Safety First: What Do You Do When Families Have Different Safety Rules?
I’m the mom that follows the rules when it comes to safety, or at least I try to. Cue the eye roll. There are times when I feel like a broken record telling my kids to put on their bike helmets for the 100th time or to buckle up before we leave the garage. There have been a few occasions when my kids are on their scooters without a helmet because I’m not there to remind them, but overall, I’m pretty good about staying on top of the idea of safety first. But here’s where enforcing safety rules has recently started to get a little tricky – when other children (or sometimes even other parents) are involved.
A few weeks ago, my friend’s 7 year old daughter climbed into my car for the long ride to our house for a play date. I was prepared. I had an extra booster. By Massachusetts standards, based on her age, height and weight this child is required to be in a booster, but she immediately (and repeatedly) told me that she doesn’t need a booster. It was a bit of a battle, but eventually she gave in. She isn’t the first child to challenge me on this. In another instance, it was a parent who made enforcing the rules a bit tricky. She offered to pick up my daughter for a playdate. When they pulled in the driveway, I could see my daughter’s friend bopping around in the back seat. No seatbelt and certainly no booster. When I casually asked the mom if she had an extra booster or if I should get her a spare, she laughed and said she hadn’t used boosters in so long it never even occurred to her. Needless to say, my daughter was buckled into the car, in a booster. Her friend rode home with neither a booster or a seatbelt.
Bike helmets pose another safety challenge. Bike helmets didn’t exist when I was a kid, well, unless you were riding a dirt bike down treacherous trails and even then, it wasn’t the norm. We didn’t wear helmets skiing and we certainly didn’t wear them ice skating. But we’re smarter now and we know that wearing a bike/ski helmet can and will protect you. My kids don’t challenge us on wearing helmets – to them, it’s just always been the rule. Riding a bike, a scooter, a motorized Jeep, skiing. Helmets are just like any other equipment you put on to participate in the sport of the moment. However, recently, one of my daughter’s friends insisted she didn’t have to wear a helmet while roller skating and went on to tell me she only wears a helmet on the ski slopes when it’s really cold out to keep her warm.
There are many reasons I’m strict about using the right car seat/booster, seatbelts and helmets regardless of what my kid’s friends say. The obvious is that accidents do happen, often when you least expect it. The other reason is, in our family, the rules around this are ones I have no intention of bending on. It’s very clear, safety first.
I’m curious though, how do other parents navigate this? The best thing I’ve been able to come up with is to constantly remind my kids, and on occasion their friends, that different families have different rules. And in our home, we wear helmets, we wear seatbelts and we use appropriate car seats/boosters. Is your family strict about this and if so, what would you do when challenged by other kids or even other parents?