Free-Range Kids

Mom Leaves Daughter in Car, Daughter Survives, Mom Dies in Bank Robbery

Something bad could always happen.

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Stockton
Wikimedia Commons

During a terrifying bank robbery in Stockton, California, last week, three robbers entered the Bank of West Branch with handguns and an AK-47. They took three women hostage and sped off. Two of the women survived after being flung from or jumping out of the moving SUV. The third, Misty Holt-Singh, a 41-year-old mom, was used as a human shield. She died.

There is no good side to this story, but there is one thing to note: Holt-Singh had been running this errand with her 12-year-old and allowed the girl to wait in the car. In other words, she did exactly what so many public service announcements—and busybodies and cops—tell parents not to do. She left her daughter unsupervised in a car.

Her daughter is alive today.

Just one week before this tragedy, a mom in Bristol, Connecticut, was charged with leaving her 11-year-old daughter alone in the car while she ran an errand. The rationale was that the child was in danger. What if she got abducted or died of heatstroke? What if? is the rationale behind arresting parents who let their kids wait in cars.

free-range-kids

But tragedies are extremely unlikely to happen while parents run errands. The vast majority of kids who die in cars—up to 40 each year—do so because they are forgotten all day, not waiting while mom picks up the pizza or runs to the bank.

What happened in Stockton should serve as a reminder that we just can't predict tragedy. We shouldn't be arresting parents under the assumption that outlandishly unlikely dangers are always just around the corner. You could prohibit parents from leaving kids in cars and then have them die in bank robberies! Both dangers are extremely rare and impossible to predict—why have laws that assume lightning is always about to strike?

There is risk in everything in life. Punishing parents who make rational decisions just because something bad could happen is not going to change that. Something bad could always happen.

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  1. Criminals should know by now that human shields don’t work. Cops are more than happy to shoot them.

  2. “At a news conference on Thursday, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said at this stage of the investigation, he doesn’t know when Holt-Singh died, or who killed her during the spray of bullets – the suspects or officers engaged in battle.
    …..
    During the roughly hour-long incident, which police described as “reckless and chaotic,” three armed men robbed a bank, took hostages, killing one…”

    read=

    ‘We dont know who shot the woman.
    Violence happened.
    They killed the woman.’

    1. The actions of the robbers directly led to the death of the woman, no matter whom the stray bullet came from. Though it doesn’t surprise me that so many Reason readers are spinning this into another police-bashing session.

      1. If she was shot while being used as a human shield, the bullets that hit her weren’t strays.

        Definition of stray:

        stray

        verb
        1. move away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place.
        “I strayed a few blocks in the wrong direction”
        synonyms: wander off, go astray, get separated, get lost More
        (of the eyes or a hand) move idly or casually in a specified direction.
        “her eyes strayed to the telephone”
        (of a person who is married or in a long-term relationship) be unfaithful.
        “men who stray are seen as more exciting and desirable”
        synonyms: be unfaithful, have affairs, cheat, philander; More
        literary
        wander or roam in a specified direction.
        “over these mounds the Kurdish shepherd strays”

        adjective
        adjective: stray
        1. not in the right place; separated from the group or target.
        “he pushed a few stray hairs from her face”
        synonyms: random, chance, freak, unexpected, isolated, lone, single More

      2. Take a look at photos from the robbery. The getaway car literally had like 100 bullets in it. And of course the lying cops could easily verify the rounds in her were not police, that is why they are saying they don’t know.

        LA Sheriffs killed a good samaritan in a round of bullets and seriously injured another hostage.

        The police handled this horribly. It is at the point that they know they can do anything and nothing will happen to them.

        1. I should have made it clear the LACSD case was a couple of months ago.

      3. The police are responsible for irresponsible handling pf the pursuit. They shot her and were reckless.

      4. The actions of the robbers are separate from the actions of the police, and do not absolve the police from the act of shooting a hostage in a hail of poorly-aimed gunfire.

  3. Punishing parents who make rational decisions

    How are we, as onlookers, to distinguish between a child left in a car as a rational act, and a child left in a car as a negligent act?

    1. That’s why we need are elected betters to decide that for us.

    2. Context, location, common sense…

      If you are in the parking lot of an office building and there is a 2 year old strapped into a carseat pretty good odds that it is a mistake. If you are in the parking lot of a Wal Mart and there is a 10 year old in the car, pretty good odds that it is rational.

