repeating the sequence, and didn’t let him out until I was done, even if it was 20 minutes later. I would even plug my ears with an MP3 player to drown out his crying to keep that from driving me crazy & I took as long as I needed to make his food. I then loved on him as I fed it to him so he got the message of that I understood his need & was loving him by taking care of that for him–in due time.

    He learned, quickly–and we still love & play with each other. Other people would be prone to being too nice to do such a thing & fighting that battle over & over. I squashed it like a bug on a sidewalk, but yes–we still have so much fun, I’m not a monster in his eyes, & it helped me with not having stress from someone riding my back. In no time flat, he learned to simply stay out the kitchen & watch and to NOT WHINE, and in time I took to letting him in there with me in short increments so he can see what I’m doing and learn. It can even be a time of bonding. Still, at times, when I’ve got too many things going at once, I can still send him out, and he leaves immediately–without crying.

    All because I thought of MYSELF early on & drew boundaries that, I have no doubt, others would’ve highly disapproved of.

    But yes, parent is SUPPOSED to be hard, it’s glorified. I recall when shopping for car seats being scolded when they’d promote & push for me to get the 5-point harness & I’d say “it’s too hard to buckle, I want one that’s easier to buckle.” When they’d say “the 5 point harness is safer,” I replied, “yes, but it’s also harder, I don’t want that hassle everyday, & I’m sure the ‘regular’ one is plenty safe, with all the rules-regulations they have I’m sure they wouldn’t allow it on the market otherwise.”

    Predictably, I’d get steely glances & shakings-of-the-head and replies of “okay, then, if that’s what you want,” clearly disapproving of me factoring in ease-of-us any at all whatsoever.

    And yes–leaving them in the car. I can’t count how many times I’ve done that when doing things such as picking up the mail at the PO box. There’s nothing neglectful about that at all. It is NOT the same as leaving them in there ALL DAY. It’s perfectly sane in such cases and yes, heaving forbid–it’s easier on the parent.

    LRH

  116. LRH March 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Darn typos, I meant SHOWS (as in television shows), not SHOES.

    But in fact, even with shoes, that can be a thing too. I’ve had people criticize me there, too, because I stressed that I wanted velcro shoes instead of shoestring shoes because velcro was easier. THAT was considered “lazy.”

    When my kids were infants, I stressed I did not want “overalls” clothes because fiddling with straps over the top of the clothes was a huge hassle with a baby whose diaper you’d be changing frequently, whereas something like a “onesie” was–gasp–easier. Heaven forbid. People thought that was lazy, I was supposed to embrace the difficulty of the overalls in the pursuit of the largest “cute quotient.”

    Phooey on that.

    And yet, as my children got older, I was okay with it, because they now could largely dress themselves, and were potty-trained anyway. Hence, I could now get photos like this:

    Yes, that’s my son, taken last November, roughly age 2½.

    LRH

  117. LRH March 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    PS #2, the photo didn’t show up, huh? Okay, let’s try this (if it doesn’t work, oh well):

    Click here to see it

    LRH

  118. Uly March 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Your kid is adorable. But, LRH, aren’t you just terrified to be posting your son’s picture all over the internet like that? Why, now that we know what he looks like, who knows, maybe all the creeps will see his picture and, um, be creepy! And anonymous creeps seeing your picture unbeknownst to you is very upsetting to a child. Plus, if we know he exists we might track you down using magical gps and steal him. Because god knows we all need a toddler in our lives!

    You should be ashamed of yourself, posting pictures on the internet! Heck, only bad parents take pictures of their kids at all! What if somebody broke into your house and stole your photo album! They’d figure out a child lived there!

  119. linvo March 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Some of the comments on here make me cringe. Neglect is when you know you knowingly put them in danger or ignore their needs. If you have no reason to think that your child will get out of the car when you dash into a shop, why on earth would anyone think that is neglect?!

    By the time my child was 3, I supervised her closely near water and near traffic but not constantly in all other situations. So I don’t see what the big deal is about leaving a 3yo in a parked car for a few minutes. If she wouldn’t have got out (and we still don’t know for sure she managed that by herself), she would have been perfectly safe there.

  120. Donna March 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Uly, LOL. That reminds me of one of my friends who was scared to let his son out of his sight in Chuck E Cheese for fear he’d be kidnapped (you know, that place where they put numbers on everyone and the adult’s and kids’ must match to leave together?) I finally convinced him to relax by pointing out that the last thing any person who has just spent time at Chuck E Cheese wants is to take a home an EXTRA preschooler.

    LRH, your son is adorable.

  121. Donna March 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Linvo, I think I was the one called neglectful, at least by David, for taking a shower and getting dressed while my toddler played in another room. I suppose that a “good” parent spends their child’s infancy and toddlerhood smelly and naked. The fact that she never had so much as a skinned knee during this time and played happily does not excuse my neglect. How dare I even consider my needs … and the needs of the general public who has absolutely no interest in seeing me walk the streets naked and unbathed? I am a mother and my eyes can only leave my child if another pair of female, over 18, fully background checked eyes are focused on her.

    Oh yeah, and leaving her in the car in our own driveway while I grabbed something out of the house. Because no parent should ever consider leaving a child for a second. It makes much more sense to take the time to unstrap a child from her carseat and carry her out in the pouring rain to grab a file you left on the counter than it does to. simply run in and get it yourself.

    If my happy, good-natured, healthy girl is the picture of neglect, I think it’s safe to shut down CPS.

  122. LRH March 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Uly Thanks, and yes–exactly. I’ve dealt with some of that, people thinking I’m inviting kidnapping by showcasing photos of my kids. Another freaked out when I photographed her child holding my child, because “I don’t know you,” never mind that her child not knowing my child didn’t prevent her from picking my child up, and I was not freaking out about it.

    LRH

  123. LRH March 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Donna Thanks, and yes, exactly–I don’t know where this expectation came from that you must have your eyes on your child 100% of the time no matter what age & if anything happens to them “why weren’t you watching them?”

    You know it is telling how not all that long ago leaving kids in the car for a short period wasn’t neglect, whether in real life or as depicted in TV shows/movies etc. In the 1995 movie “Bushwacked,” there is a scene where the Daniel Stern character steals a car with the keys in it, someone had left them behind while going into a store. They also had left the child behind, & the Daniel Stern character was surprised by this. He ended up leaving the child curbside & still stole the car.

