Florida mom abandons 3 kids in Waffle House to go drinking at nearby bar

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I hope this isn’t somehow victim blaming, but I must admit I’m confused at the kids’ apparent inability to take care of themselves in fairly basic ways.

At the age of 12, I was quite capable of going to a restaurant unaccompanied, counting my money, and adding up the price of menu items before placing my order. Granted, not everyone has a head for arithmetic, adults make that sort of mistake all the time. But this still seems like a situation that can be readily solved - two kids stay at the restaurant so it’s clear they’re not trying to skip the bill, while one goes across to the bar to talk to the mother.

The article says that a customer stopped the children in their attempt to cross the road - looking at Google maps, it seems the restaurant and bar are directly across the road (and it’s a pretty busy looking road, part of a state highway), but a block from the nearest crosswalk. Even if I had had difficulty with at arithmetic at 12, I certainly would have been able to locate and walk 100 yards to the crossing with a walk light rather than trying to run across a highway. So I’m not clear on whether the kid wasn’t able to do that, or the customer thought a 12 year old shouldn’t be allowed to walk two blocks on their own.

Perhaps this all suggests a long history of neglect or trauma suppressing the kids’ natural abilities to think their way calmly out of a problem. I don’t know…


The woman’s in trouble because she left an 11 year-old and two 12 year-olds in a nice restaurant for an hour and a half? Tons of kids that age spend hours alone at playgrounds and running around. It’s a pity someone couldn’t find a more sensible way to respond than calling the police. Once child protective services gets involved she’s screwed.


Not to belittle this situation, but is “abandon” really the right word to use for this? When someone says the kids were “abandoned” it makes me think that the parent left them and fled the state–or otherwise did not intend to come back for them. This seems less “abandonment” and more “temporarily parked them in a dumb place for a dumb reason.”


Laura Browder accused of leaving kids at Texas food court during job interview - CBS News
Much younger kids, but mom was in constant surveillance: new to Houston, meeting an interviewer at a mall food court

She said she brought her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son with her, because she didn't have enough time to line up child care.

Browder sat her children down inside the food court near a McDonald’s, where she had bought them food, and went to her interview.

She claims she wasn’t more than 30 feet away from her children at any point and they were always in her line of sight. But by the time Browder returned to her children, a police officer was on scene and she was arrested.


Regardless of whether or not children that age should be able to fend for themselves, there is no way anyone could argue that this is acceptable parenting. Besides, having an alcoholic parent isn’t exactly the most conducive environment for developing independent children capable of thinking clearly when their mother abandons them at a Waffle House.


Well what the hell was she supposed to do, buy them a Singapore Sling? Waffles are good for kids, never did me no harm.


This is the reportorial equivalent of punching down. Shame.


hopefully she finds her way to some help.

FUN FACT: Child neglect is a felony in Florida, and “failure of supervision” qualifies as neglect!

I’m sure her stay in an over-crowded prison will do both her and her kids (whom she may never see again, apart from court-supervised visits) plenty of good!

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Obviously I abandoned my son every day when he was 12, as I kicked him out of the house in the morning to walk two blocks to a public bus to ride about one mile to school. There he had to remain, out of my sight, for about six hours until I would allowed him to return. I did pack him some food though, and I let him sleep later on weekends.

Remarkably he seems fine. He is now 18 and headed to college, which brings up another point. If your kid hits 18 and you kick him out of your house it’s bad parenting. If he is 18 and you send him to college you are a good parent, but the result is the same as he is out of the house. Money changes everything.


You’ve never been to a Waffle House, I’m guessing.

Their smothered/covered/capped hash browns and cheese grits are good, but the overnight crowd, depending on the location and proximity to bars, can get a bit on the wild side. Here’s one of those esteemed patrons in action:

Also, one of the kids wasn’t hers. I’d be pretty pissed if my kids’ friend’s mom promised to watch the kids and then ditched them at a fast food place for hours.