      In the exceedingly rare cases where those don’t decide the issue for you, wait around 15 minutes or go say something to someone (not necessarily a cop) if you can’t wait around.

      1. That’s a good answer.

      2. NOw, if you are driving down the highway and there is a golden retriever strapped to the roof of the car next to you, say hi to Mitt.

      3. Why don’t these busybodies go up to the car and ask the kid if they’re ok or if they need help. If mom ran into the store offer to stay until she gets back. Now of course if they’re in a car seat that’s a different story. I would wait 5 minutes max if it’s a hot day. If the child is crying or sweating I would check for an unlocked door or break a window and call the police. People need to use common sense and assess the situation before calling the police.

    3. We, as intelligent human beings, should assume the default that other humans are equally smart, especially if they can afford a car and children. I am no math or stats expert, but I bet the odds of any given human being smarter than any other given human being are 50:50, and even if we know we scored 800s on the SATs and have unmeasureable IQs, other random humans are quite likely to be smart enough to handle their own affairs.

    4. For one thing, rationality of the child. The kid in Bristol, for instance; 11 years old. Really? An 11 year old kid who would sit in the hot car until death? Most 11 year old kids would follow mom into the store and nag her for ice cream money.
      “Junior, stay in the car until I get back and don’t unlock the doors or open the windows for anybody. I’m not kidding!!!”
      “Aw Jeez, ma, I’m a vice president at IBM, I can handle this on my own”
      “NO BACKTALK!!”
      “Yes mother”

    5. If it’s a baby or a toddler, it may be a negligent act. If the child is in distress, act immediately. Otherwise wait 5 minutes to see if the parent returns.

      If the child is 6 years old or older, they know how to open the car door. Leave them alone.

      I can’t believe that the cops in Connecticut were stupid enough to arrest a woman for leaving her 11 year old daughter alone in a car. An 11 year old girl is almost an adult, and certainly old enough to be a babysitter. When did we start thinking that 11 year olds need a baby sitter? That’s asinine.

  4. We might have to start arresting parents for letting their children live in Stockton.

    1. You joke, but that’s probably not unreasonable.

      1. In fact, that’s the reasoning behind every proggie thought, that most people are too damned stupid to do anything right, especially take care of their own children.

        1. Proggies don’t think or reason; they emote.

          1. And they defend their emoting, while from the other side of their mouths they proclaim themselves the party of science and reason.

        2. Most people are too stupid to take care of their own children. It doesn’t take much experience with other people, and especially with children, to confirm this. Luckily, there is somewhat of a self-repair faculty in the human organism, evolution’s answer to this lack of talent.
          Of course, if so many people are too stupid to take care of their own children, they are not going to be any smarter taking care of other people’s children, even en masse.

    2. I would have to agree. Having lived in Stockton for five years as a child, that is definitely child abuse.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear that.

  5. The vast majority of kids who die in cars?up to 40 each year?do so because they are forgotten all day

    The vast majority of kids who die in cars are in car crashes. Perhaps we should arrest parents who are driving their kids in a car.

    1. So when the kid gets sick, no driving him to the pediatrician. Call 911 for a ride to the ER.

      Brilliant!

  6. From the article: “After that, all hell broke loose, resulting in the kind of crime Stockton police say they haven’t witnessed in recent history.”

    Wait, don’t all these Barney Fife PDs use this kind of an event to justify all their tough-on-crime SWAT/APC/Tank/Copter/Drone purchases?

    I bet the Stockton city budget for next year will be a police officer’s wet dream.

    1. you didn’t see the photo of their ‘response vehicle’ from the story?

      1. Nice tires!

      2. Just what any police department needs to kill innocent bystanders, dogs, and the unmutual.

      3. Lenco, Baby!

  7. the roughly hour-long incident, which police described as “reckless and chaotic,”

    Mayor Daley would be proud.

  8. Sort of reminds me of how our culture’s warped to demand we keep our kids from enjoying the kind of freedom my generation had in the supposed interest of safety.

    As I kid, I used and shot guns and fireworks, drove cars illegally off-road, hiked, hunted. You name it. I’d probably lose my kids to CPS if I allowed my own children to live a similar lifestyle today.

