Extreme Advice

From the SafeKids.org page of advice to parents of kids ages 5-9:

“Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.”

A minute?

Lenore

96 Responses

  1. Child molesters can hide in your trunk.

  2. This is a serious subject. I was accustomed to leaving my daughter in the car in the morning while going in to drop off the dry cleaning. “She’s just on the other side of this plate glass”, I thought. “What could happen that I couldn’t react to?” Then — and I guess this was inevitable — my daughter discovered that there is a bowl of Tootsie Rolls inside on the counter, and now I can’t leave her in the car any more. The loss is incalculable.

  3. a cloud of hot air can float in and suffocate your child or cause heat stroke. Didn’t you know?

  4. I think the weather should be taken into consideration. At least, I wouldn’t leave a kid, an adult, a senior, or pets in a car under direct sunlight for even a minute if the temperature is over 75 degrees. If the windows are open then I think a few minutes should be fine, otherwise, it’s not unheard of for seniors to die of heat stroke in cars too.

  5. I have left my son in the car many times. Obviously, you can’t leave kids in cars that will heat up enough to hurt them. Outside of that, I leave him in the car all the time. Typically I will take the keys with me and lock the doors while going into a convenience store. He must have seen something on TV about this and once told me I can’t leave him in the car because someone would steal him. I told him that when they find out how much he eats they will bring him back, and left him there.

    Of course as a child I was left in the backend of a pickup truck while my parents would go grocery shopping for 45 minutes. My favoirte ‘how it used to be’ story is one of the rules for riding in my grandmothers car. “If you are going to stand up, you have to get in the backseat.” I used to just stand on the floor boards while we would drive, I can’t imagine that happening today, I am way to tall now.

  6. Apparently even thirty seconds can be too long.

    Because YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN!!!

  7. My wife left our 2 year old son strapped in his stroller on the sidewalk of a quiet residential street outside our apartment while she ran inside to get something. Coming back out literally a minute later, there was a car parked there. Woman said “Oh thank goodness! I was just about to call the police!”

    So no, never leave your child alone even for a minute. Some nut case might call the cops.

  8. […] Original post:  Extreme Advice « FreeRangeKids […]

  9. The advice for pre-teens is just as ludicrous! Keep them in a booster seat until 80 to 100 lbs?? My whole family is full of petite people and I didn’t hit that weight range until I was 16 or 17.. I can’t imagine the humiliation of my parents trying to force me or my siblings into a booster seat during our pre-teen and teenage years.

    It also cautions against young teens using the microwave or lighting candles/handling matches. I don’t know about everyone else, but if I had a 14 year old who didn’t know how to use the microwave, understand that steam can burn, or know how to light candles safely, I am NOT doing my job in teaching basic life skills. At 14 I was regularly making meals, complete with the stove and oven! This, in fact, was even school-sanctioned in the form of Home Ec in middle school. Yikes!

  10. A minute? The guy who comes when I lock myself out of the car can’t even get the door open in less than a minute, and he has the proper tools (not to mention the time it would take an abductor to get my uncooperative child out of his car seat)! I guess we’re guarding against spontaneous combustion?

  11. “I guess we’re guarding against spontaneous combustion?”

    Possibly! You Never Know What Could Happen! You Can Never Be Too Careful!

    etc etc etc

    This subject comes up at Yahoo Answers every now and then (you ever need a good laff, just check out their Parenting section). The subject was leaving kids in the car while going inside to pay for gas, and one response was, “What if there’s an explosion while you’re inside?”

    To which the only sensible answer is, of course, “Well, if that happens, you’re pretty much screwed anyway.”

  12. “Always” question any rule that begins with an unqualified “never” or “always”.🙂

    I wouldn’t leave my toddler alone in the car (she’s at that “everything goes in the mouth stage”), but my 5 yo seems to survive it if I pop out to a drop-off slot or something, but I stay in sight distance. At 9 years, I wouldn’t be very concerned. Having said that, today’s high here is supposed to be a balmy 97F, so yeah, a car can heat up awfully fast.

    @Mackenzie, you’re quoting the comment for 10-14 year-olds out of context, the item on the microwave says (the caps are mine):

    Don’t let your child use a microwave UNTIL he or she is TALL enough to reach the items in it safely and UNDERSTANDS that steam can cause burns.

    Well duh! Just like most of the other rules there, it’s pretty common sense. And yes, if you have a 10 yo who can’t reach the contents properly, of COURSE you don’t want them to be taking stuff out of the microwave.

    As far as boosters/seat-belts go for pre-teens. If you’re petite, you should use a seat belt adjuster, even as an adult. It’s not an issue of being overprotective but rather about the laws of physics being inviolable. I once got to experience the simulation of a slow (15MPH) car impact at a science museum – it was totally cool and since then I’ve never forgotten to buckle up properly.

    The thing is, as a parent it is my responsibility to teach my kids that yes, stuff coming from the microwave is hot, fire needs to be treated carefully (rather than forbidding it), etc. and give them a chance to practice the “dangerous” things. But there is a difference about letting your kid climb a tree (free range) and not making sure they’re properly restrained in the car.

  13. I have to admit, I think it totally depends on the kid … i might never be able to leave my in three-years’ time five-year-old boy in the car alone until he’s old enough to drive it. He’s likely to be the kid that gets himself into the newspaper by getting out of his booster seat, putting the car in gear and driving it through a coffee shop window.

  14. Nobody’s arguing that children should be unrestrained in a car. But really, 80-100 lbs? My 73-year-old mother is in that weight range, does that mean she still needs a booster seat?

  15. As long as it isn’t too hot, I leave my kids (ages 5 and 6) in my (locked) car when I run quick errands. My parents did the same thing when I was a child, and the only problem I remember is that my sister and I tended to get into arguments with each other.

    The booster seat issue seems completely different to me. Whether you need a booster seat or not has nothing to do with level of development or ability, it’s only about size. If the seat belt doesn’t fit correctly (i.e. if it goes over your neck when you sit down), you need a booster seat. Why are people concerned about older kids or adults in boosters? I would use one if the seat belt didn’t fit, the same as I make sure other safety devices were sized to fit me. I wouldn’t, for instance, buy a motorcycle helmet that was too big because I thought adults should wear bigger helmets. I would buy one that fits and protects my head in a crash.

    The thing that got to me on that site’s list was “Lock up poisons out of your child’s sight and reach.” This is a good idea for toddlers, but for 5-9 year olds? I can’t imagine my 5 and 6 year olds drinking something like cleaning fluid. I keep cleaning products in their reach so they can use them for their household chores!

  16. Expanding the population advised to use booster seats takes pressure off automobile manufacturers to design their vehicles to be adjustable so a wide variety of people can be restrained safely. In most cars, the seat belts do not accommodate me (I’m 5’1) properly, even though there are a LOT of people (even adults!) my height or shorter. Promoting booster seats helps them minimize their culpability.

