Would you leave your kids by the side of the road?

I’m sure most of you have heard about the New York mother,  Madlyn Primoff , who told her two daughters , 12 and 10, to get out of the car when they were fighting on the way home. Somehow the 12-year-old talked her way back into the car, but the 10-year-old was left crying and roaming the streets. When the mother went to pick the child up at the police station, she was arrested and later arraigned on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and released on minimal bail.

Primoff is a lawyer and partner in the Business Reorganization and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group at the firm and has clients such as Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, the firm’s Web site said.

Here are two articles with more details and updates on the story: The New York Daily News, The AJC.

(Total side note: Do you remember in the first season of “Desperate Housewives” when Lynette threw those crazy triplets out of her minivan?)

While, I think we can all agree it was not a great idea to drive home and leave your child on the side of the road, I can definitely relate to being angry and frustrated with my children’s behavior while I’m driving.

I have my most trouble in the car when we’re coming home from school of religion. It’s held on a weeknight and we’re usually driving home around 8:30 p.m. They’re tired, cranky and generally wound up. Rose especially makes me nuts with this excruciatingly loud and pointless whooping yell. Despite being locked into a booster seat, she also likes to aggravate Walsh by kicking his seat from behind. (We had to change our seat assignments due to the kicking.)

I can understand this mom’s frustration with the empty threat of I’m going to pull over and … what do what??? I can understand why she wanted to do it. Would it have been OK if she had just gone a little ways down the street? Would staying in eyeshot have made any impact on her children’s behavior?

Romi Lassally, whose book, “True Mom Confessions” we just discussed last week, wrote her take on the issue for The Huffington Post. Here’s what she had to say.

So what do YOU think:

Have you been frustrated by your kids’ behavior while you are driving?

What is your normal course of action when they are being bad and you’re driving?

Should the mom have left the kids by the side of the road?

How far could she have driven to make a point without getting into trouble?

Have you ever threatened to leave your kids by the side of the road? Did you ever do it?

Should she be charged and prosecuted for doing this?

Is she a “bad mommy” for doing this?

Is it worth a fine? Is it worth jail time? Is it worth probation?

Everyone talks about parents being tougher on kids, why was this so wrong?

Do you think her kids will ever misbehave in the car again?

47 comments Add your comment

Lady Strange

April 23rd, 2009
8:57 am

While my son is not old enough to have this kind of tantrum yet, he does have his whiney moments. That said, I would NEVER leave my son on the side of the road.

I can understand pulling over to administer some dicipline, but leaving them on the side of the road and driving away?! When I think of all the horrible things that could have happened to those kids… that mom needs a serious wake up call.

just me

April 23rd, 2009
9:03 am

She went to far leaving her children alone on the side of the road. We have all have been frustrated with our kids while driving but dumping them out is out of the question. Sure pull over and take care of it and move on. She should have some price to pay for this. She used valuable police time to deal with her poor parenting issues. I am sure those children will misbehave in the car again..they are afterall children.


April 23rd, 2009
9:25 am

Of course I wouldn’t. However, had you asked this woman the same question a month ago, she probably would have answered the same.

Humans are fragile, and easily broken.


April 23rd, 2009
9:29 am

Hey my mom left me in the trash can by the curb at 2 yrs old when she couldn’t deal with me anymore … Called my grandparents and told them to come get me before the trash people did….People aren’t perfect… while what she did was HORRID, I am sure that she was at the end of her rope…


April 23rd, 2009
9:34 am

I’m sure that a lot of parents get frustrated enough at times to want to tell the kids to get out..As for actually doing it, H*LL no..I would never,ever do this..Back when my sisters two boys (now 40&38) were little,she would tell them that she was going to leave them on the side of the road for fighting..It only took once for her to make one of them get out of the car & her to shut the door, for that to not ever happen again..She never drove off without them..

Yes, this woman should be punished..It’s one thing to make them get out, but to actually drive off & leave this poor child..No, I don’t think that shes a bad mommy, just one that made a really bad mistake..