    Again–your child is probably still safe because no one wants to add kidnapping to auto theft charges, but more telling, this only 15 years ago, & no one I know was screaming about the woman being at fault for leaving her child in the car. I found that clip on YouTube and was surprised there were no comments saying “good job lady, leaving your child in the car, stupid b-word oughta be charged with child neglect.”

    My wife likes to watch “Full House” on DVD (it makes me GAG, oh my!), but there was an episode where Danny Tanner was being asked out by a woman at his house, she had left her kids in the car & kept reminding him a couple of times she had kids waiting in the car. She & the Danny Tanner character were actually setting up a date while kids waited in the car–and no one freaked.

    Glad you guys liked my son’s picture. Like I said, I make no apologies–the overalls you see him in, I NEVER would’ve allowed such things within a mile of him when he was an infant, because of the hassle getting such things off everytime you have to change their diaper. But now that he can change his own clothes & is potty-trained anyway, I don’t object.

    LRH

  124. Martha March 31, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Dear, dear Donna. I did not say mothers attached their children to their hip all day while they scrubbed toilets. Those were your words. I’ve noticed you seem to take whatever someone says and exaggerate it to prove your own point which is always the one and only right opinion. I said they kept their babies/toddlers in high chairs, playpens, cribs, etc while they worked. (Which ironically was what your grandmother told you, as well.) They were NOT glued to the mother’s side. I have no idea how you got that opinion. However they were SAFELY contained and MOST of the time they were within eyeshot of mother. Obviously if she were scrubbing toilets they would be in the next room – but contained in a playpen safely, because your grandmother knew by instinct what many of us have forgotten, apparently, that babies and toddlers get into stuff. They make messes and can hurt themselves so you keep and eye on them or safely contain them while you are busy. Also, I believe David said that his wife took regular showers but had a special play area in the bathroom for the baby/toddler and she trained them to stay there. It’s not that hard, really. I’m sure sticking them in the crib or playpen was also popular back in the 50’s while mother bathed. (Not a specific question I asked, but will from now on.) I’m sure they didn’t let them roam free around the house making messes and potentially hurting themselves. As for the car thing, you have to remember in the 1950’s THERE WERE NO CAR SEATS as a common thing. So leaving your 2 year old in a car was a VERY real hazard. The gear shift was EASILY knocked out and cars rolls. So of course most people took their 1 or 2 year olds along with them and didn’t leave them alone unsupervised in a car with no seat belts. This seems like common knowledge for people with common sense. :/ Now when they were older, of course they sat in the car while mother ran in somewhere for a few minutes. I’m beginning to think David had the right idea. This is a group of know it all modern free rangers who have no interest in hearing about the way things used to be. I will also be leaving this group and continuing with my research in the older generations.

  125. Jessica March 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    I always kept my babies/toddler within sight/ear shot. It was no big deal. It just seemed like common sense since they can get into so much at that age. Now they are 8, 10, and 12 and running all over the neighborhood at the moment playing and having a grand time. I guess it does no harm, LOL. :)

  126. Freedom for Kids March 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Five years ago I was reported to DCF for neglect (messy house) and educational neglect (homeschooling) of my children by a former friend. This was payback for me ending our friendship a month prior. Unfortunately I let the DCF social worker into my house. What struck me immediately about this woman was I felt she really wanted to find things wrong rather than find things right. Yes, my house was exceptionally cluttered that day, and ususally is to a great degree on other days–lots of toys everywhere, and coats and boots, and the Christmas tree with all the new toys and the ornament bins stacked up, etc. She said first thing, “Ooohh..this house IS messy. I am going to come back on Tuesday and give you time to clean it up.” I told her that I wasn’t going to to clean my house on her say-so, that my messy house was nobody’s business but mine and my family’s, that while is certainly was messy, it wasn’t THAT kind of mess, with no garbage, or sewage, or vermin running around. Finally, to her credit, she said, “I agree”, and dropped it.
    But then when she questioned me about our homeschooling–our unschooling—she asked me if I filed a Notice Of Intent to homeschool with the local public school. I had not. In the state of Connecticut it is not required–she believed it was! I told her I had researched it. She said she had been a DCF social worker for seven years and felt sure she was correct. She also told me she had never heard of “unschooling”, and that it was against the law. It isn’t in the state of Connecticut.
    Anyway, bottom line is that even with seven years at her job, she still didn’t know what the law actually is where it pertains to her investigations! I was shocked (still feel that way to this day) and learned something very important about how laws are interpreted and applied, about power and the abuse of it, about gross incompetence on the part of those people who can do great harm to the integrity, the autonomy, and the very happiness of individuals and families and children.
    Even though the DCF investigation did ultimately find the neglect allegations to be unsubstantiated, and the social worker never did return to our house, I have been very careful ever since to make certain I never do anything to give anyone the slightest cause to make a neglect accusation against me and my husband. For example, I never left my girls home alone before age twelve, NOT because they couldn’t handle it, but because the DCF “guidelines” “suggest” age twelve is the minimum age age a child could be left home alone, even for a short time, and the local police department, when I called and asked them told me that if my under-twelve child was home alone and an emergency happened, they would likely involve DCF to investigate possible neglect, and they would do this EVEN THOUGH there is no law on the books that state a minimum age at which children can be home without adult supervision. DCF would become involved at the police departments behest as a precaution. Another thing I have not done is let my children wait in the car alone until they were twelve years old. My now-twelve year old daughter looks about age nine, so I won’t be surprised if I am one day questioned about her by a passer-by or a police officer sometime soon.
    :(

  127. s0nicfreaktv April 1, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Part of raising children is letting them learn to be safe and function in the real world. A toddler being able to get out of a seatbelt and car is a GOOD thing – they will be able to escape during an emergency. If there is a car accident and mom is unconscious and there are no other adults around, they will be able to get out of their seatbelt and grab mom’s cellphone (and a car accident is way more likely than a kidnapping by a stranger). If by some crazy chance the car catches on fire or the something became wrong with the baby, this 3 year old could have gone into the store and alerted mom. You just have to teach appropriate times to get out of the seatbelt/car, and inappropriate times. This could have been a great opportunity to teach that. Children can’t learn to deal with responsibilities – such as the responsibility of staying inside the car for 5 minutes – unless they practice dealing with them.

