Rethinking leaving child in car for a nap

Wednesday , July 16, 2014 - 5:33 PM


People are dumb. Why am I missing the piece of the puzzle where parents leave kids in the car? This last week I’ve read at least three stories where kids are left to cook in the car while mom gets a haircut, dad catches a movie, even heading into work at the furniture store instead of doing what the rest of us do … HIRE A BABY SITTER!

I gotta big ol’ stick in my hands ready to knock down a hornets’ nest with this next topic. Is it ever OK to leave a child in the car? My babes have been left in carseats during a nap, in the garage with either the heater or air conditioner running. To me the issue with this isn’t safety of the children, but my contribution to global warming. At most this goes on for 30 minutes, although after surfing the web I’m really questioning this decision. Kidnapping and suffocation don’t have me question the car nap, but irate witnesses ready to turn parents in for abuse.

Most parents have left kiddies in the car for a nap, but for whatever reason it’s so much worse when they see a stranger doing the very same thing.

I can remember times when I was left in the car, obviously as an older child since I can remember. Side note: what’s your earliest memory? I swear I remember nothing before first grade. Random? Yeah, that’s me.

It’s an ongoing discussion on parenting websites -- when can a kid be left in the car? Some leave their kindergartner and toddler while they take a quick jaunt into the store for milk, or picking up a call-in order.,Should they be charged with child endangerment? If we make allowances will this make the extreme more common?

Years ago Utah along with 19 other states passed a law that cut down on the minor. Police officers can write misdemeanor citations instead of charging parents with abuse if a child is left in the car unattended. What I wrote above, admitting to leaving kids in the car, is against the law, carrying a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Nearly 50 kids die every year after being left alone in a car. A big one in the news is allegedly murder, others mom and dad are breaking his/her routine and forget the precious cargo in the back. Many believe mild temps outside equal mild temps inside. Seventy-five degrees turns to 100 degrees in just minutes.

Free-range parenting, the antithesis to helicopter parents, believes children need room to breathe, experience life letting “good things happen like self-confidence, happiness, and self-sufficiency.” Those following this technique say parents are being bullied by police when leaving a child in the car. Free-rangers say most parents can decide if conditions are safe for their child.

It now seems as though we live in a CYA - cover your assets - type of parenting world. We need to be constantly checking over our shoulder for fear someone is going to call the cops, get in our face, and accuse us of being a terrible mother/father. Flip side, it’s a comfort knowing someone out there is watching out for little people in this world.

Like most things in this world, leaving a child in the car isn’t as black and white as one would think. I believe I make good decisions for my children, that easy certainly doesn’t come before safe, and while I’m dumb in many things, I do alright in regards to my children.

I know from writing this column I learned one thing; I don’t think I’ll be leaving any kids in the car even for a nap. The mere fact I want to edit that paragraph out shows it may not be easy over safe.

Meg Sanders fell down the rabbit hole of motherhood four years ago quitting her job as a news producer. Now she spends her days grasping onto her sanity, striving to be a good person, and fighting the urge to eat her young. She can be contacted at

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