  9. up to 40 each year

    That seems like an awfully low number to be used as justification for fucking with parents and taking them to jail (where they are unable to supervise or take care of their children).

    1. You’re just a vile libertard. You hate our children just as much as you hate elderly inner-city homosexual blacks and common-sense gun laws.

      In order to keep our kids safe, we should ban cars, swimming pools, independent locomotion, and oxygen.

      SAFETY FIRST, BOYS AND GIRLS.

      1. elderly inner-city homosexual blacks

        What the hell does Samuel R. Delany have to do with anything?

      2. It would be easier to just ban children.

        That should solve all the problems within a lifetime.

  10. What about all the people who die in bank robberies?

    We should ban banks.

  11. We should at least make robbing banks illegal. Then nobody would ever do it.

    1. Except Wall Street.

  12. Obviously the mother’s body needs to be taken into police custody so that it can be booked for leaving the child unattended.

  13. What an absurd setup to get to the point that you can’t predict tragedy. WTF is the argument? That because a woman was killed in a bank robbery while her daughter lived in a car we can’t predict tragedy and therefore shouldn’t pass laws that attempt to predict and stop tragedy.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fine to leave a 12 year old in a idling car for a while, but this argument is absurd.

    1. What an absurd setup to get to the point that you can’t predict tragedy. WTF is the argument?

      The argument is that you cannot predict tragedy and therefore you should not legislate based on every tragedy, because once it becomes law it will necessarily become perverted.

    2. You really don’t do reading comprehension, do you?

      1. You’re joking right? The article uses the premise that the tragedy of a mom being murdered in a bank robbery leads to the conclusion that we can’t legislate “leaving your kid in the car rules.” Basically the same line of reasoning would be that you shouldn’t legislate against murdering a woman in a bank robbery…

        1. You really don’t do reading comprehension, do you?

          1. You’re right, Jordan, apparently, Briannnnn doesn’t do reading comprehension.

            Presumably he does do readinnnnng comprehennnnnnsion though.

          2. I think you miss the point. When the author specifically says that the tragedy of a mother being shot in a bank robbery demonstrates that we cannot predict tragedy and therefore we should not legislate against leaving a kid in the car, she is first creating an analogy between the possible tragic outcomes, and then following by suggesting an outcome that most would assume would also be an analogy between the two.

            Like if I said: “apples are a delicious fruit, but when you eat it, you’re left with a core. Bananas are also a delicious fruit. Apples remind us that when you eat a delicious fruit, you’re left with a core. Therefore, when you eat a banana, you’re left with a core.

            1. Nnnnno briannnnn.

              What she is sayinnnnng is that had she followed the nnnnnannnnnny staters’ advice, she would have beennnnn puttinnnnng her daughter innnnn danger of abductionnnnn or beinnnnng killed.

              Killinnnnng someone innnnn the process of robbinnnnng the establishmennnnnt they happennnnn to be custominnnnng is a straight up violationnnnn of their rights. So legislationnnnn againnnnnst it is legitimate (if you accept the state as legitimate annnnnyway).

              Onnnnn the other hannnnnd, puttinnnnng a child innnnn a car for 20 minnnnnutes isn’t a violationnnnn of the child’s rights. The proponnnnnennnnnts of the law assume that they are prevennnnntinnnnng childrennnnn from harm by criminnnnnalizinnnnng subset of the innnnnstannnnnces of puttinnnnng a child innnnn a car for 20 minnnnnutes where there is no adult preseputtinnnnng a child innnnn a car for 20 minnnnnutest. The article is poiputtinnnnng out that this is a ridiculous assumptionnnnn. Innnnn this case, the child was better off because she was ‘nnnnneglected’.

              1. See, your argument makes sense. She, however, didn’t make that argument. She never said the state should have the right to to legislate against killing but not leaving a kid in a care. She said because being shot is a tragedy, we cannot predict tragedy, and therefore we cannot legislate against potential tragedy.

                1. Ptential tragedy – walking into a bank and making a withdrawal.

                  Actual tragedy: getting shot by bank robber.

                  Potential tragedy: leaving your kid in the car and nothing else happens.

                  Actual tragedy: leaving your kid in the car and the kid dies of heat stroke.

