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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
Vee April 24, 2009, 10:03 AM

I have done it and would do it again. I raiesed 3 sons and I didn’t play with them. My son was talking back and being disrespectful, I put his but out the care and made him walk home. It never happen again.

Mom of pre-teens April 24, 2009, 12:06 PM

This is not a crime! While I think the mother should have driven back in fifteen minutes to check on the pre-teens (they are not babies!), a little reality check for those kids was in order. It’s difficult to teach kids respect in this world today, and I applaud any parents who love their kids enough to discipline them. I have kicked my 9 and 11 year old kids out of the car several times. I had to pull completely off the highway to do it once, and then pulled ahead 100 ft. or so on a less busy road. Just that short 100 ft. walk assured they were well behaved the rest of the way home.

Mom in Minnesota April 24, 2009, 12:13 PM

It is not a crime to discipline your children. Society complains about spoiled children with cell phones at age 9, but then we arrest a mom trying to control bratty kids in a non-violent manner. Once at a home depot, I removed my 8 and 10 year old boys from the outdoor yard because they kept throwing rocks after I repeatedly told them to stop. I brought them to a bench at the front of the store, and sternly told them to sit there until I was finished with my purchases. A store clerk came over and asked me “if there was a problem”, obviously uncomfortable with me asking them to stay seated on the bench. Of course, if she saw them throwing rocks, I’m sure she would have thought I was the world’s worst mom with the world’s brattiest kids. You can’t win.

iluvmykids April 25, 2009, 9:49 PM

OK, ladies- I have acompletely different take on this, ready….

What a stupid, stupid woman. If your children are acting up in the back seat. Stop the car, put one up front in the passenger seat, leave the other one in the back. Tell them that you don’t want to hear another word. When you get home send them to their rooms, punish them, make them do chores, etc…
Abandoning a crying,terrified 10 year old girl on the side of the road in a city is placing that child in danger. It is neglect. period. The story states that a “good Samaritan” was able to coax the child into going with her for ice cream. Apparently this child is not “street wise” and was able to be lured by a stranger.
What if that good samaritan hadn’t been so good?? What if someone with bad intentions had caught sight of this scared, confused child? Sadly, we’d be reading about her her disappearance( and perhaps about her body being found).Pedophiles are on the look out for children just like this little girl- alone & vulnerable. They are “easy pickin’s”.
This mother should be punished for the lack of concern she demonstrated for her daughter’s safety.
FYI: There was a story last year about a mother who did the same thing as this stupid woman. Kicked her little girl out of the car. The child was struck & killed by the very next car that drove by.

iluvmykids April 25, 2009, 10:34 PM

Oh, just wanted to add something.

The little girl was NOT kicked out of the car in her wealthy, familiar neighborhood as some seem to think
( her neighborhood is not 3-miles long :) ).
She was dumped in the middle of down town White Plains. In a business district. Left alone to figure out what to do next on a busy street. Lots & lots of strangers/traffic.

Sorry ladies- I cannot imagine putting my little girl or boy in that position.
I’d rather deal with them at home — where they’re safe.

“…The fedup Scarsdale mom - a partner at white-shoe firm Kaye Scholer - soon relented and let her 12-year-old daughter back in when she caught up with the family car.
The younger daughter wandered around the corner to Mamaroneck Ave., where a good Samaritan spotted her in tears about 7:30 p.m., bought her ice cream and then approached a cop in a patrol car.

The officer described the girl as “very upset” and “emotional” in the police report.”

iluvmykids April 25, 2009, 10:50 PM

I just noticed this…She abandoned her at approximately 7:30 pm????
So she expected her to walk home as it was getting dark?

She didn’t call the cops to look for her ten year old daughter until 3 hours later—10:30pm -waaaay after dark ???
Are you kidding me!! :(((

What a loser - lock ‘er up.

mercaties April 26, 2009, 12:20 AM

These kids were well old enough to walk home from that distance. Not exactly what I would call a child neglect issue also when the 12 year old made it home without the ten year old the mother was the one who called the police, she obviously thought they were mature enough to walk home. But why did the older one leave the younger one that’s what I don’t get.

iluvmykids April 26, 2009, 12:36 AM

The 12 year old ran after the car. Mom stopped & allowed her to get back in. The stupid woman then took off & left the younger girl ( 10 yr.old) on the street to figure out how to get home alone.