    @Martha a toddler is way more likely to climb out of a playpen, especially a playpen of the 50’s, than they are a car.

  128. Donna April 1, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    @Martha – Except that my child did not roam the house making messes or actually hurt herself although I chose not to make a play area on the bathroom while I showered (which actually sounds gross and more dangerous for “unpredictable toddlers”). You see she is now 6 and well past the toddler phase. So maybe I actually knew MY child and what she was capable of at the time better than you and David somehow have the power to now devine what was best for her.

    That is the problem with most holier-than-thou people who come here, call CPS and otherwise interact with parents. You insist that you, a complete stranger, has a better grasp of what our kids are capable of. You seem to insist that you know better and the fact that our children are not injured is just pure luck. When, in fact, it is because we know our children. My mother left me in the car as a young child because she knew I would sit quietly until she returned. She never left my brother the car because he would have caused havoc. The human species was gifted with a reasoning power far above that of other mammals. Some of us would like to use ours in peace.

    Further, you seem to insist that you are all knowing about how thing were done in previous generations. That we need you to tell us how it really was. We all had grandmothers, great grandmothers, aunts, great aunts, etc. Yes my grandmother put her BABIES in playpens, just like I put mine in a jumpy thing while I showered when she was a BABY. Kids would outgrow the things and often be able to climb out well before 2 – baby stuff in the day was actually designed for true babies and not overgrown babies. Kids were not in cribs, playpens, high chairs, etc well into toddlerhood. Those things were frequently being put to use for the next in line, if you ever had them at all (my mother slept in a drawer, not a crib, until she was several months old). Moms still didn’t keep their kids with them when they scrubbed the toilet. Their 2 and 3 year olds were playing, unconfined, in another room and often keeping an eye on the baby in the playpen.

    I do agree on the car thing. I think it was uncommon for mom to run errands and leave the child in the car. Safety had nothing to do with it. Most families with cars in the 50’s and 60’s (although on increasingly lower percentages as time went on) only had a single car and that car was used by the husband to go to work. Moms didn’t have a car in which to leave children during the day. They walked or took public transport if they needed to leave the house. If they knew how to drive, they would take the car on the weekends for major errands. As we became more and more suburbanized through the 60s and 70s, two cars moved towards the norm. Many of us here existed at that time and distinctly remember us and younger siblings being left in the car at young ages while mom ran in somewhere.

    Further, far from your utopia of mothers happily carting their babies and toddlers off on errands, they dumped the kids as often as they could. It was very common for mom to knock on the neighbor’s door and say “Sally can you watch Patty for a minute? I have to run to get milk.” And Patty would play with Sally’s children (often in another room while Sally did her mom stuff) until her mom returned to collect her. Sadly, we’ve isolated ourselves and most don’t have this opportunity anymore. But at no time was running errands with young children considered fun.

    And all this is assuming an idillic suburban affluent home, like where my parents were raised. Many poorer women did work during this time. Kids stayed with family members, often older siblings barely old enough to care for themselves.

    We’ve mentioned many times that our formerly free range parents are now the biggest helicopters around. I wonder how today’s atmosphere influences what grandma is willing to say to a stranger researching a book. My grandmother and her friends would likely speak less freely to a stranger today for fear of, even now, being judged negligent.

  129. lujlp April 1, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    Seems to me either the prosecution or the defence have a slam dunk case. Cop crusiers have cameras. So if the cops are telling the truth and your daughter was out of the car the film of them pulling up should shhow an open car door and have them questioning aloud what the hell is going on.

    That the prosecution hasnt given the tape to the defence means they purposly avoided watching it because they probably think what I do.

    And I’m betting that tape, assuming it hasnt been destroyed, shows the cops coaxing your daughter out of the car. Demand that tape, get the security feed from the store too

  130. Marilyn April 1, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    I’m mostly bothered by the fact that when her husband is home with THEIR kids, she says he is babysitting. Gross.

  131. Diane S. April 1, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    I left mine in the car when we were at the beach, in the parking lot – while I ran to the port-a-pot. Turns out, they had figured out how to sit happily NOT unlocking the door for mom when asked. They also made faces at me while I was gesturing at the oldest (7) to unlock the door please.

  132. Diane S. April 1, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    @LRH – have you considered looking in one of the Country magazines & sending in his photo for the ‘country kids’ pictures? They get some darn cute photos. And *a plug for their magazines* they don’t take advertisements.

  133. Diane S. April 1, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    @Freedom for kids – i started babysitting (by myself) infants and younger kids when I was 11. The summer I turned 12, I was taking care of 2 small girls while their parents worked, all day long. I guess the age of babysitters has gone up along with the ….what is the word? making a 12 year old totally incompetent to take care of themselves and others at that age, common? On the occasions that we needed a sitter, we’d have the neighbor’s girl come over & watch them, and she was 12 or 13.

    @David. good luck with training your kids in a few days. Our first was like that. Our second? not on your life!

  134. owen59 April 1, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Sigh…..

  135. linvo April 1, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    What is all this stuff about the 50s about? I don’t want to go back to the 50s! Sure, it can be useful to learn how things were done then. Just as useful as it is to learn how things were done in the 1800s or in France or in Uganda. But the 50s produced some pretty messed up kids in my humble opinion (who then started the flower power movement when they grew up!) and I don’t feel tempted to use it as a benchmark for anything myself.

    Though I do have a poster of a 50s housewife on my fridge. The caption reads: “A clean kitchen is a sign of a wasted life”. My 7yo has quoted this when I comment on the quality of her cleaning. lol

  136. Jenn April 1, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    @FreedomForKids – I’m glad everything worked out for you and your totally unfounded DCF situation. I have worked in crisis childcare, been a babysitter and nanny (even for infants when I was 11, much like Diane S), earned a degree in elementary education, and I have a toddler. I am unfortunately all too familiar with the strange tendencies of DCF.

