This Mom Whose Kids Were Left Unattended For Two Hours Gives Young Moms A Bad Name

katarina shortAs a woman who started my family young, I’ve dealt with my fair share of judgment and BS. It’s hard to get people to take you seriously when you’re a mom of three under thirty, and mothers like Katarina Short, whose kids were found after allegedly being left unattended for more than two hours, don’t make it any easier.

Short, age 26, has three children, ages one, four and five, was arrested this week after cops say the kids walked into the local police station looking to get a ride to school. Police think the kids were let home alone for at least two hourst. Lt. Jay Drury, from the Farmington New Hampshire Police Department, says that the oldest boy got his 4-year-old brother and 1-year-old sister dressed in their winter gear before heading out into the cold to find help:

“We are very proud of him and kind of joked that he’s five probably going on fifteen for being able to take care of his siblings the way that he did. Getting them dress getting their boots on and a jacket and trying to get to school.”

The kids were all examined by EMTs and were thankfully fine, though according to Police Chief Kevin Willey, the 1-year-old had the early signs of frostbite. About an hour after the kids arrived, Short showed up after receiving a voice mail from the police. She’s claiming that she left the kids with a babysitter so she could run some errands, but according to news reports, she won’t divulge where she was or with whom she left them.

One thing that annoys me about stories like this (besides the obvious child neglect) is that for every young mom who is allegedly irresponsible like this woman, there are a dozen who are great moms, who would never think to leave their kids alone. But stories like this one are the first thing you hear when anyone discusses young moms or teen parenthood. It would be great to see more stories of good parenting. But those don’t sell newspapers, push advertising or interest people as much as the bad stuff.

(Photo: Farmington Police Department)

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  • Katherine Handcock

    My heart breaks that the 5-year-old was actually able to get his siblings properly dressed for winter weather so they could go to the police station. My son is 5, and while he would know what should be done, I’d be surprised if he could actually make it happen with two younger kids. To me, that seems like an indicator that the 5-year-old has held a lot of responsibility for his younger siblings. At 5 years old.

    • Lu

      That was my first thought, that this obviously wasn’t the first time.

    • Sara610

      If she has a five-year-old, that means she had her first child at 21. Yes, I’d say in this day and age, that’s pretty young. It’s not insanely, crazy young, but it’s still young enough to qualify her for “young mom” status.

    • Sara610

      Urrrrrgh, sorry! This belongs with the comment below–I tried to erase it, but it looks like it’s still there.

    • Valerie

      I thought that too. Breaks my heart. Poor little thing.

    • whiteroses

      This. It’s bad enough that they were left alone for two hours but the fact that he knew how to get his two younger siblings dressed? A five year old shouldn’t know how to do that, imho.

      And I’m sorry- but when I hear “young mom” I don’t necessarily think of a 26 year old. I think of someone who’s not old enough to rent a car on their own. If you’re four years away from 30 you’re old enough to know better.

    • Momma425

      Unfortunately, I think this is common behavior of oldest siblings of neglectful parents. I daughter is five- and she acts five. My husband had a cousin who has a seven year old and a three year old. She is ALWAYS gone, pawning her kids off on friends of hers, and when she is home, she is sleeping or drinking. It’s sad, CPS refuses to do anything. Whenever we see them at family get togethers, the seven year old acts like more of a parent to his brother than his mom. It’s truly awful.

  • brebay

    Yeah, my eyes always look like that when I get done “running errands.”

    • arrow2010

      Those look like “I’ve finished a half bottle of Vodka” eyes.

  • Alicia Kiner

    Is she really giving young moms a bad name or proving that she’s a bad mom? Obviously, this isn’t the first time she’s left these kids alone because the 5 year old knew what to do to get his siblings dressed for cold weather, and knew how to get to the police station. I feel all kinds of guilty that my 8 and 9 year old get themselves breakfast now because of all the times I’ve had migraines and wasn’t able to get out of bed to get it for them. (we used to keep things like Pop Tarts stocked in a low cabinet for this purpose).

    • MerlePerle

      When I was incredibely sick during my last pregnancy, my then 3 year old got herself ready for bed many evenings. I felt so bad abou letting my baby down, but also was so so proud of her for being such a trooper!

  • Kat

    Errands? To the liquor store?

    I want to slap myself for the snap judgement but… look at the picture.

    • helloshannon

      my snap judgement was to her meth dealer. i mean seriously

    • AnastasiaMcNally

      As was mine… Her eyes! Those poor babies.

    • arrow2010

      Probably meth, look at those sunken-in cheeks.

  • JJ

    She doesn’t really seem that young though, well at least not to me. Then again I am going on 28 soon and I could have easily had the same amount kids if I had started in my early 20′s. I think this is more of an dumb, messed up mom issue (in the case of this mother), Hell most of the people I know who had kids, sometimes even several kids, in their 20′s were really responsible and jumped right into parenthood happily. None of the 20 something or even the teen parents I have known have ever abandoned their young kids for hours without supervision if they did they would have had massive panic attacks and run back to their kids crying for forgiveness.

  • WriterLady

    I don’t think this woman would be judged by the vast majority of people as the posterchild for stereotypically bad parenting due to her age (myself included). For one, she wasn’t that young when she became a mother; she was 21, if the oldest is 5. Second, the mugshot (or whatever photo has been provided) and her shady story leads one to believe that she has serious issues. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that addiction of some sort has played a role in her neglectful parenting. Addiction can strike middle-aged, upper-class women, too. Furthermore, acceptable parenting skills don’t automatically manifest once someone reaches a certain age. I’m a slightly “older” mom (having had my only son at 30), but I’d never begrudge a person who had kids at a young age solely on that factor alone. Several friends had kids fairly young, and they are wonderful mothers. I will, however, judge a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, childcare worker, you-name-it who fails to provide basic care for the kids they are responsible for.