                  Still want to equate a potential tragedy with an actual one?

                  1. I’m not doing that. The author is. She is equating the actual tragedy of being shot with the potential tragedy of dying in a car. That’s what I’ve been saying all along in no uncertain terms.

              2. The only logical conclusion is to require every bank office to have a drive through window.

        2. See also: my great grandfather was thrown from his Model T when it went off the road, and if he had been strapped in he would have gone over the cliff with it, therefore seat belt laws KILL people.
          Little Bobby Fizzwitzle, 4 years old, used his .22 rifle to chase off a burglar carrying a knife, so laws banning ownership of firearms by preschoolers KILL people.
          Etc.

    3. this argument is absurd.

      I see you grasp the point of the article, then.

      Which is, that it is absurd to argue that potential risks should be criminalized. Because everything has risks, and criminalizing everything would be absurd.

      I mean, you do agree that criminalizing everything would be absurd, right?

      1. Of course. I don’t think we should criminalize leaving a kid in a car…at all. But saying that the tragedy of a kid dying in a car is the same as the tragedy of a person being murdered doesn’t make any sense to me.

        1. I was giving you too much credit.

          You missed the point of the article.

          1. “What happened in Stockton should serve as a reminder that we just can’t predict tragedy”

            She specifically says that the mom being murdered in the bank robbery demonstrates that we can’t predict tragedy, and therefore we should not legislate against leaving a kid in a car…The same line of reasoning would suggest that we shouldn’t ban killing someone in a bank robbery. It’s a false analogy, and this argument can be made without it.

            1. The same line of reasoning would suggest that we shouldn’t ban killing someone in a bank robbery.

              You really should just stop now. This is embarrassing.

              1. It’s more embarrassing that you can’t understand how analogies work. I just don’t buy that you can compare these two kinds of tragedies, and then reach the conclusion she reaches. The reason you shouldn’t ban leaving a kid in the car comes up only in the last few sentences of the article: because something might happen but it didn’t. There’s no reason to use the false comparison of tragedy being unpredictable and therefore we shouldn’t legislate against it. Many laws that everyone is fine with are attempting to stop tragedies.

                1. It’s more embarrassing that you can’t understand how analogies work.

                  Such delicious irony. Everybody here but you understood the analogy. Maybe you should stop and consider that.

              2. It really is; that’s why he conveniently disregarded my comment on the matter.

                1. But why compare it to a person being killed in a bank robbery then? It makes no sense. Bank robbery = tragedy. Kid dying in car = tragedy. We can’t predict tragedy. Therefore, we can’t legislate against kids being left in a car…

                  1. I’m on record as not a Skenazy fan; however, we need to be fair. She never said one can’t legislate against kids being left in a care, but that one shouldn’t legislate it.

                  2. Bank robbery = tragedy. Kid dying in car = tragedy.

                    I think we all agree that bank robberies and the negligent death of a child should be crimes.

                    What you aren’t grasping is that we are also criminalizing leaving kids in cars. You do understand that leaving a kid in a car =/= kid dying in car, yes?

                    Since you’re big on analogies, the analogy to criminalizing leaving a kid in a car is criminalizing walking into a bank.

                    1. But that argument makes sense. If the article said “it’s just as absurd to criminalize going into a bank in the wake of a tragedy as it is to criminalize leaving a kid in a car in the wake of a tragedy. But she didn’t say that. She said getting shot is a tragedy. We couldn’t have predicted that tragedy. Similarly, we can’t predict whether a kid in a car will die or not, therefore we can’t legislate against it.

                      So it starts with both things are tragedies and unpredictable, therefore one should not be illegal. If you start with the premise that they are the same, and then conclude that one should not be illegal, you should logically also conclude that the other should not be illegal.

                      Just because she is right, it doesn’t mean her line of reasoning is.

                    2. Good lord. Reread this until it makes sense to you:

                      What happened in Stockton should serve as a reminder that we just can’t predict tragedy. We shouldn’t be arresting parents under the assumption that outlandishly unlikely dangers are always just around the corner. You could prohibit parents from leaving kids in cars and then have them die in bank robberies! Both dangers are extremely rare and impossible to predict?why have laws that assume lightning is always about to strike?

                      Punishing parents who make rational decisions just because something bad could happen is not going to change that. Something bad could always happen.