    Now I am an adviser/teacher at a democratic free school in MI and your post reminded me of so many of our families, who have been unschooling for years, and yes (GASP!) often have cluttered homes because their curious, articulate, intelligent children have been experimenting, learning, exploring and – God forbid – playing all over the place.

    We really need more parents like this to help shift the momentum and realize how ludicrous this country has become in terms of parenting and schooling.

  137. AngeinAus April 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Every Summer in Australia we hear of parents who have left their children in cars that have quickly overheated in the sun. Children can become severely ill as a result. It’s just not a good idea to leave them, especially when they are so young. I have two young teenagers who get themselves around confidently, but I would never have left them alone at ages under 3 or 4. We live around the corner from the kindergarten they attended, and when the older one needed to be picked up I always took the baby, even if she had to be woken. Sometimes it’s better not to cut corners, so what if it takes a bit longer to complete your errand with toddler in tow, convenience is not always the top priority. And I believe that driving kids everywhere is the best way to limit their freedom – get out and walk with them, even to do the errands. To me this issue of leaving children in the care is more about parental convenience than free range – ness for the children. Anyway, I’m not entirely sure how a baby can be “free-range” given they are completely dependent on the parents. Free ranging is fine, but you have to build up gradually, as children grow and mature. Toddlers and babies aren’t ready.

  138. Heather G April 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    AngeinAus, in the conditions you describe it certainly is more dangerous to leave the children in the car. But not everyone has to deal with those conditions. Living in Florida I do not leave my kids in the car in August as it heats up quite quickly. January is another matter. So are other regions. Parents in the northern US and Canada find that it is worse for the children to drag them out of the car in sub-zero temperatures than to leave them sheltered from the elements. Then we have to contend with situations where taking the kids out, walking them across a parking lot, and loading them back in would actually create *more* danger than leaving them buckled in the car.

    What it all comes down to is that every parent/child/situation is different. As parents we are best qualified to weigh the risks vs benefits of choices involving our own children. Unfortunately the unexpected will sometimes occur, like a child who didn’t know how to get out of their seat yesterday suddenly figuring it out today. However those occurrences should NOT be criminalized. They are not neglect, endangerment, thoughtless or selfishness.

  139. antsy April 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    You know how every new “rule” comes with side effects. I expect there must be an unknown number of people who are now choosing at times to leave little ones home alone in their cribs instead of risking the rash reaction of a Do-Gooder.

  140. Donna April 2, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    @ AngeinAus – I agree with you 100% that leaving kids in the car while you run an errand is all about convenience. So? I think a lot of people here are trying to come up with justifications for doing it because society tells them that it is wrong to ever think about convenience. But in the end, the real reason that you are leaving your kid in the car is that it is just plain more convenient for everyone involved.

    Again, so? Parents are people too. They don’t have to martyr themselves to the cause of parenting every second of their lives from the second that the sperm meets the egg. They can actually consider their own interests, needs, wants and, yes, convenience.

    And actually taking the children out of the car is really all about the parent. Your baby would prefer to finish her nap than be woken up to walk into the school to get her sibling. Your toddler truly has no interest in being hauled out into the cold, rain, snow, sleet to buy stamps. Kids get no benefit from watching you pick up the dry cleaning for the hundredth time. They are happy to skip the frustration of seeing all that candy they will be denied while paying for gas. Parents take them out of the car because it is better for the parent and not because it is better for the child.

  141. Stacey Jw April 2, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    If the said “concerned citizen” can’t even be bothered to wait 2 minutes, or look for a parent, then they have no business calling CPS OR the cops! Cops and CPS are for life threatening problems, not petty BS. To e mom in the OP- Im so sorry you are dealing with this nightmare, I hope it goes away quickly and easily.

    I am pretty angry at CPS right now anyway. My roommate (we share a house with another family) has been a foster parent for about 8 years. She adopted one kid from care already. A few months ago, a former foster kids’ mom called- she was about to lose custody and wanted my friend to take the kid. To make a long story short, even though my friends family is the only steady relationship he has, they made her jump through hoops for months, Classes, fingerprints for every adult int he household, many home visits. Then, at the LAST visit, after she spent a bunch of money getting all the extra stuff they requested, they said “No, we aren’t moving forward, you have too many kids”. WTF? They knew her family size, but waited how long to say no?

    The kids mom that may lose custody is a real danger to her kids. She beat the 3 yir old black and blue with a belt, among other physically and emotionally abusive things. Shes unstable and violent, and has a been jailed for kicking 2 pregnant teens in the belly (she was a teen and is only 19 now IIRC). She has been in the system since she was a child, and they never do anything about the abuse. they have told my friend that until she outs one in the hospital, or kills someone, they aren’t gonna do anything. She loves her kids, she just isn’t a fit parent. But she never gets in trouble, I bet she keeps her kids even after this last round of allegations…..

    To make it harder, Her kids are ALL special needs, this boy is autistic and fragile X, so he is hard to place. Basically, no one wants him, except my friend! Every time he gets comfortable, they move him, and he regresses. Instead of protecting him from his crazy mom and finding him a stable home, they keep putting him in different foster homes, sending him back to mom, and back again. I have heard one worker say “we don’t want him to get to attached to foster homes” WHAT???? Now he is being denied a loving family because my friend has a large family.

    Anyway, just a rant about a system that often does more harm than good. Please tell your friends at CPS isn’t a first call, unless there’s actual abuse. And define abuse (ie, not leaving kid in car for 3 minutes, not letting happy kids play alone in their own front yard! Etc)

  142. linvo April 2, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    Ange, I live in Australia and would never leave my baby or child in the car by herself on hot summer days (we hardly got any of those here in ACT this year!) or when the car is parked in the sun on warm days.

    The link to the Free Range attitude to me is that apparently parents cannot be trusted to make the call on when it is safe to leave kids in cars and when not. For anyone who has had to get into a car parked in the sun in 38 degree temps, it is pretty damn clear! And when in doubt, don’t take the risk.

    Also, I often leave all the windows open when I leave my child in the car – and I did this when she was a baby too. Which of course would be a total no-no for lots of parents worried about the hordes of baby snatchers out there…

    Most of the cases you refer to – which I cannot find any stats on – may be people who forget their baby is in the car. That is what I remember from the media reporting on this anyway.

