Archive for July, 2007

What Would You Do?

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I received the following email.

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Today was a first for me… My daughter (5) and I pulled into a local store.

The spot I wanted to pull into was empty except for a woman who had her car door open and was loading groceries with her two small children still outside the car in the empty spot. Instead of hurrying the mom and scaring the children, I drove around to a spot further away.

My daughter thought I was parking and took her car seat belt off. I parked and took her out kissing and hugging her and went on my way. To my surprise, when I got back to my car there was a note from the young mother on my windshield with a paper from your website.

It said it was a stupid ticket and that she gave it to me for not having my daughter in a car restraining seat, and went further to say if I loved her I would keep her safe.

At first I was offended that she did not say it to me rather than leave it behind on my car. If she did she would know not only do I have car seats for my kids I made my older daughter who is now 10 and 5’2” sit in a booster seat until she was 9 to be safe. PA law is 8 years old or 4′ and although my daughter surpassed those marks she still sat in the seat. I also have been part of car seat safety checks two years in a row at a local dealership in my area.

My younger daughter took her belt off today because 1) she now can and
2) because I stopped to park. I did reiterate that she should not take her belt off until the car is off.

I don’t agree with the woman who did this. She mentioned she was a nurse and that she saw kids in terrible ways. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that maybe something shook her world and she is out there living with that.

I hope your website does not advocate people to be quick to judge, to run away with a hurtful note left behind.

– Mom from Pennsylvania

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I was really moved by this mom’s email and told her that at Parental Wisdom, we really try NOT to judge, and recognize there are misunderstandings (like this one) and mistakes because parents are often doing a number of things at once.

Yes, the Stupid Ticket is one of the Free Reports on the Parental Wisdom website. But stupidity is something that people do repeatedly and not ever learn a lesson. For that reason, we also have a Safety Ticket which is a reminder of the things you already know; and presents a much kinder, gentler approach.

Back to the parent that left the note – I do understand why she didn’t talk to the parent directly. Parents could be defensive at the very least, and violent at the worst. The dilemma – what should parents do if they see a situation that raises child safety concerns?

I reached out to Robert A. Brasky of the Lake Zurich Police Department in Illinois is an expert on Traffic Safety to learn what parents can do if a child is potentially in danger. The example I used was a time I spotted a three-year-old was left alone in a running car. His response, “Call the police and give them the information. Do not approach the parents.” Safe and sound advice.

Robert also shared the alarming statistic that approximately 95% of child car seats are improperly installed. To make sure you aren’t one of them, visit www.car-seat.org to learn what you can do, and www.nhtsa.gov to find locations where your child’s carseat can be checked for proper installation.

But let’s talk about you for a moment…

How would you respond to a situation where a child could be in danger?
How would you respond to someone correcting you about your own child’s safety?

Please leave a comment and let us know.

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Auntie Mame and the Family Reunion

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She often told her nephew, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” – Auntie Mame

We all have a strong need to belong, and extended family shows us the interesting mix of personalities, ages, and stages that makes up this wonderful gift we call family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins all with different personalities and temperaments are part of who we are, and what we belong to. And we all need to belong to something. It’s all about connections – connections underlie everything. That is why in the movie, Castaway, Tom Hanks’ character creates a friend out of a volleyball he calls Wilson.

Most extended families don’t live in the same city anymore, let alone the same block. While there are benefits to distance, isn’t it sad that your kids may not know your relatives as well as they could or should?

For many families, the return of the family reunion gives everybody exactly what they need – a sense of belonging to a group larger than an immediate family.

“The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people – no mere mother or father – as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born.” – Pearl Buck

Did you know that African American families account for half of all family reunions held in the United Sates? About 70% of summer non-business related travel by African Americans is reunion related. Source http://www.crayola.com

Ironically, the same ease of travel and technology that allows us to move further apart can bring families together. The younger members comfortable with technology can easily design websites, upload photos, and create email distribution lists, making it all child’s play.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Plan ahead – July is family reunion month, so get started now for next year. Don’t expect this to be smooth sailing; even the closest families will have problems agreeing on everything.

Calendars – begin by getting conflicting dates out of the way, like weddings, graduations, and studying abroad. Pick two or three dates that make sense and email everyone. For the family members that do not have email, here is a free conference telephone bridge that might work.

Involve everyone – build teams by utilizing everyone’s talents. Have the finance person in the family oversee the budget, while the party planner organizes games and activities. Make sure the finance person is cost conscious but avoid having a family member host the event at their home which tends to create a less than evenly distributed event.

Visit the Family Reunion Institute of Temple University – the only organization of its kind in the United States. The mission of the Institute is to serve as a resource to families having reunions. Here is a link explaining How to Organize a Family Reunion.

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