Posted by: Ticktock | May 6, 2010

Free Range Shout Out to Lenore Skenazy

I stumbled across a forum thread that asked whether there were any other parents who felt comfortable leaving their kid in the car during a quick transaction at a convenience store. Even in scenarios when the business had a big window, parents said they would not run in for a second. Even parents with teens insisted that they would have kids old enough to babysit get out of the car, if only to protect them from imagined atrocities during those brief minutes that circumstances might separate them. Here are sampling of the answers…

I always think, what if something happened to me that I couldn’t get back out to the car? What if someone came in and held up the place and wouldn’t let anyone leave? I’ve probably watched too much TV, but my mind goes to these places and I just can’t do it. Maybe when they are older, but not at 6 and 3.

If someone held up the place, your kids would be safer in the car. It’s so odd that the first thing that enters someone’s mind is a hostage situation. What an imagination! Why is it that this person can’t shake the improbable fear of convenience store terrorism, but still feels safe driving her kids around on statistically unsafe roads.

No, never!  My DD is almost 9.  It’s not that I don’t think she’s old enough, smart enough or whatever, it’s that I don’t trust other people.

You don’t trust other people? Fine, lock your doors. It’s not like some pervert kidnapper is going to bash in your windows to snatch your children…

NEVER EVER LEAVE YOUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN IN YOUR VEICLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!!!! Just a quick trip into the gas station to pay could end up in tragedy!!!  Think about how you would feel if someone took one or all of your children. Just a quick brake of a window and they  are gone. Or if something happend to you or the veicle. When I see a child left in a veicle, I want to call the police for child neglect!!!

COME ON! Just a quick trip ANYWHERE doing ANYTHING could end up in tragedy.

I have 4 kids 12 5 3 and 1. No way no how.  One of the 4 of them would end up doing something horrible.

You feel like the two minutes you take to run in and pay for your dry cleaning will inspire “horrible” unimaginable acts? Wow.

There are just so many scary stories out there and as a mom, I have ONE chance to keep my child safe.  A screw up on my part just ONE time and the consequences could be catastrophic!!.

You also have one chance to teach them autonomy, self reliance, and personal responsibility. Hovering over your kids may help keep them safe, but it won’t help them adjust to life without a parent.

It only takes a blink of an eye for something to happen, the scenarios are endless    I like the other poster may have read to many horror stories or seen too many scenes such as this depicted on tv, but for me a moments inconvience is not worth a lifetime of regret.

This is a false dichotomy. Your  choice is not between slight inconvenience and horrible tragedy. The scenarios are endless for any moment, regardless of proximity to parent. You could have a gas leak in your pipes, your kid could fall down the stairs, a car could explode as you walk your ducklings to the gas station counter.

Call me paranoid I would rather be paranoid then have a child dead or seriously hurt because I was to lazy to take them in the store with me.

I just want to be clear. Your child is buckled up on a nice temperate day, not boiling hot or anything, the door is locked, and you are within eyesight. And yet, somehow they end up dead. Are you leaving sharp knives in the  car?

I could never forgive myself if anything ever happened to them and I know that no matter how safe you think it is it only takes a few seconds for something to go wrong. The car could roll back (this actually happened to me when I was six and it was really scary), something could happen to me and no one would know I had the kids in the car, someone could break into the car, another car could hit the car, someone could scare or threaten my children, the list goes on and on. Any of those things could happen in seconds or minutes. Just because you can see the car doesn’t make it safe

Your car could roll back any time if you are parked in neutral on a slope with the parking break off. Your problem wouldn’t be that you left the kids in the car. It would be that you forgot to put the parking break on. But, “another car could hit the car” is my favorite explanation so far. What are the chances! Too bad you weren’t there to transform into a protective elastic bubble like Mrs. Incredible.

I have NEVER EVER left my children in the car for a second.  You never ever ever know what could happen.  There are some freaks out there and your kids could be gone in the blink of an eye. I could never ever do it.

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom at night. Will you start sleeping next to your kids at night now that I’ve reminded you of this? How can kids ever feel safe if they live in a world where their parents are constantly worried about freaks.

Before I had children I watched an episode of Oprah about tragedies that had happened due to children of all ages being left in cars. After watching it, I will never be able to leave my child unattended in a car.


Anyone who leaves a YOUNG child or in this day in age ANY child in a car is just NUTS- you don’t know what could happen in 3 minutes or LESS! Get over yourselves!  It could save YOUR child’s life!  No disrespect- YOU know who YOU are!


Wow, that is absolutely insane to think about! I just think some people out there truly believe that “there are worse things that could happen” or “bigger things to worry about”. No I don’t think so. I would say leaving your child alone in a car is something pretty serious.

The only reason that I fear leaving my kids in the car for a few minutes is that one of these freaky parents would call CPS or 911 to report me. Seriously, that’s the only thing that runs through my mind.

If you find yourself thinking like these parents, go visit Free Range Kids.



  1. Oh man, I needed this! Sometimes I feel like it’s just me thinking that this paranoia over kids in the car is out of control.

    But just the other day while it was pouring rain, I picked up my son from school and had just gotten both my kids — my autistic 3-year-old and my one-year-old — loaded in the car, strapped into their car seats and I realized I left my son’s backpack inside the school. I was literally three steps from the gym (where we pick up) door, and I left them in the car long enough to run back to the gym through the rain, open the door and scream, “Can someone hand me that backpack?” And one person actually gasped and said, “You left them in the car?”

    Yeah. I left them in the car right outside the school door for one minute. The alternative would have been to unstrap them, load my one-year-old into a stroller (which I’d have to get out of the trunk again), put my son’s raincoat back on and pull the hood over his head (because he freaks out if his head gets wet) and push everyone back into the gym and then make the trip back through the rain to the car.