                    3. “You could prohibit parents from leaving kids in cars and then have them die in bank robberies.” Is the only place where she get’s kind of close to making the correct argument. But she never mentions that making it illegal to leave the kid in the car would lead to the kid dying. She only mentions that the mom dying means we can’t predict tragedy, and therefore, can’t legislate it. I have no trouble reading, just trouble taking someone so lazy seriously.

                    4. But she never mentions that making it illegal to leave the kid in the car would lead to the kid dying.

                      Which is not relevant. She says that making it illegal to leave the kid in the car could lead to the kid’s death, which is exactly the same argument employed by nanny statists about leaving kids in cars.

                      This is not difficult. You are literally the only person here who is not getting this.

                    5. I think I’m the only person who read the article. It compares the real tragedy of murder to the potential tragedy of dying in a car and then says that proves we can’t predict potential tragedy. The woman dying in the bank robbery is irrelevant, and in this case, detrimental to the argument.

                    6. The woman dying in the bank robbery is irrelevant, and in this case, detrimental to the argument.

                      No, it isn’t. It proves that there is a non-zero risk of dying if you enter a bank.

                    7. I think I’m the only person who read the article.

                      You read the argument, but you didn’t read it properly.

                      It is now routine for parents to be arrested for child endangerment even in situations where the risk their child was subjected to was extremely remote.

                      If we are going to prosecute people for subjecting their children to remote risks, this incident proves INCONTROFUCKINGVERTIBLY that we must arrest people for bringing their children into banks.

                    8. OMG brian, your argument is so stupid it is bordering on brilliant. This is comedy gold.

    4. I came in here to say the same thing. Using a single tragedy or as the case may be, a single stroke of luck as an argument for your position is the lazy MO of the left, not interested.

      1. Using a single tragedy or as the case may be, a single stroke of luck as an argument for your position is the lazy MO of the left, not interested.

        That’s not what Lenore is doing.

        Since the “lazy MO” of the left is, as you say, to use random strokes of luck to support their arguments, they must be forced to account for ALL random strokes of luck.

        If they don’t, we have to jam all of those random strokes of luck – every last one – down their fucking throats.

    5. In the Rock Hill case linked to in the first article, the rationale offered was that it was probably safe for the woman to have left her kids in the car, but that since something might have happened, an arrest was justified.

      The specific example offered was that someone might have “run up and stolen the car.”

      Well, since in this case someone ran up and robbed the bank, that means that by the standard promulgated in the Rock Hill case, everyone who brings their child into a bank with them is guilty of child endangerment. Someone might run in and rob the bank.

    6. I agree, this story is a bit of a stretch. And for the record, the number of children who die unattended in automobiles is certainly higher than the number of children who die in bank robberies. Statistically speaking, the mother should have taken the child into the bank. Who knows, the mother may have survived if the robbers felt any sense of guilt kidnapping a mother in front of her child.

      1. And for the record, the number of children who die unattended in automobiles is certainly higher than the number of children who die in bank robberies.

        I’m going to need a cite for that.

        Are you really that confident that the number of heat stroke deaths of children in cars exceeds the number of deaths of children due to violent acts in buildings?

  14. Look at videos of the scene, those bullet holes in the vehicle look like they were coming from the outside and riddled the vehicle. The bank robbers are to blame, but holy fuck are these cops incompetant. How many more hostages are going to be killed by police in this country?

    1. How many more hostages are going to be killed by police in this country?

      Every single one that doesn’t obey orders, would be my guess.

      And the reason that they don’t obey orders (they’ve gun a gun pressed to their skull) doesn’t really matter, does it?

      Because what really matters is that every single cop get home safely, even if he has to walk on corpses to get their.

    2. to be fair, the Police Tank had a flat? The “Shooting wildly with no regard for human life” was apparently the preferred tactic of both criminals and Po-Po

      1. They spend tons of money on that bullshit, and they don’t even bother to get run-flats? WTF?

        1. The DOD doesn’t issue them with free runflat tires. They have to buy the spares from their budget.

          That’s a lot of sweet overtime pay they get thanks to scrimping on the supplies.

        2. Run-flat tires have more road noise, and a harder ride.*

          Why do want to condemn our brave warriors in blue to an uncomfortable tank ride, Playa?