April 23rd, 2009
9:45 am

Absolutely Not! I have however, left her dragging behind and pouting me when we are going for walks. I never get so far that I she is out of my sight, but I have definitely trudged quite a bit ahead.


April 23rd, 2009
9:46 am

uconn – that’s sad.


April 23rd, 2009
9:47 am

Ahhhh… I am ok tho…. I guess, no wait, I WAS a handful … Guess thats why I was an only child :)

Mil Mom

April 23rd, 2009
9:48 am

This reminds me of something that happened to me as a child. My brother and I would constantly argue, not just in the car. I remeber my older sister (she’s 14 years older than me) had taken us out for the day for whatever reason, and we were on our way home. I remember her air conditioning wasn’t working, and we were cranky and hungry. We apparently were driving her crazy, and she threatened to make us walk home. Well, we didn’t believe her threat and kept on and on. Finally she pulled over at a church in the front of our neighborhood and told us to get out. And she literally made us get out and walk the rest of the way home. I remember being kinda scared (i was at the age I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself even in the neigborhood). Now my sister tells the story about it and laughs and says how cute it was that I held my lil’ brother’s hand as we walked home, and she claimed she could see us all the way home (even tho i specifically remember not seeing her). She thinks its a cute story now, but it still makes me a little mad after all these years. I would say if the kids were closer to teenages, its not so bad, but never would I do that to any child at any age. If the situation were that bad I’d either pull over and handle in the car, or just wait till we got home.
I also remeber a time when my mom made us get out and walk (in the neigborhood again) but she would only drive a few feet ahead of us, with the window down and her giving a lecture while we walked and she let of the brake. My feeling towards that are much better. I didn’t feel abandoned, I felt like i was in trouble (walking home in the summer heat was a good enough punishment for me) but i wasn’t scared cause my mom was right there with me. I wouldn’t have so much a problem with that situation. But just leaving the child all together, no way! There are too many things that could happen. Children disappear from malls with the parent just a couple of feet away, and she left hers on the side of the road, and she couldn’t even see her.
I think she deserves more serious charges and some mandatory parenting cleasses at the least.


April 23rd, 2009
10:06 am

I never left them on the side of the road but I did tell them that the cops would lock them up if they caused mommy to drive bad and have a wreck. It worked quite well too since I had a friend who was an officer and had him talk to them one day when we crossed paths at a convenience store. No matter where we were, if they saw a police car, the car grew eerily quite LOL.


April 23rd, 2009
11:08 am

I was left on the road several times, but i was 13 or older, actually I enjoyed it a few times and it was never more than a few miles. Big difference being, we lived in a suburban / rural area, I was older and i was used to walking to school / mall / pool by myself anyway. Would I do this to my children, not in the area that I live in now. but i do not think that this rises to the level of neglect / endangerment.


April 23rd, 2009
11:16 am

Wow. Maybe it’s this day and age, but ALL my mom had to say was, “If I stop this car ….” and miracuosly there was peace in the back seat.


April 23rd, 2009
11:44 am

ok i can say i would never do this but maybe i would at the right time…yall may think im awful but what bothered me more than her leaving them is the fact that the 12 yo left her sister. hmm..ok i know that makes no sense–maybe can understand the mom leaving them both but not understanding the older sis leaving the younger one. dont ask me its just what struck me about the whole thing. i know nothing about the area these kids were left in..if it was not a dangerous place as opposed to a bad area that would make a difference. i do know that kids can absolutely drive you crazy and make you do things you would never imagine doing. i am not gonna judge her…maybe she put them out before she killed them—who knows what she is/was going thru. these days your kids really are in control and i know we can say all we want that we control our kids–but really the kids have the whole legal system on their sides–we can spank-theres not a lot we can do. kids can tell a teacher we are mean to them and social services gets called. we have all the responsibility and not much authority. thats why we hear more things about kids doing horrible things. i am glad these kids were safe and i hope this mom gets some help. and i really dont know why (i think its because the older one left the younger one) but i think these are probably bratty kids. please dont yall jump on me for saying that…i know i dont know anything about these kids–but im just stating the feeling i got from this.