  17. In a town nearby a mother and her older children ran some money up to a Salvation Army bucket (it was the holidays). She was still within sight of her vehicle but not within arms reach, I guess. Their family endured a huge, embarrassing, costly investigation for child endangerment/neglect/ etc.

    So, I guess the message here shouldn’t be “don’t leave them in a car because it’s not safe for THEM” but rather “don’t leave them in a car because the police may take them away from you.”

  18. I was maybe eight when Mom wanted to go to a Michael’s craft store and I didn’t feel like going in with her. I stayed in the car — it was a comfortably warm night — with the doors locked. I played quietly by myself, until I noticed a family sitting in a van in front of me, staring at me. Even an old lady or two would slow down as they walked by, noticing me playing pretend in the car.

    An officer finally walked up to the car, and I opened the window a crack. He asked where my mom was. I finally agreed to get out (AHH! OH NOES!) and go find her, just as she was finishing her purchases and coming out of the store anyway.

    Thankfully, no charges were filed, and we learned that I was “too young” to be left alone in the car.

  19. We moved the microwave to a lower shelf so the kids can cook their food easier. It is nice that my 2 and 5 year can wash the dishes, cook their (and occasionally ours) lunch on the stove, and get the clothes and start the washer and dryer on their own.

  20. @nonplus. I didn’t quote the article directly, I commented that it cautions against preteens using a microwave, which it does even if said caution is qualifed. Sorry, but I have yet to meet a 10 to 14 year old that didn’t know how to handle hot food or was incapable of reaching a microwave, even if they have to use a footstool. Heck, I still have to use a footstool.

    This is why I said explicitly if my hypothetical pre-teen did not know how to do these things, I am failing as a parent at teaching life skills – which is exactly what happens when people helicopter and over-protect.

    The same goes with seat belts. I’m all for learning how to properly restrain oneself (and thankfully I drive a car with settings small enough for me) but advocating booster seats for teens is just blows my mind. The site does not mention using a seat belt adjuster at all. Just booster seats. For up to 14 year olds.

    And to delve into that further, the page on pre-teens before the safety checklist has a little “did you know” box with pseudo-statistical, uncited blurbs about the failings of pre-teens. One of these states “I’m very likely to be injured by cooking equipment-related fires, candle fires or by fireworks.” Is this true? Is there actually a plethora of pre-teens being injured beyond a minor incident by cooking, candles, and fireworks? Is there a good reason they don’t know how to properly handle these materials?(well, aside from fireworks, which, beyond sparklers, are illegal in many states so there’s a lack of access) Do parents and schools not teach children how to use a kitchen anymore?

    What about Home Ec? Thinking about it, my youngest siblings who are currently 13 and 14 actually do not know how to get around a kitchen as much as I did at that age. This is partly due to a differences at home (my mom has a disability now that doesn’t allow her to use the kitchen as much and thus can’t teach as much), but I’m pretty sure they no longer have any semblance of Home Ec to teach them either. I know it’s much derided by a lot of people, but those classes taught valuable life skills. (In my school, we were all required to take it for one quarter per year, girls and boys alike). No one came out of my middle school never having used an oven or a sewing machine. For that matter, we all had to take shop for a quarter each year and no one came out of my school never having used a power saw or a lathe or a drill, either, and THOSE skills are just as handy! Why have we lost the formal structure to make sure kids are learning these things?

    I know I’m wandering off-topic, but I really wonder about these safety suggestions that presume children are helpless. The “never leave your child alone, even for a minute” suggests that a 5 to 9 year old is incapable of exiting a car if it gets too hot, yelling for or coming to find a parent/adult if someone creepy comes around, or heck, that they can’t be taught how to pull an e-brake if the car were to start rolling. Kids that age should be able to do ALL of these with a small amount of instruction. The safety advice for children even older keeps going, presuming that kids are inherently incapable of handling hot food, and further down the list, basic household chemicals. Even if a kid were operating on common sense and powers of observation alone they can probably manage, but with even a slight amount of initial instruction and guidance, they can handle those things as well as anyone else. I just don’t think this kind of thing belongs in a safety list. Perhaps a checklist of life-skills a child of 10 to 14 should know? Use a microwave? Check. Light a candle? Check. Use laundry detergent without drinking it for kicks? Check. Adjust seat belt to fit? Check.

  21. If I’m just running to the drop-off box at Blockbuster or into the corner store for something fast I can see myself leaving Gabe in the car, doors locked, when he gets to be that age.

    Honestly, the parenting paranoia isn’t as bad in Canada (I don’t think, anyway). Ours isn’t so much a culture of fear like in the States; fear your neighbour, fear for your kids, fear the parents of your kid’s friends, fear the people overseas, fear anyone different from you, fear the gov’t (they’re too controlling and will take your guns!!), OMG BE AFRAID BOOGABOOGA!!!

    People who are constantly afraid are more willing to give up control of their lives to others in order to feel safe. If you remember to think for yourself and make your own choices, like we do here at FRK, we’ll actually KNOW our kids are safe, as safe as they can be with the tools we’ve given them.

  22. Personally, I would never leave my kids (ages 8, 7, 6 and 3) in the car if we were out and about. Mostly because I worry about nosy people calling the cops. But there have been more times then I can count that we got them into the car parked in front of our house and needed to run back inside to get something and left them there for a few minutes. Heck when they were little we had 3 kids under 3 and we usually had to run back and get the baby who was always last so she didn’t have to sit out in the cold while we buckled the other 2 up.

    The microwave thing cracks me up. My older 2 kids learned how to safely use it to warm food at 4. Now we live where the microwave is on a shelf over the dishwasher. My 6yo isn’t allowed to use it (for various reasons) but the other two, who are now 8 and 7) just use the step stool to hop up on the microwave to reach it. But they know to never put things in for more then a minute (they don’t like their stuff really hot anyway). We did get a new dishwasher and the steam comes out in the corner so I had to caution them to be careful.

    I still run it during the day and I think I’ve burned myself on it more then the kids have, lol.

    The booster seat I think is a different issue. My oldest will be 9 in a couple weeks and still rides in one (even though the law here is 8 OR 80lbs) and they (whoever “they” are) recommend that kids be 4’9″. She is only 4′ tall and barely weighs 45lbs. She obviously still needs one since she is the size of the average 5 year old.

    My son will be 8 in October is 4’3″ and 65lbs and still uses one if one of the girls isn’t in the back. We have a pick up that seats 6 so the 3 girls ride in back and he sits up front between us unless one of them isn’t in the car then he uses their seat. They’ll stop using them when I think their big enough.

