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The Importance of Responsible Parenting

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on July 27, 2011


Does this describe you? I never really thought about it before, but I am a: “Helmet, life-vest and hat wearing, sunscreen using, hand-holding, cross walk-walking, stair-rail grabbing, ‘obey the rules kids!’” kind of mom. You know the type; the kind of mom who gets nervous whenever crowds, strangers, traffic, water or heights are involved. The kind of mom who rides the amusement park rides with her kids (with her hand firmly across their laps) AND/OR the type of mom who begs her husband, otherwise known in the family as “Dad,” to accompany the children on the rides until Dad finally intervenes and MAKES her let their ten-year old ride the roller coaster alone–“but only as long as you stay in line with him,” she insists…so there she stands, watching and praying the whole time. Yup. That’s me. My husband even said to Josh, “Obey the rules and hang on tight, Buddy, because if you get hurt, Momma is going to blame ME” (he survived, by the way….)

But what I’ve noticed in other families really worries me. Last week we traveled to beautiful Yosemite, and this week we are camping in the Redwoods above Santa Cruz, CA. Camping gives you a unique opportunity to “people-watch”, or more accurately in my case, “family-watch.” Have you ever taken the time to watch other families, or observe how other parents interact with their children? I’ve done a lot of that lately, and I must say: while many parents are “doing what they are supposed to be doing” safety/parenting-wise, it seems like many more are not. This week I’ve seen parents who think that letting their children sit or even walk on the edge of a rock wall just above a hundred foot drop is fun, who think barriers and warning signs should be ignored, who let their children sit where they shouldn’t sit on the bus (or walk around on the bus while its going), and who let their very young children (around 2 and 4 years) wade into cold, swift-flowing rivers that could drag them away as fast as you can blink (while they relax on a rock twenty feet away….do they really think they could get to them fast enough?)  What are these people thinking?!

Sometimes I think it is a miracle more children aren’t hurt….or kidnapped… (Our home neighborhood is full of unsupervised children of all ages roaming around at will)….sometimes I think it’s a miracle that ANY child makes it to adulthood at all!

I do try to find a balance of some sort my cautiousness and not become a total “helicopter” mom, but it is hard to find a reasonable balance nowadays when so many dangers abound. Only my husband keeps me from going completely overboard (sometimes I think he’s goes too far the other direction).

In addition to doing my job to keep my children safe,  (and hopefully instilling good habits in them),  I try to  train my children to be sensible, to obey the rules (even when I’m not around to enforce them), and of course, as necessity demands nowadays, I teach my boys about “stranger danger,” potential “child lures” and so on (minus the details of what might happen.)

Challenge: If you have “backed off” as far as safety rules or cautiousness is concerned, or if you’ve just gotten TIRED, as often happens, and stopped being diligent, please reconsider! It only takes a split second for a child to get hurt, lost, or worse.  I think it comes with the territory as “mom” to try to protect our kids, and make sure that they:

-Wear their bicycle helmets, even if they are riding “just for a minute.”

-Wear their life vests, especially when boating, swimming in the ocean or other places where there might be strong currents or unexpected drop-offs. And when my kids swim in friend’s swimming pools, I swim, too, or sit right on the edge of the pool and actually watch them! Personal story: My mom did the same, even when told by other moms that I would “be fine” and that “the older kids will watch Susan.” Thank-goodness my mom listened to her heart and refused to go into the house with the other moms, even though it was a very shallow pool….I’m sure she felt vindicated when she pulled me up from the bottom of the pool a few minutes later. The older kids didn’t even notice.

-Wear sunscreen: My mom passed away from Melanoma (skin cancer), so we are pretty strict about sunscreen.

-Wear hats: Hats do a lot to protect children from sunburn, and they also help protect their eyes. If the sun is bright to you, it’s bright to your kids! We trained all our children to leave their hats on when they were tiny babies. I simply kept putting that hat back on their little heads, and said, “NO” whenever they managed to pull their hats off. (I was determined, and I outlasted them.) Personal pet peeve: Parents who put babies in strollers or car seats and let the sun shine right in their eyes without concern (or even awareness.)

-Hand-holding: Yeah, I’m the mean mom who makes her boys hang on to a grown-up’s hand when crossing streets, in crowds, strange places, near the edge of cliffs, etc.

-Cross walks: Whenever cross walks are available, we use them. Not only is this a safety issue, but it’s the law.

-I tell my kids to “obey the rules!” I teach them that grown-ups don’t make rules to be mean or to spoil their fun, but to keep them safe. Additionally, when we obey the rules, we encourage others to obey them, too; we are setting a good example to others. The first step in this teaching my kids these safety rules is obeying the rules myself! I would hate to be the person who disobeyed a rule in front of a child…and then the child felt it was OK to disobey the rule, too, resulting in an accident.

What do you think? Are you a “helmet, life-vest and hat wearing, sunscreen using, hand-holding, cross walk-walking, stair-rail grabbing, “obey the rules kids!” kind of mom, too?!

~Susan (temporarily from Felton, CA)

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

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4 Responses to “The Importance of Responsible Parenting”

  1. Kathy said

    Hi! Sue,
    Great article! You already know I am totally with ya! Another pet peeve for me is parents that allow their children to run in stores. I was in a clothing store buying a purse the other day and two kids about 8 or 9 were chasing each other through the purse displays! I got run into twice! The woman who appeared to be their mother was standing about 15 feet away totally oblivious. Grrrr!
    Hope you’re having a great trip. You are missed here! 🙂
    Kathy

  2. I am not quite so cautious as you sound, but I totally see your point. I think this also goes for manners training in public. I have noticed a lot of children running wild at the park, and obviously not instructed by their parents to look out for and be careful around younger/smaller children. The thing I notice is that their mothers tend to be….wait for it….TEXTING or on their phones! Interesting, no? I beleve in letting children–especially boys–take risks and therefore learn their physical limitations, but I also think that if you DIE in the process you can’t learn your lesson, right? So there has to be a balance. I remember someone freaking out about how high I’d let one of my toddlers climb. I agree that it looked very dangerous, but what they didn’t realize was that I had spent a lot of time with child, who was a true climber, learning to climb safely.

    On our next trip to the Sequoias, we are actually leaving our 2yo behind because he is just too dangerous at this point. He would love it, but it just isn’t worth the risk for us. In another year he will be better trained and more attentive to our voices.

    • Brandy,
      You’re right, a lot of it does come back to manners. So many parents seem oblivious, as Kathy said, to their kids misbehavior–or to the fact that their kid’s behavior is bothering others. Other moms are self-absorbed, I guess (like the texting moms?) and the kids are, too–totally engrossed in their play. But what we saw at Yosemite blew my mind. It was downright dangerous~~irresponsible~~and scary.
      I agree we have to let our boys be boys…but common sense has to take the lead. Like you said, there has to be a balance.
      My boys do get boy time with their dad. I think he does a good job letting them “off leash” just enough…although when he takes the boys out on their ATVS and they get home and tell ttheir stories, I’m glad I wasn’t there to watch. I’m sure he’d be telling me, “They’re OK, let them go…” the whole time.
      Susan

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