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Parenting Issues Message Board

Parenting Issues Board Index

Hi Yoga1st~
I would always leave my kids in the car while I ran in to pay for my gas. We live in a small town and it sounds very similar to yours. My son is now almost 13 but a couple of years ago, I was confronted about leaving my 2 girls in the car with my son. Sometimes one or both of them would be napping and I didn't want to take them out, wake them up, and lug them in the store. They were 2 and 3 years old at the time. I could see them out of the window the whole time and the doors were locked with the car running. A cop approached me and told me that it was illegal and asked me a million questions. He ended up letting me go, but warned if it happened again he would arrest me. I then started pumping my gas and stayed with the vehicle and let my son go in to won't believe this, but then the clerks in the store told my son that HE isn't allowed to go pay for gas since he is a minor! My son is now almost 13 and we have since found a new full-service station where we do all of our business. I understand why the child endangerment laws should be enforced but sometimes people just take things to the extreme!
I have to agree that its possible to take things to an unnessary extreme. There shouldn't even have to be a law against leaving your kids in a car because its already against the law to neglect or endanger your child. If the situation falls under that category, than they can press charges.
There is a big difference between leaving your child in an unlocked car on a 95 degree day in Florida while you go into the mall (way out of sight of the vehicle) and shop for 4 hours, and leaving your child in locked car on a cool day while you run in and pay for gas. These days, for gas I always pay at the pump, BUT I do occasionally leave my children in the car while I run into the post office. We live way out in the sticks and our little country post office is in an old gas station. I can pull up three feet away from the door under an awning, lock the car, and go inside and still be within 12 feet of the car. I would not ever leave them in the car in a place where I cannot see the vehicle at all times, if whatever business I have takes more than a minute or two, or if it is very hot.
I agreed with leaving kids for just a minute until my experience yesterday. I always leave my 2 y/o in the car for just a second while I run into the gas station to get a pack of cigs. He has one of those car seats that just sits in the seat and uses the regular seat belt. Well, he crawled out of it yesterday and when I came out of the gas station, he was "Driving." Ugh, I thought I was gonna die. People were gawking and one guy even said something when I came out about the keys being in the car. And to top it all off, I work at the local P.D. Oh, that would have been so embarassing if someone called them. From now on, he's going in with me everywhere. I did wake up and realize how disastrous that could have turned out. And yeah, that is crazy about there not being an age limit to stay home alone. Someone called the p.d. the other day to ask that question and I had to go ask someone to find out the answer. They said it just depends on the maturity level of the child and that is up to the parents. I think that's crazy!
My kids are 13 and 11, and I will leave them in the car while I run into a store to get something. If it's not hot, I lock the car and take the keys with me. I also always leave my cell phone with them. If it is hot, I'll pull up to the front of the store and leave the car running with the A/C and the doors locked. When they were younger and still in car seats, I, like others, would lock the doors and only run into a store--usually a convenience store or gas station--if I could see the car. I don't know if Maryland has any laws about leaving children in a car, but I do know that to be left alone in a house, a child must be 8 years old. In order for an older sibling to be in charge of a younger sibling, the older child must be 12 or 13, I can't remember which. Legal babysitting age in Maryland is 13. I'm not sure how it works if you have two kids who are older than 8 but younger than 12 or 13.

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