Dear Parents: Here’s a Child Danger You Didn’t Notice but You Should, Or ELSE!
If you’re wondering why parenting seems so fraught, look no further than the child safety industrial complex. I just Googled, “Child Hidden Dangers 2021” (I’m sure there are some for 2022 already, but I was hedging my bets). Sure enough, I found parents being warned of hazards such as (among other things):
*Musical instruments, such as a guitar, that can hurt a young child that is playing with the strings (for example, trying to over-tune them), if one of the strings that are under high tension breaks, flying into his eye or scratches his face, etc.
All those we’ve lost to guitar strings — so tragic.
*Parade floats, which can run over a child along the parade.
Kids should never attend parades. Got it! And:
*Paper shredders, which can cause finger amputations and lacerations, especially to younger children.
Probably not on that many baby registries, but duly noted.
Still, these warnings pale in comparison to an ad I saw a while back for some new kind of diaper-changing contraption that was introduced with this thought:
“Each diaper change is an opportunity for disaster to strike, since it only takes one fleeting moment for a baby to roll or flip off the changing table.“
What a perfect example of how to drive parents crazy. The underlying message is designed to create fear and guilt:
1 – There’s something you do 8-10 times every day without too much thought that is actually EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
2 – In one “fleeting moment” your child could be dead and it’s all your fault. : (
3 – If only you’d buy this new thingy, you wouldn’t have to WORRY that YOUR CHILD COULD DIE. (You’re worrying now, right?)
4 – But, hey, if you’d prefer NOT to SAVE YOUR BABY, fine!
5 – SO LONG AS YOU DON’T MIND YOUR CHILD DYING AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.
6 – (You cheap mom, who cares more about saving a few bucks than SAVING YOUR CHILD’S LIFE.)
7 – We’re just trying to give you some “news you can use,” of course. Not trying to sell anything. Heavens no! Just trying to save the life of the kid you don’t really care that much about, do you? Maybe you have a spare one? Maybe you’d rather spend the money on something else, like a new dress, or some perfume? You know, something for YOURSELF rather than your PRECIOUS BABY?
8 – Have a nice day!
9 – (And funeral.)
This message brought to you by the child-safety industrial complex.
Just TRY staying sane when all the activities of daily life are re-written as near-death experiences. This is why we parents today automatically engage in “worst-first thinking” — thinking up the worst case scenario first and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen.
We have been trained to look at childhood only through the lens of risk and loss. It becomes a habit. And pretty soon, every diaper change becomes a tightrope walk over a snake pit under sniper fire in a blizzard with your phone buzzing.
One way to resist catastrophizing is to pause and think: “Is someone just trying to make a buck off my worries?” Another is to consider joining our Facebook group, “Raising Independent Kids,” where parents gather to give each other a jolt of bravery and common sense in this dog-eat-baby world.
Good luck! – L