It is no surprise that in light of current events, news feeds are abuzz with articles, debates, strong opinions, and controversies. (Let me be INFINITELY clear that I do not plan to touch those subjects, nor will I allow commentary to turn accusatory or demeaning.) As a firm believer that everyone has a right to their opinions paired with a strong dislike for controversy, I never thought I would even come close to tiptoeing near some of these subjects, but a topic came up in one of my mommy circles that I felt needed to be addressed.
The discussion essentially revolved around the question of how to protect our children from less visible but extremely harmful things without seeming invasive or neurotic? We have all read heart-wrenching stories of children who accidentally shot themselves with unprotected firearms, or kids at a sleepover who died from a carbon-monoxide leak. Of course the measles outbreak is terrifying. Life IS scary. As much as we would like to keep our children in a bubble, we cannot protect them from everything. We can’t control the rest of the world, but there are measures we can take to protect our loved ones just a little bit more.
My response to the initial question is this: what is more important, your pride or having the unimaginable happen because you were too afraid to ask?
But asking is hard. It is awkward, and yes, people might take offense. However, if someone doesn’t want to be friends with my children or me because I asked if their firearms are secured, then I don’t really need to be their friend. Quite frankly, those people probably don’t want to be your friend either because they will find you “annoying” and “over-protective”.
There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.
One suggestion was to make a questionnaire. It started with these two questions: 1) Are your children fully vaccinated? 2) Do you have guns in your house? If so, are they locked up?
The more I thought about it, more and more potential dangers popped in my head.
3) Do you lock your medicine cabinet? 4) Do you lock your liquor cabinet? 5) Are your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors working? 6) When kids are playing in the house, do you lock all of the exterior doors?
And then I got really carried away. 7) Do you dumpster dive and is that cake you are serving my child weeks old? There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.
You are more than welcome to use these questions as a springboard for a survey or discussion to hold with your child’s friends’ parents (sister’s great uncle three times removed.) Pick and choose what is important to you. Now here’s the truly hard part: what are you going to do with the answers? Keep in mind, they may not be what you personally want to hear. It becomes your responsibility to decide what to do with that information. If your friend doesn’t vaccinate, will you still allow your kids to play with her kids? Will you avoid all public places? For me, there are certain things I am adamant about and others on which I am more flexible. It is truly a personal decision that only you can answer.
Yes, this is still awkward, but hopefully it will soon become the norm. I assure you, parents of children with life-threatening allergies will make their concerns infinitely clear to you and hand you an epi-pen without hesitation. Parents of children with peanut allergies rallied so far as to instigate peanut-free zones, and even entire schools. They have no shame because they are protecting their child. Well guess what? Everyone’s kid has an “allergy” to a misfired bullet. By asking whether their firearms are locked up you are not judging them for having them, but just ensuring your children, and theirs, are protected.
There are so many unknowns in life and as much as we want to, we cannot protect our children from everything.
God Grant Me the
To accept the things
I cannot change
the things I can
to know the difference.
While we cannot force change on other people’s viewpoints, we CAN control who our kids hang out with at a young age with the hopes of guiding them to make good choices when they are older. We CAN begin to normalize the act of asking the questions that are important to us with the hopes of it becoming more commonplace without repercussion or stigma. Above all, YOU can listen to your gut and heart; trust your instincts. When you do both, you are usually doing what is right for you and your family.
What suggestions do you have to help make it acceptable and less intimidating to ask these important questions? What are some other questions we should be asking?