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Mom Kicks Kids Out of Car and Drives Off

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Would you do the same?

madlyn primoff mugshot kicked kids out of car

We've definitely thought about and fantasized about kicking our fighting kids out of the car ... but this mom actually did it!

Madlyn Primoff, 45, a partner in a Manhattan law firm, booted her bickering children (age 10 and 12) out of the car in White Plains, NY, and drove off.

According to White Plains police, Primoff ordered the arguing girls out of the car Sunday evening as they were driving home. She left them 3 miles from their house, then sped off, the police report said.

The police report says the 12-year-old eventually caught up with the mother. The 10-year-old was reportedly found by a "Good Samaritan" on the street, upset and emotional about losing her mother, police said.

The Associated Press reports that the girl gave police her mother's name and their address in Scarsdale, and they asked Scarsdale police to check Primoff's $2 million house. Shortly afterward, Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing, said Scarsdale Detective Lt. Bryant Clark.

He directed her to White Plains police headquarters, where she was arrested. She has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges.

Momlogic psychotherapist Jill Spivack is on the "Today" show this morning to discuss this unique case.

momlogics jill spivack on the today show madlyn primnoff

"It's no wonder that this story is getting so much reaction from mothers," says Spivack. "The feelings this mom had at the end of a long day are completely normal, but are often not spoken about. Why? Moms fear they'll look like terrible mothers if they admit to these feelings, and they also carry a tremendous amount of guilt for even having them."

But it's crucial these emotions are acknowledged and discussed, Spivack insists. "At the end of a long day and just prior to the dinner/homework hours with two kids fighting in the back of her car, anyone could lose it," Spivack says. "It's human to finally hit a wall and run out of patience. And yet we never want to let ourselves get out of control and do something potentially damaging, emotionally or physically."

Spivack says we need LOTS of patience with kids -- all the way through the teen years and beyond. "Kids' jobs are to test us, to test each other, and to be demanding a lot of the time," she explains. "Dealing with that is part of our job description. Many normal moms feel all kinds of urges -- to run away, to spank, to drop their kids off on the side of the road -- but most don't act on those urges. They have to find a way to take some time off and figure out a better way of dealing with the behaviors and their own feelings of being overwhelmed."

What can you do as a mom when you're feeling stressed out beyond belief?

1) Keep your feelings in check.

The old adage "If Mom isn't happy, no one is going to be happy" is really true! In order to be a patient parent who can make good conscious decisions, you need to take care of yourself. This may mean scheduling your own exercise time, girlfriend time, or anything fun you can put into your week that will help to counterbalance the intensive demands of raising kids. Ask your spouse or other family members to help you when you're feeling overwhelmed. Even though moms feel guilt when they take time for themselves, the outcome is ALWAYS better than being around when you feel overwhelmed and feeling like you're going to lose it!

2) Take a Mommy Time-Out.

When you're upset, take five slow deep breaths until you feel more calm. If you're in the car with your kids, pull over somewhere safe and get out and just cool down. Once you've got a handle on your emotions, you can at least drive home safely and think about the consequences later. This time-out prevents us from scaring our kids, and models a socially appropriate way for dealing with the anger that we all feel sometimes. Feelings are OK -- but acting them out in a frightening way is not.

3) Talk to other moms about your feelings.

Whether you do this on a website community like momlogic or in your own neighborhood or with friends, you need to be able to talk to other moms when you're feeling overwhelmed and don't know what to do. Having support during the parenting years is critically important for all moms to maintain their sanity and to help them make the right choices. Just normalizing these feelings for parents gives them so much relief! If you feel like you don't have a strong support network and are isolated, you can also talk with a therapist about your feelings.

4) Model appropriate ways of dealing with anger.

Children learn by watching their parents. If you don't want your children throwing tantrums, set an example by keeping your cool -- even when your toddler has just redecorated the family room couch with finger paints. Parents should punish their children in a matter-of-fact manner without getting too angry or upset.

5) Learn about the importance of consistent limit-setting so your kids don't become out of control.

Some parents think it will hurt their kids to set limits with them -- but, actually, these parents are often the people who lose it completely at some point when the behavior gets out of control. Better to keep things under control along the way than to let them push you to the brink where you're doing something you'll regret! Generate logical consequences in advance for typical problems you encounter with your kids. You'll need to come up with things you can do in these situations when you're not in the heat of the moment. Focus on solutions that won't endanger your kids but still get the message across.

Spivack says if your kids are driving you nuts in the car, for example, you might stop the vehicle and sit quietly in the front seat, not saying a word until they've calmed down. Once they do, let them know that because this screaming match has taken so much time and energy, you've now run out of time to make dinner. Bummer! Everyone will be going to bed hungry. And FOLLOW THROUGH!