April 23rd, 2009
11:52 am

meant cant spank them not can…really cant do much in the way of discipline…ground them? my kids never really had much to be grounded from. i just know that none of my kids would ever have left their younger sibs to walk alone like that…that bothers me.


April 23rd, 2009
12:04 pm

OH I’ve wanted to, SEVERAL TIMES, but never have.

va. lady

April 23rd, 2009
12:25 pm

When my boys were smaller and both had to ride in the backseat, there were days when the noise and bickering rose to unacceptable levels. One time, I pulled off into a parking lot, turned off the engine, and sat in the car until they noticed that we were no longer in motion. Once I had their attention, I said that I would not return to the road unless they behaved. At other times, I would turn the radio volume to ear-splitting levels to get their attention. Have I ever considered leaving them on the side of the road? Of course. But the penalty (child endangerment) was a powerful deterrent.

Active Duty Mom

April 23rd, 2009
12:27 pm

Savvy–I hear you on that one and it’s probably because you and your siblings knew that if you dared call her bluff, she would deliver on whatever punishment was about to get meted out. My mom actually had my brother and I get out of the car after he and I were fighting in the backseat and walk in front of the car while she lectured to us out of her driver’s side window and then let us back in the car when we promised to stop fighting and shake hands. We were walking on Lawrenceville Highway near Lilburn, but then again I was 13 and he was 10 and this was back in the 1980s. We never pulled that stunt again though! While I wouldn’t drop off my kids and drive away, I did have a “Come to Jesus” moment with a former friend’s kids when said friend and her school-aged kids came to visit in DC. Her kids were acting up and fighting in the backseat and she couldn’t/wouldn’t control them. Considering that we were en-route to Arlington Cemetery and I wasn’t about to have two kids acting up there (especially at the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier!), I pulled into a nearby church parking lot on what seemed like two wheels, threw the emergency brake, turned around and looked both of them dead in the eye and said in a low, slow voice that I swear was my mother’s, “If you do not stop what you are doing right now, we are going home. There will be no TV, there will be no computer or other activities and you will not like it. Do you understand?” The last thing I heard out of both of them was, “Yes ma’am.” and that was the end of the fighting and we proceeded to have an enjoyable day. I have done that before with my own kids and it works like a charm because they do not want what is coming to them when they get home and they know not to call my bluff because I do deliver.

Teresa: Rose is too old to be whooping and yelling in the car. Changing seat assignments is a start, but she is old enough to know that yelling and kicking in the car is NOT appropriate!


April 23rd, 2009
12:43 pm

This sorta reminds me of what happened a couple of years ago, when Six Flags had their “free day” during spring break, traffic was hideous along I-20, and people started dropping their kids off on the INTERSTATE so they could make their way over to Six Flags, only to not be able to get in. We all thought those parents was crazy.

I can see stopping the car. I can see making the kids get out (assuming the road was a safe one). I can see the ensuing lecture by the side of the road. I cannot see driving away.


April 23rd, 2009
1:07 pm

This woman should be strung up. I mean, leave your child on the side of the road? Come on now….


April 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

I am 4.5 years older than my brother and, although we are very close and didn’t argue much, we were acting a fool in the car one day and my mama JUMPED the car onto the shoulder (I don’t think there was in transition changing of lanes) unbuckled her seat belt and beat our tails with no warning, no discussion, no threats, just straight azz whipping. That was the LAST time we acted a fool in the car with Mama. I am sure she wanted to throw us out but an azz whipping was more effective.


April 23rd, 2009
1:45 pm

Two funny stories about this kind of thing. One day my mom had taken my sister and I grocery shopping. I remember that my sister snuck a box of fruit snacks into the back seat from one of the grocery bags. We were making all kinds of noise fighting over the fruit snacks. My mom turned her head to see what the fighting was about and ended up turning the steering wheel too far causing the car to flip into a ditch.

That day I’m sure my mom wanted to leave us at the accident site.

