Sunday, November 8, 2015

When parenting is illegal...

So many things race through my mind since becoming a parent for the second times. Some thoughts of worry and self doubt are the same. Others of sharing my time and love with another child are new. Either way, as any new mother will tell you, it is exhausting and challenging having a new baby. 
With the challenges come the decisions a parent has to make. We all make small, some what trivial ones all the time. Things like weather to give your child a bath everyday or the time of the bed time or even how much tv they can watch are pretty minor. But then there are the major decisions every parent has to make. The huge ones. The scary ones. The controversial ones.
In today's world so much info is thrown at parents on how to raise children. Every doctor, nurse, and grandmother has an opinion on if you ( or me) are doing this parenting thing correctly. 
The scary thing is that every parent has choices and options. Most people will tell you there is no "right" way to raise a baby or child since every kid, family and situation is different. Yet, according to the law, there sort of is...
Today, as everyone knows, every kid has to be in an approved car seat when in the car. This seems like common sense now, but 40- 50years ago the ideas of  car seats were pretty new. Kids just sat in cars and were fine. Babies were held in the front seat and that's the way it was. Obviously, car seats are for the child's safety and do help tremendously, but like with any seat belt regulation, why is it the governments business to tell parents a specific way to have their child in the car? I'm not saying I believe kids shouldn't ride in car seats, but when did it become not a parenting decision and a turned into a everyone else's problem? You may be rolling your eyes at this point but stay with me.
From the day your child is born, every mother is urged to breast feed, not co sleep, have their child sleep on their backs and not smoke. These are supposedly the things that help prevent SIDS. ( to be clear, I am not saying they do or don't as I am no expert). Yet, even if a parent does all these " correct " things, their child could still fall victim to this scary thing called SIDS. It is every parents worst night mare and I am so glad I don't have personal experience with it, yet I know people who have. Right now, all the things doctors tell you to do to prevent SIDS are suggestions. They can't make you breastfeed or not smoke around your child as neither one of those things are illegal. But will they be in the future? Parents choose to do "un suggested" things all the time that could put their baby at risk. If you choose to formula feed for whatever reason and your baby dies of SIDS will you be arrested for child endangerment in the future?  You knew the risk was higher, yet did it anyway. If you let your infant sleep on their stomach because they sleep much sounder and won't sleep on their backs will you have your child taken away from you if someone finds out? According to doctors, both of those things are risk factors in SIDS deaths so it would make sense that doing those would cause you to contribute to your child's death, thus leaving the law room to find you guilty of negligence? 
If you think that sounds far fetched, look at the whole "leaving kids in the car" issue that is such a hot topic these days. I don't know about you but me and my sisters spent some time alone in the car from time to time when we were kids. Not when it was hot and the windows were always down, but it wasn't a big deal when we were younger for us to stay in the car when my mom ran into the gas station to get some milk. Obviously, my mom considered this to be safe, and it was. It was her call to decide what was safe for us and what was not. She wouldn't have left us there all day in the heat, but you get what I am saying right? All over today you hear about parents getting arrested for leaving kids in cars,but there is not actual law saying "you may not leave a child in a car" if there was, it would have to be super specific. Like you can't leave a child in the car for X amount of minutes during whitch the outside tempurature has to be less than X amount. What about putting your kids in the car seat and running back inside the house to get something you forgot? Is that legal? If someone saw me do that ( or videoed it, since that's what people do now) would I get in trouble? Do I have to keep an eye on my child every single second of the day?
I read an article about a mom who left her 5 year old child in the car for 5 minutes, on a cool day to go get something in a store. The child was fine, nothing happened and all was ok until she got arrested several days later because someone had videoed her and sent it to the police and they got her license plate number... It's things like that make me wonder, wasn't that just the moms choice? She deemed itsafe, and her child is fine, so why wasn't it? It's the same thing when you consider how old a child can be to stay home alone. Some children may be ready at 10 years old, others may not be. Or when a child can play alone at a park or even walk home from school? But shouldn't it be your call as a parent to decide that?
It just get so confusing because obviously there are parents who abuse their kids, or put them in extremely unsafe environments, or neglect them completely and of course I think the law should be involved in those cases, but it just begs the question.
 Where is the line drawn?
When are the choices parent have to make every day going to become illegal? And who gets to decide the exact "right" way to raise your child?
To clear things up, I am not anti government control or against laws about car seats or things that keep kids safe. I just often wonder about how much parenting can be questioned now a days.  And it makes a bit wary having 2 kids and learning and trying to be the best parent I can be for them and myself.
Dare I bring it up, but the hugely controversial vaccines debate always brings this to my mind too. If a parent vaccinated their child and signs the form saying she knows the risks and benefits, but that child ends up dying from that vaccine ( apparently there is a teeny tiny chance that this can happen with any vaccine because of unknown reasons, read the fine print:) will that parent be blamed? She knew the risk, and decided, because of the benefits to go ahead and vaccinate, yet her child was ultimatly harmed. And the same can go for anti vacciners. If they don't vaccinate their child and he gets the measles and passes away, or even more gives it to another child and that child passes away, can the mother be charged with Manslaughther? 
For the record, I am pro vaccination, but I do understand there are risks involved in any choice I make as a parent.
I could talk about this forever. Things from drinking wine during pregnancy, ( or even eating sushi) to letting your kids ride their bikes around with no helmet all cross my mind from time to time. As parents we have to decide the best and safest way to raise our kids according to us. Isn't that part of the glory and fear of being parents? But when should it be left up to the parent and when shouldn't it? I don't know the answer... I wish I did. I guess it's just one more thing that will keep me up at night!