Protective Parenting and the People Watching

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A very good friend of mine sent me a salon.com article titled “The Day I Left My Son in the Car.” Her comment: This is a good one. Of course I clicked for a read. The story begins of a mom who is hurried and harried to get her family packed and ready for a trip out of town. Her 4-year-old son insists on going with her to run an errand, but then once in the car begins to turn into a tiny tornado about leaving the car because he wants to sit and continue playing on the iPad (yes, there’s a whole other blog and theories on that too, but saved better for another day).

So this mom carefully weighs her options: Run inside, buy needed item, back in two minutes OR go through the tantrum, freak out with the preschooler and add 10-plus minutes to the easy errand. Mind you, she is in a safe area, can see the car from the store door, and it’s not a hot day (50 degrees outside). What would you do?

I know back in the day when I was a child, there were many times my sister and I sat in the car while my mom ran into a store for a quick errand. Actually we probably sat in the car for 20 minutes or more at times. No biggie. Well now it’s a biggie. In the end the mom mentioned above opted to run in and leave her son in the car. She came back, ever so quickly, to a safe child. She thought all was well, and she headed home. At this point in the story, I’m thinking “OK this is just another story about how much we overprotect our children and that they can survive two minutes alone in a car.” Yes that is a point, however, that’s not where the story ends.

Upon return from the trip with her family, she came home to a policeman in her driveway who has video of her son sitting alone in the car. Apparently someone in the store parking lot saw him alone in the car and walked up to the car to video him alone, as well as got video of her license tag. Said innocent bystander, defender of children, took the video to the police … who then came to question the mom. Questions led to arrest, months of court and a lot of pondering about the fine line between protecting children and being paranoid, and random people watching you and having the ability to tape you and everything you do when you don’t know they are doing it.

You can read the full story here. It stirred a variety of emotions in me. I have to say, I’ve felt like the mom who wrote this article, knowing that your child would be fine for just a minute while you run inside a store to grab one thing. Doing it by yourself versus unloading and loading a 4-year-old … amazing difference in time. That said, I have NOT done it, but I know where she’s coming from. I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Share in the comments below.