Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/confused about the reality of good advice
So I have the "what to expect the toddler years" book. One of the sections is on how to keep your child safe. In it is the advice that safety should be right up there with disease prevention and that not enough people take it seriously in that way. They say that there are almost no accidents. As a parent I tend to agree. I don't put my kids in a bubble but I am vigilant to try to think ahead to what might pose a threat and what *could* happen. I'm considered a bit of an over-protective parent by some parents I know. (example of that would be that my 4 yo's school yard is all cement and in the winter it's plowed and a big snow hill appears. the kids all run up in after school and push and shove. I get worried because unlike a hill on top of grass with three feet of snow at the bottom it's a hill with bare cement at the bottom. All the other parents seem oblivious or unconcerned. I voiced my worries to a parent-friend of mine who said "ah they're just havin' fun, relax!" In that way I tend to be a little over protective. I make my kids walk at thr swimming pool/ splash pad (the only kids there who aren't running) I don't let my 2 yo on the high playground equipment without me there underneath just in case. I don't allow my kids to play with sticks unless it's to draw in the sand because I myself as a kid ran with a stick, fell and jabbed it through he back of my throat. I'm anal and vigilant. If they get rough-housing I keep a close watch to make sure nobody lands on anyone else's neck. If they start playing tag indoors I cover the corners of sharp furniture and make them stop to put away any toys they might trip on. if they throw anything hard - at all - I remind them we do not throw. I don't allow my brother-in-law to dangle my kids by their arms when they're little (because of what I read about arms being pulled out of sockets) and would not allow anyone to hold my kids un-side-down until the age of two because of what I heard about the dangers of too much blood pressure flowing to the head causing blindness or eye problems. The reason I am like that is because I agree that most accidents are preventable. On the other hand I'm more relaxed with stuff I know my kids have been taught well - no I don't have door handle protectors and not *all the wires in my house are hidden. But I keep a close eye on them, and overall I'm pretty cautious and careful. This is fine by me, I know it's not for everyone. But then I read in the same book (and a few magazines) that it's so important that everyone taking care of your child should be just as vigilant as you about safety, but then it went on in a DIFFERENT section to *imply* that you should be able to find a sitter, and if nobody meets your standard that's pretty weird. (not in those words, but a few magazines have gone as far as saying outright that's its weird and the what to expect book sort of addressed what to do if nobody meets your standards but words it in such a way you get the impression that it's a little over the top to think nobody can live up to your level of care). But what I have viewed in the people around me, at the playground, the school yard my friends, the day care group, everywhere, is that MOST parents and care givers truly are not very anal at safety. So on one hand the book is telling me to be anal and to make sure everyone else around my kids is just as anal, but then goes on to say if I can't find anyone I'm satisfied with to baby-sit then it's a bit odd. The book can't have it both ways! If they want me to be careful and safe then they have to accept that nobody else is really follow their own advice in that book and admit that by THEIR standards nobody is fit to care for your children. All I am doing is being careful, (and not even as careful as what their book is) and trying to follow their advice, but then being criticized for not being able to find a suitable sitter. I am confused! which advice should I be following? I feel like there's something wrong with me. I read that I have to be careful, so I am. then I read that sitters have to be careful. I look at potential sitters and I see them doing stuff I KNOW is unsafe so I refuse to let them sit for me and can't find a sitter. but them I'm accused of being a jerk for thinking nobody is as capable as me of watching my children. THEY told me that I have to look for this standard. I can't find that standard so why am I then the bad guy? what did I miss?!
examples of stuff I turn sitters down for:
the mom who lets her own 2 year old walk 10 feet ahead or behind her down the sidewalk. (2 yo's aren't known for their self discipline. may be a good kid but their hat blowing off their head into the road may cause them to react and dart out to grab it. can't be too careful with people not old enough to practice self control).
The mom who allows her kids to play with sticks or throw stones.
the mom who lets her 3 year old wander around with grapes or pop corn.
the mom who lets her 6 year old ride on his bike at a million miles an hour up the sidewalk (car could easily hit him for as fast as he comes out of know where and at those speeds he isn't watching well enough).
the mom who lets her 4 year old supervise her 2 year old playing alone in the front yard without adult supervision.
I mention all these because I see an awful LOT of that. I won't let the mom who found her 13 month old playing in the toilet watch my kids (how did he get there? obviously someone wasn't watching) or the mom who doesn't wash her 2 year old's hands when the kid pulls an old diaper out of the kitchen trashcan or the mom whose kids are running wild and she won't stoop to move the dangerous tinker-toy stick that's sticking upwards and could poke someone's eye out of neck vein out if they fell on it.
It seems that all around me kids are playing unsupervised, walking unsupervised, eating dangerous foods, playing in unsafe environments or with unsafe "toys"/objects and nobody cares. I just want someone to confirm for me one thing:
Am I right in now assuming that preaching about safety (as that book does)is one of those universal things we talk about doing, and pretend to do, to make our self seem like we care and seem like it matters but that nobody actually TRULY is vigilant about, even those books themselves? Because if that book meant what it said it wouldn't also assume I'd be able to find a sitter - from what I can tell nobody but NOBODY follows those practices as anally as the book tells us to, and that books must have known that. So in the end I'm anal, because someone told me it was important, but that someone was actually sort of lying. They didn't really mean put safety right up there with disease prevention, they really meant do a bit, try a bit, but if you do your best you SUCK and are weird and full of yourself. That's how I feel at this point. why do those books on safety lie? please tell me why they lie? they tell us to be safe and then when we are safe the whole world including the books accuses us of being too over protective. so which is it? why tell us to do A, B and C if doing A, B and C is too much? I just feel so terrible as a person, both because I'm anal and because I'm so confused over such a simple thing. Nobody else cares from what I can tell. They do their best and don't feel guilty if their own negligence leads to an injury or if a book could say, "i told ya so!". but I seem to care TOO much that a book could say, "I told ya so!" if a kid got hurt under my watch. If I can see a potential injury I deal with it. and yet despite the book accusing the people less anal than me of being bad it really likes them better. because they can find sitters.
Dear Tes, first stop and take a breath, clearly you are a consciences mom and care about your children's wellbeing! My advise is listen to your gut regardless of what books or others say. I see many families each with their own family culture, concerns and strengths. I can tell you no two families are the same, therefore there is no book with the answers for all families. In the same way, we cannot know what is right for another family. You find what is working for you, if you feel strongly about your parenting style embrace it. Trust others will embrace what is important to them. Somehow in the end we all turn out pretty good if our parents had good intentions. No parent can be right about everything.
It is hard not to worry but unfortunately, worry does not accomplish a thing. I know from experience I have wasted too much time worrying in my life and would love to have that time back to do something more meaningful with my children. Some of us tend to worry more than other's. What is important to know, in the end, your gut will tell you what you should do. Your gut will be more accurate for you than any book or opinion from someone else. Learn to trust it!
To find a sitter most compatible with your needs, take some time to train a paid sitter. You can hire someone to shadow you so they can learn what is important to you. If you are sharing play dates tell the other parent what is most important to you and if you see something that does not feel safe, mention it makes you uncomfortable. Speak about yourself and your own concerns over implying a different approach is wrong. You may not find the best match for you right away. Eventually you will find someone who feels a good fit for you. Again your gut will let you know.
Finally, I would encourage you find ways your children can learn to problem solve for themselves. Unfortunately, we cannot protect them forever. Believe it or not, it won't be long before you hand your kids your car keys. They will need to learn how to make good safe decisions for themselves long before that happens.
Hang in there, you have good instincts!