September 13, 2012

unattended children {a parenting choice}

I am not usually one to pass judgement on parents out in public. Most often my duo and I are a gosh darn spectacle ourselves so I know what it's like. Having said that, I saw something this summer from a set of parents that I did judge. I was appalled and had I not been stunned in shock I would have done something about it.

My boys and I were at the mall and we stopped so they could play in the mall centre play place. We walked up to the centre to see a few kids playing and a couple of parents standing around. Of course I didn't know what children belonged to what parents so I didn't think much of it. There was a young boy (probably 10) sitting with his back to the group, playing at a station and another little girl (maybe 5) playing by herself. I was there for just a few minutes when the little girl who had a sticker with her name printed on it stuck to her shirt came over to talk to me. She said she liked my shoes and she asked if I was babysitting. I talked with her for a few minutes and then saw a couple walk down the hall of the mall towards the play centre and stop to talk to the boy who was playing at the station. They asked him if everything was ok (how would he know, he had his nose stuck into his game) and then reminded him that he was in charge of his sister, who I had since deduced was the little girl I was talking to, and then turned to walk away. I assumed they would pop into a store close by and then come back to watch their children, like the rest of us were doing. That unfortunately wasn't the case. I watched them walk the length of the long hallway, just waiting for them to duck into a store that left the play centre visible but they kept walking, eventually turned the corner and were gone. I was there for another good 15 minutes and they didn't return in that time. The little girl, with her name still visible, just played while her brother-in-charge sat playing his game, never turning to look at her.

While I was driving home and the seriousness of what I had just witnessed sunk in I regretted that I had not gone to security and reported that young children had been left at the play place. I mean, I really should have, no? I don't know, to me leaving your 2 young kids at the mall play place (one with their NAME on their shirt) is just completely negligent. When I think of how freely that little girl conversed with me it would not have taken much for someone to walk up to her, call her by name and tell her to come with them. Maybe I have an overly paranoid mind to think things like this but it happens and why make it easier for it to happen! Here's my kids - take them! I regretted not notifying someone that the children were left alone and heaven forbid I ever see something like that again, I definitely will.

Tell me, what would you have done? Notified security? Left it alone? Am I just an overly concerned and protective parent who is making a bigger deal of this than is necessary? At 10 years old is a child responsible enough to watch over himself and a younger sibling in a public place? I just can't see myself leaving my kids, even the oldest at 10, in a mall somewhere while I walk out of sight. What do you think about it all?


  1. That is terrible! No, a 10 year old is not responsible enough to look after a younger sibling, and even if he wasn't playing games and ignoring her, it's not fair to put that much responsibility onto a 10 year old. If it was me and I realised in time, I would have alerted security. It's not like there was one parent and it was an emergency, one of them could have stayed with their kids.

  2. I don't know. To me this is a gray area. Because on the one hand it's none of our beeswax what other parents do with their kids. We don't know their kids like they do; some ten year olds are responsible enough to watch their little sister (although it sounds like this one was not, and in a public place? Not a good idea).
    But on the other hand, the parents were using really bad judgement and a child was in potential danger.
    So yeah, next time I think you should tell security. I think I would.

  3. I agree with Jenn. If I knew that my 10 year old was responsible enough, and was willing to watch the younger child, then I think I would be comfortable leaving them, but maybe not in a public place. The name tag is what's killing me!! Why would you do that? Scary!!! I think security might have been a good idea, and I for sure will not be doing that with my kids!!!

  4. Yes, security does seem like a totally reasonable option that is until you take a good look at most of the security guards at the mall. For me they would be one of my number one reasons for not leaving my kids alone!

  5. Now that I'm a Nana, the ripe old age of 50, I am still appalled at how people leave such small children on their own knowing KNOWING as we all do the dangers sadly in the world :( I see toddlers playing in streets and very small children walking or riding bikes down busy main roads and highways. My favorite, the tiny child left alone to pay in the toy isle at Wally world, parents no where to be seen when as recently as last year a little girl was abducted out through the garden center at the same store, the toy isle being adjacent to the doors to the garden center. Its our jobs as Parents, grandparent, adults to protect our tiny charges and to shirk that responsibility is a very sad thing indeed!

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