When it comes to children, our country is extremely paranoid.
I mean, how many laws and rules do we have because kids *might* be injured? I think I notice it more because I grew up in a country without most of those kinds of laws. I’m not saying that they’re all bad, but sometimes I wonder if we’ve gone too far.
Now that I’m researching stuff for our own kid, I’m seeing “warnings” out there that make me wonder. Obviously warnings are good and parents need to take heed. But when is it necessary to sacrifice comfort/convenience?
I’m going to get myself in trouble here and I’m going to get frantic parents emailing me and calling me an evil mother. So hopefully I explain myself okay.
Take climbing trees for example. Trees are fun for kids! I used to love to climb trees, and it was always my goal to climb higher than the power lines. But think about it – so unsafe! Kids that high in the tree, who knows what branches can support the weight – oh no! They might fall! The neighbor boy once fell out of the tree we used to climb when we were in Waxhaw. I remember he got a bloody nose, but he was okay, and it wasn’t too long before we were all back up in that tree hanging around like monkeys. But he could have broken his arm or even worse. So should we as parents not allow our children to climb trees? Where do we draw the line?
I was reading about infant clothing. They said not to let babies wear clothes that have drawstrings on them because of the danger factor. Okay, I get that, makes sense to me. But they went on to point out the “horrible” statistics – drawstrings have led to 22 deaths since 1985! Oh my gosh! Okay I’m not going to joke about children dying. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s a really low number. When is the risk great enough for a blanket avoidance of a particular thing?
My parents have my crib from when I was a baby. It’s still in good shape; all it needs is a fresh coat of paint and a new mattress. I was reading a book today that says you should always buy new cribs because the parts on old ones might be worn out. This made me think. Should I go buy a new crib? (Let’s assume I want a crib regardless – I can see all the mommies right now typing comments about cosleeping, Pack N Plays, etc.) Am I a horrible mother for putting my child in a crib that I used as a baby 26 years ago? And, does the cost savings of not buying a new crib worth the “risk” I take?
And now where I’m going to get the most heat from parents – what about car seats? The more I read, the more I wonder. I should not skimp in this category, I’m told. It’s worth the money for a good seat and I should never buy a used one. I need to buy a new carseat every five years because safety standards change and old carseats wear out. I should put my child rear-facing until she’s 2 years old. She should be in a booster until she’s 12.
Obviously, I agree safety is important. That’s why I put my seatbelt on every time I ride in a car. I don’t want to just toss my newborn in the backseat and just hope that she doesn’t get hurt. But, when is too much? Every time we ride in a car we are subject to possible death from a crash. There is absolutely no way to remove all danger. With each precaution we take, we remove freedom, comfort, and convenience.
I rode in a carseat until age 1. I hated it, my mom says. I screamed the whole time. My mom’s nerves would be so aggravated – she finally put me in a booster seat around age 1. I know, how horrible! But I did much better and everyone was happier, and my mom was a much better driver. I was moved to a normal seat when my brother finished with his carseat, so probably around age 4 or 5. We moved overseas when my younger sister was 3. We didn’t even have seatbelts in those cars, much less carseats and booster seats! We somehow managed to make it out of childhood alive. :-) And let me tell you, by the time I left Peru nine years later I was VERY good at balancing myself in the car without a seatbelt – I could take the worst turns and stops while still remaining fairly still in my seat. It’s quite a talent.
So now where do we draw the line? I am going to buy a carseat for my child – it’s the law, and I would do it even if it wasn’t. And I’ll probably buy a new carseat, though I’m hoping if I like this I’ll be able to use it for all my children even if I end up having it for more than 5 years. I’ll go ahead and put it rear-facing right now, and cross the bridge later of when to move it to forward facing. (Probably will depend on how the kid reacts to being backwards. I get bad motion sickness anytime I ride backwards, so I wonder how my kids will be. Also will depend on when we get a bigger car – our backseat is pretty small right now.)
I want my kids to grow up in a safe, healthy environment, but I also don’t want to freak out either. Kids need to play, and one side effect to playing is bumps and bruises. I don’t want to be the mother who doesn’t allow her kids to live. But I don’t want to sit back and watch them play with matches either. And to be honest, I don’t want to be judged as an evil mother because I let my kids climb trees. Sigh, so much to think about, so many lines to wonder about.