    At CafeMom I just saw a question about letting a 7yo out of the apartment unsupervised when mom can’t see him. The consensus is that he should NEVER be unattended at 7 because…you know…you never know what might happen. And they meant anywhere at any time. It’s like 7 is the new 2 and they can’t be expected to do anything for themselves. What the heck is with treating capable kids like they are infants?

  23. The other day I went to the dry cleaners with my 14 month old son. I knew I couldn’t carry the dry cleaning and him and it was raining pretty hard so the idea of struggling with the stroller was unappealing.

    I parked the car at the curb directly in front of the door to the dry cleaners. Since his car seat is on the curb side of the car I opened the mini-van side door and left him strapped into his car seat while I went into the dry cleaners which happened to have it’s door propped open.

    I was standing less than ten feet away from him the whole time and could see him the whole time. He was happy as a clam. Do I need to tell you the number of people who while walking by saw him, stopped, and turned around in circles looking for the adult that was with him. When they eventually saw me I got a lot of scowls but luckily no comments. The guy in the dry cleaners just smiled, waved, and called out hi to my son.

    Once again, scare tactics are all about making arbitrary rules that take the individual and the specific circumstances out of the equation.

    The really frustrating thing about sites like that one is that some of the advice is good, like yes of course you should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house and yes of course put poisonous chemicals out of the reach of little kids. Sometimes I think they are just looking for more words to fill up the page and start coming up with arbitrary stuff as a result.

  24. I’ve found it’s much easier for ME to stay in the car and to send the children out on errands.

    On a serious note, leaving a child in the car is something I’ve worked up to by age. When they were infants, they’d never be left. Toddler, only for the briefest of runs wit the vehicle within feet and the child locked in. Preschool and up, the kids doing the errand or going with. Older kids I figure if anyone’s stealing my piece of crap car, they’ll be sure to get that kid out of it first and I’ve instructed the children that they are to immediatly exit the vehicle should anyone enter.

  25. 1. When I was too big for a booster seat but too small for a regular seatbelt, my dad bought this cloth and velcro sleeve that slid through the seatbelt straps and fit me perfectly. I don’t recall the name right now, but I’m sure they’re still available for purchase.

    2. In Denmark it is perfectly acceptable to leave babies in their gigantic prams or strollers parked outside a coffeeshop or boutique while mom goes inside for a couple minutes. Sometimes there’s a whole line of them in a row. They’ll lock up the strollers so they don’t get stolen, but not babies. Check it out:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/15/nyregion/danish-mother-s-claim-of-false-arrest-is-rejected.html
    http://rottenindenmark.vox.com/library/post/a-gringos-got-my-baby.html

  26. There are some errands that warrant keeping the kiddos in the car. (Obviously, if it’s super hot, the kids come with me…even if they beg to stay in the car – which they do). If you’re scared to death – you’ll project that onto the kiddos. We want our kids to be safe and wise, but also feel secure in the world they live in.

  27. I did it pretty much like crossgirl, except that I did infant like toddler. And to me, it depends on how you leave them in the car. I know someone who used to agonize about whether to leave her toddler in the car while she got out to get the mail (20 feet to the mailbox, maybe?) and couldn’t understand it until I realized that she left the key in the car and the motor running. That I would not do, because I’d be worried about an accidental kidnapping as part of car theft.

    I loved the advice on booster seats for teens. Reminded me of a friend of mine who used to joke that her petite twins were going to have to lug their car seats into their dates’ cars when the time came.

  28. One last note about my experience of leaving my toddler in the car while I went into the dry cleaners… the people looking around and scowling at me were clearly concerned that he was alone, not scoping out the situation to see if they could steal him. It reminds me that people are basically good. And we could all do well to remember that more.

  29. So it’s a good thing I waited until my daughter was 10 to leave her in the car for a few minutes, because now she’s magically prepared for something that she would have been flummoxed by a few months ago. (?!!!)

  30. Darn that 25 minutes I left my 9 yo in the car the other day was 25 times too long….

  31. To keep nosy people from calling the cops when I leave them in the car, I just stuff something in their mouth and cover them with a blanket. That way nobody can see or hear them.

    I’m just kidding, I have tinted windows so I don’t really use a blanket.

  32. Obviously these people do not have more than one child. Someone needs to explain to me how I can successfully put my 9 month old in her car seat and put my 22 month old in his without leaving one of them in the car by themselves… This is especially difficult when coming home from running errands and I have to decide if it would be easier to take the cold groceries in the house first while the kids (who are always asleep by this time) stay in the car, or if I should wake them and have them flipping out every time I go back to the car to get the groceries because I was the mean mommy who woke them up.
    When someone tells me how I can manage this, then I might listen. Until then, one of them stays in the car!

  33. There was an article last year about a seven year old who was in the car when some teenagers decided to go for a joyride.

    Comments to this article were all “OMG! SOMETHING TURIBUL COULD OF HAPPENED!!!!!!!111” and ignore the fact that, in fact, nothing terrible happened.

    The two teenagers saw the kid in the backseat, panicked, took her home, let her play on their playstation, and eventually calmed down and returned her to their parents.

    Were they frantic? No doubt. But their daughter was returned totally unharmed. Why? Because very few people – even criminals! – actually want to harm small children.

    Something could have happened, of course, but the odds of that are apparently even slimmer than the odds of her car being stolen while she was in it in the first place.

  34. Because of my kids’ ages and the fact that it gets very hot where I live this time of year, I don’t leave them in the car except for the few minutes it takes to pump gas.

    But if I followed this advice to the letter, even this would make me a “bad parent”. Tell me, would they be happier if we took our kids out of the car and allowed them to breathe in the fumes? Or do I need to start hiring a babysitter even for mundane errands such as this if I can’t do them on my way from work to daycare?

  35. I have toddler twins and a baby, and after the Treffly Coyne incident mentioned by @tracey above, I’m always concerned about catching grief at Wal-Mart. Since my children can’t be relied on to hold my hand, and since I have the baby to contend with, I lock them in the car while I go in search of the double cart. Depending on time of day and traffic, this involves five minutes or more, and may take me a couple hundred yards away, to the point of being out-of-sight. It’s much safer than having them dart away from me in the parking lot, but I still wouldn’t be totally surprised to have someone say something.

    Of course, the real irony is that I do put my children in danger every time we go to Wal-Mart: on the drive to and from the store. Unlikely as car accidents are, they’re still much more probable than the risks of serious injury or death from a few minutes alone in the parked car.

  36. You know, thinking this over, “Don’t leave your kid in the car ever!” isn’t even very good advice for infants.

    You shouldn’t leave an infant alone in the car, because they can rapidly overheat and yes, some 50 children a year die that way (mostly under the age of 5, though). They can’t get out of the car, of course.

    However, in the vast majority of those cases the children weren’t “left in the car”. Their parents didn’t make the conscious choice “Oh, I’ll only be gone a few minutes” and leave them there. The children were *forgotten* in the car – there had been a change in routine and the driver went into autopilot and forgot they had a child in the backseat. (In some of these cases, the child snuck in the backseat and nobody realized.)

