Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

Mom Kicks Kids Out of the Car, Gets Arrested

A mom in White Plains, N.Y., was fed up with her daughters' bickering in the car. And so, in a fit of what was likely parental desperation, she kicked the girls, ages 10 and 12, out of the car 3 miles from home.

Is the act one of minor stupidity -- acting properly human -- or child endangerment?

"The 12-year-old chased the car and got back in," reports the New York Times. "The 10-year-old was left alone and was eventually comforted by a passer-by who bought her an ice cream and contacted the police. When Ms. Primoff came to pick up her daughter, she was arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and held in jail overnight. Ms. Primoff, a partner specializing in international finance with the firm Kaye Scholer, is free on $1,500 bail and due back in court on May 21."

Primoff also has been barred from contact with her children, writes the New York Sun.

If it weren't for her arrest -- and even with it, it's likely that Primoff's daughters will believe her next time when she tells them to stop fighting or they can get out of the car. I certainly believed my mother when she said similar statements because I KNEW my mother meant it. And Primoff made that clear with her own children.

I know there are plenty of folks who are and will slam Primoff for endangering her children in what some call a seedy commercial district in White Plains. Others will -- and have -- said they deal with fighting kids in the car by giving them iPods or other electronic toys to turn on or by making them change seats. But none of us were in Primoff's driving shoes in that car. None of us knows the volume the bickering had gotten to or the amount of time the girls had been fighting or how many other times before the girls had fought in that same car. None of us were in her shoes.

What we do know is that some forms of discipline can land us in jail -- and that's a shame. Because, really, when it comes right down to it, the only way our kids will listen to us when we tell preschoolers to keep those seat belts buckled or to stop yelling in the car or any miriad of other annoying behavior, is to enforce our threats. And kicking the kids out of the car is a pretty common threat that comes to many minds.

While I can't say I've ever kicked the kids out of the car miles from home, I have sent them out the front door to run a few laps around the house. And I have pulled over, stopped the car and refused to drive until everyone is acting right.

What troubles me most about this is NOT the fact that Primoff kicked the kids out. It's that she didn't quickly double back to pick up the 10-year-old.

How do you deal with fighting kids? What do you think of this incident?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 23, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  | Category:  Discipline
Previous: Alec Baldwin and the Daddy-Daughter Bond | Next: Kindergarten Angst -- Is It Worth It?

Comments


I completely agree with this "mother" getting arrested for child abandonment AND endangerment. She needs to have her kids taken from her and put up for adoption, as she is clearly unfit to be a parent.

Posted by: Alex511 | April 23, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

My dad did that to us once. In fact, my brother and I were those exact ages (10 and 12).

We had a great time walking home (it was more like 2 miles from our house). Never felt endangered. Learned our lesson.

The level of actual endangerment probably depends on the kid. For us, we were plenty well equipped to walk home 2 miles. We used to roam a lot farther than that on our own anyway.

Posted by: 06902 | April 23, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

If the kids have made it to ages 10 and 12 without other incident, then I seriously doubt that this mother is a danger to her children.

I mean, what's in the kids' best interest here? Place the children in the overburdened foster system?

With all the truly messed-up home lives that other kids have, I think the "protectors" have done more than enough here and should concentrate their resources on the real troubled homes.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | April 23, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"What we do know is that some forms of discipline can land us in jail -- and that's a shame. Because, really, when it comes right down to it, the only way our kids will listen to us when we tell preschoolers to keep those seat belts buckled or to stop yelling in the car or any miriad of other annoying behavior, is to enforce our threats."

The answer is not to always enforce your threats, the answer is to not make threats that you cannot or should not enforce.

Obviously, she lost her temper. The final disposition of her case should depend on whether this is a one time mistake by a stressed-to-breaking-point person that will never happen again or part of a regular pattern of uncontrolled anger. I wonder if she blows up at her secretaries, paralegals, and case-clerks? Well, parents do much worse every day. This is just infotainment, topic-of-the-day for the lunch room. Heck, comments to articles in this newspaper website are so vituperatively contentious, I wish I could throw their authors out of the car and force them to walk home.

Posted by: _kt_ | April 23, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Too bad Jezebel's mother didn't leave her somewhere like this!

Posted by: anonymous_one | April 23, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

"If the kids have made it to ages 10 and 12 without other incident, then I seriously doubt that this mother is a danger to her children."

Of course, we have no way of knowing that they have made it this far without incident. Maybe the mom's been finding "interesting" ways to discipline her children for years, and this is the first time an outsider learned of it. At the very least, it's worth investigating. If it was a one-time lapse in judgment, then fine. Forgivable. But if it's part of a pattern, I hope someone protects those kids.