    And yes, what on earth is wrong with convenience? Also, I do not regard walking 10 metres from the car to the shop and back as exercise. It’s a mute point.

  143. Uly April 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    1. Moot point

    2. Most of the cases you refer to – which I cannot find any stats on – may be people who forget their baby is in the car. That is what I remember from the media reporting on this anyway.

    In the US, there are just under 50 cases a year, a number that has remained steady for several years (so I don’t feel the need to go check it again).

    Tragic, no doubt, but not really an epidemic.

    The numbers might be higher in areas with more extreme weather (very hot or very cold) than in areas with more mild weather, but I don’t know that.

  144. linvo April 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Uly, thanks for correcting that. You might have caught on that English is not my native language so half of the time I’m guessing. 😉

    I was commenting on the actual reason why the kids who died were left in the car in unsuitable conditions and/or for too long. I remember reading about a case in the papers where both parents thought the other had got the toddler out of the car after they got home. By the time they realised he wasn’t inside, it was too late. But of course that is just one case…

  145. Dawnie April 3, 2012 at 2:24 am #

    What is really sad to me is there are a lot of parents out there who are truly bad parents, I have many friends who are foster parents and take care of these children who have horrible parents. But CPS is so determined to get these kids back with the birth parents they over look way worse offenses than leaving your child safely locked in a car while you run in to get something from a store home or where ever. I know a child who’s dad abused her mom over and over but CPS was fighting to put her back in his care because he was willing to jump through their hoops just enough to get by. The mom was to strung out on drugs to testify against him so they couldn’t prove he had beat her up. Fortunately after playing the system for almost 2 years, he gave up his rights and this family was able to adopt her.

  146. Carrie April 3, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    Lenore, I am often troubled by the insane legal disasters that find their way to you, and this is one of the most outrageous cases I have heard of. This lady sounds like an extremely conscientious mother, and I’m sure she has never wished harm on her children. It inflames me to see police and legal system taking away our personal liberties and parenting rights when they disagree with our own decisions. I hope things go well for her, and I am passing this article along to every mother know. Hopefully her case will go viral and people will show their support. Please keep your readers up to date on this. And I’m sure when she does go to law school this does have an impact on how she serves the legal system. Good luck!

  147. Diane S. April 3, 2012 at 4:30 am #

    @hineata – Your comment on cops reminded me of this photo > http://stjent.pinnaclecart.com/images/products/preview/32441.jpg

  148. amy April 3, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    I don’t know about this one. I sort of think this instance is an example of exactly what pro free-rangers would not want. I completely agree kids can be left in the car….when you know absolutely that they will remain IN the car. We support common sense decisions based on our knowledge of our chidren and what they are able to understand. I don’t think we support taking risks just to prove nothing bad will happen. My view is that “getting lucky” in that nothing bad happened is not the same as responsible free range parenting. I have a three yr old. While she is incredibly mature, I still would never leave her in the car alone if I could not maintain sight of the car. Toddlers are impulsive. If she saw a puppy in the parking lot, it is very likely she would want to touch it. I think that age is just way too risky to “test” free range on as far as being out of sight in the car.

    Oh my just as I am writing this there is a news story about a dad that left a two and four year old in the car while he ran in Captain D’s for ten minutes…..when he came out the two yr old had rolled up the window on her neck and died…..

  149. amy April 3, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Obviously that was a freak accident. But as daddy sits in jail tonight I’m sure he is thinking that getting to run in alone to get fish n chips really wasn’t worth it. Unfortunately here in Memphis we have had way too many of these cases that cause an uproar and take away any hope of people acknowledging responsible free range choices.

  150. hineata April 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    @Diane – Love it! Maybe our lack of donut shops is the problem!

    @Amy, that’s just so sad, and quite revolting….:-( Poor Dad. Poor kids.

  151. AnotherAnon April 4, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Left my kids in the car yesterday. Oldest was a real trooper about getting a haircut and got rewarded with candy. I put the windows all the way down on the car, went into the convenience store with the kids parked right outside the door some 10 feet away, picked out son’s favorite candy, paid, went back outside. I was out of the car for less than a minute. All of us survived.

  152. Jenna April 4, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I leave my kids in the car for little things like this all the time. My oldest is 8 and schlepping five kids into the store for something that will take me less time to get than it will take me to herd them all into the store is ridiculous. But one thing, in today’s society with the idea of CPS looming over my head for leaving my kids in the car, even though I know they’ll be fine, I have taught my kids to lay low and even hide if they see any adults around our car. I know that’s probably bad, but it’s pretty much necessary in today’s wacky world.

  153. Susan (Free Range Dog Mom) April 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    I got dirty looks from two people for leaving my dogs in the car. While I was pumping gas. As in… I was standing next to the car! It was early evening and it was around 60 degrees out. The dogs were never even remotely in any sort of danger.

    I get that bad things have happened from people leaving pets or children in parked cars, but the lack of common sense when it comes to this issue has always been appalling to me

  154. MommyMitzi April 4, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    This story has been weighing on my mind ever sinced I read it. I just noticed that today is the author’s continuance. Not exactly sure what happens at one, but I’m hoping and praying all goes well for her.

    And I want to appeal to the author with these words:

    Maybe this is your calling. You have plans to be a lawyer–maybe you should continue that path and work towards changing things inside the system to prevent other parents from experiencing what you are. Be an advocate for parents who are definitely not criminally negligant or abusive to their kids but get caught up in the CPS nightmare. Help distinguish between “parenting decisions” and “parental neglect”–even if what happened may be deemed a poor decision on your part (not saying it is, but just hypothetically), I think as a society we should all agree that there IS a difference between poor judgement and abuse. As parents, we’ve ALL had realizations that “oops–I probably shouldn’t have done that/let my kids do that.” The vast majority of the times, nothing really bad happens, but just like the time when my friend stepped off a curb, slipped and broke her leg requiring a cast for 3 months, freak things happen.

    I think of what an example Lenore is to all of us–she was just a regular ole mom who let her kid ride the subway on his own, wrote about it, and then because of the backlash, started this whole, fabulous movement that is a godsend to thinking parents everywhere. Maybe you’re the next Lenore. From your letter, you’re obviously smart, accomplished and a good writer. I wish you only the best of luck and best of life as you go forward.