    Tragic? Yes, no doubt, and there are number of ways to limit the odds of this happening at a pretty low psychological cost. But to say “Don’t leave your kid in the car!!!!” just puts the blame on people who didn’t choose to leave their kids in the car in the first place. Totally unhelpful.

    (The advice for this situation is to make it so that you never leave the car – whether you’re transporting a child or not – without checking the backseat. Put your bag in the back (so you have to go back there to fetch it) or put a toy in the front whenever you’re transporting a kid, or do both, but make sure you get into the habit of checking the backseat.)

  37. I’ve been leaving my kids in the car since the beginning, for short errands into convenience stores, ATMs, etc., where I can see the car. Why? Because I could not fathom the point of spending a full 15 minutes getting my infant triplets out of the car and into their stroller (which took several minutes to get out of the trunk and reassemble) to go inside, where the stroller often did not fit anyway due to its size, for something that would only take 2 minutes without them…less time than it took just to get them inside!

    I’m much less likely to leave one of my singleton kids alone in the car…just because I like the convenience of picking up, slinging, and cuddling a single baby! But I might also leave a sleeping singleton at home with the 9-year-old triplets if I need to run to the gas station and grab some milk.

    Oh dear I’m just a terrible mommy, aren’t I?

  38. Car seats for kids older than 1 is actually religion, not science. http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_levitt_on_child_carseats.html

    My mom taught me to scramble eggs on a gas stove when I was 4. Good thing. She was a distracted artist, and I probably would have starved if I didn’t learn to fend for myself. Give a kid an egg, he eats for a day. Teach a kid to cook eggs…

  39. solinox, I’m like you. I have two kids 18 months apart, and a third on the way who will be born when the oldest is three and a half. If the errand time will be more than tripled by getting the kids out of the car (which it often will be), I don’t take them out, barring other circumstances (it does get really hot here, so I don’t leave them in the summer). I agree with a poster above that tinted windows are a great thing. They have allowed me to leave my sleeping children while I ran in to the local grocery store for one or two things.

  40. man, i spent half of my childhood begging my mother to leave me in the car to read while she ran lame errands. sometimes she agreed and sometimes she didn’t, and when she didn’t agree, it was usually because she thought i should be helping her collect groceries or needed my foot to try on shoes or something. i’m 26 now and nobody ever said a word about it to either one of us. no cops, no ‘interested’ bystanders. that’s how quickly this situation has degenerated.

  41. I’m like Shannon.. only 24 years old, and I remember my mom leaving me in the car on errands loads of times. I loved to read, and wandering around stores interrupted that. I’d hang out in the car with a book, and she’d get done faster. Though most of the time I just stayed alone at home, so this wasn’t even an issue. Things have definitely changed fast.

  42. My mom taught me to scramble eggs on a gas stove when I was 4. Good thing. She was a distracted artist, and I probably would have starved if I didn’t learn to fend for myself. Give a kid an egg, he eats for a day. Teach a kid to cook eggs…

    This made me smile. Thanks, Rich. ^__^ Mmm eggs.

    Another poster commented waaay up there that basic skills for cooking, sewing, car maintenance, home maintenance, etc were once taught in school. Before that, it was taught at HOME by PARENTS. It’s our job, not the schools, or the government, to raise our kids to be self-confident, intelligent and independant.

    There is absolutely no reason for any child to get to 8-10 years old and not know how to cook a small meal safely. There’s absolutely no reason for any child not to play in their own back/front yard by themselves once they’ve proven that they wont a)play in traffic b)go with strangers for any reason. There’s absolutely no reason why a child shouldn’t know how to patch a pair of pants or sew on a button back onto a shirt, by the time they hit puberty.

    “I’m too busy/don’t have time/s*he’s not interested in learning/I don’t know how” are not good enough excuses. I read a great quote somewhere that relates to that; “We have been given the same amount of time in our days as Leonardo DaVinci, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa. It’s what you do with it that matters.”

    If you have an hour to spend every night watching tv or on surfing around on the computer, you have an hour to teach your kids what you know. If you don’t know, learn together. They’re not interested in learning to cook/sew/maintain the home? Too bad. Not everyone can just go out and buy a new shirt or pair of pants if they get a hole so you’re going to learn or hire a carpenter to build a new deck or eat out at a restaurant.

    I’m getting rambly. So sorry but I hope I got my point across.

  43. I left my 6 year old son in my truck, door locked windows cracked, on a mild Spring day when I went into the post office to buy stamps. The post office is on the main street of my town and I was parked directly in front of the building. I can see my truck clearly from the building. I made my purchase in about 3-5 minutes and came out side. There was a woman standing by truck who immediately went into a tirade on what a horrible parent I was (to put it mildly). When I informed her that my son made the choice of not coming inside she looked at me like I had 2 heads. I thanked her for her concern but let her know it was unwarranted as I have chosen to raise my child in a manner I think will give him the skills and abilities to thrive as he grows. Part of that is fostering independence and confidence. Now she looked at me like I had 3 heads and began to berate me further with a look I’ll never forget. It was then I felt I would lose my temper at being judged by complete stranger who knows nothing about me or my family. The crazy thing was it did make me feel guilty for a minute. I am glad I have found that there are other like minded people out there who don’t live in constant fear & anxiety about their kids. I think more damage is done by smothering and over protecting than by careful and responsible experiences that are backed up with talks and communication with your kids about how to get around in the world. I (and most every parent I speak with in my sons class) walked home from school by 2nd or 3rd grade and this was in 1972. I hope more people have open and honest discussions about this topic on both sides.

  44. I don’t remember when food is too hot in a microwave sometimes, does that mean I’m not allowed to use it either? (Dishes with red paint heat up faster apparently).

  45. I think the “don’t leave your child alone in the car even for a minute” campaign was started by someone whose child was killed sitting on a park bench when a vehicle, taken out of park by two youngsters left in it, rolled down a hill and into the child.

    Now, that’s an argument for a certain sort of restrictions on when/how one might leave children in the car.

    But once you boil it down to the slogan, it’s meaningless– it takes me more than a minute to get out of the car, get around to the other side, and get my infant out!

  46. Mackenzie, on June 10th, 2009 at 7:00 pm Said:
    The advice for pre-teens is just as ludicrous! Keep them in a booster seat until 80 to 100 lbs??

    This makes me laugh. I wasn’t 80 pounds until I was in high school. 40 or 50 in 5th grade. No 5th grader is going to sit in a booster seat.