          *No idea of this is true. But its truthy!

          1. I will confirm as a car enthusisast that the harder ride is generally true about run-flats. Also more expensive, heavier. But, often give you sharper response on initial turn-in. … just sayin’.

      2. You mean, the preferred tactic of both criminal gangs.

  15. Any conceivable tragedy must be treated as inevitable.

    Because teh CHILDRUNZES!

  16. OK, semi-hypothetical question here:

    Let’s say some putz is trying to break into your car using a screwdriver to bust out the door lock.* You’re carrying concealed when you walk up on him. He turns, with the screwdriver in his hand.

    Would you shoot him? If you did, would you get off on self-defense?

    *Happened to Mrs. Dean this weekend. Nobody saw him, though; the rest is pure conjecture. The tow truck driver, who I expect knows a thing or two about breaking into cars, took one look at the tore-up door handle and lock, shook his head in disgust, and said “Fucking amateurs.”

    1. Let me ask my Lawyer, Bernard Goetz Esq.

      I don’t know, actually. Probably depends on the state. Also, did either party have opportunity to retreat…

      But screwdriver as potential deadly-weapon? no doubt. I don’t know there would be the appropriate conditions to assume ‘threat’ however.

    2. Happened to me, at home. I grabbed a shotgun and fired overhead and the poor kid shit his pants running down the street.

      1. In the 80’s my techie neighbor wired an am transmitter to his gas cap door that set off an alarm when tripped. He did the same thing. We couldn’t shoot kids, just scare them.

  17. Rather than baking your kid in a motionless car in a parking lot, let’s use the example of allowing him to ride in the back of your pickup truck. This used to make me deliriously happy when I was a kid, and I pleaded with my grandfather to let me ride back there whenever we went to the farm to visit.

    Should this be a crime?

    [If you answered yes, fuck off, slaver.]

    1. No, but my Grandmother died getting thrown out of the back of a pickup and my Dad never let us ride in back.

  18. I’m guessing you didn’t grow in Connecticut – otherwise your grandpa would probably still be in jail. The nanny state pols passed a law making it illegal to leave a kid under 12 in a car unattended “long enough that it represents a substantial risk to the child’s well-being, could be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor. Should this happen between 8 p.m.-6 a.m., the charge rises to a class C felony”. Not sure what “substantial risk” means (except, you better get a lawyer).

    1. God damn – and those blue staters have the nerve to call anyone else stupid?

      Dunning-Kruger effect, anyone?

  19. Reason.com has some of the best articles, and worst Comments, of any site.

  20. It is ridiculous to arrest someone for leaving an 11 year old in a car. An 11 year old can get out of the car and go inside the store if they get hot. An 11 year old can open the window if they get hot. And 11 year old can text you if you are taking so long that they get hot.
    This is why we need national standards and a line in the sand age requirement because this is ridiculous.

    1. I was a Life Scout when I was 11. I was almost 12? when I earned my Eagle rank. I was able to go off by myself for my wilderness survival course where I learned how to provide food and water for myself in the wild, but I couldn’t be trusted to know what to do if left in a car?

      I don’t know if we need national standards, but this is getting fucking ridiculous – that’s for sure.

      If an 11 year old – or even a 6 year old – doesn’t know how to open up a car door if it starts getting hot, and if they are not physically handicapped in such a way that would prevent them from opening a car door – then they are too stupid to live.

  21. At 11, I was caring for my baby sister, traveling on the trolley downtown, etc.

    Things are a little different now, but what’s wrong with leaving an 11-year-old in a car for a few minutes?

    1. Not a damn thing is wrong with leaving an 11 year old in a car for a few minutes – or even letting them walk somewhere 5 miles from home.

  22. I’m assuming the corpse is being charged with endangering the child?

  23. This is nuts! I’m sorry, but an 11 or 12 year old can get out of the car. We can’t always think that a kid is going to get abducted, or die of heatstroke. A baby can’t get out of the car. They can’t help themselves or prevent their death. An older kid can. When I go to work everyday my 13 year old is in charge of taking care of her 8 year old sister. She knows our address and what to do in an emergency. She knows how to call 911. If we coddle our children at this age and don’t teach them responsibility, then we are setting them up for the rest of their life.

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