  • C.J.

    When I think of a young mother I think of someone who started having kids in their teens, not their twenties. I really don’t think this has anything to do with age. I really hope this woman gets the help she obviously needs to turn her life around. Looking at her picture and the story it doesn’t seem like she is taking care of herself either. It isn’t very likely that she will learn how to care for her children properly until she learns to take care of herself. This is just very sad.

    • brebay

      Exactly. She’ll be just as bad or worse a mom when she’s 40. This really isn’t about age. She was 21 when she had her first; and most teen moms wouldn’t do this.

    • C.J.

      I have friends that have a daughter that is a teen mom. She was 17 when she had her baby and she is a wonderful mother. She finished high school and was accepted to every university program she applied to. Sure her parents helped her by watching the baby so she could go to school but she did all the rest. I never see the baby without her. She managed to breastfeed the baby until she was 2 while going to school full time. She gets to live with her parents but she works to buy baby everything she needs. The baby is one of the most outgoing happy little girls I have ever seen. I really don’t think age automatically makes someone a bad mom. Some people just don’t have the tools to be a good parent at any age.

    • brebay

      Uh, neither do I. That’s what I just said.

    • C.J.

      I know, I’m just agreeing with you. I talk too much when I am bored!

    • brebay

      Ah, it was hard to tell. The downfall of non-verbal communication, I guess, hard to guess the other person’s intent sometimes!

    • C.J.

      This is true, that’s why I don’t like texting too. I am always worried it sounds wrong.

  • jcb0121

    The media just wants to hear horrible stories like this because that is what sells. You will never see a source of mass medium sharing a story that regards a normal person for doing something right that most people do. You always hear about horrid, uncommon occurrences because they are “exciting” and get people talking, which in turn unfortunately makes these sources money.

    • brebay

      Well, a normal person being normal isn’t really news. You really expect to see “30-year-old Mother Takes Kid to the Park and then Home for Healthy Lunch”?

    • jcb0121

      I do understand what you are saying, but the media should be reporting events and new, positive trends instead of pessimistic affairs that almost never happen.

    • brebay

      While I agree it is nice to have positive stories, it is absolutely NOT the job of the media to censor out the bad and only report the good. That’s pretty fascist; that’s now North Koreans get their news. This notion that reporting facts that are sad, alarming, or disturbing is being “negative” is a millennial construct. News is news. I want to hear it all. If it depresses someone that much, they need to censor what they view, not put that on the people reporting. It’s not the job of the media to be “positive” or “negative.” They should be neutral. And though cable news has largely made neutral reporting a thing of the past, there are still places you can get straight news, no banter, with people rather than models reporting just the facts.

    • jcb0121

      My original comment simply suggested that horrible stories like this are often featured due to the sad fact that they make money.

    • brebay

      And that’s what blogs, TV stations, magazines, and websites are in business to do. Welcome to capitalism.

  • I’mNewHere

    Is 26 really a young mom? I would never associate this story with young moms.

    • Sara610

      If she has a five-year-old, that means she had her first child at 21. Yeah, I’d say that qualifies her for “young mom” status–it’s not crazy, unbelievably young, but it’s still fairly young in my book.

  • Stephanie

    I have to agree with the other comments- I had two kids at 26. It’s not that young.
    But I also think it’s beside the point- this has little to do with age, and a whole lot more to do with a lack of common sense, intelligence or your own personal issues.

  • HaydensMom

    My family had a summer home in Middleton,NH-the closest store being located in Farmington,NH and let me tell you…most of the residents there looked to be right out of a Rob Zombie movie..i think a possible explanation for this “mothers” behavior is inbreeding!!

  • arrow2010

    Can you say “young, alcoholic” mom?

    • brebay

      Are you asking your mom if she can say “drunk alcoholic” or do you really just not know how to use quotes?

  • K.

    This is not a “young mom” thing. This is a “poverty-stricken mom” thing.

    (and I’m not necessarily talking about this specific case so much as the number of extremely young latchkey kids I’ve known over the years whose parents were poor. These types of stories are sadly common.)

    • NYBondLady

      Poverty is not the reason she is neglecting her kids. Drugs, alcohol, mental issues, etc. are probably to blame. Do these issue lead to poverty? Yes, but just being “poor” does not cause one to put their children at risk.

    • guest

      I’ve known a many poverty stricken mothers and fathers that would never leave their children like this. Let’s call a spade a spade for what this lady is.

  • Crusty Socks

    So… that 5 yr old was able to do something so many parents have trouble with…

    getting a 4 and 1 yr old to dress and then follow

  • AlbinoWino

    Ugh, my friend is a barista at Starbucks and used to get this lady who would drop her kids off at Starbucks bright and early to go to work. The kids would wait there for an hour and then walk to school. Basically she expected the baristas to play babysitter for free. Apparently they were a bit of a handful as well. We seriously need better access to childcare in this country overall.

  • Rachel Sea

    Since when is 21 considered young to be having kids? My mom, my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers, and my great-great-grandmothers all had their first babies at 20-22 years old. If she was neglectful, and there was no sitter, it’s not because she’s 26.