  47. I usually only go through this when we’ve had recent car- jackings in our area. It’s kind of a joke though, a reminder to my son who is a black-belt that he needs to be alert when left alone in the car. I in no way am seriously freaked out by leaving him in the car. I do tell him to be careful about leaving his children in the car with the keys though because at two-years-old my parents did this and I put the car in reverse and blew out our neighbor’s bay windows. Oh, well…

  48. My four kids are MUCH safer being left in the (not hot) van for a few minutes than they are being unstrapped (with one child running away while I unstrap another), herded back and forth across a busy parking lot with the littler ones trying to run in different directions, pulling things down off shelves, distracting me with questions, and generally frustrating me to the point where I lose it.

    Don’t these childless paranoid safety nannies have anything better to do? Like have their nails done or something?

  49. I have never left my kids alone in a car for even a second, because I am sure someone would call the cops if I did. I did manage to lock the kids in my car with my keys once though, and had to call the cops myself to get them out. They were very friendly and gave me no grief whatsoever, unlike my neighbors.

    What this paranoia has led to for me is the happy lifestyle where I almost never put my kids in a car. Instead, I get to fend off the legions of drivers who think I’m a bad parent for towing them along in a bike trailer: http://childwild.com/2009/04/27/please-do-not-shout-at-my-bicycle/

  50. Crossgirl,
    I have the EXACT same drycleaner story when my son was a baby in an infant carrier. The gal in the drycleaner made enough disparaging comments that eventually I gave up, brought my son into the store with me. I was afraid she was going to call the police with the directions her comments were going.

    But then? I would have to leave my son IN THE STORE while I schlepped all the drycleaning back to car. So, leaving my son with strangers in a store was apparently deemed safer.

    Bah. I cry foul.

  51. Forget the car advice – I love the bit about moving the furniture away from the windows.

    Are stray bullets really that common?

  52. I’m 25 and my parents would leave me in the car to read all the time. Eventually they stopped because they got paranoid, but my parent’s aren’t exactly sane.

    “I love the bit about moving the furniture away from the windows. ”

    Cally, that probably would have saved my MIL a few panes of broken glass. My husband as a kid had a bad habit of running around and breaking glass, and once “supermanned” off the couch through the front window. Of course because he’s impervious to glass he didn’t have a scratch on him (SO jealous) but the window wasn’t so happy.

    I do admit that if I see a small child without an obvious parent-type person attached I’ll look around for the parent and keep and eye on the kid. Not out of judging but because I figure it’s my responsibility as a citizen to keep an eye on the less than obviously attended children. Not once has anything bad happened, and the parent is usually nearby. I really hope none of those parents thought i was judging them, as I really wasn’t I swear!

  53. I’m “old” — 40 — and times have *really* changed since I was a kid, since my mom certainly wouldn’t have locked the doors when she left us kids in the car. Plus in summertime it was certainly essential to have the windows 100% rolled down; it does get hot here.

    I routinely strap my toddler into his car seat and go back into the house to round up my stuff. Only if it’s not too hot, of course. I’ve often wondered how parents who live in urban areas where this really wouldn’t be safe/practical (because surely those areas must exist) cope. And I only have a singleton!

  54. I love what they say about infants as well, “If I find it, I will eat it. I can make 10 hand-to-mouth movements per hour.” As if it matters what the rate of hand-to-mouth movements is. I can just see a group of grad students paid to watch a room full of babies and ticking a sheet every time a hand went close to a mouth. If that’s how they spent their time and money during their studies, I wouldn’t expect too many insightful results.
    With my kids, at that age, the h-to-m rate would be directly dependant on the number of interesting looking things he can pick up from the floor.

  55. […] Extreme Advice From the SafeKids.org page of advice to parents of kids ages 5-9: “Never leave your child alone in a car, even […] […]

  56. My twin sister and I are 34, my brother 35. We used to walk to kindergarten by ourselves – about 2 or 3 blocks. I was cooking/ laundry/ taking care of my cancer stricken mom when I was about 9. She died when we were almost 10. With the kind of back and forth among family members that happened after her death, I am glad I had those kinds of skills. They have served me well.

  57. it depends on the kid.

    My mom could leave me in the car.

    My brother on the other hand… once caused the car to jump into a bank window and a second time manuevred it through a parking lot (on an incline) without hitting any other cars and stopped by a curb just before going onto the street.

  58. I still tell my 13 year old daughter (who is taller than I am, by the way) when I leave her in the car when I run errands, “Don’t let anyone steal you”.
    And she always humors me and says, “I won’t”.

  59. Well good for the people who have their own car..in my case im just not fortunate to have one.But I think leaving your kids inside the car is merely laziness.

  60. @Alexicographer: I don’t get it either. My kids are 7 and 8 and when they’re in the car, the windows are down at least halfway. I figure if I can trust them around my neighborhood by themselves, I can leave the windows down. They know what store I’m in and how to get out and run and scream IF someone does try to get them. I guess if you’re leaving babies or toddlers it’s another thing – but when I did that, I made sure to park in shade, crack the windows a decent level, and jog. Otherwise, they just went inside with me. I live where it’s VERY hot, so leaving them in the sun without being able to roll down windows just wasn’t an answer.

    @Mario: At least you tried with that woman to tell her your side. I’m very glad you are here – it wasn’t that long ago I felt trapped because society was trying to tell me that I wasn’t a good parent for not being strapped to my child’s side 24-7. You’re a far better person than I… I think I might have gone to jail as a really bad person for popping her right in the mouth! 😮

  61. OK, another “good ol’ days” story. When I was 10 or 11 years old (5th and 6th grade), I was chosen to be one of several student crossing guard when school let out. Helmet, flag, and yellow vest, the whole 9 yards.

    After being trained I kept the kids back until I had traffic stopped (busy 2 lane suburban street in 1955), coordinated with my partner on the other side of the street, and then let the kids cross. There may well have been a teacher watching out for me but I was not aware of such.

    Never had a safety problem for the 2 years I did this until I went on to Junior High in the 7th grade. Well, there were a few jerks who didn’t like being stopped by a kid and would let me know it. No big deal, I was old enough to know there were jerks in the world.

    I was also babysitting my younger brothers around this time when the folks went square dancing on Saturday nights. I made some change and got to watch the late night movie on TV. I really enjoyed it. Had a number to call the folks but never needed to.

  62. Following this advice to the letter would make it impossible for anyone to gas up their car, right? Am I supposed to take my infant (probably sleeping) out of the bucket seat and balance her on my hip while I fill up the tank?? That seems more risky, doesn’t it?

  63. “Honestly, the parenting paranoia isn’t as bad in Canada (I don’t think, anyway). Ours isn’t so much a culture of fear like in the States; fear your neighbour, fear for your kids, fear the parents of your kid’s friends, fear the people overseas, fear anyone different from you, fear the gov’t (they’re too controlling and will take your guns!!), OMG BE AFRAID BOOGABOOGA!!!” – posted above by Jen.

