Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is Carseat Safety Optional/Cultural (or am I just anal)?

Today, for the third shocking time in the past week, I knocked horns with a fellow mother over the issue of car seat safety.

Is it me, or is it out of style to strap your most precious cargo securely into a booster seat or five-point harness, whatever is age/weight appropriate, these days?

My husband says safety and how far we mothers take our concerns about our children's health and well being is largely a cultural issue. Personally, he feels Americans take safety way too far, especially when it comes to riding in the car.

A few years back I refused to allow my then 8-month-old (the Maestro of Mouth, who is now brimming on age 6) to ride in a London cab from Trafalgar Square. My parents-in-law, who always suffer my difficult, demanding nature with their good natured attitude, seemed a little surprised, perhaps even wondering what the big deal was.

For the record, two issues I'm definitely NEVER, EVER going to bend on is carseat safety and helmets when riding Razor scooters and fast-clipping bikes. I admit, I did let my 2-year-old daughter sit on her new pink and purple tassled Radio Flyer trike yesterday sans skull cover, but she wasn't even budging. She couldn't pedal the thing yet if her life depended on it.

The last place I'd ever want my children is ricocheting around the backseat of an SUV in is the 405 Freeway, or any dangerous, often deadly, Southern California freeway, where people, even sometimes very little people, collide and die almost daily. I know. I used to write news in an L.A. newsroom.

One of my closest friends used to live in Egypt, where she said children seldom ever use car seats. Hell, the don't even have any road rules there. You could even ride around without doors fastened to your vehicle. I don't even think I could visit there until my children reach non-car seat age, despite its historical significance and magnificence.

However, right here, in the United States, where it is the LAW, allow me to remind you, people, to strap your children safely into the proper car seat whenever the vehicle is in motion, I WILL NOT budge. Not even on my street, crawling along at 20 miles per hour. Anal, yes. But extremely caring.

Yes, you may take my child out for a great play date, if I have given you permission. That in and of itself involves a great leap of trust, as my sister-in-law recently pointed out. No, you may not allow him (or her) to bounce like a bed bud in the back seat at will.

I hope I haven't offended my friends, however strong my feelings are on this issue. But I wouldn't want to find out how broken my heart would be if any of my three children feebly emerged from the Jaws of Life wounded, or even dead, because of someone else's lax attitude toward their safety.

Why should I have to feel slightly embarrassed about being uptight about the protection and security of my most valuable kindred spirits? Somehow I do. Still, I won't back down.

Weigh in fellow moms. Let me know what you think. Am I just being anal? I think not. I welcome all opinions, even ones from the opposite court. Do share.

What about you? If your child is heading off somewhere in the care of your fellow, supposedly responsible and trusted mother friend, do you know for sure at this very moment if he/she is strapped down with care?


At 8:09 PM, Blogger Plain Jane Mom said...

DITTO! Do not be embarrassed or ashamed about it. I am absolutely the same way.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Opening Pandora said...'re not crazy, although I'll agree with your hubby that Americans do tend to obsess too much about children's health and safety....and I'll stipulate that our government is getting way too into the "nanny state"...especially with the latest CA requirement for school...a dental exam, and associated report to the school w/i one year of admission?

but I do think Car seats are a much so I bought an extra easily adjustable seat so mama friends can join us un our van w/o having to risk a hernia to get their carseats into the third row and tight enough.

Now if I lived on some ranch in the boondocks of Montana I might feel differently...but then again, if I lived there my kid would probably be able to rope a cow, drive a tractor, and run a conbine long before their 16th birthday.....

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. Appropriately restrained at all times and in all vehicles.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger one love said...

I would be interested in the arguement of the 'other side' on this issue- If I am given the opportunity to provide my kids with extra safety, I'm taking it!! Especially in SoCal where most drivers are multi-tasking while navigating their ?thousand pound chunk of weapon around the streets! Props to you for letting your kids ride with other Mommies- I haven't been able to cross that bridge yet! Cultural- yes! The country my husband is from just figured out why there is an extra strap of material in the car with a strange metal device! Just kidding, honey!! They do all laugh at me when I arrive with my 3 car seats and no car at the airport!
What about condoms when our kids grow-up(sorry if that made you dry heave)? Just because it's a little inconvenient and uncomfortable doesn't mean their use is negotiable when others' actions can't be predicted!

At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's crazy that people don't buckle their children into carseats. What the Heck?? With as many accidents as there are?? Insane!!! Oh, and I happen to stumble across yesterday and noticed that your review is up over there. I don't normally read their stuff, but someone mentioned something on another blog, so I went on over...and then saw your blog name. Of course no one gets a good review...but they were much nicer about your than mine!! DOh! If you want to search for mine, to make yourself feel better, it's in the August archives somewhere, like page 2 or 3.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Ouch, FlipFlop Mama. That revue hurt. The guy isn't far off, though. I'm pretty hard on myself when it comes to writing. Writing outside of the news realm is new to me and it's a struggle, for sure. My sentences are overly adjective laden and colluded. However, in my defense, at least I have some creative interests/pursuits (writing a book, blogging, etc.) outside of motherhood alone. Outlets, so to speak. Obviously someone likes this blog, since about 100 people visit per day.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Loralee Choate said...


I am a stickler on car seats and boosters. There is enough guilt in losing a child when there is no parental fault involved. To know you could have prevented injury or death with a car seat or seat belt would follow you forever.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

I completely agree! The first time I let my inlaws take Kiddo somewhere without me, my fil forgot to strap him in his car seat. It was an honest mistake (absent-mindedness on his part) - but they joked about it and thought it was funny. I was furious! I could not believe they made light of my baby's safety that way. It has become the family joke - my fil has improperly strapped him in on a few more occasions. I now have to double check his work before we go anywhere.

You are completely justified in your feelings on this. You should not ever feel ashamed for caring about a child's safety.

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous The Hubster said...

I'm glad that you blogged about this. Although I definately think culture plays a large roll in all of this, the interesting question is how much of it should be controled by the government.
Saftey of a child is number 1, and although Americans are definately over pertective and germaphobic, childern should be strapped in the appropriate device at all times. That being said, it should be the parents choice, they are the ones who will live with the ramifications.
Now not knowing much about any of the individuals who have posted comments, I can still say with a high degree of confidence that the majority of you scrambled and bounced around in the back of the car or crawled under the seats of the van during your family car trips, did you not?
Regardless of this fact, I am not going to push the issue with the wife.


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