As for the fact that she's a lawyer and well-educated, neither one means she's a good parent. My dad was a doctor, and he never stopped the things my mom did.

Posted by: newsahm | April 23, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I read the New York Sun article and it sad that she called the police to report her daughter missing after she got home. So the police, paid for by taxpayers, were supposed to go search and find her daughter because she got mad at her kids. Give me a break. While the article says that the child was three miles from home, don't know if one can easily walk from White Plains to Scarsdale without hitting the highway. (It is two stops on Metro North from White Plains to Scarsdale.) She is really lucky that some creepy person wasn't the one to find her daughter.

Posted by: NovaCath | April 23, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I too expelled obnoxious children from my car. They were my son and two of his friends. If I recall correctly he was 10 and they were 12. It wasn't three miles from home closer to 1/2 mile but the idea was the same. They learned many lessons from the experience. As another poster has noted over the generations children have walked 3 miles back and forth to school.

Posted by: gardengate14 | April 24, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

fr NovaCath:

> read the New York Sun article and it sad that she called the police to report her daughter missing after she got home....

AFTER she gets home. She obviously "can't afford" family therapy. She doesn't deserve to have those kids, EVER again.

Posted by: Alex511 | April 24, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

C'mon people, give this woman a break. It would have taken all of an hour if that for a 10-year old to walk that distance. If this mother had sent her child out for milk and called the police when she became concerned would you have something to say about that? People always have something to say about the way other people parent. For example, if this mother hadn't enforced her rules and these children grew up to be the little heathens they were probably behaving like in the car, people would have something to say about the way they were raised. Cut this woman some slack.

Posted by: lil-led | April 24, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree with _kt_. Don't make threats you can't or shouldn't enforce, and be willing to enforce the threats you make. And we can't tell a thing about the NY woman from a single incident.

Posted by: fitday19550 | April 28, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

While we don't know how long she left her 10 year old for, I don't blame her at all. Being the mother of 11 and 13 year old girls I have been there many times when the constant arguing in the car could make a person go crazy or take a route to teach them a leasson and that is exactly what she did. It does not make her a bad mother at all and she not have been arrested. Bet her girls will think twice now and feel bad for making her go through what she did.

Posted by: liz7878 | April 28, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

In this day and time, in my mind, what the mother did was unconsciounable. Twenty or even 10 yrs ago I would have had no problem with this, but it seems as though the number of child molesters/abusers has risen so much over the years. The mother and child are extremely lucky that the person who found her crying daughter took her to get ice cream and then to the police. It could just have easily been someone who could have hurt this little girl. She could have put them out, driven down the street (w/the girls still in view) and sit there waiting for them to come to the car, which I'm sure they would have, and then told them, "Next time, I'm gone." I believe with this action, her point would have been made. That said, I don't understand how, at 12 and 10, your children can get on your nerves so bad that you have to resort to putting them out of the car. It appears that parental discipline does not run rampant in this household.

Posted by: ej56 | April 28, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Almost every parent has felt this way. However, what is the message that you are teaching your child if you can't control your anger and you act with aggression? Many of the parents I work with have great success in helping their child get back in control through the use of consequences. When you are calm, before a car trip, explain what is expected and what the consequences will be if they don't listen (i.e not electronics for the evening). A warning tends to help- however, you must follow through or it just won't work!!

Posted by: CreativityQueen | April 29, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"While the article says that the child was three miles from home, don't know if one can easily walk from White Plains to Scarsdale without hitting the highway. (It is two stops on Metro North from White Plains to Scarsdale.) She is really lucky that some creepy person wasn't the one to find her daughter."

Queue the cross-reference to 4/27 OP topic on kids riding NY transit alone:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2009/04/the_two_words_that_can_drive_a.html

Just goes to show you that for as much as the voices here are a mixed bag of opinions, NY's own rules and laws have some distance to go before overcoming their own inconsistent applications and principles.

Posted by: chumbucket | April 30, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"While the article says that the child was three miles from home, don't know if one can easily walk from White Plains to Scarsdale without hitting the highway. (It is two stops on Metro North from White Plains to Scarsdale.) She is really lucky that some creepy person wasn't the one to find her daughter."

Queue the cross-reference to 4/27 OP topic on kids riding NY transit alone:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2009/04/the_two_words_that_can_drive_a.html

Just goes to show you that for as much as the voices here are a mixed bag of opinions, NY's own rules and laws have some distance to go before overcoming their own inconsistent applications and principles.

Posted by: chumbucket | April 30, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company