It seems like every day we see another family on the news who left a child or children in a hot car. Unfortunately, some of the children aren’t found in time and we end up with yet another American tragedy. In some rare cases, it is found to be intentional, but in others it’s been simply an accident of epic proportion.
I pose the question…what the heck is happening in our country? How is it that we are forgetting kids in cars? Is this a new phenomenon or is it just that the media has found a new spin and is creating a trend that isn’t really a trend at all, but just terrible mishaps?
I’m not the expert in this field, but I will say busy parents can see how it could happen. All of this news makes me think back to when my own children were smaller, that could have been me! Certainly I’m not speaking about the cases when things are done intentionally, but the accidental issues could happen to any of us. In fact I remember changing childcare centers for my own child at one point and driving to the one we previously used only to remember when I pulled up that I was at the wrong place. I felt horrible. How could I forget where my own child was?
We are simply on overload and instead of making people out to be bad parents, we should be looking at ways to help people. Jobs are harder to find in many areas of the country than in the past and we are working longer hours. Many of us are commuting two hours or more a day to get to and from a job just to spend a large percentage of our paychecks on commuter expenses and childcare. Are we really living or simply surviving? Does the end justify the means? Has inflation and the need to keep up with current trends turned us into faulty machines stuck on autopilot?
I recently read the Out of Reach Study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It noted in 48 US states a worker making minimum wage cannot afford a 2 bedroom apartment. Now that’s stressful! Imagine being that worker who has a child or two and you can’t get childcare nor can you can afford a decent place to live. Where do you work? How do you go back to school? What is you just aren’t college material or can’t get into a trade school because you still need a paycheck and can’t afford to go to school full time? What do you do? Many work two or more jobs functioning off of exhaustion every day. In light of all the stress related to this lifestyle, it’s no wonder some people are at wits end.
It is not acceptable to leave a young child in a car in the heat or cold. These are some of the statements I’ve heard in news reports when it happens:
- My kid was up all night and finally went to sleep in the car. I just need to grab a carton of milk in the store.
- My parents/friend/mate doesn’t usually take or drop off my kids and they forgot because the child went to sleep in the back
- I needed to find a job because I’m about to be (or am) homeless and had no one to watch the kids
How sad is it that these are real statements? How sad is it that these people’s minds are so preoccupied by traffic, fear of homelessness, exhaustion and more that we simply can’t remember our kids?
Instead of judging anyone, I challenge everyone who knows someone with kids to shut up, step up and open up their hearts to help. We have lost the help my neighbor way in today’s world. Much is because it seems we can’t trust people with our kids but it certainly can’t hurt when your neighbor knows who you are to offer to pick up some groceries for them. How about offering to walk their dog? For people who are capable of doing so and going in the same direction, carpooling can even be an option. And for parents, please do all you can to make reminders for yourselves. Create an alarm, wear a special bracelet, put a stuffed toy on the passenger seat…anything!
Children being injured or dying can happen accidentally. However, if we can do anything at all to help each other…let’s put our energy where our mouths and judgments are and step up!
Photo: Ben Francis/Flickr