One day mom did leave us at the store though. We were playing in the clothes racks at Rich’s (now Macy’s) and she kept telling us to come on. Well, about 5 minutes later I came out of the clothes rack and she was gone. I want to a store clerk we walked in a huge circle a by the time we got back, about 10-15 minutes, to the spot that I was playing in I saw my mom standing there extremely mad.


April 23rd, 2009
2:02 pm

Has anyone read the headlines on this newspaper? Apparently, police arrested an 8 year old girl in Athens, for repeatedly hitting her teacher. 8 YEARS OLD!!!! Arrested for hitting a teacher. What is this world coming to?


April 23rd, 2009
2:05 pm

When my son was in Pre-K his teacher apparently thought it would be wise to point her finger in his face. Well, she got popped and they in turn threatened to call the police. I told her to point her finger in my face and I would give her a valid reason to make the call….


April 23rd, 2009
2:08 pm

Oh & fyi, I do enjoy a good spanking…. =P


April 23rd, 2009
2:29 pm

My Mom kicked my brother out of the car once and made him walk home. I think he was in the 4th grade and we were a couple miles from home. She did follow him all the way home from a distance. He couldn’t see us but she could keep her eye on him…

He never acted up like that in the car again.


April 23rd, 2009
3:01 pm


This is the same child that a parent will leave on the side of the road in about 2-4 years if there is no intervention


April 23rd, 2009
3:05 pm

That was wrong on so many levels.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where predators need only a moment to snatch a child. It’s hard to believe that parents who won’t let a child out of their sight in a mall wouldn’t have a problem doing so on the side of the road.

I remember when I was young, there was a mother and two young children killed when their car slammed into a bridge abutment. (At the risk of dating myself, this happened on Lawrenceville Hwy. when it was 2 lanes and before cars even had seat belts…to say nothing about car seats.) My mom turned it into a teaching moment by announcing to my brother and me that the mom was probably being distracted by the kids cutting up.


April 23rd, 2009
3:11 pm

JJ…do you have to ask…have you not been reading my posts? This is exactly WHAT this world is coming too. Parents do not teach children respect. The teacher may have been in the wrong but NEVER should a child hit a teacher and really this goes both ways! I never thought spanking should be administered at school but since some parents will never discipline, then we end up with this scenario.

No I would never leave mine on the side of the road. Mine were not angels but they knew what would happen if they pushed me over the edge. I rarely spanked mine but did use it once in a while. Once, I was SO mad that I made them sit on the couch together for 15 minutes, as I walked around with the spatula in my hands to calm down. I knew I was too mad to do anything,
They both kept saying SORRY MOMMY but they eventually got a swat …not as bad as it would have been if I would not have calmed down first. Some days just push you over the edge.


April 23rd, 2009
3:23 pm

As a single parent, I used to have to call my best friend, also a single parent at times when I was at my wits end. When my daughter would act up, I’d put her in her room, shut the door, and go get on the phone, go out on the deck, and tell my friend to “Talk me down”..She knew what I was talking about, didn’t have to ask, and she would say something to make me laugh……we still do that with each other once in a while.


April 23rd, 2009
3:25 pm

Oh, and ask my daughter if she ever wants the “Crazy lady” to come in. That’s me when I really go off…….all I had to do was look at her and say, I think I hear the “crazy lady” coming down the street…….


April 23rd, 2009
3:27 pm

MG – a lot of us look over your post.


April 23rd, 2009
3:54 pm

OMG, this lady is crazy. I don’t even let my son go to the mailbox without watching him go. Granted he is only 5, but still, I can’t even imagine leaving him anywhere. This lady is obviously a horrible person. Why not just turn around, drive home and punish the kids when you get there. Everyone gets frustrated with their kids, but hello, you are supposed to be the adult. Lashing out and doing something stupid like that isn’t teaching your kids anything.


April 23rd, 2009
4:31 pm

jb ( mg…is that me?) …and other of readers ( including Theresa) read them….to each his own….LOL!
I am trying to recall if I have read anything profound from you….hmmmm…still trying.


