Woman's controversial stance over common petrol station dilemma: 'Am I a bad mum?’

The mum of two revealed she never takes her children inside to pay for petrol, prompting a heated debate.

An Aussie mum's controversial petrol station admission has stirred up a heated debate, with parents across the country chiming in on the divisive topic.

The mum of two posed the question on social media this week asking if other parents left their kids in the car or took them into the servo while filling up and paying for petrol.

"I leave my kids in the car to get petrol. Is that bad?" the Victorian woman said asking if she was "a bad mum".

"You don't take them in, surely. Surely mums aren't taking their kids in. Since having two kids, there's no way I'm taking them both out of the car to go and pay for petrol."

Screen shots showing Victorian mum Montana wearing sunglasses sitting in her car.
The Victorian mum admitted she always leaves her kids in the car to pay for petrol. Source: TikTok

Parents divided over whether or not to leave kids unattended

Her admission shared on TikTok ignited a heated discussion over "what is right" and how parents should tackle the familiar conundrum. The woman named Montana was pleased to learn she wasn't the only one to leave her kids.

"Absolutely not taking them in," another woman said of her four kids. "Too hard. I’ve got three. Never happening," agreed another.

One admitted "the struggles" of unbuckling young children saying it's not worth the "two seconds" it takes to pay — a sentiment shared by many.

Some suggested "cracking the windows and locking the doors" before running in to quickly pay, saying doing this makes them feel ok about briefly leaving the kid unattended.

But many others agreed it's "not at all safe" to leave kids in the car, even for a moment, with some suggesting "anything can happen".

"What if someone crashed into your car (next to the bowser) no way. Takes 2 secs to take them in," one said.

"It’s bad. Think about someone stealing your car with your kids there while you’re inside the store in a line paying for petrol," shared another.

While others said it's "terrible" that parents even consider leaving them, "especially on warm days".

What does the law say about leaving children in cars?

In most Aussie states and territories, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a car, regardless of the length of time. However, according to Shine Lawyers partner and special counsel Will Barsby, it's unlikely police will prosecute someone for popping inside to pay for petrol.

"These laws are there to protect kids from greater dangers, things you hear about like a kid left in a hot car while mum and dad are in the casino and the like," he previously told the ABC. He said it often comes down to "reasonableness".

Leaving kids inside a car for "a reasonable period of time" to duck in or out really comes down to each individual circumstance, he added saying you must apply a "sensibility test".

Woman filling up petrol while holding child on her hip.
In most Aussie states and territories it's illegal to leave children unattended in cars. Source: Getty

"If you're at the servo and you can see the line is 15 people deep because they've been lining up for the cheap fuel, maybe that's the instance you have to get out, take the two kids with you and line up, or come back another time with someone to help you."

In Queensland, where the laws are stricter, the RACQ says: "Our advice to parents has always been never leave a child unattended in a car" and where parents need to run errands, including filling up petrol they should try to "make other arrangements to leave the child where they're safer at home".

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