    Let us know how things turn out. If you want to get in touch with me personally, I’ll let Lenore know my email and she can give it to you.

  155. McKendra April 5, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    Hi, I’m Aurora and Benny’s mom. I will attend court tomorrow. I’ve been reading all of these interesting replies, and it’s really nice to feel the support. Some important information that I have learned along the way so far:
    Never ever allow CPS to come into your home. That is what my new attorney has told me. By researching their website, I have learned that they have no legal obligation to protect parents, just children, so their burdens of proof are incredibly low at these administrative hearings. So that hurdle may be a much larger one than the one I face at court.
    From reading David Pimentel’s article “Criminal Child Neglect and the “Free Range Kid”: Is Overprotective Parenting the New Standard of Care?” (free pdfs available at this address: http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=david_pimentel )
    Pimentel cites a case in which a father left a five-year-old daughter in a truck for more than 20 minutes. The truck’s motor was running, and the air conditioner was on, and she was watching a DVD. Her father was inside a store, shopping. He was convicted of endangerment, but appealed, and the Ohio Supreme Court overturned his conviction, stating that the conviction had been based on a speculation of danger, rather than a substantial risk of danger. You can read the Supreme Court opinion here:
    http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/3/2009/2009-ohio-4115.pdf
    This gives some hope that (at least appeals) courts do examine facts carefully, without being swayed by the hysteria surrounding this issue.

    In response to some of the posts, I have also wondered how Aurora really exited the vehicle. The shop’s camera system didn’t record the incident. So I am left with the police officer’s report of the situation. This means that in court I must accept the officer’s statement that she was standing outside the vehicle when he saw her. This means she must have unlocked both her car seat and the interior sliding door. She has told me different things when I have questioned her about whether the police were there before or after she got out, but she has said that she is the one who unlocked the door.

    So my case depends on the question of how much danger was she exposed to, and whether I intended to leave her in that danger. If the court employs the reasoning used by the Ohio Supreme Court to reverse the Ohio father’s conviction, then it will be affirmed that the risk she faced was only speculative. After all, she was standing beside the van, and had exited on the sidewalk side, rather than the street side. She wasn’t darting in and out of traffic, because she has been properly trained that cars are fatal and to be avoided. She has never had an issue running into the street while playing in our front yard, or while we all walk downtown for the monthly gallery walk.

    A child who is calmly standing on a sidewalk, aware of the danger of entering the street, faces only the danger of abduction. And according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s statistics, in 2002, the number of children ages 0-18 abducted by a stranger and held overnight, throughout the entire U.S., was a mere 115. 46 of them were killed. Now, compare that number with the numbers of children who die or are hospitalized in amusement park rides (5,900),
    and the number of children who die or are hospitalized as the result of food borne pathogens (about 1,500 dead and 60,000 hospitalized in 2011),
    and the number of children severely injured in playground injuries (about 90,000 severe injuries per year, most of which happen at schools and daycares),
    and the number of children who drown or are seriously injured in swimming pools (888 deaths and 3,552 emergency department injuries, most of whom are in the care of adults at time of drowning),
    and the number of children who die or are seriously injured in fires at their homes (1320 deaths and 6,675 injuries),
    and especially with the number of children who die in motor vehicle crashes (6,466, 53% of whom were restrained in car seats or seat belts during the crash).
    This type of comparison reveals that we adults frequently expose our children to statistically proven high risk scenarios each and every day, most of which involve being accompanied by one or more adults. The risk of Aurora either running into the street or being kidnapped is thus so slight as to be considered speculation.

    I’ll let you all know what happens.

    I’d appreciate any advice or info from anyone about the DHS administrative hearings for the child maltreatment list.

  156. McKendra April 5, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    Rereading posts about the 1950’s reminds me of a grandmother who told me that when she was a child, the outside of the grocery store was a parking spot for prams with sleeping babies inside them. This is still the case in many parts of Europe, including Denmark, which one Danish poster mentioned.

  157. McKendra April 5, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    Here’s a photo of prams containing sleeping babies, unattended, outdoors in Iceland in the winter. Enjoy!
    http://www.treehugger.com/culture/let-sleeping-babies-lie-chilly-temps-build-tough-nordic-tots.html

  158. McKendra April 5, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    http://daddytypes.com/archive/ap_pram_parade.jpg

    This is an ad in Life magazine in the 1950’s showing the pram lineup outside an AP grocery store, right here in the U.S. The aisles may have been too narrow to accommodate the prams? Or maybe the sleeping babies benefited from fresh air?

  159. Tamaya April 5, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Children Services found her guilty? Since when are they Judge and jury? What happened to a trial?

  160. thefishiologist April 5, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    This is crazy. A friend of mine experienced something similar (although, it never went this far). She lives on a ranch in a rural area, and her husband owns a taxidermy business. So on the side of their SUV, they have their business name and phone number. My friend was home after having been in town running errands when a police officer showed up at her door. He informed her that he was there because there had been a complaint about children being left inside her vehicle at the hardware store. She admitted that yes, she’d left her kids in the car… because one of them was old enough to drive it! The “children” left in that vehicle were 9 and 17 years old! When she explained that to the officer, he quickly apologized and left. She never found out who it was that complained to the police, or why.

  161. Carol April 6, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I live in the same neighborhood in which Leiby Kletzky was abducted and murdered. Yet, despite this tragedy, parents still let their young children (some as young as three or four) walk around the neighborhood by themselves. I would NEVER leave my child in a car alone for any amount of time, but I live in NYC so perhaps that changes things a bit. I don’t think your child can wreak much havoc in the few minutes that they are unsupervised but I do think it only takes a few minutes for some psycho to scoop up your kid and be gone without a trace. Scoff if you want, but this kind of thing happens everyday, every hour. The kid opened the door and thank goodness it was a cop out there and not someone else. That woman was absolutely being irresponsible.

  162. Uly April 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    I live in the same neighborhood in which Leiby Kletzky was abducted and murdered. Yet, despite this tragedy, parents still let their young children (some as young as three or four) walk around the neighborhood by themselves.

    Because it was a freak occurrence. That’s why Lieby’s name springs so rapidly to your mind, because it was novel and unusual.