April 23rd, 2009
4:32 pm

JJ…I hear you….I know I look like a crazy lady when I am over the edge mad at my kids. It does not happen too much anymore as they have grown into decent young adults but there WERE days!


April 23rd, 2009
4:51 pm

I only have one child who usually falls asleep before we make it out of the subdivision so I don’t have that problem. :-D While I don’t condone leaving your kids on the side of the road, I don’t know enough about the area to pronounce the mother as unfit monster. Perhaps this was a small town and/or neighborhood that the kids were familiar with and could easily walk home. Did the article mention how far away they were from home? Considering that there were two of them, this very well could be a situation where they have taken this walk on numerous occasions. Just playing devil’s advocate.


April 23rd, 2009
4:58 pm

This lady is a horrible parent and does not deserve to keep her children. I have been angry with my kids, but never, never have I gone that far. She’s definitely a bad mommy.


April 23rd, 2009
5:29 pm

Stacey, the article said they were 3 miles from home (albeit in a nice area from what I’ve heard of Westchester/White Plains), so I think this was pretty bad. I agree with you, though, that there are situations where it might not be a big deal. I could definitely imagine my aunt or uncle back in the day getting fed up with my cousins fighting in the car on the way home and kicking them out within our neighborhood at age 10+ to walk the rest of the way and “think about what they did”. It was a small town with quiet streets, and we regularly walked home from school and rode our bikes all over, so I don’t think such punishment would have been unsafe in that case.


April 23rd, 2009
5:48 pm

MJG – I suspect that, in the case of the Athens-Clarke County 8 year old that went ballistic, that there is a great deal to the story that we haven’t heard. My bet is that this is a case of mainstreaming gone amuck, and that this is simply the latest in a long series of discipline issues this child has been facing this year.


April 23rd, 2009
6:20 pm

I’m not saying I agree with what this woman did. Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned for all.

Deidre…you pondered a good question…what kind of area was the girl left in? Westchester County, NY is very affluent. The NY Daily News is not a newspaper I would quote, either. Take it from there.


April 23rd, 2009
7:02 pm

Thanks, HB. I didn’t actually read today’s article and the little blurb about it yesterday didn’t have as many details.


April 23rd, 2009
8:05 pm

Ruth Graham told Franklin (I think he was 5) that if he did not stop acting up she would like him in the trunk of her car. He didn’t; she did.

Based on the above (posts and Graham story) I think 3 things….1–EVERY Mom has issues with driving with children in the car. 2 — EVERY Mom has a point where she has reached the end of her rope. 3 — EVERY Mom has at some point exercised bad judgement.

I do not condone leaving the child at the side of the road. I do not condone locking your child in the trunk of the car.

Have I felt at my wits end? Yep. I have pulled into parking lots and waited. I have turned the car around. I have cancelled planned outtings (cell phones are great!). I have even done the radio thing mentioned above.

The one my children hate the MOST took me the LONGEST to learn…..I tune them out. Eventually they have to learn to settle things among themselves…I do not ignore what they are doing, I keep tabs b/c the second it goes physical I re-engage….but they don’t want that either (see above about cancelling the outting)…so for the last two weeks, it has been amazingly arguement free in my car. They found they would rather talk me into going out, or playing what they want to hear on the radio than they would fighting.

My kids are FAR from perfect. However, when I signed onto this gig (Mommydom) I knew it was a journey I would take with God and my children together—they don’t leave me on the side of the road and I won’t do that to them either.


April 24th, 2009
1:19 am

Deidre_NC – I agree with you somewhat. Obviously, two kids together would have been a little safer. I would hope that my oldest would not want me to leave his younger siblings behind.

This woman went too far. Fortunately, she did not pay the ultimate price for her poor choice. We’ve all gotten frustrated with our kids. Mine have caused me to turn the radio up to near deafening levels at times. You just hope that how you handle those seriously irritating moments doesn’t come back to haunt you later.