Will Madlyn's kids be scarred for life?

Probably not, says Spivack. "If this was an unusual situation for this family, they should be able to move through this incident unharmed, as long as Mom is able to let them know that she is truly sorry. Although she had a right to be upset at them at that moment, she made a very big mistake -- and it will never happen again because she's going to come up with some other ways to handle that in the future."

But if this was not an unusual situation for the family, Spivack says Madlyn really needs help from a professional who can help her deal with her stress levels and help her strategize anger management and disciplinary techniques. This is crucial, she says, because kids whose parents act out in unpredictable and frightening ways often begin to have behavior problems themselves.

Do you have ANY empathy for Madlyn Primoff? Sound off in our momlogic community.

next: 5 Reasons NOT to Bring Your Kid to Work
53 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous April 23, 2009, 8:37 AM

Why did she go all the way home-3 miles? My that is not good. In today’s society you can’t let your kids out of your sight in another aisle at a store-she left them and went 3 miles away.

If anything stop the car-get out yourself..with your keys in hand-and cool off. That would have made an impact on their behavior alone. But not to drive 3 miles away from them! She is lucky that no one stole her babies.

Not to mention the fact that the two kids seperated…what the…? Were they never taught to stay together in an emergency-this emergency she placed them in.

What was she thinking? I don’t blame the police for charging her-Just because she was having a bad day does not give her permission to place her children in harms way.

What about custody? Will she lose them for a while? Or have to take parenting classes?

Sheryl April 23, 2009, 9:17 AM

I can absolutely understand how the mom was feeling but what she did was inconceivable. I have a 7 year old that can push me over the edge. I don’t always handle him the way I should, but I would never leave him on the side of the road somewhere, even at 10 years old. There are too many dangers these days for a child. I think the judge should order mandatory anger management and parenting classes in lieu of jail time or monetary fines for this parent.

Alma April 23, 2009, 9:36 AM

We all make mistakes. I am sure this mother is feeling terrible right now. It was not the right way to handle it. Talking to her daughters about her mistake and re-assuring them that she loves them is what I think will help. Let’s give her a break.

Dana April 23, 2009, 10:11 AM

We have all been to the edge, but it is important to learn to take that mommy time out! If I were the judge I would specify some therapy and yoga classes for her. She needs to learn to manage her stress levels! April 23, 2009, 10:43 AM

This same exact thing happened to me when I was about 10. I was riding in a friend’s car with her babysitter driving. The babysitter and my friend started bickering and the sitter stopped and made us get out. We walked in the snow shivering to my friend’s dad’s apartment nearby where he was knee-deep entertaining business clients. The fear and discomfort of the whole situation has totally stuck with me, although I wouldn’t say its scarred me.

Michelle April 23, 2009, 11:07 AM

For god’s sack the kids were 10 and 12! Why is everyone acting like she dumped a 5 year old on the side of the road. People wonder why society is in such a sad state, but you get arrest for disaplining your children. What’s sad is that this story is getting so much attention!

April April 23, 2009, 11:28 AM

3 miles from a $2 million dollar home probably wasn’t the ghetto. But that would have scarred me at that age.

Adrienne April 23, 2009, 11:49 AM

Here’s some sage advice. Don’t ever go out without makeup! You never know when your picture is going to be on the news ;)

Lily April 23, 2009, 1:14 PM

Thou I never tossed my kids out of the car but I can totally understand the stress of children and reaching that point of no return. Being a single mom is very hard and stressful without having the other parent to share the problems. My daughter at the time when she was in her early teens was mouthy and always fought with her younger sister. I got to the point where I actually drove to the Juvenile Hall and told her I was going to take her in there cuz I didn’t know what else to do with her attitude. Deep down I didn’t want to put her in there but I was at that point where I didn’t know what else to do. She cried and begged me not send her there and I told her I don’t know what else to do with you. We talked inside the car and after that incident she was more better. We still had our ups and downs but it wasn’t so bad. It probably wasn’t a good choice but like I said, I was at my wits end with her. She is now a mother of two and tells me she understands now how its not easy to have patients with children. She hugged me and said she was sorry for everything.

mercaties April 23, 2009, 5:24 PM

The mother deffinately needs some type of therapy to help her with her stress levels and to learn how to control her frustrations with her children. That said, the oldest child was 12 it’s not like she dummped a toddler off on the side of the street, also they were in a million dollar neighborhood not the middle of the hood. I’m not condoning what she did but she was probably thinking they were old enough to just walk home. I was about twelve when I started yelling at my mother in the car and she made me get out and walk home. I’m perfectly fine but I never argued with my mother in the car again.