    Scoff if you want, but this kind of thing happens everyday, every hour.

    No it doesn’t.

  163. Freedom for Kids April 9, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    I sure hope the mom who wrote the letter will come back and give us updates on her situation. I very much hope that the supportive comments left here have/will be of help to her.

  164. Joan April 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I hemmed and hawed about adding my comment to this post. But I thought you would all like to hear what’s happening to this free range parent.
    I got a call from the father of my son. I have two kids, two different dads. He tells me the cops are with him and there was an incident. An incident you say? What happened ? Turns out that as my boyfriend was taking the oldest into the kids indoor playground ( gotta keep them inside and safe) he left the one year old sleeping in the car seat. He just wanted to get the 7 year old checked in then he was going to wake up the little one. He parked in the shade, but in full view of the window. He literally watched the cop car pull up.
    The police decide to report him to DCFS. Thankfully they decided that since it wasn’t warm outside and the baby was in the shade, not to call paramedics and take him to the hospital. Thank God for small favors.
    Regardless, at midnight I have a DCFS worker show up at my doorstep at midnight. I have to wake both children up so they can be strip searched and questioned. I have to show them where I keep their food, their bedrooms, the names of the dentist, the doctor, the older ones school. I have to sign off allowing the investigation or they will take my kids right then and there.
    Thankfully they decide not to charge me with “failure to protect” as I wasn’t even there at the time. However, because my oldest “lives in the home” she had to be included in the investigation. It was determined that my boyfriend did indeed “neglect” the youngest. He has court ordered parenting classes. But since my daughter is involved in a joint custody situation with my ex husband, my ex has threatened to sue for full custody if my boyfriend stays in the home. So now I have a one year old who no longer lives with his daddy, a daddy who is terrified to ever go out with his children, an ex who has me by the short and curlies, and a broken family. All because of some one “protecting” my children.My boyfriend’s job is in jeopardy ( he’s a paramedic) since know he is guilty of child neglect. I’m a pediatrician, so now instead of telling parents to trust their instincts, I am advising them to be the helicopter parents that I have always warned them about.
    All because someone thought they needed to protect my children. My children’s family is shattered because someone thought they couldn’t spend 10 minutes in a car, asleep, in the shade.

  165. Freedom for Kids April 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Joan, I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.

  166. McKendra April 11, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    My heart aches with yours, Joan.

    Did the DCFS have an administrative hearing for your boyfriend? That is the protocol in Arkansas, anyway.

    I have an update:

    On Thursday, my new lawyer talked to the prosecutors, and arranged to “set the case off” for six months. At the end of six months, if I have had no new legal issues, the court will dismiss the case. This is a wonderful outcome, compared to other cases of which we have all read and heard.

    According to my lawyer, the willingness of the prosecutors was based on seeing my acceptance letter from UT Law School. They said, according to my lawyer, “We don’t want to get in the way of anyone bettering their life through education,” though they still insisted that I had broken the law. They agreed to my lawyer’s proposal to allow a six-month continuance, based on that letter.

    Later, when the judge was actually hearing the case, he agreed to the deal, and even congratulated me on being accepted to law school. He said,
    “Well, now you will know what it is like to be on the other side.”

    This congratulatory attitude was very different from the first court appearance, back in February, at which the judge and prosecutor made critical and judgmental remarks, and actually stated, by comparison with a similar case, that I could easily be given a year suspended sentence.

    As relieved as I personally feel by this outcome, I realize that my good fortune has cost me nearly $3,000 in attorneys fees so far, as well as many sleepless nights, and may have hinged on that law school acceptance letter, which seems irrelevant to the facts of the case.

    I still feel baffled, and like I’m living in a different U.S. from the one in which I lived before I was cited.

    I still have a DHS administrative hearing, at which it will be determined whether leaving a sleeping baby and a three-year-old in a warm car on a cold day for under five minutes constitutes child neglect and merits placing my name on a child maltreatment list, potentially for decades. I will update you after that hearing.

    Thank you all kindly for your support!

  167. Freedom for kids April 11, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    I wonder, even if you end up not being placed on child maltreatment list, if you and your family will be affected for years and years after your ordeal is over, like mine has me. Perhaps I am not very resilient, but even five years after the DCF investigation was closed against me (for child neglect), and it was much less harrowing than what you are currently going through, it still affects me –and consequently my family–daily. I was so carefree before, enjoying my children (both of whom I waited many years for) and our freedom (we were and still are unschoolers). I try not to let the rage I feel toward the person who reported me and my sweet and innocent husband to dcf

  168. Freedom for kids April 11, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    (cont.) rule our lives and our responsible free choices, but the truth is I mostly fail. For example, my sixteen and twelve year olds want to go into NYC by themselves by train for a day to spend time in the Museum of Natural History. I definitely won’t permit it on a weekday, and am fearful of allowing it even on a weekend. Because if anything at all were to go wrong and the police are involved, I believe that will be the end of our lives as we know it. I sometimes–no, often, find myself wishing away my children’s childhood so I can be free of the fear.

  169. antsy April 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    I’ve had two incidents – which, like all of the stories I read here, shouldn’t have resulted in any problems at all. In the first one, two and a half years ago, someone called the police on me for leaving two of my seven kids in the car (one of the kids in the car was an eighth grade teenager, the other one almost two and buckled up in his carseat) while I ran into the grocery store with four more kids to pick up some dinner. The policeman took my children’s names and birthdates and told me he was reporting me to CPS. After that, the sound of tires on our gravel driveway or knocks at the door always made my heart jump. Never did hear from CPS, but can’t help wondering if they did any investigating elsewhere (school, doctor, dentist, neighbors).

    In the second incident which began last summer, my second grader was accidentally dropped off for 30 minutes at her high school brother’s sports practice. Neither noticed the other one was there. The policeman “helping” in this incident charged me with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” even though the only harm caused was a few tears, and I ended up having to go to court. He didn’t tell me whether he was reporting me to CPS or not, so I just wonder all the time, and still hate unexpected knocks at the door or doorbells. The court results were similar to McKendra’s – an agreement (which included a ten hour parenting course), a continuance, and finally charges dropped/case dismissed (NINE months after the little incident). Still cost me a whole lot in time, money that I had to borrow (although now it sounds like I got a deal at $1200 for attorney fees), and lost peace of mind. Like Freedom for Kids, I find myself counting how many years I have left before I can’t “get in trouble” for my parenting anymore.

