As any parent raising babies, toddlers and preschoolers knows, safety requirements and doctor recommendations are constantly changing. What babies can and can't eat has evolved over time. Whether young kids should or should not watch TV is constantly being revised. Child-proofing your house has become an industry.
Becoming a parent, I hadn't realized there were so many innocuous ways your child could be hurt and die and you would become an unknowing and unwilling participant. Baby swings, high chairs, cribs, toys, walkers, and even clothes can become hazardous when set within inches of a baby.
I learned over time not to get too excited every time new recommendations came out. If I tried to follow every safety rule out there, I would become a blubbering mess of anxiety and never let my kids go or do anything.
The fact is we humans are fragile beings. Kids are especially fragile. I have always exercised reasonable caution and left the rest up to what it is. Chance. Accidents happen. That is the state of the world we find ourselves in, and there is no way we can prevent every injury or death as much as we would like to. It is sad when anybody dies and the death could have been preventable, but it happens.
So I was surprised the other day when reading a blog post at Crappy Pictures. Her blog is hilarious and she really captures everyday life with toddlers well.
Her post was a really funny bit about her kids dropping toys in the car on long trips, which every parent can relate to. The weird thing was A LOT of the comments chastised her for being a careless parent because she didn't draw her child in a rear facing car seat.
First, it hadn't even occurred to me to be on the lookout for something like that and secondly, I was alarmed, until I realized the boy was almost 3. It only seemed natural that he would be forward facing. My own kids were turned around in their seats after the age of 1 as well. I was following the safety recommendations of my doctor and apparently endangering their lives every time I ventured out in a car.
My kids were 10x safer than my generation. I remember riding in an Omni hatchback bumping down country roads with 5 or 6 of my closest friends. My parents weren't needlessly putting us in harms way, that was just the way it was. Thankfully with research more kids than ever are in carseats and traffic deaths of kids are dropping. Yay safety!
Now, I agree that kids should be in carseats. Everybody should also wear seatbelts. It only makes sense to mitigate the danger with some common sense safety solutions. Apparently having a carseat isn't enough. More safety is required. I may have made different decisions if I had known about this report.
So in 2011 a new recommendation was reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that toddlers should stay in a rear facing carseat at a minimum until the age of 2, or until they outgrow the height and weight requirements of the carseat. Huh? Missed that memo. Rebecca is 8, check, Isaac is 4, check, Margo is 2, check. But it appears we have escaped my oversight unscathed.
Okay, so now I understand why these women are upset, but my mind about broke because 1) they missed the entire hilarity of the post because of their fears and 2) why are they so concerned about someone else's kids?
Putting the whole safety debate aside, why do moms continue to attack other moms for choices they make? I just don't get it. I know there are people out there who are horrified that I didn't breastfeed. Or that I vaccinate my kids, or that I let them cook on their own using a stove. Or God forbid, I let them cry it out at night when I put them to sleep. They may have thought I was a bad parent, but no one came up to me and said, "I know you really mean to be a good mom, so you should really do X,Y, or Z."
We should step in when we see a child abused, neglected or starving. But the ideals you hold as a parent are your own. If someone is following the law, keep your trap shut. Stop judging and support. Commiserate over long car trips with whining kids who keep whacking you in the head with toys they are throwing. But keep the judging to yourself. There are plenty of things I see parents do that I would never do because I think of the long term consequences. The few times I do judge, I feel terrible and wish I had kept my comments to myself. Why can't we stop the judging and support each other?
Seriously, it was a post about kids dropping toys while traveling. It was really funny. I chuckled over it tonight when Margo took off her shoes, dropped them, and then whined that she couldn't reach them.
Get over yourselves. Keep raising your kids the best way you can and they will turn out just fine. I will raise mine the best way I can and they will be just fine.
Jessica is a SAHM of 3 who spends her time chasing kids and blogs atlongestdays.com about her parenting adventures.
More from parenting