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Every summer the rising heat brings the wave of headlines reading “Another Child Left to Die in Hot Car,” and the masses screaming, “What is wrong with people?! How could they be so careless?” Which leads me to think, everybody gets so distressed about people leaving their babies in hot cars because dozens of children perish every year. It's common sense to NOT DO THAT, right? So why is it that we still practically condone things like unsafe sleep, feeding, and car seat habits when THOUSANDS of children are dying?
Well, because mother knows best.
663 children died in 2015 from vehicle crashes—35 percent of them were not buckled properly.
A child will die every five days from choking. You do the math.
Number of children in 2016 who died of accidental strangulation or suffocation in bed, 900.
Number of children in 2016 who died of heat stroke: 39 (down to just five for 2017, while the other stats hold steady).
Can you see the outlier?
My point is that you have never heard anyone justify leaving their children in a hot car by saying “I know what’s best for my family, I’m their mother.” Oh but it’s practically word vomit when a mother goes against highly recommended safe holds for other things such as what I’ve mentioned above.
How exactly do parents justify doing things that directly lead to the death of hundreds of children annually? Is saying that you're the only one who knows what's really good for them mean you think that you're somehow better than the parents who actually have suffered loss, that you are somehow special or untouchable? That just sounds so naive. Don't let thinking it won't ever happen to you be the biggest mistake of your life as a parent.
I do believe in some cases it's simply a lack of education. Some people aren't aware of the danger they're putting their children in. But I’ve noticed that when others try to point out risky behaviors they often get accused of “mom shaming.” We have to distinguish. The goal is to lift women up. We have to hold ourselves accountable and stop taking everything as a shot against our abilities as mothers. It takes a village, so stop telling people to mind their own business when it comes to the well-being of children.
There's a reason we have a Board of Pediatrics (and child protective services, really). Mother doesn't ALWAYS know best. It doesn't all "come naturally." We all need guidance and direction. Fortunately, we have people who devote their lives to research how to keep our babies as safe as possible. It would make sense to take them seriously. And a look at our history proves we have come a long way. Child mortality rates are down exponentially (although the USA is still a leader in the developed world with those numbers). There’s always work to be done.
We all will make mistakes at times, but with the education we have these days less and less of those mistakes should be life threatening—no matter how much harder that may make things.
“Well he screams his head off when he’s rear facing.”
“One cookie wont hurt her. Her head control is really good.”
“I don't want her getting cold at night. You get a blanket at night, don't you?”
“It’s my baby. I can do what I want.”
Children are people, and even when they're “ours,” they're still people, not possessions and we all DO want to keep them safe. Though we can't obsess over protecting them because some things are out of our control, it is our job to do what IS in our control. Remember we still have tons of open choices to make as parents! Breastfeeding versus formula feeding, disposable versus cloth diapers, private versus public school. The real “mom shamers” don't even give us that—but that is truly where mother knows best.
Please stop taking unnecessary risks with your children's livelihood to excuse what you think is best for them when there are other behaviors that are proven safer. Trust your intuition, but trust the facts as well.