Being who I am (not understanding the point of judging other people), the whole “mommy wars” debate generally annoys me. You do what you do, if you believe it’s best for your child. Of course I have opinions on these things, but I don’t feel like there is any need for me “share” (aggressively push) those opinions onto other parents. I have a simple rule that you can use to make these decisions easier for you – Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying?
You want a “natural” birth? You think having a c-section makes a woman less of a mother? I have an opinion on that for sure, but I will shrug and walk away. If you are lucky enough to have no complications, I wish you a quick and painless natural birth. Before deciding on having a natural birth, did you ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? If the answer is yes, or even a percentage chance of yes, my shrug may turn into a b**chslap – you are being an idiot – get your child into this world in the safest way you can – that is your job as a mother.
(*Due to misunderstanding on this section, and since it is NOT the topic of this article; I am absolutely pro-natural childbirth, I am aware that there are doctors who “push” c-sections unneccesarily, my comment and the associated b**chslap are under the assumption that you have chosen a doctor for this journey that you trust completely to do what is right for you and your baby.)
And to those other parents (and -ick- non-parents) with an opinion on how another woman’s child comes into this world – unless you are THAT WOMAN’S doctor and have 100% knowledge that the decision she makes will lead to her child dying – seriously, WTAF is wrong with you?! STFU!
What brings this rather unlike-me ragey rant on? Car seats.
Yes, you heard me right. I have always been furious on seeing small children standing or jumping around in cars; too scared to hoot or yell out the window at them, because what if that is the thing that causes them to shift focus for a millisecond and kill their child.
Let me give you a hint as to how this plays out – USE A FREAKING CAR SEAT! Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? THE ANSWER IS YES.
I am ashamed to say that I assumed that most families that don’t use car seats were from poorer households that either couldn’t afford a car set or might not be educated enough to understand the ramifications of their 3 year old standing between the front seats on the way to school, or a mom sitting on the front seat of a car with her baby in her arms – my blood literally runs cold at the thought. I was so incredibly biased with that assumption.
In the last 2 months, I have seen more of this outside the very expensive nursery school my child attends, with cars worth close to R1m – NO car seats! Toddlers jumping on the back seats, and climbing over to the front seats. Babies in their mother’s arms in the front seat. In moving cars. This is not a financial decision. This is not a result of lack of education – these parents are doctors, lawyers, accountants, business owners. So WHAT is the issue?
THIS one is the one that plays itself on repeat as I watch these parents zipping down the very narrow road leading to the school, the same road that parents walk holding the hands of small children or carrying babies. You are a parent of a toddler – you know how fast they can move; what if one of the kids dashes in front of your car with your children unrestrained in your car? You will have to stop, or at least try to.
Answer – At 40km per hour the blow to your unrestrained child’s head making contact with any part of the car is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters (19 feet) onto concrete. CONCRETE.
Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying?
Question – would you throw your child out of a second story window onto a concrete pavement? That would be slightly less that the 6 metres. And, what are the chances that you will be driving at 40km per hour?
The 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in our country is car passenger deaths in children (Medical Research Council). Not to mention all the children that are seriously injured or disabled on a daily basis. At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital alone, approximately 20 children are treated for injuries sustained in car crashes every single month.
And yet national statistics show that 84% of children in South Africa travel in cars without even wearing seatbelts. Car seats (child restraints) reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 % for infants, and 54 % for toddlers. They quite literally save lives. So ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? YES, the alternative to strapping your most precious person, your baby, into a carseat for ANY reason, could very likely be your child dying.
Let’s clear something up – It is not ever safe to hold your baby in your arms or a child on your lap in a car. You might really believe you will be able to hold onto your child. But physics research has shown that passengers have less than half a second to react in a collision or sudden stop. You might think that putting the seatbelt over you and your child covers that eventuality…
When a car crashes or suddenly stops, the body takes on the weight of the speed you were travelling multiplied by your actual weight. If your baby weighs 10 kg, and you are driving at 60km per hour, when you hit something your baby will take on the weight of 600kg. No adult will be able to hold onto that baby or child. They would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and quite possibly seriously injuring (or even killing) anyone else inside the vehicle. They are also likely to be thrown from the car through one of the windows – straight through that plated glass.
And the seatbelt? If there is a crash, your baby or child could be crushed to death. The force against your child will be the equivalent to 30 adults, each weighing 50 kg (or an entire rugby team) standing on top of your child.
Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying?
LEGALLY speaking, YOU as the driver are fully responsible and legally obligated to make sure that any children in your car are buckled up in a car seat or with a seatbelt. YOU as the adult are guilty of a criminal offence if you let a child younger than 14 years old travel unrestrained in your car.
This isn’t some nitpicky law put together by big business to stifle your rights! This is a measure to try and SAVE YOUR CHILD’S LIFE!!!
The fact that your child cries in their carseat is irrelevant.
The fact that your child screams enough to distract you while driving is irrelevant.
The fact that you were in too much of a rush to fight with your stroppy toddler and get him in the chair you do have, is irrelevant.
The fact that you were “just popping to the shops” is irrelevant.
The fact that you have never had an accident is irrelevant.
The fact that you drive safely when your child is in the car is irrelevant.
Ask yourself, is the alternative my child dying? #CarseatFullstop
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