April 28th, 2009
2:34 pm

Okay, now having survived & raising 3 children & now have 2 adorable grandchidren, I can tell you children can drive you to places you never, ever thought you would go. Yes, I have left my mouthy teenagers on the side of the road. But, not just anywhere, and not when they were children. But, I did stop and told them to get out and stand there until they thought they could behave. Believe me it only takes once or twice to make believers out of them. My mom used to say don’t make treats you are not ready to deliever on or that which will make you more miserable than the kid. Another wise lady once told me to not make a promise I wasn’t willing or able to keep. If I promised them an ice cream get them the ice cream, if I promised to tear their butts up when we got home than I would tear there butts up. No surprises. When my dau was 13-14 ( my challange & opportunity child) she kept missing the school bus. Finally, I told her that if she missed it again she whould have to walk to school. Now we live in the country & school is easily 5-7 miles away. As I knew would happen, she missed the bus. I was prepared. I got my coffee, newspaper , breakfast etc. & told her to start walking. I would let her walk until she was almost out of sight then I pulled up in front of her & watched her from my rearview mirror. I think my presence irritated her as much as anything. I wish I could say it only took once but not with this child, the next time it was her daddy’s turn though. Needless to say, she didn’t miss the bus after that. I only wish we had thought of it earlier. Would have saved ourselves a lot of grief throughout middle school. Oh yes, she had to carry her bookbag- do you know how heavy those things are? :)


April 29th, 2009
7:39 am

I think these days things are BLOWN way out of proportion, as is this case. I don’t know if she did or didn’t do the right thing by ordering her kids out of the car, but she didn’t beat the HELL out of them. I believe she was just trying to teach them a lesson. How do you discipline kids these days. I am a single mother of 4 girls and time-outs don’t work. I thank my parents quite often for all my trips to the wood shed for my switching when I was younger. I think kids get by with way too much and not learning the consequences of their actions when they are younger is going to leave them not knowing how to act in society as adults. What are you supposed to do to get children to listen?….if there is no sort of punishment, but this is how things happen when you try to discipline your kids. WHAT a JOKE!

ms old school.

April 29th, 2009
1:05 pm

ok, i would totally do it if the kids didn’t start behaving. i understand the kids having a bad day, being cranky, whatnot, but when your parents tell you to cool it, then you cool it. i’d kick them out, go around the corner making sure the buggers didn’t see me, and watch them sweat it for a few blocks. if they’re still at it, let them walk home, but with me watching from a safe and hidden distance.

the oldest daughter never should have left the youngest alone. that’s where i’m ticked. in a situation where the parents are suddenly not there, it’s the oldest’s responsibility to take care of the youngest. that’s how it was in my family, regardless of how bad he worked my last nerve, and in the families of most everyone else i know.

i’ve noticed that today’s society permits the kid to dictate to the parents the terms. the parent is no longer able to discipline the child for fear of being reported and their hands are mostly bound to ineffectual punishments like standing in the corner, being grounded, etc. as the kid grows older they act out more and more and the parents rights diminish and diminish. then you get stuff like columbine or those kids in england who lured a toddler away and beat him to death, and people are like, ‘where were the parents?’. uh, you didn’t let them do their jobs.

punishment sucks, it’s supposed to. so if you don’t want to get punished, don’t act up. period.

Brenda Goedde

April 29th, 2009
8:51 pm

I have kicked my two boys out of the car and made them walk home. There is nothing wrong with that at all. You take into consideration the area and how far they have to walk. I back this Mom and it would be a long time before I would let them back in the car with me. I would go out to dinner without them, go shopping, get ice cream, many things I would do to make a point that this is unacceptable behavior.


May 22nd, 2009
11:13 pm

Well, yes, it definitely depends on the place and distance from home. But, I have found that ramming my car into “park”, and getting out myself for a 100 yard stroll away from the car and leaving them in the car to beat eachother up if they so desire, works just as well. One, if not both, will scream “mommy, mommy- please come back, we’ll stop”. I’m guessing this could work until about age 10. So far, so good. One thing I give that mom – she makes no idle threats! Gee- a tough one huh?