Hmmm… know anything about the child care system in Florida? I can’t imagine it’s great.

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Late at night is the BEST TIME to go to Waffle House… everyone knows that.


Let me see… Florida’s in the United States, right?

Where exactly did you pick up that she is an alcoholic? Having a single arrest for drink driving doesn’t equal being an alcoholic.

Even if she does have a problem with drink, having to deal with the justice system is unlikely to improve either her or her children’s situation in any shape or form.

In regard to parenting: In other parts of the world there are 12 / 11 year olds spending hours at Ice Cream Parlours or just in general public spaces… Of course in those countries not all public places have yet been privatised.

When I was a 25 year old my younger brothers (13 & 12) were staying with us in Berlin, they often stayed for the holidays. I left (=abandoned) them with my daughter in a pram (>2) in the Botanic Garden in Berlin of all places for an hour or two because I had to go to a meeting at my University (can’t remember for what) and the University Building was in the vicinity of the Botanic Garden. I was in the process of finishing my MA in American Studies of all things. Kids all survived.

I made a judgement call and thought them responsible enough to look after her, and they did.

Parenting is judgement calls all the time. When is your child old enough to cross the road, be near a cooker, a swimming pool, a stranger, a shop … it is our responsibility to decide as parents. Most parents most of the time make the right call, some parents (very few) are criminally neglectful and sometimes unpredictable disaster strikes (uncertainty of life and all) and some parents feel isolated and struggle.

Leaving three kids above the age of 11 (which in the UK is above the age of criminal responsibility) for an hour and half to go across the road to have a drink, does not by any stretch of the imagination fall into the criminally neglectful category. If the kids were five yes…

It seems unlikely that the other mother who left her daughter to go with someone she had just met on the day, would be justified in questioning other people’s judgements, leaving your kid with a complete stranger is a bit strange for me.

Parents, mothers need time away from their kids–for everyone’s sanity. If there is no community infrastructure structure and if there are no safe public spaces (parks, sports facilities, libraries, non-deathly roads…) than this mothers solution seems to be rather reasonable.

p.s. In the vast majority of the world children are not only on their own at the age of 11 /12 but often are working in dangerous occupation earning their own and at times their families keep…


I used to save up money to go to the arcade downtown by myself. I spent hours after school at the library by myself when my parents had to work late. On the weekends I’d walk 2 miles to the community gardens to tend my own garden plot. I was always taking the public bus by myself sometimes to the next town over. I never had any problem taking care of myself.

I’m not saying I approve of this mom’s parenting choices, but what happened to the america I grew up in? 12 is old enough to be a legal babysitter. I don’t see how this is a crime. poor judgment if she did this to go drinking, but hardly a crime.


Apropos of nothing, where did the hilarious phrase “drink driving” come from? It seems to be a Britishism. Do the British also say “driving while drink”? How about “I sure am drink”? (Well, okay, I might say that last one once I’d had a few…)

Maybe it comes from British people saying “Don’t drink and drive” and Americans saying “Don’t drive drunk”. “Drunk driving” still seems to be more popular in the UK though (at least according to Google):

I don’t see any waffles on that menu…

It WAS midnight that the cops came, though. And–though she said she wasn’t gone long, and went to pay a bar bill, the waitresses said the kid’s had been there an hour and a half, and the cops claimed she was at the bar, drinking with 2 men. And even bright kids can do awfully stupid things in times of uncertainty.

So, while at first I was “all this is bullshit, a parent should be able to leave her 11 and 12 year old kids at a restaurant”, there are enough factors here for me to agree, yeah, this is pretty negligent behavior.

Also–Waffle House is GREAT. At least the one’s near me–you get to watch the cooks cook, nothing sits under a heat lamp, and the waitress’s always call me “hon”. As greasy, unhealthy delicious breakfast food goes, it beats any of the other greasy, unhealthy delicious breakfast food chains in my opinion. (YMMV)

Also, also: Who the FUCK lets someone they JUST met at a hotel take her kids off late at night???