    Unfortunately I don’t agree about Canada being better in this regard. My sister-in-law once had a huge problem when a gas station who sold tobacco products without covering them would not allow her to bring her children into the store to pay for her gas (because only 19+ year olds were allowed in the store). Of course she “couldn’t” leave them in the car because that’s “dangerous”. I’m sure the thought of calling her husband away from work to sit with the kids in the van crossed her mind. Not sure what she eventually did, but I can say it doesn’t seem like it should have been that big of a deal.

    I live in Canada and I hate the fact that I’m even worried to leave my daughter in the car when I run to the bank because someone might rip a strip off me. And there are a fair amount of people here who are afraid of the government (one I know who is convinced they are poisoning us with jet contrails) but that’s mostly because we pay so much attention the the States that we forget we don’t actually live there.

    In addition, so much information comes from the internet and Canadians often neglect to realise that other governments run their countries differently. I notice that mostly when Canadians are worried that vaccines are bad because “big pharma” is out to get us. We don’t even pay for our vaccines…why would the government purposefully pay for something they “knew” would harm their future tax base?

    On a side note, I realised something the other day while at a dessert night for the International Justice Mission (an organisation of lawyers and such who help underpriviledged people from countries all around the world to fight agains injustice). I was thinking about how much I love the idea of “free range kids” and thought we should remember what a privilege it is to be able to let our kids be kids. In many countries it’s not possible for a 6 year old girl to go get water (something she can’t stay in the car while her mom does) without getting raped. Let’s not tell our children too loudly that the world is safe without reminding them that they are blessed and that they should love their neighbours and continue to try to make the entire world a better place.

  64. I return carts to the cart thingy after strapping my 7 month old into her carseat. Guess I’m a horrible person….

  65. I can’t speak for any other place – but in California it’s the law. You may not legally leave your child in the car if you step away from the car. I’m not sure how that’s worded, nor how far away you’re allowed to go before you’ve broken the law – but I can tell you I have personally witnessed TWO arrests.

    Because of that (and ONLY because of that) when my son was asleep in his carseat and I had to stop for gas, I would find a woman at a nearby pump, explain I was leaving a sleeping toddler in my locked car, and would she just watch to make sure no one approached the car. In EVERY instance these women acted as though they’d been handed the keys to Fort Knox! While I’m always glad to see someone take my child’s safety seriously, it secretly cracked me up – if some lunatic was actually nutty enough to break into my locked car in broad daylight, what did one of these gals think she could possibly do to stop him?!!!😉

    My sole reason for the whole “official protector” thing was to avoid confrontations with police and Child Welfare.

    As for Home Ec, the simple answer is that it has been discontinued across the nation due to lack of funding. Same with all those other wonderful PRACTICAL programs mentioned above (woodshop, etc). Remember a very popular president’s “return to the 3Rs” campaign 20 or so years ago? That’s when schools nationwide began to lose funding for anything but “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic”. Music and art programs were also cut wholesale because people didn’t think they were “useful”.

    Along with this directive from the Executive Branch, there was also a huge push from the very first Boomers to become empty nesters… we began to get a long series of no votes on school bond issues, again, nationwide (continuing to present day). Reasons cited are many and varied but the biggie that astounds and enrages me is “My kids are grown, why should I have to continue paying for education?” Yeah, THAT’S not short-sighted at all… This in spite of the fact that sociologists have tied lack of school funding for “enrichment” programs to rising crime rates… sometimes I think no one out there is paying attention.

    So now we have a whole generation of ignorant (when it comes to life skills), overprotected and disempowered children growing up believing that they will NEVER BE HURT. Yup, that’s right – when you remove all the thorny plants from the yard because the kids might get hurt, kids don’t learn to stay away from thorny plants. They learn that the world owes them safety.

    I allowed my son to go into Michael’s barefoot the other day. No fewer than 3 clerks approached to warn me that he should really be wearing shoes because “things get broken in here all the time and he could step on something”. Okay – I don’t like it when he gets hurt. But since when is that the end of the world? I got aproximately 1,637,298 stickers, slivers, and glass shards in my feet as a child, and somehow or another I survived!

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to go on so long! This whole thing just really makes me nuts…

  66. The weight thing has more to do with height, and getting decapitated by the shoulder belt. Also, note that its phrased as 8 Yrs old or 80 lbs.

    The thing about not leaving a kid in a car “for a minute” is not about a literal 60 seconds, I suspect, but rather how difficult it is to gauge how long you are going to be inside an establishment. Lots of parents roll up the windows and lock the doors on a car with a kid in there in 80 degrees outside…Well, 10 minutes later (because you are stuck behind someone in line or whatever…) it can be quite toasty. I’m not a worry wart but…I think its not horrid advice.

    I wouldnt have left my kids in the car because my blinkers would have been on and all the seats adjusted.

  67. I wouldn’t leave a child under 12 in the car alone for any length of time because it is ILLEGAL. I don’t have an issue with running into the store to pay for gas or whatever as I know the chances of anything happening in that 1-3 minutes are next til nil, but I’m not willing to break the law under any circumstances.

  68. Oh, to follow up on that previous comment…

    But I’m not sure why it is safer for me to send a kid in to pay. Now, instead of being in his carseat (and we did use the boosters longer than most), he’s crossing a parking lot, going into a store that supposedly has a lot more crime happening at it, and having to cross the parking lot back to the car also.

    Think they’ll outlaw 5-12yos paying for mom next?

  69. “I allowed my son to go into Michael’s barefoot the other day. No fewer than 3 clerks approached to warn me that he should really be wearing shoes because “things get broken in here all the time and he could step on something”. Okay – I don’t like it when he gets hurt. But since when is that the end of the world? I got aproximately 1,637,298 stickers, slivers, and glass shards in my feet as a child, and somehow or another I survived! ”

    Really? My local Micheal’s never has anything broken in it, and if it did – guess what? Even a five year old is capable of looking where they walk. That’s why they don’t constantly step on dog poo.

  70. @Jen, don’t fool yourself. Things are at least as bad in Canada, trust me.

  71. I live in Arizona where leaving a child alone in a car can kill them. So, I leave the engine running and the air conditioning on. And before I leave the kids for a moment in the car I give them a list of things to tell any car jacker/kid napper that might find a mini-van full of kids with the keys in it. “Let them know that S has gymnastics at 3, and that B has meds to take at 8, and that the baby seriously needs a new diaper…”

  72. I decided to exercise common sense over slavish adherence to advice (and even in some cases, laws) the day I realized that it was both illegal to leave your child alone in a car for any length of time, and to leave your child alone in your home for any length of time.

    When DHS or the cops start coming by to unload my groceries for me, I’ll start obeying those two slavishly. (Well, okay now it’s no longer an issue, but that’s what I decided back then.) Until then, I’m going to be cautious, not place my children in unsafe situations, but use my own judgment.