Jeanie April 27, 2009, 2:10 AM

This person below said the same exact thing happened to her. How is this exact? She was not bickering in her moms car. She was deserted by a babysitter. It was freezing cold for her unlike now. Who knows how far from home she was.
Another person pointed out that buses do not pick up within
2-3 miles from home. This is a good point. I would like to see common sense used. I wrote a post about this in my blog.

“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.


Jeanie April 27, 2009, 2:11 AM

This person below said the same exact thing happened to her. How is this exact? She was not bickering in her moms car. She was deserted by a babysitter. It was freezing cold for her unlike now. Who knows how far from home she was.
Another person pointed out that buses do not pick up within
2-3 miles from home. This is a good point. I would like to see common sense used. I wrote a post about this in my blog.

“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.


marie April 28, 2009, 6:40 PM

omg the attention to this news story is ridiculous… her kids were being brats wouldve it been better to turn around and smack them across the face?? That’s what she shouldve done but noooooooo some of you wussies think that is child abuse too. Kids have it so easy nowadays…I think they were young but if they were each two or three years older, goddamned right they would walk home!

flashback67 April 28, 2009, 6:49 PM

I agree with Donna, I got dumped off the side of a highway when I was about the same age with a younger brother and told to walk home, on a hot Sunday afternoon, in my church shoes and slacks, 2 miles from home. Not a big deal. Biggest problem I had was dodging dirt clods from my brother.

The last days are here April 28, 2009, 7:06 PM

It just gets worse and worse for women.This creature,then Sandra Cantu,Caylee Anthony.It takes a very SICK mind to drop of YOUR kids,the ones you BIRTHED in the middle of a busy city.With all the children that go missing what did women expect,for Casey or Melissa to show up to punish them.One day people,I tell you,your very kids,your toddlers will rise up against you all on judgement day,and I hope to lead that army of angels against the wicked cold hearted beings hiding behind their makeup.

Anonymous April 28, 2009, 7:25 PM

Girls misbehaving,dare i say acting immature,is that even possible?the mom by default very mature but remember preteen girls are the most mature people on the planet,so the story must be madeup.I say it was a guy in drag with two boys dressed up as girls.

MG April 28, 2009, 7:42 PM

If this woman were a poor single mom, unemployed and on welfare, she would have been locked up immediately on child endangerment charges. But since she’s a wealthy lawyer living in Scarsdale, she doesn’t even receive a psych eval, which she desperately needs. So much for justice, which is only for the rich. And the 12 yr. old abandoned her sister because she is a selfish b***h just like the mom who had just abandoned them-DUH, people, get a clue already!

christin April 29, 2009, 3:28 AM

I hate the fact this mom had to apologize for her behavior and those rotten kids of hers had to see her arrested. THEY are the ones who should be in the hot seat! When I was a kid, I was told ONCE, and only once, to knock it off and that’s all it took. These days, kids have absolutely NO respect for anyone in authority. It’s a dangerous lesson to be teaching kids - misbehave until you’ve stressed someone out to the point of no return and the grownup gets it between the eyes. Did anyone notice this poor woman was trying to DRIVE A CAR IN TRAFFIC? There are numerous laws about talking on cell phones, but none for ill-behaved children.

Julia April 29, 2009, 12:21 PM

The kids were 10 and 12, they knew were they lived and it was just 3 miles! Walking home would have done the young brats good and maybe the next time they would have behaved themselves. This was NOT a crime. Counseling? Counseling for what? For having to walk 3 miles? Get real!

Carmen Malinis May 11, 2009, 3:07 AM

God Bless this Mom.
Hope her kids learned a lesson.
I’ll bet this Mother has gone to the ends of the earth and back for her kids.
Those kids should wise up and give their Mother the respect and consideration she deserves.

sarah blume August 26, 2009, 7:25 AM


Gel Nail Polish At Home December 15, 2010, 1:24 AM

I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.

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