    But their shock worked: I felt guilty. It’s nuts. Next time I’ll just let them keep the Superman backpack.

  2. I don’t know how I feel about leaving my kid in the car. I’ve only ever left him unattended in my driveway when I need to run back into the house for a second. I don’t think that I would feel comfortable leaving him in the car anywhere else. I know it’s not rational (an I’m a little embarrassed to admit this), but about 10 years ago, I saw a news report about a lady in Detroit who left her kid in the car at the grocery store just to take her cart to the cart corral. In that time, her car was stolen with the baby inside. She tried to chase it down, managed to grab on to the car and was dragged a few feet before letting go. The police recovered the car and the baby, but the feeling of terror that lady must have experienced kind of stuck with me. I know this is an exceedingly rare occurrence, which is exactly why it made the evening news, but I still park right next to the cart corral at the grocery store.

    On the other hand, when I was about 3 or 4, my babysitter used to load us all up in her station wagon and go out to run errands. She often left us in the car while she ran into the bank. We’d take that opportunity to turn the volume knob on the radio all the way up, so when she turned the car on, the radio would start blasting at full volume. This was endlessly amusing to us. Nothing bad ever happened, but then I grew up in a much safer town than Detroit.

  3. I wouldn’t leave a child in a car – because I live in Houston. I remember the absolute misery of being left in a stifling car. I won’t inflict that misery on my nieces and nephew.

    I admire what Lenore is trying to do. I follow her blog. She really needs to stop flying off the handle and look more closely at her sources.

    A group of kids built a tree house on land they DO NOT OWN. IT is public land and they are forced to take it down – OUTRAGE No they need to build on their private property.

    Woman gets a harsh sentence for forcing a boy to touch her breast. We should punish real criminals – some commentators actually said she wouldn’t have to force him all boys want to explore can you say blame the victim. EVERY SINGLE DAY I watch one of my students struggle with the long term abuse from his father – and his classmates are dealing with the fall out also. People who use children in any form of sex act need to be locked up for life. (the boy’s father did not touch him. Just made boy watch father and girlfriends have s3x)

    A school gets the police involved when a woman “rescues” a student from a tree. OK first off the parents on the blog are always upset about other people rescuing their kids when they don’t need it. Secondly the boy wasn’t in a tree. He was a young student pitching a fit because he didn’t want to go in from recess. He was being watch by staff. She had to scale a fence to “Save” him. MOm was fine with what the staff had done, but furious the woman interfered. The woman has done this type of thing before and may be unstable.

    Basically for a journalist Lenore does a poor job checking stories out.

  4. Oh man, am I glad somebody posted this. I have on occasion left my daughter strapped into her car seat while I:

    a) grabbed something from the house I left
    b) returned a movie
    c) grabbed somthing I left at her daycare.

    grand total of time alone in the car at the mercy of the big bad world during her lifetime: probably 15 minutes (in 1 minute increments).

    I get “those” looks when I mention it around our friends.

    @kimberly – those clear things on top of the doors? they actually move up and down. You could leave a small crack at the top for the couple of seconds you’d be gone – this would allow heat to escape and prevent stifling.

  5. Thanks for this bit of sanity! Once my son was no longer a tiny baby, I’ve felt completely comfortable leaving him in the car while I dash in to get the dry cleaning or whatever. In warm weather I crack the windows and the car is always in sight. I do consider myself very protective, but I try to remain rational about it.

  6. Your post made me think of another similar no-no that I’ve always wondered about. I have read that some people think it is dangerous to let your child sleep in the car – in their carseat – in the garage. This I have never understood. Unless the car is running in the closed garage, how is the garage any less safe than another part of the house?

  7. @davery Cracking windows in Houston heat is NOT a solution. There are other times and places where my family allows kids to explore their freedom. A car baking in Houston heat is not one of them.

    Now I have parked in a shady driveway fully opened every door while unloading the car, leaving the sleeping children to the last. Still they were covered in sweat when I got them out of the car.

    I’m the crazy Aunt that was reading a book while my 5 yo niece and 2 yo nephew played in the park. The other adults kept interrupting me to tell me what they were doing. Each time I responded, I know they are fine. The only time I got up from my book was to tell one of the “helpful” adults to take his hands off my nephew.

    He was “helping” nephew up a ladder nephew is perfectly capable of climbing. Nephew’s “I do it” and accompanying head butt, and well placed kick got the point across better than my “Take your hands off my nephew”. Believe me the kids in my family are very capable and free range.

    I was trying to make the point that regionalism comes into play here. I have a gut reaction to leaving kids in cars because heat strong enough to curdle milk the the baby’s bottle and dead children being hauled out of cars happened at least once a summer when I was a child. Until laws were passed.

    Another example I was raised in and on the water. Water safety was drilled into my head. I had to accidents in water that lead to near drownings, even though I’m a very strong swimmer. Head blows kind of negate swimming ability. Both times I was saved by the buddy system – and the fact my buddy had been trained for emergencies on water. I have also pulled a couple of buddies to safety.

    Just this summer some stranger jumped all over Sis and I for enforcing the walk out swim in rule for open water. We were such kill joys. We were in an area with jetties – so undertows and shifting sand bars. 3 people in our group were injured on rocks that had been uncovered by the currents. The stranger was told to shove off.

    I have to say he was unusual. Most of the nosey parkers were to busy telling us my 2 yo nephew was some how going to launch his father’s sea kayak. It was pulled a good yard out of the water and the kids was sitting in it pretending to paddle with the oar. We just looked at them like they were nuts.

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