  73. I wouldn’t let my kids run around barefoot in a place like Michael’s not so much for safety reasons, as a matter of public health, good manners, and respect for the establishment. If the people who work there ask you not to do it, it doesn’t seem right to insist on doing what you want in their store.

    Free Range doesn’t mean that if you think something’s safe, you should let your kids do it no matter how it affects other people.

  74. Nope, you can’t leave your kids in the car alone……today I had someone call the cops on me because I left my kids in the car with the windows down, and a sun shade in the front window, and one kid was asleep. I was back into my car before the cops even showed up, and was in the store for maybe 10 minutes. So, for neglecting my children for 10 minutes, I may be facing a fine of $500 per child, and 30 days in jail, according to Maryland state law. I think I was targeted because I wore a purple bandanna in my hear, which of course means I’m a dead beat mother.

  75. i confess- i was a free range kid.
    growing up, my brothers and i would disappear
    all day saturdays and sundays.
    we all had our share of mishaps but survived.
    Dad taught all five kids to drive early.
    (i sat on his knee at 5 yrs old in the old Impala)
    that was very important later in life.
    at 16 yrs,I was kidnapped,robbed and stabbed.(while i was driving)
    having experienced emergencies on my own before, i was able to
    escape and alert authorities.
    I am alive because my parents let us rise to our own levels of responsibility
    and deal with the situations of that level.
    commom sense is not always best learned in a book.

  76. SWPUT – in fact, the much touted “public health laws against bare feet” are, in fact, urban legends.

    http://barefooters.org/health-dept/

    I confirmed their results (at least as far as my needs are concerned) with an email to my own health department in NYC about three years ago.

    There basically is no public health need for everybody to have shod feet.

  77. In many countries it’s not possible for a 6 year old girl to go get water (something she can’t stay in the car while her mom does) without getting raped. Let’s not tell our children too loudly that the world is safe without reminding them that they are blessed and that they should love their neighbours and continue to try to make the entire world a better place.

    Thank you so much for this, Casey. By sheer random chance most of us here at FRK, if not all of us, were born in the West, countries where, thankfully, our kids do not have to worry about landmines where they play or being enlisted as a child soldier by the age of 5. It is our priveledge to live here and when our kids are old enough (here your milage may vary on how old is appropriate to learn these things), they should be taught how lucky they are.

    Re Canada vs. the U.S– Now I really want to check into my municipal and provincial laws and see what it says! However, I meant the fear culture, not necessarily the laws, is different in the States than it is here in Canada. We may still have plenty of nosy, over-protective neighbours and a child protection system that seems basically flawed (good idea, bad execution), but Canadians just don’t seem as worried and afraid about things as people in the States.

    Then again, that’s just my perception of things. I live in a border town so I get to meet a lot of people from both sides.

  78. Don’t take your kids out of the car with you, because there’s always a possibility that a large tree branch could fall on them and injure or kill them. Or a car might mount the curb and hit them and they would have been better off in the car.

  79. I recently had a fun run-in with the police that ended well:

    I was planning to ride in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally with my 3yo (almost 4) son on my 49cc motor scooter. ( see photo at http://www.risacher.org/luke/year4/ )

    I did this in 2008 with my then-4yo daughter, and it was a lot of fun for both of us. The rally is basically a ride around the National Mall with 500,000-600,000 motorcycles. The entire course is blocked off to all other traffic, and the speed never exceeds about 30 mph.

    The rally starts at the Pentagon parking lot, and when the Pentagon police saw me riding with him, they immediately waved me over and started reading me the riot act. “No way can you ride with a 3yo in front of you, blah blah blah…” I remained calm and asked if there was either a Virginia statue or Pentagon reservation regulation that I was violating. “No, but we’ve accepted liability for safety while this event is on federal property and blah blah blah…”

    They wanted me to leave my bike there, and take the bus home. They wouldn’t let us move another foot! I had to walk the bike over to an empty area of the parking lot while the officer walked with Luke.

    I say: “But there’s no regulation or law that I’m violating, is there?” Officer: “Well, let me check with the Arlington Police Motor Unit, they know the Virginia laws better than we do.” Me: “Okay, I’ll wait.”

    Eventually, the officer comes back and asks: “Is this vehicle a two person vehicle? Because it doesn’t seem like your son is properly seated.” Me: “Yes, of course – see, there are the footpegs for the rear rider. I could put Luke back there, but I felt it was safer to have in front of me where I can watch him and I can hold him with my legs. Would you prefer us to ride with him in back? I don’t think it’s as safe, but if that’s what will make you feel it’s legal, we’ll do it.”

    …officer walks away to consult with his superiors…

    Eventually, Officer returns: “How is this vehicle registered? ” Me: “It’s a 49cc scooter, which in Virginia and DC is classed as a moped, and doesn’t require registration.” Officer: “Yeah. Hmm. So I talked with Sgt White, and we actually don’t think there’s any law or regulation that you’re breaking. There’s a Virginia law about being ‘properly seated’ but it doesn’t apply to mopeds.”

    “So ride safe, okay? Be careful. If one of the other officers questions you, tell ’em you already cleared it with Sgt White.”

    And so we rode. Luke is likely, in my estimation, to be the youngest ever rider in Rolling Thunder.

  80. Uly, I don’t know about laws, but bare feet spread germs to other feet in a way shoes don’t. Yeah, shoes are dirty too, but if everyone’s wearing them, no one’s actual feet come in contact with the dirt. And no one’s fungus gets left on the floor. I don’t know about “public health” in some formal fashion related to horrid infectious diseases, but I know what’s clean and what isn’t. And I am far from a germophobe or compulsively clean person. Even if YOUR kids’ feet are perfectly clean, it’s only common sense that letting people run around in public places with bare feet lets the dirty-feeted people do it, too.

    At any rate, my point was more about how “it’s okay, my kids won’t get hurt” is not the only concern for what you should let them do in public. If a store doesn’t want your kids there in bare feet, don’t impose upon them that way unless it’s some kind of necessity.

  81. “Don’t take your kids out of the car with you, because there’s always a possibility that a large tree branch could fall on them and injure or kill them.”

    Heh. A friend of mine’s child narrowly escaped disaster because they all got OUT Of the car just before a branch came down on it (they didn’t know the branch was falling as they got out.) I’m sure her parents sitting in the car with her would have saved her, though.

    I think the only way to be safe is for kids never to leave the house. Hey, they’d be physically and emotionally stunted and all, but at least they’d be SAFE. From EVERYTHING. Except household accidents. And diseases. Maybe they need to stay in fireproof beds in steel-framed, radiation-proof rooms. But the diseases? Hmmm….well, we could deal with the infectious ones with those bubble-things, but what about non-infectious stuff? Anybody got any ideas? We’ll figure this out YET!

