Lessons In Irresponsible Parenting

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - April 07, 2005

I saw the recent story of a father who left his 5-month-old in the back of a car with the motor running outside a Kalihi restaurant. Almost predictably, some punk saw an opportunity to snatch an easy ride, jumped in and drove off with the owner giving chase.

Let’s hit the “pause” button on this story right here.

What the hell was this guy thinking?

I know it may not be an expression of the Aloha Spirit to criticize a guy who is already down, but the lesson of this story cannot be forgotten or diminished. What this guy did should be a lesson that shouldn’t have to be taught.

Leaving your infant child in a car is bad enough, but this space ace leaves the keys in the ignition. If leaving a child in a car with the keys in the ignition isn’t bad enough, he also leaves the car running!

My goodness. If these are the best parenting skills on display, he may want to think about getting a full-time nanny.

Is this criticism harsh?

Absolutely. Deservedly.

Too harsh? You decide.

But I don’t think so. I understand that as a parent that you cannot make the right decision for your child every single time. But when it comes to common sense situations like leaving your child in a parked car with the engine running, this is a whole different ballgame.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Soon after the car was reported stolen, the Honolulu Police Department mobilized and concentrated their search on the neighborhood where the incident occurred. Within minutes, an HPD officer located the stolen vehicle and, more importantly, found the baby. The parents were reunited with their child soon thereafter. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall during the conversation between mother and father.

Why would a functioning, thinking and otherwise capable adult do something so brainless as to leave a baby unattended in an idling car — especially with our island’s notorious stolen car problems?

I understand he left the baby in the car because it was raining and did not want to get baby wet. OK. So why leave the engine running?

Should there be any legal action against this dad? No. There was no malice, forethought or collusion in doing what he did. He just made a boneheaded, clueless and potentially life-threatening decision. This story simply reminds us of how fragile life can be. It also reminds us of just how aware parents must be every moment of their children.

The times in which we live are unsettling. The terrible spate of abductions, sexual assaults and murders of young children are disgusting and profoundly saddening. One never knows what danger may lurk around any corner. Although I am not a proponent of paranoia, I believe caution and care must be exercised on behalf of your child at all times.

I have seen parents let children run wild in busy parking lots. Some parents will let kids wander away in stores while mom or dad is distracted shopping. Single parents will let relative strangers watch their kids while they go to work or party for a night. How well do you know the people in yours and your kids’ lives?

I hope this case will stimulate talk and compel parents to assess their conduct in regard to safety and their kids. We, as parents, are the caretakers of our innocent and defenseless youngsters. It is not our job to watch out for their well-being; it is a moral obligation.

To be derelict in that duty is unconscionable and inexcusable.

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