    FREE RANGE SUPPORT: My lawyer gave me the impression that they might not have had enough for a court case in our situation if not for my daughter’s tears. Not letting my daughter off on her own enough probably made her more likely to cry in this situation.

  170. antsy April 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Joan, I’m on your side – and if this thread wasn’t so far along already, you’d probably hear the same response from many more. Nobody should do this to another person and their family! It seems too many policemen and CPS workers can no longer distinguish between what IS abuse or neglect, and what is NOT abuse or neglect.

  171. linvo April 12, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    McKendra, I am so glad that it didn’t end up being worse! I hope it is all smooth sailing for you and your family from now on. And remember that you didn’t do anything wrong and there are many people here who think you are a great parent for using common sense to make decisions about your kids.

  172. Carrie April 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Habing been around cops some, I have been wondering if the cop lured the child out of the car. I have often heard of officers tiptoeing the line of illegal action in the name of public safety and well-being, or even to help out a friend. Has anybody checked to see if that may be the case? I have told my children never to open the car for ANYONE– except a police officer. Our children trust the police, even at this young of an age.
    Praying for a good outcome for you all.

  173. Freedom for Kids April 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    This is a quote by a Supreme Court judge. It chills me to the bone, because I know in my heart it is true:

    “There is no system ever devised by mankind that is guaranteed to rip husband and wife or father,mother and child apart so bitterly than our present Family Court System”

    Judge Brian Lindsay
    Retired Supreme Court Judge)
    New York,New York

    It is very difficult to be a parent today, especially a “free-range” one, because of of all the reporting to Child Protective Services for reasons other than true child abuse or neglect. Once Child Protective Services enters your life you are never the same again.

  174. MommyMitzi April 13, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    The question is: What do we as parents do about preventing/outlawing CPS from their apparently almost unlimited power? There are lots of comments on this original story and not all commenters agree with the decision the mom made to leave her kids in the car. Maybe it could be argued that it was a poor decision but that’s beside the point. The real issue is, and I would like to think we can all agree on, that’s there a vast and definable difference between a who parent makes a judgment call (regardless of whether that could be deemed a “good” decision or a “bad” one) and a parent who willfully abuses and/or neglects their child. We’ve ALL made decisions as parents that in retrospect, we realize we probably should have done differently. That’s part of parenting. But there’s no way those decisions should be seen as criminal. But if CPS shows up at midnight to search a house, strip search kids and basically terrorize the parents—how can THAT not be criminal? Is that even legal? I would assume that the CPS would need a search warrant to enter the house—does anyone know? And if CPS is overstepping their authority, what do we do about it? I personally am pretty ignorant about how that dept works and if it differs state to state but I feel that as a group of mainly like-minded (and rational!) parents on this blog, it’s up to us to start to be the change we want. It’s a cause I could get behind, but I don’t know where to start?

    If anyone has “insider knowledge” of how the dept works and so on, can you share that? And then maybe we can define next steps: do we contact our state representatives? Work to change laws? Do a media blitz? I don’t know, but I do know that the parents who have shared their similar stories on this post do not deserve what they’re experiencing and if we don’t do something to try and stop the insanity, any one of us could be next.

  175. Freedom for Kids April 13, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    MommyMitzi——-Hi! What I have learned is you don’t permit them to enter your home without a warrant, not even if they show up with the police, not even if they rant and rave. Don’t even go outside, because a cop cannot arrest you without probable cause while you are inside your home, but can for any reason if you step out. Be calm, polite and speak through a closed door or cracked window. Ask what the allegations are, ask them to put it in writing and mail it to you so that there are no misunderstandings and so you can show it to your lawyer. Do not let them see or speak to your children. Then, call your lawyer.

    I just found this article online. I haven’t exactly finished reading it, but will pass it on now anyhow and then go ahead and read it myself:

    http://www.examiner.com/cps-and-family-court-in-albany/what-you-should-do-if-child-protective-services-knocks-on-your-door

    There are lots of similar articles online.

  176. diaktoros April 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Oh god, this is why I’m so, so scared to have kids in this country. This is why I’m so obsessed and despairing over how hard it is to escape this forsaken place called America. My husband and I have even talked about ‘well maybe it would be easier to raise our kids in a rural area where there’s less people’, but then we realise we don’t have that option, because we’re both queer and goth. It’s really disheartening.

    On that note–do you have any genderqueer/trans parents on here? Or even just other rainbow folk. I really would love to see some more perspectives from them, just to know that my fears about being harassed for being both rainbow and not a helicopter might be unfounded.

  177. ALFH July 19, 2012 at 12:38 am #

    I had a similar thing happen to me this week. My sons are 2 and 1. My 2 year old goes to preschool and my 1 year old goes to my mom’s house. I had been leaving my 1 year old in the car when I go in to drop off my 2 year old. I have remote start on my car. So I lock the doors, leave it running with the AC or heat on and I have the key with me. I have tinted windows so it’s hard to even see that he’s in there. He is asleep almost every morning. Last week another mom was standing at my car waiting for me after I had dropped off my 2 year old. She told me that I was a horrible mother for leaving my baby in the car and if she ever sees me doing it again she will call the cops. I calmly explained remote start to her and she said she didn’t care and she would wait for me every morning to be sure I didn’t do it again. After telling her how I felt about her assessment of my parenting decisions, I called the school director to warn her about the situation. She told me that other parents had complained about me doing this and that I needed to stop doing it and it’s “illegal.” There is no common sense left in this world. Parents do not have the ability to make decisions based on their children and their situation. I will pray that you receive a favorable outcome and that you can put this behind you and go back to living your life and raising your children yourself. .

  178. Warren September 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Was in the parking lot of a grocery store. A new mom…….she had a newborn and was rather young, unloaded her cart into the trunk. I could see her making the choice do I put my baby in the car then put the cart in the rack or take the baby with me? It was the middle of winter.

    I walked up,”I’ll make it easy for you, give me the cart.”

    The way she thanked me, you would think I just saved her life. LOL.

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