  82. SWPUT: I agree that we shouldn’t allow our actions to harm other people. But I don’t see how a barefoot kid affects those who prefer to wear shoes to protect their own feet. Everyone can make his or her own risk assessment in this case. Businesses and individuals have the right to make rules about people wearing shoes, shirts, etc. on their property, but it doesn’t sound like the business under discussion had any such policy.

  83. @ SheWhoPicksUpToys

    What about if the store doesn’t like the shirt I’m wearing? I think I understand your point, but I think we need to strike a balance between store rights and consumer rights. Although many businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone- they actually can’t. People in a position of some power (e.g. store owners) sometimes do things not because they’ve really thought it out, but because they can.

    @Dan Risacher I was in a bike race once, and the motorcyclist who was supposed to carry one of the Commissaires didn’t have a spare helmet. So the Commissaire used her bicycle helmet. A police officer initially objected, until the Commissaire pointed out that she wasn’t going to be going any faster than the racing cyclists, and the bike helmets seemed to be good enough for all of them.

  84. That old ounce of prevention may very well choke the life out of us.

  85. SWPUT, your logic is flawed.

    There is no way that dirt is tracked more by bare feet than by shod feet. That doesn’t even make any sense.

    It is true that you can’t catch athlete’s foot from another person if you’re shod, but the answer then is for people who are worried about athlete’s foot to wear shoes, is it not? If you are wearing shoes, you can’t catch anything from my bare feet, can you?

    Besides, athlete’s foot thrives in damp, dark environments – like the inside of a shoe. It doesn’t thrive so much in lit, dry environments like the great outdoors🙂

    Now, here’s something that actually does spread germs: Bare hands. Think about it. Your hands touch your face. Your hands touch every surface you come in contact with. You sneeze and cough into your hands, and then go touch a doorknob or a little object. Your kid wipes their nose on their hands and then picks something up while your back is turned. Some people don’t wash their hands when they go to the bathroom. And then other people do that same touching routine with various touched objects and bring their germ-ridden hands right back to their faces!

    It’d make just as much sense – more, even! – for the store to insist that all patrons don sterile gloves and face masks before entering the store, but I bet you’d find that a little over the top.

    Why? Because you’ve been taught that bare feet are dirty in a way that bare hands and faces aren’t. It’s not logical, but that’s what you think, and you’ll probably continue to defend that view no matter what I say, in the same way that many people defend their view that it’s “not as safe” as when we were growing up (that imaginary, halcyon age!) despite all the evidence to the contrary. (I say this not to impugn you, but because I’ve had this conversation before. I know how it goes. Still, I keep trying.)

  86. Sarah, I agree – they probably didn’t have such a policy.

    I was in the CMOM when my niece was little. She was in a footed sleeper, and she pooed all over it. So I ran out to the nearby clothing store and got her a new outfit.

    PRIOR to her pooing in her clothes, she had no shoes on – just the feet of the sleeper. AFTER getting her clothes, she *still* had no shoes on – just a pair of socks. OH, the nonsense I heard. My personal favorite was the repeated line “What if something breaks?”

    1. Her socks were just as much protection as the footed sleeper nobody complained about before, the same sleepers other children her age were wearing.
    2. We were in the toddler room. If something breaks, I’d be much more concerned about the crawling babies who are gonna go right for it and stick it in their mouths, not my niece who was old enough not to do that (barely).
    3. What sort of breakable things are in the toddler room?
    4. I was right with her, and could easily identify any breakable or broken objects before she stepped on them (which she wasn’t going to do anyway because they didn’t exist)
    5. Most importantly – she didn’t have shoes because, due to the odd shape of her foot (an incredibly high arch) nobody could find shoes that *fit* her, and an ill-fit shoe is very bad for a growing foot. I’ll take the imaginary risk of broken objects that don’t exist (I’ve never seen anything breakable in a children’s museum, certainly not in the toddler areas) over the very real risk of a meltdown over uncomfortable shoes.

    Closer examination – and believe me, I argued this with every staff member I spoke to – revealed that they did not, in fact, have a shoe policy. They were reacting to their ingrained beliefs about shoes and bare feet rather than the facts or any actual rules.

  87. Why are people still arguing about the bare feet thing? Who really cares? Put shoes on, don’t put shoes on. If a store wants to say that you are not allowed in unless you wear a space suit, that is fully within their rights. It’s also within your rights not to shop there. Considering the topic here, I can’t believe how many comments there have been about shoes. Is this a bigger problem than I know of? My daughter is almost 5 months and I’ve been starting to think about how to teach her about all kinds of things…should I be focusing more on feet?

  88. Sorry…I just thought I should mention that I was feeling light hearted when I wrote the last comment and that I am not really judging any shoe commenters.

  89. To be fair, they’re kind of correct. At age 3 I totalled my mom’s car.

    Because she left me in it, in park, and went into the store, a corrugated tin sided building.

    I can honestly remember to this day the car going through the side, because the tin siding split at the seams and lo, there was my VERY surprised mother, and shop owner.

    I’d pulled the car into drive.

    And she STILL left us in that car, my sister and I.

    Downside: no one is daring enough to teach me to drive, given my past.:D

  90. Doesn’t the American NATIONAL ANTHEM mention something about “land of the free”, “home of the brave” ? (am an not American)
    Maybe it would be an idea to remind all these anxious rulemakes and well meaning advisers of that.

  91. nice one Lene, good point well made

  92. This is crazy. Yep I am guilty of protecting the children God has blessed me with. And for the woman who tries to use the National Anthem to prove her point – what????

  93. Sarah, what are you “protecting” your children from that other on this site are not?

  94. “Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.”

    I think the point about a minute is that lots of people tell themselves they’ll only be inside for a minute and then a half hour later they return to the car. Not that I have a problem with a child being alone in a car for half an hour under the right conditions, but it’s a lot different than the “minute” we tell ourselves we’ll be away.

  95. My eldest can undo all the buckles and open the doors. My middle can do hers and her door. My youngest is buckling herself up now too. It is simply faster for me to run into the store and back out than to unload 3 kids, deal with their tantrums and nags, and reload them. And now with the “pay before you pump” laws here, do they really want 3 kids running around a busy gas station while mom tries to coral them all?

  96. My favorite story related is when I was about 12 and my brother about 2, my mom left both of us in the van because he was asleep in his seat while she went into walmart. It was warm, so I opened the side door and was laying on the floor bored out of my mind. At one point I saw some lady looking from a few feet away in the parking lot, but i figured she saw me and ignored it. Next thing I know, a cop was there asking me questions. I was certainly old enough to be watching him, so everything was fine, but my question is, if you’re worried enough to call the cops, wouldn’t come over and check on the kid? really? (the middle seat of the van was out, so had she looked, i was clearly visible and the side door open with my feet out it)

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