|  Parenting

A couple of weeks ago I watched a bloke put his daughter / granddaughter, who is the same age as Isabel, in the front passenger seat of his car & drive off. No booster seat, no car seat. I think he only put the seatbelt on her because I was staring in disbelief (he didn’t put his own on). Anyway, this got me thinking about risk, perceived risk, and why parents choose to take some risks whilst ignoring others.

I’m not completely risk-averse. I stick the kids in the garden while I nip in and out of the house to do chores. They could feasibly eat something unsavoury, sting themselves on nettles, fall down the stupid steps we have that separate our two lawns (this sounds more posh than it is). But I figure they could do all these things while I’m in the garden too.

The other day I went to put some washing in the machine which is in our lean-to utility, and when I came back I discovered Oliver halfway up the stairs. (We’ve reinstated the stairgate.)

But… I have car seats worth more than the car(s) they’re driven around in. I always walk down pavements with my children on the inside, away from the road. I still cut up grapes for Isabel, even though she’s 3 and a half and has been eating other whole foods since the day we started weaning. Breastfeeding, too, could be considered risk-reducing, although my motivation there is more laziness and freedom (from cost, ties to the supplies & clutter of bottlefeeding)

I don’t understand why some parents will spend £300+ on a special “anti-SIDs mattress” only to put baby in their own room; £130 on a special video monitor only to turn it off so baby’s noises don’t wake them; buy a huge Volvo to drive the kids around in but turn babies forward facing at the first opportunity. (These are just common examples, not thinking of any one person or people in particular…)

What if my kids ate something poisonous in the garden or if Oliver had fallen down the stairs? How do we choose which risks are the important ones? It’s all a bit odd really.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

6 comments so far

  1. Mumblies said:

    So long as you removed the plants by the gate leading up to the top lawn (gosh that does uber posh) there are no other deadly poisonous plants in your back garden.

    When you lot were little I took great pride in the fact that our house was 100% baby/kiddy friendly. The hot pans and kettle were always as far back as they could be (I still do that now it’s so ingrained) Gates top and bottom until you could all climb without me fretting that you would fall. Small objects thrown away for fear of choking and I always shut the washing machine and dryer doors so that little people could not get in and be drowned or burnt and no venetian or vertical blinds to choke little people with their draw cords.

    Obviously we didn’t have the chance to buy the fantastic car seats that you have as they weren’t around way back then but you did all have carseats so at least you were restrained unlike the berk you saw who obviously doesn’t give a damn about his kid’s safety or would do more to protect it. Sadly this world has a lot of muckwits, probably always will have too.

  2. Chantelle said:

    Keeping children safe from all risks is a game that all parents will lose. Parents just have to behave reasonably, doing as much as they can without driving themselves/their kids crazy. When accidents happen, I hope they don’t guilt themselves to death. But – there’s not really an acceptable excuse for putting a tiny child in the front of a car.

  3. Katy said:

    and it’s not just your kids… everything in life carries some level of risk – that’s just how it works.
    Trying to stay away from anything that could possibly harm you/your family is impossible and stupid – you could wrap them up in cotton wool or a big ball of bubble wrap, but hey, they might choke/suffocate… which is far worse than a nettle sting or a grazed knee from falling over :)

    not putting a seatbelt on a child, however, is just plain idiotic.

  4. Rebecca said:

    I am a total worry wart but having kids has fast taught me that worrying about things doesn’t prevent them from happening, and in the case of both my children, hovering over the same doesn’t prevent them getting hurt either!

    We thoroughly researched car seats and chose Kiddy ones, which combined probably were worth more than our last car, but that in itself was an interesting choice- unwilling to comprimise on the seats but still driving them around in a decrepit old banger?!

    Some of the things I worry about happening to my children are EXTREMELY unlikely, but there are other things I worry about less which are probably more likely. I suppose in a way society/marketing is partly to blame for pressing upon new parents in their vulnerable state about what risks are/are not acceptable to take. Interesting point you raise anyway!

    • Jem said:

      Interesting point about driving around in an old banger – both Karl and I are driving around in cars over 10 years old simply because it’s all we can afford. Although the NCAP safety rating of my car was a major factor in buying it, I assume that a 4 star rating from back then is not as strict as a 4 star rating now?

      I completely agree about society and marketing being partly to blame for some of the things new parents deem “risky”. I could go on a massive rant here about baby gadgets that are marketed as essential but I’ll no doubt end up offending someone which I don’t want, so I’ll keep my big gob shut!

  5. Stephanie said:

    Pretty sure that the way people choose to take risks is completely illogical, and far from the actual optimizer that economists have traditionally assumed. There’s a whole field called “behavioral economics” that is trying to figure this problem out! And sadly, I don’t think that they’ve had any breakthroughs yet.