Sometimes thinking ahead and discussing what you “always” or “never” do can save some heartache later
There have been a lot of hard headlines in the news lately; from children being left in cars to young adults not wearing their seatbelts and dying in car accidents. As parents, we already feel like we have a lot of rules for our kids, and sometimes we get worn down or forget to keep up with all of them! I have found that having a family rule of things we “always” or “never” do really helps everyone in the family be on board with our guidelines for safety.
“We ALWAYS wear our helmet when riding anything with wheels”…
What are some things that you might “always” do or require? Some of ours are that we always wear our seatbelts or require our kids to be in their correct car seat/booster, we always have the doors to our house and car locked (while driving), we always ask new friends if they have guns (and if they do, are they locked up) before our kids can go play, we always strap stroller and highchair straps, and I am always the one in our family to give medicine to the kids to prevent accidental overdosing. While those are just examples, we have many others that we have discussed.
“We NEVER leave the kids in the car unattended”…
When thinking about things we “always” do, there is the flipside of what we “never” do. We never leave the kids in the car unattended, we never allow our daughter to get rides from or be alone with any man outside of close family, we never let the kids play outside in the front without a parent, we never text and drive, we never allow the kids to play with fire or matches or have them where they can easily reach them and we never let our non-swimmer around a pool without his floaties (…now…I was trying at first to just watch him but quickly realized having floaties on him while walking around the pool was much safer, just in case he fell in).
Does that mean the kids always wear a helmet?
No, they forget. But knowing that it is a rule, and I believe reminding them that if it has wheels they need a helmet, has really saved them from a lot of accidents. They self-govern themselves, even when they aren’t with us. I tell them it is their responsibility to care for themselves. It is not up to another parent to remind them to put their helmet on, and frankly, not all parents have the same rules as us. So it really is up to each of us to teach our kids to care for themselves when they are with friends or other family members.
Does that mean we are always the perfect parents and never send them to a birthday party without having asked about guns?
No, not at all. We forget all the time. But the kids remember. They know that we ask about guns and they know what to do if they are at a friend’s house and they have access to or see a gun.
By discussing as a family (and with anyone who cares for your child) what you “always” or “never” do, you may be saving your family a lot of heartache. And if you choose to do something that you normally wouldn’t, it doesn’t make you a hypocrite or a bad parent; but having these guidelines might make you think twice before doing it and consider if the risk is worth the possible tragedy.