lynn grice April 23, 2009, 7:42 PM

the only crime was that woman taking that brat out for an icecream, and then going to the police station, at 10 the child new her address. Lets wonder if this happened instead, and believe me it does, the kids get home the mother is so irate she beats the child to death and is in the basement for a month. Good kids don’t get dropped off for no reason. But this is not a police matter, give me abreak, counseling? Maybe for everyone that thinks this is such a huge crime. Pat her on the back and say good lesson, bet those girls listen next time. Yes I have kids, well they’re grown now, but they were six little brats,guess what they do grow up, and they will laugh about this incident, if it can be treated as an incident, and not the crime of the century

Pamala April 23, 2009, 8:02 PM

When I was 12 years old I was riding my bike 10 miles to school by myself. Sorry people but the world isn’t as scary as you’d like to believe it is. It’s actually a lot safer than it used to be.

What I have to wonder is why the heck the 12 year old left the 10 year old? And also why hasn’t this mother taught her children how to make their way home from certain landmarks in the area should they need to?

Child endangerment? Hardly. Actually teaching your children a lesson, who knew parents actually parented these days.

Angela Tyler April 23, 2009, 8:17 PM

Where’s Dad? Oh, that’s right; we only blame mothers for losing it.

Mama of 3 April 23, 2009, 9:37 PM

Not that serious…Im sure those kids were driving that poor lady crazy. Believe me two arguing girls is very annoying. I wouldve kicked them 5 miles from the house!

darkness is light April 23, 2009, 9:57 PM

This isn’t as bad as people are making it out to be! People are taking their 10 year old kids and dropping them off at the MALL for HOURS ON END, people! This was a mother, dropping her kids off within WALKING DISTANCE OF HOME! Oh, wait, this is the 21st century, nobody walks three miles anymore. But still! It’s not like she tied them up, put them in bags and THEN threw them out by the side of the road. She merely pulled over, and made them get out and start walking. Can’t tell you the number of times my parents used to threaten my brothers and I with that when I was a kid. It’s called DISCIPLINE. It’s not putting her kids into an ‘emergency situation’ or anything like that. They have feet and legs that work, don’t they? They know their home address, right? Then they should know how to walk home. Or are we raising a generation of people who are SO dependent on cars that they don’t know what to do without them?

gary April 23, 2009, 10:09 PM

i kicked my 3 kids out at a gas station once for fighting my eldest son was 16 the other two 8 & 10 years old i drove around the block went back 2 minutes later the 2 youngest were crying the eldest wouldnt get back in the car & walked 2 miles home.. did i do the wrong thing what do u think??

Julie April 23, 2009, 10:21 PM

I was delighted to see this. Mom should NOT apologize to the kids — that’ll do more harm then good, as the kids will now think that they DO run the show. The kids need to apologize to Mom for acting like such monsters. And yes, the kids WILL think twice next time they start bickering in the car. Scarred for life? No, but this is a lesson they’ll remember, and they’ll grow up to be civilized adults rather than spoiled adult children.

Joyce April 23, 2009, 10:42 PM

I am sorry if i offend ANYONE but i really had to address the references made about these two girls not being dropped off in the quote: HOOD & GHETTO. First off…Where these comments REALLY necessary or relevant? Secondly there are far MORE kids kidnapped, molested, & murdered in these so called “UPSCALE” neighborhoods with the “3 millon dollar houses” than there are in the so called “HOOD/GHETTO. So personally i think these girls would have been far more safer walking around “THE HOOD/GHETTO” with “POOKIE & CREW” standing on the corner drinking 40 oz. ( are whatever it is some of you think people in “THE HOOD/GHETTO” do.) Than getting help from some Ted Bundy type posing as a Good Samaritan in the suburbs.

Donna April 23, 2009, 11:08 PM

OMG!!! I really believe that toooooo much is being made over all this. I have to agree with Michelle above, it’s not like we are talking about toddlers! Society in a whole has allowed our children to run a muck!!! Could this mother reacted diffentely well of course she could have in a far worse way! I don’t believe she should have been arrested I think its non-sense!!!!

Gail Cooke April 24, 2009, 2:38 AM

You know, it’s not like she left them in the desert to fend for themselves. She lieft them in an upscale neighborhood of which they were familiar. The courts just taught these brats to disrespect their mother and that there are no consequences to their actions. The “justice” system is teaching a whole generation to be criminals…it’s the justice system that should be put on trial, found guilty and be totally updated.

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